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Digitimes Research: Toshiba, Sony see semiconductor revenues grow; Renesas struggles to make profits
Ricky Tu, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei [Monday 25 March 2013]

Due to rising prices of NAND flash in the third quarter of 2012, Japan-based semiconductor firm Toshiba has reported fourth-quarter 2012 revenues of its semiconductor business unit grew by 10.5% on quarter, reaching JPY231.6 billion (US$2.4 billion). The firm has seen revenue growth for two consecutive quarters. Toshiba also reported fourth-quarter operating profits of JPY20 billion, showing an on-quarter growth compared to JPY12 billion in the third quarter.

Japan's second largest semiconductor firm Renesas Electronics saw fourth-quarter semiconductor revenues decrease by 13.7% on quarter because revenues from its three major product lines, MCUs, analog and power devices, and SoC solutions all showed sequential decreases compared to the third quarter. Renesas reported fourth-quarter revenues of only JPY177.2 billion and the overall net operating loss grew to JPY7.9 billion from JPY5.7 billion in the third quarter.

Sony, the third largest semiconductor firm in Japan, divides its semiconductor business into in-house use and outside sales. The fourth-quarter revenues from outside sales reached JPY90 billion, representing a sequential increase of 19%. The firm has reported revenue growth for two consecutive quarters and continues to stay in profit.

Renesas is likely to report net loss for the third consecutive year in the 2012 Japan fiscal year (from April 2012 to March 2013), Digitimes Research believes. The firm focuses on small volume production of diversified MCUs to suit the specific need of each customer, and hence the profitability is relatively small compared to other semiconductor products such as NAND flash that can be massively produced.

Toshiba is expected to continue being the largest semiconductor firm in Japan. The firm plans to begin the volume production of NAND flash using the 15-18nm technology in 2013 and develop 3D NAND flash technologies. Sony will focus on expanding the capacity of CMOS image sensors.

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