Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - Page 12 News List

ITRI says chipmaker outlook not so bad

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Local chip companies may see their sales decline at a slower-than-expected pace this year as orders start increasing, helped mainly by China’s policy of subsidizing the purchase of consumer electronics in rural areas, local market researcher Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) said yesterday.

The government-funded ITRI said recent rush orders thanks to rising demand in China were a good sign of a potential end to the industrial downturn as local chipmakers may see their first quarterly sales growth in the current quarter.

“We are seeing local contract chipmakers, panel driver IC makers and TV chipmakers benefiting from this wave of rush orders,” ITRI semiconductor analyst Jerry Peng (彭茂榮) said on the sidelines of a conference.

The Chinese demand may partly come from Beijing’s economic stimulus packages, including subsidizing the purchase of PCs, mobile phones, TVs and other home appliances, Peng said.

This year, Taiwanese chip companies may see their sales decrease by 20.4 percent annually to NT$1.07 trillion (US$31.83 billion) from NT$1.35 trillion last year.

The NT$1.07 trillion forecast is nearly 9 percent higher than Peng estimated in February, when he predicted the sector would post a decline of 27 percent at the time to NT$984.5 billion in annual sales.

However, growth momentum from China in the form of rush orders may not be strong enough to lead a solid recovery for the semiconductor industry as long as the global economy remained weak, Peng said.

Therefore, in a worst-case scenario third-quarter growth may slow to a single-digit percentage as economic uncertainty increases volatility in the chip industry, he said.

“There may be no ‘V-shaped’ recovery in the chip industry this time as has occurred in the past but a gradual ‘L-shaped’ revival,” Peng said.

Local chipmakers may report their first quarterly sales growth this quarter, up 14.4 percent to NT$233.7 billion in total.

Last month, the nation’s two largest contract chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) and United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) saw their first monthly growth in sales for more than six months, although both companies’ first-quarter revenues plunged 55 percent year-on-year.

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