Japan's book-to-bill ratio for chipmaking equipment scrapped
Investors lose key indicator for industry as Tokyo Electron withholds data
TOKYO -- A Japanese industry group will stop publishing the book-to-bill ratio for chipmaking equipment in the country, a key indicator for the sector on which many stock traders had relied.
The Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan calculated the ratio based on a three-month average of orders received and sales billed in the industry. The April ratio was due out Monday, but the group will publish only sales figures from now on.
Tokyo Electron, Japan's leading manufacturer of chipmaking equipment, decided to stop releasing the total value of orders it received starting with the April-June quarter. The association concluded that without this information, its ratio would not accurately reflect the industry.
Fellow trade group Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International also ceased publishing the book-to-bill ratio for North America after certain companies stopped reporting their orders. The group now posts only sales.
By keeping its orders private, Tokyo Electron aims to prevent short-term speculation in its stock and foster a longer-term dialogue with investors. But "without the BB ratio, which was an important tool for reading the chipmaking equipment industry, we could see greater fluctuation in stock prices," said Masayuki Kubota of Rakuten Securities Economic Research Institute.