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50 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2019 First-quarter 2019 results from IPC's "Pulse of the Electronics Industry" global data service shows an electronics industry that is still riding the crest of the current growth cycle despite cooling enthusiasm in some regions and indus- try segments. The 167 participating companies worldwide reported an average quarterly sales growth of 8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Their average forecast for first-quarter 2019 sales growth was a bullish 9.8% worldwide. The industry's outlook on the current direc- tion of the business environment worldwide rebounded in the first quarter of 2019 after scores edged downward in the last three quar- ters of 2018, although they remained positive all year. Most participating companies report- ed the current direction for sales, orders, order IPC Pulse Survey Shows Positive Industry Outlook Continues but Varies by Region backlogs, and profit margins as moving in a positive direction. Increasing labor and mate- rials costs and recruiting challenges were the main factors negatively affecting the current- state score. The companies' outlook for the next six months also strengthened in the first quarter of 2019. Growth in sales, production, number of full-time employees, markets, capital invest- ment, and exports contributed to the strong six-month outlook. The 12-month business outlook also strengthened in the first quarter, with 88% of responding companies indicating a positive outlook (Figure 1). The strong current-state outlook was driven by results from companies in the Americas and global businesses. The current state score was sharply negative in the Asia Pacific region and mildly negative in Europe. Strength in sales and orders were the main positive drivers of the current-state scores, but these factors were neutral for Asia in the first quarter. In all regions, recruiting dif- ficulties and rising labor and material costs continued to affect these scores negative- ly. All regions gave positive scores on the expected direc- tion of the industry in the next six months, but those of companies in the Ameri- One World, One Industry by Dr. John Mitchell, IPC—ASSOCIATION CONNECTING ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES Figure 1.

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