Worldwide semiconductor equipment sales, excluding test equipment, fell to $4.1 billion in the second quarter, down 9 percent from the same period a year ago. And compared with the previous quarter, equipment sales fell a whopping 20 percent, according to Gartner.
"The second quarter was far worse than we, or anyone else, thought it would be. We were expecting a 6 percent sequential decline, not 20 percent," said Klaus-Dieter Rinnen, managing vice president of Gartner's semiconductor manufacturing and design research group.
The weak results were largely driven by the , Rinnen said. President Bush launched the war with Iraq in March and declared an end to major combat operations May 1.
As a result of the second-quarter surprise, Gartner lowered its forecast for the year on semiconductor equipment sales. Worldwide sales are expected this year to reach $19.2 billion, a 3.4 percent increase over last year, Rinnen said. Previously, Gartner had forecast sales of $20.6 billion, or 11 percent growth.
The second quarter will also be an albatross around the industry's neck, Rinnen said. He noted that an upturn in sales is expected during the second half of this year but said that improvement will be muted because of the second-quarter decline.
Wafer fabrication equipment, for example, is picking up some momentum during the second half, with sales expected to climb 1.1 percent for this year over last year. But that slow, incremental pace is outpaced by sales of packaging and assembly equipment to chipmakers, Rinnen stated.
Strong sales of devices and a transition to more advanced packaging schemes are driving packaging and assembly equipment sales--an area forecast to grow 19.8 percent this year, compared with last year.
"We expect to see $24.5 billion in sales next year, with 28 percent growth," Rinnen said, noting that test equipment is excluded from those projections. "We believe the recovery is on its way and spending will occur."