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Fortunes Look Brighter For Semiconductor Makers

By Agence France-Presse The world's big semiconductor manufacturers are showing signs of recovery after three rocky years. U.S. chip makers such as Intel, Motorola, Advanced Micro Devices and Texas Instruments, Europe's Royal Philips Electronics and South Korea's Samsung have all reported better-than-expected results for the just-ended third quarter. Analysts said the results are a positive sign for companies that have been retrenching for the past three years. Philips said recently it expects its semiconductors division to turn a profit in the fourth quarter. Texas Instruments saw a 30% jump in chips for wireless products such as "smart phones" and personal digital assistants. Intel said its third-quarter profit soared 142% from a year ago to $1.7 billion and sales surged 20%, helped by strong sales of notebook computer chips. In another positive sign, Intel -- which holds about 80% of the computer chip market -- predicted sales would increase in the fourth quarter to between $8.1 billion and $8.7 billion, which is above what analysts expect. "Clearly semiconductor-industry business conditions are pretty strong. This strength dates back to August or September," said Dan Scovel, an analyst with the investment firm Needham & Co. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), San Jose, Calif., predicts sales will increase 16.8% in 2004 after an estimated 10.1% increase in 2003. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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