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Electronics Production | September 24, 2010

Prices for discrete components to decline in 1Q/2011

After more than a year of increases, prices for discrete components used in nearly all electronic products are set to begin to decline in the 1Q/2011 as demand softens during the seasonally slow period, writes market researcher iSuppli.
"Across the board, discrete components—including bipolar power, power MOSFETS, small signal and rectifiers—are forecasted to decline in price during the first quarter of 2011", said Rick Pierson, senior analyst at iSuppli. "While such drops—amounting to less than 1% for all discretes—won't come close to offsetting the gradual increases that have happened since October 2009, the price reductions at the very least will give buyers some relief from demand outpacing supply."

However, for the remainder of 2010, Average Selling Prices (ASPs) for all discretes are expected to continue to move upward until supply comes into balance with the heavy demand situation. Furthermore, even when discrete prices begin to decline in the first quarter, buyers may still have some challenges obtaining parts. Delivery lead times for these discretes will continue to extend well beyond normal parameters, maybe by as much as 20 weeks or more in some cases, iSuppli forecasts.

Feeling bipolar

Prices for such parts have increased during the past 12 months—a trend that should continue through the remainder of 2010—and then level off for the 1H/2011. Lead times will continue to extend into the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with some suppliers quoting as much as 26 weeks or more.

No relief for MOSFETS in 2010

Mounting pressure from both the front and back ends of the supply chain is also continuing to stress the power MOSFET market, causing lead time extensions and the allocation of certain devices from a number of suppliers, including On Semiconductor, Fairchild Semiconductor, Infineon Technologies and International Rectifier.

While pricing is expected to stabilize at some point in the 1H/2011, given the elevated prices and the state of high demand, one can expect to continue seeing bottlenecks in the power MOSFET market despite demand-driven production expansion efforts.

Small gains

Much like other discrete components, small signal transistors and rectifiers will continue their price uptick for the remainder of 2010, with prices then falling early in 2011. And again; larger-than-normal lead times with no relief in sight. Even in the first quarter of 2011, iSuppli sees small signal transistor lead times at levels 20 weeks or longer.

Rectifying 2009 price drops

For rectifiers, prices had come down hard in 2009, falling by as much as 20% due to a drop in demand. Since that time, however, the ASP has inched back up while also experiencing a 12-month sequential rise. For the first half of 2010, ASPs increased in the face of insufficient supply as well as continued demand for parts.

Lead times for rectifiers will continue to be unusually extended—lasting as much as 20 weeks or longer— owing to an increase in demand and to capacity constraints. Much like the rest of the discrete market, lead times at these levels will remain an issue even after 2010.

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