SEMI: Tool sales step back in April (not March!)

May 21, 2008 – SEMI touched up its March figures for chip equipment demand, resulting in a little better picture for that month — but the view on April figures is weak.

April orders from North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment totaled $1.07M, about 11% lower than March and nearly 25% lower than a year ago. Sales actually rose 0.6% M-M to $1.32B, though down -8.2% from a year ago.

SEMI’s new tally for March figures adds about $51M to billings and ~$8M to bookings. The net result is a swing to positive M-M sales growth (first such stretch in a year), and a minor improvement in bookings growth, and so the B:B dropped a couple of points to 0.87.

The good news: chip sales growth has risen three straight months now (ok, 0-2.6%, but still…), and that hasn’t happened in a year.

The bad news: chip orders took a big step back in April, sinking -11% M-M (biggest drop since last July) and more than -24% Y-Y (biggest drop since Sept. ’07).

And the B:B ratio, which had been steadily climbing, fell to a seven-month low of 0.81, meaning $89 worth of orders were received for every $100 worth of product billed for the month.

In a statement, SEMI president/CEO Stanley Myers pointed to the familiar “conservative mood of the industry” that continues to be reflected in sluggish equipment demand. In fact, he said, “a umber of fab projects have been put on-hold or delayed until 2009.”


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