News Article

Orders Increase Again At Strengthening Aixtron

Aixtron senses a positive mood in the compound semiconductor industry, with LED epitaxy equipment orders growing strongly.

Despite a sequential dip in quarterly sales, semiconductor equipment vendor Aixtron is witnessing ongoing strong demand, particularly from makers of LED epiwafers.

The Aachen-based firm posted sales revenue of €45.2 million ($61.8 million) and a profit of €3.8 million in its latest financial period, down from €63.8 million and €7.6 million in the opening quarter of the year.

However, that drop was expected, reflecting the timing of customer deliveries and the lower orders that Aixtron had booked at the back end of 2006, explained the company.

CEO Paul Hyland said that the underlying trends in the compound semiconductor industry remained very healthy, with orders for equipment growing strongly in the second quarter to €50.3 million.

The vast majority of that demand comes from LED applications, where Hyland said that sales of Aixtron s latest high-capacity systems were particularly strong.

Hyland also pointed out that demand for LED use in large-scale display backlights was still at a very early stage: "We do not think the LED backlighting digestion period is yet over," said the CEO, referring to the time required for Aixtron s customers to qualify and integrate their new systems for production use.

"It is true that several LED backlighting products can now be seen in the marketplace, but we perceive them as early adopter products, and the major volume suppliers have yet to complete the cost-of-ownership activities necessary to really open up the display market to LED solutions," continued Hyland.

That sounds like there should be more good news to come in the future, as the LED display backlight technology becomes a more mainstream application.

Hyland also says that there is a healthy level of demand across other compound semiconductor applications, reflecting a generally more positive mood in the industry. Aixtron is seeing interest in systems from laser manufacturers and even those in the datacom/telecom component sector.

With its other products for advanced silicon wafer production also enjoying steady sales, Aixtron s first-half sales of €109 million represented a huge 61 percent increase on its loss-making first half of 2006.

Hyland confirmed his expectation that Aixtron would post total sales of about €200 million in its full fiscal 2007 results.

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