Toshiba pins growth plans on NAND, OLED expansion
Toshiba Corp. revealed that its mid-term strategy includes bullish plans to expand sales, expansion of NAND flash memory development and a commitment to OLED displays for TV applications.
"We've got on the right track of sustained growth with profit," said Atsutoshi Nishida, president and CEO of Toshiba, in announcing its mid-term plan.
Toshiba is forecasting growth of 21 billion by fiscal 2010, with sales totaling $79.8 billion. Profitability is also forecast to jump 5 percent by fiscal 2010.
To support projected growth, Toshiba plans to invest $14.7 billion over three years, up $2.5 billion from the previous forecast. Fifty-eight percent of the investment will go to semiconductor production.
Toshiba will also increase its R&D budget by $1.5 billion to $10.8 billion, about 42 percent of which will be spent on electronic device development.
Toshiba expects the NAND flash memory market to expand more than 10 times on a bit basis, to 8,500Gbytes by 2009. However, growth on a value basis is estimated to be slower, at only 24 percent annually.
"The moderate value growth estimation is based on the assumption that the price will drop by 50 percent every year," said Nishida.
To cope with the anticipated sharp price decline, Toshiba said it will accelerate the shift to finer process technology, use multilevel cell technology and pursue fab expansion.
Toshiba started using 56nm process technology at its Fab 3 last January, three months ahead of schedule. In the third quarter of this year, more than 50 percent of its NAND memory will be 56nm products. Fab 4, which will begin operation in Q4, will use a 43nm process.
Toshiba intends to leverage multilevel cell technology. "Even in 8bit and 16bit technology, we want to take the lead," said Nishida.
Toshiba also expects to expand 300mm wafer production at its Fab 3, with monthly capacity of 150,000 wafers later this year. Fab 4 will have monthly capacity of 210,000 wafers.
"Our first priority is to shift swiftly to 56nm," Nishida said. "Thanks to increasing thoughput at exising fabs, we need not hurry to make a decision about the new Fab 5. We will make a decision on it within this fiscal year." Fab 5 will be again the joint operation with U.S. NAND partner SanDisk, Nishida said.
Toshiba Matsushita Display, a joint venture in which Toshiba holds a 60-percent equity stake, announced development of a 21-inch OLED display last week.
"We've been developing OLED technology for small to mid-sized displays at the joint venture and we had expected that it would 2015 or 2016 before large-sized OLED technology for TV application would become available," Nishida said. "Now we think that we can develop the technology much earlier. We will be able to offer OLED TVs in 2009."
Toshiba had said that it would introduce surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED) TV sets by the end of this year. "The plan has not changed, but it is all dependent on Canon," which is in the midst of a patent battle with Nano-Proprietary Inc.
"Without the settlement, we cannot proceed further," Nishida said.
- Yoshiko Hara
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