Electronic Materials Demand to Keep Firm in 2006

Demand for electronic materials would maintain firm in 2006, recovering since the second half of 2005. In the market of digital appliances, the end products of electronic materials, demand is strong for flat- and wide-screen televisions such as liquid crystal and plasma display televisions. High growth is also expected for car navigation systems. These appliances could push up demand of electronic materials including silicon wafer, sputtering target material and copper foil.Shin-Etsu Chemical, the world largest maker of silicon wafer, announced on Monday its consolidated net sales increased by 13.8% to 815.914 billion yen and the recurring profit increased by 20.3% to 136.531 billion yen in April-December 2005 from the same period of 2004. In the business segment of electronics materials, the net sales increased by 14.3% to 262.98 billion yen and the operating profit increased by 18.8% to 48.315 billion yen for the 9 months from same period of 2004. The business was firm for silicon wafer with 300 millimeters diameter, when demand of semiconductor device increased for personal computer, cellular phone, digital appliances and automobiles. Demand of rare earth magnet was also firm for hard disc drives in various appliances.SUMCO Corporation, another major maker of silicon wafer, revised up the estimate of its earning results for fiscal 2005 ended January 2006. It revised the estimate of the consolidated net sales from 205 billion yen to 220 billion yen and the recurring profit from 33 billion yen to 36 billion yen. The sales volume of 300 mm silicon wafer increased more than expected when semiconductor demand was active for digital appliances.Favorable results could be also expected in fiscal 2005 ended March 2006 not only for silicon wafer makers but for electronic material segments of Japanese nonferrous smelters and electric cable makers, although soaring material prices reduce their profitability and their users are divided into “winners” and “losers” in the digital appliance market.Japanese annual production of electronics industries is likely to increase in 2006 from the previous year, according to Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA). The production of consumer electronics would increase by 2.5% to 2.608 trillion yen with the demand growth of car navigation system, plasma display and liquid crystal televisions. On the other hand, the production of digital camera would keep negative growth since 2005 under severe competition among makers.JEITA forecasts the production of electronic parts and devices would increase by 2.4% to 9.3831 trillion yen in 2006 from the previous year. The production of passive parts could increase by 4%, including capacitor, resistor, transformer and inductor. Connecting parts also increase such as switch and connector. The production of electronic circuit board would keep flat from 2005. Electronic devices, including semiconductor device and integrated circuit, would also increase by around 3%.