Laser Industry Report

Sept. 1, 2001
Automotive sales buoy Rofin-Sinar through semiconductor blues; Infinite Photonics selects Orlando for GCSEL diode facility; AOI raises $10 million in second funding round...
Automotive sales buoy Rofin-Sinar through semiconductor bluesDespite weakness in the semiconductor and electronics markets, Rofin-Sinar Technologies Inc. (Plymouth, MI and Hamburg, Germany) reported improved financial results over last year for its third-quarter and nine-month fiscal periods ended June 30 due to strong sales to the automotive industry. For the nine-month period, net sales totaled $166.2 million, an increase of $52.9 million or 47% over the comparable period in 2000, and gross profit of $65 million was $23.2 million higher than in 2000. The company expects lower sales and reduced net income in coming quarters as long as the softness in the semiconductor and electronics market continues, according to Peter Wirth, chairman and CEO. "We will focus our efforts to strengthen our position in the machine tool and automotive market and to develop new customers and applications in the segment of micromachining," he said.Infinite Photonics selects Orlando for GCSEL diode facilityThe Infinite Group Inc. (Warwick, RI and Orlando, FL) has selected Orlando for its Infinite Photonics Inc. (IP) subsidiary and its grating-coupled surface-emitting laser (GCSEL) diode facility. The facility will be located at the Central Florida Research Park, adjacent to the main University of Central Florida campus, near the university's School of Optics/Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL). "We selected Orlando for its quality of life, Florida's commitment to the photonics industry, and the quality of research staff and facilities at CREOL," said Jeff Bullington, Infinite Photonics' president. The decision was confirmed when IP was certified by the governor's office as a semiconductor diode (silicon) facility and exempted from sales and use taxes under Florida's Semiconductor, Defense, and Space Technology Facility program, Bullington said.AOI raises $10 million in second funding roundApplied Optoelectronics Inc. (AOI; Sugar Land, TX), a designer and manufacturer of long-wavelength (1550-nm) vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), announced that it has completed a second round of private equity financing, raising approximately $10 million. AOI raised $7.2 million in a first offering last year, bringing the company's total equity investment to date to $17 million. AOI is developing a quartet of products based on its long-wavelength VCSEL technology: single VCSELs, VCSEL arrays, tunable VCSELs, and VCSEL elements for external-cavity tunable lasers. The company has already begun shipment of the latter product, targeted at the metropolitan area network, with link distances of 80 km or less.Book-to-bill ratio provides bright spot at JMAR TechnologiesJMAR Technologies Inc. (San Diego, CA) announced a net loss of $477,546 compared to a net loss of $198,030 for the quarter ended June 30, 2000. The increased loss was primarily attributed to continuing weakness in the semiconductor chip business and a substantial drop in equipment sales due to the slowdown in the microelectronics marketplace. Despite that decline, strong order activity, primarily from aerospace and government customers, produced a company-wide book-to-bill ratio of 1.7 for the first seven months of 2001. "Hopefully, the generally anticipated US recovery will start in early 2002 and help catalyze a healthier worldwide economy," said John S. Martinez, chairman and CEO.Also in the news . . .GSI Lumonics Inc. (Kanata, Ontario, Canada) blamed weak sales of laser systems for a drop in earnings for the quarter ended June 29 to $3.6 million from $5.8 million for the same quarter last year. . . . Cree Inc. (Durham, NC) announced issuance of a US patent licensed exclusively to Cree, by North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC), covering process technology for growing gallium nitride semiconductor layers with low defect densities.

Hassaun A. Jones-Bey

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