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Business briefs

23 Nov 2006

Including news from Spire, Lightwave Advisors, Display Search, Research & Markets, Prysmian, Nortel, Stratos Lightwave, Shaefer, Avago, Osram OS, LightPointe, Quintessence Photonics and others.

Financial results

Spire this week reported revenues of $5.8 million for its Q3 ended September 2006, an increase of 29% compared to 2005. Net loss was $1.9 million (-$1.4 million in Q3 2005). Revenues for the nine months ended September, 2006, were $15 million, a decrease of 6% compared to the same period in 2005. Spire also reported a gain of $6.3 million on the sale of licenses in 2005. For the nine months ended September 2006, net loss was $6 million, compared with net income of $1.7 million for the same period in 2005.

"The increase in the Q3 revenues was due to higher sales of solar equipment and medical systems. Revenue increases were offset by declines in our contract R&D. The decline in 2006 results was primarily due to lower sales in contract R&D and solar systems," said Roger Little, chairman and CEO. "The year-to-date loss increased by $7.7 million. Last year's results included gains from license sales of $6.3 million plus the $593,000 gain extinguishing the purchase discount. This quarter, our subsidiary Bandwidth Semiconductor, LLC, signed a major manufacturing agreement to produce wafers for next generation, laser rear projection television sets."

Markets

• Venture capitalists and public investors alike are showing renewed enthusiasm for the optics industry, according to John Dexheimer, partner at First Analysis Private Equity and president of LightWave Advisors. "Not only has 2006 seen a number of IPOs involving optics, laser, and related companies, but these companies are finding new and increasingly creative ways to drum up investors," said Dexheimer. "We are seeing this in the laser industry and the optical telecom industry."

The photonics investment climate will be discussed in detail by Dexheimer in his keynote presentation at the annual Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar taking place in January 2007 in San Jose, CA.

• Global LCD TV unit shipments jumped 99% Y/Y and 15% Q/Q to a record high 10.8 million units and 24% of the worldwide TV market, up from 22% in Q2'06, according to analyst Display Search. LCD TV shipments rose slightly faster than expected, with results exceeding Display Search's forecast by less than 1%.

Sequentially, regional growth was led by China up 66% followed by North America which rose 35%. Europe suffered a 5% decline as a result of inventory growth after World Cup demand failed to score. North America outsold Europe for the first time with a 33.7% to 33.6% unit share advantage. Despite Europe's struggles in LCDs, its market decline was even greater in CRTs, enabling LCD TVs to overtake CRT TVs for the first time on a sell-in basis in Q3'06.

Samsung rose from #2 in units and revenues in Q2'06 to the top position in Q3'06 on 16% and 7% unit and revenue Q/Q growth, respectively. On a revenue basis, Samsung was #1 in Europe and ROW and #2 in North America. Sharp rose from #3 to #2 on a unit basis and from #4 to #3 on a revenue basis on 23% unit and 13% revenue growth respectively. It continued to dominate the Japanese LCD TV market and was #3 in North America and #5 in Europe on a revenue basis.

• Market analyst company Research & Markets has published the China Sourcing Report: LCD Modules saying that Chinese production of LCD modules will this year increase by 62% to reach 1.13 billion units. The report answers the following questions: where to begin sourcing in this active supply market; who the most reliable, export-ready manufacturers are; and how to determine which supplier offers the best quality for your money. It features "deep" profiles of 20 qualified suppliers, presenting a detailed look at manufacturing capabilities, QC processes, R&D strategies and more.

Product development

Osram Opto Semiconductors has launched its LED-based Ostar vehicle headlamp. With the launch of the Ostar and the upcoming Ostar Headlamp Hot Spot, the company is targeting vehicle forward lighting applications based on both reflector and projector systems. Such lamps produce bright, white light for applications such as high and low beam car headlights, fog lights, daytime running lights and adaptive front lighting systems.

Schaefer, a developer of power electronics, has announced its solutions for supplying the distinct power needs of the photonics industry, including systems for laser and high pressure mercury lamps. Schaefer power supplies are available in power ratings from 10's to 100's of kilowatts. They deliver a wide input range, ensuring that source fluctuations do not affect operation without voltage drops.

Avago Technologies has introduced what it describes as the industry's thinnest surface mount LEDs in the smallest industry-standard footprint available ("0603"). With an ultra small form factor about the size of a pencil tip, these low-power LEDs use high-brightness chips to provide excellent illumination with minimum current consumption. The ChipLED lamps are available in blue and phosphor white, the colors most widely used by handset manufacturers.

Quintessence Photonics has launched the BrightLase semiconductor laser modules intended for medical applications "We have previously supplied lower-power products but now we are achieving successful customer acceptance of our BrightLase modules at several application-specific wavelengths," said Paul Rudy, VP Marketing and Sales for QPC.

The laser component of the medical equipment market is estimated to be worth more than $400 million and is served today with traditional gas, diode, solid-state and fiber laser technology. QPC's BrightLase semiconductor laser modules are designed to offer a direct semiconductor laser solution with several compelling advantages over traditional laser technology including reduced size, lower system costs, and high power delivered in narrow core diameter fibers at application-specific wavelengths in the near-infrared and eye-safe range.

Contracts

Prysmian Cables & Systems has secured a contract to supply 6,300 km of fiber optic cable to Libya. The cable will form the backbone of the new telecommunications network of the national operator LPTIC (Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Company). The cable, supplied through Italian main contractor Sirti, will be produced at Prysmian's Italian production facility at Livorno Ferraris in Italy and will contain from 24 to 96 optical fibers, depending on their location within the network.

Nortel has won a $20 million contract from Iraq Telecommunications & Post Corporation (ITPC) to build a nationwide optical backbone to deliver high-bandwidth data, video and multimedia services across Iraq. "This project is vital to the many telecommunications projects underway to help rebuild the capabilities of the Iraqi society and economy," said Mohamed Allawi, Iraq Minister of Communications.

Stratos Optical Technologies, a developer of fiber optic systems for military applications, has announced that certain elements of the US Armed Forces will be purchasing its HMA series fiber optic expanded beam connectors to link tactical optical communications cables in the battlefield. A critical element leading to these decisions was the ability to interface the new Stratos HMA optical connectors with existing TFOCA and TFOCA II connectors.

People

Zygo has appointed John Stack to the position of president, Optical Systems Solutions business unit. Reporting directly to Bruce Robinson, Zygo's president and CEO, Stack will be a member of the company's executive staff. Previously, Stack was president and COO with Edmund Optics.

Aspectrics, a developer of encoded photometric infrared spectroscopy (EP-IR) analyzers, has appointed Robert G. Messerschmidt to be its chief technology officer, based at company HQ in Pleasanton, California. He will work with the team to develop the EP-IR technology and other technological developments.

Candela has promoted Joseph Zapata to the position of VP, Latin American Operations. Candela manufactures laser-based clinical solutions that enable physicians, surgeons, and personal care practitioners to treat selected cosmetic and medical conditions.

And finally...

LightPointe is celebrating its eighth year of trading. The company was founded in 1998 by Heinz Willebrand of Boulder, Co., US, before moving to San Diego, Ca. LightPointe develops high-speed optical wireless products based on free-space optics (FSO) technology for cost-effective "last mile" connectivity. Its systems have already been deployed in more than 60 countries.

CHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Commonlands LLCEdmund Optics GmbHOptikos Corporation Teledyne LumeneraLASEROPTIK GmbHSynopsys, Optical Solutions Group
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