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Business briefs

04 Feb 2008

Including news from Rofin-Sinar, Newport, Zygo, Powerlase, and more.

• Industrial laser maker Rofin-Sinar has announced record results for its first quarter of 2008. Revenues reached $135 million, a year-on-year increase of 21%, while net income rose by a massive 47% on the same period last year to reach almost $17 million. Sales of laser products for macro applications accounted for 45% of the total, while marking and micro applications accounted for 47% of total revenues. Net sales in North America fell by 10%, perhaps reflecting the weakening US economy, while sales on Europe and Asia rose by 32%. The company says that forward orders in the quarter also reached a record high.

Newport has reported fourth quarter sales totalling $118 million, a fall of 5.5% compared with the $125 million recorded in the same period last year and an increase of 8.3% over the third quarter of 2007. Net income for the quarter reached 25.4 million, compared with $12.4 million in the previous year. Full-year results showed revenues of $445 million, a decline of 2.1% compared with 2006, while net income rose by 24.2% to reach $44.2 million. The company noted that 2007 revenues increased in each of its strategic end markets, except microelectronics. Sales to customers in this market declined by $23.4 million, or about 15.9%, due to a reduction in capital spending by semiconductor manufacturers. Newport is currently forecasting a slight increase in year-on-year sales for both its first quarter of 2008 and its full-year results.

• The Canadian government is to invest a further $22.3 million in Ottawa's photonics cluster . Launched in 2002, the cluster was set up to advance the region's ability to perform collaborative R&D that results in high-value commercialized products. The new funding reflects the progress that the initiative has made in boosting the number of start-up companies in the area; attracting a US-based firm that moved part of its operations to Ontario; and an increase in the number of collaborations between industry and academia. Another notable success was the launch of the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre.

Zygo has reported sales of $40.4 million for its second quarter of 2008, compared with $44.7 million for the same period last year. Net earnings for the second quarter were $1.2 million, which included a one-time pre-tax charge of $1.5 million relating to a potential acquisition of an unrelated third party. Even without this charge, net earnings of $2.1 million represents a significant year-on-year decline from the $3.7 million figure reported this time last year. Fortunately, orders taken during in the second quarter increased by 18% over the first quarter to reach $42.9 million.

LightPath has established a joint venture with Chinese company CDGM Glass to develop and manufacture aspheric lenses with a diameter of less than 20 mm for high-volume visible imaging applications. Each company has invested $5 million in the venture, which is to be called CDGM Chengdu Optical and will be located in Chengdu, China. The aim is to manufacture one million lenses per month, which the two companies believe can be achieved within 12 months of starting operations. If successful, the companies can agree to invest a further $5 million to expand capacity further.

Cymer, the leading supplier of light sources for semiconductor lithography, has reported net income for its fourth quarter of $21.4 million on revenues of almost $140 million. Sales were up slightly on the same period last year, but income fell compared with last year's figure of $25.4 million. Full-year revenues totalled $522 million, a small reduction on the $544 million recorded last year, while net income fell to $88 million compared with $96 million in 2006. Cymer is cirrently predicting a 15% fall in revenues for its first quarter of 2008, as chipmakers delay their capital spending plans amid the wider economic uncertainty.

Powerlase has announced a research partnership with the National Centre for Laser Applications (NCLA) at the National University of Ireland, Galway to develop novel techniques for laser materials processing. The NCLA was founded in 1989 to champion the use of lasers in the Irish manufacturing industry, and the partnership aims to improve wider industry understanding of techniques in materials processing. It represents the latest in a series of global research initiatives established by Powerlase, which develops and manufactures diode-pumped solid-state lasers for industrial applications.

Crystal Systems (CSI) has been awarded funding $250,000 to scale up the fabrication of its high-intensity Ti:Sa amplifier crystals from their current size of 6-inch diameter to 8-inch diameter. The funding, which has been provided by the French Institute de la Lumiere Extreme (ILE) project, will yield lasr crystals that will be used to power a laser facility projected to produce about 1000 times more output than today's most intense lasers. "This project aligns perfectly with our strategic goal of being the number one producers of large size and high quality Ti:Sapphire crystals," commented company CEO Kurt Schmid.

AMS Technologies is to distrbute test and measurement equipment from EXFO. The agreement includes the sales in Germany of optical equipment for lab and manufacturing testing applications, including power meters, variable attenuators, multi-wavelength meters, optical switches and integrated test systems.

People

PI, a manufacturer of precision positioning equipment has appointed Joe McGonagle as senior sales engineer for the midwest territory. McGonagle will support engineers and scientists in industry and research to help them specify standard and custom ultra-precision motion control equipment and engineered piezoelectric sub-assemblies. McGonagle previously worked for Omron's Automated Optical Inspection Systems division.

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