Market News

EL SEGUNDO, CA -- Worldwide semiconductor revenue in the first quarter fell 33.8% year-over-year to $44.3 billion, according to research released yesterday. However, it could mark the bottom of the decline, iSuppli said.

Sales were down 18.8% sequentially, iSuppli said.

The decline has been broad-based, with almost every supplier affected. “Of the 130-plus semiconductor suppliers tracked by iSuppli on a quarterly basis, only six managed to expand their revenue in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2008,” said Dale Ford, senior vice president, market intelligence, for iSuppli. “Even among these six suppliers, four increased their revenue by only 1 to 3%.”

iSuppli’s latest forecast predicts that the first quarter will represent the bottom of the semiconductor market decline and that revenues in the fourth quarter of 2009 will exceed those in the fourth quarter 2008. On a sequential basis, revenue will rise 7.1% in the current quarter, by 10.4% in the third and 4.9% in the fourth quarter.

During the March quarter, every major region suffered sequential double-digit percentage declines in semiconductor revenue. “Although the first quarter is typically weak for the global semiconductor industry, the sharp declines in semiconductor during that period and in the fourth quarter of 2008 reflect the impact of the global economic downturn on the worldwide chip business,” Ford said.

Companies headquartered in the Americas fared the best during the downturn, with a combined revenue decline in US dollars of 30.8% since the third quarter of 2008. European-headquartered companies suffered the worst decline, with their combined revenues falling 44.5% during the same period. Japanese suppliers fared nearly as badly as their European counterparts, suffering a contraction of 43.5%.

However, the picture is very different if company revenues are maintained in the local currency and not converted to US dollars. Changes in currency exchange rates have a notable impact on revenue growth when converted to a common dollar basis. European supplier revenues fell by 36.1% since the third quarter 2008 if their revenues are measured in euros. On the other hand, Japanese company revenues fell by nearly 51% during the same time if revenues are measured in yen.

Korean and Taiwanese suppliers saw steep revenue declines between the third and fourth quarters of 2008 followed by much more moderate declines between the fourth and first quarters. In contrast, Japanese companies suffered the biggest hit on revenues in the first quarter of 2009 when their combined revenues fell by nearly 31% compared to the fourth quarter.
MINNEAPOLIS -- CyberOptics founder and chairman Steven K. Case was killed last night when the small plane he was piloting crashed while trying to land at a suburban Minneapolis airport.

Case, 60, died following a crash of his single-engine Cirrus SR22 around 10 p.m. Tuesday night.

He founded CyberOptics in 1984 while a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota. He was CyberOptics’ president until 1998 and became the chairman in 1995. He was a director of the American Electronics Association and a director of the Surface Mount Equipment Manufacturers Association since 2008.

In a statement, president and chief executive Kathleen P. Iverson said: "Everyone at CyberOptics is shocked and deeply saddened by Steve’s death, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife and family. He was a brilliant engineer, whose many inventions and technological breakthroughs not only established the foundation for CyberOptics’ success, but also helped transform the surface mount electronics industry. Most importantly, Steve was a wonderful friend and colleague to everyone who worked with him. He established a strong and capable management team, and we will do what Steve would want and that is to continue aggressively pursuing the ideas and promising opportunities he helped set in motion.”

LONDON -- Copper fell for a fifth day on the London Metal Exchange, with speculation that lower prices will further increase stockpiles in China.

This should be a welcome relief for the electronics industry that uses copper as a basic building block to enable conductivity. Recently, prices for copper clad laminate in the region have been increasing, based on increases in copper. Lower prices should provide some relief.

On June 17, copper for three-month delivery fell $20, or 0.4%, to $4,940 per metric ton, from a low of $4880 per metric ton, on June 16. Copper for a July delivery lost 0.7% to $2.243 per pound on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex division.

Analyst Max Layton from Macquarie Bank Group Ltd. in London said, “We expect the price will fall 10% to 15% over the next two months.”
WASHINGTON -- Calling innovation "endangered," the Consumer Electronics Association announced a plan to organize widespread Congressional lobbying to advance the interests of new technology.

The so-called Innovation Movement will channel the interests of tech companies and enthusiasts to prod legislators for bills that promote American jobs and spur new technology, CEA said. 

"Innovation is vital to the American economy and innovation is the brightest hope for our future. We hope to activate, energize and educate our Innovation Movement members to speak out and speak up on legislation and policies that are not working for America," CEA said. "Joining the movement will allow the participants to support legislation that will grow the tech industry and bring our put our economy back on track."

The CEA formulated six "principles" of the movement in a so-called Innovation Checklist and is urging Congress to use the criteria when evaluating every legislative proposal. The checklist asks:

  • Does this bill create American jobs?
  • Does this bill spur new technology?
  • Does this bill encourage the best and brightest to come to the US?
  • Does this bill reward innovation and investment?
  • Does this bill promote exports?
  • Does this bill foster productivity and energy efficiency?

CEA claims 14,000 people have signed on so far. Members will be provided information on how to make their voices heard on legislation that may impact the CE industry, including special alerts on specific congressional representatives.

CEA is a trade group with some 2,000 member companies.

PEMBROKE, BERMUDA – Tyco Electronics has adjusted its third-quarter guidance for the better.
For the quarter ending June 26, the company forecasts sales of $2.45 billion to $2.55 billion, compared to the previous $2.35 billion to $2.45 billion. Tyco cites a stronger dollar, project revenue from its Undersea-Telecommunications segment and an increase in electronic component sales for the improvement. 
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TOKYO -- Japanese semiconductor equipment makers reported orders jumped 22% in May. It was the third straight month of growth, suggesting demand is returning.

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