Friday, July 29, 2011

Chip Industry Pulse - The Presentation Parade

Below, for your weekend reading enjoyment, you will find a set of links to some technology company presentations and a few stories from around the modern InterTubes.

Many of the company presentations contain the same message - tough sledding is expected for the next few quarters. But never fear, you will also find optimistic expressions about the long term view.

Samsung's Presentation from last night

Taiwan Semiconductor Presents

Here's a Global Foundries Video - (friends tell me they love marketing). And while we're at it, here's a presentation from Semicon West on 450mm - apparently they've moved it up on the priority list.

Speaking of the foundries - here's a roundtable discussion about multi-foundry strategies.

Lam Research Quarterly Report Presentation and their Analyst Meeting Presentation given at Semicon West.

I tuned in to the Lam conference call. The comments that stuck out for me centered on lead times. Here's a snippet:

"In addition, given the relatively short lead times for most equipment, customers have the ability to better time their deliveries to match the expected demand environment. As a result, even with overall healthy wafer fab spend levels, we expect a quarterly shipment variations in the range of plus or minus 25% will be experienced. "

Excerpt from Seeking Alpha

Shipment variations like this will drive those estimating quarterly earnings nuts and, to some extent, rendering them meaningless. Investors will have to finesse their trades - stepping in to buy when things look terrible and selling when things look great. It's the nature of the beast…..

KLA-Tencor was out last night - hear that echo? Slowing….

Think back to earlier in the year, during CES and Mobile Congress. Every company was blowing hot air about the 28nm ARM processors they were going to deliver for this year's holiday selling season. Well, 28nm has been a big challenge for the foundries and the high volume production ramp for many of those designs has been pushed out in to next year. An excerpt from the KLA conference call is in order:

Unknown Analyst -

Okay. One last question. On the 28-nanometer ramp, compared to the 40 nanometer, we know that foundries have suffered quite a bit on the yield issue in 40 nanometers. Based on what you've seen on 28, is the yield issues getting more difficult, or it's pretty much at the same level?

Richard Wallace (KLA CEO)

When I talk to customers -- and we have a lot of conversations the last couple of weeks, I'd say more difficult, more challenging. And 40 was interesting because as you know, a lot of people are going to do 45 and then they move to 40, and they were surprised by how difficult the yield was. And that was the catalyst for a lot of business for us. But if you look at 28, it's actually harder. Now they're a little more aware of the challenges, but we're getting pushed very hard to bring out our latest capability and technology to get it in line because I think our customers are pretty aware that they're missing critical defects in areas that are going to cause problems for them. And there's also a metrology challenges. So I think more difficult and a lot of interest in technology buys. And obviously, if we did have a prolonged softening, I think the technology position for K-T plays pretty well into that space because of the yield challenges they're seeing. No question.

Excerpt again from Seeking Alpha

Forecasting firm IC Insights has lowered their estimates for this year's Worldwide Semiconductor Market :

"Although the U.S. debt ceiling and European debt crises are likely to be addressed without creating a worldwide financial panic or meltdown, both of these situations have caused a great amount of uncertainty throughout the world, affecting both businesses and consumers alike. The problem with uncertainty in the marketplace is that it typically results in "hesitation" and "worry" for consumers and businesses. This environment of hesitation and worry is not conducive to good economic growth and can sometimes have a worse impact than if the negative event itself took place!"

A picture from the release:

All in all, a tough week - and I didn't even bother to touch on the mess in Washington. Keep the faith though. It will get better. Technology and chip manufacturing will continue to roll forward - with a few bumps along the way. Today's sentiment clearly lands on the bearish side of the ledger. That's a good thing if you are looking to pick up some bargains.

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