Analysts said Samsung and SK Hynix, the Korean memory chip maker, rose Wednesday as investors bet that Japan's restrictions on exports of key high-tech materials to South Korea will lead to production cuts.
Samsung and Hailishi are the two companies most affected by Japan's export restrictions, which is also the latest round of diplomatic disputes between Japan and South Korea over the issue of labor compensation in World War II.
Although Japan's restrictions will make it difficult for Korean memory giants to find alternative materials in the short term, they may also prompt them to reduce inventories and production, which is good news for boosting chip prices.
"Given Japan's retaliation against us, this may be an excellent opportunity for us to clean up chips that have been stored in memory for longer periods and to take advantage of this opportunity to prevent stock piling up," said a source from South Korea's leading chipmaker.
Samsung's share price rose 1.9% Wednesday, Hailis's rose 4.6% and the broader index rose 0.6%.
South Korean media quoted an unnamed industry source late Tuesday as saying that Samsung and Hynix are considering reducing NAND flash production as early as this month. The companies denied the report, but offered no further comment.
Over the past year, the price of NAND flash chips has fallen sharply, as output has grown faster than demand. NAND chips usually appear in mobile devices, memory cards, USB flash drives and solid-state drives.
Park Jea-gun, president of Korea Semiconductor and Display Technology Association, said: "Our chip manufacturers are trying to minimize the impact of Japan's actions, but on the other hand, this may be a good time for our chip manufacturers to reduce their inventories for three months."
Japan said last week that it would restrict exports to South Korea of three materials for semiconductor and smartphone screen production: photoresist, hydrogen fluoride and polyimide. As a result, companies such as Samsung and Hynix are seeking to buy more of these materials from other places.
It is reported that the Japanese government has imposed restrictions on the export of Korean raw materials, which are used to make wafers for DRAM, Nand, TFT panels and other semiconductors. Samsung imports 60% of its raw materials from Japan. The President of South Korea has just met with semiconductor manufacturers and announced that the problem between Japan and South Korea will not happen so soon. To solve the problem, they are required to prepare for the extension of the restriction. At present, they know that Samsung has increased by 10-20% and Meguiar has increased by 10-15%. Some of the regular models of the agents are out of stock, and the price increase will last for some time.
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