Wireless is more for November chip sales

Activity in the wireless sector helps keep worldwide chip sales afloat in November, as revenue rises a slight 1.3 percent from October to $12.68 billion, a trade group says.

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Activity in the wireless sector helped keep worldwide chip sales afloat in November, the Semiconductor Industry Association said Monday.

Global semiconductor sales reached $12.68 billion for the month, a slight increase of 1.3 percent from the $12.51 billion in revenue reported for October, according to the SIA. Sales for November 2002 showed a greater jump when compared to November 2001, up 19.6 percent from $10.6 billion.

The SIA's Global Sales Report is a three-month moving average of sales activity. It is tabulated by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organization, which represents some 66 companies.

The trade group pointed to the figures as yet another sign of a slow rejuvenation that began in the fourth quarter of 2001. Last year was one of the worst ones in the industry's history.

"The November sales of the global chip industry underscore the healthy recovery that has been building momentum throughout the year," SIA President George Scalise said in a statement. "The wireless sector continues to be the strongest single market."

But the picture may not be as rosy as November's numbers suggest, given sluggish retail activity at year's end, according to one analyst.

"The WSTS numbers for November are historical data. Key is what's happened in December. We've seen weak retail reports this month, and just before Christmas (U.S. chipmaker) Cypress warned about weak wireless chip sales,'' said a London-based analyst at a major investment bank.

For all of 2002, the SIA has predicted that chip sales will grow 1.8 percent to $141 billion, followed in 2003 by more robust growth of 19.8 percent year over year to $169 billion.

For November, the wireless sector boosted semiconductor products including flash memory and digital signal processors, which were up 6.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Wi-Fi activity also contributed to the strength of the market, the SIA said, though it did not give details.

The computer segment also showed growth, with DRAM sales rising 5.8 percent, but microprocessors inching up just 0.5 percent.

Regionally, the strongest growth was in Europe, where chip sales increased 5.8 percent, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, up 1.3 percent. Semiconductor sales declined in the Americas by 0.8 percent and in Japan by 0.6 percent.

Reuters contributed to this report.