April 30, 2014. IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries announced today the March findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program. Sales were up in March and the book-to-bill ratio strengthened, returning to positive territory.
Total North American PCB shipments increased 4.8% in March 2014 from March 2013, strengthening year-to-date shipment growth to -0.8%. Compared to the previous month, PCB shipments jumped 18.9%.
PCB bookings continued negative at -5.5% year over year. Year-to-date order growth, while still negative, improved to -6.9%. Order growth climbed 20.9% over the previous month.
The North American PCB book-to-bill ratio strengthened in March for the fourth straight month, reaching 1.01, just above parity.
“The book-to-bill ratio’s climb and positive year-on-year sales growth in March are encouraging signs of a recovery ahead,” said Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. She cautioned, however, that “the book-to-bill ratio has just reached positive territory after six consecutive months below 1.00. Economic indicators are positive for 2014, but the PCB industry’s recovery is developing slowly.”
The April edition of IPC’s North American PCB Market Report, containing detailed March data from IPC’s PCB Statistical Program, will be published later this week. The monthly report presents detailed findings on rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales and orders, including separate rigid and flex book-to-bill ratios, military and medical market growth, demand for prototypes, and other timely data. 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-reports.
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. A ratio of less than 1.00 indicates the reverse.
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 reflect seasonal 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.
IPC’s monthly PCB industry statistics are based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid PCB and flexible circuit manufacturers selling in the US and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB book-to-bill ratio at the end of each month. Statistics for the current month are not available until the last week of the following month.