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Sales slide at Lambda Physik

25 Jul 2003

Revenues plummet 32% year-on-year and the ultraviolet laser specialist expects little improvement for the rest of this year.

Lambda Physik, the Germany-based manufacturer of pulsed excimer and solid-state lasers, has seen its revenues slide after another disappointing quarter.

Sales for the company’s third quarter were just EUR 14.3 million, a 32% drop on last year’s already disappointing figure. That puts total revenues for this fiscal year at EUR 61.5 million, 15% lower than last year.

Despite cost-cutting measures, Lambda Physik has made a loss of EUR 2.6 million so far this year. Not surprisingly, the company is cautious about its prospects for the remainder of the year, with full-year revenues now expected to come in at EUR 75-80 million.

Dirk Basting, the president of Lambda Physik, told Optics.org that he had seen a “massive deterioration” in business compared with what the company had predicted this time last year.

On top of the general economic weakness, Lambda Physik has been particularly affected by problems in Asia, where liquid crystal display manufacturers in the Far East accounted for the largest single portion of the company’s excimer laser sales last year.

With first the SARS epidemic and now a wave of caution across the displays industry, this year has been a different story so far.

“The number of [laser] machines needed by the displays market was overestimated,” admitted Basting. He added that although manufacturers were happy with the yields produced using Lambda Physik’s excimer lasers, the next ‘wave’ of investment from these companies had been delayed while the displays industry assesses a new technological process that could be used to make organic LED screens.

One of the company’s key customers – Japan Steelworks – is being particularly cautious and is unwilling to take any risks with orders, Basting said.

The new process takes advantage of the company’s new Lambda Steel 2000 laser, a 308 nm excimer source with a very high output power. Despite already receiving some orders for the new technology, Basting says that it will be next year before any major impact on revenues is seen.

On a more positive note, Basting says that lithography sales are up 40% on the prior year at EUR 23.1 million so far this year. However, the decline in industrial markets far outweighed this improvement.

Michael Hatcher is technology editor of Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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