Advantest’s business depends largely upon capital expenditures of semiconductor industrial, design and manufacturing companies, fabless semiconductor companies, foundries and test houses. These companies, in turn, determine their capital expenditures and investment levels largely based on current and anticipated market demand for semiconductors and products incorporating semiconductors. Such demand is influenced significantly by overall condition of the global economy. Historically, a reduction rate of capital expenditures of semiconductor manufacturers during downturns in the semiconductor industry, including investments in semiconductor test systems, has typically been much greater than a reduction rate of worldwide semiconductor sales. The semiconductor industry has been highly cyclical with recurring periods of excess inventory, which often have had a severe effect on the semiconductor industry’s demand for semiconductor test systems, including those of Advantest. As the complexity of semiconductors has increased in recent years, the need to ensure reliability has increased, and the difficulty of improving test efficiency has also increased. Advantest expects that demand for testers will continue to increase in the future. However, there is a risk of fluctuations in demand for semiconductors and testers due to the impact on the global economy caused by major changes in the international political situation and the spread of serious infectious diseases.
The significant volatility in demand for semiconductors is affected by various factors such as:
- the overall state of the global economy;
- trends in the semiconductor industry;
- levels of investment in communications infrastructure and trends of demand in communication devices such as smartphones and wearable devices;
- demand in personal data center, computer and server industries;
- consumer demand for digital consumer products such as TVs, game devices, VR (Virtual Reality) / AR (Augmented Reality) devices;
- trends in the industrial equipment market, including automotive, robotics and medical equipment
- trends in the high performance semiconductor market by expanding AI/Artificial Intelligence, image recognition and speech recognition services using neural networks
Demand in the semiconductor market and Advantest’s performance in the current fiscal year are described in "4. Management’s Discussion and Analysis (1) Analysis of Results of Operations" Advantest believes that its results are significantly affected by the significant volatility of demand in the semiconductor industry. If there is a significant downturn in the semiconductor industry, Advantest’s financial condition and results of operations will be adversely affected including the write-down of inventories due to excess inventory.
To reduce this risk, Advantest is going to be flexible to meet fluctuations in demand by expanding its business into adjacent semiconductor value chain markets such as semiconductor design, evaluation processes and system level test processes. Additionally, Advantest is promoting the use of outsource manufacturing for productions while continuing to strengthen services for the development of a recurring types of business and new businesses.