PCB | November 02, 2004

Flexible circuits up 140%

US flexible circuit shipments are up 85.6 percent and bookings are up 140.1 percent in September 2004 from September 2003, according to a recent published IPC-report.
The North American PCB Industry Book-to-Bill Ratio for September 2004 continued positive at 1.08. This ratio is based on monthly data collected from both rigid PCB and flexible circuit producers that participate in IPC’s monthly PCB Statistical Program. Separately, the book-to-bill ratios in September 2004 were 1.01 for rigid PCBs and 1.38 for flexible circuits.

The ratio is calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from the companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.00 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which indicates probable near-term growth.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry sales billed (shipments) in September 2004 increased 25.9 percent from September 2003, and orders booked increased 18.1 percent from September 2003. Compared to 2003, shipments of PCBs are up 33.5 percent year-to-date, while bookings of PCBs are up 35.2 percent year-to-date. Combined industry shipments for September 2004 are up 12.1 percent over the previous month, and bookings are up 16.6 percent over the previous month.
Both rigid and flex shipments are rebounding from the recession and are showing strong growth, but flex is growing at a faster rate than rigid.

Rigid PCB shipments are up 12.2 percent and bookings are down 10.1 percent in September 2004 from September 2003. Year-to-date, rigid PCB shipments have increased 23.3 percent and bookings have increased 16.8 percent compared to the same period in 2003. Rigid PCB shipments from the survey sample increased 12.5 percent from the previous month and rigid bookings decreased 8.2 percent from the previous month.

Year-to-date, flexible circuit shipments have grown 78.5 percent and bookings have grown 106.5 percent compared to the same period in 2003. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments from the survey sample increased 10.5 percent and flex bookings increased 140.9 percent.

Flexible circuit sales, which include some value-added services in addition to the bare flex circuits, represent about 17 percent of total PCB sales in IPC’s survey sample, which IPC considers to be representative of the industry. It is difficult for most flexible circuit manufacturers to break out value-added services, such as assembly, from their circuit sales. Therefore, the amount of value-added services included in this industry segment’s sales is not known.

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.
The information in IPC’s monthly industry statistics is based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid and flexible PCB manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB Book-to-Bill Ratio and the Interconnect Manufacturing Services (IMS) Business Report each month. Statistics for the previous month are not available until the last week of the following month.


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