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Aixtron's spring profit blossoms

Best-ever quarterly sales give Aixtron a profit for the first three months of 2007 that surpasses the total figure for the previous year, but the company adopts a cautious tone on future orders.

Deposition equipment maker Aixtron has earned revenues of €63.8 million ($86.3 million) in the first quarter of 2007, its highest-ever quarterly revenue, doubling from €32.0 million in the same period of the previous year.

Profit for the quarter came to €7.6 million, higher than the company's €5.9 million total profit for 2006.

The German company also exceeded €40 million in orders for the fourth quarter in succession.

Of the €40.5 million taken in the first quarter of 2007, compound semiconductor equipment orders comprised 73 percent.

The continued popularity of Aixtron's newest MOCVD equipment, especially in Asia, in combination with strong demand from the LED industry, is helping keep order books full.

This trend is underlined by the status of Asia as the company s most important sales region, responsible for 90 percent of Aixtron revenues over the first quarter.

The company has reiterated its forecast of total revenues for 2007 of €190 to €200 million.

Aixtron still needs over €36 million of new orders that can be fulfilled by the end of 2007 to meet that target.

CFO Wolfgang Breme put the seemingly conservative total revenue estimate down to the “digestion” that occurs after a piece of equipment is installed by a customer.

“Our customers, especially in our compound semiconductor segment, need time to integrate newly bought systems into their own production processes,” Breme said.

“We are in the middle of this digestion phase, and are seeing somewhat quieter order activity as a result.”

Aixtron s CEO and president Paul Hyland agreed, but emphasised the preparedness that the company's current level of business would provide for future order gluts.

“We're not expecting the high amount of order intake we saw in the latter half of 2006,” he explained.

“If, indeed, we're wrong, and we do see a substantial pick-up, we're probably better equipped now to respond than we've ever been.”

“I think we'll be challenged keeping orders at the €40 million mark, but it's not impossible."

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