March 22, 2006 – Demand for semiconductor manufacturing equipment from North American-based suppliers continued slow but steady growth in February, with the market showing orders outweighing sales for the first time since mid-2004, according to new data from SEMI.
Worldwide bookings of equipment (a three-month average) came in at $1.30 billion, an increase of 5.8% from January, and 26.6% higher than a year ago. Bookings have risen nearly 32% from a low of $984.1 million in September, and have been above the $1 billion mark for fifth consecutive months, and 9 out of the last 10.
Billings (also a three-month average) totaled $1.29 billion, up 2.1% from the previous month and 3.3% below levels from a year ago. Billings have risen nearly 22% from a low of $1.06 billion in August 2005.
With orders squeaking above sales for the month, the book-to-bill ratio (B:B) finally achieved parity in February at 1.01, meaning that $101 worth of orders was received for every $100 of product billed for the month. The last time the B:B was above parity was August 2004; after gradually sliding to a low of 0.77 in Feb. 2005, it has been steadily climbing back up, and had hovered just below the parity mark for about two quarters. SEMI president and CEO Stanley Myers noted the move back to parity, stating that “we are optimistic about growth in the equipment market for 2006.”