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COVID-19: How to Emerge Stronger from the Crisis – Insights from McKinsey & Company

While the full contours of the next normal are still unclear, semiconductor companies largely acted decisively at the beginning of the crisis to build resilience and position the sector for future growth. To plan ahead, now is the time to think about the next normal and set the strategic direction needed to emerge even stronger from this humanitarian and economic crisis.

Global GDP recovery

McKinsey has developed nine GDP recovery scenarios, and as the economic situation has developed, we surveyed more than 2,000 global executives to discover that two of those scenarios are most likely. Both of those scenarios assume that the spread of coronavirus is eventually controlled and catastrophic economic damage is avoided. In the first scenario, global GDP is expected to recover in the first quarter of 2021; in the second, recovery is forecasted to be delayed until late 2022. 

The geographies of recovery will vary, as some industries and regions will recover faster than others.

Semiconductor Demand Forecast for 2020 and 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has created an unprecedented challenge for the semiconductor industry. During the 2007/2008 recession, consumer demand stagnated. This crisis, however, has affected both demand and supply, creating dual pressures.

Our demand forecast is based on the two most likely McKinsey GDP recovery scenarios as well as on extensive surveys, expert interviews and research on the recovery in China. Charts 1 and 2 (below) show that the semiconductor market as a whole is expected to decline by up to 10% in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting slowdown in the global economy. In 2021, however, most segments are expected to grow, with total market size surpassing 2019 value in the more positive scenario. The PC market segments will see the least growth, while the wireless communication and automotive segments should expect to be hit hardest by this crisis with a decline of as much as 21% and 27% respectively in 2020. However, they are expected to bounce back in 2021 with growth of up to 19% and 36% in the positive outlook scenario.

It might take some time for the semiconductor market to fully recover. The timing of the industry’s recovery depends largely on the containment of the virus, government economic stabilization efforts, and the global economic recovery.

McKinsey chart 1.2 JPEG

1. Products include memory, micro components, logic, analog, discrete, optoelectronics, and sensors/actuators.
2. 2020 estimates were calculated using 2019 baseline and percentages have been rounded.
3. Gray values indicate 2020 growth forecast; blue values indicate growth forecast for 2021 only.

Sources: IHS, Expert Interviews

 

McKinsey chart 2.1 JPEG

1. Products include memory, micro components, logic, analog, discrete, optoelectronics, and sensors/actuators.
2. 2020 estimates were calculated using 2019 baseline and percentages have been rounded.
3. Gray values indicate 2020 growth forecast; blue values indicate growth forecast for 2021 only.

Sources: IHS, Expert Interviews

 

Emerging stronger from this crisis

Semiconductor companies had already developed effective crisis-management strategies during past crisis and industry downturns. However, this situation is unique. Overall, we see three main activities that can help semiconductor players with through-cycle resilience and growth:

  1. Define the starting position: Creating a baseline can help inform future strategic decisions by providing a holistic view of the current strategy, internal capabilities and external position
  2. Develop economic and political recovery scenarios: Developing and deciding which economic and political recovery scenarios to focus on will enable companies to create company specific scenarios. Therefore, it is important to analyze demand in the short and long terms, along with the effects of subsidies, stimulus packages and industry dynamics.
  3. Prepare for the next normal: To prepare for the next normal and emerge even stronger from this crisis, companies should focus on how to gain market share during the downturn. As competitors focus on resilience, companies who see themselves in a financially stable position can focus on increasing their company’s growth and market share. This mindset, however, is most effective when established across the entire organization. 

Opportunities to emerge even stronger include defining a strategic, systematic approach to investment and divestment as appropriate. This means that several smaller deals that accrue to a meaningful amount of market capitalization over the years often have a more positive impact than one large transaction. History tells us that finding pockets of growth and revising capex, R&D and M&A strategies are the building block to emerge stronger from a crisis. As Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel once said, "You can't save your way out of a recession." This translates into moderate capex and R&D budget cuts with the focus on future growth drivers. These approaches are supported by insights from previous crises.

Although the crisis has presented a major challenge, it also offers the chance for companies to set themselves apart from competitors. The semiconductor industry as a whole has been more resilient than many other industries. The global push toward digitization has also been a major tailwind that will likely be a key element of the global economic recovery.

Ondrej Burkacky is a partner with McKinsey & Company based in its Munich office. He leads McKinsey’s semiconductor and software work in Europe, as well as its global COVID-19 semiconductor task force.

For McKinsey’s latest insights on the business implications of the coronavirus pandemic, visit its website, which is updated daily.

Topics: China , R&D , Automotive , GDP , semiconductor industry , digitization , McKinsey & Company , capex , Coronavirus , pandemic , COVID-19 , global economy , economic recovery , economic stimulus , wireless communications , M&A

 

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