February combined circuit shipments increased 11.1% over 2010

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in February 2011 increased 11.1% from February 2010, as orders booked decreased 4.1% from February 2010, according to the latest electronics industry report from IPC.

IPC - Association Connecting Electronics Industries (Bannockburn, IL, USA) has reported the February findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program.

PCB Industry Growth Rates and Book-to-Bill Ratios
Rigid PCB shipments were up 11.4% and bookings decreased 7.3% in February 2011 from February 2010. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments were up 7.7% and bookings declined 7.5%. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments increased 13.2% and rigid bookings increased 6.4%. The book-to-bill (B:B) ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in February 2011 dipped to 0.94.

Flexible circuit shipments in February 2011 were up 8.3% and bookings grew 36.3% compared to February 2010. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments increased 9.4% and bookings were up 19.7%. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments increased 9.3% and flex bookings increased 12.6%. The North American flexible circuit B:B in February 2011 jumped to 1.10.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in February 2011 increased 11.1% from February 2010, as orders booked decreased 4.1% from February 2010. Year to date, combined industry shipments were up 7.8% and bookings were down 5.3%. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for February 2011 increased 12.9% and bookings increased 7.0%. The combined (rigid and flex) industry B:B in February 2011 slipped to 0.95.

“North American PCB sales continued to grow in February, despite the declining book-to-bill ratio in the rigid PCB segment,” says IPC president and CEO Denny McGuirk. “In rigid PCBs, sales have been growing faster than orders for the past six months, but the opposite is happening in the flexible circuit segment. Sales in both segments are strong and showing normal seasonal patterns, but we’re likely to see stronger growth in flex sales in the coming months.”

The B:B ratios are calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.00 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which is a positive indicator for sales growth over the next two to three months.

Book-to-bill ratios and growth rates for rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined are heavily affected by the rigid PCB segment. Rigid PCBs represent an estimated 89% of the current PCB industry in North America, according to IPC’s World PCB Production Report.

Sales to the Military Market
Survey participants also report the percentage of their monthly sales to the military market. In February 2011, 24% of the participating companies’ sales were to the military market. Rigid PCB producers reported that military sales accounted for 23% of their sales for the month, and flexible circuit producers reported 38% military sales. A high proportion of military sales is typical of the North American PCB market, and sets it apart from PCB markets in many other parts of the world.

The Role of Domestic Production
IPC’s monthly survey of the North American PCB industry tracks bookings and shipments from US and Canadian facilities, which provide indicators of regional demand. These numbers do not measure US and Canadian PCB production. To track regional production trends, IPC asks survey participants for the percent of their reported shipments that were produced domestically (i.e., in the USA or Canada). In February 2011, 77% of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production accounted for 76% of rigid PCB and 88% of flexible circuit shipments in February by IPC’s survey participants. These numbers are significantly affected by the mix of companies in IPC’s survey sample, which changed slightly in January, but are kept constant through the remainder of the year.

Bare Circuits versus Assembly
Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flex circuits. In February, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC’s survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for about 57% of their shipment value reported for the month. Assembly and other services make up a large and growing segment of flexible circuit producers’ businesses. This figure is also sensitive to changes in the survey sample, which may occur at the beginning of each calendar year.

Interpreting the Data
Year-on-year and year-to-date growth rates provide the most meaningful view of industry growth. Month-to-month comparisons should be made with caution as they may reflect cyclical effects. Because bookings tend to be more volatile than shipments, changes in the book-to-bill ratios from month to month may not be significant unless a trend of more than three consecutive months is apparent. It is also important to consider changes in bookings and shipments to understand what is driving changes in the book-to-bill ratio.

The information in IPC’s monthly PCB industry statistics is based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid and flexible PCB manufacturers in the USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB Book-to-Bill Ratio and the PCB Statistical Program Report each month. Statistics for the previous month are not available until the last week of the following month.


-- Posted by Vision Systems Design

More in Boards & Software