The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Veeco buys Ultratech, Amkor buys Nanium; NI’s instrument; DRAM shortage?

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Manufacturing
Veeco Instruments has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ultratech. With the deal, Veeco will enter into the lithography market for chip-packaging as well as the laser spike anneal business. Veeco is a supplier of MOCVD tools. The implied total transaction value is approximately $815 million and the implied enterprise value is approximately $550 million.

FlexTech, a SEMI strategic association partner, has announced a contract with ITN Energy Systems to develop and produce a flexible, solid-state lithium battery. The ceramic substrate material is produced by ENrG and its technology is licensed from Corning. The project duration is 15 months with a total value of $1.5 million.

Packaging and test
Amkor Technology has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Nanium, a provider of wafer-level fan-out packaging solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

National Instruments (NI) has rolled out the VB-8054 instrument. The system consolidates five of the most commonly used instruments into one device without compromising the performance of each instrument. It includes a four-channel, 500-MHz mixed-signal oscilloscope with 2 GS/s sampling rate and protocol analysis. It also includes a functional generator.

Keysight has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Ixia in an all-cash transaction totaling approximately $1.6 billion.

Chipmakers
Micron Technology has announced the upcoming retirement of its Chief Executive, Mark Durcan. The board has formed a special committee to oversee the succession process and has initiated a search, with the assistance of an executive search firm, to identify and vet candidates.

Market research
What’s happening in memory? A DRAM shortage is looming. “End demand for memory remained strong in January, in conjunction with preparation for the Chinese New Year. While end demand should moderate in February as end of year and holiday sales fade, we expect pricing to continue to increase moderately as memory buyers build up inventories from currently low levels,” Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “DRAM supply will likely remain relatively constrained through the year, although we believe that Samsung is adding roughly 30,000 new wafer starts per month capacity. We expect NAND supply to loosen meaningfully later this year as 3D NAND capacity comes on line and yields improve.”

Samsung Electronics and Apple remained the top two semiconductor chip buyers in 2016, representing 18.2% of the total worldwide market, according to Gartner. Samsung and Apple together consumed $61.7 billion of semiconductors in 2016, an increase of $0.4 billion from 2015. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems dropped out of the top 10 in 2016 to be replaced by Chinese smartphone OEM, BBK Electronics, which grew rapidly in 2016. In fact, three Chinese companies make up the top 10.

Apple reclaimed the top spot in the smartphone market over Samsung, according to IDC. That’s not the big news. The big news is China’s ascendance in the top smartphone ranks. “As the two leading players continue to battle for the top spot, several Chinese vendors have solidified their position as valid contenders,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC. “The top three Chinese vendors (Huawei, OPPO, and vivo) are persistently applying pressure on Samsung within China thanks to a vast portfolio of affordable, well-built devices. Not only is this pressure coming at the low-end, but high-end devices like the P9, Mate 8, R9s, and XPlay6 haven proven viable options for consumers looking to upgrade or save money without sacrificing quality. However, it is worth noting that despite the success of these brands within China, they will need to find growth beyond their home turf to eventually knock off either Samsung or Apple at the top.”

More from Pacific Crest: “Apple reported FQ1 revenue of $78.4 billion, higher than consensus of $77.3 billion. FQ1 iPhone shipments of 78.3 million were also higher than consensus of 77.4 million, driven by strong demand for iPhone 7 Plus. Apple noted that the iPhone 7 Plus remained supply-constrained in the quarter and achieved the highest shipment quarter of any Plus phone ever launched. FQ2 guidance implies 52 million iPhones could be sold, which is slightly below consensus of 53 million. Looking at both FQ1 shipments and FQ2 guidance, iPhone unit volumes were in line with the consensus expectation and much better than feared. Additionally, Apple noted that channel inventories exited the quarter at the low end of its 5-7 week target range. Consistent with our latest carrier survey, iPhone 7 carrier store inventory exited December well below levels seen last year during the iPhone 6s cycle.”

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