Among the important industry news yesterday was another round of positive data supporting the forecasts for growth and stability in 2012, SEMI's North American Semiconductor Equipment book-to-bill data reached parity during February 2012, with a ratio of 1.01. This marks the first time since Fall 2010 that bookings and billings data on the three month moving average (3MMA) basis has been at parity. What that means is that the amount of orders received was nearly equal to the amount of product billed for the period (exactly equal would be a ratio of 1.00).
Both the amount of bookings and billings were up month-over-month for the period of January to February on a 3MMA basis (which normalizes the data to better see overall trending patterns). As SEMI reported yesterday, February's 3MMA bookings reached US $1.33 billion, up 12.2% over January's 3MMA levels, but still 16.5% below the year-over-year figures, which stood at US $1.60 billion for February. Billings were up 6.4% month-over-month from January, reaching US $1.32 billion, but also 28.3% down over last year's US $1.84 billion.
As Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI commented in the release, "Investments in advanced process technologies for NAND Flash, microprocessor, and foundry are key spending drivers for the year."
These global book-to-bill data for North American semiconductor equipment manufacturers follow on the heels of recent financial analyst reports forecasting additional CAPEX spending for equipment in order to meet the growing demand for components for the smart wireless device (SWD) market (i.e., smartphones, ultrabooks, eReaders, tablet PCs, and similar devices). With demand still booming for these SWD that support today's mobile computing use patterns, and with these device all supporting complex, heterogeneous, and increasingly integrated (and stacked) System on Chip (SoC) solutions, the need for more equipment is expected (as discussed in this companion Commentary post earlier this week). Additionally, with the growing multi-core processor and complex chipset architectures to meet power efficiency, high-performance, and sophisticated graphics demands, we continue to see growth and opportunities along the full semiconductor supply chain.
To learn more about the hardware and supply chain implications of these growth trends, watch for Smith's MarketWatch Quarterly, arriving next week to subscribers (free subscription here), or in April to the general public. We are tracking and analyzing these positive, disruptive trends to help prepare our customers for the next wave of component and inventory management situations.