[News] Hyundai Achieves Remarkable Q3 2023 Financial Results and Sets New Highs in EV Performance

Under strong government support, South Korean automakers are making remarkable strides in the global automotive market. Hyundai Motor, the largest car manufacturer in South Korea, reported a significant surge in its third-quarter operating profit, doubling year-on-year, primarily fueled by the robust sales of high-profit SUVs and EVs.

According to reports from news outlets such as Yonhap News Agency, Hyundai Motor announced its financial results on October 26, 2023. In the third quarter of 2023, the company witnessed an 8.7% year-on-year increase in revenue, reaching 41 trillion Korean won. Furthermore, the operating profit soared to 3.8 trillion Korean won (approximately 2.8 billion USD), marking a remarkable 146.3% increase compared to the same period last year. These results exceeded market expectations of 3.62 trillion Korean won and set a historic high for the same period.

In the midst of a semiconductor industry downturn, long-standing economic leader Samsung Electronics has faced operational setbacks. In contrast, Hyundai Motor has thrived as South Korean automakers dominate the global automotive market, securing its position as South Korea’s most profitable company for three consecutive quarters and causing a shift in rankings.

In terms of sales volume, Hyundai Motor sold 1.05 million vehicles globally in the third quarter, marking a 2% year-on-year growth. Notably, the company’s focus on expanding its EV product lineup, including the introduction of the IONIQ, resulted in a significant 33.3% increase in global sales of eco-friendly vehicles, reaching 169,000 units.

The luxury brand under Hyundai Motor, Genesis, achieved a 5.1% share of total sales in the third quarter, an increase from 4.9% in the same period last year. SUVs, known for their profitability, accounted for 54.7% of total sales in the third quarter (excluding Genesis), up from 50.6% in the previous year. When including Genesis SUV models, this figure rises to 57.8%.

Amid growing tensions in the Middle East and globally sustained high-interest rates, notable figures like Elon Musk of Tesla and giants like General Motors have warned of potential weak consumer demand for EVs in 2024. Nevertheless, Hyundai Motor’s Vice President, Seo Gang-hyun, has affirmed that the company’s $5 billion investment plan to establish a factory in Georgia is proceeding as planned and is set to commence production in the first half of 2024, six months ahead of the initial schedule.

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(Image credit: Hyundai’s Facebook)


[News] South Korean IC Foundry DB HiTek Expands Research in SiC and GaN Technologies

DB HiTek, a Specialty IC foundry in South Korea, is intensifying its research efforts in the Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductor domains to support future business growth, Jiwei reported.

DB HiTek’s recent investments aim to bolster its 8-inch wafer manufacturing capabilities. Nevertheless, due to a slow market recovery, reports suggest that the operation of the 8-inch wafer foundry may face challenges, and the transition to a 12-inch wafer foundry operation remains a question mark. In light of this situation, DB HiTek’s future development will pivot towards new power semiconductors such as GaN and SiC.

The company has reportedly initiated investments in essential equipment for next-generation GaN and SiC power semiconductors, a move set to expedite their research and development.

It is reported that DB HiTek, housing an 8-inch wafer foundry, is gearing up to venture into the SiC market, while the 6-inch wafer foundry remains the norm in this sector. As part of government policy initiatives, this specialized foundry is collaborating with Busan Techno Park for Silicon Carbide development.

In GaN semiconductor manufacturing, DB HiTek is partnering with the fabless company A-PRO Semicon to fine-tune their foundry processes.

As per the company’s website, DB HiTek operates two wafer foundries, producing ICs across a range of manufacturing nodes from 350nm to 90nm. Fab 1 in Bucheon City, Gyeonggi-do, offers chip solutions within the 150nm to 350nm nodes, including mixed-signal, power, and analog chips. Fab 2 in Eumseong County, Chungcheongbuk-do, provides solutions suitable for the 90nm to 180nm process nodes, including mixed-signal and CMOS image sensors (CIS), among other applications.
(Image: DB HiTek)


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[News] Kioxia and Western Digital Merger in Turmoil? Reports of SK Hynix Disapproval and a Possible SoftBank Collaboration

Is the merger between NAND flash memory chipmakers Kioxia and Western Digital (WD) , which was expected to be finalized this month, facing a twist? According to media reports, South Korean memory giant SK Hynix is opposing this merger and is considering a collaboration with Japan’s SoftBank to invest in Kioxia.

As reported by Yomiuri Shimbun on the 18th, insiders reveal that the merger negotiations between Kioxia and WD might be at an impasse. Although both sides aimed to reach a merger agreement this month, SK Hynix, which plans to indirectly invest in Kioxia, doesn’t concur with the merger. In anticipation of negotiations collapsing, SK Hynix considers partnering with SoftBank to invest in Kioxia.

Kioxia, a spin-off from Toshiba’s memory business, was sold in 2018 to a Bain-Capital-lead consortium, including SK Hynix, and Hoya. At that time, regulations stipulated that the largest shareholder, Bain, must secure the consent of contributors like SK Hynix to promote this merger. It’s reported that SK Hynix is apprehensive that WD’s dominance will increase in this merger.

Reports suggest that SoftBank is currently bolstering its AI-related ventures. Therefore, by investing and enhancing relationships, SoftBank may secure a stable memory supply from Kioxia and SK Hynix.

Throne Shift for memory business? Mergers May Reshape Rankings

Nikkei reported on the 17th that SK Hynix does not approve of the Kioxia and WD merger. At this stage, SoftBank is not directly involved in the merger talks between Kioxia and WD. Kioxia and WD aim to secure a financing agreement with financial institutions this week to facilitate the merger. However, the lack of consent from SK Hynix may impact negotiations with financial institutions.

The report points out that in the NAND flash market, SK Hynix is the world’s second-largest manufacturer, trailing only Samsung. If Kioxia, the world’s third-largest manufacturer, and WD, the fourth-largest, were to merge, they would nearly match Samsung’s scale. This would create a significant gap between SK Hynix, which holds the third position, and raise concerns for SK Hynix.

Toshiba, currently holding approximately 40% of Kioxia, will also become a shareholder in the holding company, with Kioxia’s President, Nobuo Hayasaka, assuming the role of President for the holding company. Additionally, Kioxia will have the majority of seats on the board, granting substantial operational authority

According to data from TrendForce, In Q2 2023, Samsung leads the NAND memory market with 31.1% market share, while Kioxia holds 19.6%, and Western Digital has 14.7%. After the Kioxia-WD merger, their combined market share could exceed 34.3%, establishing them as the dominant force in the NAND memory market.

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(Image: SK Hynix )


Foundry Revenue Projected to Reach Historical High of US$94.6 Billion in 2021 Thanks to High 5G/HPC/End-Device Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global economy enters the post-pandemic era, technologies including 5G, WiFi6/6E, and HPC (high-performance computing) have been advancing rapidly, in turn bringing about a fundamental, structural change in the semiconductor industry as well, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. While the demand for certain devices such as notebook computers and TVs underwent a sharp uptick due to the onset of the stay-at-home economy, this demand will return to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic has been brought under control as a result of the global vaccination drive.

Nevertheless, the worldwide shift to next-gen telecommunication standards has brought about a replacement demand for telecom and networking devices, and this demand will continue to propel the semiconductor industry, resulting in high capacity utilization rates across the major foundries. As certain foundries continue to expand their production capacities this year, TrendForce expects total foundry revenue to reach a historical high of US$94.6 billion this year, an 11% growth YoY.

TrendForce’s latest analysis also finds that shipments and production volumes of end products will continue to grow in the post-pandemic period. Regarding host computers, the total (or global) shipments of servers and workstations are forecasted to undergo a yearly growth mainly driven by applications that are enabled by 5G and HPC. As for various types of client (or end-user) devices, the annual total production volume of 5G smartphones, in particular, is forecasted to increase by around 113% YoY. The penetration rate of 5G models in the smartphone market is also forecasted to rise to 37% in the same year. Turning to notebook (or laptop) computers, their total shipments in 2021 will register a YoY growth rate of about 15% thanks to the proliferation of the stay-at-home economy.

Finally, the governments of many countries introduced consumption subsidies during the pandemic so as to stimulate the domestic economy. Video streaming services have also grown dramatically with respect to content and demand because of the pandemic. As a result, the TV market is seeing a wave of replacement demand as consumers want to purchase the latest models that offer higher resolutions (e.g., 4K and 8K) and network connectivity (i.e., smart TVs). The total shipments of digital TVs in 2021 are forecasted to undergo a YoY growth rate of around 3%.

The high demand for the aforementioned end devices has therefore resulted in a corresponding surging demand for various ICs used in these devices, including CIS, DDI, and PMICs. In addition, the increasing adoption of cloud services, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, has also generated a massive demand for various high-end CPUs and memory products used in the HPC platforms that power said cloud services.

On the whole, TrendForce believes that, with demand maintaining a healthy growth momentum for many kinds of end products, semiconductor components that are manufactured with the same foundry nodes will be competing for production capacity. Some categories of ICs will therefore experience a more severe capacity crunch due to the product mix strategies of respective foundries. In the short term, no effective resolution is expected for the undersupply situation in the foundry market.

Certain foundries will continue to expand their production capacities in 2021 as the semiconductor industry undergoes a structural change

With regards to the expansion plans of various foundries this year, tier-one and tier-two foundries will prioritize the development of different process nodes. More specifically, tier-one foundries, including TSMC and Samsung, will focus on the R&D, fab build-out, and capacity expansion for the 5nm and below nodes in response to the growing chip demand for HPC-related applications. On the other hand, tier-two foundries, including SMIC, UMC, and GlobalFoundries will primarily focus on expanding their production capacities of the 14nm to 40nm mature process nodes in order to meet the massive demand for next-gen telecom technologies (such as 5G and WiFi6/6E) and other diverse applications (such as OLED DDI and CIS/ISP).

Incidentally, it should be pointed out that SMIC’s capacity expansion plans have been constrained after the US Department of Commerce added SMIC to the Entity List, which prohibited the company from procuring US semiconductor equipment. However, SMIC still possesses enough funds for procuring non-US equipment and building new fabs, as the company is not only actively expanding its existing 8-inch and 12-inch wafer capacities, but also proceeding with the construction of its new fab in Beijing.

Apart from the aforementioned companies, other foundries, including PSMC, Tower Semiconductor, Vanguard, and HHGrace, will prioritize the capacity expansion of their 8-inch wafers (which are used for the 55nm and above nodes) to meet the demand for large-sized DDI, TDDI, and PMICs. These foundries, in contrast with their larger competitors, are primarily focusing on 8-inch capacity expansion due to the relatively high cost of DUV immersion systems used for the 40/45nm and below processes. For these companies, it is much more economically feasible to instead undertake capacity expansions for the 55/65nm and above nodes.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com


Chinese Suppliers Take Top Three Spots in TV Panel Shipment Ranking, with Combined Shipment of More Than 50% of All Suppliers, Says TrendForce

As Samsung Display (SDC) decided to extend the manufacturing operations of its Korea-based Gen 8.5 LCD fab, and tier-two panel suppliers are still slow to reassign their production capacities from TV panels to IT panels, TrendForce expects total TV panel shipment for 2021 to reach 269 million units, which is relatively unchanged compared to 2020 levels. Panel suppliers will continue to focus on large-sized TV panels this year in response to several industry-wide developments, including M&A, reduced production capacities, improved manufacturing technologies, and increased panel demand. Furthermore, as the persistent price hike of TV panels continues to reduce the profit margins of TV sets, TV brands have started to gravitate towards larger, more profitable TV sizes. TrendForce therefore expects the average TV panel size this year to increase by 1.6 inches and move towards 50 inches.

TrendForce analyst Jeanette Chan indicates that the shift towards large-sized panels is an effective means of expending the production capacity of panel suppliers. Case in point, due to the limited production capacity for TV panels in 1H21, not only are TV panels currently in short supply, but TV panel prices are also on the rise. On the other hand, the demand for TV panels in 2H21 will depend on several key factors: first, whether the increased retail price of TV sets will hamper consumer demand; second, whether the pandemic will be effectively brought under control as more countries begin vaccinations; third, whether the impending global economic recovery will be a significant one. And finally, whether a market bubble will appear as a result of TV manufacturers’ overbooking panel orders in anticipation of potential hindrances including the price hike of materials in the upstream supply chain, the shortage of glass substrates due to such accidents as facility fires, the shortage of IC supply, and the extended shipping times.

Thanks to their persistently rising production capacity and successful acquisitions, China-based BOE and CSOT, the two largest panel suppliers in the world, are expected to collectively account for about 40% of total TV panel shipment this year. At the same time, BOE and CSOT are actively improving their technologies and making a push for high-end products, such as 8K, ZBD, and AM Mini LED. By leveraging their improved technologies and available funds, the two companies are likely to extend their operations upstream by systematically undertaking vertical integrations.

On the other hand, HKC, which is currently raising its production capacity, has garnered much attention in the market amidst the current shortage situation of TV panels. Along with its Changsha-based H5 fab, which is set to kick off mass production shortly, HKC possesses four Gen 8.6 fabs in total. By raising its production capacity and engaging in additional strategic partnerships with tier-one TV brands, HKC is expected to enter the top three ranking of panel suppliers by TV panel shipment for the first time ever, with a shipment of about 41.91 million units this year, a 33.7% increase YoY.

Taiwan-based AUO and Innolux are expected to experience YoY decreases in their shipments this year as their production capacities are relatively limited, although both companies’ efforts to optimize their products and engage in cross-industry partnerships have brought them certain competitive advantages. In particular, AUO is leading the panel industry in developing not only ultra-high-end products, such as 8K+ZBD, but also Micro LED displays, whereas Innolux holds competitive advantages in product diversity and in-house ODM services. It should be pointed out that these two Taiwanese companies are able to deal with the current IC shortage situation better than their competitors because their parent companies have longstanding business relationships with IC design companies.

With regards to Korean suppliers, although LGD and SDC have both prolonged their LCD manufacturing operations in Korea in order to satisfy the current bullish market demand, the two companies are primarily focusing on transitioning their offerings to new products. LGD will expand the OLED production capacity of its Guangzhou fab in 2Q21 as part of its effort to dominate the OLED market. As for SDC, the company has dropped out of the top six ranking this year as a result of its lowered production capacity. However, new TV sets featuring SDC’s QD-OLED panels are expected to officially hit the market in 4Q21, in turn driving SDC’s yearly TV panel shipment to 2 million units in 2022.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at vivieliu@trendforce.com

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