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Rubicon looks forward to fully booked 2008

After the costs of its stock market flotation drove it to a first-quarter loss, the sapphire wafer maker predicts that 2008 will be a gem of a year overall.

Despite having just started production at its second sapphire substrate manufacturing facility, Rubicon Technology is already near to completely filling its order books for 2008.

“Our 2008 backlog is up to $45 million,” said Rubicon s CEO Raja Parvez at the company's first investor call since its IPO in November. “Based on our projected production ramp for 2008 we are very close to being sold out for the year.”

Over the past three months - prior to the opening of the new Bensenville, Illinois, factory - the company had been capacity constrained. Nevertheless, it still managed to boost revenues by moving to larger-diameter 3 and 4- inch wafers for LED manufacture and 6-inch wafers for RF applications.

Although the company increased its annual sales by 64 percent to record a total of $34.1 million for 2007, it expects the figure to exceed $46 million this year. For the whole of 2008, it estimates an overall profit of over $10 million.

These eye-catching figures come at the end of Rubicon's first quarter after listing on the Nasdaq exchange, which ended in a $16.5 million loss - largely due to charges arising from its flotation.

Big is profitable
In the last three months, 70 percent of Rubicon's $9.5 million revenues came from substrate purchases made by LED companies. 20 percent came from sales of sapphire substrates to producers of silicon-on-sapphire RF electronics companies.

Rubicon says that “large diameter” "“ as opposed to 2-inch "“ substrates made up 55 percent of the company's sales for the last three months. This is likely to stay the same over the next quarter, but revenues will increase as more of the larger subset is sold as 6-inch wafers.

Five of the company s LED-making customers are already buying 3 or 4-inch diameter substrates and Parvez believes the trend to larger wafers will continue. He says that several other LED manufacturers are considering making a similar migration soon.

The company will stay ahead of this game by beginning production of 8-inch sapphire wafers for RF applications this year, which will be qualified by Rubicon s silicon-on-sapphire customers in 2009.

Another industry trend that Parvez expects, and is ready to take advantage of, is the appearance in the field of a number of major new LED chip makers.

“Several new large electronics companies have plans to enter the LED business due to the increasing adoption of LEDs in many applications,” Parvez said.

“As this industry continues to expand we are very well positioned to serve the needs of these large companies and to capture more market share.”

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