One of the big talking points with passive components at the moment (OK, so I need a life) is growing lead times. According to Dennis Zogbi of the Paumanok Group, lead times on average grew by 2.1% to 16.3 weeks in August (capacitors, inductors and resistors). Compared to the previous month when it grew by 6.9%, it might be a sign that manufacturers are starting to come to terms with demand. It will be interesting to see next month's figures.
This is not the whole story though; film and tantalum capacitors have far greater lead times than the overall average - 22 and 34 weeks respectively. This has come about for different reasons. AVX withdrew from the film cap business which has added to the strain on the other manufacturers to meet the shortfall as demand grows after the recession. I spoke to one major supplier who told me their lead time for film caps is 54 weeks. A lot can happen in 54 weeks.
In the area of the tantalum capacitor, the problem came about because Talison, one of the worlds biggest miners of Tantalite closed its Austrailian mines, complaining that the prices were too low for them to make a decent profit. This has led to a shortage of the raw material. It is hard to see how this shortage can be turned around unless Talison re-opens these mines. They have made a statement that they will not re-open their mines in Australia unless certain criteria are met regardings pricing and the establishment of long term contractual agreements with customers.
Now the interesting question for me is, Could I have made myself some nice dosh if I had I had invested some money in stock in these products?