Flexible circuit shipments

Flexible circuit shipments are up 3.6 percent, and bookings are down 6.1 percent compared to February 2008. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments are up 9.4 percent and bookings are down 4.2 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments are up 8.7 percent and flex bookings were up 23.9 percent. The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio in February 2009 climbed just above parity at 1.02.PCB Industry Growth Rates and Book-to-Bill Ratios Announced

Rigid PCB shipments are down 23.2 percent and bookings are down 35.5 percent in February 2009 from February 2008. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments are down 21.1 percent and bookings are down 33.2 percent. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments decreased 3.2 percent and rigid bookings decreased 3.5 percent. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in February 2009 remained below parity at 0.89.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in February 2009 decreased 21.4 percent from February 2008 and orders booked decreased 33.7 percent from February 2008. Year to date, combined industry shipments are down 19.2 percent and bookings are down 31.6 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for February 2009 are down 2.3 percent and bookings are down 1.6 percent. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in February 2009 was 0.90.

"The book-to-bill ratio for pcb-china overall has stayed in negative territory for 10 months now, and orders are still declining compared to last year," said IPC President Denny McGuirk. "This suggests we will continue to see weak sales for the next few months at least. The flexible circuit segment of the industry is faring better than rigid PCBs right now," he added.Bare Circuits versus Assembly Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flex circuits. In February, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC's survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for approximately 78 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 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 February 2009, 89 percent of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production accounted for 89 percent of rigid PCB and 88 percent of flexible circuit shipments in February 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.

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.

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.

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.

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