A Better Forecast for Semis Growth

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- STMicroelectronics ( STM), rose 7.13 % Monday, with (STM.PA) up 6.44%, and (STM.MI) up 5.67%, NXP Semiconductor ( NXPI) rose 5.88%, ARM Holdings (ARM.L) lifted 6.58%, Kopin ( KOPN) gained 5.80%, Entropic Communications ( ENTR) rose 5.56%, Infineon Technologies (ifx.de) gained 5.35%, Inphi Common Stock ( IPHI) rose 5.01% and Silicon Image ( SIMG) was up 4.72%.

Forecasts for semiconductor growth for 2011 have been confusing and erratic all year, but the consensus is that growth projections have slowed over the past few months. For example, Gartner forecast worldwide semiconductor growth at 5.1% in June, down from its first-quarter projection of 6.2% growth for 2011. Gartner lowered its forecast to -0.2% in September.

In June, IMS iSuppli forecast a 7.1% growth, up from 7.0% in the first quarter. Growth was lowered to 4.6% in August and 2.9% in September.

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The Nasdaq Composite is heavily weighted in technology and Internet stocks, and I was curious about the correlation between Nasdaq and semiconductor growth and forecasts. A search on the Internet suggests that Nasdaq is a leading indicator. But is it when compared to historic growth of semiconductor revenues?

In the chart below I plotted the Nasdaq Composite against semiconductor sales over the past 16 years, since 1995, when the market research company I started, The Information Network, celebrated its 10th Anniversary. The chart below shows that it is clearly a "concurrent indicator" instead of a "leading indicator."

In recent times the Nasdaq can be argued to be a "lagging indicator."

If we compare the forecasts by Gartner and IMS iSuppli -- forgetting that they tend to give forecasts in tenths of percents to make numbers look credible only to come out a short time later with changes in the units of percents -- if the Nasdaq was a "leading indicator", then the forecasts seem plausible.

But if Nasdaq was a "concurrent" or "lagging" indicator, then the semiconductor companies should enjoy a less-than-dreary year. Keep in mind that semiconductor billings according to the Semiconductor Industry Association are up 4.4% through August 2011 compared to the same period last year.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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