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One-off GaAs wafer deals postpone Filtronic cuts

The UK wireless electronics company's compounds division gains enough previously unforeseen business to hold off on job cuts, but will remain up for sale.

Filtronic is delaying up to 115 proposed redundancies at its Newton Aycliffe, UK, based fab, thanks to continued customer interest in its GaAs PHEMT switches.

In a trading update on September 21, the company said that it had received a number of one-off orders for switch wafers, which will benefit its finances in the coming months.

“The headcount position remains the same, but with just a slight extension in time,” a spokesperson for Filtronic's compound semiconductor division told compoundsemiconductor.net. “There was a 90-day consultation process in place and we've informed our staff that we will extend this period in the light of increased business.”

Although Filtronic s major contract with RFMD ended in June, the company s existing customer base remains the source of interest in its GaAs switches, the spokesperson confirmed.

Even after this increase in business, Filtronic looks set to proceed with the plans to sell its GaAs fab that it made after the loss of the RFMD deal.

“The disposal projects in which the company is engaged have continued to make progress and remain active,” the company said in its trading update.

Since the sale and potential job cuts were initially announced the stock market has responded positively.

Filtronic s share price has steadily risen from trading below 140p throughout June, to open at 164p on September 21. Nick James, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, says the RF electronics firm has “an impressive focus on bringing the group towards profitability”.

Now, alongside the better-than-expected GaAs revenues, the company's shareholders are set to benefit from Filtronic s plan to share some of its current £110 million ($55 million) net cash balance with them.

However, regardless of the positive comments and strong cash position Filtronic is enjoying, it looks like the fate of those employed in the compounds division is still subject to an unpredictable flow of orders.

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