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Emcore pockets its first significant CPV sales

Predictions of exponential III-V solar revenue growth underpin the company's hope for profitability, and will demand the installation of yet more epitaxial reactors.

Emcore s terrestrial solar sales have rocketed tenfold over the most recent quarter, but continued expansion of its solar division has added to the company s widening losses.

In the first three months of 2008 the Albuquerque, New Mexico, company sold $4.4 million of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) products.

However Emcore was hit with one-off charges of $2.3 million from setting up a CPV systems manufacturing unit, and $1.5 million from reorganizing the GaAs-based solar cell fab.

An overall fab investment of $9 million has boosted capacity by 35 percent, which will support the company's satellite solar cell business plus 250 MW of annual terrestrial production.

“We have a fleet of nine reactors in the installation,” said Hong Hou, Emcore's CEO. “A tenth one is on the way, and we have a plan to add another two reactors.”

Emcore now predicts that the increased capacity will help push CPV revenues to $15 million in the quarter to June and $30 million in the quarter to September. That ramp-up will help address the company-wide order backlog that has increased to $158 million from $156 million in spite of this quarter's production.

“Right now we are hand-to-mouth for fab capacity,” Hou said.

Emcore s satellite solar sales brought in $14.2 million in the most recent quarter, but the division also took a $2.5 million hit in exceptional charges arising from contaminated wafers it received from an undisclosed supplier.

Satellite revenues look set to fall to around $10 million in the next quarter as it waits for confirmation of new contracts. Despite this, Emcore s management is confident of the long term stability of the satellite solar business thanks to the imminent engagement of an additional customer.

Overall Emcore turned in an $17.5 million net loss in the first three months of 2008, even worse than the $14.5 million loss last quarter and $13.4 million the same time last year.

In spite of this, Hou predicts profitability in the September quarter, on the basis of anticipated $100 million revenues.

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