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1Q18 Mobile DRAM Prices to Rise by a Mere 3% on Weak Demand, TrendForce Says

Published: Jan 25,2018

Despite rollout of full-screen models by major smartphone brands in 4Q17 to stimulate market demand, consumers have been less willing to make purchases amid the saturating market, mobile phone sales have been lower than expected, according DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce.

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Coupled with the climbing prices of mobile DRAM over the past year and a profit squeeze, major brands have adjusted their production plans and deferred restocking of materials since mid 4Q17. Some key components including mobile DRAM have excess inventory. In 1Q18, the traditional off-season, smartphone vendors are expected to decrease the demand, resulting in a mere 3% rise of the contract prices.

DRAMeXchange points out that production plans have been slashed since mid 4Q17, as the result, key components with long delivery time and high unit price, including mobile DRAM, have excess inventory. For some brands, the inventory has even doubled compared with previous level. The weakened demand has led to long time negotiation between component suppliers and buyers. The contract prices may not be finalized until the end of January. Influenced by the low demand in smartphone market and price drop of NAND Flash, the average growth of 1Q18 contract prices will be shrunk to 3%, down from 5% as originally expected.

Driven by rollout of new Android flagship models, DRAMeXchange forecasts that demands will pick up in 2Q18, which will boost stock up orders and strain supply. However, due to drop of NAND Flash prices and suppliers’ strategy of pushing eMCP with high-density NAND Flash, 2Q18 contract prices will remain stable or have slight increase.

In 1H18, constrained supply will continue as Samsung's Pyeongtaek plant output will not be launched until the second half. In addition, previously reported intervention by China's National Development and Reform Commission may moderate the upward trend of mobile DRAM prices in the first half, but the effect is limited so far.

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