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8 May 2008


Aixtron’s orders hit peak after doubling year-on-year

For first-quarter 2008, deposition equipment maker Aixtron AG of Aachen, Germany has reported revenue of €62.6m, down 2% from €63.8m a year ago but up 16% on last quarter’s €54.1m.

Of total revenue, 76% was for compound semiconductor applications (€47.8m). This is up 10% on €43.5m a year ago (just 68% of total revenue) and up sharply by 25% from just €38m last quarter (70% of total revenue). Silicon applications (NAND flash and DRAM memory) yielded 13% of total revenue (€8.3m). This down 40% on €13.9m a year ago (22% of total revenue).

LED applications now represent 78% of total revenue, with silicon comprising 15%, consumer/optoelectronics 5%, and telecom/datacom 2%. Correspondingly, 83% of revenue came from Asia, 10% from the USA and 7% from Europe.

Reflecting a further increase in the proportion of common platform system revenues, paired with a favorable product mix (both offsetting the negative effect of a weak US dollar against the Euro), gross margin improved slightly year-on-year, from 38% to 39% (though down on last quarter’s 42% due to a disproportionately high number of final acceptances of high-margin products and consequent lower cost of sales in Q4/2007). However, net profit has fallen from €7.6m a year ago to €5.9m, due mainly to a higher tax rate. Nevertheless, this represents a recovery from just €2.4 last quarter.

Equipment order intake has more than doubled, growing by 111% from €40.5m a year ago to €85.5m (almost equaling last quarter’s record of € 86.9m). Of this, 90% was for compound semiconductors (€77.3m, up 161% on a year ago) and 10% for silicon (€8.2m, down 25%).

The very high order intake reflects the strong demand, mainly for common-platform high-capacity MOCVD systems to produce LEDs for emerging display backlighting applications, as well as mobile handset, automotive, lighting and consumer electronics laser product applications (e.g. Blu-Ray, HD DVD). Also, more orders have been received for multiple reactors for delivery over a scheduled period.

In contrast, silicon equipment orders are down, as expected, due to the depressed memory chip market conditions, constraining capital spending on CVD systems. In addition, Aixtron’s next-generation ALD and AVD systems are still under development and are yet to be qualified for mass production. However, these systems will still be ready for launch later in 2008, the firm says.

Order backlog was €157.3m at the end of Q1/2008, more than double €70m a year ago and up 19% on € 132m at the end of 2007.

“As expected, we have seen some evidence of softening in inquiry level, which leads us to believe that we are probably at the apex of the current demand cycle,” says president & CEO Paul Hyland. “However, speaking at the mid-way point in Q2, we already have a positive view of the order intake development in this quarter,” he adds. “This is a very encouraging start to what we are projecting to become one of the most successful years in the company’s 25 year history.”

Aixtron has therefore reiterated its full-year 2008 guidance (given in mid-March) for revenue of €270m-300m (up 26-40% on 2007’s € 214.8m). In addition to Q1/2008’s €62.6m in revenue, this assumes that €136m will come from the existing €157.3m order backlog and that €21m will come from spares/non-system revenue in Q2-Q4/2008, leaving just €50-80m in new equipment orders needed to achieve the targeted guidance.

See related items:

Aixtron’s revenues grow 25% in 2007

Aixtron’s Q3 order intake rises 39% on Q2, raising full-year expectations

Search: Aixtron MOCVD ALD LEDs

See: Aixtron Company Profile