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Opinion: 10 IC companies in danger

Posted: 02 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? trouble IC vendor? processor?

The list of semiconductor companies posting banner numbers these days is short and thin. Every firm is in trouble, to some degree.

But EE Times has assembled a list of 10 companies (or more) that seem in particular danger of continuing to spill red ink, being acquired, seeking bankruptcy protection or just not being around in current form a year from now. We've also listed some "honorable mentions" as well. The list is just our opinion. Post a comment if you want.

In alphabetical order, here's our "10 companies in trouble:"

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is now a fabless company and it remains to be seen if that model will work for the processor vendor. It's also unclear if it can stop the bleeding and keep up with Intel. What happened in Q1?

(tie) ATE industry: All vendors are in bad shape. Advantest, Credence/LTX, Teradyne, Verigy and others are losing vast sums of money. How long can the pain last? Look for more consolidation.

Cadence Design Systems Inc. After being the No. 1 EDA vendor for most of two decades, Cadence hit a rough patch last year and lost its No. 1 standing (along with a lot of money and its management team). The company reported a loss of $1.85 billion for 2008, much of which was due to a non-cash impairment charge of $1.36 billion. Cadence reported Q1 GAAP net loss of $63 million on revenue or $206 million (down from $271 million in the year ago quarter), and some analysts responded favorably.

Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Pte. Ltd Rumors have been flying that the loss-ridden foundry is the subject of a takeover bid. The latest one is from the Middle East, of which Chartered denied.

Freescale Semiconductor Inc. The chip vendor has posted a string of big losses over the past several quarters and is saddled with crushing debts. The company's long-term debts have fallen to $7.5 billion from almost $10 billion, but the cost of servicing that debt still amounts to several hundred million dollars per year.

Deeper trouble
Infineon Technology AG
Wondering if Infineon wished it had exited the DRAM sector much sooner than it did. There is talk that the loss-ridden German company is seeking a bailout.

Magma Design Automation Inc. The EDA vendor recently posted a net loss for fiscal 2009 of $127 million on revenue of $147 million. Rumors have been circulating for months that the company may be acquired or possibly be sold to private equity.

Renesas Technology Corp.-NEC Electronics Corp. The two Japanese companies are set to merge, but this could be an integration nightmare. The combined company could be in for years of red ink and lost share. We've already found the winners and losers here.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. Business is improving at the Chinese foundry, but profits are elusive and the company is in danger of falling further behind in technology.

(tie) Taiwan DRAM vendors: Inotera, Nanya, Powerchip, ProMOS and Winbond all posted massive losses in Q1. The Taiwan government has been trying to push them to consolidate but so far to no avail. The government formed a venture, Taiwan Memory Co., to facilitate consolidation but some say this could do more harm than good.

Here are our honorable mentions for companies in trouble: ASAT, ASMC, Asyst (Chapter 11), Axcelis, Electroglas, Elpida, Hynix, Lam, Mattson, Micron, MIPS, Novellus, NXP, Photronics, Qimonda (Chapter 11); Spansion (Chapter 11), Sony, UMC.

- Mark LaPedus, Dylan McGrath
EE Times





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