VLSI: June temps rise for equipment, ICs; July lull on deck

by James Montgomery, News Editor

Demand for semiconductor equipment and ICs turned out a little bit better than expected in June, with a return to a brief seasonal lull expected over the next several weeks, according to data from VLSI Research Inc.

Worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment bookings and billings were slightly better than VLSI had expected. Orders jumped 21.4% in June to $6.67 billion, a 56.6% leap from the same period a year ago. though slower than the 2x rate seen in the past couple of months. Sales rose to $5.23 billion, up 14.1% from May and 21.0% from June 2005, thanks to 16% growth in fabrication equipment sales (test equipment was up 9%, while assembly equipment sales rose 10%).

The book-to-bill ratio rose back up to 1.28 — remaining above the 1.0 parity mark for a full year now — vs. 1.20 in May and 0.99 a year ago, meaning that $128 worth of orders were received for every $100 worth of products billed during the month. Utilization rates slipped to just below 92% for frontend manufacturing and assembly, but remained at about 94% for test.

Demand for ICs also was about as expected, with orders slipping 0.2% sequentially to $17.67 billion, though nearly 16% ahead of last year’s levels. Sales jumped 25% month-on-month to $19.83 billion, representing a 15% year-on-year increase. Unit shipments also showed strength in June (12.42 billion, up 14.3 M-M and 19.8% Y-Y), about in line with VLSI’s earlier projections. The IC B:B was 1.06, vs. 1.07 in May and 1.01 in June 2005.

Through the first half of 2006, semiconductor equipment bookings totaled $37.10 billion, nearly 55% ahead of the same pace a year ago, while equipment sales were 17.3% higher than 1H05, at $30.49 billion. IC orders totaled about $108.0 billion, up 12.2% from 1H05, while sales increased 8.5% to $100.0 billion. IC unit shipments in 1H06 were up more than 25% year-on-year to 66.7 billion units.

Looking ahead to July, VLSI expects typical seasonal patterns to continue, with 12%-13% sequential growth in both equipment orders ($5.85 billion) and sales ($5.18 billion), for a B:B of 1.13. IC sales are expected to see a seasonal drop in July (-16%) to $15.58 billion, while orders inch up 3.7% to $18.33 billion, for a B:B of 1.07. VLSI sees chip sales rebounding 9% in August to about $17.0 billion, followed by a 25% spike in Sept. to $21.4 billion. IC unit shipments also are projected to slow down in July (-16% to 10.41 billion units), but that’s still 10% higher than the 9.44 billion units a year ago. Capacity is seen staying in the 90%-92% range through most of 2H06, dipping to ~87%-88% in December.


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