Some Wall Street analysts are glum about 2006 for the U.S. economy because of fears of rising energy costs and bursting housing bubbles. But semiconductors may be a bright spot, said David Creamer, managing director at technology investment banking firm Jefferies Broadview.
There are expectations 2006 will be a good year for semiconductor technologies as mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, and some consolidation is prompted by large-diversified companies looking for successful fledglings to fill technology holes, he said.
"The semiconductor price index climbing 20 percent in the last couple of months" is a positive sign, Creamer said.
Global M&A activity has been steady in the years since the technology bubble burst. In 2005, about 58 deals have closed, up from 54 in 2004 and 56 in 2003. Although the number has remained nearly flat, the medium size financial transaction doubled. This year, announced medium size deals reached $51.1 million, up from $26 million in 2004, and $18 million in 2003.
In the video and the communications space, the innovation behind tapped and live television broadcasts to cellular phones will emerge as one of the most interesting technologies in 2006, said Creamer. He is co-chief of the Jefferies Broadview's Communications & Computing Infrastructure global practice group.
Digital television and set-top box market segments for the semiconductor industry are expected to remain hot categories in 2006 as access players begin to look for companies in digital video to develop products for internet protocol (IP) set-top box applications. Not only the access players, but PMC Sierra Inc., Applied Micro Circuits Corp, Vitesse Semiconductor Corp.
Creamer said some of the 801.11 companies, such as Atheros Communications Inc., are interested in integrating technologies like Bluetooth to provide both capabilities inside one chip aimed at the handset market.
ZigBeeand WiMax, two emerging standards, will attract interest in radio frequency (RF) technology from the bigger players behind these standards. "A lot of folks think you'll see Zigbee chips literally inside your light bulb," Creamer said. "There are some small start-ups likely to be picked up by the larger diversify players."