BANNOCKBURN, IL — The electronics industry is still riding the crest of the current growth cycle, according to new data from IPC. The trade group said the 167 companies worldwide participating in its statistical survey reported average quarterly sales growth of 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018. The firms’ average forecast for first quarter sales growth was 9.8%.

The industry’s outlook on the current direction of the business environment worldwide rebounded in the first quarter after scores edged downward in the last three quarters of 2018, although they remained positive all year, says IPC. Most participating companies reported the current direction for sales, orders, order backlogs and profit margins as moving in a positive direction.

Increasing labor and materials costs and recruiting challenges were the main factors negatively affecting the current-state score.

The companies’ outlook for the next six months also strengthened in the first quarter. Growth in sales, production, number of full-time employees, markets, capital investment and exports contributed to the strong six-month outlook. The 12-month business outlook also strengthened, with 88% of responding companies indicating a positive outlook.

Companies in the Americas and global businesses reported the strongest sales figures and had the most positive outlook for the next six months. Companies in Asia and Europe reported weaker sales and less optimistic six-month forecasts. Among the industry segments, the current-state score was strongest for OEMs and weakest for materials suppliers, although all industry segments indicated positive current-state scores in the first quarter.

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