RF & wireless component suppliers announced a blizzard of new products in Q1 ’12, many coming out during two of the largest industry trade shows, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mobile World Congress (MWC). Many of the announcements involved radio components for LTE and 802.11ac, the two standards that will drive the wireless industry over the next five years.
Something else happened in Q1 ’12: publicly traded companies reported a decline of sales of RF and wireless components of approximately 3 percent, corresponding with lower seasonal shipments of cellphones and slower growth in Asia and Europe. At the same time, the median profitability of the companies declined from a healthy 12 percent profit-to-sales ratio to a weaker 5.3 percent sequentially.
This could mark the start of the second dip of a global double-dip recession. With Greece on the ropes and the European debt crisis still unresolved, this scenario has many people concerned. However, the RF and wireless components industry has remained remarkably buoyant throughout the past few years of financial turmoil, with sales at or near historical highs for most companies in the industry in 2011.
Results reported during the second quarter of 2012 so far suggest a modest improvement in demand for Q1 ’12 over the previous quarter. This is consistent with single-digit annual sales growth for 2012 over 2011, and would seem to indicate slower growth, but not a contraction this year.
For more about RF & wireless component developments in Q1 ’12, see RF Industry Component Review: January – March 2012.