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Printed Circuit Board Shipments and New Orders Fell in July

The book-to-bill ratio for printed circuit boards and flexible circuits dipped in July, but remains in positive territory.
Combined shipments of rigid printed circuit boards (PCBs) and flexible circuits in July decreased 2.6 percent from July 2011, while orders declined 8.4 percent, according to the trade group Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).

Year to date, combined industry shipments were down 5.2 percent and bookings were up 0.3 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for July 2012 decreased 16 percent and bookings decreased 21.4 percent. The combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in July 2012 decreased slightly, but continued in positive territory at 1.01, the association reported.

A ratio of 1.01 means that board manufacturers revived $101 in new orders for every $100 of orders they shipped in July.

Rigid PCB shipments fell 4.2 percent in July 2012 compared to from July 2011, and bookings decreased 5.7 percent year over year. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments declined 16.6 percent and rigid bookings dropped 18.7 percent.

Flexible circuit shipments in July 2012 increased 15.4 percent, while bookings fell 35 percent compared to July 2011, according to the IPC. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments decreased 9.1 percent and flexible circuit bookings tumbled 46.7 percent.

The sharp declines in North American PCB sales and orders in July from June reflect “normal seasonal patterns,” said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. “Strong flexible circuit sales in July cushioned the fall. This strong sales performance was not surprising, given the high book-to-bill ratios for flexible circuits seen in the first half of the year,” she said.

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 90 percent of the current PCB industry in North America. Flexible circuit sales typically include value-added services such as assembly, in addition to the bare flexible circuits.