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Riber back to breakeven as revenue kicks in

Cost-cutting and better sales add up to a small operating profit at MBE equipment supplier Riber.

Aided by sales of high-value production-scale machines, MBE equipment vendor Riber posted a small operating profit of €0.2 million in the opening half of 2006.

The French firm, which has struggled against financial losses in recent years, managed to break even at the net profit level on revenue of €7.3 million. In the same period last year, it posted a net loss of €1.1 million.

As well as improving sales, Riber cut expenses significantly through a workforce reduction plan. Research and development costs were also down by almost one third thanks to the recent completion of several research programs.

Riber is expecting sales to pick up strongly in the remainder of the year, and says that it will post total sales of €19 million-€22 million for 2006 overall.

Looking further forward, Riber has acquired exclusive rights to a family of patents that could result in a new type of machine that combines MBE processing with electron-beam lithography equipment.

Filed by researchers at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan, the novel technique is said to be capable of producing three-dimensional patterning on compound semiconductors, as well as nanometer-scale dots or wires on the surface of a wafer.

Riber, the university and other industrial partners in Japan are planning to develop a so-called "MBE-Litho" machine that will combine several process-step stations. They hope that it will lead to new types of nano-scale microelectronic and optoelectronic devices.

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