March 2014

North American Electronics Industry Continues to Stall

The North American electronics industry growth trend experienced an unexpected set-back in December 2013, mainly driven by U.S. new orders for computers and electronic products. Sales began trending downward in the PCB and semiconductor industry segments, and in January 2014 the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) segments lost some momentum, despite the fact that U.S. new orders showed signs of recovery in January. Severe weather in the region may have been a contributing factor.

U.S. new orders for electronic products tend to lead sales by about one month. IPC's PCB book-to-bill ratio, which normally leads sales by three to six months, remains low at 0.95, but is now trending upward. It reflects the fact that shipments have outpaced orders in recent months, but orders pulled ahead of shipments in January for the first time in six months. Ratios below parity (1.00) indicate lower demand than supply, which may be a precursor of weakening sales growth in the PCB industry. The current ratio could indicate that the projected recovery in 2014 may get off to a slow start.

All data cited in this report are based on rolling averages of the past three months, which smooths out some of the volatility in monthly data to show clearer trends.

Current Industry Trends

Note on the graph:  All indices are based on the same baseline of the average month in 2000=100, and reflect a three-month rolling average.

Sources: IPC statistical programs for the EMS and PCB industries; SIA for semiconductor data; U.S. Census Bureau for U.S. new orders for computer and electronic products.

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Market Research Reports

World Market Size Estimates

  Billions of U.S. Dollars For Year Source
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) $60     2012 IPC, World PCB Production Report for the Year 2012
Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) $419.5 2012 Electronic Trends Publications
Electronic Equipment (Final Assembly) $2,020 2013 Electronic Outlook

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