Micron


2022-02-22

Total NAND Flash Revenue Drops 2.1% QoQ in 4Q21 Due to Slowing Demand and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

In 4Q21, NAND Flash bit shipments grew by only 3.3% QoQ, a significant decrease from the nearly 10% in 3Q21, according to TrendForce’s investigations. ASP fell by nearly 5% and the overall industry posted revenue of US$18.5 billion, a QoQ decrease of 2.1%. This was primarily due to a decline in the purchase demand of various products and a market shift to oversupply causing a drop in contract prices. In 4Q21, with the exception of enterprise SSD, the supply of which was limited by insufficient upstream components, the prices of other NAND Flash products such as eMMC, UFS, and client SSD, all fell.

TrendForce’s summary of NAND Flash market sales performance in 2021 is as follows: although there have been signs of weakening since 2H21, thanks to remote services and cloud demand driven by the pandemic, revenue performance still grew significantly compared to 2020. Revenue reached US$68.6 billion, up 21.1% YoY, the second-biggest increase since 2018.

NAND Flash revenue fell for most manufactures in 4Q21 due to PC OEM destocking

There were some changes to the top three NAND Flash revenue rankings in 4Q21 compared 3Q21, Samsung and Kioxia remained in the top two while third place was replaced by Western Digital (WDC). Although there was still demand coming from data centers, as PC OEMs continued to deplete client SSD inventories and demand from China’s smartphone market weakened, stocking momentum was affected by component mismatch issues, resulting in a decline of approximately 5% in Samsung Electronics’ bit shipments in 4Q21. After the market shifted to oversupply, ASP also fell by approximately 5%, leading to Samsung Electronics posting 4Q21 revenue of US$6.110 billion, a QoQ decrease of 6.1%.

Second ranked Kioxia continued seeing strong demand from data center clients in 4Q21 but this was offset by inventory adjustment and reduced purchasing on the part of PC OEMs. Bit shipments declined slightly by 1% and ASP remained flat even in the face of weakening market demand, which was better performance than that of other suppliers in the same period. Revenue in 4Q21 reached US$3.543 billion, a QoQ decrease of 2.6%.

WDC was another company that benefited from continued strong stocking demand from major US smartphone clients for new 5G flagship phones which offset the impact of weak client and enterprise SSD sales, for bit shipment growth of 13%. However, as the proportion of consumer goods grew, ASP declined by 6%. WDC’s NAND Flash division posted 4Q21 revenue of US$2.62 billion, a QoQ increase of 5.2%.

Benefiting from continued stocking from data center clients and US-based smartphone brands, SK hynix’s bit shipment growth remained above 10%, in line with original forecasts. However, ASP was affected by weaker mobile phone shipments in China and inventory adjustment at PC OEMs. Pricing fell by nearly 10% which offset overall growth momentum. Revenue posted by SK hynix’s NAND Flash division in 4Q21 increased by 2.8% to US$2.615 billion.

Micron was similarly affected by inventory adjustments undertaken on the part of PC OEMs and data center clients.  Although Micron’s 176-layer products continue to be adopted, shipments in 4Q21 were flat compared to 3Q21 and ASP fell approximately 5% as the growth rate of supply outpaced demand, leading to a decline of 4.7% in Micron’s 4Q21 NAND Flash revenue to US$1.878 billion.

Solidigm’s 4Q21 production capacity was still being affected by the impact of supply chains (such as PMIC supply) on enterprise SSD, resulting in a continued decline in bit shipments of nearly 5% in 4Q21. At the same time, while orders for laptops are still strong, Solidigm actively increased bits shipments of PC QLC SSDs in order to reduce production capacity, causing a drop in ASP and a 4Q21 NAND Flash revenue performance of only US$996 million, a 9.9% decline.

Looking forward to 1Q22, TrendForce states that with the advent of the demand off-season, demand for major applications will show a seasonal decline, exacerbating the phenomenon of oversupply and driving the contract price of products to fall further. Falling prices and shrinking volume is expected to further reduce the revenue level of the NAND Flash industry. Referencing information released by TrendForce on Feb. 10, it is worth noting that market expectant psychological factors in 2Q22 generated from the previous Kioxia and WDC raw material pollution incidents will change the supply and demand situation after February and certain products with additional orders and non-quarterly contract prices will immediately reflect a pricing increase. This will help reduce the decline in the output value of NAND Flash in 1Q22.

2022-02-17

Overall DRAM Output Decreased Nearly 6% QoQ in 4Q21 Due to Decline in Shipments and Pricing, Says TrendForce

The pandemic has impeded the supply of many end-user devices such as smartphones, servers, PCs, and niche consumer electronics components, indirectly leading to a decline in a willingness on the procurement-end to stock relatively abundant memory chips, according to TrendForce research. This is most obvious in the stance of PC OEMs holding more than 10 weeks or more of DRAM inventory. Therefore, most DRAM fabs experienced a drop in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2021 and declining purchasing momentum has also led to a downward trend in DRAM price quotations. Total 4Q21 DRAM output value decreased by 5.8% QoQ, reaching US$25.03 billion, with only a few suppliers such as SK hynix bucking this trend.

Looking forward to 1Q22, although material shortages for some components can be alleviated, the first quarter is already an off season for demand and buyers’ inventories are still flush. Thus, the purchasing-side will largely concentrate on destocking, with overall purchasing momentum remaining sluggish. Thus, DRAM pricing in the first quarter of this year is expected to face greater pressure than in the fourth quarter of last year and overall DRAM output value may fall further.

4Q21 DRAM price drop causes downturn in manufacturer profit levels

In terms of revenue performance, price quotations from the three major DRAM manufacturers all declined with slightly differing shipments trends. Shipments from both Samsung and Micron fell due to poor end-user demand, with revenue down 9% and 8%, respectively. In terms of market share, Samsung dropped slightly to 42.3% while still ranking first, SK hynix climbed to nearly 30%, ranking second, and Micron dropped slightly to 22.3%.  Pricing gaps between these three DRAM manufacturers in 1Q22 is expected to be narrow, but since SK hynix had a relatively high base period of shipment in the 4Q21, the company expects a decline in its shipments slightly higher than the industry average which will reduce its 1Q22 market share slightly.

In terms of profit performance, the operating profit margins of Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron (September-November financial reporting) fell to 50%, 45%, and 41%, respectively, due to the cost optimization resulting from an increase in the proportion of advanced processes not being  enough to make up for the decline in price quotations. TrendForce believes that the downturn trend in profit margins is likely to intensify in 1Q22 and DRAM suppliers will face sharper profit decline. Manufacturers can only increase the proportion of advanced processes and optimize their product portfolio to reduce the impact brought on by price pressure.

Specialty DRAM market conditions also weak in 4Q21, with Taiwanese manufacturer revenue falling as well

As the demand for specialty DRAM end-user applications such as TVs and consumer electronics products dropped significantly in 4Q21, coupled with the impact of material shortages in the supply chain, client demand for DRAM shipments also cooled substantially. The 4Q21 specialty DRAM price decline was also comparable to that of mainstream products, in turn impacting the revenue performance of Taiwanese manufacturers focused mainly on the consumer market. From the perspective of Nanya Tech, the combination of falling volume and price reduced its revenue in 4Q21 by approximately 10%, while its operating profit rate fell to 37.5% due to the decline in price quotations. Winbond’s small-capacity (1/2Gb) market was also affected by components mismatch issues, but the impact was relatively small and its 4Q21 revenue fell slightly by close to 4%. PSMC’s (revenue calculation is primarily based on its self-produced standard DRAM products and does not include its DRAM foundry business) revenue fell slightly by approximately 1%. If its foundry revenue is added, then its revenue grew by 6%, reversing a downward trend. This demonstrates that locking-in long-term contracts early is a good strategy.

Faced with reversal in the DRAM market, it is TrendForce’s understanding that the solutions of the three major Taiwanese manufacturers are as follows: Nanya Tech can allocate 20nm production capacity to produce DDR3 (better gross profit) when DDR4 market conditions are poor and invest more resources in the research and development of new 1X nm processes.  If yield improves rapidly, this will provide some contribution before the completion of its new factory in 2024. In addition to continuing to focus on niche small-capacity products, Winbond is also strengthening research and development of 25 nm and next-generation 20 nm products, expected to be introduced directly when its Kaohsiung Lujhu factory starts mass production. As for PSMC, by locking clients into long-term contracts, it can plan 2022 production in advance and continue to maximize its greatest advantages. In accordance with market conditions and gross profit levels, it will allocate production capacity between logic IC and memory products.

2022-01-24

Price Drop of NAND Flash Products for 1Q22 Expected to Taper to 8-13% QoQ Decline, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash prices for 1Q22 are expected to decline by 8-13% QoQ, compared to TrendForce’s previous forecast of 10-15% QoQ, primarily due to PC OEMs’ increased orders for PCIe 3.0 products and the impact of the lockdown in Xi’an on PC OEMs’ price negotiation approaches. To mitigate potential risks in logistics, NAND Flash buyers are now more willing to accept a narrower decline in contract prices in order to obtain their products sooner. However, as the Xi’an lockdown has not noticeably affected the local fabs’ manufacturing operations, the movement of NAND Flash contract prices going forward will likely remain relatively unaffected by the lockdown.

In addition, TrendForce finds that the daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Xi’an has recently undergone a noticeable drop, and the local government has also announced that that the emergency level has been downgraded. As such, Samsung’s and Micron’s local production facilities are returning to normal with respect to workforce and operational capacity. Samsung’s local production base manufactures NAND Flash products, whereas Micron’s local production base is responsible for the testing and packaging of DRAM chips as well as the assembly of DRAM modules. The impacts of the lockdown mainly relate to delays in the deliveries of memory products to customers. On the other hand, the event has not caused a tangible loss in memory production.

Lockdown in Xi’an has not caused a notable rise in NAND Flash spot prices because most spot buyers already carry a high level of inventory

Regarding NAND Flash spot prices, suppliers temporarily suspended quote offering immediately after the event due to concerns about the fallout. As a result, the general decline in NAND Flash spot prices has more or less come to a halt. However, there has been no accompanying signs of spot buyers rushing to procure more products, and the overall transaction volume remains fairly low. TrendForce’s latest survey of the spot market finds that buyers still have plenty of stock on hand and are not in a hurry to procure NAND Flash products at the prices that are currently being offered.

Decline in client SSD and UFS prices for 1Q22 is expected to narrow

Regarding the contract prices of major NAND Flash products, their overall decline has been narrower than previously expected. For instance, despite the weakening demand for Chromebooks, notebook production on the whole has been improving as component gaps become gradually resolved, while demand for commercial notebooks also provides some upward momentum for the overall shipment of notebook computers. As a result, the QoQ decline in notebook shipment for 1Q22 has been narrower compared to prior first quarters. Furthermore, lower-than-expected shipment of Intel’s latest Alder Lake CPUs, which support PCIe 4.0 interface, has led certain PC OEMs to ramp up their orders for PCIe 3.0 SSDs in order to meet their PC shipment targets for 1Q22. However, SSD suppliers have already begun gradually transitioning their material preparation to PCIe 4.0 SSD instead, thereby creating a gap between the supply and demand of PCIe 3.0 SSDs. As well, the Xi’an lockdown has prompted client SSD buyers to scramble to lock in their required delivery volumes. Taken together, these factors have lessened the decline in client SSD prices for 1Q22 from the previous 5-10% QoQ to 3-8% QoQ.

Regarding smartphones, not only has demand remained relatively sluggish, but smartphone brands are also still holding a relatively high level of eMMC/UFS inventory, meaning these brands are not particularly willing to negotiate prices for high volumes of mobile NAND Flash storage at the moment. On the other hand, thanks to increased orders from PC OEMs since November 2021, NAND Flash suppliers’ inventory levels have fallen somewhat. Hence, the decline in mobile NAND Flash storage quotes has in turn narrowed slightly. Contract prices of UFS products are now expected to decrease by 5-10% QoQ in 1Q22 instead of 8-13% QoQ as previously expected. Finally, contract prices of server SSD and NAND Flash wafers are expected to decline by 3-8% QoQ and 10-15% QoQ, respectively, in 1Q22, in line with prior expectations.

2021-12-30

Xi’an Lockdown Update, Samsung to Adjust NAND Flash Production Manpower and Capacity Utilization, Says TrendForce

Currently, the consequences of Xi’an’s lockdown on Samsung is weighted most heavily towards the difficulty of scheduling shifts for personnel, according to TrendForce’s investigations. Due to restrictions on movement and other lockdown measures, Samsung must continue operations with limited manpower. Samsung is currently making active adjustments to reduce impact on output and the local government expects a return to normalcy within one to two weeks. However, if the pandemic is not properly controlled, short-term impact on the production utilization rate of the local factory campus cannot be ruled out, resulting in a slight decline in output. As for raw materials required for production such as water and power, supply seems to remain sufficient, though Samsung is still confirming the specific degree of any impact.

Production has not been interrupted at Samsung’s Xi’an plant, the company’s remedy is reduced operational scale which may affect utilization rate  

Following up on TrendForce’s previous press release, Samsung’s two major NAND Flash fabs in Xi’an are still manufacturing without experiencing significant disruptions at this moment. However, with the local authority enforcing even stricter restrictions on the movements of people, Samsung has been compelled to perform some temporary operational adjustments to the two fabs. With respect to end-products, facilities in the Xi’an region are primarily responsible for the assembly of consumer electronics such as UFS and client SSDs, meaning changes in the Xi’an fabs’ operations will have a direct impact on the procurement activities of smartphone and notebook computer manufacturers. However, as Samsung’s inventory level is still relatively high, the company should be able to keep supplying these products to buyers with no issues in the short run, although the decline in the these products’ prices may moderate somewhat.

Judging by the performance of the NAND Flash spot market on December 29, TrendForce further indicates that most suppliers have now stopped giving price quotes for NAND Flash products after Samsung released an official statement on the Xi’an matter. Regarding the forecast of NAND Flash contract prices for 1Q22, TrendForce will continue to closely monitor responses by Samsung as the pandemic progresses. If the lockdown continues, the decline in NAND Flash contract prices may potentially see a further tapering.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

2021-12-24

Samsung’s NAND Flash Production in Xi’an Remains Unaffected Amidst Lockdown, Says TrendForce

The Chinese city of Xi’an has been placed under lockdown due to a local outbreak of the Delta variant, although it remains uncertain as to when the lockdown will end, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Samsung operates two memory fabs in Xi’an, both of which are responsible for the manufacturing of high-layer count 3D NAND Flash products, and wafer inputs at the two fabs account for 42.5% of Samsung’s total NAND Flash production capacity and 15.3% of the global total. At the moment, the lockdown of the city is not expected to have a notable impact on these fabs.

Nevertheless, the municipal government has been authorized to enforce very severe restrictions on the movements of people and goods in and out of the city during this lockdown. While Samsung has finished arranging most of the memory product shipments for the period from the end of 2021 to middle of January next year, the company could face logistical issues related to the Xi’an lockdown in the near future and experience delays in shipments. Samsung’s clients, in turn, could have difficulties planning their procurement activities because deliveries of memory components are not in accordance with the originally set dates. Additionally, the same logistical issues could cause delays in the deliveries of production-related materials to Samsung’s fabs in Xi’an. However, the fabs have sufficient inventory to continue normal production over the next several months.

On the other hand, Xi’an is a strategically important location for both Samsung’s NAND Flash production and Micron’s memory packaging and testing operations. TrendForce’s investigations indicate that the lockdown will likewise have no impact on Micron’s packaging and testing operations, although potential issues with logistics still remain to be seen. In any case, while memory packaging and testing capacities in Xi’an account for a relatively low share of the company total, the lockdown may potentially affect spot prices of DRAM products in the short run.

Short-term DRAM and NAND Flash spot prices may bump up

In terms of pricing, the spot price of NAND Flash has not fluctuated significantly due to the lockdown event. Both buyers and sellers hold significant inventory in the current spot market. Recent trading volume has been weak and price fluctuations have been small. TrendForce will continue to observe subsequent reactions in the NAND Flash spot market and does not rule out the possibility of a short-term price bump due to the expected psychological impact triggered by the lockdown event.

In terms of NAND Flash contract pricing trends moving forward, since production is unaffected, TrendForce still maintains its original opinion, forecasting that average pricing in 1Q22 will fall by 10-15%. However, because the impact of logistics is difficult to predict, the purchasing side may have to increase orders from other suppliers, further fueling a bargain-seeking mentality. The possibility of seeing a flattening in the amplitude of contract price declines for various NAND Flash products in the first quarter of next year cannot be ruled out.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

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