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Gartner Says Worldwide Semiconductor Capital Equipment Spending to Increase 12.2 Per Cent in 2014
"While capital spending outperformed wafer fab equipment (WFE) spending in 2013, the reverse will hold for 2014," said Bob Johnson, research vice president at Gartner. "Total capital spending will grow by 5.5 per cent, while WFE will increase 13 per cent as manufacturers pull back on new fab construction and concentrate in ramping new capacity instead. Momentum from exceptionally strong fourth-quarter 2013 sales is carried forward into the first quarter, and then is expected to bounce around a flat trend line through the remainder of 2014. In the longer-term profile, growth continues through 2015, dips slightly in 2016 and increases through 2018."
Logic spending remains the key driver of capital spending throughout the forecast period, but due to the anticipated softening of mobile markets it will grow less than memory. Memory will provide most of the growth in capital spending through 2018, with NAND Flash being the primary impetus.
Capital spending is highly concentrated among a handful of companies. The top three companies (Intel, TSMC and Samsung) continue to account for more than half of total spending. Spending by the top five semiconductor manufacturers exceeds 64 per cent of total projected 2014 spending, with the top 10 accounting for 78 per cent of the total.
Gartner predicts that 2014 semiconductor capital spending will increase 5.5 per cent, followed by 10 per cent growth in 2015. The next cyclical decline will be a slight drop of 3.3 per cent in 2016, followed by a return to growth in 2017 and 2018 (see Table 1).
Semiconductor inventories combined with overall market weakness depressed utilisation rates at the end of 2013. Although demand from smartphones and media tablets is producing leading-edge demand for logic production, it is not enough to bring total utilisation up to desired levels. Gartner expects utilisation rates to climb upward again in 2014, as demand for chip production returns, and overall utilisation rates will return to normal levels through 2014, providing continued impetus for capital investment.
Overall wafer fab manufacturing capacity utilisation responded to increasing inventories at the end of 2013 by staying in the low-80 per cent range at the end of 2013. In 2014, a return to more normal inventory levels will propel overall utilisation of almost 90 per cent by year end. Leading-edge utilisation will remain in the mid-90 per cent range through 2014, providing for a positive capital investment environment.
The capital spending forecast estimates total capital spending from all forms of semiconductor manufacturers, including foundries and back-end assembly and test services companies. This is based on the industry's requirements for new and upgraded facilities to meet the forecast demand for semiconductor production. Capital spending represents the total amount spent by the industry for equipment and new facilities.
The WFE forecast estimates market revenue based on future global sales of the equipment needed to produce the wafers on which semiconductor devices are fabricated. WFE demand is a function of the number of fabs in operation, capacity utilisation, their size and their technology profile.
This research is produced by Gartner's Semiconductor Manufacturing programme. This research programme, which is part of the overall semiconductor research group, provides a comprehensive view of the entire semiconductor industry, from manufacturing to device and application market trends. More information on Gartner's semiconductor research can be found in the Gartner Semiconductor Manufacturing Focus Area at http://www.gartner.com/technology/core/products/research/markets/semiconductorManufacturing.jsp
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