Outlook: dismal

October’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings were 30% below September’s and represent the lowest revenue level so far for the second half of 2002. However, the figures were 15% higher than the September 2001 level.

According to a new report by VLSI Research, worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings amounted to $2.2 billion in October and bookings were at $1.9 billion. The resulting book-to-bill (B:B) ratio was 0.86.

Of the total billings in October, $1.34 billion were for wafer processing equipment, $0.44 billion for test and related equipment, $0.12 billion for assembly, and $0.34 billion for service and spares.

Conditions throughout the electronics food chain remain dismal, leading to further deterioration in equipment billings for the rest of the year. The worldwide equipment B:B ratio is expected to be unchanged around 0.86 in November.

For ICs, the B:B ratio has been below 1.0 since June. The 3-month rolling average of the B:B ratio for chips dropped to 0.87 in October from 0.91 in September. October bookings were at $9.40 billion and billings were at $10.82 billion.

The IC B:B ratio is expected to remain at 0.87 in November, when bookings are forecasted at $9. 67 billion and billings are at $11.09 billion.

Front-end capacity utilisation has been sliding down from the peak of 87% in June. It was at 84% in October and is anticipated to drop further to 79% in November.

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