by Anton Shilov
12/05/2012 | 10:30 PM
In a miserable 2012 semiconductor market that will see revenue decline at seven of the world’s Top 10 semiconductor suppliers, Qualcomm is standing out, with a double-digit increase in sales that will make it the world’s third-largest chip maker this year. The company’s rise in the rankings is part of long-term trend that reflects the growing importance of the wireless market in the electronics supply chain.
Qualcomm is set to end 2012 with a stunning 27.2% growth in semiconductor revenue, according to preliminary results from the IHS iSuppli. This represents the highest rate of growth of any Top 10 or even any Top 20 semiconductor supplier. The nearly 30% increase in revenue will cause Qualcomm’s share of the market to climb by a full%age point to 4.3%. More significantly, it will allow Qualcomm to rise three positions and take third place in the global semiconductor business, the first time it has reached such an elevated rank.
“This year has been terrible for most semiconductor application markets – with the sole exception of the wireless segment, which is expected to generate robust revenue growth this year. Consumers are continuing to buy more smartphones and media tablets, even as sales of other once-hot products like PCs and flat-panel TVs decelerate or decline. With its chips at the heart of countless cellphones, including Apple’s marquee iPhone 5, Qualcomm has discovered an oasis of growth in the desert that is the semiconductor market in 2012,” said Dale Ford, senior director at IHS.
After Qualcomm, the next best performance among the Top 20 suppliers is set to be posted by Sony, which will attain 20.1% growth in semiconductor revenue, again, thanks to growing popularity of mobile gadgets. Sony’s strong results are due to its leading position in the image sensor market, which is expected to grow by 19% in 2012, with the CMOS image sensor sector of the market seeing its revenue expand by 31.8%.
“Sony’s image sensor revenue, which accounts for nearly 60% of its semiconductor takings, is expected to expand by 48%. Even more amazing, its CMOS image sensor revenues are forecast to more than double,” said Mr. Ford.
Sony’s performance stands in stark contrast to most other major Japanese semiconductor suppliers, whose revenue will collapse by double-digit rates in 2012.
Seven companies among the Top 20 semiconductor suppliers are expected to suffer double-digit percentage declines in revenue in 2012: Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Freescale Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics, Elpida Memory and Renesas Electronics. Revenue contractions for these companies will range from 11.4 to 17.7%. In some cases, the companies suffered because of slower demand for PCs, in other cases the declines came as a result of stiff competition on the markets that are not expanding.
With all the movement among the top suppliers, only one company is likely to drop out of the Top 20. At this point, IHS projects Panasonic will slip to No. 21 following a drop in revenue of 13.0%.