Chip Sales Show First Monthly Uptick Since Last Year

Still, there's not much cheer in a number that's 44% lower than a year earlier.
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Another month of chip sales, another reason to grumble.

The Semiconductor Industry Association reported that in October, chip revenues were slightly up at $10.43 billion, from September's $10.18 billion SIA figures (preliminary numbers were $10.22 billion). Despite the first sequential sales uptick since November of 2000, the results gave investors little holiday cheer.

UBS Warburg's Thomas Thornhill posits that perhaps some of the October sales rebound can be attributed to delayed sales originally slated in September that were pushed to October after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Testing the industry's pain threshold, October 2001 stacks up as a 44% decline from the $18.66 billion in sales reaped in October 2000. September's year-over-year fall was also a whopping 44%. Robertson Stephen analyst Eric Rothdeutsch characterized recent months' performance in a note to clients as "bouncing along the bottom." He expects chip sales to be down 30% to 35% in a 2001 plagued by inventory excess and sluggish demand.

The SIA expects global semiconductor revenues to decrease 31% in 2001, but the industry group optimistically forecasts that after steep declines in the first half of 2001, revenues will bounce back 4.7% in the fourth quarter and 6.3% in 2002.

Investors seem to be looking beyond this fall's sales decline; though the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index is trading 0.4% lower today, it has risen more than 43% since Oct. 1, far outshining the

S&P 500

, which rose 10% during the same period.