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04 Feb 2009

How Corning, Planar Systems, Zygo and Micronic are faring in the economic climate.

• A fall in sales from Corning's Display Technologies segment of 50% year-on-year had a predictably negative effect on the company's fourth quarter results, and contributed to a decline in sales of 30% across the whole company to $1.1 billion. The decline resulted primarily from the supply chain's inventory reduction and lower retail sales of LCD products. Corning's net income fell to $249 million, down by 65% year-on-year and a similar percentage on the previous quarter. Although in the midst of what president and CEO Wendell Weeks called "a serious momentum shift", the company intends to invest in the short-term growth opportunities presented by Gen 10 LCD manufacturing, and pursue new initiatives in thin-film photovoltaics.

• First quarter results from Planar Systems, a developer of speciality display solutions, showed a fall in revenues from continuing operations of approximately 30% compared to Q1 2008. None the less, the company's cash balance increased by almost $3 million compared to the previous quarter, attributed to cost reduction activities. A further decline in revenue is expected for Q2, although some sequential growth is then predicted in Q3 as additional business opportunities favourably impact total revenues.

Zygo announced sales of $33.5 million and a net loss of $4.0 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2009. Metrology products accounted for the largest single sales sector, although earnings were unfavourably affected by an overall reduction in sales and lower gross margins across the company. "There is no indication that a worldwide economic recovery will occur in 2009," noted CEO Bruce Robinson. "To that end we are taking additional actions, across the board, to restructure our business and reduce costs."

Zygo also announced that it had called off its intended merger with Electro Scientific Industries, originally announced in October 2008. Changes in conditions since then meant that the merger as constructed was are no longer in the best interest of the Zygo stockholders, according to Robinson.

Micronic Laser Systems, a developer of laser pattern generators for photomask production headquartered in Sweden, posted sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 of SEK334 million ($40 million), boosting net sales for the full year by 8%. However, this was described by the company as being far from satisfactory, and did not prevent it from posting an operating loss for the full year of SEK37 million ($4.4 million). "Our development of laser pattern generators has been hard hit by slowing in the global economy," noted CEO Sven Löfquist. "In light of the drastically reduced forecasts for both the display and semiconductor markets, there is considerable uncertainty going forward. Until the equipment market revives it is of the utmost importance that we continue cutting costs and safeguarding our strong liquidity."

LaCroix Precision OpticsABTechUniverse Kogaku America Inc.Schaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHECOPTIKSPECTROGON ABTRIOPTICS GmbH
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