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Business briefs

09 Feb 2007

Featuring news from Rofin Sinar, Newport, Perkin Elmer, CIR, Applied Plasmonics, IPG Photonics, Ecritel, Ekinops, Nanonics and others.

Rofin Sinar (RSTI) has announced results for its first fiscal quarter ended 31 December 2006. Highlights for the quarter included net sales of $111.7 m ($95.4 m for the previous year´s Q1), representing a 17% increase, while income increased marginally to $11.5 m ($11.4 m).

The company added that the weakening of the US dollar, mainly against the euro, had resulted in an increase in net sales of $6.2 m in Q1. Sales of lasers for marking and micro applications increased by 15% to $57.5 m and represented 51% of total revenues. Sales of laser products used for macro applications increased by 19% to $54.2 m, accounting for the remaining 49% of total sales.

Newport Corporation has reported full-year revenues of $454.7 m, up by around 13% on 2005. Net income for the year reached $37.4 m, compared with $11.6 m in the previous year, while gross profit increased to $198 m from $169.3 m in 2005. The company attributed the increase in gross margin to higher sales volume combined with extra income from the licensing of certain intellectual property. For the fourth quarter, meanwhile, sales totaled $124.9 m, a year-on-year increase of around 20%, while net income reached $12.4 m, an increase of 49% on the same period last year.

• Newport also announced that it has settled its litigation with IPG Photonics The settlement related to a complaint filed in June 2006 by Spectra-Physics, a Newport subsidiary, alleging that certain of IPG Photonics' optical fiber laser and amplifier products infringed a US patent owned by Spectra-Physics, as well as IPG Photonics' counterclaims against Spectra-Physics. Terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed, but IPG Photonics does not expect the agreement to have a material impact on its financial statements or condition.

PerkinElmer this week reported a revenue of $427 m for its fourth quarter, which ended 31 December 2006, an increase of 10% over Q4 2005. Revenue growth was 12% in Life & Analytical Sciences and 5% in Optoelectronics compared to Q4 05. Q4 06 revenue from Health Sciences, which represented 85% of total revenues for the quarter, increased by 12% on Q4 05. Foreign exchange and acquisitions contributed 3% and 2%, respectively, to Q4 06 revenue. Full year 2006 revenue of $1.55 billion increased 5% over 2005 driven primarily by sales growth in medical imaging, genetic screening and service.

• Industry analyst CIR has issued a research note on the commercial and technical prospects for silicon photonics based on research from CIR's forthcoming report on optical components due later in February. The note concludes that - unlike earlier attempts at optical integration - silicon photonics "represents a technically superior solution that is finely attuned with the needs of today's marketplace and will be a key enabler for next generation optical components".

The analysts note that silicon photonics may never be able to match the power of optical integration using InP or GaAs as a materials platform, but that the ability to use standard CMOS technology should be a powerful factor driving down the cost of silicon photonics products. Silicon photonics therefore offer the promise of low-cost optical components that offer high data rates, low latency and loss and agility with regard to where that bandwidth is directed.

Applied Plasmonics has received the final installment of $3.7 m of a $10 million financing by Fidelity Insurance and a consortium. The investment will be used to expand operations and fund new developments, said Jonathan Goral, AP's CEO. AP has discovered how to make silicon generate light in any color using an electron beam and arrays of nanoscale antennae. The electron beam excites the surface plasma on the antenna tips, generating photons that create light with a frequency range from infrared to ultraviolet. The company has said the technique is more efficient than both LEDs and fluorescent lamps.

• German laser start-up Klastech Karpushko Laser Technology has received Euro 2.1 m in a Series A funding round led by Triangle Venture Capital Group. Klastech was founded in 2006 by Fedor Karpushko to develop and manufacture diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS)lasers that could replace argon-ion and helium-cadmium lasers. The company will use the funding round to build up an international sales and marketing operation and to expand its product portfolio. Triangle is a German VC firm that focuses exclusively on university and research spin-offs.

Corning is to spend $160m to expand its manufacturing capacity at its facility in Shizuoka, Japan, for producing large-size glass substrates for active-matrix liquid crystal displays (LCD). The expenditure will be incurred over the 18 months, with glass-substrate production expected to begin by mid-2008. "The increased capacity will create additional support for our customers in Japan and Taiwan, who are experiencing growing demand as LCD TV strengthens its hold on the 40-inch and larger market," said James P Clappin, president of Corning Display Technologies. Corning expects the overall LCD glass substrate market to grow by around 35% in 2007.

LED Lighting Fixtures (LLF) has launched what it describes as the first affordable lighting fixture powered by semiconductor emitters that is able to rival the output, appearance and lighting quality of a 65 W bulb. The recessed down light, which is the Morrisville, NC, company's first product, uses Cree XR-E power chips to deliver around 650 lm from a fixture running at an electrical input power of only 10-12 W. "We believe that LED lighting for the mainstream has finally been enabled," said LLFs CEO Neal Hunter, who was formerly chairman of Cree.

Avanex Corporation, which procures optical components and subsystems for next-generation optical networks, has reported record revenues of $55.6 m for its second quarter, up 9% increase from the prior quarter and a 54% increase over the same period last year. There was also an improvement at the bottom line: the company reported a net loss of $8.6 m for the quarter, compared with a net loss of $9.7 m in the prior quarter and a net loss of $18.5 m second quarter of the previous year. "The second quarter was exceptionally strong and we are very pleased to report the highest revenue and gross margin in the history of Avanex," said Jo Major, chairman, president and CEO of Avanex. The company expects revenues of $54-57m in the third quarter.

• UK company Armstrong Optical has relaunched its website to offer a more interactive experience for their customer base. The company supplies a range of optical metrology systems, high-precision optical components and optomechanical assemblies, and thermal imaging cameras. The new website includes downloadable PDFs for all the major product groups, as well as application examples for thermal imaging and surface profiling.

Nanonics Imaging has chosen Lastek to act as its Australian representative; and EIP Sistem to act as its Romanian representative for its complete product range. Nanonics sells atomic force microscopy and near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) systems including singular multiprobe platforms that allow up to four probes to be used simultaneously on-line.

People

• David Dechow, president of Aptúra Machine Vision Solutions, is the recipient of the 2007 Automated Imaging Achievement Award. The award, which was presented to Dechow by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), honors industry leaders for outstanding contributions in industrial and/or scientific imaging. Dechow founded Aptúra Machine Vision Solutions in 2003.

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