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Signs of Demand Weakness Bottoming Out for World's Top Memory Chipmakers

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Positive Signals for Memory Chipmakers as Weak Demand May Have Bottomed Out

The recent earnings calls of the world's two largest memory chipmakers indicate a potential turnaround in weak demand. Samsung reported a significant jump of 262.6% in operating profit for the third quarter compared to the second quarter. Similarly, SK Hynix announced a return to profit in its dynamic random-access memory business during the third quarter after experiencing losses in the first two quarters of the year.

Factors Driving the Recovery

Industry experts attribute the recovery in memory prices to an industry-wide reduction in supply and falling inventories. James Lim, senior research analyst at Dalton Investments, explains that the decline in inventories at personal computer and mobile customers has prompted restocking and an increased demand for memory chips per device.

Position of South Korean Chipmakers

Samsung and SK Hynix, the world's two largest makers of DRAM chips, have seen positive developments in their earnings reports. Samsung acknowledged numerous purchase inquiries, signaling a growing awareness of the industry reaching a bottom following production cuts. Meanwhile, SK Hynix reported improved average selling prices (ASPs) for DRAM, with Samsung experiencing a price increase for the first time in eight quarters.

Positive Outlook for Chip Industry

Apart from the two major South Korean chipmakers, other players in the industry have also projected strong outlooks. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, exceeded expectations and predicted a potential turnaround for the chip industry. Similarly, US-based Qualcomm, a major processor manufacturer, provided a positive forecast for the current quarter, indicating a chip recovery.

Challenges and Future Expectations

While the memory chip industry shows signs of improvement, challenges remain. Inventory levels, particularly for NAND flash memory, are still high. As a result, memory suppliers are expected to maintain lower capacity utilization and exercise caution in increasing production capacity to ensure favorable memory prices due to limited supply.

Anticipated Trends and Demand

Market research firm TrendForce predicts that memory suppliers will continue scaling back production of both DRAM and NAND Flash in 2024, particularly in the financially struggling NAND Flash sector. However, they project a demand increase of 13% for DRAM and 16% for NAND Flash in 2024.

Generative AI and Memory Demand

SK Hynix highlights the strong demand for advanced, high-performance chips in generative AI, which has helped offset the slowdown in chips for computers and smartphones. Memory chips play a crucial role in enabling generative AI models to remember past conversations and user preferences, driving the need for advanced memory chips. In conclusion, the recent developments in the memory chip industry indicate a potential bottoming out of weak demand. Factors such as supply reduction, falling inventories, and strong demand for generative AI contribute to the positive outlook. While challenges persist, memory suppliers remain cautiously optimistic about the future, anticipating a recovery in memory prices and increased demand in the coming years.

Memory Chipmakers' Recovery: A Potential Boon for New Businesses

The recent earnings reports from the world's largest memory chipmakers, Samsung and SK Hynix, suggest a potential turnaround in the industry's weak demand. This could have significant implications for new businesses, particularly those in the technology sector.

Driving Factors Behind the Recovery

The recovery in memory prices is attributed to an industry-wide reduction in supply and falling inventories. This has led to a restocking trend and increased demand for memory chips per device. These factors, coupled with the positive developments in the earnings reports of Samsung and SK Hynix, could offer a favorable landscape for new businesses entering the chip manufacturing industry.

Industry Outlook and Its Impact on New Businesses

The positive outlook for the chip industry, as indicated by major players like TSMC and Qualcomm, suggests a potential recovery in the chip market. For new businesses, this could mean a more stable market environment and increased opportunities for growth.

Challenges and Future Expectations

Despite the positive signs, challenges persist in the memory chip industry, particularly with high inventory levels for NAND flash memory. However, these challenges could also present opportunities for new businesses to innovate and find solutions to industry-wide issues.

Increasing Demand and Its Implications

The projected increase in demand for both DRAM and NAND Flash in 2024 could signal a thriving market for new businesses in the coming years. The strong demand for advanced, high-performance chips in generative AI further emphasizes the potential opportunities in this sector. In summary, the potential bottoming out of weak demand in the memory chip industry could present a favorable environment for new businesses. The current trends and future projections indicate a market ripe with opportunities for innovation and growth.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/11/07/samsung-sk-hynix-signal-the-memory-chip-slump-may-have-bottomed-out.html
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