Q4 financials looking bad for laser industry

NASHUA, NH--The staff of Laser Focus World, fresh on the heels of its annual Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar that took place a few weeks ago in San Jose, CA during SPIE’s Photonics West, continues to monitor the financials from major laser and photonics companies.

NASHUA, NH--The staff of Laser Focus World, fresh on the heels of its annual Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar that took place a few weeks ago in San Jose, CA during SPIE’s Photonics West, continues to monitor the financials from major laser and photonics companies. Though our sample size is small, calendar Q4 earnings are not looking good; in fact, they are looking worse than the 11% overall laser industry downturn that we forecast for 2009 (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/349353).

Laser materials processing company Rofin-Sinar Technologies (RSTI; Plymouth, MI and Hamburg, Germany) saw sales drop 21% to $107 million in the first fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2008 (calendar Q4 2008), down from nearly $135 million for the comparable quarter last year, ended December 31, 2007. “With very few exceptions, we experienced diminished demand across all industries, even in the photovoltaic industry, which is something we have never seen before,” said Gunther Braun, RSTI president and CEO.

Orders received during the three months ended December 27, 2008 of $103 million decreased 33% from the same prior year period and decreased by 27% compared to orders received in the immediately preceding quarter for laser and photonics manufacturer Coherent (Santa Clara, CA), which sells across a broad spectrum of materials processing, R&D, and medical applications. “The macroeconomic pressure that first manifested in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 has accelerated during the first quarter of fiscal 2009,” said Coherent president and CEO John Ambroseo. “The impact is being felt in several of our end markets including microelectronics, medical OEM and parts of materials processing as consumers continue to adjust to contracting disposable income.”

Newport’s (Irvine, CA) sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 (ended January 3, 2009) totaled $107 million, a decrease of 9% compared with the $118 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2007. Still more telling, new orders received in its Q4 2008 totaled $99.6 million, a decrease of 23.5% compared with the $130.2 million received in Q4 2007. Robert J. Phillippy, Newport president and CEO said, “We are in the midst of very uncertain times at the macroeconomic level and face challenging conditions in certain of our end markets, which we do not expect to improve in the near term. In the first quarter of 2009, we expect to experience continued weakness in our Microelectronics market, particularly in the semiconductor equipment area, and in our Industrial Manufacturing market.”

--Gail Overton

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