Public Data

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to receive a note from IPC indicating a change to its data collection methods.

In an announcement touting its new market research subscription series, IPC said it would use aggregate company data along with “carefully vetted secondary research.”

That sounded like IPC would now use data from the publicly traded EMS companies to help flesh out numbers its participating members report. A quick inquiry to IPC director of market research Sharon Starr confirmed as much.

“The growth rates reported each month will be based on IPC’s survey sample, but we will be looking at published data from the publicly traded EMS companies as a cross-check and may also use this data in our market-size calculations. If growth rates from the publicly-traded companies differ significantly from what our survey participants are telling us, we will address that in the reports,” Sharon told me.

This represents a departure from the past 20 years, where IPC would rely only on the data directly reported by survey participants. For years, report after report showing various manufacturers’ monthly sales numbers would arrive on an unsecure fax machine in the IPC office. Eventually, that fax was moved to someone’s office, but there was little in the way of confidentiality offered, and even if the the reporting company used a unique code, its name on the top of the fax always gave it away. As companies went public and disclosures became more scrutinized, there was a real disincentive for manufacturers to submit monthly data. Over the years, this trend undermined the usefulness of the IPC data: if larger companies weren’t reporting, were the figures as published truly representative?

Parsing the publicly traded firm’s quarterly numbers will go a long way toward ensuring that the data reflect the macro industry trends.

 

One-Stop Shop

If you are looking for a snapshot of the latest (or historical) market statistics, we’ve begun compiling all the data from a host of sources in one place on the PCD&F website.

Among the data we are posting include book-to-bills and sales and orders of:

  • EDA software
  • Semiconductors
  • Passive components
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Key end-markets such as PCs, servers, mobile devices, etc.
  • Wafer utilization.

Sources include EDAC, SIA, SEMI, Gartner, IDC, IPC, ZVEI and other research firms and associations. Check it out!

One-Stop Shop

If you are looking for a snapshot of the latest (or historical) market statistics, we’ve begun compiling all the data from a host of sources in one place on the CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY website.

Among the data we are posting include book-to-bills and sales and orders of:

  • Semiconductors
  • Passive components
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Key end-markets such as PCs, servers, mobile devices, etc.
  • Wafer utilization.

Sources include SIA, SEMI, Gartner, IDC, IPC, ZVEI and other research firms and associations. Check it out!

The Street Loves Chips

Some good news from TheStreet.com today, and it’s based not on recent activity but on data from 2008.

Semiconductor equipment sales will grow 20% in 2010 and 49% in 2011, the financial news site forecast today, citing (several times!) “proprietary leading indicators.”

In doing so, the site acknowledged recent announcements of sequential gains by semi gear makers. More interesting, however, was its reliance on data from three quarters ago, which show “turning points in semiconductor equipment sales.”

“Both our long and short indicators turned up in late 2008, pointing to a business recovery cycle and giving visibility that the days of the recession are numbered,” analyst Robert Castellano wrote.

Since chip sales are a leading indicator for electronics assembly, that’s certainly good to hear.

Relisted

Research firm iSuppli’s Top 10 Global EMS firms list, which came out today, differs in several respects from Circuits Assembly’s findings.

Why? It may be that the iSuppli data for Foxconn take into account non-EMS related sales (the company also produces bare boards and connectors, among other things). Even so, Foxconn itself last week reported 2008 revenues of $42.3 billion.

iSuppli also excludes Cal-Comp Electronics/Kinpo Electronics from its list, despite that company’s contract manufacturing revenues of $3.2 billion last year, which would place it seventh overall.

Finally, iSuppli includes Universal Scientific in its ranking, although the Taiwanese company reports EMS sales of just $490 million in 2008.

top-10-ems-206-2012_1

iSuppli Ups the Ante

iSuppli is on to something, and it’s about time.

The research firm today distributed its estimates for the smartphone market in 2009. But instead of forecasting a single number, the company provided a range based on the best- (new options compel new purchases) and worst-case (customers sit on their wallets) scenarios.

This is a much wiser, useful way to approach forecasting. Whereas some may call it a copout — by providing a range, iSuppli gives itself a greater chance of being “right” — I see it as a long overdue move into what is standard practice elsewhere. Indeed, providing a range is a method many researchers in other fields use to describe what might actually happen.

The next step would be to offer probabilities for the different scenarios; in other words, 50% of the time, sales will be up by X%; 75% of the time, sales will be up by Y%, and so on. But I’ll settle for other research firms picking up on what iSuppli has started. Kudos!