SIA: November chip sales best of the year

January 4, 2012 - Global semiconductor sales in November 2012 were the largest monthly tally of the entire year, up about 2% vs. both the prior month and a year ago, according to updated data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). Total sales were $25.73 billion, marking the first year/year gain of the year.

The real boost in the SIA’s monthly tracking is in North America which shined with 5% monthly growth, and nearly a 10% spike vs. the same month a year ago — its largest year/year increase since April 2011. Other regions seeing a return to growth in November were Asia Pacific (2.7%) and Europe (0.4%), though Japan slipped slightly (-3.4%).

For the three-month moving average — basically fall months vs. summer, as the industry ramped up to meet projected holiday demand — growth in the Americas was even more sparkling at 20%, its largest such increase in the past decade, according to the SIA. Overall 3-mo. growth for all regions was almost 6%.

"The global semiconductor industry navigated difficult macroeconomic conditions in 2012, but encouraging growth led by the Americas in recent months has the industry pointed in the right direction heading into 2013," stated SIA president/CEO Brian Toohey. "To ensure that the industry’s momentum continues, Congress should remove ongoing economic uncertainty by enacting long-term, reliable fiscal policies that boost America’s economic strength and global competitiveness."

Digging into the SIA’s results, Barclays analyst CJ Muse sees "relative outperformance" in NAND (17% M/M and 25% Y/Y), with DSP (-33% Y/Y) seeing the biggest decline. By end markets, communications rose for a third consecutive month (51% Y/Y) and consumer soared 43%, while computing "remained weak" (-15% Y/Y) which suggests "subdued Windows 8 sales, he says. The autos end-market also declined -24%, due mainly to ASP declines, he said.

John Pitzer from Credit Suisse pointed to three-month averages for November, with logic (10%) and flash (5%) doing well, declines by micro (-9%) and DSP (-29%), and ASICs overall performing better (4%) than the broader semi sector (2%).

November’s chip sales numbers might have been good, but 1Q13 still looks like a trough for semi shipments which are "now tracking well below end demand," notes Muse.

For all of 2012, the SIA has endorsed the WSTS’ year-end forecast update which projected a -3% decline, but a bounce back to 4%-5% annual growth in 2013 and 2014.

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