12 DECEMBER 2001

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ST improves international ranking despite slump

By Kurt Sansone

STMicroelectronics is poised to improve its ranking to fifth in the top 10 list of semiconductor suppliers worldwide, according to the annual ranking exercise conducted by Arizona-based market research company, IC Insights.
The forecast for 2001 indicates that the Europe-based STMicroelectronics is expected to register sales amounting to 6.3 billion dollars, which is a 19 per cent decline over sales registered in 2000. Despite the slump STMicroelectronics still climbed two places from last year’s seventh place ranking.
The top 10 list shows that all semiconductor suppliers registered massive declines in sales ranging from Intel’s 23 per cent to a huge 52 per cent drop registered by Samsung.
STMicroelectronics’ decline is forecast to be the smallest among the top 10 suppliers. In 1999 STMicroelectronics ranked eighth in world wide semiconductor sales.
The forecast by IC Insights comes as good news for the Maltese economy, which is heavily dependent on STMicroelectronics’ production plant in Kirkop. The decline in exports by the Kirkop branch was the main factor behind Malta’s negative GDP growth for six consecutive months.
The Malta Financial and Business Times can reveal that in a recent meeting held for company employees, the top management informed workers that the Kirkop plant was expected to come out of the slump sometime during the second or third quarter of 2002.
The Malta plant has implemented a number of cost-cutting measures in line with STMicrolecetronics’ worldwide policy. Sources told this newspaper that the savings registered by the Maltese plant were better than most ST plants in other parts of the world.
The total sales of the top 10 semiconductor producers are forecast to drop 32 per cent in 2001, equalling the decline in the worldwide semiconductor industry.
The top three positions were unchanged from 2000. The US based Intel came first with sales for 2001 projected to reach 22.7 billion dollars despite a decline of 23 per cent on the previous year.
Japanese giants Toshiba and NEC came second and third respectively. Toshiba projects 7.2 billion dollars in sales while NEC expects to register 6.9 billion dollars. The figures represent a decline of 35 per cent over the sales registered in 2000.
The fourth position is occupied by US-based Texas Instruments, which climbed up one place.
Korea’s Samsung in sixth place slipped two positions in the ranking with projected sales for 2001 standing at 5.1 billion dollars. Samsung registered the biggest drop in sales among the top 10 companies.
US-based Motorola is ranked seventh with 4.9 billion dollars in sales while Japan’s Hitachi retained its eighth ranking with 4.7 billion dollars in sales.
The ninth and tenth ranks are occupied respectively by European companies Infineon and Philips. Philips made it to the top 10 list after jumping two spots.
IC Insights expects the 2002 semiconductor market to increase by only one per cent over 2001. But the quarterly growth rate is forecast to exceed 10 per cent in the third and fourth quarters of 2002.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt