Nasdaq


2022-02-25

[Russia-Ukraine] War Rages in Ukraine, Global Raw Nickel Prices for Power Batteries Likely to Rise, Says TrendForce

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has escalated in recent days. In addition to the surge in natural gas and crude oil prices, the conflict may also impact the supply of non-ferrous metals including aluminum, nickel, and copper. According to TrendForce, nickel is a key upstream raw material for the manufacture of electric vehicle power batteries and mainly used in the production of ternary cathode materials. In 2021, global nickel mine production was approximately 2.7 million tons, originating primarily from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Russia. Russian nickel production accounts for approximately 9% of the world’s total (including low, medium, and high-grade nickel), ranking third globally. At present, the market penetration rate of new energy vehicles is accelerating and ternary power batteries account for nearly half of power battery market share, which signals strengthening demand for upstream raw material nickel for automotive power batteries. Although Russian nickel exports remain unaffected for the time being, if the situation on the ground between Russia and Ukraine continues to deteriorate, global nickel supply may be impacted in the short term, pushing up nickel prices, and further increase cost pressures on end product markets such as the electric vehicle industry.

TrendForce states that in the medium to long term, since the lion’s share of new nickel ore smelting and processing projects have been located in Indonesia in recent years and Indonesia’s nickel ore production accounted for approximately 37% of the world’s total production in 2021, Indonesia’s concentrated production of nickel is expected to improve supply and demand in 2H22. TrendForce also emphasizes, regarding the export ban on mines announced by Indonesia last year, this ban only prohibits the export of raw ore and does not prohibit Chinese companies such as Zhejian Huayou Cobalt, Tsingshan Holding Group, Lygend Resources, and GEM from investing in the processing end of nickel mines in Indonesia. Therefore, smelting nickel ore and highly processed products are not affected by the export ban.

From the perspective of suppliers, among the top five nickel ore manufacturers in the world, Russian manufacturer Norilsk supplies approximately 9% of the world’s raw nickel materials, or 90% of overall Russian production, and its high-grade nickel production accounts for 22% of the world’s total (Note: according to nickel content, nickel materials can be divided into high-grade nickel, medium-grade nickel, and low-grade nickel with high-grade nickel referring to Ni content ≥ 10%), ranking first in the world. China’s Jinchuan Group ranks second at 17%, followed by Switzerland’s Glencore at 13%, and Brazil’s Vale S.A. at 12%. TrendForce believes, looking at the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, if Europe and the United States impose sanctions on Russia, a change in the flow of Russian nickel may occur due to the high concentration of production and processing by Norilsk.

TrendForce states, at present, high-nickel-based ternary cathode materials (primarily referring to ternary materials with high nickel content such as NCM622, NCM811, and NCA) rely on the two advantages of higher energy density and less dependence on the precious metal cobalt as a raw material, its market share of ternary cathode materials has increased rapidly, 10% in 2019 to nearly 40% in 2021. The development of high nickel content means that consumption demand for nickel corresponding to each ton of ternary cathode materials has increased. With the acceleration of the penetration rate of new energy vehicles in China, Europe, and the United States, the market demand for lithium power batteries is strong and overall nickel inventories continue to decline. At present, the global refined nickel inventory is only 100,000 tons. In the context of tight supply and increasing demand, inferring from the Chinese market where new energy vehicles accounted for 53% of the global market in 2021, the spot market price of electrolytic nickel in China reaching RMB130,000 to RMB150,000 per ton in 2021, and prices jumping in early 2022 to RMB160,000 to 170,000 per ton, the possibility of continued pricing spikes in the future cannot be ruled out.

2022-02-24

Notebook Panel Shipments Hit Record High 282 million in 2021, Potential Risk of Correction in 1H22, Says TrendForce

In 2021, notebook panel shipments reached a record high of 282 million units, with an annual growth rate of 25.1%, according to TrendForce’s research. In the first half of the year, demand was driven by the pandemic and primarily focused on consumer notebooks and Chromebooks while, in the second half of the year, as Europe and the United States gradually lifted lockdowns and work returned to normal, demand largely shifted to commercial models, which continued to support the demand for notebook panels throughout the year.

It is worth noting that TrendForce believes shipment totals of notebook panels from 1Q22 to 2Q22 may be corrected. Notebook panel shipments in 1Q22 are estimated at approximately 67.9 million units, a QoQ decline of 9.7% while 2Q22 shipments are expected to drop to 61.4 million units, down 9.5% QoQ. In addition to the impact of the traditional off-season, there are two reasons for this correction. One is that inventory on the brand-side has increased. Due to the shortage of panels in the past two years, the brand-side continued to purchase panels in 2021 to avoid supply chain disruption. Normally, notebook brands hold 4 to 8 weeks of inventory but some brands have already stocked up to 8 weeks. Two, since a whole notebook requires numerous components, it cannot be assembled and shipped if even one is missing. Limitations impose by incomplete materials lists caused the growth rate of notebook computer shipments to fall behind that of panel shipments, shifting notebook computer panels into oversupply.

Despite this, TrendForce has specifically mentioned, since the profit margin of notebook panels still beats LCD monitor panels and TV panels, panel makers will still desire an increase in the supply of notebook panels. However, in the face of a possible correction in notebook panel shipments, panel makers may accumulate more inventory and deepen the downward pressure on notebook panel pricing.

Looking forward to 2022, panel shipment performance and price trends will be adversely affected by adjustments in notebook brand inventories in 1H22. In 2H22, notebook brands will continue to focus on sales plans for whole notebook computers. The sales performance of these brands during the peak season is still worth looking forward to and the restocking momentum of notebook panels is expected to recover. Current estimates put the shipment of notebook panels at 265 million in 2022, a decrease of 6.0% YoY.

2022-02-10

NAND Flash Pricing Set to Spike 5-10% in Q2 Due to Material Contamination at WDC and Kioxia, Says TrendForce

WDC recently stated that certain materials were contaminated in late January at NAND Flash production lines in Yokkaichi and Kitakami, Japan which are joint ventures with Kioxia, according to TrendForce’s investigations. Before this incident, TrendForce had forecast that the NAND Flash market will see a slight oversupply the entire year and average price from Q1 to Q2 will face downward pressure. However, the impact of WDC’s material contamination issue is significant and Samsung’s experience during the previous lockdown of Xi’an due to the pandemic has also retarded the magnitude of the NAND Flash price slump.  Therefore, the Q1 price drop will diminish to 5~10%. In addition, according to TrendForce, the combined WDC/Kioxia NAND Flash market share in the 3Q21 was as high as 32.5%. The consequences of this latest incident may push the price of NAND Flash in Q2 to spike 5~10%.

The contaminated products in this incident are concentrated in 3D NAND (BICS) with an initial estimate of 6.5exabytes (approximately 6,500M GB) affected. According to TrendForce, damaged bits account for 13% of the group’s output in 1Q22 and approximately 3% of the total output for the year. The normal production schedule for the entire line has yet to be confirmed. It is worth noting that the damages announced by WDC likely do not account for total losses stemming for this event and the number of damaged Kioxia parts has not been aggregated, so the total number of affected bits may increase further.

Production primarily focused on Client SSD and eMMC, subsequent spot pricing may climb

Currently, WDC and Kioxia are focused on supplying PC client SSD and eMMC products. Since WDC is the number two and number one supplier in the client SSD and eMMC markets, respectively, subsequent supply will inevitably be hampered. Therefore, even if production demand for PC OEM is revised downward in Q2, client SSD prices may remain resistant to decline. In terms of enterprise SSD, Kioxia PCIe 4.0 has been verified by a number of customers and the company’s market share in 2022 was originally forecast to increase. However, this incident will impact Kioxia’s ability to ship product and further affect subsequent customer procurement. Therefore, in order for buyers to satisfy their own production requirements, a Q2 decline in enterprise SSD product pricing will be largely restrained.

In addition, as buyers and sellers in the spot market are still clarifying events and incident assessments, they mostly responded by suspending quotations, with no new quotations having been generated. However, TrendForce’s assessment indicates that subsequent events will obviously stimulate spot price appreciation. Judging from contract pricing, any orders negotiated on a whole quarter basis should be unaffected in the near-term but there may be an immediate price increase in wafer quotations this February and March.

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

2022-01-28

Global Smartphone Shipment Momentum Recovers, Potential to Reach 1.386 Billion Units in 2022

According to TrendForce research, since reaching a peak of 1.457 billion units in 2017, it has been difficult for smartphones to significantly increase their penetration rate. In addition, mobile phone hardware updates have slowed which has lengthened the consumer replacement cycle. Add to this the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and growth in overall smartphone shipment volume has become increasingly difficult to achieve. However, based on the premise that the pandemic is slowing down, coupled with the strategy of certain brands actively exploring emerging markets, growth momentum in the global smartphone market has gradually gotten back on track in 2021, with shipments reaching 1.333 billion units, or 6.4% growth YoY. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2022, with shipments expected to reach 1.386 billion, or 4% growth YoY.

TrendForce emphasizes, it should be noted that the status of the pandemic is still the biggest concern affecting the smartphone market this year and this applies doubly to the production capacity of semiconductors. The current problem of material shortages has yet to be alleviated and RF chips, OLED DDICs, and PMICs continue to be in short supply. In addition, issues such as China’s rolling blackouts, spiking shipping costs, and rising chip costs, will cause smartphone brands to face price pressures and it remains to be seen whether higher prices will be acceptable to consumers.

Judging from the 2022 brand market share forecast, Samsung will remain number one followed by Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO, and Transsion. Among these companies, Xiaomi is the brand with the fastest-growing annual shipment growth rate. In addition to stimulating sales in the Chinese market through the strategy of expanding brick and mortar stores, Xiaomi’s sales occur mostly overseas, and it is first in market share in India and Russia. In the future, it will continue to explore the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa markets.

Four keys to mobile phone trends in 2022

Folding phones, 5G, self-developed chips, and a reduction in the number of rear-facing cameras are the four keys to focus on this year. In terms of 5G mobile phones, the global penetration rate in 2021 was 37%, this is expected to rise to 47% in 2022, and may exceed 50% by 2023. At present, China is the most active country in promoting 5G models. More than 80% of the country’s shipments are 5G mobile phones. Therefore, the key to increasing the global penetration rate of 5G mobile phones in the future is focusing on regions outside China.

Regarding self-developed chips, in the past, only Samsung, Apple, and Huawei were capable of self-developing chips. However, Google launched its self-developed Tensor processor in 2021, and Xiaomi, OPPO, and VIVO have each launched professional imaging chips in succession.

(Image credit: Apple)

2022-01-28

New iPhone SE to be Unveiled in Spring, Estimated Annual Shipments at 20 Million Units

According to GSMARENA (1/20), Apple may unveil the new iPhone SE, christened the iPhone SE+ 5G, sometime between late April and early May. According to what is currently known, this model will be a continuation of the previous generation design wise but whether it will employ a 4.7-inch LCD screen with a Touch ID button is unknown. The only thing known for certain is that it will be able to connect to 5G.

The SE models launched in 2020 utilized the A13 chip and a 4G Modem (the same configuration as the iPhone 11) and, according to rumors, the new SE will adopt the A15 chip and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 modem, (like the iPhone 13). TrendForce believes, as the release of the affordable iPhone SE (third generation) is imminent in 1H22, it has entered small batch production. The plan to supply in April is roughly on schedule and the first batch of mass production is expected to be 4 million to 5 million units. Although this new model is distinguished in neither appearance and nor specifications, as the most affordable of Apple’s 5G mobile phones, paired with brand premiums, it is still expected to occupy a place in a market where large-sized panels are king, More than 20 million units of this single model will ship throughout the year. (Image credit: Pixabay)

Resource: The iPhone SE+ 5G will become available in late April or early May, claims analyst

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