A newly released report from the Association Connecting Electronic Industries, or IPC, show rigid PCB shipments were down 3.6 percent in April 2012 from April 2011, and bookings decreased 8.6 percent year over year. Year to date, rigid PCB shipments decreased 5.8 percent and bookings increased 1.2 percent. Compared to the previous month, rigid PCB shipments decreased 10.5 percent and rigid bookings decreased 13.0 percent.

Flexible circuit shipments in April 2012 were down 13.8 percent, and bookings were down 5.2 percent compared to April 2011. Year to date, flexible circuit shipments decreased 8.9 percent and bookings decreased 2.4 percent. Compared to the previous month, flexible circuit shipments decreased 10.9 percent and flex bookings were down 18.8 percent.

For rigid PCBs and flexible circuits combined, industry shipments in April 2012 decreased 4.5 percent from April 2011 and orders booked decreased 8.3 percent from April 2011. Year to date, combined industry shipments were down 6.0 percent and bookings were up 0.8 percent. Compared to the previous month, combined industry shipments for April 2012 decreased 10.6 percent and bookings decreased 13.5 percent.

The North American flexible circuit book-to-bill ratio remained high at 1.16; the book-to-bill ratio for the North American rigid PCB industry in April 2012 remained above parity at 1.03; and the combined (rigid and flex) industry book-to-bill ratio in April 2012 decreased slightly but continued in positive territory at 1.04. As a general rule of thumb, a ratio greater than 1.00 suggests demand is currently ahead of supply. This is generally a positive indicator for sales growth over the next two to three months.

“April PCB sales and orders in North America continued slightly below last year’s levels and reflected normal seasonal patterns,” said Sharon Starr, IPC director of market research. “The good news is that the book-to-bill ratio continued to be positive for the fifth consecutive month. When orders exceed sales, there is potential for sales growth over the next three to six months.”

The complete April 2012 IPC Industry Results Report is available online.