Laser Industry Report

Jan. 1, 2004
Data-storage sales pick up at Spectra-Physics; OSI creates new laser division from SEO assets; Candela reports 41% jump in first-quarter sales over a year ago; MORE...

Data-storage sales pick up at Spectra-Physics

Spectra-Physics (Mountain View, CA) reported a marked increase in orders for its lasers in the data-storage industry for the third quarter of 2003. In the past two months, Spectra-Physics says, orders for lasers alone in this market sector have totaled more than $4 million, with a corresponding increase in business for custom optomechanical systems designed for beam delivery. The majority of these lasers and systems are destined for laser zone texturing of hard disks. Spectra-Physics supports the laser zone-texturing market with its V series of diode-pumped, solid-state lasers. According to the company, the majority of new orders from data-storage customers have been for the V-Xtreme laser.

OSI creates new laser division from SEO assets

OSI Systems (Hawthorne, CA) has completed a $1.5 million acquisition of substantially all remaining assets of Schwartz Electro-Optics (SEO; Orlando, FL) and created a new business group called OSI Laserscan. OSI previously had acquired SEO's weapons-simulation business, which currently operates as OSI Defense Systems; the subsequent deal includes SEO's laser-based remote sensing technologies and manufacturing capabilities. The acquisition was completed through a bankruptcy-court-supervised auction of SEO's assets. Jeff Saunders, former president of SEO, will serve as the president of OSI Laserscan.

Current applications for Laserscan's precision remote-sensing technology include traffic management, agricultural management, and mapping. Assets acquired include employees, equipment, all associated technologies including 11 issued U.S. patents, as well as a number of pending patents.

Candela reports 41% jump in first-quarter sales over a year ago

Like a handful of its competitors in the medical-laser market, Candela (Wayland, MA) has experienced a growth surge, thanks in large part to a focused strategy that emphasizes R&D and multi-application products for office-based procedures. As a result, Candela reported revenues of $18.7 million for the first quarter (ended Sept. 27, 2003), up 41% over sales of $13.2 million in the same quarter a year ago.

The company also reported after-tax earnings from continuing operations of $1.8 million, or $0.17 per share, compared to $947,000, or $0.10 per share, a year earlier—increases of 89% and 70%, respectively. Equally impressive is Candela's stock price, which has risen steadily over the past year from around $5 per share to more than $20 per share.

"Given that the July to September period is traditionally the slowest in our industry, we are delighted with the results for the quarter," said Gerry Puorro, Candela president and CEO. "We like to believe that we have the best products, and we are pretty diligent about R&D. In the last 18 months our R&D folks have had 15 FDA approvals across all of our products. Our approach is that every product we sell is a multi-application product. We believe that if you sell a device it must be multiple applications so that the doctors can get their investment out of it, and this has had a lot to do with our success."

Actinix wins UV laser contract from NSF

Actinix (Soquel, CA) has received a contract from the National Science Foundation to develop a new ultraviolet laser to be implemented into a photomask inspection and metrology tool for the 90-, 65-, and 45-nm semiconductor process nodes. This new solid-state 193-nm light source is based upon the patented Actinix method of generating sub-200-nm light via frequency mixing. The light source is designed to enable high-resolution actinic imaging and precision phase-shift measurements of advanced photomasks. The contract is expected to accelerate the development of the Actinix phase-metrology platform, the PMT-193.

Also in the news . . .

Ekips Technologies (Norman, OK) has received a $500,000 Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for continued hardware and software development of the Breathmeter, a laser-based breath analysis instrument that can be used to diagnose chronic illnesses such as asthma. . . . Nanosemiconductor (NSC; Dortmund, Germany) has been spun out of the Ioffe Institute (St. Petersburg, Russia) and the Technical University of Berlin (Germany), specializing in growing the material for quantum-dot lasers. NSC recently attracted (7 million (US$8.2 million) in venture capital funding led by PolyTechnos Venture Partners. . . . A new £2 million (US$3.4 million) research center has been opened at the University of York (York, England). The York Center for Laser Spectroscopy and Photochemistry will use femtosecond laser sources to study atoms, molecules, liquids, new nanomaterials, and biological materials.

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