MARCH 4--Electronic-component orders were up slightly in January 2002 compared to December 2001, but the 12-month moving average appears to be flat, according to the monthly index from the Electronic Components, Assemblies, and Materials Association (ECA; Arlington, VA; www.ec-central.org)."The index shows significant growth in January 2002 compared to the average week in 2001, but you need to consider what kind of year 2001 was," says Bob Willis, ECA president. "Numbers for February should provide a more realistic two-month view and could indicate trends for the first half of 2002."
Industry leaders are having a difficult time visualizing where the electronic-components market is heading, according to the ECA. The health of the industry was given mixed reviews by nearly two-dozen upper-level executives from electronic-component manufacturers gathered at the Electronic Industries Alliance Leadership Forum in Phoenix, AZ. The prevailing opinion is that growth will begin sometime in the second half of 2002.
A key topic of discussion was the inventory problems that plagued the industry in 2001, whether the situation has stabilized, and how to control it in the future. The consensus is that unit growth for electronic components will occur in 2002, possibly in the late first or early second quarter.
Forum participants believe that the best prospects to drive industry growth are servers, laptops, PDAs, storage, and wireless handsets in the business arena; digital cameras and game consoles in personal electronics; mapping, GPS, dynamic control, and active suspension in automotive; and myriad products in defense, depending on stimulus from the federal government.