VLSI: Global tool orders off in April

Worldwide bookings for semiconductor manufacturing equipment totaled $3.72 billion in April, down 10.6% from March and 34.6% from a year ago, according to VLSI Research Inc., Santa Clara, CA. Billings of $4.56 billion were 22.8% sequentially but were basically flat year-on-year. The book-to-bill was 0.82, compared with 0.71 in March and 1.26 in April 2004, meaning that $82 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

By region, Japanese equipment consumption slid off beginning its fiscal new year, down from 25.2% of global consumption to 17.0%. Taiwan and China were flat month-on-month, while North America, Korea, Europe, and rest-of-world were up by a couple of percentage points.

For ICs, bookings were $16.26 billion, down 3.0% from March but up 6.9% from April 2004. In the first month following Japan’s fiscal year-end rush, billings unsurprisingly were down 23.1% to $13.45 billion, roughly in line with April 2004’s 13.23 billion. The B:B for ICs was 1.07 in April — as it was in both the previous month and the same month year ago.

Worldwide chip capacity was flat from March at 509 millions of sq. in, but that’s an increase of 7.7% from a year ago. Utilization rates also were basically flat from the prior month in the low-to mid-80% range.

For May, VLSI projects equipment demand will increase slightly, to $3.82 billion in orders and $4.23 billion in sales, for a B:B of 0.91. The analyst firm predicts IC demand will fall off slightly, to $15.9 billion in orders and $14.17 billion in sales, for a B:B of 1.06.


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