The Semiconductor Industry Assn. said Wednesday that its key book-to-bill ratio fell in September, marking the first time in nearly two years that new orders for computer chips failed to match shipments.
The measure, which fell to 0.97 from 1.02 in August, reflected a seasonal summer lull and slower growth in the industry, analysts said. A book-to-bill ratio of 0.97 means that for every $100 worth of product shipped, manufacturers received $97 worth of new orders.
Analysts said a slowing in the personal computer market contributed to the weakness in the monthly chip measure.
They said that the overall figure was about as expected, but that orders and shipments were about 6% to 8% lower than anticipated.
“The book-to-bill looks like what we thought it would, but how we got there is not good,” said Michael Gumport of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. “Orders were short of the mark and suggest September was quite weak.”
“September was not a very good month for the industry in terms of orders,” said Nomura Securities International analyst Lawrence Borgman, who noted that the industry was getting by on a strong order backlog.
The October ratio will not be much better, Gumport said.
The report for September represents the first time in 22 months that the ratio has been less than 1.0, the association said. The last drop below 1.0 was in November, 1986, when the ratio was 0.99, followed by exceptionally strong industry growth in 1987 and early 1988.
The association said September shipments in the U.S. market rose to $1.26 billion, or 6.8% above the $1.18 billion shipped in August.