North American makers of semiconductor equipment saw a 23% improvement in billings in November, compared to the same month in 2019, according to a three-month moving average reported by trade group SEMI.
November total billings for the region reached $2.61 billion, slightly less than the October level of $2.65 billion but above the $2.1 billion of November 2019.
SEMI CEO Ajit Manocha said billings have remained “robust” but noted that November is tapering off after record highs were reached earlier in the fall. For example, September reached $2.74 billion, up 40% over the same month in 2019.
Despite the November results, SEMI recently forecast that North American manufacturers of chipmaking equipment will see a decline in sales over the next two years while all other regions in the world see increases.
Earlier in the week, SEMI forecast North America equipment sales for all of 2022 will reach $6 billion in 2022, down from $8.1 billion in 2019. The trade group also said sales for the region will hit $6.1 billion in both 2020 and 2021.
Taiwan and China are typically the biggest spenders on chip manufacturing equipment, but Korea will take the top spot in 2022, SEMI said.
The situation in North America is complicated, as the U.S. has seen a 50% reduction in chip production over the past two decades. The biggest spender on chip manufacturing equipment in the U.S. is Intel, which spreads its production equipment across fabs in the U.S. as well as Israel and Ireland.
While some companies abroad could open chip fabrication facilities in the U.S., they won’t contribute to equipment investment until 2023, said Clark Tseng, director of industry research at SEMI. The industry has been following possible or expected fab openings in the U.S. by Samsung of North Korea and TSMC of Taiwan as well as GlobalFoundries, which is based in the U.S.
SEMI along with the Semiconductor Industry Association and others have backed the CHIPS Act before Congress which includes a provision for an investment tax credit for chip fabrication facilities in the U.S. SEMI has also favored adoption of the National Defense Authorization Act with new electronics research provisions. President Trump has threatened to veto the $740 billion NDAA, but there are sufficient votes in both the House and Senate for an override.