China has posted a surprise trade deficit in March as imports rose more-than-expected on stronger demand for commodities such as copper and oil.
The reason is quite understandable really: demand for DRAM is still dropping, so how can there be a price improvement?
Texas Instruments, the largest maker of analog chips, raised the lower end of its forecasts for first-quarter sales and profit, as customers increase orders ahead of a projected rebound in electronics demand.
Industry consolidation to just three big DRAM suppliers and a reduction in capital expenditures among these manufacturers helped propel DRAM average selling prices (ASPs) up 13% year over year in January. Capex budgets are also being trimmed for NAND flash (though not nearly as much as DRAM), and that, along with ongoing unit demand, has put upward pressure on ASPs for these memory devices as well.
Growth in the giant China manufacturing sector in February withdrew from the highest point in nearly two years despite a fourth consecutive month of expansion, a private survey showed Monday, as foreign demand remained unsteady.
New York Times
"Fuelled by robust demand for its popular Galaxy models, Samsung was the star performer, shipping a record 396.5 million mobile phones worldwide and capturing 25% market share to solidify its first-place lead," said Neil Shah, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.
Samsung Electronics is looking to supply chips to more Chinese and other emerging smartphone makers, the head of its system chip business said, to counter any fall-off in demand from Apple, which is weaning itself off Samsung chips used in its iPhones and iPads.
There is a growing demand for solid-state drives (SSDs) despite declining numbers in the PC sector. The company said it has seen a 20-percent rise in SSD orders during 1QF13 alone.
Tom's Hardware Guide
Micron Technology has reported a wider fiscal first-quarter loss as a slump in demand for personal computers led to a supply glut, weighing down prices.
Infineon Technologies plans to cut costs and reduce investments in anticipation of weaker demand from industrial customers.
The Financial Times
"Solid demand for wireless communications in both packaging and test was the key driver of our business in the third quarter," said Ken Joyce, Amkor's president and CEO. "Lower-than-anticipated supply of 28nm wafers in the early part of the quarter and the overall weakness in the semiconductor market and general economy constrained our growth."
The strong Japanese yen has hurt the country's export competitiveness, while demand has evaporated as growth slowed in most regions. Meanwhile, the country's energy imports have risen following closures of most of its nuclear plants.
AP (via Business Week)
Dutch semiconductor-manufacturing equipment maker ASML said Wednesday it sees weak demand in memory chips, and adjusted its second half net sales guidance to the lower end of its earlier EUR2.2 billion-EUR2.4 billion range.
Marketwatch.com (Dow Jones)
French telecom vendor Alcatel-Lucent will cut about 1,000 jobs in India as part of its global restructuring effort to cope with dwindling demand for network equipment among telcos in the country.
Japan has reported a wider-than-expected trade deficit in July, as slowing demand from China and Europe weighed on exports.
Qualcomm has lowered its forecast of global cellular device shipments for 2012 due to a gloomy economic outlook, though it expects device sales to surge in the fourth quarter because of upcoming products, a likely reference to Apple's iPhone and Microsoft's Windows 8 tablets.
The company also revised its calendar year 2012 industry forecast for wafer fab equipment spending to US$30-33 billion, compared to its previous expectation of US$32-35 billion, in line with the market changes.
FormFactor raised its second-quarter revenue expectations Tuesday, pointing to customer demand across its DRAM and flash memory segments.
Wall Street Journal
German microchip maker Infineon raised its full-year sales outlook after demand for its energy efficiency, mobility and security chips, particularly from the car industry, helped second-quarter results beat expectations.
Sandisk's first quarter results were messy and the outlook wasn't much better. The problem: Sandisk is making all the wrong moves and focusing on the wrong customers in the flash memory market.
Barclays Capital is raising its total lithography units forecast by more than 10 systems, from 234 to 251 in 2012. As many as 260 litho tools could be purchased for semiconductor manufacturing, as foundries are seeing high demand for 28nm chips.
Oil traded near the highest price in two days in New York as investors speculated fuel demand may increase amid signs the US economy is strengthening.
The weak demand for TI's wireless products such as smartphones and tablets is mainly in its OMAP applications processors and connectivity products, said TI vice president Ron Slaymaker.
The Seattle Times
Texas Instruments said it would close two older factories in Japan and Texas with 500 workers to cut costs. The company added it saw a broad resumption of demand in December that continued into January.
Hard disk drive supplier Seagate Technology has provided a financial update, reiterating that demand for HDD units will exceed supply in 2012 in the wake of flooding last year in Thailand.
The strength of the Japanese yen as well as the ongoing European debt crisis have weighed on external demand.
South Korea said it's prepared to intervene in markets as the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il clouded the outlook for an economy already faltering on weak export demand.
Chipmakers Texas Instruments and Altera have both cut their forecasts for the fourth quarter.
Solar power company SunPower Corp. will cut about 125 jobs, or 2 percent of its workforce, as the company faces a global solar power market where prices and demand are stagnating.
Japan's exports fell for the first time in three months, indicating that the yen's appreciation and financial turmoil in Europe are slowing the nation's recovery from the March disaster.
Maria Marced, European president of TSMC, has pushed back against claims by market researchers at Gartner that foundries are having problems with yield on 28nm process technologies. For TSMC the roll out of the 28nm chip manufacturing node is "on plan," Marced told EE Times.
While energy-efficient products are an expensive form of lighting for many customers in the Asia Pacific region, the higher costs are increasingly justified by the higher efficacy and performance compared to traditional lighting products.
Marketwatch.com (Dow Jones)
Flush from better-than-expected third quarter revenues, flash memory supplier SanDisk is buying back up to US$500 million of its stock over the next five years, joining a growing list of companies putting their cash to use to help build investor confidence.
Strong growth in customer numbers helped UK chipmaker ARM beat analysts' forecasts with its third-quarter results, despite "below seasonal growth in the semiconductor industry."
"Economic uncertainty continues to weigh on demand in almost every major market segment in which we operate," said CEO Rich Templeton. "Our revenue for the third quarter was higher than we expected though, overall, the quarter was below the seasonal average. We expect the same in the fourth quarter."
South Korean flat-screen maker LG Display, a key supplier to Apple Inc, posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday as tepid demand for TVs and PCs hit panel prices and one-off losses weighed.
Despite the near-term weakness, the company's long-term outlook looks bright with strong demand from emerging economies like India and China where replacement rate for tablets and notebooks is still high.