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Components | June 21, 2012

DRAM 1HJun. contract price stays flat

According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, the DRAM contract price trend stayed flat in 1HJun., with average 4GB and 2GB chip price falling around USD 21.25 and USD 11.25, respectively.
Contract price figures, which were not available until the end of the month for the past two months due to stalled negotiations, are back on track in June. Korean makers attempted to raise price quotes, but with the end of the quarter coming up, negotiations concluded in the middle of the month and prices stayed flat.

From the market perspective, PC shipment figures continued to fall due to weak buying momentum in 2Q. PC OEMs' DRAM inventory levels are above 5 to 6 weeks' worth - some even have 2 to 3 months' worth of stock on hand. Additionally, uncertainties from the European market have resulted in conservative demand for the second half of the year.

As for the price trend forecast, TrendForce believes it is likely prices will stay flat or decrease slightly in the near future. The arrival of Windows 8 in 3Q and the release of several new ultrabook models later this year will provide an opportunity for DRAM price to increase in the second half of the year.

Sluggish Global Economy Once More Results in DRAM Price Downturn

It is long-established that market supply and demand often self-corrects based on economic fluctuations. As the memory market has been sluggish for so long, industry players have been crossing their fingers that DRAM price will continue climbing as it has since the second half of January.

However, PC OEMs, cautious due to global economic woes, are rationally managing relatively high inventory levels. Without signs of economic recovery, the slight rise in purchasing was no longer sustainable in 1HJun. Notebook (excluding netbooks) shipment growth was -4.7% MoM in May, a bleak figure compared to the 0.7% growth for the same month last year.

Therefore, reflecting macroeconomic fluctuations, TrendForce has adjusted the PC shipment growth forecast for 2012 from the initial 5.1% to 3.3% - a hard hit to the DRAM industry.

Looking at DRAM supply, as June is the last moanth of the financial quarter for the two major Korean makers, they were more aggressive in negotiations with PC OEMs than in the past two months. Contract prices were set on the 15th, and stayed flat compared to 2HMay.

Fortunately, the Korean suppliers did not have to resort to price slashing to move inventory, as both makers have already reallocated capacity to non-PC DRAM production. However, other DRAM makers did not fare as well, and it is highly likely their prices will stay flat or fall in 2HJun. due to pressure from relatively high stock levels.

Presently, back-to-school demand is not yet evident in PC ODM shipments – it appears that the current economic cycle may continue for longer than previously anticipated, which will be detrimental to DRAM manufacturers from a supply perspective.
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