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Merrill Lynch Forecasts Wafer Shortage to Hit Chipmakers in May

Mar 16, 2011 | By Ken Liu

Taipei, March 16, 2011 (CENS)--Dan Heyler, who tracks semiconductor industry at Merrill Lynch, yesterday estimated chipmakers around the world now have only four to five weeks of stock inventory of silicon wafers at most and will start to wrestle with supply shortage in May if Japanese suppliers, which fill 60-70% of the global needs, fail to resume productions in time.

Heyler warned that a supply shortage will definitely affect sales revenue of chipmakers in the second quarter. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) for instance, has around 30 days of net inventory only, he said.

Heyler said he is closely watching supply issue of NAND Flash memory chips, fearing that a supply shortage of the chips will deal heavy blow to smartphone and tablet PC markets as the chip is an integral part of the two application products.

He said that all market information shows that demand for telecommunications products is strong, outperforming demand for PCs and consumer electronics.

C.H. Chen, a senior analyst at UBS Securities, said he is worried more about middle-stream and down-stream sectors of the supply chain than about chipmakers because the suppliers may cut contracts to chipmakers although they also possibly increase the contracts.

He estimated that TSMC may revise downward its sales for the second quarter to negative growth from minor growth or flat performance if Japanese silicon-wafer makers fail to resume production in time. Chen described supply chain of semiconductor industry as “a chaos” now because of the fatal earthquake in Japan.


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