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The year 2014 was a bumper year for most PCB companies, with the total output value of the entire PCB industry reaching $12.5 billion, up by 10.5% from the previous year. This year, the prices of bulk commodities, particularly copper prices, plummeted—greatly reducing the raw material costs for PCB companies and thereby helping raise their profitability. This, according to a report titled "Global and China FPCB Industry Report, 2014-2015" by market analyst Research In China.
However, one factor greatly affecting the industry is the currency exchange. In 2014, the euro, the NTD (New Taiwan Dollar) and the yen significantly devalued, while the South Korean won appreciated—which not only hit a serious blow to the competitiveness of South Korean FPCB enterprises, but slashed the profits of South Korean PCB enterprises. Revenues and profit margins of all South Korean PCB companies declined; for example, Flexcom's sales slumped by more than 50%, and the giant Interflex's revenue dropped 33% and its operating margin was -14.2%--this reflects the power of the currency war, according to the report.
Benefiting from the currency depreciation, Taiwanese and European companies, meanwhile, witnessed soaring profit margins. Although more than half of Japanese companies did not benefit from the depreciation of the yen because they set up production bases overseas, they still fared better than their South Korean counterparts.
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Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
This week has been both speedy and newsy. Of course, those two characteristics often seem to travel as a pair, don’t they? A four-day week here in the United States, accompanied by a wave of high-impact news from a wide variety of sources, would suggest that readers could be expected to spread out all over the news map. Not so much, judging from readership numbers; folks all found their highest value in the same type of news coverage. This week's list of must-reads is dominated by market reports as a result of that focused readership. On our list, we have PCB fabrication and EMS book-to-bill reports, a 10-year market forecast report, and a supply chain sentiment report. In addition, readers flocked to the EWPTE show coverage. Finally, we saw significant reader interest in the most recent podcast on sustainability in our logistical operations.
Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
This week, our must-reads include reporting on the new PCB support legislation, now submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives; financial results from two Tier 1 manufacturers, which readers read quite thoroughly; ESG in Asia Pacific; new features from Altium; global sourcing; and a “How I got here” interview with an up and coming industry expert.
This last weekend, industry guru and dear friend to many, Martin Cotton passed away. He was one of the first people I worked with in the electronics industry when I joined Toptec Design to learn to layout PCBs. He was a bit of a rock star to many PCB designers, myself included. He was known to be among the best in his field, if not the best, and went on to be one of the most influential and innovative people in the industry over a long and distinguished career. He will be hugely missed by his family and by his numerous friends in and out of the electronics industry.