The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, today announced that worldwide semiconductor sales for 2012 reached $291.6 billion, the industry's third-highest yearly total ever but a decrease of 2.7 percent from the record total of $299.5 billion set in 2011. Total sales for the year narrowly beat expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization's industry forecast. Global sales for the month of December 2012 hit $24.7 billion, a decline of 3 percent from the previous month when sales were $25.5 billion. Fourth quarter sales of $74.2 billion were 3.8 percent higher than the total of $71.5 billion from the fourth quarter of 2011. All monthly sales numbers represent a three-month moving average.
"Despite substantial macroeconomic challenges, the global semiconductor industry outperformed forecasts and posted one of its highest yearly sales totals in 2012," said Brian Toohey, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association. "Recent momentum, led by strength in the Americas, has the industry well-positioned for a successful 2013."
The industry saw strong demand in several market segments during 2012. Logic was the largest semiconductor category, reaching $81.7 billion in 2012, a 3.7 percent increase compared to 2011. MOS microprocessors ($60.2 billion) and memory ($57 billion) rounded out the top three segments, but both lagged behind 2011 sales totals. Optoelectronics was the fastest growing market on a yearly basis, increasing 13.4 percent in 2012 to reach $26.2 billion for the year. Optoelectronic applications offer energy efficiency and low cost in a wide range of products including mobile devices and cameras. NAND flash - used in a host of mobile devices, USB flash drives, memory cards and related products for the storage and transfer of data - grew at the second-fastest rate of 4.1 percent to reach $25.4 billion in 2012.
Regionally, the Americas continued to show signs of strength, increasing sales by 13.4 percent in December 2012 compared to December 2011 and by 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2012, but ongoing economic and policy uncertainty continues to pose risks to the near-term market outlook. Sales in Asia Pacific during December also increased compared to the same month in 2011 (6.7 percent), while sales in Europe (-5.5 percent) and Japan (-11.2 percent) decreased over the same period. Total yearly sales in all four regions were lower in 2012 than 2011, with Asia Pacific (-0.6 percent) and the Americas (-1.5 percent) seeing the smallest declines.
"Despite lingering economic and policy uncertainty, the U.S. semiconductor market continues to show signs of strength, posting impressive growth in December," continued Toohey. "As the foundation of all modern electronics, semiconductors are critical to America's economic strength, national security and global competitiveness. By enacting measures that foster growth and remove uncertainty, policymakers can further strengthen the industry and help unlock its full potential in 2013 and beyond."