COVID-19 uncertainties beset European semiconductor distribution

2 min read

Industry group, DMASS, has reported an 11.7% drop in semiconductor revenue in Q1/2020 due to a lack of demand, growing macro-economic problems and the impact of COVID-19.

According to DMASS, sales in the European Semiconductor Distribution Market fell to €2.19 billion in the first quarter.

Commenting Georg Steinberger, chairman of DMASS, said, “Predictions are difficult, particularly about the future… while our expectation was clearly that Q1/2020 would not be a new record, we deemed it to be the end of the last down cycle. COVID-19 is not only assaulting the health of people around the world, it has created a situation where economies will suffer for some time. The shutdown in many countries and the slowdown of industrial production is affecting the electronics industry quite severely, with the biggest impact yet to come in the next quarters. What it also did was distort the visibility in the supply chain, which makes it hard to predict what the industry might need in the next few quarters.”

Country-wise, the results were mixed. While France, UK, Nordic and Benelux show above average decline, Germany ended at average and Eastern Europe did much better. UK sales in semi distribution were down almost 20 percent at €129 million, Germany was at €646 million (-11.8%), France at €140 million saw a fall of -17.7%, Italy at €203 million, the Nordic market reports a drop of 38 percent to €154 million and Eastern Europe at €389 millions, was only down by 4%.

According to Steinberger it was the, 'same old, same old'.

“Germany right at the average, Eastern Europe gaining more traction, Southern Europe surprisingly resilient and the rest struggling. We have yet to see how 2020 unfolds, as usual there could be surprising effects. Also, not to be forgotten should be the fact that some DTAM has been turned into direct business by manufacturers, strongly visible in the Nordic numbers.”

On the product side, the positive news is that some product areas (Programmable Logic, Opto, MCUs and Advanced Logic) were not as heavily affected as the others, while especially commodities (Discretes, Analog, Memories and Standard Logic) were impacted more. As the biggest product group, Analog ICs declined by 12.2% to €647 million, MOS Micro by 9.9% to €427 million, Power Discretes by 10.3% to €247 million, Opto by 6.3% to €202 million, Memories by 18.2% to €186 million, Programmable Logic by 6.2% to €155 million, Advanced Logic by 8.6% to €119 million and finally, Discretes by 24.9% to €114 million.

“After one quarter, the only indication of a slight trend is that commodities have struggled more than complex products, which is no surprise in a downturn and can easily change. Notable may also be the fact that MCUs have done significantly better than Microprocessors or DSPs," said Steinberger.

As for 2020, Steinberger dampens his previous optimism: “At the beginning of the crisis, it was the disruption of production in Asia that was a concern, now it is the other end of the supply chain – the customers and their uncertainties in their end markets. The loss of visibility both from a customer side and at the supplier end will undoubtedly lead to a few quarters of head scratching. While governments jump to rescue the economy, it would be wise to look at the long-needed innovation of public infrastructures for a more sustainable basis, which in turn could drive a lot of growth for the digital industry.”