SK Hynix, the world’s second largest memory chip maker, made an operating profit in the 4Q23 on sales that increased 25 percent sequentially and 47 percent year-on-year.
The company said sales of main products aimed at AI – DRAMs in the DDR5 and HBM3 formats – had increased by factors of four and five, respectively compared with a year earlier. This still could not prevent a net loss of 1.38 trillion won (about US$1.0 billion), on sales of 11.31 trillion won (about US$8.46 billion), but was a better result than expected.
“We achieved a remarkable turnaround, marking the first operating profit in the fourth quarter following a protracted downturn, thanks to our technological leadership in the AI memory space,” said Kim Woohyun, CFO of SK Hynix, in a statement. “We are now ready to grow into a total AI memory provider by leading changes and presenting customized solutions as we enter an era for a new leap forward.”
For the full year SK Hynix made a net loss of 9.14 trillion won (about US$6.84 billion) on sales of 32.77 trillion won (about US$24.52 billion), down 27 percent compared with 2022.
SK Hynix said the overall memory market had improved in 4Q23 with demand for memories for AI servers and smartphones and average selling prices (ASPs) rising. In the NAND flash memory, the recovery is proceeding more slowly, SK Hynix, said and that it was therefore prioritizing he streamlining of investments and costs.
SK Hynix did not provide a financial forecast for 1Q24 but said DRAM bit sales growth would be in the mid-single percent on a quarterly basis with a continuous improvement in the ASP. For NAND flash bit-sales would continue to decrease by mid-teen percent but with an improvement in the ASP.
SK Hynix said it would proceed with mass production of the AI memory product HBM3E and the development of HBM4 was proceeding smoothly. HBM4 is expected to have a double-width interface of 2,048 bits compared to HBM3E’s 1,024 bits, and a per-stack bandwidth of more than 1.5 Tbytes per second. SK Hynix’s rival Samsung has indicated HBM4 will not arrive until 2025 with the adoption of new assembly and bonding technology.
SK Hynix also said it plans to make its technological leadership stronger by preparing high-capacity server module MCRDIMM and mobile module LPCAMM2 to respond to ever-increasing demand for AI server and on-device AI adoption.
The company said that its capital expenditure for 2024 would increase only slightly as it maintained “prudent spending” focused on profitability and investment efficiency