Orders for semiconductor equipment continued to be higher than shipments in December 2003, giving North American manufacturers hope for growth this year.
Chip gear manufacturers reported orders worth $1.1 billion in December, according to data Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) released Thursday. The book-to-bill ratio, which represents a comparison between the average value of new equipment orders received and the average billing for finished products, rose to 1.20 in North America.
The group uses a three-month average to calculate the monthly figures for shipments and orders.
A book-to-bill ratio of 1.20 means that $120 worth of new orders were posted for every $100 of product billed for the month. The monthly ratio has been climbing steadily since July, when the group reported a book-to-bill comparison figure of 0.90.
The bookings figure for December 2003 is 19 percent above the revised November 2003 level of $923 million, and 33 percent higher than the $827 million in orders posted same period the previous year. The three-month average of global billings in December 2003 was $918 million, rising 5 percent from the revised November 2003 level of $876 million.
"The December data support the positive outlook for strong growth in semiconductor capital investment this year," Stanley Myers, SEMI's chief executive, said in a statement. "Analysts presenting at the SEMI Industry Strategy Symposium this month were in agreement that 2004 is shaping up to be a double-digit growth year for the global semiconductor equipment industry."