December 1, 2003 – Global orders in October of Japanese semiconductor equipment soared above 100 million yen for the third consecutive month, and are at their highest levels in nearly three years, according to the latest figures from the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ).
Worldwide equipment orders in October 2003 soared to 145.31 billion yen ($1.33 billion), an eye-popping 108.2% year-on-year increase, and up from 114.14 billion yen ($1.05 billion) in September and 102.07 billion yen ($921.6 million) in August. Domestic orders rose to 72.04 billion yen ($657.2 million), up from 67.80 billion yen ($623.7 million) in September, 46.66 billion yen ($399.2 million) in August, and a 40.5% increase from October 2002. Global orders are at their highest levels since December 2000, while domestic orders have risen year-on-year in all but one month since September 2002.
Several categories of equipment orders continued to post impressive yearly growth, as demand for big chipmaking tools continues to build. Global orders for wafer manufacturing equipment rose to 99.2 billion yen ($904.8 million), a 34.5% increase from a month ago and up 113% from October 2002. Test and assembly equipment grew 33.5% from September to 31.84 billion yen ($290.4 million), a 96% gain from a year ago, while assembly equipment rose 19.1% to 8.93 billion yen ($81.4 million), a 112% increase year-on-year. Global orders for maskmaking equipment (812 million yen, $7.4 million), wafer processing equipment (704 million yen, $6.4 million) and related equipment (3.85 billion yen, $35.1 million) all were down more than 37% month-to-month and are well off their springtime highs, but are up nearly 100% from October 2002.
After a big bump in September, global sales of Japanese-made equipment came back down to earth in October at 62.38 billion yen ($569.1 million), compared with 130.45 billion yen ($1.2 billion) in September and 77.34 billion yen ($698.3 million) in August. Domestic sales were also down month-on-month, from 72.80 billion yen ($669.7 million) in September to 46.95 billion yen ($428.3 million). Still, global and domestic sales are up for the year-on-year period: 16.9% and 23.7%, respectively.
Offsetting strength in orders, global and domestic sales of equipment in every category answered September’s across-the-board gains with an across-the-board retreat in October. For global sales, each category sunk at least 40% month-on-month, although all save the mask/reticle segment held above last year’s levels. Domestically, sales in all categories slid month-on-month by as much as 69%, but remained just above last year’s levels.
Nevertheless, the rosy equipment orders generated worldwide and domestic book-to-bill ratios (based on a three-month rolling average) that reversed a four-month decline. The global B:B for Japanese equipment in October was 1.34 — the sixth straight month above parity — up from 1.10 in September, 1.24 in August, and 0.88 in October 2002. A book-to-bill of 1.34 means that $134 in new orders was received for every $100 of product billed for the month. The domestic B:B in October was also above parity at 1.08, up from 0.92 in September, 1.03 in August, and 1.05 in October 2002.