Semiconductor-equipment manufacturers based in North America logged a slight increase in orders in February, snapping a three-month losing streak, but a key industry ratio remained at a 15-month low, according to new data on Thursday.
The book-to-bill ratio, which measures orders received against product shipped, was 0.78-to-1, based on preliminary data compiled by industry trade group
Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International
. For January the final ratio was also 0.78-to-1; for February the ratio was 1.15-to-1.
A ratio below 1.0 implies fewer orders than shipments, generally a bearish indicator of future sales. The ratio has been below 1.0 since September, and January marked the lowest reading since November 2003.
Orders were $1 billion in February compared with $986.4 million in January and $1.3 billion last February.
Equipment makers in North America shipped products valued at $1.31 billion, up from $1.26 billion in January and above the $1.1 billion shipped in February 2004. SEMI's order and shipment data are based on three-month moving averages.
The equipment industry has cooled in 2005 after global revenue growth of 67% in 2004.
Indications in the first few months of the year from major tool vendors such as
are for moderated demand, especially during the first half of 2005.
Novellus in early March said that its
expected orders for the first quarter still reflected a sequential decline of 6% to 14%. However, the company did boost its sales and shipment targets, and lifted the low end of its earnings range.