Semi sales jump 6% globally, but auto chips still choke on 35% car sales decline

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The scenario for chip sales globally remains uncertain although May was a high note, with an increase of 6%. Auto chip sales are down along with a big decline in auto sales.(Getty Images)

Global semiconductor sales jumped nearly 6% in May from a year earlier, reaching $35 billion, even as some sectors like auto integrated circuits have seen declines.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics group also forecast that annual global sales for 2020 will rise by 3% and then 6% in 2021.

“The global semiconductor market in May remained largely resistant to the widespread economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still significant uncertainty for the months ahead,” said John Neuffer, president the Semiconductor Industry Association, in a statement.

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The May increase was up about 1.5% over April on a global basis. In the Americas, the increase was nearly 2%, while China was up by 5.8% month-to-month.  Europe saw a 6% decline month-to-month.  Compared to a year ago in May, the Americas had a 25% increase.

The WSTS sales forecast of a 3% increase would be about $426 billion over the 2019 sales total of $412 billion. For the Americas, that would mean a 12.8% increase. 

ww chip sales graph may 2020

The global numbers don’t describe the wide diversity in revenues for memory as opposed to analog and power chips.  Micron Technology and Broadcom reported strong quarter recently, largely on the strength of memory chips with SSD sales hitting a record at Micron.  Meanwhile, revenues for memory and power chips for auto uses and industrials applications have fallen.

Consumers have lowered demand for autos and have more frugal amid the pandemic’s devastating impact on economies.  Major carmakers last week said sales were down about 35% in the second quarter. Also, car rental companies are selling off their fleets, creating more competition for auto dealers.   Hertz filed for bankruptcy in May.

VSLI analyst Dan Hutcheson last week called auto chips “the wrecking yard of the IC market” and remarked that “no wonder Micron’s so positive” as DRAM revenues zoomed past a 13-week moving average for logic chips. “Analog and power continue to be held down by the misery of industrial an auto,” he added.

RELATED:  Micron and Broadcom see strong quarters, but auto chips are a wreck

In early June, Omdia said auto power semiconductors sales will fall by 16% for all of 2020, hitting about $9 billion.  Omdia included in the segment power discretes, power modules, and power integrated circuits for electronics used in cars and trucks. 

RELATED: COVID-19 to rip auto power chip sales by 16% this year

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