Infineon held back by tight supply, Malaysia plant hit by lockdown

An employee inspects a wafer at the Infineon Technologies AG microchip and sensor manufacturing facility in Regensburg, Germany. Infineon designs, manufactures and markets semiconductors for the automotive, industrial, communications, consumer and security electronics sectors. - Bloomberg filepic

BERLIN: German chipmaker Infineon Technologies said on Tuesday it was battling extreme tightness in its markets as the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts production in Asia and inventories hit all-time lows.

Results for the fiscal third quarter at the leading supplier of chips to the automotive industry reflected those strains, with quarterly revenue growth of 1% lagging analyst expectations even as profit margins widened.

Shares fell 3.2% in pre-market trading as Infineon's results lagged a stronger showing at Franco-Italian rival STMicroelectronics, which last week raised its outlook on high demand and improved pricing power.

"Demand for semiconductors is unbroken," Chief Executive Reinhard Ploss said. "Currently, however, the market is faced with an extremely tight supply situation."

Third-quarter revenue of 2.72 billion euros ($3.2 billion) was below the consensus of 2.77 billion euros in a poll of analysts by Vara Research. Profit margin widened to 18.2% from 17.4% in the prior quarter, beating a consensus view of 18%.

Infineon maintained its forecast for revenue in its fiscal year to Sept. 30 of 11 billion euros, while nudging up its guidance for segment result margin - a measure of operational profitability - to above 18%.


Ploss said inventories were "at a historic low; our chips are being shipped from our fabs straight into end applications".

Under those circumstances, any government-imposed lockdowns - such as one in Malaysia where Infineon has a production site - were especially grave, Ploss added.

"We are doing our utmost to improve matters along the entire value chain and are working as flexibly as possible in the best interests of our customers," said Ploss. "At the same time, we are continuously building up additional capacity."

Infineon will be able to raise output of specialist power-management chips with the commissioning of its new plant in Villach, Austria, but it still relies heavily on Asian contract manufacturers that are running flat out.

Confirming the grim picture, the Ifo economic research group said on Tuesday that the German car industry and its suppliers faced the worst chip supply shortage in 30 years. A poll showed that 83% of companies were affected, up from 65% in April.

"This is leading to production stoppages," said Ifo's Oliver Falck. "The shortages of semiconductors will persist for some time to come."

In addition to the pandemic hit to production at its site in Melaka, Malaysia, Infineon said it was still dealing with the aftermath of a winter storm that crippled its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Texas.

Those problems caused sequential revenue declines in the third quarter both at its mainstay automotive unit - which accounts for around two-fifths of group revenue - and at its power and sensor systems division.

Infineon said it expected revenue of 2.9 billion euros in the fourth quarter, with its automotive and power systems expected to show flat sales, and a segment result margin of 19%. - Reuters

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