Semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales have increased in each of the last three quarters after dropping significantly in the second half of 2012, says Semiconductor Intelligence.
Much of the volatility is in sales to Korea, which dropped 76% from 1Q12 to 4Q12 and then rebounded 87% from 4Q12 to 3Q13.
Semiconductor equipment sales in Taiwan have varied by quarter, but have generally been close to $2.5 billion a quarter.
Sales in North America were fairly steady in 2012, but declined in the first two quarters of 2013 before picking up slightly in 3Q13.
Taiwan, South Korea and North America (primarily the U.S.) account for about two-thirds of total semiconductor equipment sales.
China has not yet emerged as a major market for semiconductor equipment, remaining about the same size as Europe and ROW (rest of world).
Japan was the largest market for semiconductor equipment for many years, most recently in 2008, but has declined to about 10% of the market.
SEMI’s December 2013 forecast for semiconductor equipment billings is for a 13% drop in 2013 to $32.0 billion from $36.9 billion in 2012.
The 2013 decline is due to a weak first half, with the market increasing in the second half.
The year-to-year trends in the equipment business are very volatile, with declines of close to 50% in several years and recoveries of up to four times the prior year, but the four year average shows a more consistent trend.
Over-investment in 2000 kept the average close to $30 billion through 2003. Under-investment dragged the average down below $20 billion in 2005. The average recovered to $30 billion in 2008 after strong investment in 2006 and 2007. The average will reach about $38 billion in 2013 and should remain close to that through 2015.
Comparing semiconductor equipment spending to the market for semiconductor devices delivers year-to-year data that is very volatile. But the four-year-average ratio dropped from 20% in 2000 to below 10% in 2005. For the last six years, the four-year-average has been in a narrow range of 12% to 13%.
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