orders rose slightly and billings dropped a bit, according to the latest report by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; www.semi.org). The January uptick in orders was led by the back-end sector, which rallied with a 50% increase in test, assembly, and packaging orders, rising to $130.3 million. Weaker then expected front-end orders disappointed analysts, however, with a 6% slip to $506.6 million, from a revised December level of $541.5 million. Additionally, overall bookings for previous months were revised down by SEMI, and January orders were still almost sequentially flat.
"Front-end equipment bookings are at a low point for this downturn," said Stanley Myers, president and CEO of SEMI. "The improvement in overall equipment bookings was driven by a 50% increase in the manufacturing bookings. January marks the second consecutive month in which bookings for the final manufacturing-equipment segment increased significantly from its previously weakened state."
Overall, the three-month average of worldwide bookings in January was $636.9 million; 1.3% above the revised December level of $628.5 million. The three-month average of worldwide billings in January was $784 million; 4% below the revised December level of $819.3 million. The ratio rose to 0.81, from December's revised ratio of 0.77.
On a year-to-year basis, however, January bookings were 66% below the $1.85 billion in orders posted in January 2001. Billings were 66% below the January 2001 billings level of $2.31 billion.