Semiconductor equipment sales and orders tracked by SEMI have now grown for three consecutive months, providing yet another sign of an industry preparing to accelerate into a solid 2004.
North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $760.5 million in orders in August 2003 and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.95, according to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI). A book-to-bill of 0.95 means that $95 worth of new orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month. September’s book-to-bill showed improvement from August’s revised figure of 0.92, and is at its highest mark since February.
September’s orders, representing the three-month average of worldwide bookings, rose 3.9% from August’s upwardly revised total of $731.8 million, and have rebounded to levels not seen since before a four-month slide from April-July. Year-on-year, bookings are down 8.5% from the $832 million posted in September 2002.
The three-month average of worldwide billings in September was $803.5 million, a 1.4% gain from the revised level of $792.3 million in August, and 23% below September 2002 billings of $1.04 billion. This marks the third consecutive month of higher consecutive monthly billings, after a three-month slide from April-June.
“September continues the conservative spending trends we’ve seen in 2003, especially in the front-end equipment sector,” according to Dan Tracy, SEMI’s director of industry research. “Positive economic signs and rising fab-capacity utilization levels, coupled with current cautious investments, point toward higher spending growth in 2004.”