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DRAMeXchange: Quarter-End Effect Results in 5-10% Decrease for 2HFeb. Mainstream NAND Flash Average Contract Price

2 March 2012 Semiconductors

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, as Chinese New Year holiday sales were not as expected for some downstream clients, most were generally uneager towards post-holiday inventory restocking. A portion of memory card and UFD vendors are urging NAND flash suppliers to assist them with price cutting and promotional sales activity to stimulate market demand in the weak season. Therefore, purchasing was weak on the NAND flash market in 2HFeb. Affected by the quarter-end effect, certain NAND flash suppliers adopted an aggressive price cut strategy early on to encourage downstream client purchases; thus, mainstream NAND flash average contract price fell by 5-10% in 2HFeb.

The following three factors will be the main influences on the NAND flash market in 1H12:

1. Macroeconomically speaking, international negotiations and cooperative efforts have resulted in the gradual ease of the European sovereign debt storm as well as instability that has affected economies and financial markets worldwide. Therefore, the global economy will be back on the road to sustainable recovery in 2H12, which will help raise NAND flash end product sales and enhance the peak season effect in 2H12.

2. In terms of the supply side, although most major suppliers are suspending capacity expansion plans in response to relatively conservative macroeconomic environments in 1H12, as yields continue to be improved, new 20nm-class process output ratios will gradually increase in 2Q12. Taking system product performance and reliability requirements into consideration, in 2H12 most NAND flash suppliers will continue to introduce low cost, high capacity eMMC, mSATA, and SSD products manufactured with 20nm-class process technology.

3. As for the demand side, NAND flash end application demand is expected to be weak in 1H12, as a result of delayed economic recovery and the slow season effect. It is anticipated that only the unveiling of certain bestselling products will bring a hint of spring to the NAND flash market in the 1H12 slow season. In 2H12, related manufacturers will introduce new smartphone, tablet PC, and ultrabook models equipped with new ecosystem combinations of next-generation features such as high performance microprocessors, operating systems, wireless communication technology, high resolution images, etc. This will help increase the proportion of 20nm-class embedded NAND flash products adopted by smart mobile devices in 2H12.

In conclusion, TrendForce believes the NAND flash market will likely stay in a state of oversupply in 1H12. Affected by a mix of factors such as the quarter-end effect in 1Q, anticipation of new bestselling products hitting the market, and the traditional weak season, NAND Flash price is expected to show a mild downtrend in the short term.


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