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New Orders for Printed Circuit Boards Drop

The book-to-bill ratio for combined shipments of rigid boards and flexible circuits fell to 0.96 in October.
Combined shipments of rigid printed circuit boards and flexible circuits increased 0.1 percent, but new orders declined 10 percent in October, according to the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).

Year to date, combined industry shipments fell 4.4 percent and bookings dropped 1.1 percent. Compared to September, combined industry shipments for October 2012 decreased 12.2 percent and bookings (new orders) decreased 13.4 percent. The combined rigid board and flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio in October 2012 remained slightly below parity at 0.96, compared to 0.97 in September, the association reported.

A book-to-bill ratio of 0.96 means board manufacturers received $96 in new orders for every $100 of orders that they shipped in the month.

Rigid PCB shipments dropped 1.1 percent in October 2012 from October 2011 and bookings decreased 9.2 percent. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments grew 4.4 percent, while bookings decreased 0.2 percent. Compared to September, rigid PCB shipments fell 12.4 percent and rigid bookings decreased 14.3 percent.

Flexible circuit shipments in October 2012 dropped 15.6 percent and bookings declined 18.9 percent compared to October 2011. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments declined 4 percent and bookings decreased 10.5 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments fell 10.3 percent and flexible circuit bookings dipped 0.5 percent.

Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research, said the industry would recover, but it may not be until early 2013. “Action by the U.S. Congress to deal with the ‘fiscal cliff’ will have a significant impact on economic growth and business confidence,” said Starr.

The book-to-bill ratios and growth rate for rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined are heavily affected by the rigid PCB segment. It represents about 90 percent of the current PCB industry in North America.