The German components distribution sector again achieved disproportionate growth, this time in the fourth quarter of 2021. Driven by the ongoing shortage of components, sales rose by 48.6 percent to 939 million euros. The extent to which the shortage is increasing the pressure on the industry can be seen in the growth of new orders booked. A 103% rise to €1.55 billion from October to December 2021 brings the total order book for 2021 to a staggering €5.7 billion. The book-to-bill ratio in Q4 remained at a record level of 1.65, and for semiconductors it was as high as 1.8. Full-year 2021 sales were almost 20% above 2020 level at €3.41 billion.
In terms of products, the rather “subdued” upturn in semiconductors was balanced out again in the 4th quarter; semis grew by almost 52% to 628 million Euros and thus again accounted for almost 67% of the total market volume. There was disproportionate growth in orders received, to a new record of 1.13 billion Euros. In Q4, passives increased by 49% to 115 million Euros (just under 13% of the total components market), electromechanics by 38% to 121 million (just under 14% of the market), power supplies by roughly 42% to 35 million Euros (4%), the remainder of components, assemblies and systems also totaled 4% of the market.
FBDi CEO Georg Steinberger: “As already predicted, 2021 ended with a plus of around 20% in sales, but an increase of 100% in orders. Such an increase is not only unique in the almost 20-year history of the FBDi – it is also frightening, because such an order backlog or whatever you want to call it, seems completely unrealistic, because neither was there a comparable downturn in 2020, nor is the German industry preparing to double its business this year. We assume that customers’ demand planning extends far into the future and that a hedge has been put in place against future shortages that hopefully will not vanish into thin air at the first sign of easing.”
In the longer term, Steinberger sees considerable growth opportunities: “For some years now, we have been talking about a large number of applications that have the potential to become mass markets, but are slow to arrive there (IoT, 5G, etc.). The growth backlog in many European countries for the sustainable renewal of infrastructures and the realization of an environmentally friendly future gives hope for our industry; the trillion-sensor society needs a lot of microelectronics. But this also requires other ingredients, namely innovations on the research and business side that are more radical than before and that continue to see Europe or Germany as exporters of innovation and not as its mere consumers. Given the lead that China in particular has gained in some areas, we see considerable catching up to do on our side here.”