Spending in IC sector remains even, SEMI says

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Mar 22, 2014 - Page 13

The book-to-bill ratio of North American-based semiconductor equipment manufacturers, such as Applied Materials Inc, slid to one last month, marking the fifth month of parity between bookings and billings, semiconductor industry association SEMI’s statistics showed yesterday.

That showed that semiconductor equipment “bookings and billings continue along a steady trend in the first quarter,” SEMI president and chief executive Denny McGuirk said in a statement.

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

February’s book-to-bill ratio is the lowest level since September last year.

The “booking and billing values remain well above the figures reported one year ago,” McGuirk said.

The three-month average of worldwide bookings jumped 20.1 percent to US$1.29 billion last month, from US$1.07 billion in the same period last year. That represented a 0.7 percent month-on-month increase from January’s US$1.28 billion.

The three-month average of worldwide billings surged 32.2 percent to US$1.29 billion, compared with US$974.7 million in February last year.

On a monthly basis, the billings grew 4.5 percent from US$1.23 billion.

Market researcher IC Insight yesterday forecast that the capital expenditure of the world’s top 10 semiconductor spenders would be US$50.13 billion this year, up 9.69 percent from last year’s US$45.7 billion.

Samsung Electronics Co is the biggest spender with budget of US$11.5 billion, followed by Intel Corp, which plans to spend US$11 billion on new equipment, IC Insight said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電), the world’s top contract chipmaker, ranks No. 3 with capital spending of US$9.75 billion.

Siliconware Precision Industries Co (SPIL, 矽品) said on Thursday that its board had approved a plan to boost capital spending to NT$14.7 billion (US$480 million) this year, mostly on advanced technologies, up from its forecast of US$9.6 billion in December last year.

The revised capital spending surpassed the NT$11 billion forecast by Credit Suisse analyst Randy Abrams.

Last year, SPIL budgeted a record high NT$16.5 billion for capital spending.

“The additional NT$5.1 billion capital spending will support wafer bump and SPIL’s new flip chip projects for Taiwan and overseas customers,” Abrams said in the report released on Thursday. “The company has seen strength for the upstream come through in the first quarter from inventory restocking off a low base and good 3G smartphone demand from MediaTek Inc (聯發科).”

SPIL said its board also approved paying a cash dividends of NT$1.8, representing 95 percent payout ratio, based on last year’s net profit of NT$5.89 billion, or earnings per share of NT$1.89.