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Fab tool industry up for a challenging year

Posted: 21 Jan 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fab tool vendor? semiconductor equipment? lithography?

Fab-tool vendors at the Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) see a mixed picture for the semiconductor equipment industry.

An official from Nikon Corp. projects that the market will be flat for the supplier of lithography gear. But Jerry Cutini, president and CEO of Aviza Technology Inc., pointed out that chipmakers are still buying equipment despite the lull in the industry. Chipmakers continue to look for technology and capacity buys despite the doom-and-gloom forecasts in the market, he said.

While, IC Insights president Bill McClean said the demand for ICs has never been better, Aida Jebens, senior economist for VLSI Research Inc., sees that equipment orders are cooling. "It will be very challenging for the equipment makers," she added.

The chip equipment market is projected to fall 2.8 percent in 2008. But on the other hand, the display-equipment market is expected to jump 18.9 percent, she said.

Stanley Myers, president and CEO for SEMI, projects that capital spending will be down in the "low single digits." In a worse case scenario, capital spending could fall 10 percent or greater, he added.

Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research Corp., believes that capital spending will fall by 8 percent in 2008, but fab-utilization rates will move towards the 90 percent level this year.

But if a recession were to rear its ugly head in 2008, the wafer fab equipment market could fall by 17 percent this year, warned Dean Freeman, an analyst with Gartner Inc. "Capex would probably drop in the 15 percent range" if a recession hit the business, he said.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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