Second Quarter 2015 Growth Estimates by Sector of Global Electronic Supply Chain

Enough companies have now reported their 2Q’15 financials to allow a preliminary estimate of 2Q’15 vs.2Q’14 growth by sector of the world electronics supply chain. Based on partial data:

  • Electronic equipment shipments declined 1.6% in the second quarter versus the same period in 2014 (Chart 1). Negative impacts from multiple causes (see below) stifled growth.
  • Since this -1.6% “growth” was calculated at fluctuating exchange rates the strengthening US$ caused European and Asian local currency sales values to be degraded when converted to dollars. This currency exchange rate impact is significant as the US$ was 12% stronger in 2Q’15 vs. 2Q’14 (Chart 2).
  • Growth in the consumer-driven volume end markets has stalled (Chart 3). First personal computer sales were hurt by media tablets but now media tablets are struggling. A lack of compelling new tablet features and competition from larger screen “phablet” smartphones has caused a decline in media tablet sales. And as the smartphone market has begun to saturate and the Asian economies are struggling smartphone growth has slowed significantly.
  • Chart 4 shows our initial estimate of growth by sector. In the first quarter strong smartphone sales drove a 30% growth in communication equipment. This dropped to +15% in the second quarter – not enough to offset declines in the many “negative growth” electronic equipment categories.

With this background Chart 5 shows the historical growth of electronic equipment by type and Chart 6 gives quarterly electronic equipment sales growth since 2001.

Chart 7 shows the electronic equipment business cycle on both an annualized (12/12) and 3-mont (3/12) growth basis. Under these current weak global economic conditions and without high volume growth drivers, the near future outlook appears to be for only modest electronics growth at best.

As a caution these second quarter growth estimates are based on still incomplete data and it is VERY likely that the values in Chart 3 will change as more companies report their 2Q’15 financial results.

Source: Company financials with Custer Consulting Group analysis

Large North American EMS Companies’ 2Q’15 Results (Chart 8)

The combined revenues of six large North American based EMS companies declined 4.2% in 2Q’15 versus 2Q’14 and their aggregate net income dropped 42% On the brighter side their combined guidance is for 6.3% sequential growth in 3Q’15 versus 2Q’15.

Source: Company financials with Custer Consulting Group analysis

June Domestic Electronics Shipments and Orders

Based on the June “Durable Goods” report:

  • U.S. made electronic equipment’s book/bill remained positive at 1.03 but declined sequentially (Chart 9).
  • Electronic equipment order and shipment 3-month growth rates declined to near “zero growth” territory (Chart 10).
  • For June alone electronic equipment orders and shipments improved slightly (Chart 11).
  • Defense capital goods orders declined (Chart 12).
  • Aircraft sales held steady (Chart 13).
  • Communication (Chart 14) and computer equipment (Chart 15) demand was flat.


North American PCB Shipments up 4.0% y/y and PCB Bookings grew 13.7% y/y in June 2015; Book/bill strengthened to 1.06 (Charts 16-18)

Total North American PCB shipments increased 4.0% in June 2015 from June 2014, improving year-to-date shipment growth to -0.8%. Compared to the previous month, PCB shipments were up 18.7%.

PCB bookings grew 13.7% compared to June 2014, increasing year-to-date order growth to 3.6%. Orders were up 32.5% in June compared to the previous month.

"North American PCB sales exceeded last year's level in June for the first time this year, and order growth was the strongest it has been in eight months," said Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research. "Strong orders have kept the book-to-bill ratio in positive territory for the past nine months," she added, "which is a good indicator of sales growth in the second half of this year."


Worldwide Tablet Market Continues to Decline; Vendor Landscape is Evolving (Charts 19 & 20)

The worldwide tablet market declined 7.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2Q’15 with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from IDC. Marked by little hardware innovation and limited vendor portfolio updates, the market also declined 3.9% compared to the first quarter of 2015.

"Beyond the decline, we're seeing a profound shift in the vendor landscape as the top two vendors, Apple and Samsung, lose share in the overall market," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. "In the first quarter of the year, Apple and Samsung accounted for 45% of the market and this quarter, with the growth of vendors like LG, Huawei, and E FUN, their combined share dropped to 41%. Each of the growing vendors managed to address available pockets of growth in the market; connected tablets for LG and Huawei, larger tablets and 2-in-1s in the right price bands for E FUN. This trend is also something we see on a wider scale with the top five vendors accounting for 54% of the market, down from 58% last quarter. It is worth mentioning that Huawei enters the top five ranking for the first time, while E FUN has re-entered the top 10 after more than a year, further indicating that the vendor landscape is indeed evolving."

"Longer life cycles, increased competition from other categories such as larger smartphones, combined with the fact that end users can install the latest operating systems on their older tablets has stifled the initial enthusiasm for these devices in the consumer market," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "But with newer form factors like 2-in-1s, and added productivity-enabling features like those highlighted in iOS9, vendors should be able to bring new vitality to a market that has lost its momentum."


China Handset Production decreased 4.5% y/y to 762 million units in 1H’15; PC production fell 11.7% y/y to 145 million, Notebooks dropped 8.6% to 90 million

China-based makers produced 761.788 million handsets in total during the first half of 2015, decreasing 4.5% on year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

China-based makers produced 70.582 million color TVs in the period, increasing 2.7% on year, and 66.141 million units of the output were LCD models, growing 2.1%.

The first-half 2015 output of 145.031 million PCs slipped 11.7% on year, including 89.745 million notebooks which dropped 8.6%. They made 9.663 million digital cameras during the period, down 20.2%, said MIIT.


U.S. Economy Expanded 2.3% in 2nd Quarter (Chart 21)

U.S. economic growth accelerated in the second quarter as solid consumer spending offset the drag from weak business spending on equipment, suggesting a steady momentum that could bring the Federal Reserve closer to hiking interest rates this year.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.3% annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. First-quarter GDP, previously reported to have shrunk at a 0.2% pace, was revised up to show it rising at a 0.6% rate.

The revision to first-quarter growth reflected steps taken by the government to refine the seasonal adjustment for some components of GDP, which economists said left residual seasonality in the data, as well as new source data.



Walt D. Custer

Walt Custer

Walt Custer is an industry analyst focused on the global electronics industry. Prior to forming Custer Consulting Group he was Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Morton Electronic Materials, a global supplier of specialty chemicals and process equipment for the PCB industry.

Custer has been a member of the IPC trade organization since 1975 where he received both the President's and the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Awards. He is currently a member of the IPC Executive Market & Technology Steering Committee. Custer is also a Director of the EIPC European PCB trade organization.

He authors regular “Market Outlook” columns for Global SMT & Packaging magazine, the Journal of the HKPCA and the TTI MarketEYE website.

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