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July 21 (Reuters) - North American manufacturers of equipment used to make semiconductors reported $323.4 million in orders in June, up 12 percent from the previous month, reflecting a gradual recovery in demand for products such as mobiles and personal computers.
The book-to-bill ratio was 0.77 in June, meaning that $77 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product shipped, Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International said in a preliminary report.
The ratio is watched as an indicator of the demand pipeline for the industry, as well as for hints about chip capacity and whether the $300 billion semiconductor sector could be headed for a glut.
June billings were $419.6 million, just over 7 percent up from May and about 72 percent less than a year ago.
"We are seeing improvement to the book to bill ratio due to slight growth in bookings," SEMI Chief Executive Stanley Myers said in a statement.
"However for the equipment manufacturers, the market remains extremely difficult as customers are not yet at a point where additional capacity investments are needed," he added.
U.S. chip equipment makers include Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O), the world's biggest, testing tools firm KLA Tencor Corp (KLAC.O), circuitry-etching tools company Lam Research Corp (LRCX.O) and Novellus Systems Inc (NVLS.O), which specializes in preparing the surface of a silicon wafer before circuits are laid down.
The SEMI book-to-bill is a ratio of three-month moving averages of worldwide bookings and billings for North America-based chip-equipment makers.
The data contained in the report was compiled by David Powell Inc, an independent financial services firm, without audit, from data submitted directly by the participants.
Billings Bookings Book-to-Bill
(Three-month avg) (Three-month avg) Jan 2009
584.2 277.2 0.47 Feb 2009 525.5 258.4 0.49 March 2009 438.3
245.6 0.56 April 2009 385.7 249.0 0.65 May 2009 (final) 392.6 287.8
0.73 June 2009 (prelim.) 419.6 323.4 0.77 *Source: SEMI July 2009
Billings and bookings figures in millions of U.S. dollars (Reporting by Ashutosh Joshi in Bangalore; Editing by Deepak Kannan)