Investment in the US semiconductor industry dropping

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - Page 14

The book-to-bill ratio for US-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers dipped to a new low last month as investment demand continued to weaken amid global economic uncertainty, industry association SEMI said.

The book-to-bill ratio fell to 0.75 last month, the fifth consecutive month it was below one.

The three-month average of worldwide bookings contracted 18.6 percent to US$743.2 million, from September’s US$912.8 million, according to SEMI’s data. The figure is a 19.8 percent annual decline from US$926.8 million.

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

“Semiconductor industry investments remain muted as the industry enters the fourth quarter,” president and chief executive of SEMI, Denny McGuirk, said in a statement.

“Investments in leading-edge technologies will continue to drive spending in the near-term,” he said.

The three-month average of worldwide billing dropped 15.3 percent to US$986.5 million last month from US$1.16 billion in September, down 21.6 percent from US$1.26 billion in the same period of last year, SEMI said.

Applied Materials chief executive office Mike Splinter said yesterday on a call with analysts that the firm “sees improving business conditions entering 2013, with orders projected to increase after bottoming in the [company’s fiscal] fourth quarter,” according to a company statement.

“We expect healthy investment by foundry customers in 2013, albeit at a lower level than 2012,” Splinter said.