By Walt Custer, Custer Consulting Group
2017 finished on an upturn – both in the USA and globally. Based on consolidated fourth-quarter actual and estimated revenues of 213 large, global electronic manufactures, sales rose in excess of 7 percent in 4Q’17 vs. 4Q’16 (Chart 1). This was the highest global electronic equipment sales growth rate since the third quarter of 2011. Because some companies in our sample didn’t close their financial quarter until the end of January, final results will take a few more weeks – but all evidence points to a very strong fourth quarter of last year.
Using regional (country specific) data (Chart 2), the normal, consumer electronics driven seasonal downturn began again in January. However the recent year-over-year growth is still substantial. On a total electronic equipment revenue basis, January 2018 was up almost 19.5 percent over January 2017.
Because this regional data in local currencies was converted to U.S. dollars at fluctuating exchange, the dollar denominated-growth was amplified by currency exchange effects. At constant exchange the January growth was only 14 percent. That is, when the stronger non-U.S. currencies were converted to weakening dollars, the dollar-denominated January 2018 fluctuating exchange growth was amplified by 5.5 percent.
Chart 3 shows 4Q’17/4Q’16 growth of the domestic electronic supply chain. U.S. electronic equipment shipments were up 9.1 percent. Only computer equipment and non-defense aircraft sales declined in the fourth quarter. And of note, SEMI equipment shipments to North America rose almost 31 percent!
Chart 4 shows estimated fourth-quarter growth for the world electronic supply chain. Only “Business & Office” equipment revenues declined in 4Q’17 vs. 4Q’16.
Total global electronic equipment sales increased more than 7 percent in the fourth quarter and SEMI equipment revenues rose 32 percent.
2017 was a strong year and 2018 is off to a good start! The 2017 lofty growth rates will temper, but this current expansion will likely continue. Watch the monthly numbers!