Malaysia’s Indefinite Extension of MCO 3.0 Expected to Obstruct MLCC Supply, Particularly for High-End MLCC, Says TrendForce

The indefinite extension of Malaysia’s MCO (movement control order) 3.0 has posed severe challenges for the global MLCC market, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The high-end MLCC segment, in particular, is expected to suffer the most severe shortage, and products that feature high-end MLCC, such as smartphones, notebooks, networking products, server, and 5G base station components, will likely experience a corresponding impact as well. With the imminent arrival of the traditional peak season for electronic products, ODMs may need to defer their whole-unit shipments due to potential delays in some MLCC shipments.

TrendForce indicates that some Japanese companies (MLCC suppliers Taiyo Yuden, crystal suppliers NDK and Epson, and electrolytic capacitor supplier Panasonic), as well as Taiwanese companies (R-Chip supplier Walsin Technology, etc.) have had their Malaysia-based manufacturing operations and lead times disrupted as a result of the latest MCO 3.0 extension. Notably, Taiyo Yuden was able to partially resume its Malaysian fab operations on June 14 and activate about 60% of its work force in accordance with domestic regulations, thereby gradually ramping up its domestic capacity utilization rate to 80%. However, given the extension of MCO 3.0 through July, Taiyo Yuden will unlikely be able to raise its production capacity any further.

According to TrendForce’s latest findings, most MLCC suppliers currently carry a healthy level of about 60 days’ worth of low-end and mid-range MLCC inventory as of June, although Japanese suppliers are still carrying less than 30 days’ worth of high-end MLCC inventory. In view of the persistent MCO 3.0 restrictions in Malaysia, MLCC suppliers with Japan-based manufacturing operations, such as Murata, Kyocera, and Samsung, are expected to benefit from client orders redirected from suppliers whose operations are primarily based in Malaysia.

Japanese suppliers are scrambling to ramp up capacity utilization rates in response to influx of orders from ODMs in 3Q21

With regards to various end products, Murata, Taiyo Yuden, and Kyocera, all of which are major suppliers of MLCC for iPhone and MacBook Pro, will see peak demand from 3Q21 to 4Q21 due to Apple’s upcoming release of new products in 3Q21. It should be pointed out that the MLCC used in Apple devices features specifications that are compatible with many notebooks, servers, and networking products from other manufacturers. Given Taiyo Yuden’s inability to raise its capacity utilization rates in July, ODMs are expected to aggressively compete for this particular type of MLCC in 3Q21.

On the other hand, demand for servers is expected to undergo a steady growth in 3Q21. Hence, not only are ODMs closely monitoring the supply of various ICs, but the extended restrictions in Malaysia has also hindered the supply of certain passive components, such as SP-Caps, Tan caps (tantalum capacitors), and high-end MLCC. To mitigate potential risks of their ODM clients redirecting orders for the aforementioned components elsewhere, Murata and Kyocera have now been placing a top priority on expanding their production capacities to meet client demand.

Finally, the overall demand for other IT products such as Chromebooks will likely experience a slowdown in 4Q21 as increased vaccinations in Europe and the US lead to a gradual easing of border restrictions. In addition, ODMs currently carry a relatively high level of low-end and mid-range MLCC inventory on average. As a result, low-end MLCC suppliers, such as Yageo, Walsin, and Samsung, will likely face pressure from certain clients lowering their orders for low-end MLCC.

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