According to IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries (Bannockburn, IL, USA) rigid PCB shipments were up 31.4 percent while bookings increased 45.8 percent in May 2010 from May 2009. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments were up 18.0 percent and bookings have grown 36.3 percent. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments increased 1.3 percent and rigid bookings increased 6.5 percent. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in May 2010 continued its climb to 1.13.
Flexible circuit shipments in May 2010 were up 10.5 percent, and bookings were up 59.3 percent compared to May 2009. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments were down 2.6 percent and bookings were up 16.7 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments went up 16.0 percent and flex bookings grew by 33.4 percent. The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio in May 2010 made a long leap up to 1.18.
For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in May 2010 increased 29.6 percent from May 2009, as orders booked increased 46.8 percent from May 2009. Year to date, combined industry shipments were up 16.2 percent and bookings were up 34.7 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for May 2010 increased 2.2 percent and bookings went up 8.3 percent. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in May 2010 increased to 1.13.
“Both yearly and monthly growth rates in the North American PCB industry are now positive,” said IPC President & CEO Denny McGuirk. “That means the industry is not only doing better than last year, but is growing monthly as well. Despite strong sales,” he added, “orders are growing even faster. That keeps moving the book-to-bill ratio up, which indicates continued sales growth this year.”
The book-to-bill 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 90 percent of the current PCB industry in North America, according to IPC’s World PCB Production and Laminate Market Report.
The role of domestic droduction
IPC’s monthly survey of the North American PCB industry tracks bookings and shipments from U.S. and Canadian facilities, which provide indicators of regional demand. These numbers do not measure U.S. 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 US or Canada). In May 2010, 84 percent of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production also accounted for 84 percent of rigid PCB and flexible circuit shipments in May 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 will remain 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 May, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC’s survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for about 58 percent 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 three consecutive months or more 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.
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