The Week In Review: Manufacturing

iPhone bounce; LCD slowdown; CapEx race; fab tool service model.

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RBC Capital Markets has raised its iPhone unit forecast for 2014 to 159.1 million from 156.7 million. The iPhone estimates reflect better-than-expected growth in the September quarter, according to RBC. So which chipmakers will benefit? In order, the companies with the most exposure into Apple are Cirrus Logic, Dialog Semiconductor, Triquint, Skyworks, Audience, Avago, Broadcom, Qualcomm, SanDisk, Micron, RF Micro Devices, Omnivision, Peregrine, Intel, NVIDIA and others, including Texas Instruments, Samsung, STMicro, Toshiba, and Fairchild, according to RBC analyst Doug Freedman.

The large-area flat-panel display industry is going through the darkest period in several years, as measured by monthly revenues. DisplaySearch indicates that February large-area LCD revenues fell below $5 billion for the first time in over three years.

TV panel shipments typically trend downward in the first two months of the year, but the decline this year is less severe than usual. However, while shipment growth is expected in March, the recovery is forecast to be less strong than in past years, as some shipments may have been pulled ahead into Q4’13 and early Q1’14, according to the firm.

IC Insights released a forecast, which ranked the top 25 semiconductor capital spenders for 2014. Samsung and Intel are each forecast to spend at least $11 billion this year, and TSMC slightly less than $10 billion. Collectively the three companies are forecast to account for 51.8% of total semiconductor industry CapEx this year. Also, GlobalFoundries is expected to increase its semiconductor capital spending by $1 billion as well this year.

The growing complexity of manufacturing chips, displays and solar cells, coupled with the costs of advanced production facilities, are changing service and support requirements, according to Applied Materials.

Altera and Intel announced their collaboration on the development of multi-die devices. The collaboration is an extension of the foundry relationship, in which Intel is manufacturing Altera’s Stratix 10 FPGAs using Intel’s 14nm tri-gate process.

Intel has completed the acquisition of Basis Science, a company specializing in wearable device technologies for health and wellness applications.

Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund overseen by David Einhorn, has discovered the identity of an anonymous blogger who disclosed Greenlight’s stake in Micron. Greenlight also dropped a suit to force website Seeking Alpha to reveal the blogger’s name.

EnVerv, a provider of metering system-on-chip solutions, announced the closing of its $15.4 million round of series C financing with participation from Cassiopeia Capital Partners, Cisco, UMC Capital and existing investors, Benchmark Capital, NEA, and Walden International.

Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 6.9% increase from 2013, according to Gartner. Device shipments grew 4.8% in 2013. Sales of traditional PCs will continue to hamper the overall growth of devices.

The global market for semiconductor ATE is forecast to reach $4.3 billion by 2020, spurred by strong chip fabrication activity, according to Global Industry Analysts.