Micron climbs to second rank in DRAM sales, Samsung increases lead

El Segundo (CA) - The battle for the second place in the worldwide DRAM sales ranking continued in the first quarter with Micron surpassing Hynix by a slight margin. Meanwhile, Samsung's market share increased to more than 30 percent, according to iSuppli.

Samsung's unchallenged dominant position in the global DRAM market is slowly but surely becoming a simple reality other DRAM companies have to live with, a new report released by market research firm iSuppli suggests. However, sales figures show a fierce battle between Hynix and Micron for second place in the worldwide ranking. In 2004, the two firms switched positions every quarter. In the first quarter of 2005, Micron emerged as the lucky winner, outselling Hynix by just $17 million.

Micron now holds a global market share of 16.8 percent, Hynix is a close third with 16.5 percent. Samsung achieved almost twice the revenue of Micron with sales of $2.04 billion in Q1. Samsung's market share climbed from 26 percent in the first quarter of 2004 to now 31.1 percent and landed at about the same level the firm claimed in Q1 of 2003.

Micron posted the best revenue performance among the top-four DRAM suppliers in the first quarter, with a 2 percent decline in sales, according to iSuppli. In contrast, Hynix's DRAM revenue declined by 9 percent for the quarter. Global sales of DRAM were $6.6 billion, down about 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2004, but up 16 percent compared to the first quarter of last year.

DRAM sales at Germany-based Infineon, now in fourth place, contracted by 18 percent, which is the biggest decline among the top-four suppliers. Infineon also posted the smallest growth in bit shipments among the top-four suppliers. Nanya Technology reclaimed in the first quarter its position as Taiwan's leading DRAM supplier, passing Powerchip Semiconductor. Among the top-10 DRAM suppliers, Nanya achieved the strongest growth, with sales rising 3 percent on a sequential basis.

iSuppli stressed that profitability among the DRAM suppliers declined more dramatically than revenue. Operating profit margins for most of the top DRAM suppliers in the first quarter decreased to the single-digit percentage range, down from double digits in the fourth quarter. Only Samsung, Hynix and Powerchip managed to retain double-digit percentage margins, the firm said. With DRAM prices continuing to decrease in the second quarter, a few suppliers are expected to post losses for the period, the first time this has occurred since the third quarter of 2003.