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这家芯片部件供应商鲜为人知,其股价却在过去三年飙升了1200%

这家芯片部件供应商鲜为人知,其股价却在过去三年飙升了1200%

Debby Wu, Takashi Mochizuki, 彭博社 2021年09月20日
在新冠疫情爆发近两年之后,全球供应链仍然非常脆弱,也使这家小公司的股价暴涨。

在科技行业,南亚电路板股份有限公司(Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board Corp.)几乎肯定不是一个家喻户晓的名字。但这家鲜为人知的中国台湾地区的公司专注于为芯片制造行业生产一种至关重要的部件,而芯片制造已经成为饱受半导体短缺之苦的汽车和电子产品制造商面临的最新瓶颈。

这个部件的名字很拗口,叫味之素堆积膜(ABF)载板,它是芯片行业中最没有魅力的细分部门之一。该部件是封装的一部分,用以保护驱动计算机或汽车所需的少量芯片,并促使它们相互通信。

没有这种载板,世界上许多最先进的半导体就无法运行。因此,尽管英特尔(Intel Corp.)和台积电(Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.)等业界巨头砸下数千亿美元来缓解“芯片荒”,但这一重要部件的短缺可能会在未来好几年内阻碍芯片的生产。据知情人士透露,由于产能有限,ABF载板的供应可能至少在2025年之前都将受到限制。

近几个月来,英特尔、英伟达(Nvidia Corp.)和超微半导体(Advanced Micro Devices Inc.)等公司的高管相继就芯片短缺问题发出预警。一位不愿透露姓名的内部人士表示,博通公司(Broadcom Corp.)最近告诉客户,由于缺乏载板,其主要路由器芯片的交货时间将从63周延长到70周。

这种短缺表明,在新冠疫情爆发近两年之后,全球供应链仍然非常脆弱。企业和投资者几乎不知道下一波冲击可能来自哪里。

“眼下这场缺芯危机让很多企业措手不及。”贝恩公司(Bain & Co.)的合伙人彼得·汉伯里说,“自新冠疫情爆发以来,居家办公蔚然成风,对个人电脑、游戏卡和云服务的需求显著增加。在这种背景下,这一关键部件突然成为超微半导体和英伟达等许多企业的真正瓶颈。”

这种供应短缺正在助推南亚这类昔日默默无闻的ABF载板厂商成为耀眼的股市明星。在截至9月15日的三年中,其股价已经累计上涨了1219%,而且分析师预计南亚的股价还将进一步走高。欣兴电子(Uniimicron Technology Corp.)、景硕科技(Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp.)和日本揖斐电株式会社(Ibiden Co.)等ABF载板生产商的股价也在持续飙涨。

“随着出货量激增,预计这些公司的利润将在未来几年继续飙升。”Ace经济研究所(Ace Research Institute)的分析师安田秀树表示。

9月16日,南亚股价上涨了3.2%,欣兴电子上涨3.9%,景硕科技上涨2.7%。

ABF载板是一种相对较新的组件,由英特尔在20世纪90年代末开发更强大的微处理器时率先使用。其名称源自日本味之素株式会社(Ajinomoto Co.),该公司专门生产这种载板的薄膜状绝缘材料。这种材料最初被用作个人电脑和服务器CPU(即中央处理器)的首选封装技术,因为它有利于高端芯片的快速计算。

21世纪初,在互联网热潮的推动下,ABF载板的销售迎来井喷,然后随着智能手机在2000年代后期开始取代个人电脑而遭受重创。在2018年左右,随着各国相继推出第五代无线服务,博通等网络芯片制造商随即将这种材料用于路由器、基站和相关应用,ABF载板厂商的财运开始复苏。5G时代的到来也推动了对更强大服务器芯片的需求——云计算、人工智能和智能驾驶技术都需要高性能芯片来驱动。ABF载板通常以每块芯片为单位进行报价,起价约为每块芯片50美分,而面向高端服务器CPU的载板售价则高达20美元。

英特尔、超微半导体和英伟达等主要半导体公司现在都依赖ABF载板来生产世界上最强大的芯片。但由于对昔日的赔钱岁月心有余悸,ABF载板制造商一直不愿大举投资产能。花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)的分析师格兰特·迟(音译)和内藤孝之在7月初预测,到2024年,载板供应量预计将以16%的复合年增长率上升,而需求估计将攀升18%至19%。

President Capital Management Corp.公司的分析师欧文·程(音译)在本月在一份研究报告中写道,由于高性能计算和人工智能等技术增长迅猛,明年的ABF载板供需缺口将比今年扩大33%之多。这可能会使南亚和欣兴电子等公司受益。

“南亚可能会在2022年将其ABF载板的售价提高35%。”欧文·程写道。

ABF载板供不应求的局面加剧了芯片行业面临的一系列供应瓶颈,而这些瓶颈已经持续阻碍全球经济从新冠疫情复苏的步伐,就连丰田汽车(Toyota Motor Corp.)和苹果(Apple Inc.)等巨头级企业也受到冲击。世界各地的公司现在很难生产足够多的产品来满足需求。

英特尔在7月警告称,由于载板和其他部件的供应受限,其客户计算部门的收入将持续下降。向苹果和思科系统(Cisco Systems Inc.)等公司供货的博通公司,则拒绝就其延长交货时间一事置评。

一些客户正在自己动手解决问题。超微半导体的首席执行官苏姿丰(Lisa Su)在4月告诉分析师,她领导的这家芯片制造商将投入自有资金来帮助供应商增加产能。

“特别是在载板方面,我认为这个行业一直投资不足。”她说,“因此,我们利用这个机会来投资建设超微半导体专用的载板产能,这将是我们今后会继续做的事情。”

随着汽车日益电气化和数字化,汽车芯片供应商将使用更多的ABF载板。但据知情人士透露,由于缺乏英特尔等主要半导体公司的议价能力,它们很难从载板制造商那里获得优先供货权。这可能意味着汽车芯片供应商将加大对载板制造商的直接投资,或者市场上将出现新的ABF载板厂商。

“展望未来,我预计更多的企业将改变它们在这一领域的策略,将制定更仔细的计划来监控产能,并采取更多措施提前预留产能。”贝恩公司的汉伯里说。

南亚正在加大投资力度。今年的资本支出至少将达到80亿新台币(约合2.89亿美元),2022年的支出甚至会更多。该公司的发言人杰克·陆(音译)表示,到2023年,南亚将竭力推动ABF载板产能在2020年的水平上提升40%。但即使这个产能水平也不足以满足客户的需求。

“供不应求的局面将持续到2023年。”他说。

欣兴电子在7月表示,2025年前的大部分ABF载板产能已经分配给了不同的客户。

这种供应紧张局面正在推高整个行业的利润。根据彭博社(Bloomberg)汇总的分析师预测值,南亚的营收今年将增长33%,而营业利润预计将增长近两倍。花旗集团分析师的格兰特·迟和内藤孝之上调了所有主要ABF载板制造商的目标价,其中包括欣兴电子、南亚、景硕科技和日本揖斐电株式会社。

President Capital Management的分析师欧文·程最近将他给南亚设定的目标价上调至新台币570元。这比目前的股价高出了27%。(财富中文网)

译者:任文科

在科技行业,南亚电路板股份有限公司(Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board Corp.)几乎肯定不是一个家喻户晓的名字。但这家鲜为人知的中国台湾地区的公司专注于为芯片制造行业生产一种至关重要的部件,而芯片制造已经成为饱受半导体短缺之苦的汽车和电子产品制造商面临的最新瓶颈。

这个部件的名字很拗口,叫味之素堆积膜(ABF)载板,它是芯片行业中最没有魅力的细分部门之一。该部件是封装的一部分,用以保护驱动计算机或汽车所需的少量芯片,并促使它们相互通信。

没有这种载板,世界上许多最先进的半导体就无法运行。因此,尽管英特尔(Intel Corp.)和台积电(Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.)等业界巨头砸下数千亿美元来缓解“芯片荒”,但这一重要部件的短缺可能会在未来好几年内阻碍芯片的生产。据知情人士透露,由于产能有限,ABF载板的供应可能至少在2025年之前都将受到限制。

近几个月来,英特尔、英伟达(Nvidia Corp.)和超微半导体(Advanced Micro Devices Inc.)等公司的高管相继就芯片短缺问题发出预警。一位不愿透露姓名的内部人士表示,博通公司(Broadcom Corp.)最近告诉客户,由于缺乏载板,其主要路由器芯片的交货时间将从63周延长到70周。

这种短缺表明,在新冠疫情爆发近两年之后,全球供应链仍然非常脆弱。企业和投资者几乎不知道下一波冲击可能来自哪里。

“眼下这场缺芯危机让很多企业措手不及。”贝恩公司(Bain & Co.)的合伙人彼得·汉伯里说,“自新冠疫情爆发以来,居家办公蔚然成风,对个人电脑、游戏卡和云服务的需求显著增加。在这种背景下,这一关键部件突然成为超微半导体和英伟达等许多企业的真正瓶颈。”

这种供应短缺正在助推南亚这类昔日默默无闻的ABF载板厂商成为耀眼的股市明星。在截至9月15日的三年中,其股价已经累计上涨了1219%,而且分析师预计南亚的股价还将进一步走高。欣兴电子(Uniimicron Technology Corp.)、景硕科技(Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp.)和日本揖斐电株式会社(Ibiden Co.)等ABF载板生产商的股价也在持续飙涨。

“随着出货量激增,预计这些公司的利润将在未来几年继续飙升。”Ace经济研究所(Ace Research Institute)的分析师安田秀树表示。

9月16日,南亚股价上涨了3.2%,欣兴电子上涨3.9%,景硕科技上涨2.7%。

ABF载板是一种相对较新的组件,由英特尔在20世纪90年代末开发更强大的微处理器时率先使用。其名称源自日本味之素株式会社(Ajinomoto Co.),该公司专门生产这种载板的薄膜状绝缘材料。这种材料最初被用作个人电脑和服务器CPU(即中央处理器)的首选封装技术,因为它有利于高端芯片的快速计算。

21世纪初,在互联网热潮的推动下,ABF载板的销售迎来井喷,然后随着智能手机在2000年代后期开始取代个人电脑而遭受重创。在2018年左右,随着各国相继推出第五代无线服务,博通等网络芯片制造商随即将这种材料用于路由器、基站和相关应用,ABF载板厂商的财运开始复苏。5G时代的到来也推动了对更强大服务器芯片的需求——云计算、人工智能和智能驾驶技术都需要高性能芯片来驱动。ABF载板通常以每块芯片为单位进行报价,起价约为每块芯片50美分,而面向高端服务器CPU的载板售价则高达20美元。

英特尔、超微半导体和英伟达等主要半导体公司现在都依赖ABF载板来生产世界上最强大的芯片。但由于对昔日的赔钱岁月心有余悸,ABF载板制造商一直不愿大举投资产能。花旗集团(Citigroup Inc.)的分析师格兰特·迟(音译)和内藤孝之在7月初预测,到2024年,载板供应量预计将以16%的复合年增长率上升,而需求估计将攀升18%至19%。

President Capital Management Corp.公司的分析师欧文·程(音译)在本月在一份研究报告中写道,由于高性能计算和人工智能等技术增长迅猛,明年的ABF载板供需缺口将比今年扩大33%之多。这可能会使南亚和欣兴电子等公司受益。

“南亚可能会在2022年将其ABF载板的售价提高35%。”欧文·程写道。

ABF载板供不应求的局面加剧了芯片行业面临的一系列供应瓶颈,而这些瓶颈已经持续阻碍全球经济从新冠疫情复苏的步伐,就连丰田汽车(Toyota Motor Corp.)和苹果(Apple Inc.)等巨头级企业也受到冲击。世界各地的公司现在很难生产足够多的产品来满足需求。

英特尔在7月警告称,由于载板和其他部件的供应受限,其客户计算部门的收入将持续下降。向苹果和思科系统(Cisco Systems Inc.)等公司供货的博通公司,则拒绝就其延长交货时间一事置评。

一些客户正在自己动手解决问题。超微半导体的首席执行官苏姿丰(Lisa Su)在4月告诉分析师,她领导的这家芯片制造商将投入自有资金来帮助供应商增加产能。

“特别是在载板方面,我认为这个行业一直投资不足。”她说,“因此,我们利用这个机会来投资建设超微半导体专用的载板产能,这将是我们今后会继续做的事情。”

随着汽车日益电气化和数字化,汽车芯片供应商将使用更多的ABF载板。但据知情人士透露,由于缺乏英特尔等主要半导体公司的议价能力,它们很难从载板制造商那里获得优先供货权。这可能意味着汽车芯片供应商将加大对载板制造商的直接投资,或者市场上将出现新的ABF载板厂商。

“展望未来,我预计更多的企业将改变它们在这一领域的策略,将制定更仔细的计划来监控产能,并采取更多措施提前预留产能。”贝恩公司的汉伯里说。

南亚正在加大投资力度。今年的资本支出至少将达到80亿新台币(约合2.89亿美元),2022年的支出甚至会更多。该公司的发言人杰克·陆(音译)表示,到2023年,南亚将竭力推动ABF载板产能在2020年的水平上提升40%。但即使这个产能水平也不足以满足客户的需求。

“供不应求的局面将持续到2023年。”他说。

欣兴电子在7月表示,2025年前的大部分ABF载板产能已经分配给了不同的客户。

这种供应紧张局面正在推高整个行业的利润。根据彭博社(Bloomberg)汇总的分析师预测值,南亚的营收今年将增长33%,而营业利润预计将增长近两倍。花旗集团分析师的格兰特·迟和内藤孝之上调了所有主要ABF载板制造商的目标价,其中包括欣兴电子、南亚、景硕科技和日本揖斐电株式会社。

President Capital Management的分析师欧文·程最近将他给南亚设定的目标价上调至新台币570元。这比目前的股价高出了27%。(财富中文网)

译者:任文科

Nan Ya Printed Circuit Board Corp. is hardly a household name in the tech industry. But the obscure Taiwanese company makes an essential component for chipmaking that has become the latest bottleneck for automakers and electronics companies suffering from semiconductor shortages.

The component goes by the unwieldy name of Ajinomoto build-up film (ABF) substrate and it’s one of the least glamorous niches in the chips industry. It’s part of the packaging that protects the handful of chips needed to power your computer or car and allows communication among them.

Many of the world’s most advanced semiconductors can’t run without the substrates. So while giants like Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. spend hundreds of billions trying to alleviate chip shortages, the lack of that single component could hinder production for years. Supplies are likely to remain constrained until at least 2025 due to limited capacity, according to people familiar with the matter.

Top executives from Intel, Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. have all warned about shortages in recent months. Broadcom Corp. recently told customers the lead time for its main router chips is going up from 63 weeks to 70 weeks due to a lack of substrates, according to one person, who asked not to be named as the information is not public.

The crunch shows how vulnerable global supply chains remain to disruptions almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies and investors have almost no visibility into where the next shock could come from.

“This crisis caught a number players off guard,” said Peter Hanbury, a partner at Bain & Co. “As demand for PCs, gaming cards and cloud services increased with COVID-19 and working from home, this critical component suddenly became a real bottleneck for many players such as AMD and Nvidia.”

The squeeze is turning low-profile companies like Nan Ya into stock market stars. Its shares have soared 1,219% in the past three years through September 15, and analysts project more to come. ABF substrate makers such as Unimicron Technology Corp., Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp., and Ibiden Co. have all seen their stocks climb too.

“Profits at these companies are expected to keep soaring for years to come as shipment quantities skyrocket,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.

Nan Ya rose as much as 3.2% on September 16, while Unimicron gained 3.9% and Kinsus added 2.7%.

ABF substrate is a relatively new component, pioneered by Intel in the late 1990s as it developed more powerful microprocessors. It takes its name from Ajinomoto Co., a Japanese company that produces the substrate’s film-like insulation. The material was first adopted as the preferred packaging technology for central processing units in personal computers and servers because it facilitates speedy computations by high-end chips.

Sales of ABF substrates surged in the early 2000s with the Internet boom, then took a hit as smartphones began replacing PCs in the late 2000s. Substrate makers’ fortunes started to recover around 2018 as countries began to roll out fifth-generation wireless services, which led companies like Broadcom that make networking chips to adopt the material for use in routers, base stations and related applications. The advent of 5G also boosted demand for more powerful server chips to handle cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart-driving technologies. The cost of ABF substrate, usually quoted per chip, starts at about 50 cents a chip and tops $20 for premium server CPUs.

Major semiconductors companies like Intel, AMD and Nvidia now all depend on ABF substrates to produce the most powerful chips in the world. But substrate makers have been reluctant to invest aggressively in capacity because of money-losing slumps in the past. Supply is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2024, while demand is estimated to climb 18% to 19%, Citigroup Inc. analysts Grant Chi and Takayuki Naito forecast in early July.

Owen Cheng, an analyst at President Capital Management Corp., wrote in a note this month that the gap between demand and supply will rise as much as 33% next year compared to this year because of growth in technologies like high-performance computing and artificial intelligence. That will probably benefit the likes of Nan Ya and Unimicron.

“Nan Ya could raise its ABF substrates price by 35% in 2022,” Cheng wrote.

The ABF situation adds to a series of bottlenecks in the chip industry that have hampered the global recovery from COVID-19, hitting even giants like Toyota Motor Corp. and Apple Inc. Companies around the world are struggling to produce enough to meet demand.

Intel warned in July that revenue in its client computing group will decline sequentially due to constraints from substrates and other components. Broadcom, which sells to companies like Apple and Cisco Systems Inc., declined to comment on its wait times.

Some customers are taking matters into their own hands. AMD Chief Executive Officer Lisa Su told analysts in April that the chipmaker would put its own money into increasing capacity at suppliers.

“On the substrate side, in particular, I think there has been under-investment in the industry,” she said. “And so we’ve taken the opportunity to invest in some substrate capacity dedicated to AMD, and that will be something that we continue to do going forward.”

Auto chip suppliers will use more ABF substrates as vehicles grow increasingly electrified and digitized. They are, however, struggling to get top priority among substrate makers because they lack the bargaining power of major semiconductor companies like Intel, people familiar with the situation said. That could mean more direct investment in substrate producers or the entry of new ABF substrate players.

“Going forward, I expect we’ll see more players change their approach to this segment with a more careful plan to monitor capacity and more efforts to reserve capacity in advance,” said Hanbury of Bain.

Nan Ya is stepping up investment. The company is spending at least NT$8 billion ($289 million) in capital expenditure this year and even more in 2022. The company will boost ABF substrate production capacity 40% from its 2020 level by 2023, according to company spokesman Jack Lu. Even that won’t be enough for customers.

“Demand will continue to outpace supply until 2023,” Lu said.

Unimicron said in July that most of the company’s ABF substrate capacity has been allocated to various customers up until 2025.

The tightness is pushing up profits throughout the industry. Nan Ya is projected to see operating profit almost triple this year as revenue rises 33%, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Citigroup analysts Chi and Naito raised their price targets for all the major ABF substrate makers, including Unimicron, Nan Ya, Kinsus and Ibiden.

Cheng of President Capital Management recently bumped his price target for Nan Ya to NT$570. That’s 27% higher than its current price.

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