Total North American PCB shipments in March 2017 were down 4.7 percent compared to the same month last year. This year to date, shipments are 3.8 percent below the same period last year. Compared to the preceding month, March shipments increased 21.8 percent.
PCB bookings in March decreased 6.7 percent year-on-year, pushing year-to-date bookings down to 1.7 percent below the same period last year. Bookings were up 12.8 percent compared to the previous month.
"North America PCB sales continued below last year's level in March, while year-on-year order growth fell back into negative territory after a brief upturn in February," said Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research. "The good news is that the book-to-bill ratio continued to climb, albeit due to weaker performance in sales than in orders in the first quarter, but positive ratios may indicate strengthening PCB sales in the next several months," she added.
Detailed Data Available
The next edition of IPC's North American PCB Market Report, containing detailed March data from IPC's PCB Statistical Program, will be available next 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, growth trends by company size tiers, 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.
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 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 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.