Recession Hurts Chip-Makers’ Profits


Consumers and businesses have cut down on purchases of desktops, notebook, smartphones and server systems

Intel, Samsung and other semiconductor stalwarts continue to dominate the global chip market, but 2008 proved that smaller and more nimble vendors were able to increase their sales and shipments in a market saddled with a poor global economy.

“It’s not always good to be king,” wrote Dale Ford, an analyst with iSuppli, which released new research on the global chip market March this week. iSuppli has released semiconductor sales and rankings for 2008—a year in which eight of the top 10 suppliers suffered revenue declines.

Among the 300 semiconductor companies in iSuppli’s global rankings, 43 percent achieved flat to positive growth during 2008. According to iSuppli, this means “the top 10 suppliers significantly underperformed their smaller rivals.”

Ford went on to explain, “Many of these suppliers are focused on semiconductor segments that performed poorly during the year, including memory, digital signal processors, analog integrated circuits and standard logic.”

For this reason, he said, eight of the top 10—and 15 of the top 25 semiconductor suppliers—experienced declines in revenue compared with 2007.

Intel and Samsung, which are expected to decrease spending in 2009, maintained their first- and second-place positions between 2007 and 2008. Intel saw 2008 revenue of $33.7 billion (£24bn) and Samsung earned nearly half that, with $16.9 billion in revenue.

Finishing out the top five for 2008 were Toshiba, Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics, with revenues of $11.08 billion (£7.9bn), $11.07 billion and $10.3 billion, respectively.

The four suppliers that increased their revenue in 2008 and improved their market-share rankings most significantly were: Qualcomm, which rose to eighth place from 14th place in 2007; Broadcom, up to 14th from 19th place; Rohm, up to 20th from 25th place; and MediaTek, which made the top 25, moving up to 23rd place from 28th.

The company with the largest revenue decline among the top 10 and top 25 was Hynix Semiconductor, at 33.4 percent.

Advanced Micro Devices, which made news on March 4 with the spinoff of Globalfoundries, a separate manufacturing arm, ranked 12th, with 2008 revenues of $5.5 billion (£4bn).

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