JUNE 25, 2009--According to the latest statistics from IMS Research (Austin, TX, USA; www.imsresearch.com), the worldwide market for stepper systems used in industrial applications experienced steady revenue growth in 2008, comparable to low single-digit growth levels witnessed over the previous few years. Data reported by leading stepper suppliers indicate steady growth was fueled by key industry sectors, such as medical and scientific and food, beverage, and tobacco; IMS Research estimates that total worldwide revenues for the stepper systems market were $987.1 million in 2008.
The first two quarters of 2008 witnessed continued rapid growth; however, starting with the third quarter of the year and continuing into the first half of 2009, there has been a significant slowdown in many segments of the market due to the global recession. As a result, the market for stepper systems is forecast to contract by 3.9% in 2009 in terms of revenues before returning to minimal positive growth in 2010. There are several reasons behind the contraction in 2009, including declines in regional GDP and machinery production forecasts for 2009. Most applicable to the stepper systems market is the GDP decline during the fourth quarter of 2008 of 1% in the United States and 1.5% in the European Union. To a smaller degree, ongoing problems with capital lending are also expected to further add to the decline of the market in 2009.
Due to the presence of numerous machine builders in western Europe, the European stepper systems market is the largest regional market, accounting for nearly one-third of the total stepper systems market revenues. The steppers market in Europe is expected to be noticeably affected by the economic slowdown; as a result, the value of the European market is predicted to contract by 2.0% in 2009. In addition to Europe, Japan and the United States represent a large percentage of the stepper systems market. This is due to heavy presence of stepper suppliers in the regions and the presence of significant semiconductor and medical and scientific sectors, which are some of the leading industries in terms of stepper utilization. Difficult economic conditions around the globe will slow growth across all regions, with most impact felt in the stepper systems markets in the Americas and Japan, which are expected to decrease by approximately 4.2% and 6.7%, respectively. The success of recently introduced government stimulus packages will determine the severity of the market downturn.
Positive growth in the medical and scientific; food, beverage, and tobacco; and renewable energy sectors is expected to offset declines in the semiconductor, printing, and electronics/electronics assembly industries. According to IMS Research analyst Jenalea Howell, "Nearly all industry sectors will be impacted by the economic slowdown with varying levels of affect, which is expected to cause the stepper systems market to contract only marginally in 2009, particularly when compared with other industrial automation product markets, and resume positive growth in 2010."
-- Posted by Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com