The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trading and Industry (METI) recently released printed wiring board (PWB) production data for March. We now have a complete summary of first-quarter printed wiring board production results and PWB market trends. PWB production estimates for 2008 follow.
Total revenue in March was 81.12 billion yen. This reflects a 2.5% increase from February, but 1.5% lower than January’s number (we are hopeful this is a seasonal adjustment). The total revenue figure for March represents a 9.3% decline when compared the same period one year ago.
Results from the previous months were on the positive side (although small gains, they were still positive), continuing the trend from 2007 where the industry grew by 3.8% compared to the previous year.
Unfortunately, this quick turnaround to negative growth could signal a downward trend for the Japanese PWB industry. Adding the March results, the year-to-date cumulative total is negative 2.9%.
Role of margins and ASP
Shrinking margins is a concern for Japanese PWB manufacturers. Volumes shipped during March did not decrease much when compared to February, or when compared to the same period one year prior. Shipping volumes have been nearly the same, but less money is being made, signaling a substantial drop in average selling price (ASP).
This decrease in margins can be attributed to a two things. The first, increases in raw material costs and, second, manufacturers are reducing prices to maintain rate of production.
Percent revenue changes by category
The break-down of revenues by product category are follows:
Multi-layer, PWBs were the only segment posting positive growth (+7.2%) compared to the same period one year ago.
Segments posting negative growth rates include:
- Double-side, rigid, PWBs (-7.9%)
- Four-layer rigid, PWBs (-10.2%)
- Six- to eight-layer rigid, PWBs (-16.6%)
- Single-sided, flexible circuits (-22.6%)
- Double-sided, flexible circuits (-11.7%)
- Rigid module circuits (-18.8%)
Since volumes did not drop significantly for some of the above categories (with some even posting volume increases), this signals a drop in ASPs over the last few months.