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Tech Industry

Chip shipments jibe with growth forecast

A report by the Semiconductor Industry Association shows that sales of semiconductors in the wireline, wireless and other markets are keeping pace with industry expectations of a better showing in 2004.

Semiconductor sales are keeping pace with the industry's expectation of a better showing in 2004.

Global chip sales in February 2004 rose 30.8 percent above the same month last year, according to data released Friday by the Semiconductor Industry Association. That's the largest year-over-year growth rate in the industry since October 2000. Growth over January of this year was modest, at 0.2 percent, a rate the SIA called consistent with normal cyclical patterns.

In January, chip sales were up 26.6 percent year-over-year. SIA expects the trend to continue through 2004. In February, sales in the United States and Japan declined slightly, while all other regions reported growth.

Shipments of programmable logic devices and standard cells grew in February by 4.3 percent, spurred by a recovery in wireline markets. But microprocessor sales dipped by 0.7 percent due to cyclical patterns of lower PC sales in that month. The wireless and consumer-electronics segments, which led to double-digit growth through the end of 2003, were flat to down in February, but SIA said these sectors will rebound as the year progresses.

The trend is in line with a recent Gartner study that forecast a rise in demand, especially in the wired sector. However, Gartner analysts said the forecast was conservative because companies are still cautious on information technology spending and consumer demand of electronics goods remains unpredictable.

"While growth was largely driven by a rebound in corporate information technology spending, the current growth cycle extends to all end markets and major product areas. We are encouraged by the recovery in demand in the wireline communications sector," SIA President George Scalise, said in a statement. "Customers remain cautious about inventories, and February shipments actually trailed semiconductor consumption. As a result, we do not expect inventory corrections will be a drag on chip sales going forward."