Polysilicon producers shipped about 12,600 metric tons of their products in the fourth quarter of 2008, a 7 percent growth from the previous quarter, according to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI).
SEMI, an industry group, said the companies increased their production to meet demand from the solar industry. The semiconductor industry has been in a deep funk over the past year, thanks to the battered economy. Polysilicon is the raw material for making chips, which are found in all electronic devices. The material also is used to make solar cells.
The solar industry isn’t immune to the financial market turmoil, and many solar companies didn’t fare so well in the fourth quarter. LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK), a silicon wafer maker, on Wednesday reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $133.1 million, or $1.25 per American depositary share (ADS), compared with a third-quarter net income for $88.4 million, or 77 cents per ADS.
China-based LDK had to take a $216.7 million charge because the market value of its inventory fell below cost. The company had previously warned investors that the fourth-quarter numbers wouldn’t be pretty. LDK’s shares plummeted nearly 14 percent to close at $4.06 per share on Wednesday.
SEMI reported that, overall, polysilicon producers shipped about 43,900 metric tons of polysilicon in 2008. Companies that provided the shipment figures were DC Chemical, Hemlock Semiconductor, MEMC Electronic Materials, REC Silicon, Tokuyama and Wacker Chemie.
SEMI only started collecting polysilicon shipment data in 2008, and it hopes to line up more companies in its data-collection program, said Dan Tracy, senior director of industry research and statistics at SEMI.
The group is branching into the solar industry because the processes for making solar cells and chips are similar. SEMI has collected data on semiconductor factory equipment, silicon wafers and gases and chemicals for the semiconductor and flat panel display industries for years. It plans to expand its data collection in the solar industry by including solar cell shipment and other segments, Tracy said.