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Owing to Demand for Seasonal Inventory Buildup and 5G Products, Global Foundry Revenue Projected to Grow 6% QoQ, Says TrendForce

10 December 2019 Semiconductors TrendForce

According to the latest statistics from TrendForce, under the influence of foundries’ inventory-reduction efforts and expectation-shattering seasonal demand, the projected 4Q19 revenue of the global foundry industry surpasses the previous quarter by 6%. The top three market leaders are TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries, with market shares of 52.7%, 17.8%, and 8%, respectively.

This revenue overview examines the projected 4Q19 performances of major players in the foundry industry. TSMC has been maintaining maximum capacity utilization rates for its 16nm, 12nm, and 7nm process nodes. In particular, TSMC’s revenue share from the 7nm process is increasing due to several factors. First, iPhone 11’s sales figures exceeded previous expectations. Second, AMD is maintaining a consistent wafer input at TSMC. Finally, MediaTek placed wafer input orders for its first 5G SoC. On the other hand, TSMC benefitted from the increased shipment of IoT chips manufactured at TSMC’s legacy process nodes. The company’s 4Q19 revenue is projected to grow by about 8.6% YoY.

With regards to Samsung, the company’s high-end 4G smartphone APs are expected to exhibit slower demand growth because of heavy market anticipation for 5G phones in 2020. Even so, Samsung is hoping to compensate for its slowdown in smartphone APs with the upcoming shipment at the end of 4Q19 of Qualcomm’s 5G SoC, manufactured at Samsung’s 7nm EUV process nodes. In addition, Samsung posted strong revenue performances from the sales of 5G networking chips and high-resolution CIS. The company’s projected 4Q19 revenue trends flat-to-upward compared to 3Q19, with a 19.3% growth YoY thanks to a comparatively weaker base period in 2018.

The demand for GlobalFoundries’ RF IC is continuing to rise, driven by the development of 5G technology. The foundry is also expanding its telecom and automotive FD SOI product lines to shore up the diminished demand for its advanced processes. As a result, GlobalFoundries’ 4Q19 revenue might be expected to rebound to a positive growth YoY. UMC expanded its shares in the 5G wireless devices and embedded memory markets. At the same time, there is an increased demand for RF ICs and OLED driver ICs by cellphone makers, as well as an increased PMIC demand in the computer chip market. In light of these factors, UMC’s 4Q19 revenue is projected to increase by 15.1% YoY. On the other hand, thanks to the consistent advancements in CIS and optical fingerprint sensors, continued growth of Chinese clienteles, and stable demand of PMICs for telecom applications, SMIC has a near-maximum capacity utilization rate, with a projected 4Q19 revenue growth of 6.8%.

In response to an increased demand for RF chips and silicon photonic chips driven by the adoption of 5G technology, TowerJazz is actively seeking to expand its share in the RF SOI market by raising its capacity utilization rate. Yet the company’s 4Q19 revenue is expected to decline by 6% YoY because its data center clients need to reduce inventory levels, and because the current demand for power discretes is different compared to 4Q18. Most of Hua Hong’s 4Q19 revenue can be attributed to sales in the domestic embedded memory and power semiconductor markets. Hua Hong is also actively expanding its line of RF products. However, the company’s capacity utilization rate is lower compared to the same quarter in 2018; therefore, Hua Hong’s 4Q19 revenue is projected to decline by 2.8% YoY. VIS faces increased demand for its PMICs and small-sized panel driver ICs but decreased demand for large-sized panel driver ICs. These factors, combined with its clients’ higher-than-average inventory levels, show a conservative outlook for VIS’ 4Q19 performance.

TrendForce projects the foundry industry’s 4Q19 revenue performance to exceed previous expectations, owing to increased inventory buildup from impending seasonal sales. Nonetheless, the ongoing U.S-China trade war and uncertainties in the electronics market ensure that foundries are cautious to react against market shifts in the near future. In light of these developments, foundries are expected to adjust their inventory levels in 1H20 according to leftover stock.

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