IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries® announced the March findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program.
PCB Industry Growth Rates and Book-to-Bill Ratio Announced
Total North American PCB shipments were down 2.1 percent in March 2013 from March 2012, and bookings decreased 2.3 percent year over year. Year to date, PCB industry shipments were down 4.4 percent and bookings were down 5.1 percent. Compared to the previous month, PCB shipments in March increased 20.0 percent, and bookings grew 22.2 percent. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American PCB industry continued to strengthen in March, reaching 1.08.
“Although sales and orders continued slightly below 2012 levels, the North American PCB industry returned to normal seasonal patterns in March,” said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. “It is especially encouraging to see the book-to-bill ratio continue to rise in March for the fourth straight month, a good indication that sales will strengthen during the coming months.”
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 three to six months.
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 percent of their reported shipments that were produced domestically (i.e., in the USA or Canada). In March 2013, 83 percent of total PCB shipments reported by survey participants were domestically produced. These numbers are significantly affected by the mix of companies in IPC’s survey sample, which change slightly in January, but are kept constant through the remainder of the 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 and short-term volatility. 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 more than three consecutive months 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 PCB and flexible circuit manufacturers selling in the USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB book-to-bill ratio near the end of each month. Statistics for the current month are not available until the last week of the following month.
Detailed Data Available
More detailed monthly findings on rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales and orders, including military and medical market growth, demand for prototypes, total market size and forecasts, are published monthly in IPC’s North American PCB Market Report. This report is available free to current participants in IPC’s PCB Statistical Program and by subscription to others. More information about this report can be found at www.ipc.org/market-research-subscriptions.