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Market confidence drives Aixtron revival

Much like its rival equipment vendor Veeco Instruments, Aixtron is enjoying a very strong upturn in orders for compound semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Aixtron has raised its full-year financial guidance for 2006 by €10 million on the back of a very strong uptick in orders for MOCVD equipment.

The Germany-based deposition equipment vendor now believes that it will generate a revenue of €160 million ($204 million) this year, and make a €3 million profit.

Asia-based makers of LEDs are largely to thank for the improved market confidence, with order intake for compound semiconductor manufacturing equipment standing at €101.9 million for the first nine months of 2006.

The figure represents an increase of 89 per cent compared with the first nine months of 2005, when Aixtron was forced to reduce its financial guidance for the year and described its customer base as "cautious".

That caution now appears to be a thing of the past, with CEO Paul Hyland saying: "We have a very busy and challenging time ahead of us."

Having streamlined the company's operations last year, he expects Aixtron to benefit from improving profit margins as well as the growing market confidence.

Aixtron s chief rival in the MOCVD equipment market, Veeco Instruments, also reported a similarly strong upturn in order intake last month (see related story).

For the quarter that ended on September 30, Aixtron made total sales of €40.9 million, up 41 per cent on the equivalent period in 2005 when revenue was only €29.1 million. Net profit for the latest quarter was €1.9 million.

In the first nine months of 2006, sales of compound semiconductor manufacturing equipment were approximately €54 million, similar to the previous year. However, Aixtron's 2007 performance should be much stronger given the large number of orders that it has received.

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