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December 2015

Unimicron Technology’s Board of Directors has approved plans to budget $152.9 million in capital expenditures (capex) for 2016. Its capex exceeded $300 million in 2013 and 2014, and is expected to total $300 million this year, too. The PWB and IC substrate maker reported net profits of $4+ million for the third quarter of 2015, ending a run of three losing quarters in a row. Unimicron is reported to be one of the any-layer HDI board suppliers for Apple’s next generation of iPhone.

Unitech president Hsu Cheng-hung stated that any-layer PCB demand for auto and IoT applications will rise in 2016. This will help offset declining demand for smartphone circuits. He stated that the company will expand its production capacity for any-layer PCBs by 10% at its Yilan site during the next quarter. Any-layer PCBs account for 25% of Unitech's total revenues and HDI boards account for 40%. Unitech’s capex will exceed $45 million in 2016.

A fire broke out at Tripod Technology's Taoyuan facility on December 21. The facility is dedicated to the manufacture of PCBs for optoelectronic, notebook and memory module applications. It is not expected to impact any of Tripod's shipments or schedules, according to a report in DigiTimes. The Taoyuan facility accounts for just 3% of Tripod's overall production capacity. The company's other facilities will make up for the production shortfall caused by the fire.

According to IPC's 2015 Analysis and Forecast for the North American PCB Industry, the North American PCB market is expected to improve in 2015 and grow modestly through 2017 following declining sales for the past four years. The drop to 5% of the world’s production, primarily in rigid boards, was not offset by strong increases in flexible circuit demand of the past three years.

The final passage of legislation in the U.S. to permanently extend the R&D tax credit will benefit the chip and board business in America providing continued incentive for innovation "at home.” It should greatly benefit the semiconductor industry, which spends about 20% for its revenue for R&D.

The global automotive PCB market size grew approximately 6.5% this year, to more than $5.2 billion. 

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