EL SEGUNDO, CA — Surprising fourth-quarter weakness in the memory chip market took the wind out of the sails of the global semiconductor market, causing 2007 growth to fall short of expectations, according to iSuppli Corp.

Global semiconductor market revenue grew 3.3% in 2007, iSuppli says, lower than the firm's 4.1% estimate in November.

For the quarter, semi revenues fell 0.5%, but were up 2.4% excluding memory.

Worldwide DRAM revenue fell 19.1% sequentially in the fourth quarter, below the November estimate of a 4.7% drop. NAND flash revenue declined 3.9%. Overall, memory chip revenue fell 11% sequentially.

“This was a complete role reversal for memory semiconductors compared to 2006,” said Dale Ford, senior vice president, market intelligence, for iSuppli. “During the second half of 2006, memory IC revenues helped to prop up the growth of the overall semiconductor industry. In 2007, the poor results for memory chips restrained overall market growth.”

Application-specific standard products and ASICs enjoyed the strongest performance of all semiconductor segments in 2007 with growth of 12.9%. Sony and Toshiba were the key drivers of growth in this segment due to sales of semiconductors for the PS3 game console. Optical semiconductors were up 7.4%, and discretes grew 4.2%. Overall, microprocessor revenue grew 2.1%.
SHANGHAI -- As first reported by Circuits Assembly, IPC and Messe Munchen International have inked a deal under which the two groups will cooperate on an assembly trade show China. No financial terms were disclosed. The announcement was made yesterday by MMI managing director Klaus Dittrich.

The show, Electronica and Productronica China 2009, will be co-located next year with the CPCA Show and Semicon China at the Shanghai International Exhibition Center in Pudong.

The four shows expect to attract 3,000 exhibitors across 130,000 sq. ft. of display space and draw 100,000 attendees.  In a press conference, Ditrich said, "We are sure the new partnership secures the creation of an ideal platform for the SMT industry in China. He described the deal as involving "joint marketing in China and the rest of the world."

Promotional literature available at Productronica China this week claimed the new colocated event would be "the biggest and first SMT assembly show in China" - ignoring several long-existing Nepcon shows.

The co-located event will bring certain changes. For one, the cost structure will be roughly 50% of current CPCA rates, which might not sit well with bigger companies. Other changes include a lottery for booth space. IPC is supporting the event and providing advertising in return for a fee.

The Shanghai area is host to numerous electronics assembly trade shows. In addition, several other area shows target the bare board fabrication market. The local market is attractive to trade show producers for its vast number of manufacturing facilities, but is highly contested, and some domestic trade groups have historically disputed the rights of others to compete in the local market. However, MMI, which produces the highly successful Productronica and Electronica shows, opened a large facility in the Shanghai suburb of Pudong earlier this decade.

Nepcon China, produced by MMI competitor Reed, takes place each spring as well. However, the Everbright Convention Center, the current show location, is considered undesirable for heavy equipment shows, as exhibitors are spread out across two buildings, one of which is three stories high, and the location has been plagued by power and logistical issues.
SAN JOSE, CA - North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.23 billion in orders in February 2008 and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.93, according to a report published by Semiconductor Equipment and Manufacurers International (SEMI). The report shows a book-to-bill of 0.93, meaning that $93 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month. A book-to-bill ratio of less than 1.0 indicates a decreasing trend in sales.

The bookings figure is about 8% greater than the January 2008 level of $1.14 billion, but 12% less than the $1.4 billion in orders posted in February 2007.

The three-month average of February 2008 worldwide billings was $1.32 billion. This figure is about 3% greater than the final January 2008 level of $1.28 billion, but about 8% less than the February 2007 billings level of $1.42 billion.

"The three month average for North American bookings and billings improved slightly in February, however they remain at levels below those reported last year," said Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO of SEMI. “Though current inventory and utilization rates are at healthy levels, device manufacturers are being conservative in their Capex spending."

The SEMI book-to-bill is a ratio of three-month moving average of worldwide bookings and billings for North American-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers.

As a part of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 that was signed into law on February 13 by President Bush, two provisions provide significant benefit to manufacturing companies.

The new law nearly doubles the amount of deductible Code Sec. 179 expensing for 2008 to $250,000, and increases the threshold for reducing the deduction to $800,000. It applies to property purchased and put into service in the tax year beginning in 2008. This would benefit small businesses that are purchasing equipment.

The Act also provides a temporary bonus depreciation aimed at encouraging business investment. Property must be eligible for the modified accelerated cost recovery system, with a depreciation of 20 years or less, and must be purchased and placed in service during 2008. The new law provides taxpayers a 50% first year bonus depreciation of the adjusted basis of the property.

Read more: Survey: 1/5 of U.S. Will Spend Stimulus Funds on Electronics
Read more: TI Cuts Q1 Forecast, Nokia Follows Suit

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