News Article

Optimism Returns As Aixtron Sees Order Book Fill Up

With its highest intake of orders for five years, Aixtron is confident that the market for MOCVD machines has gathered some of its former strength.

MOCVD equipment vendor Aixtron says that new applications for high-brightness LEDs are the key reason behind a big increase in orders during the company's most recent financial quarter.

Although the market for GaN-based blue lasers and LEDs used in cell-phone camera flash applications have yet to take off as expected, orders of compound semiconductor equipment were up 62 per cent, driven largely by rising demand for liquid crystal display backlights featuring LEDs.

"At the end of the [previous] quarter, we said the cautious growth in industry confidence first witnessed in the latter half of 2005 had continued into the first quarter of 2006," said Aixtron CEO Paul Hyland. "I am very pleased to say that this improvement in sentiment has continued, and perhaps even strengthened in the second quarter."

Aixtron's total order backlog as of June 30 stood at €81.2 million ($103.9 million), up 55 per cent year-on-year. While that figure does include a strong performance from the group's silicon division, new MOCVD equipment has also been ordered by a raft of LED makers recently, including Philips Lumileds and Epitech.

The Aachen-based equipment supplier has also noted an upturn in demand from customers making components for telecommunication applications.

While it is unlikely that existing capacity for telecommunications devices will be used up in the near term, Aixtron is in general very positive about the end markets that it serves.

It cites an early-generation build-up in capacity for blue lasers, LEDs in backlighting and automotive applications, and SiC devices for hybrid car engines as three key areas that promise to further push MOCVD equipment orders.

However, because of the much weaker order book one year ago, Aixtron's sales in the three months up until June 30 were only €35.7 million, down from €44.4 million in the same period last year.

Full-year revenue is still expected to reach €150 million, and Hyland said that the company should break even on that basis.

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