Semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales to grow 40% in 2004

Worldwide sales of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment rose 10% last year and will surge 40% in 2004 as chipmakers upgrade plants and buy tools for new production techniques, researcher Gartner Inc. said. Sales increased to $22.8 bil in 2003 from $20.7 bil, Gartner said in a Business Wire statement. Sales at Applied Materials Inc., the No. 1 supplier, dropped 12%. Advantest Corp. had the fastest growth of the top companies, with sales more than doubling, Gartner said.