IPC releases PCB industry results for March 2010

April 29, 2010
Flexible circuit shipments in March 2010 were down 1.3%, but bookings were up 18.9% compared to March 2009.


IPC—Association Connecting Electronics Industries (Bannockburn, IL, USA) has announced the March findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program.

PCB Industry Growth Rates and Book-to-Bill Ratios Announced

Rigid PCB shipments were up 19.6% while bookings increased 38.4% in March 2010 from March 2009. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments were up 9.2% and bookings have grown 31.9%. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments increased 23.5% and rigid bookings increased 28.2%. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in March 2010 grew to 1.10.

Flexible circuit shipments in March 2010 were down 1.3%, but bookings were up 18.9% compared to March 2009. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments were down 2.4% and bookings were up 7.1%. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments went up 27.3% and flex bookings rose by 98.8%. The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio improved to 0.98.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in March 2010 increased 17.7% from March 2009, as orders booked increased 36.8% from March 2009. Year to date, combined industry shipments were up 8.3% and bookings were up 29.9%. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for March 2010 increased 23.8% and bookings went up 31.6%. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in March 2010 increased to 1.09.

“In the March data, we can really see the recovery in full swing,” said IPC President & CEO Denny McGuirk. “Rigid PCB bookings grew in double digits and continued to grow faster than shipments, which has kept the book-to-bill ratio strongly positive for the past 10 consecutive months. Both rigid PCBs and flexible circuits are gaining strength.”

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% of the current PCB industry in North America, according to IPC’s World PCB Production and Laminate Market Report.

The Role of Domestic Production

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% of their reported shipments that were produced domestically (i.e., in the USA or Canada). In March 2010, 85% of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production accounted for 85% of rigid PCB and 80% of flexible circuit shipments in March 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 March, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC’s survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for about 56% 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.

About IPC

IPC (www.IPC.org) is a global trade association based in Bannockburn, Ill., dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of its 2,700 member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. As a member-driven organization and leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy, IPC supports programs to meet the needs of an estimated $1.7 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Arlington, Va.; Garden Grove, Calif.; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia; and Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.

-- Posted by Vision Systems Design

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