Infineon places its bets on compound semiconductors, lidar, radar

November 23, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With sustainability as its magic success formula, chipmaker Infineon has grown faster than the chip industry in the FY2016 that just ended. For the years ahead, CEO Reinhard Ploss is even sure that he can increase the company’s profitability in an almost stagnant global market. But his high-flying plans depend on one factor that is not yet completely certain.

The yearly figures presented by the German chipmaker are rather unspectacular, but positive: 12 % overall revenue growth (7% resulting from organic growth), segment result up 9.5%. The interesting aspect in these figures are twofold: First, it has been achieved in an environment characterized by almost zero growth for the semiconductor industry. And all four of Infineon’s business units – Automotive, Industrial Power Control, Power Management & Multimarket and Chip Card & Security – contributed to the growth and the profit. This was not always the case. The chip card and security business, years ago the company’s problem child, continued its recovery and actually turned out to have the highest profitability with a segment result margin of 19.3%. This reflects the fact that in Europe, Infineon’s security chips are provided to 70% of all ID card and passport projects, the company said.

 

The success was widely driven by Infineon’s focus on applications that help customers to improve their energetic sustainability, be it in the area of electromobility or energy efficiency in industrial environments. What all these application fields have in common is the demand for efficient power electronics. Riding the wave of this demand, Infineon achieved 60% of its revenue with power electronics – MOSFETs and IGBTs, and in the future, increasingly compound semiconductors (SiC); the planned takeover of SiC specialist  Wolfspeed is expected to further boost the company’s position in this field.

 

The advent of electromobility across the globe provided the tailwind for rising demand for power semiconductor. In this context, the success of the electromobility did not only create rising demand in Infineon’s automotive business but likewise in its industrial business, because this segment sells components for the charging infrastructure as well as for public transportation like hybrid and electric buses and trams.

 

In the automotive segment, radar chips where in particularly high demand, and the growth is indeed breathtaking. In FY 2016, Infineon sold