In the first quarter, the price of multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) excluding MLCC for electrical devices is expected to decline. This is due to the impact of the declining order backlogs of major companies.
On February 4th, it was reported that the orders from the top three Japanese MLCC makers, Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd., TDK, and Taiyo Yuden, have decreased. Samsung Electro-Mechanics has not officially announced that its order backlog has been reduced. However, it is reported that Samsung Electro-Mechanics is reviewing countermeasures internally as its competitors are lowering their MLCC prices due to the decrease in backlogged orders. The industry considers the occurrence of a price decrease to be a fact.
Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. said that the order backlog of condensers (including MLCC) decreased in its January earnings report. The order backlog for the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year (October-December 2018) was approximately 1.65 trillion won (166.2 billion yen), down 16.9% from the previous quarter. In the market, it is considered that the uncertainty has increased due to the decline in the order backlog of condensers of Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which had been steadily rising till the previous quarter (July-September 2018). Kim Rok-ho, a researcher at Hana Financial Investment, said, “Murata’s order backlog, which has been well-maintained in demand for the base stations and electrical devices, is a factor that can increase the short-term demand uncertainty. This can add burden to other MLCC companies.”
The order backlog of Taiyo Yuden has also been lowered in the same period. In the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year, the order backlog was 39.0 billion yen, down 22.5% from the previous quarter. It is expected that the condenser sales for the 4th quarter (January-March 2019) will decline 15% from the 3rd quarter. Taiyo Yuden said, “From the 3rd quarter, new orders, mainly consisting of smartphone parts, slowed, and the order backlog at the end of the quarter was lower than when the supply and demand conditions were tight. However, there is no need to be pessimistic about the 4th quarter performance. The capacity utilization rate in the third quarter was 100%, and we expect to maintain 90% in the fourth quarter.”
TDK did not disclose the order backlog numbers. However, TDK lowered its sales guidance for the 2018 fiscal year (April 2018-March 2019) by 3.5%. TDK said that orders have dropped sharply in all of its main products since the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year.
It was also pointed out that the decline in the order backlog of major MLCC makers will encourage price cuts for non-electric MLCC. “The decline in demand for the Apple iPhone and China electronics sets has caused the decline in demand for MLCC of Murata Manufacturing and Taiyo Yuden,” said Moon Ji-Hye, a researcher at Heungkuk Securities. She also said, “Murata and Samsung Electro-Mechanics will cut prices for some MLCC to secure the demand volume in the first quarter. The inventory adjustment of non-electric MLCC will be strong. The final decision on price cuts was made in February, so the decreased prices will be applied as early as March.”
On the other hand, Taiwan’s Yageo, which mainly supplies low-end MLCC products, was hit early by the change. This is due to the oversupply of non-electric MLCC. Last year, the sales of Yageo had decreased continuously from September to December. Its October sales fell as much as 38.4%. In January, the sales climbed 5.3 percent, however, the average of the second half of last year has not been recovered.