Revenue in the first half of 2017 was a record $675 million, up 16 percent on the first half of 2016 and being driven by strong demand with additional manufacturing capacity coming on-stream in the United States and Japan. Gross and operating profit for the first half of 2017 were a record of $176 million and $110 million, respectively, increased as compared to $134 million and $71 million, respectively, in the first half of 2016.
So eeNews Europe asked Ellwanger for an update on Tower's progress; a follow up to an interview we conducted a couple of years ago (see CEO interview: What's next after Tower's turn-around?)
All good so far considering Tower had annual sales of about $100 million with a loss of twice that size in 2005, the year that Ellwanger was appointed, and reached $1.25 billion in 2016. "Yes we've had 10 or 11 years of growth. The growth percentage has been high but we were coming from a low base," said Ellwanger. In fact, Tower's compound annual growth rate is above 25 percent and the period covers a number weak years for the semiconductor sector as a whole.
But has that been allowed because the competition from mainstream foundries against the specialists has diminished in recent years?
It was the case that larger pure-play foundries had a plan to redeploy their older wafer fabs to making More-than-Moore processes as they were bringing up new wafer fabs to do leading-edge digital IC manufacturing. But perhaps the demands of developing those very expensive, deep nanometer processes kept those big foundries occupied and gave smaller foundries, such as Tower, a chance to grow.
"There are several foundries that do deep digital following Moore's Law and TSMC is at the leading edge. They also have a very good analog offering," commented Ellwanger. But Ellwanger also points out that the number of More-than-Moore manufacturing process offerings is extremely broad and that Tower rarely sees TSMC as a competitor in the market.
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