10 July 2000 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]By Ivan Lerner
Slightly more than a month after the company's last nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) expansion announcement, Air Products and Chemicals Inc. (APC) has pushed forward the timetable for expanding its electronic specialty gases manufacturing facility in Hometown, Pa.
In May, citing the impressive growth of the semiconductor industry, APC unveiled plans to more than double the NF3 capacity at its Hometown facility to 1.75 million pounds per year by next spring. The company already expanded the site to a nameplate of 800,000 pounds last December.
To meet the industry's anticipated demand, APC will expand its plant incrementally rather than just bringing on new capacity in 2003. By August, the site will have a nameplate of 950,000 pounds. Its capacity will rise to 1.35 million pounds by February 2001, 1.75 million pounds by May 2001, 2 million pounds by summer 2001, 2.4 million pounds by fall 2001, and 2.775 million pounds by spring 2002. This is roughly a 909 percent increase in APC's NF3 capacity since 1997.
To keep up with the lucrative Asia-Pacific market, APC is starting up two new NF3 transfills in that region. One is scheduled to come on this summer at the company's Daido Air Products Electronics Inc. joint venture in Amagasaki, Japan. In early 2001, another will come on in Tainan, Taiwan. The company also has transfill facilities in Shihwa, South Korea, and Keumiee, Belgium.
In 1999, the company had revenues of more than $5 billion, and the electronics division and its subsidiaries generated over $600 million. That division is projected to post $800 million in sales this year. APC does not release sales figures for individual products.
Analysts project that the semiconductor market will grow at a 15 percent annual rate, but recently Salomon Smith Barney analysts estimated that global semiconductor sales climbed by 33 percent from the first quarter of 1999 to the first quarter of 2000, reaching $44 billion.
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