Due the recent volatile supply chain situation from the terrible disasters in Japan and the ensuing power and logistics complications, we have all been waiting to see how this quarter's numbers will fare.
One initial data point is SEMI's monthly Book-to-Bill ratio for North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment (in other words, 'fab tools', EETimes). These data were just released for April (preliminary) and final numbers for March. We came out of 4Q10 in a decline from parity (parity is 1.0, meaning that $100 worth of orders received for $100 worth of product billed for the month). January and February 2011 came in below parity (0.85 and 0.87, respectively), due to a drop in orders for semiconductor equipment while billings were rising.
With March and April data, we see that billings and bookings are coming more in line (getting close to parity with 0.95 and 0.98 ratios, respectively), as cited from the SEMI report:
"The three-month average of worldwide bookings in April 2011 was $1.60 billion. The bookings figure is 1.1 percent more than the final March 2011 level of $1.58 billion, and is 10.8 percent above the $1.44 billion in orders posted in April 2010.
The three-month average of worldwide billings in April 2011 was $1.63 billion. The billings figure is 1.6 percent less than the final March 2011 level of $1.66 billion, and is 27.4 percent more than the April 2010 billings level of $1.28 billion."
What these data point to is that orders and spending are moving closer to parity, which means that the supply chain is closer in alignment with 2011 CAPEX plans, as summarized by SEMI. This is a positive data point speaking to a lessening of volatility and imbalance in the supply chain. The final 2Q11 data from semiconductor companies and inventory analyses will, of course, be the data from which we make our final assessments.