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Chip gloom deepens – sales may now fall 28% this year

Don't panic! Don't panic!

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As Dad's Army's Private Fraser so aptly put it, "We're doomed. We're all doomed." 'We', in this case, are the world's semiconductor companies, and the doomsayer is market researcher Gartner Dataquest analyst Bryan Lewis.

It's pretty much what fellow chip analyst company IC Insights is saying too.

Lewis reckons 2001's total chip revenues will add up to just three-quarters of last year's figure. At least that's what he told a briefing at the 38th Design Automation Conference in Las Vegas on Sunday, according to EE Times.

Worse, the anticipated 'second half of 2001' recovery won't take place until the latter part of 2002.

Lewis' figure of a 25 per cent fall isn't far off IC Insights' prediction of a 21 per cent dip during 2001, detailed in a report the company put out today.

IC Insights believes the market could dip just 15 per cent, which is a single percentage point off what the chip industry's own trade association is predicting. Earlier this month, the Semiconductor Industry Association put 2001's revenues 14 per cent down on last year's figure. The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics puts it at 13.5 per cent.

But that's IC Insights' best-case scenario - its most pessimistic prediction puts the dip at 28 per cent, beyond even Lewis' figure.

The research firm - as per the SIA and WSTS - is, however, anticipating something of a turnaround in the second half of the year. Through Q3, the industry should see single-figure quarter-on-quarter growth, it believes, rising to 11 per cent in Q4, making for a slight H2 2001 (four per cent) increase on the same period last year.

Lewis doesn't appear to have put a figure to his own predictions, but he's clearly expecting little in the way of growth in the remaining months of 2001.

Both his forecast and IC Insights' own point to a much worse Q2 than had previously been anticipated, in which the first quarter's optimism for a quick turnaround after a brief inventory adjustment appears to have turned into downright misery. Grown-up chip designers have been seen to break down and weep in public. And the loud splat you just heard is another depressed semiconductor executive chucking himself out of a window.

"We're doooo--" ®

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