Week In Review: Manufacturing, Test

Trade wars; Infineon buys Cypress; tool, packaging forecasts.


Trade wars
The trade war between the United States and China is escalating and it is here to stay. Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at think tank Hoover Institution, said the United States is at a crossroads with China. It could define America’s security and the international order for decades to come.

Here’s the latest blog on trade tensions between the U.S. and China. “Tensions between the United States and China have reached fever pitch. Ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China broke down earlier this month over reported backpedaling by China on key concessions in a proposed Trump administration deal. Over the past year, the U.S. has raised tariffs on more than $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25%, and last week the administration proposed tariff hikes on an additional $300 billion in imports – moves that have drawn retaliatory tariffs from China, many squarely hitting the semiconductor industry. Based on SEMI member feedback, the tariff increases will cost the semiconductor industry more than $750 million annually,” said Mike Russo is vice president of global industry advocacy at SEMI, in a blog.

Commenting on the U.S. Trade Representative’s proposed tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), said: “The Trump Administration has now formally proposed an excise tax or tariff on consumers’ favorite technology products – including smartphones, laptops, TVs, wireless headphones and smart speakers. In all, tech products account for more than half of the $300 billion in products on the new tariff list. This immense round of tariffs is exponentially worse for our country. China is one of the top export markets for American technology – and its retaliatory tariffs will choke U.S. job creation and global sales for American manufacturers and innovators. President Trump is right to oppose China’s bad trade practices. But National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow has acknowledged what we’ve said all along – tariffs are taxes paid by Americans, not China. Raising tariffs in this questionably legal fashion hurts American families, workers and businesses.”

Infineon Technologies and Cypress Semiconductor announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement under which Infineon will acquire Cypress for $23.85 per share in cash, corresponding to an enterprise value of €9.0 billion.

Marvell has entered into a definitive agreement under which NXP will acquire Marvell’s Wi-Fi connectivity business for $1.76 billion. The business employs approximately 550 people worldwide and generated roughly $300 million in revenue in Marvell’s fiscal 2019.

Fab, packaging and test
Kyocera will acquire the advanced ceramics business operations of Friatec, a manufacturer and seller of ceramic and plastic components.

Advantest has joined the Global Compact (UNGC), a global initiative of the United Nations, and the Global Compact Network Japan. The UNGC is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General which encourages companies and organizations to exert responsible and social leadership.

Audi has become the first automotive OEM to join SEMI. SEMI membership will give Audi access to SEMI core competencies in developing international standards and technology roadmaps.

The Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, has named Simon Segars, chief executive of Arm, as chair of its 10-member governing council.

Market research
Here’s a gloomy forecast: “Near-term semiconductor equipment demand dynamics remain muted as memory producers limit capex while logic and foundry producers spend on advanced nodes. We still project fab equipment demand to fall 18% this year; however, we project a 6% increase in 2020 as memory producers begin to recover from under-investment,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets, in a research note. “We expect 2020 semiconductor equipment demand to be up 6% y/y. We expect 2020 memory capex to increase 5% y/y, after significant under-investment in 2019, reflecting a modest recovery as supply/demand dynamics likely improve in 2020 (limited supply, likely expanded datacenter, and edge/endpoint markets). Memory margins should also gradually begin to recover, though it may take some time for NAND margins to support a significant capex recovery. 2020 logic and foundry capex should be up moderately (logic up 2%, foundry up 7%) on likely improving demand and capital-intensive node transitions.”

Here’s the latest projections for fan-in and fan-out wafer-level packaging (WLP): “Fan-in WLPs are projected to grow at an 8.5% CAGR from 2018 to 2022,” according to a new report from TechSearch International. “FO-WLP‘s adoption continues in products ranging from smartphones to automotive and the package shows a growth rate of almost 37% over the four-year period. Cost-reduction pressures are driving the development of alternatives to reconstituted wafer FO-WLP in the form of large area panel processing and the first product can be seen in the new Samsung smart watch.”

What’s happening to the sub-systems market for fab tools? “Revenues for critical subsystems are expected to decrease approximately 20% to $10.9 billion in 2019 from their record highs of $13.6 billion in 2018. This appears to be a considerable drop, and it is, but we should not forget that the industry is still operating at extremely high levels and $10.9 billion would be the third highest on record,” said Julian West, a technical and marketing analyst at VLSI Research Europe, on SEMI’s site.

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