Sales were down from both the preceding month and the year-ago period, according to the SIA, which represents semiconductor manufacturers based in the United States. In March, worldwide semiconductor sales totaled some $14.4 billion, or 7 percent lower than February's level of $15.5 billion, and 4.5 percent lower than the March 2000 tally of $15.1 billion.
The sector had hit a high mark of $18.2 billion in August 2000. Since that time, sales have slowed significantly by a sagging economy and excess inventories that caused chipmakers such as Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments--and the suppliers of chip-manufacturing equipment, such as Applied Materials--to lower their earnings forecasts and cut jobs.
The drop-off was especially pronounced in North and South America, where the industry's $4.1 billion in sales were down 13.4 percent from February and 10.6 percent compared with March 2000. Asia-Pacific sales of $3.4 billion were down 5.6 percent from February and 10.4 percent from March 2000.
The one sign of growth came from Japan, where sales of $3.6 billion were up 7 percent from March 2000, though down 4.7 percent from February 2001. Europe's contribution of $3.3 billion was down only 2 percent compared with February and 0.7 percent compared with March 2000.
An end to the long slide may be in sight, though it won't arrive right away, according to SIA President George Scalise.
"Since last November, we have witnessed worldwide semiconductor sales continually decline due to an inventory overhang and macroeconomic factors," Scalise said in a statement. "We continue to believe that the industry will complete the inventory correction in the third quarter and the recovery will commence in the fourth quarter."