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Laser sales struggle in tough market

08 Nov 2002

Laser makers Coherent and Lambda Physik both post a fall in annual sales and face more tough times in 2003.

Difficult market conditions in the semiconductor and telecom industries have taken their toll on the annual sales of laser giants Coherent and Lambda Physik. Both companies posted falling sales for 2002 and, despite now seeing the results of their respective cost-cutting and restructuring programs, the outlook for 2003 is uncertain.

Coherent's sales for fiscal 2002 were USD 397.3 million, down 17% compared to USD 477.9 million for the previous year. The company's bottom line also took a battering. For 2002, Coherent posted a net loss of USD 68.9 million compared to a net income of USD 100 million for fiscal 2001.

"I am extremely pleased to report these financial results considering the challenging global economic climate encountered by Coherent and its customers during the past year," said John Ambroseo, Coherent's president and CEO.

In 2002, Coherent was hit hard by charges incurred from exiting the telecoms market and writing down the value of its shares in the medical laser maker Lumenis. Initially Coherent's 5.5 million shares in Lumenis were valued at USD 124.4 million but this plunged to USD 20.2 million leaving Coherent with impairment charges of USD 104.2 million.

Lambda Physik, the Germany-based excimer laser specialist, has filed annual sales for fiscal 2002 of EURO 98.5 million narrowly missing its sales target of EURO 100 million. Compared with last year's record-breaking sales of EURO 138 million, this represents a fall of 29%. The company says continued economic decline in several key areas of its business is to blame.

Lithography sales fell 51% year-on-year to reach EURO 25 million. Scientific and medical applications also recorded a decrease in sales of 34% from EURO 30 million to EURO 19.8 million. Industrial applications, which includes the use of excimer lasers in making flat-panel displays, saw the smallest decline of 7% falling from EURO 57.5 million to EURO 53.8 million.

Lambda says it is now starting to reap the rewards of its cost-cutting program and operating expenses have been reduced by 18%. The bottom line for the company is a net loss of EURO 1.3 million compared with last year's net income of EUR 1.6 million.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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