IPC Releases PCB Industry Results for April 2009

BANNOCKBURN, Ill., USA, May 27, 2009 — IPC — IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries® announced today 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 are down 37.1 percent and bookings are down 26.9 percent in April 2009 from April 2008. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments are down 27.7 percent and bookings are down 33.7 percent. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments declined 22.6 percent and rigid bookings decreased 5.5 percent. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in April 2009 increased to 0.98.

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Flexible circuit shipments in April 2009 are down 2.1 percent, and bookings are down 0.3 percent compared to April 2008. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments are up 3.9 percent and bookings are down 5.5 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments declined 14.9 percent and flex bookings are down 1.5 percent. The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio in April 2009 improved to 0.94.

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For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in April 2009 decreased 34.7 percent from April 2008 and orders booked decreased 25.1 percent from April 2008. Year to date, combined industry shipments are down 25.7 percent and bookings are down 32.0 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for April 2009 are down 21.8 percent and bookings are down 5.2 percent. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in April 2009 climbed to 0.97.

“While sales and orders continued to decline in April, there was a marked improvement in the book-to-bill ratio,” said IPC President Denny McGuirk. “It is still slightly below parity, but increased in April for the third straight month. Rigid PCB orders have climbed above sales for the first time in over a year. I believe we’re seeing the first signs of recovery.”

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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.

(Click here for all the charts in PDF )

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 percent 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, however, IPC asks survey participants for the percent of their reported shipments that were produced domestically (i.e., in the USA or Canada). In April 2009, 89 percent of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production accounted for 89 percent of rigid PCB and 86 percent of flexible circuit shipments in April by IPC survey participants. These numbers are significantly affected by the mix of companies in IPC’s survey sample, which may change slightly in January, but are kept constant through the calendar year.

Bare Circuits Versus Assembly
Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flex circuits. In April, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC’s survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for approximately 77 percent 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.

Sharon Starr, IPC Director of Market Research
P:  +1 847-597-2817
E:  SharonStarr@ipc.org

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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 electronic interconnect industry, including design, printed circuit board manufacturing and electronics assembly. 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 $1.5 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Arlington, Va.; Garden Grove, Calif.; Stockholm, Sweden; and Shanghai, China.