IPC: N.A. Growth Continues, but at Slower Pace


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IPC−Association Connecting Electronics Industries announced today the April 2018 findings from its North American PCB Statistical Program. Industry shipments and orders in April continued to grow but at a slowing pace. The book-to-bill ratio decreased but remained strong at 1.08.

Total North American PCB shipments in April 2018 were up 8.8% compared to the same month last year. This year to date, shipments are 9.6% above the same period last year. Compared to the preceding month, April shipments decreased 14.0%.

PCB bookings in April increased 2.9% year-over-year. Year-to-date order growth was 12.8% above the same period last year. Bookings in April were down 16.2% from the previous month.

“The North American PCB industry’s slower sales and order growth in April is unsurprising, as the industry settles into a more normal pace of growth after the recovery of the last three quarters,” said Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. “Also, business tends to peak in the last month of every quarter, often causing month-to-month decreases in the first month of the quarter, and this normal pattern can be seen in the April data. The outlook for this year remains encouraging, based on strong order growth in the past year and a book-to-bill ratio that has been above parity (1.0) for 15 consecutive months.”

Detailed Data Available

The next edition of IPC’s North American PCB Market Report,containing detailed second-quarter 2018 data from IPC’s PCB Statistical Program, will be available in August. The quarterly report presents detailed findings on rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales and orders, including separate rigid and flex book-to-bill ratios, growth trends by company size tiers, demand for prototypes, sales growth to military and medical markets, 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 here.

Interpreting the Data

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 twelve 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 might not be significant unless a trend of more than three consecutive months is apparent. It is also important to consider changes in both 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 USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB book-to-bill ratio at the end of each month. Statistics for the current month are normally available in the last week of the following month.

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