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Semiconductor equipment orders show slight rise

Things may be looking up for the semiconductor industry, but chip makers are still not buying equipment like they did a few years ago, according to a report released yesterday by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), an industry association.

Worldwide billings from sales of semiconductor equipment in the second quarter of this year reached $4.66bn (£3.06bn), an increase of 15% from the first quarter.

However, worldwide billings - revenue that was received during the quarter from orders that had already been placed - fell 34% from the second quarter of last year.

Semiconductor manufacturers placed $6.72bn (£4.4bn) in orders during the second quarter, up 62% from the first quarter of this year and 57% from the second quarter of last year.

The large increases in orders placed indicate more optimism on the part of chip makers, but this year is still going to be a negative year compared to last year, Michael Droeger, a spokesman for SEMI, said.

The record buying seen in 2000 carried into the first half of 2001, but an economic decline combined with the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US dented the market severely. Since that time, semiconductor equipment sales have steadily risen, Droeger said.

Regionally, billings received in North America and Japan declined 13.1% and 15.4% respectively in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter.

European semiconductor companies increased billings 19.4% from the first quarter to $520m (£341.25m), and Taiwan almost doubled its share of billings from $540m (£354.4m) to $1.05bn (£690m) from the first quarter to the second quarter.

Taiwan was also the only region to record an increase in billings over the second quarter of 2001, up 10.7%.

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