Laser Industry Report

June 1, 2001
Spectra-Physics reports revenue and layoffs; NIF nixes naysayers and nabs the dough; Cymer to lay off 9% of its workforce...

Spectra-Physics reports revenue and layoffs
Spectra-Physics Lasers (Mountain View, CA) reported 39% revenue growth over six markets for the first quarter of 2001 and announced 140 layoffs from its Passive Telecommunications Group (Oroville, CA), where headcount tripled during last year's 50% to 100% growth spurt in the telecom market. The telecom contribution to net sales grew by a factor of seven over the same period last year and Patrick Edsell, president, chairman, and CEO, still expects it to at least double this year. But telecom has not yet become a major dollar contributor, he said. The growth at Spectra-Physics was driven by new laser applications and replacement of conventional lasers with semiconductor lasers. "We sort of walk around today saying 'thank God we're a laser business,'" said Edsell (see Marketwatch, p. 87).

NIF nixes naysayers and nabs the dough
Last April, the National Ignition Facility (NIF; Livermore, CA) obtained release of the $69.1 million that Congress had ordered withheld from the original $199.1 million appropriated for fiscal year 2001, pending program review and certification. Just prior to the release, a preliminary Federal District Court injunction strictly limited the communication of NIF evaluation results to select circumstances and only then with a disclaimer that in forming NIF evaluation committees, the Department of Energy did not comply with Federal Advisory Committee Act requirements "to ensure the committee is open to the public, balanced in terms of points of view represented and not inappropriately influenced by any special interest" (see Washington Report, p. 83).

Cymer to lay off 9% of its workforce
Cymer Inc. (San Diego, CA) has announced plans to lay off about 9% of its worldwide workforce as part of a cost-reduction program. The workforce reduction will trim the company's headcount from approximately 925 employees to 845 employees. Of the 79 employees affected by the reduction, 71 live in the greater San Diego area, and are temporary, contract, and regular full-time employees. The majority are involved in operations and manufacturing. Pascal Didier, Cymer's president and COO, cited the semiconductor capital-equipment slowdown as a primary factor. For the first quarter of 2001, ended March 31, Cymer reported almost $8.3 million in net income, down from almost $10.2 million in the first quarter of 2000 and way down (59%) from about $20.2 million in the previous quarter.

Multiple-source agreement targets 10-Gbit transceivers
Picolight (Boulder, CO), E2O Communications (Calabasas, CA), and 14 other companies that exhibited at the NetWorld + Interop 2001 conference last month (Las Vegas, NV) have announced an initiative for next-generation 10-Gigabit Pluggable (XGP) fiberoptic transceivers focused on a quick, market-ready design. The XGP covers five 10-Gbit-transceiver types, including 850-nm serial, 850-nm coarse wavelength-division multiplexing (CWDM), 1310-nm serial, 1310-nm CWDM, and 1550-nm serial. "We aren't just looking at the early adopters but the market as a whole, as equipment requirements for 10-Gbit start to mimic the route that gigabit board designs took over the past few years," said Bill Wiedemann, chairman of the XGP multiple-source agreement.

Also in the news. . .
Development of one of the first lidar devices, currently used to follow acid-rain emissions, and of a laser-based, toxic-metal monitor for dioxin measurements have helped SRI International (Menlo Park, CA) win a "Clean Air Hero" citation from the American Lung Association of Santa Clara-San Benito Counties in California. . . . AXT Inc. (Fremont, CA) has adopted a purchase-rights plan to protect AXT stockholders in the event of an unsolicited acquisition attempt. Under the plan, stockholders will receive the right to purchase 1/1000 share of a new series of preferred stock for each outstanding share of AXT common stock held of record at the close of business on May 30, 2001.

Hassaun Jones-Bey

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