APRIL 25--According to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; Mountain View, CA; www.semi.org), North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment reported a preliminary March 2001 book-to-bill ratio of 0.64, a sharp drop from the February 2001 ratio of 0.77; that is, $64 in orders was received for every $100 worth of products shipped. The book-to-bill ratio has declined steadily since August 2000. In March 2001, the three-month average of worldwide shipments was $2.04 billion, which is 11% below the revised February 2001 value of $2.29 billion but is still 17% higher than the $1.74 billion shipment level of March 2000.
Says Stanley T. Meyers, SEMI president and chief executive officer, "The March 2001 numbers reveal the continued erosion of bookings during the first quarter, which is not surprising given the continued softness in chip markets. Some analysts believe that pricing pressures could come into play during the third quarter, leading chip makers to make so-called 'technology buys' as they seek to lower costs through improved productivity."