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JDSU boosted by laser demand

31 Jan 2013

Commercial lasers division registers 20% year-on-year uptick in sales; expects network spending increase in the spring.

Diversified photonic product manufacturer JDSU has reported increased overall sales in the second quarter of its fiscal year 2013, thanks partly to demand for its high-power lasers.

For the three months that ended December 29, the Californian company posted revenues of $429.4 million, up 2% sequentially and nearly 5% compared with the equivalent period in the prior year.

But it appeared to be JDSU's upbeat assessment of market developments over the coming months that propelled the company's stock up by more than 20% in early trading on January 31, after the results were announced.

Test and measurement equipment for optical and RF networks accounted for nearly half of that total, at $195.4 million, with optical products used in communications totalling $155.6 million.

And while sales of commercial lasers fell sequentially, they were up by one-fifth on the prior year, at $30.2 million. Other optics-based products used in applications including security accounted for $48.2 million.

Fiber laser sales up
CEO Tom Waechter noted that, within the commercial lasers division, sales of kilowatt-scale fiber lasers increased slightly, to reach $7 million. The company is working closely with its Japanese partner Amada to develop industrial machining tools based on JDSU's high-power fiber laser sources.

While demand for conventional solid-state lasers has declined, customer trials with the company’s new high-power "Q-Series" of Q-switched pulsed ultraviolet and green lasers for semiconductor manufacturing applications are ongoing. The Nd:YAG sources are designed for applications in wafer scribing and via drilling, and said to deliver the "highest commercially available pulse energy and peak power".

JDSU has also now signed up a fourth customer for its optics-based gesture recognition technology, and a manufacturing ramp to meet demand for a new gaming application is set to begin shortly.

“We have multiple development projects with customers underway,” Waechter said. “We expect to ramp volume production on a next-gen gaming platform application this spring.”

Network upgrades
The company is also anticipating a significant rise in spending by network operators before the summer, something that ought to translate to improved sales in JDSU’s June quarter. Waechter declared JDSU as “very bullish” on that front, adding that there was a pent-up demand among operators looking to upgrade network capacities.

“We're hearing it from multiple sources,” the CEO told an investor call to discuss the latest results. “We have seen a number of the network operators around the world publicly talk about increased spending based on deployment, especially around wireless and backhaul.”

JDSU posted a pre-tax income figure of $7.4 million for the December quarter, swinging from a loss of $4.7 million a year ago. While the anticipated investment in networks around the world will have little impact on the current period, by the end of the company’s current fiscal year in June, the boost to sales should have become apparent.

BRD Optical Co., LtdDiffraction InternationalSensofar MetrologyEdmund OpticsPhotonTec Berlin GmbHAVANTES BVSpectrum Scientific Inc. -  SSI Optics
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