Global sales of semiconductors for 2012 fell 2.7% to US$291.6bil from US$299.5bil in 2011, but managed to outperform forecasts, according to the US-based Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).
SIA said on Tuesday that total sales for the year narrowly beat expectations from the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organisation's industry forecast.
"Global sales for the month of December 2012 hit US$24.7bil, a decline of 3% from the previous month when sales were US$25.5bil. Fourth quarter sales of US$74.2bil were 3.8% higher than the total of US$71.5bil from the fourth quarter of 2011," said the association.
SIA president and CEO Brian Toohey said the global semiconductor industry outperformed forecasts and posted one of its highest yearly sales totals in 2012, despite substantial macroeconomic challenges.
"Recent momentum, led by strength in the Americas, has the industry well-positioned for a successful 2013," he said.
On the market segments' performance in 2012, he said logic was the largest semiconductor category, reaching US$81.7bil in 2012, up 3.7% on-year. MOS microprocessors accounted for US$60.2bil and memory US$57bil.
Optoelectronics was the fastest growing market on a yearly basis, increasing 13.4% in 2012 to reach US$26.2bil for the year.
Optoelectronic applications offer energy efficiency and low cost in a wide range of products including mobile devices and cameras.
NAND flash, which was used in a host of mobile devices, USB flash drives, memory cards and related products for the storage and transfer of data, grew at the second-fastest rate of 4.1% to reach US$25.4bil in 2012.
The Americas recorded an increase sales by 13.4% in December 2012 compared to December 2011 and by 12% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the third quarter of 2012.
However, ongoing economic and policy uncertainty continues to pose risks to the near-term market outlook.
Sales in Asia Pacific during December also increased compared to the same month in 2011 (6.7%), while sales in Europe (-5.5%) and Japan (-11.2%) decreased over the same period.
Total yearly sales in all four regions were lower in 2012 than 2011, with Asia Pacific (-0.6%) and the Americas (-1.5%) seeing the smallest declines.