North American printed circuit board (PCB) shipments declined 4.4 percent in May compared to May 2012, but bookings increased 8.3 percent, according to IPC, the Association Connecting Electronics Industries.
PCB sales and orders have been below last year’s levels for most of the past 12 months, but have been improving in recent months, according to Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research.
Year to date, board shipments were down 4.9 percent and bookings were down 0.3 percent. Compared to the previous month, PCB shipments in May increased 0.9 percent, while bookings grew by 6.5 percent. Bookings have outpaced shipments for the past six months, IPC said.
The book-to-bill ratio was 1.10 in May, the same as April. A book-to-bill ratio of 1.10 means that board manufacturers received $110 of new orders for every $100 of boards that they shipped in the month, implying demand exceeds supply. A ratio of more than 1.00 is a sign of market growth over the next three to six months, according to IPC.
Flexible circuit sales strengthened in May, but rigid PCB sales continued to lag behind last year’s levels, the IPC reported. However, new orders for flexible circuits declined while there was year-on-year growth for rigid board shipments.
“Order growth rates have improved faster than sales growth rates, which accounts for the positive book-to-bill ratios of the past five months,” said Starrch. She added that PCB sales are “slowly emerging from almost a two-year slump” and the recent positive order growth “makes the sales outlook for the second half of this year more promising.”