Printed circuit board (pcb) sales in 2013 ended the year at -1.9% compared to the previous year, according to industry association IPC, Bannockburn IL. The book-to-bill ratio in December improved slightly, but remains below parity at 0.92, according to the December findings from the group’s recently released North American Printed Circuit Board statistical program.
Slow growth continues
Total North American pcb shipments increased 2.2% in December 2013 from December 2012. Year-to-date shipment growth, at -1.9 percent, is still negative compared to the same period in 2012, but has been steadily improving. December sales were up 6.6% over the prior month.
North American pcb bookings fell again in December to -8.0% year over year, which reduced the year’s order growth to -1.1% below 2012. December bookings jumped 17.7% over the prior month.
“North American pcb sales in December continued their slow recovery, while orders have been volatile,” says Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. “In the current cycle, the book-to-bill ratio appears to have hit its low point in November and is now beginning to climb again,” she added.
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 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.