General Sector-Specific Conditions

In the key industries for our business, we expect economic developments to present a mixed picture in 2012.

Demand for Semiconductor Wafers Continues to Stagnate in 2012

According to Gartner’s market research experts, the semiconductor market will stagnate in 2012. Worldwide silicon-wafer sales by surface area sold will fall year on year to around 60,785 million cm2. In terms of wafer sizes, 300 mm sales volumes will increase slightly, while those of small and midsize diameters are expected to decline. For 2013, Gartner predicts growth of 12 percent.

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WACKER’s Key Customer Sectors



Trends in 2011


Trends in 2012/2013








Slight recovery


Varying trends in individual markets: growth in emerging countries,
stagnation in advanced economies





Moderate growth





Growth for 300 mm wafers,
decline in smaller wafers





Weak growth





Weak growth


Regardless of developments in the world economy, photovoltaic markets face a special situation. They are characterized by production overcapacity, by dwindling prices at all stages of the supply chain and by the continuous scaling-back of state incentives. Consequently, 2012 will see the industry experiencing a consolidation phase that will be relevant to its future development. However, the marked price decline at every stage of the supply chain is making photovoltaics more competitive. This trend will facilitate accessing new markets and support expansion in the global market for photovoltaic applications.

The EPIA (European Photovoltaic Industry Association) anticipates further photovoltaic-market growth for the next two years. Newly installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity might be between 27 and 33 gigawatts (GW). The EPIA expects growth mainly in the USA and China1. In 2013, newly installed PV capacity is forecast to continue growing worldwide.

Slowdown in Chemical-Industry Growth

The chemical industry’s growth in 2012 will be much slower than in the previous year. The German Chemical Industry Association (VCI) expects output to rise by 1 percent and sales revenue by 2 percent. Expansion will be supported by steady growth in Germany’s chemical exports to the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and to other emerging economies. However, progress could be hampered by weak economic growth in Europe. Around 60 percent of exports by German chemical manufacturers still go to other EU countries.

WACKER sees the BRIC countries and other emerging economies as offering the brightest growth prospects. Thanks to our global production and sales network, we are well placed to increase our sales revenues there. Over the next two years, we expect the steadily rising standard of living in Brazil, China and India to push up our sales revenues, since our portfolio includes many higher-grade products that are in demand among new customer groups. In addition, WACKER POLYMERS sees bright growth prospects for VAE dispersions in the Americas.

Asia and Latin America Support the Global Construction Industry

According to market researcher Global Insight, the construction industry will continue to grow in Asia and Latin America in 2012 and 2013, while remaining flat in advanced economies. Pinpointing Asia in particular, Global Insight forecasts steady growth up until 2015 in the commercial and residential building sector and in infrastructure investment. Populations will continue to migrate toward megacities. By 2030, 59 percent of the Earth’s population is expected to live in cities. This will create fresh challenges for how people build and live, and for the infrastructure needed. We see especially attractive opportunities for WACKER in the construction industry’s growing demand for energy-efficient solutions. WACKER’s prime focus here is on exterior insulation and finish systems.

Regional Construction-Industry Growth 2010 – 2015 p.a. Regional Construction-Industry Growth 2010 – 2015 p.a. (bar chart)

Source: Global Insight (Oct. 2011)

Electrical and Electronics Sectors Cautiously Optimistic

The outlook for the electrical and electronics sectors for 2012 has deteriorated, but the mood remains one of cautious optimism. According to estimates by the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI), market volumes could rise further in 2012. Again, the BRIC countries are the main drivers in the global electrical and electronics markets – with double-digit growth rates. At WACKER SILICONES, electricity transmission and distribution continues to offer good opportunities for increasing product sales. In the case of LEDs, silicones make it possible to produce a moldless optical lens directly on an LED chip, using a dispensing process in a single production step. Silicones reduce the reflection produced by monitors and screens, increasing their legibility. The market for automotive electronics remains dynamic, offering additional sales potential for our products and applications.

1 European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) Global Market Outlook for Photovoltaics until 2015 (April 2011)