Worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending to grow

While other industries are forecast to struggle, the semiconductor capital equipment sector is set to rake in the cash.

That’s the latest from Gartner, which said that globally this industry is on track to claw in $44.8 billion in 2011. It says this is a 10.2 percent increase from 2010’s spending of $40.6 billion.

But – and there’s always one of these – the sector shouldn’t get too excited, with analysts warning of a looming semiconductor inventory correction. It said this, paired with an oversupply in foundries, will lead to a slight spending decline of 2.6 percent in 2012, followed by 8.9 percent growth in 2013. However there would be a dip later in 2013 as the impact of memory oversupply took its toll.

Gartner added that capital spending and the equipment picture had changed little since its last forecast in the first quarter of 2011. It said that this was in spite of the earthquake in Japan, which threatened to disrupt the electronics supply chain.

However, it said the damage to the industry could have been a lot worse had it not been for efforts by Japanese vendors who got things back on track quickly.

As a result the analyst company said that all segments of the semiconductor capital equipment market are expected to experience growth in 2011. This would mainly be driven by  “aggressive” foundry spending, integrated device manufacturer (IDM) logic capacity ramping up at the leading edge, and memory companies gearing up for double patterning.

Broken down, worldwide wafer fab equipment (WFE) revenue is expected to grow 11.7 percent in 2011, while Intel, foundry and NAND spending will apparently drive the need for leading-edge equipment. According to Gartner this will benefit immersion lithography and etch technology.

When it comes to worldwide packaging and assembly equipment (PAE),  revenue here is expected to experience the smallest growth in 2011 at 3.6 percent. This is because the market began to slow in the fourth quarter of last year.

It’s better news for the worldwide automated test equipment (ATE) sector, however, which is  expected to grow about 6.9 percent driven by the continued demand from system on a chip (SoC) and the advanced radio frequency (RF) segments of the market.