UPDATED. 2022-01-20 18:09 (목)
South Korean fabless companies record polarizing 2020 earnings
South Korean fabless companies record polarizing 2020 earnings
  • Nari Lee
  • 승인 2021.03.16 06:27
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Dongwoon Anatech, Pixelplus and LDT returned to profitability
Silicon Works record over 1 tril won sales thanks LG's OLED panel supply to Apple
Image: TheElec
Image: TheElec

South Korean fabless semiconductor companies recorded noticeably polarizing earnings in 2020.

TheElec collected earnings of the top 17 fabless companies, including design houses and chipless firms, and based on revenue in South Korea.

The four top companies, Silicon Works, ADTechnology, Abov Semiconductor and iA, recorded double digit growth compared to 2019.

Dongwoon Anatech, Pixelplus and LDT returned to profitability.

JSC and Chips&Media recorded declines in their operating income.  Telechips, TLI and I&C Technology turned to the red. The remaining fabless companies all continued their annual loss streak from 2019.

Fabless companies don’t have their fabs but design semiconductors. Design houses  are in between fabless and foundry companies and handle back-end and mask designs. Chipless companies only sell IP and don’t have their branded chips.

Silicon Works recorded over 1 trillion won in sales for the first time last year. It recorded sales of 1.16 trillion won, a 34% increase from 2019. It posted operating income of 94.2 billion won, a rise of 99.6% year-on-year. The increased OLED panel supply to Apple by its major customer, LG Display, helped its earnings. Silicon Works is the exclusive supplier of display driver IC for OLED panels to LG Display. Demand from OLED TVs also helped.

Design house ADTechnology recorded sales of 292.3 billion won and operating income of 13.4 billion won, a rise of 29.5% and 10.7%, respectively. Its earnings after 2020, however, remains uncertain. Orders from TSMC for controller IC of SK Hynix will continue up to 2022. But it will need new customers for its new partner Samsung Foundry.

Abov Semiconductor recorded 144.1 billion won in sales and 17.6 billion won in operating income, a rise of 13.6% and 26.6%, respectively. High sales from specific absorption rate (SAR) sensor in the second half of the year helped earnings. The firm has been supplying SAR sensors for Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone series since 2018 and Galaxy Buds wireless earphones since 2019.

Dongwoon Anatech marked 70.7 billion won in sales, a rise of 29.35 from 2019. It recorded 2.2 billion won in operating income, a return to profitability. Earnings were helped by growth in autofocus driver IC for optical image stabilization. It began supplying the driver ICs to Samsung for the Galaxy S21 series last year. It also supplied them for Huawei Mate40 series, Vivo X60 Pro series and Oppo Reno5 Pro series.

Pixelplus recorded 39 billion won in sales, an increase of 10.6% from 2019. It recorded 800 million won in operating income, its first annual profit since 2015. The firm succeeded in supplying surround view monitor system-on-a-chip for a Japanese automobile through a Taiwanese car component supplier in the fourth quarter of last year. 
LDT recorded sales of 12 billion won, a rise of 73.9% year-on-year. It recorded 1.5 billion won in operating income. It supplied fire alarm sensors to Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, which helped the growth, it said. It also reduced costs of OLED driver IC for higher profitability, LDT added.


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