ToF sensor success lifts ST's third quarter

October 27, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
STMicroelectronics NV has reported a profitable third quarter of 2016 on increased sales but showed slight year-on-year sales declines in all three of its major product groups.

Overall the company showed a 5.5 percent sequential increases in revenues – as predicted in the company's second quarter's results – equivalent to a 1.9 percent year-on year increase due in part to design wins for its time-of-flight ranging sensor products in smartphones. This includes, according to a Chipworks report, the Apple iPhone 7.

This is all roughly in line with the bullish tone taken by CEO Carlo Bozotti a quarter before when he told analysts on a conference call that ST was well positioned to show year-on-year growth in the second half of 2016.

The third quarter revenues totaled $1.80 billion compared with $1.76 billion in 3Q15. The company made a net profit of $71 million, down from a net profit of $90 million, made a year before.

Quarterly financial results by product group. Source: STMicroeletronics.

"Sequential growth was driven by the increasing pervasiveness of ST’s products in flagship smartphones, wearables and Internet of Things applications: from MEMS and sensors, including our latest 6-axis gyroscope, to imaging sensors, with new products based on our time-of-flight technology, to our expanding STM32 family of microcontrollers," said Carlo Bozotti, CEO of ST in a statement. "In addition, we grew year-over- year in automotive and we continued to see positive momentum in industrial, the distribution channel and the mass market."

Of particular note was the strength of what Bozotti called the imaging product division although it reports under the umbrella term "other." This was due to the success of specialized image sensors for time-of-flight depth measurement. Bozotti said that in the third quarter the ToF technology was present in eleven new smartphones including a "flagship phones" launched on to the market.

Although sales from the analog and MEMS business group was down marginally year-on-year it showed strong sequential growth as had been previously promised.

Bozotti said demand is strong in the smartphone market with positive trends also present in automotive and industrial. "Thanks