FEBRUARY 5--Worldwide sales of semiconductors in the fourth quarter of 2001 were unchanged from the third quarter at $30.5 billion, ending three quarters of double-digit declines, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA; San Jose, CA; www.sia.org). Together, the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions grew 3.7% in the fourth quarter, sequentially. In Japan, recessionary pressures pulled semiconductor demand down 11.8% for the quarter.
"Product comparisons show a number of improving trends in the fourth quarter," said George Scalise, SIA president. "Key demand drivers--wireless handsets and personal computers--bottomed out in the third quarter and recorded double-digit increases in the fourth quarter. Semiconductors used in these products, including microprocessors, digital-signal processors, and DRAMs, also registered double-digit gains. In addition, in a challenging environment, US companies were able to increase global market share from 50% to 51%."
Scalise added, "Increased sales in markets outside Japan indicate that demand for semiconductors in the major economies is pulling out of a downturn and began to grow in the fourth quarter. We expect flat to slightly up sales in the first quarter of 2002, another indicator of recovery since this is traditionally a seasonally flat to down quarter."
Compared to November 2001, worldwide sales in December were down 4%, consistent with seasonal industry patterns. "Except for 1999," Scalise noted, "monthly semiconductor sales in December for the past six years have registered a decline just as we are seeing this year."