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Peaks and valleys in Q2 for DRAM vendors

Posted: 14 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory? storage? DRAM? PC market?

As things get tough with a number of setbacks and losses, Q2 08 was a bad season for the top 10 DRAM vendors having experienced a combination of poor profits and sequential Mbyte unit growth, according to iSuppli Corp.

Samsung stays on top slot in the DRAM market. It has a market share of more than 30 percent according to Q2 08 reports, while Qimonda AG's slid to 9 percent market share during the quarter.

Qimonda, a couple of years ago, has 16 percent market share and lost 7 percent of that growth as many DRAM suppliers came this quarter. However, in terms of the industry unit growth, it has not declined or probably not yet.

Market scope
"The industry Mbyte bit growth grew by 17 percent sequentially during Q2, blowing iSuppli's prediction of 10 percent," said Nam Hyung Kim, director and chief analyst for memory ICs and storage systems, iSuppli. "The unit growth is not decreasing; it is relatively higher than Q1. The good part of the story is that the PC market has been sound. However, oversupply may be inevitable in Q3 due to OEMs' aggressive inventory build-up during Q2."

Hynix vs. Elpida
Hynix posted 20-percent increase in DRAM sales, while Elpida Memory Inc. reached 22 percent in sales, with a 4-percentage points market share distance between the two companies. During the quarter, Hynix hit nearly 20 percent of the market share while Elpida's market share has more than 15 percent. Elpida, together with its foundry partner, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., has its Mbyte unit by 26 percent and 38 percent, respectively. "The market share battle between Hynix and Elpida could delay the market recovery," Kim noted. "Elpida aims to position number 2 soon as Hynix will try to minimize its NAND production and focus on DRAM products to maintain its market," he said.

Slash on the back
The DRAM suppliers may need to hurdle turbulent times ahead after a mild recovery in Q2. The global DRAM market is again having renewed signs of weakness. The prices are anticipated to fall in Q3 because of bloated inventories, according to iSuppli. After the company raised its near-term conditions for DRAM suppliers to neutral from negative on April 25, the market bottomed out and manufacturers' profitability improved during Q2. Even during months of losses, a few top-tier suppliers managed to attain profitability in June and a handful is expected to do so in Q3.

However, iSuppli warned that the market is showing warning signs, with contract prices for DRAM to decline in August and September. The main task now is to identify how much price the market will have to bear in terms of decline in Q3. Others are predicting it will be above 10 percent from the current level.

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