Chip industry suffers painful fourth quarter

El Segundo (CA) – By now we all know that the recession began showing its ugly face in the third and especially fourth quarter of last year. iSuppli has released some new numbers that show just how bad the two quarters were – bad enough to have caused negative annual revenue growth for 15 of the 25 largest semiconductor companies. Of the 300 companies covered by the market research firm, only 43% had flat or positive revenue growth.

Among the top 25 suppliers that managed to increase their revenue were STMicroelectronics at #5,  Qualcomm (#8), NEC (#11), Broadcom (#14), Panasonic (#15), Sharp (#18), Rohm (#20), Marvell Technology (#22), MediaTek (#23) and Fujitsu (#24). The chip companies with the biggest revenue declines were Hynix (#9, -33.4%), NXP (#17, -29.4%), Samsung (#2, -14.2%), Sony (#7, -13.7%) and Renesas (#6, -12.3%).

“It’s not always good to be the king, as shown by the results of most of the top semiconductor suppliers in 2008,” said Dale Ford, senior vice president, market intelligence services, for iSuppli. “Many of these suppliers are focused on semiconductor segments that performed poorly during the year, including memory, Digital Signal Processors (DSPs), analog Integrated Circuits (ICs) and standard logic. This caused 80% of the Top 10 and 60% of the Top 25 semiconductor suppliers to experience declining revenues compared to 2007.”

iSuppli’s final estimate of an overall 5.2%  revenue decline from $272.6 billion in 2007 to $258.3 billion in 2008 semiconductor revenue represents a significant widening from the 2% decrease it projected in November. “In iSuppli’s November estimate, fourth-quarter semiconductor revenue was projected to decline by 8.8% compared to the third quarter based on guidance provided by semiconductor suppliers in reporting their quarterly financial results,” Ford noted.

“However, the final results show that the market experienced a significant and broad-based decline of 21.5% in the fourth quarter. While memory IC revenues struggled with negative growth for an extended period, the market decline in the fourth quarter impacted every semiconductor segment – without exception.”