Aug 18 (Reuters) - North American manufacturers of equipment used to make semiconductors reported $569.7 million in orders in July, up 62 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 1.06 in July, meaning that $106 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.
July billings were $538.0 million, just over 22 percent up from June, and about 50 percent less than a year ago.
"The increases in both bookings and billings reported by North American equipment manufacturers boosted the book-to-bill ratio above parity for the first time since January, 2007," SEMI Chief Executive Stanley Myers said in a statement.
"Even with that improvement, however, bookings remain significantly below year-ago figures," 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 392.6 287.8 0.73 June 2009(final) 440.5 351.7 0.80 July 2009(prelim)538.0 569.7 1.06
*Source: SEMI August 2009
Billings and bookings figures in millions of U.S. dollars (Reporting by Bijoy Koyitty in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)