After experiencing a gradual recovery and positive growth in 2016, the semiconductor equipment industry sees a mixed picture as well as some uncertainty in 2017.
In the near term, though, business is robust. Several chipmakers started to place a sizeable number of fab tool orders in the latter part of 2016, particularly in three areas—3D NAND, logic and foundry.
Now, after buying the initial round of equipment, chipmakers are expected to remain relatively cautious about adding any new fab capacity, at least in the near term.
Chipmakers could place additional fab tool orders if or when demand picks up in 2017. But based on the current demand picture, tool orders could gradually level out and then wane throughout 2017, leading to flat growth in terms of capital spending for the year, according to one analyst.
“Near term, semiconductor equipment demand is strong, led by heavy (calendar) Q4 spending by Samsung for 3D NAND and 10nm installations at TSMC and Intel,” said Weston Twigg, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, “(but) semiconductor capex growth may decelerate in 2017.”
In total, worldwide semiconductor capital spending is projected to reach $63.9 billion in 2017, up a mere 1% over 2016, according to Twigg. In comparison, semiconductor capital spending is expected to grow by 9% in 2016, he said.
Read more: Fab Tool Biz Faces Challenges In 2017
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