WASHINGTON, DC — Worldwide semiconductor sales in 2012 reached $291.6 billion, down 2.7% year-over-year but still good for the industry’s third-highest yearly total, the Semiconductor Industry Association announced.

Total sales for the year narrowly topped expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization’s forecast.

Global sales in December 2012 slipped 3% sequentially to $24.7 billion. Fourth-quarter sales rose 3.8% from last year to $74.2 billion. All monthly sales numbers represent a three-month moving average.

“Despite substantial macroeconomic challenges, the global semiconductor industry outperformed forecasts and posted one of its highest yearly sales totals in 2012,” said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, SIA. “Recent momentum, led by strength in the Americas, has the industry well-positioned for a successful 2013.”

The industry saw strong demand in several market segments during 2012. Logic was the largest semiconductor category, reaching $81.7 billion in 2012, a 3.7% increase over 2011. MOS microprocessors ($60.2 billion) and memory ($57 billion) rounded out the top three segments, but both lagged behind 2011 sales totals. Optoelectronics was the fastest growing market on a yearly basis, increasing 13.4% in 2012 to reach $26.2 billion for the year. Optoelectronic applications offer energy efficiency and low cost in a wide range of products including mobile devices and cameras.  NAND flash – used in a host of mobile devices, USB flash drives, memory cards and related products for the storage and transfer of data – grew at the second-fastest rate of 4.1% to reach $25.4 billion in 2012.

Regionally, the Americas continued to show signs of strength, increasing sales by 13.4% in December compared to December 2011 and by 12% in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, but ongoing economic and policy uncertainty continues to pose risks to the near-term market outlook. Sales in Asia Pacific during December also increased compared to the same month in 2011 (6.7%), while sales in Europe (-5.5%) and Japan (-11.2% decreased over the same period. Total yearly sales in all four regions were lower in 2012 than 2011, with Asia Pacific (-0.6%) and the Americas (-1.5%) seeing the smallest declines.

“Despite lingering economic and policy uncertainty, the U.S. semiconductor market continues to show signs of strength, posting impressive growth in December," continued Toohey. “As the foundation of all modern electronics, semiconductors are critical to America’s economic strength, national security and global competitiveness. By enacting measures that foster growth and remove uncertainty, policymakers can further strengthen the industry and help unlock its full potential in 2013 and beyond.”


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