This week brought important record numbers to the industry from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) who released the 2013 final sales numbers which show a 4.8% increase year-over-year, "reaching [US] $305.6 billion, the industry's highest-ever annual total."
Contributing to these record-setting numbers, according to SIA, was the strongest December sales on record, particularly from the Americas which saw an increase of 17.3% year-over-year for that month. On a quarterly comparison, the fourth quarter of 2013 showed a 7.7% increase year-over-year from 2012, reaching global sales of US $79.9 billion and supported the 4Q13 increase of 4.5% on a quarter-over-quarter basis from 3Q13. This quarterly uptrend from 3Q to 4Q is not a typical seasonal pattern, as SIA noted.
Growth patterns promise more
As noted in the SIA statement by Brian Toohey, president and CEO of SIA:
The global semiconductor industry exceeded $300 billion in sales for the first time ever in 2013, spurred by consistent, steady growth across nearly all regions and product categories. […] The industry finished the year on a strong note with its best December on record, indicating that recent momentum is likely to carry over into 2014.
This accounting of the 2013 year, and particularly 4Q13 is in line with the patterns that Smith MarketWatch reported in early December when considering the CE purchasing patterns and processor demands we were seeing.
Importantly, the CE momentum in the Americas is proving to be a major boost for the industry as the US economy strengthens and continues to gain positive momentum. That is directly translating into more retail sales and spreading consumer confidence. Europe too is moving into steadier patterns and Asia is seeing some volatility due to the Japanese yen devaluation, as SIA also discusses.
The storage story
Although these global semi sales gains are really across the board for components, as IHS noted in their drilldown into storage for the PC-sector only, SSDs are seeing significant strengthening. Although Optical Disk Drives (ODD) and Hard Disk Drives (HDD) saw continued weakening of sales during 2013, falling 12% and 7% respectively year-over-year, Solid State Drives nearly doubled in sales for the same period. The SSD increase was able to pull the overall storage to see a combined drop of 5% in sales for the year.
Of note, the above 2013 storage data are for the PC-sector only, what will be interesting is how the 2014 push into increased automotive semi solutions will change the storage sector going forward. Could automotive actually be the break-out point for SSD that we keep anticipating year after year? Additionally, with global macro-economic improvements quite obviously taking hold, as directly expressed in the growth rates above and in global and country GDP forecasts, we are also expecting to see an increase (finally) in enterprise purchasing which could boost HDD and other PC-related sectors during 2014.