GEORGE TOWN: Vitrox Corp Bhd expects to close its first quarter ending March 31 with strong double-digit growth in sales, compared with the previous corresponding quarter.
Group chief executive officer Chu Jenn Weng (pic) said the strong orders were for the group’s three-dimensional advanced X-ray inspection (AXI) equipment, advanced optical inspection (AOI) equipment, vision system modules, and tray vision inspection handlers.
“We have so far delivered 50% of the orders to multinational corporations in Malaysia, the United States, Mexico and Taiwan. The test equipment market has improved,” he told StarBiz.
According to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), the book-to-bill ratio for January 2014 was 1.04, compared with 1.02 previously.
North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted US$1.28bil in orders worldwide in January 2014 (three-month average basis), compared with a worldwide billing of US$968mil recorded for January 2013, the SEMI report said.
A book-to-bill ratio of above one indicates more orders being received than filled, showing a strong market where demand outpaces supply. A book-to-bill ratio of below one indicates weaker demand.
In December 2013, SEMI projected that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment would contract 13.3% to US$32bil for 2013.
In 2014, all regions are expected to have strong positive growth, resulting in a global increase of 23.2% in sales. The sales growth for 2015 is expected to continue, increasing 2.4% in Japan, Europe, South Korea and China.
Chu is hoping to cash in on the improved industry outlook.
He said the group would release the new three-dimensional advanced X-ray inspection equipment soon for the global market.
“We will be exhibiting the equipment in the forthcoming IPC Apex 2014 electronics fair, one of the world’s largest electronics event, in Las Vegas from March 25 to 27.
“The three-dimensional AOI equipment is able to check more types of defects on the solder joints of printed circuit board assembly products,” he said, adding that the group would increase this year its headcount of engineers and other high-skilled employees by 20% of the present 250 workforce.
“We will also be able to utilise 70% of the 80,000 production floor space in the second quarter 2014, compared with the current utilisation of 50%.”
He said the group would spend about 15% of its revenue for designing, development activities and also for hiring.
On mergers and acquisitions, Chu said the group was in talks with local and foreign electronic companies that could add value to Vitrox’s core business and expand its customer base.
“So far all the talks are in the preliminary stages,” he added.