iSupply’s Latest Semiconductor Forecast: Depressing and Wildly Optimistic

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Includes: PSI, SMH, SOXX, XSD
by: William Trent, CFA

The Electronic News recently reported that Semi growth will hit a high point in its current cycle this year.

Good news for the semiconductor industry: 2007 will be the peak year of the present growth cycle, with double-digit growth expected, according to El Segundo, Calif.-based market research firm iSuppli Corp. On the other hand, the bad news for the semiconductor industry this year is that due to the changing dynamics of the business, growth will amount to only 10.6 percent—far below historical market peaks.

Still, iSuppli expects worldwide semiconductor revenue to expand to $285.8 billion this year, from $258.5 billion in 2006, compared to iSuppli’s newly revised forecast of 9 percent semiconductor growth in 2006.

After this year, growth is expected to decelerate to 8.7 percent in 2008 and bottom out at 3.7 percent in 2009, before bouncing back to a 7.4 percent rise in 2010.

The problem is, given the rate at which semiconductor manufacturers have been ordering new equipment this year, that forecast could mean the current overcapacity woes are never resolved. And that is assuming that the forecast, which improbably predicts that the current streak of four consecutive years of positive semiconductor sales growth (already near a record length) will continue for at least another four.