BANNOCKBURN, IL – North American printed circuit board fabricators reported January orders slumped versus last year and sequentially, and sales declined too. 

Total North American PCB orders in January were down 3.4% from a year ago and 14.3% from the revised December figure.

Shipments declined 1.6% from last year and 19.2% from December.

Due to a statistical quirk, the book-to-bill ratio rose 40 basis points sequentially to 1.04. Despite a drop in orders, bookings outpaced sales, causing the ratio to rise.

The ratio is calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.0 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which is a positive indicator for sales growth over the next three to six months.

“Historically, January is a slow month for the PCB industry,” said Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. “Although sales and orders in January were slightly below last year’s levels, orders continued to outpace sales, which brought the book-to-bill ratio back into positive territory. The ratio’s brief decline into negative territory near the end of last year is consistent with the current weak start to the new year,” she added, “but the return to positive ratios indicates the likelihood that slow growth will resume in 2016.”

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