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Gartner brightens capex outlook

Posted: 17 Jun 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:capital equipment spending  semiconductor equipment  fab equipment  ATE 

According to Gartner Inc., the outlook for the semiconductor equipment industry is beginning to improve, as it appears capital equipment spending has bottomed out in the second quarter of 2009. The firm also predicts a gradual improvement throughout the rest of the year and into 2010.

The current uptick in semiconductor sales will not be sufficient to overcome the effects of industry wide overcapacity and low utilisation rates in the short term. Worldwide semiconductor capital spending is on pace to total Rs.1.19 lakh crore ($24.3 billion) this year, a 44.8 per cent decline from 2008 spending of Rs.2.16 lakh crore ($44 billion). In 2010, worldwide capital equipment spending is predicted to reach Rs.1.44 lakh crore ($29.4 billion), a 20.9 per cent increase from 2009.

Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending forecast

Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending forecast (Click to view full image)

"The impact of the economic crisis has hit the semiconductor equipment industry hard, but signs of life are returning," said Klaus Rinnen, managing vice president at Gartner. "Undoubtedly it will be a long, slow road to complete recovery, but we are seeing the first indications of increased foundry activity to replenish inventories depleted by the cutbacks of the past few quarters."

Worldwide wafer fab equipment spending is expected to decrease 47.1 per cent in 2009, following a drop of nearly 33 per cent in 2008. In 2009, the etch, clean and planarisation segments will be the largest of the front-end equipment areas, followed by deposition and then by lithography. Lithography has been hit especially hard by the downturn as sales for the most advanced 193 nm immersion tools in memory have been lukewarm, with capital spending for memory at levels not seen since 2002.

After declining nearly 25 per cent last year, the packaging and assembly equipment (PAE) market is expected to fall nearly 47 per cent in 2009. A recovery for PAE is likely to be seen in the second half of this year if recent positive economic developments are sustained.

For 2009, the worldwide automated test equipment (ATE) market is forecast to decline 32 per cent. While the test market has waded through a difficult period since 2007, it appears that a bottom is forming in the second quarter of 2009. The ATE market now sits at very low market levels, with some test segments very likely realising substantial capacity reductions. As the industry moves towards a growth phase, the potential for explosive growth in the 2010 and 2011 time frame could be realised.

Mr. Rinnen said that overall, the industry has responded as it should when faced with one of the worst downturns in its history—by eliminating all unnecessary spending, cutting purchases to inventories and not doing anything dramatic.

Rinnen recommended that for the next few quarters, equipment suppliers focus on quarter-to-quarter growth and let the annual numbers fall where they may.

Want the latest forecast on the semiconductor market? Click here!





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