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IPC Releases PCB Industry Results for February 2011

Mar 31, 2011

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Rigid PCBs

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Rigid PCBs

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Flexible Circuits

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Flexible Circuits

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Rigid PCBs and Flexible Circuits Combined

Trends in the Book-to-Bill Ratio for Rigid PCBs and Flexible Circuits Combined

Rigid and Flexible PCB Shipments Year-on-Year Growth Rates

Rigid and Flexible PCB Shipments Year-on-Year Growth Rates

IPC — Association Connecting Electronics Industries® announced today the February findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program.

PCB Industry Growth Rates and Book-to-Bill Ratios Announced

Rigid PCB shipments were up 11.4 percent and bookings decreased 7.3 percent in February 2011 from February 2010. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments were up 7.7 percent and bookings declined 7.5 percent. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments increased 13.2 percent and rigid bookings increased 6.4 percent. The book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in February 2011 dipped to 0.94.

Flexible circuit shipments in February 2011 were up 8.3 percent and bookings grew 36.3 percent compared to February 2010. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments increased 9.4 percent and bookings were up 19.7 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments increased 9.3 percent and flex bookings increased 12.6 percent. The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio in February 2011 jumped to 1.10.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in February 2011 increased 11.1 percent from February 2010, as orders booked decreased 4.1 percent from February 2010. Year to date, combined industry shipments were up 7.8 percent and bookings were down 5.3 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for February 2011 increased 12.9 percent and bookings increased 7.0 percent. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in February 2011 slipped to 0.95.

"North American PCB sales continued to grow in February, despite the declining book-to-bill ratio in the rigid PCB segment," said IPC President & CEO Denny McGuirk. "In rigid PCBs, sales have been growing faster than orders for the past six months, but the opposite is happening in the flexible circuit segment. Sales in both segments are strong and showing normal seasonal patterns, but we’re likely to see stronger growth in flex sales in the coming months."

The book-to-bill ratios are calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.00 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which is a positive indicator for sales growth over the next two to three months.

Book-to-bill ratios and growth rates for rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined are heavily affected by the rigid PCB segment. Rigid PCBs represent an estimated 89 percent of the current PCB industry in North America, according to IPC’s World PCB Production Report.

Sales to the Military Market

Survey participants also report the percentage of their monthly sales to the military market. In February 2011, 24 percent of the participating companies’ sales were to the military market. Rigid PCB producers reported that military sales accounted for 23 percent of their sales for the month, and flexible circuit producers reported 38 percent military sales. A high proportion of military sales is typical of the North American PCB market, and sets it apart from PCB markets in many other parts of the world.

The Role of Domestic Production

IPC’s monthly survey of the North American PCB industry tracks bookings and shipments from U.S. and Canadian facilities, which provide indicators of regional demand. These numbers do not measure U.S. and Canadian PCB production. To track regional production trends, IPC asks survey participants for the percent of their reported shipments that were produced domestically (i.e., in the USA or Canada). In February 2011, 77 percent of total PCB shipments reported were domestically produced. Domestic production accounted for 76 percent of rigid PCB and 88 percent of flexible circuit shipments in February by IPC’s survey participants. These numbers are significantly affected by the mix of companies in IPC’s survey sample, which changed slightly in January, but are kept constant through the remainder of the year.

Bare Circuits versus Assembly

Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flex circuits. In February, the flexible circuit manufacturers in IPC’s survey sample indicated that bare circuits accounted for about 57 percent of their shipment value reported for the month. Assembly and other services make up a large and growing segment of flexible circuit producers’ businesses. This figure is also sensitive to changes in the survey sample, which may occur at the beginning of each calendar year.

Interpreting the Data

Year-on-year and year-to-date growth rates provide the most meaningful view of industry growth. Month-to-month comparisons should be made with caution as they may reflect cyclical effects. Because bookings tend to be more volatile than shipments, changes in the book-to-bill ratios from month to month may not be significant unless a trend of more than three consecutive months is apparent. It is also important to consider changes in bookings and shipments to understand what is driving changes in the book-to-bill ratio.

The information in IPC’s monthly PCB industry statistics is based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid and flexible PCB manufacturers in the USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB Book-to-Bill Ratio and the PCB Statistical Program Report each month. Statistics for the previous month are not available until the last week of the following month.


IPC (http://www.IPC.org) is a global trade association based in Bannockburn, Ill., dedicated to the competitive excellence and financial success of its 2,800 member companies which represent all facets of the electronics industry, including design, printed board manufacturing, electronics assembly and test. As a member-driven organization and leading source for industry standards, training, market research and public policy advocacy, IPC supports programs to meet the needs of an estimated $1.85 trillion global electronics industry. IPC maintains additional offices in Taos, N.M.; Arlington, Va.; Garden Grove, Calif.; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing, China.

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