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Gartner boosts '06 capital equipment forecast

Posted: 24 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dylan McGrath? Gartner? semiconductor equipment?

Forecasting stronger-than-expected growth in back-end semiconductor equipment, market analyst firm Gartner Inc. raised its overall IC capital equipment forecast for 2006 to $38.8 billion, a 14.3 percent increase from 2005. Last December, the firm said it expected semiconductor capital equipment spending to be up 8.4 percent for 2006.

"We expect sequential quarterly revenue growth to have returned in the first quarter of 2006, after hitting a low point in the fourth quarter of 2005," said Klaus Rinnen, managing vice president for Gartner's semiconductor manufacturing and design research group, in a statement.

Gartner analysts expect the next semiconductor equipment cyclical peak to occur in 2008, with equipment spending reaching $54.8 billion before entering into a new down cycle in 2009 and 2010. The company added that it expects worldwide wafer fab equipment spending to reach 28.9 billion in 2006, up 11.2 percent from 2005. Since December, the top 20 semiconductor manufacturers have increased capital expenditure budgets by $6.3 billion, about $4 billion of which is attributed to memory manufactures responding to increased demand for DRAM and NAND flash devices.

"The majority of semiconductor manufacturers have and will continue to maintain their investment discipline and invest carefully, although some vendors will be investing strategically in 2006," Rinnen said. "In the memory segments, we are seeing reported increases in spending plans as second-tier DRAM producers are ramping up capacity aggressively."

Gartner forecasts that wafer fab equipment spending will grow 3.7 percent in 2007, reaching $29.9 billion, before jumping 35.5 percent in 2008 to reach $40.6 billion. After that, the firm expects wafer fab equipment spending to dip by 10.4 percent in 2009 and another 5.7 percent in 2010.

The firm also sees spending on packaging and assembly equipment to increase 19.8 percent, with worldwide spending surpassing $5 billion in 2006. On a regional basis, Gartner expects Asia Pacific to increase its packaging and assembly dominance over the next five years, forecasting that the region will account for 75 percent of all packaging and assembly equipment sales by 2009.

Gartner's long term forecast calls for the packaging and assembly equipment market to grow by another 12.3 percent in 2007 and 25.1 percent in 2008, peaking at more than $7 billion, before slipping 19.3 percent in 2009 and another 10.7 percent in 2010.

The automated test equipment (ATE) market is expected to rebound from a 21 percent decline in 2005 to an increase of 29.2 percent in 2006, according to Gartner. The current rise in ATE sales is primarily driven by increasing capacity requirements for testers SoCs and memory, especially flash.

The long term forecast calls for ATE equipment spending to increase 27.2 percent in 2008 and 14.6 percent in 2008, peaking at $7.1 billion. Gartner expects ATE spending to slip 20.3 percent in 2009 and another 32.1 percent in 2010, dipping back to $3.8 billion.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times




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