Worldwide processor sales in January, usually the slowest sales month, were uncharacteristically strong this year.
Global monthly turnover was $18.3bn, just 0.5 per cent below December's turnover of $18.4bn and 17.5 per cent higher than the $15.6bn posted in January 2004, according to new research from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).
The healthy results were mostly down to very positive year-on-year sales growth in the Asia-Pacific (27.9 per cent) and European (17.9 per cent) regions, while the US finally started to rebound.
"The modest sequential decline of 0.5 per cent is encouraging," said George Scalise, president of the SIA. "January is historically one of the weakest months for the microchip industry. And we are pleased by recent signs of strength in the overall US economy, such as the 3.8 per cent growth in GDP in the fourth quarter.
"Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research has noted that when GDP grows by more than three per cent, semiconductor sales have shown healthy growth, except when there are excesses of inventory or production capacity. At the present time, neither production capacity nor inventory excess is a problem."
Julian Smith, Intel business manager at distributor Ingram Micro, agreed that the year has got off to a strong start. "We are seeing healthy sales. We are experiencing year-on-year growth and are very happy with our Intel sales," he said.
"Transitions to the new 915 and 925 high-end chipsets have helped stimulate demand in the market. The move by Intel away from clock speed to other features has been a good thing, and the Digital Home campaign will also help drive demand.
"There has also been high demand for Pentium M mobile processors, while the Centrino business has been gradually building steam and will continue to grow."
The SIA also noted that the excess inventories that slowed growth in the second half of 2004 have now been depleted.
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