Markt&Technik: How do you assess ST's economic situation and where do you see the company's strengths?
Jean-Marc Chery: Since the second quarter of 2016, our sales have been growing again, first sequentially and then year-on-year. In the meantime, we have achieved double-digit growth for nine consecutive quarters, which I think speaks for itself.
In my view, the strengths of our company lie in our portfolio of IP blocks and technologies. We made the right decision to focus the resources we used for smartphones, set-top boxes, and digital TV on automotive and industrial applications.
Many semiconductor companies focus on these markets. How do you position ST compared to other suppliers?
The industrial sector is very fragmented in terms of applications and even the large OEMs in this sector are very fragmented. There is no high volume industrial application. Automotive is very similar in this respect. In order to serve the different applications, a broad product and technology portfolio is necessary, and we have that. Take a look at automotive: We have everything from the Schottky diode to the 7 nm FinFET ASIC with Mobileye in the spectrum, so that we can address the complete spectrum of automotive systems. We are pursuing a similar goal for the industrial sector.
ST occasionally has data converters in its portfolio, but there are proven specialists here who can offer a much more comprehensive portfolio. In your opinion, is there no need to revise the product range?
We are currently working on a strategic plan for ST that has not yet been finalized. Generally speaking, I would put it this way: I want ST to be as selective as possible in some applications in order to be successful.
Today, for example, we offer power electronics for the communications infrastructure, advanced digital ASICs in competition with suppliers such as Broadcom; ST also acts as a foundry in the analogue sector, etc. So we still have a very diverse portfolio. I am working with my team to identify the growth areas where we can offer differentiated solutions to our customers and where we will focus. We want to offer our customers differentiation opportunities and act less as second source.
And as far as data converters are concerned, I can only say that I definitely want to expand our analog business. That is not easy, because analog products typically have a long life cycle and we are competing with existing legacy products.
Then how is that going to work?
We are very successful with our STM32 controllers and their extensive ecosystem. There are also many analog components in the systems in which our controllers are installed. I would like to use this “lever” to offer other components on the boards, more sensors, more power management components, more analog products. We have excellent analog technologies in-house, we do not have the history in this area, but that can change. I am confident that we will be able to expand the analog segment.
In addition, the market is changing; analog applications are increasingly being digitized. So a company has to offer many more SiPs with analog and digital components that are galvanically isolated. Here, too, ST can score points because we offer one of the best galvanic isolation technologies in the world. We have to take advantage of that. This clearly means that we will increasingly bring analog products onto the market in the future.