SEMI book-to-bill shows positive growth. Orders for North American semiconductor equipment surged again in May to $1.44 billion, while shipments rose to $1.32 billion, resulting in a book-to-bill ratio of 1.09 (see table), according to SEMI. The order level was 4.8% better than April`s revised figure of 1.10. Bookings are now some 20% ahead of year-ago levels, while shipments are only 3% below those logged in May 1996, during the height of the last boom. Bookings have been on the increase since February.
Forecast for front-end equipment sales. With fab equipment sales showing good signs of life thus far in 1997, Williamsburg, VA, market researcher The Information Network has raised its estimate of front-end tool market growth to 8.2% for the year, up from an original prediction of 7.0%. While the SEMI book-to-bill ratio for North American front-end equipment sales came in at 1.09 for May, front-end equipment sales are down only 3% from 1996. Lithography tools are seen as especially strong, with other sectors posting growth in the 6.3 to 7.6% range (see table).