The semiconductor industry appears to be firing on all cylinders, experiencing good demand across multiple industries including automotive, communications, industrial, medical, and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT). The top 20 semiconductor manufacturers increased sales by nine percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the first quarter of last year, according to the latest research from IC Insights.
However, six out of the 20 leading semiconductor companies grew their revenues by more than 20 percent during the same time period. Nine companies reported sales of at least $2.0 billion in the first quarter (Q1). It took more than $1.1 billion in quarterly sales to make the Q1 top 20 semiconductor supplier ranking.
Among the top 20, seven suppliers are headquartered in the U.S., four in Japan, three in Taiwan, three in Europe, two in South Korea, and one in Singapore. The ranking also includes three pure-play foundries - TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and UMC - and four fabless companies. As noted by IC Insights, the top four semiconductor suppliers all have different business models: “Intel is essentially a pure-play IDM, Samsung a vertically integrated IC supplier, TSMC a pure-play foundry, and Qualcomm a fabless company.”
Two companies – Japan-based Sharp and Taiwan-based UMC – joined the top 20 ranking in the first quarter, replacing U.S.-based AMD and Nvidia. According to IC Insights, “AMD’s 2013 restructuring and new strategy programs to focus on non-PC end-use segments have yet to pay off for the company.” In addition to AMD’s sales decline of 26 percent year-over-year, the company lost $180 million in the first quarter of 2015, after declining $403 million in 2014, the report reveals.
Although Intel held on to its number one position even with flat sales in the first quarter, there were some changes in the top 10 ranking. One significant change is SK Hynix moving into the number five position, displacing Micron. IC Insights’ analysts believe that SK Hynix could overtake Qualcomm, which is dealing with softer sales, and move into the fourth position when full-year sales are totaled.
A key finding of the report reveals that Sharp had the highest sales increase of all the top 20 semiconductor suppliers with a 62 percent growth rate (88 percent in yen) for its semiconductor group, which represents about 14 percent of the company’s corporate sales. The increase is attributed to the company’s success in the CMOS image sensor market.
However, due to recent and possible acquisitions and mergers this year (for example, NXP/Freescale), IC Insights analysts believe that the top 20 ranking may undergo some big changes over the next few years.