LONDON The worldwide PCB market is set to decline in 2009 by about 16 percent according to market analysis firm BPA Consulting Ltd. (Dorking, England).
The consultancy did not say how large the PCB market was in 2008 or would be in 2009. A small percentage growth is predicted in 2010. And BPA's forecast for 2012 is for worldwide PCB demand to be back to 2007's level of just over $49 billion.
The trimming of the worldwide PCB market growth figure BPA had previously been predicting a 10 percent contraction in 2009 was done in response to BPA's quarterly PCB survey, which indicated that output from many Asian and European PCB fabricators has declined by more than 40 percent in Q1 2009.
North America has been in slow decline for more than a year and its first quarter revenues have not been hit quite as badly.
High volume PCB manufacturing has disappeared from North America and Europe, with the exception in the latter case for automotive PCBs which are still made in mid-sized volumes in Germany. BPA estimated that between 40 and 50 percent of Germany's PCB output is in the automotive sector, compared to a worldwide sector figure of approximately 4 percent of total PCB shipments.
Surplus inventory appears to be all but used up, with laminators in particular reporting a slight increase in demand. However, this is coming from a level that is only half of what it was a year ago. The quarterly results indicate that there has been no significant overall increase in the order books for Q2 and so Q2 is expected to remain at the same level as Q1. From such a low base, even with recovery in Q3 and Q4, it will be impossible for the industry to stage a full recovery in 2009 and only low growth is expected for 2010.
To further compound the decline, a now even more competitive marketplace has put intense pressure on prices which have been forced down by between 5 and 10 percent at a time when most fabricators were hoping to push prices up to compensate for the higher raw materials costs experienced in 2008 as fuel prices surged.
BPA's model and analysis of industry surveys would indicate the downturn in the semiconductor market will be a U shaped with a prolonged time at the lower demand levels. This is because a significant proportion of semiconductors is used in the consumer goods sector.
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