SAN JOSE, Calif. -- How bad is the semiconductor equipment market? The worldwide fab tool book-to-bill hit a staggering 0.10 ratio in January, its lowest point in recent memory, according to VLSI Research Inc.
This is one of the lowest book-to-bill numbers since the last major downturn in 2001, said Risto Puhakka, president of VLSI Research (Santa Clara, Calif.).
The latest number reflects a severe drop in equipment orders in the market, Puhakka said. And vendors are still looking for the bottom, he said.
During a recent presentation, the analyst described the current equipment market as ''grim.'' In January, VLSI Research reduced its IC-equipment forecast. The most significant change in VLSI's forecast is the downgrading of IC equipment sales from a decline of 26 percent to minus 49 precent in 2009.
The fab tool business is terrible right now, as the various book-to-bill ratios have hit near record lows.
In fact, the business has grounded to a halt, leaving some to wonder if the book-to-bill ratios could hit zero amid the current downturn.
The book-to-bill ratio for Japanese fab tool vendors was 0.55 for January, down from 0.70 in December, according to the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ) earlier this week. That figure was said to be a seven-year low.
North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 0.48 in January, down from 0.86 in December, according to SEMI. A book-to-bill of 0.48 means that $48 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.