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Business briefs

31 Jan 2003

Including news from Coherent, Lambda-Physik, Newport, Three-Five Systems and ZBD Displays.

•   Coherent, US, made a loss of USD 20.5 million in its first quarter of fiscal year 2003. However, this was largely due to USD 30.4 million in restructuring and other charges, which included USD 16.4 million from its termination of telecoms activities and USD 10.2 million from write-down of Lumenis shares. Excluding these charges, operating income stood at USD 3 million. At USD 102 million, total sales were 4% down on the previous quarter, but up 5% on the same period last year.

•   Meanwhile Coherent's German part-subsidiary Lambda Physik clawed its way back to profit with earnings of EUR 0.3 million in its first quarter. Total sales were EUR 24.1 million, down 7% on the previous year's figure. Possibly the best news for the company was that sales in the lithography segment leapt 76% to EUR 7.2 million after its shipment of 193 nm and 157 nm systems to stepper/scanner manufacturers. Somewhat worryingly, bookings were down 16% on the same period last year.

•   Newport, US, continues to feel the burn from fiber-optic communications and semiconductor markets that are still in decline. Its revenues dropped to USD 32.4 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002, down around 25% on both the previous quarter and the correspondng period last year. The result was a USD 4.3 million loss. For fiscal year 2002, Newport reported sales of USD 164 million, down from USD 290 million in fiscal 2001, and a USD 71 million net loss.

•   Microdisplays manufacturer Three-Five Systems, US, recorded a USD 2.6 million loss in its fourth quarter results and a USD 17 million loss for the full year. The good news is that the company is predicting better things for 2003, estimating revenues of USD 140-160 million compared with this year's figure of just USD 88 million.

•   ZBD Displays, the UK-based spin-out from Qinetiq, has signed an agreement with Hong Kong's Varitronix that should see commercial products introduced later this year. The two companies will collaborate on development with a view to incorporating ZBD's technology in Varitronix's existing products. Unlike standard liquid crystal screens, ZBD's zenithal bistable displays allow images to be indefinitely maintained without any power consumption. This should enable manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of products and substantially extend battery life.

Author
Michael Hatcher is technology editor of Opto and Laser Europe magazine.

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