A bad Q1 for lasers, but not worse than expected

By Tom Hausken
Half full or half empty? My read of Q1 photonics company earnings reports is that the last quarter is not worse than expected, we are at the bottom. With Q1 out of the way, now it's time to look forward.

The figure below charts some selected laser companies up through Q1, all adjusted for acquistions and so forth. If the rest of the year holds at the Q1 level, 2009 will be 30% below 2008. That's not nice, but it's about what we expected before we heard all those quarterly reports (see for example our press release for our industrial laser report), so at least it's not worse.


The next big milestone will be to see if Q2 holds at or above the Q1 level for key companies. There is already a lot of talk that we are at bottom in the recession, including sectors important to lasers, such as semiconductor equipment order data out of both North America and Japan. But we're likely to bounce along the bottom for most of 2009, to be sure.

Note that I'm referring here to revenues. Net profit, cash flow, stock prices, and various ratios are important to running the company and keeping everyone happy. In fact, revenues can turn around even as profits and head counts continue to decline. That can happen for a variety of reasons, but gaining back just some of the lost revenues would bring a lot of relief.
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