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Sensing demand boosts Luna sales

15 Aug 2023

Fiber-optic sensing and testing specialist reports 11% jump in quarterly revenues.

Luna Innovations, the Roanoke, Virginia company that sells fiber-optic sensing and communications test equipment, has reported sales of just over $29 million for the second quarter of 2023 - up 11 per cent on the same period last year.

That increase helped the firm move its operations close to breakeven, compared with the operating loss of $2.4 million that it had posted a year ago, and translated to a net loss of $1.6 million on the bottom line.

The reduced financial loss appears welcome, with Luna’s balance sheet currently indicating that the firm currently holds only $3.3 million in cash and equivalent liquid assets, alongside long-term debt approaching $30 million.

Commenting on the latest trading conditions, CEO Scott Graeff said: “We are particularly pleased this quarter with strong performance from our sensing business.”

He added that there was a “distinct difference” in the growth rates of the firm’s two business units - sensing, and communications test.

“Our sensing business, including our project-based solutions, grew strongly,” said the CEO. “Pressure in the broader communications market did impact our communications test business.

“We continue to secure large, multi-unit, follow-on orders in our primary markets, and we are seeing significant wins with new applications.”

THz sensing for EV batteries
One example of a new application is what Luna described as a “major purchase order” for its terahertz (THz) sensing product for use in electric vehicle (EV) battery production.

“With electric mobility fast becoming the cornerstone of our global transportation landscape, the demand for reliable and efficient EV batteries has reached unprecedented heights,” said Graeff.

“Our THz solutions represent a major step forward for in-line, real-time measurement of critical thickness and density parameters during production.”

Luna added that, in an effort to keep pace with the growing demand for the technology, it was transferring production of THz solutions to its Atlanta, Georgia, facility - where it expects to achieve a capacity four times greater than current levels.

Exploiting the part of the electromagnetic spectrum sitting between microwaves and infrared light, THz imaging and sensing can be used to measure multi-layer thickness and density of otherwise opaque materials.

“THz waves are intrinsically safe and non-destructive, making their use ideal for real-time monitoring of multi-layer industrial processes like those found in the production of EV batteries,” Luna points out.

However, accessing the THz spectrum has always been difficult, requiring novel transmitter and detector technologies that have typically made it an expensive option.

Q4 optimism
Luna believes that its “model 5600 T-Ray” product, which operates from 1.5-5 THz, represents the only currently available THz solution purpose-built for industrial applications. The EV battery order for new units produced in Atlanta is slated for delivery throughout the remainder of 2023, added the firm.

Looking ahead, Luna’s executive team expects revenues to be flat or slightly up in the current quarter, and to post annual sales of between $125 million and $130 million - implying that the quarterly revenue figure should increase sharply in the closing three months of 2023.

• Immediately following the latest financial update, Luna’s Nasdaq-listed stock dropped in value by around 10 per cent. Currently trading at just under $8, the company’s market capitalization stands close to $250 million.

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