Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Gloomy outlook for semiconductor equipment makers

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

The book-to-bill ratio for North American-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers, such as Applied Materials Inc, slipped to a new low last month, re-enforcing expectations of a further decline in the second half of this year amid a weak global economy, semiconductor industry association SEMI’s statistics showed.

The book-to-bill ratio dropped for the fourth consecutive month to 0.81 last month after the three-month average of worldwide bookings contracted 15.1 percent month-on-month to US$952.9 million from August’s US$1.12 billion, according to SEMI’s data.

A book-to-bill ratio of less than 1 indicates falling demand, while a ratio of greater than one indicates growth.

Billings plunged 12 percent month-on-month to US$1.18 billion last month from US$1.34 billion, SEMI’s statistics showed.

“The decline in bookings and billings for semiconductor equipment to levels last reported in the fall of last year further confirms the second-half investment slowdown,” SEMI president and chief executive Denny McGuirk said in a statement.

“In the current cycle, device makers are grappling with lower average selling prices and uncertainty with the broader economy, which clearly has a near-term impact on equipment purchases,” McGuirk said.

US chip giant Intel Corp on Wednesday cut its capital spending forecast for this year to US$11.3 billion from US$12.5 billion on a falling factory utilization rate.

On an annual basis, bookings grew 2.9 percent from US$920 million and billing shrank 10.4 percent from US$1.31 billion, SEMI data showed.

Global spending on wafer fab equipment is expected to drop 13.3 percent to US$31.4 billion this year from US$36.2 billion last year, Gartner Inc forecast earlier this month.

Spending would then slip 0.8 percent to US$31.2 billion next year, before a recovery in 2014 to US$35.9 billion, up 15.3 percent annually, the US-based market researcher said.

“The outlook for semiconductor equipment markets has deteriorated as the macro economy has weakened,” Bob Johnson, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement dated Oct. 1.

This story has been viewed 2557 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top