The Big Question

The Big Question

By Heinz Kundert, SEMI Europe President

Semiconductor sales in the first half of the year have shown a clear and general sense of recovery following the classic industry recovery profile: first the re-stocking (following the excessive Q4-2008 de-stocking) which drove the first half of 2009 recovery, then demand taking over, the main driver for the second half of 2009. The demand ought to be reasonably strong given the normal seasonal second half, albeit dampened by a lack of good news about employment figures from the U.S. and Europe.

However, the equipment market always lags the chip industry by typically two to three quarters. So now is the time to prepare for the inevitable equipment upturn. While semiconductor capex spending is still currently at all-time low levels, this trend will not continue forever and an upswing is inevitable, with only its timing uncertain.

"The original -28% growth for the chip market now looks too pessimistic which in turn means our +15% 2010 forecast might also be too low, especially given the massive economic stimuli that have been applied worldwide, all of which should be driving a strong 2010 GDP recovery," according to Malcolm Penn from Future Horizons.

If this is the case, 2010 capex will explode. The big question is… "Will the industry be ready?

Now more than ever, it is time to pursue R&D efforts (see the proposed seminar on EU funding), plan, and check the industry’s pulse with like-minded peers, colleagues and contacts— which means keeping an ear to the ground at events like SEMICON Europa. I look forward to seeing you all there in Dresden 6-8 October.

July 7, 2009