The latest revisions to forecasts for the second half of 2011 (2H11) are coming in now that 1H11 is over. Gartner is still forecasting 2011 to be a double digit growth year for semiconductor capital equipment spending. According to this report in EETimes, Gartner is forecasting "spending […] to rise 10.2 percent to [US] $44.8 billion in 2011 before declining slightly in 2012. […] [Gartner]'s analysts said 2011 spending is being driven by aggressive foundry spending, IDM logic capacity ramping up at the leading edge, and memory companies gearing up for double patterning."
The reasons behind the 2011 increases, according to the same Gartner report, center around moving up to leading-edge processes and architectures. As a result, the 2012 forecast will experience a drop off with a slight rebound moving into 2013, except for memory, which is seen to hit a cyclical downturn due to likely oversupply issues again by 2013.
Comparing Gartner's forecasts with the data released this month from SEMI we see a similar trend, though SEMI is more bullish on spending for this year, predicting an overall 31% rise in equipment spending for 2011, followed by a 6% decline in 2012. The details behind this forecast are worth repeating:
"'2011 is expected to be a record year for fab equipment spending. Since February, some companies have increased capex guidance and, as a result, fab equipment spending should reach an all-time high of about [US] $44 billion. The spending pace is expected to decline 6% to [US] $41 billion in 2012, yet will remain the second highest annual level on record.' said Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, senior analyst of fab information in the SEMI Industry Research and Statistics group. 'However, the number of new volume fabs starting construction is historically low, with potential implications for industry capacity plans in 2012 and beyond.'"
One possible reason for the differences in forecasts could be the scope of what is tracked, SEMI tracks all equipment spending, whether new, used or in-house; details regarding the scope of the Gartner tracking were not available.
What is important is the consistency in the trending, rather than the specific amount (although a difference of 20% is certainly significant). The fact that both of these top analyst teams, at this point in 2011, forecast double-digit growth for 2011 with a single-digit decline in 2012 gives us good cause to believe the data and pay particular attention to the cautions for 2012-2013.