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Semiconductor orders drop

North American orders for semiconductor equipment fell 36 percent last month as chipmakers curbed spending amid a 17-month industry contraction.

Orders dropped to US$1.03 billion last month from US$1.61 billion a year earlier, trade group Semiconductor Equipment & Materials International said in an e-mailed statement on ThursdayUS.

The book-to-bill ratio, a gauge of industry health, was 0.85 last month, meaning chip-equipment producers in North America received US$85 in new orders for every US$100 in products sold. A ratio of less than 1 signals that the industry is shrinking. The ratio has been below that level since January last year.

“The industry awaits more clarity in the overall economic condition before increasing capital spending,” Daniel Tracy, senior director of Industry Research and Statistics at San Jose, California-based SEMI, said in the statement.

MiTAC reports revenues

MiTAC International Corp (神達電腦) reported NT$30.718 billion (US$1.013 billion) in revenues for the first half of the year, with earnings before tax at NT$1.439 billion, or NT$0.83 per share, the company said yesterday.

The board of MiTAC declared Aug. 15 as the ex-dividend date, which makes the settlement date Aug. 18. The company plans to pay a cash dividend of NT$1.4 per share and 4 percent stock dividend for each common share.

MiTAC also presented the nation’s Olympics Team with 60 Mio Moov 370 GPS systems with maps of China. MiTAC general manager Billy Ho (何繼武) said at a ceremony that the Mio Moov 370 would help team members find their way to tournament sites and to restaurants and other locations.

Ford pessimistic about market

Ford Lio Ho Motor Co (福特六和汽車) forecast on Thursday that the nation’s total vehicle sales would drop 20.25 percent to 260,000 units this year from 326,000 units last year in response to rising commodity prices that have hit consumer spending.

Jeffrey Nemeth, president of Ford Lio Ho Motor, said he expected domestic vehicle sales to start picking up either at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, because the automobile industry usually takes about two years to recover.

The auto industry last saw a serious slump in 2006 when the credit card storm erupted and cut annual vehicle sales from more than 500,000 to 366,000.

HP expects strong growth

Hewlett-Packard Taiwan Ltd said on Wednesday that the company was optimistic about the domestic market in the second half of this year after the company’s sales growth rate in the first half of the year surpassed that of the local market.

As most of the nation’s computer users already have a desktop or laptop computer at home, the company’s focus is on ultra-mobile laptops targeting specific consumer groups, HP Taiwan product marketing manager Clair Chang (張淑雯) said at a product launch.

The company seeks to offer multiple product lines to increase its market share with models of 8.9 inch mini notebooks, 13.3 inch notebooks and the new 15.4 inch Pavillion DV5 series.

Chang said its 8.9 inch laptops, priced at NT$17,900 per unit, are out of stock as a result of the high demand.

With notebook sales expected to grow, HP’s strong foot-hold in Taiwan is good news for suppliers, Chang said. HP’s local notebook computer manufacturers include Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電腦), Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦) and Inventec Corp (英業達).

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