Texas Instruments Essay

This essay has a total of 3558 words and 22 pages.

Texas Instruments



Texas Instruments

Global Pricing in the Semiconductor Industry

The Case Issue

The major issue of the case is dealing with the question, if a global pricing strategy
would be adequate to pursue in the semiconductor industry. So far, semiconductors had been
bought and sold at different price levels in different countries to reflect the various
cost structures of the countries in which they were produced. Semiconductors made in
European countries were usually more expensive than those made in Asia or North America,
simply because it cost manufacturers more to operate in Europe than in the other two
regions. Despite these differences, large distributors and some original equipment
manufacturers were becoming insistent on buying their semiconductors at one worldwide
price, and were pressuring vendors to negotiate global pricing terms.


As a consequence, and due to the fact that the semiconductor industry is very price
competitive and price sensitive, the manufacturers of semiconductors are faced with the
issue whether they can offer global prices for the same products and therefore are able to
develop a cohesive pricing strategy. A further question would be how Texas Instruments
could reorganize themselves in order to make global pricing a realistic option and what
implications would a global pricing strategy have in relationship to other international
customers.


To solve this issue would be enormously important for Texas Instruments, since the vast
majority of semiconductors were considered commodity products, the buying decisions of
distributors were based entirely on price.



Company History

Texas Instruments Incorporated was established in 1951 as an electronics company serving
the American defence industry. Although Texas Instruments was often considered the pioneer
of the American electronics industry﷓it was one of the first companies to
manufacture transistors and developed the first semiconductor integrated circuit in 1958.
Jack Kilby was the Texas Instruments engineer who developed the first integrated circuit,
a pivotal innovation in the electronics industry. Only a few years after Kilby's
invention, electronics manufacturers were demanding these integrated circuits, or chips,
in smaller sizes and at lower costs, a move that led to unprecedented innovation in the
electronics industry. Soon chips became a commodity, and chip manufacturers relied on
high﷓volume, low﷓cost production of reliable chips for success.



After receiving market attention with its development of such innovative consumer products
as the pocket calculator and the electronic wrist watch, Texas Instruments lost its
business in both markets to cheap Asian imports. Meanwhile, it struggled to keep up with
orders for its mainstay business in semiconductors through the 1970's, only to see demand
for its pioneer semiconductors shrink during the recession of the early 1980s.
Nevertheless, Texas Instruments struggled to maintain its position in the electronics
industry through the intense competition of the 1980s.


Faced with heavy losses in many of its core areas, Texas Instruments reorganized its
business to foster and embarked on a program of cost﷓cutting. By the year 1985, the
company had refocused its efforts on its strengths in semiconductors, relinquishing market
dominance in favour of greater margins. Over the period of time, Texas Instruments
continued to remain powerful in the semiconductor industry, in part because it was the
only American company that continued to manufacture dynamic random access memory chips in
the face of fierce Japanese competition in the 1980s. The company had manufacturing sites
spread throughout North America, Asia, and Europe, and was pursuing its strategy of
increasing manufacturing capacity and developing manufacturing excellence.


1994's performance was record breaking for Texas Instruments. It marked the first time the
company exceeded sales of $10 billion and over $1 billion in profit, and followed a
history of volatile financial results.


Finally, by the year 1995, Texas Instruments had developed a strong position in the
electronics industry, despite its reputation as a technological leader rather than a
skilled marketer of its products.



Current Situation of the company

Product
By the year 1995, Texas Instruments was a leading manufacturer of semiconductors, defense
electronics, software, personal productivity products and materials, and controls.


The Semiconductor Group divided its business into two segments: standard products and
differentiated products. Standard semiconductors, which accounted for 90% of the Group's
sales, included products which could be substituted by competitors. Standard
semiconductors performed in the market much like other products for which substitutes were
readily available. The remaining 10% of the company's semiconductor business came from
differentiated products, of which Texas Instruments was the sole supplier. Because
substitutes for these products were not available in the marketplace, differentiated
products commanded higher margins than their standard counterparts and were receiving
greater strategic emphasis on the part of Group management.


Semiconductors were silicon chips which transmitted heat, light, and electrical charges
and performed critical functions in virtually all electronic devices.



They were a core technology in industrial robots, computers, office equipment, consumer
electronics, the aerospace industry, telecommunications, the military, and the automobile
industry. The majority of semiconductors consisted of integrated circuits made from
monocrystalline silicon imprinted with complex electronic components and their
interconnections. The remainder of semiconductors were simpler discrete components that
performed single functions.

Price
As I already mentioned above, prices for semiconductor products differ a lot in the
various countries they are produced. Semiconductors had been bought and sold at different
price levels in different countries to reflect the various cost structures of the
countries in which they are produced. Semiconductors made in European countries for
example, were usually more expensive than those made in Asia or North America, simply
because it cost manufacturers more to operate in Europe than in the other two regions.

Since the vast majority of semiconductors were considered commodity products, the buying
decisions of distributors were based almost entirely on price. Furthermore, semiconductor
prices were notoriously volatile.

The Semiconductor Group at Texas Instruments combined the practices of forward pricing and
continuous price negotiations to set prices with its distributors.


Forward pricing: The cost of semiconductor manufacturing followed a generally predictable
learning curve. By increasing the volume of production, the cost of production would
decrease and the percentage of functioning chips would increase. This percentage, termed
'yield' in the industry, and the standard learning curve of semiconductor manufacturing
together had a large impact on the prices semiconductor manufacturers set for their
products. Managers could predict with considerable accuracy the production cost decreases
and yield improvements they would experience as their production volumes increased. These
predictions are the basis of the forward prices they set with both, original equipment
manufacturers and distributors.


Continuous Price Adjustments: Production costs and yield rates were not the only
contributing factors to price levels for standard semiconductors: market supply and demand
played also a powerful role in establishing prices. As a result of volatile prices caused
by shifts in supply and demand, distributors often held inventories of semiconductors that
did not accurately reflect current market rates. To protect distributors from price
fluctuations. most semiconductor manufacturers offered to reimburse distributors for their
overvalued inventories. Due to the fact, that distributors had access to the prices of
products from all the semiconductor manufacturers at any given time, and some any where in
the world, pricing decisions were very critical because making one mistake in pricing
could lead to a lost in market share in a day, that can take them three months to
recapture.



Due to the fact, that the distribution network consolidated into a small number of
powerful companies, Texas Instruments had begun to notice that his price negotiations were
increasingly focused not only on beating the competition in North America, but on beating
prices available around the world, including those of TI in other regions. Due to
different distribution channels everywhere in the world, costs and calculation models
differ accordingly. For example, Europeans include freight in their prices, what North
America doesn't. Furthermore, the cost of producing semiconductors varies by country.
Europe tends to be more expensive than North America or Asia, because their infrastructure
is more costly.

Financial
Texas Instrument's sales and net profit have steadily grown over the past period of time
and the Semiconductor Group, a part of the Components Division, had total sales of $2
billion in 1994, the third consecutive year in which Texas Instruments semiconductor
revenues grew faster than the industry. The company's return to financial success in the
early 1990's was based on its strong performance in semiconductor sales and profits, both
which were at record levels in 1994. Management in the company expected semiconductor
sales to continue to grow strongly and was planning heavy capital expenditures on new or
expanded plants in the United States, Malaysia, and Italy to increase the company's
capacity.


Texas Instrument's 1994 sales of $10.3 billion, a 21 % increase from the previous year,
was split among components ($6.8 billion), defense electronics ($1.7 billion), digital
products ($1.66 billion) and metallurgical materials ($177 million). 1994's profits of
over $1 billion came almost entirely from its components business. Components made a
profit of $1.1 billion, while defense electronics made $172 million.


1994's performance was record﷓breaking for Texas Instruments. It marked the first
time the company exceeded sales of $10 billion and over $1 billion in profit, and followed
a history of volatile financial results.




External Environment

Industry

The pervasiveness of semiconductors in electronics resulted in rapidly growing sales and
intense competition in the semiconductor industry. Market share in the industry had been
fiercely contested since the early 1980s, when the once﷓dominant U.S. semiconductor
industry lost its leadership position to Japanese manufacturers. There followed a series
of trade battles in which American manufacturers charged their Japanese competitors with
dumping and accused foreign markets of excessive protectionism. By 1994, after investing
heavily in the semiconductor industry and embarking on programs to increase manufacturing
efficiency and decrease production costs, American companies once again captured a
dominant share of the market.


In 1994, total shipments of semiconductors reached $99.9 billion, with market share
divided among North America (33%), Japan (30°/0), Europe (18%), and Asia/Pacific (18%).
The



industry was expected to reach sales of $130 billion in 1995, and $200 billion by the year
2000. To capture growing demand in the industry, many semiconductor manufacturers were
investing heavily in increased manufacturing capacity, although most industry analysts
expected expanding capacity to reach rather than surpass demand. Combined with record low
inventories in the industry and reduced cycle times and lead times, a balancing of supply
and demand was causing semiconductor prices to be characteristically stable.


Distributors

Texas Instruments sold its semiconductors through two channels: directly to original
equipment manufacturers and through a network of electronics distributors. Approximately
70% of the Group's U.S. customers dealt directly with Texas Instruments. The remainder
bought their semiconductors through one or more of the seven major semiconductor
distributors that served the North American market. Whether an original equipment
manufacturer dealt directly with Texas Instruments or bought from a distributor depended
on the manufacturer's size. The largest original equipment manufacturers were able to
negotiate better prices from semiconductor manufacturers than were distributors and
therefore bought directly from the manufacturers. For smaller sized manufacturers, it was
more efficiently to serve them through the distribution channel.


Distributors were considered to be clearinghouses for the semiconductor industry. Each
distributor dealt with products from all the major semiconductor manufacturers. The
distributors specialized in handling logistics, material flows, sales and servicing for
electronics manufacturers who were either too small to negotiate directly with the major
semiconductor manufacturers or lacked sufficient expertise in logistics management.


The electronics distribution network had originally consisted of a large group of' smaller
companies. By 1995, industry consolidation had left almost 40% of the distribution market
in the hands of its two largest competitors, arrow Electronics and Avnet, with own
together a market share of 39.6%.
Continues for 11 more pages >>




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