The Chinese city of Xi’an has been placed under lockdown due to a local outbreak of the Delta variant, although it remains uncertain as to when the lockdown will end, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Samsung operates two memory fabs in Xi’an, both of which are responsible for the manufacturing of high-layer count 3D NAND Flash products, and wafer inputs at the two fabs account for 42.5% of Samsung’s total NAND Flash production capacity and 15.3% of the global total. At the moment, the lockdown of the city is not expected to have a notable impact on these fabs.
Nevertheless, the municipal government has been authorized to enforce very severe restrictions on the movements of people and goods in and out of the city during this lockdown. While Samsung has finished arranging most of the memory product shipments for the period from the end of 2021 to middle of January next year, the company could face logistical issues related to the Xi’an lockdown in the near future and experience delays in shipments. Samsung’s clients, in turn, could have difficulties planning their procurement activities because deliveries of memory components are not in accordance with the originally set dates. Additionally, the same logistical issues could cause delays in the deliveries of production-related materials to Samsung’s fabs in Xi’an. However, the fabs have sufficient inventory to continue normal production over the next several months.
On the other hand, Xi’an is a strategically important location for both Samsung’s NAND Flash production and Micron’s memory packaging and testing operations. TrendForce’s investigations indicate that the lockdown will likewise have no impact on Micron’s packaging and testing operations, although potential issues with logistics still remain to be seen. In any case, while memory packaging and testing capacities in Xi’an account for a relatively low share of the company total, the lockdown may potentially affect spot prices of DRAM products in the short run.
Short-term DRAM and NAND Flash spot prices may bump up
In terms of pricing, the spot price of NAND Flash has not fluctuated significantly due to the lockdown event. Both buyers and sellers hold significant inventory in the current spot market. Recent trading volume has been weak and price fluctuations have been small. TrendForce will continue to observe subsequent reactions in the NAND Flash spot market and does not rule out the possibility of a short-term price bump due to the expected psychological impact triggered by the lockdown event.
In terms of NAND Flash contract pricing trends moving forward, since production is unaffected, TrendForce still maintains its original opinion, forecasting that average pricing in 1Q22 will fall by 10-15%. However, because the impact of logistics is difficult to predict, the purchasing side may have to increase orders from other suppliers, further fueling a bargain-seeking mentality. The possibility of seeing a flattening in the amplitude of contract price declines for various NAND Flash products in the first quarter of next year cannot be ruled out.
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