Silicon Works was the sole fabless in South Korea to record high growth in the first quarter of 2021.
TheElec looked at the first quarter earnings of the top 20 fabless companies (including design houses and chipless firms) in the country.
Silicon Works recorded 405.6 billion won in sales, a jump of 90.9% year-on-year. Operating income surged 410% over the same time period to 59.2 billion won.
High demand and price hike of display driver IC for use in TVs and notebooks helped the strong performance.
The company’s main customer LG Display supplying OLED panels for iPhone 12, which increased demand for OLED display driver IC, also contributed growth.
Silicon Works is expected continue its strong performance throughout 2021, a person familiar with the matter said.
Samsung’s design house partner ADTechnology also performed solidly. The company recorded 79.6 billion won in sales and 3.6 billion won in operating income, an increase of 27% and 38.5%, respectively, from a year ago.
However, majority of sales didn’t come from Samsung but memory controller IC supply to SK Hynix.
NC& and Telechips’ earnings are showing recover. NC& recorded sales of 27.1 billion won in sales, an increase of 45.7% year-on-year, but it recorded 2.3 billion won in operating loss. However, it narrowed the rate of loss compared to last year’s 4 billion won. Black box export to Japan helped the sales growth, a company spokesperson said. Subsidiary Nextchip is also narrowing its rate of loss from supply of chips to Hyundai Motor, they added.
Telechips also saw sales increase 12.9% year-on-year to 25.3%. It recorded an operating loss of 1.3 billion won during the quarter, which was better than the 2.8 billion won operating loss a year ago. Last year, the company saw sales drop from the decline in automobile production due to the pandemic. The chip shortage this year which is affecting automobile production is likely to continue burden the firm.
Chips&Media succeeded in returning to profitability from rise in royalty sales from the US. The company recorded 4 billion won in sales, an increase of 60% from a year prior. It is planning to launch 8K resolution IP in the second half, which is expected to help with sales.
Most fabless companies are facing sales problem due to the shortage in foundry, or contract chip capacity, people familiar with the matter said.