APRIL 29--The North American book-to-bill ratio rose above "1" for the first time in 16 months, as toolmakers posted $839 million in orders in March and a b-to-b ratio of 1.04, according to the latest Express Report published by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; www.semi.org). "The three-month average billing figure softened slightly from the prior month. However, the overall ratio of bookings to billings rose above unity for the first time in 16 months, signaling prospects for an improving industry revenue picture in the months ahead," said Stanley Myers, president and CEO of SEMI. "While we look for further confirmation of a recovery in the semiconductor equipment market, the improving trends are encouraging."
March's three-month average of worldwide bookings of $839 million was 14% above the revised February level of $737 million and 30% below the $1.2 billion in orders posted in March 2001. The three-month average of worldwide billings in March 2002 was $808 million. The billings figure is 1% below the revised February 2002 level of $818 million and 60% below the March 2001 billings level of $2.02 billion.
JPMorgan analyst Scott Williamson noted that improving equipment demand is being driven by technology migration and the early stages of capacity-oriented equipment purchases. He also commented that SAB 101 is still impacting statistics. "Softness in billings is mainly a result of the revenue-recognition delays associated with SAB 101, where new orders that previously were accounted for on shipment must now receive customer acceptance for recognition purposes," Williamson explained.