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Coherent Acquires Innolight, Reports Lower Profit

Photonics.com
Nov 2012
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 5, 2012 — Coherent Inc. has acquired Innolight Innovative Laser and Systemtechnik GmbH and Midaz Lasers Ltd., a move it said will provide core technology building blocks for an emerging class of commercial, low-cost, subnanosecond pulsed lasers for microelectronics manufacturing.

Coherent announced the acquisitions Wednesday during a presentation of its fourth-quarter and year-end results to investors. The company said it paid $18 million for the privately owned Innolight in a transaction that closed Oct. 30. The business will operate as part of Coherent's existing German business unit.

"Innolight’s semiconductor-based architecture delivers pulsed output that can be amplified by conventional or fiber amplifiers to ultimately deliver infrared, green or ultraviolet light capable of processing a range of materials," Coherent CEO John Ambroseo said.

Innolight is based in Hannover, Germany, and was founded in 1997. Its low-power, short-pulse lasers are used for industrial applications such as silicon processing, and its ultrastable continuous-wave lasers, for atom trapping and other scientific applications.

A spinout from the Photonics Group at Imperial College London in the UK, Midaz has developed a range of diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) lasers with high average power, excellent beam quality and high pulse repetition rates for micromachining applications such as solar cells, touch panel displays for mobile phones and medical device manufacturing. Coherent Chief Financial Officer Helene Simonet called the purchase "a core-technology-based acquisition" and said the purchase price was $3.7 million.

"In Midaz, we acquired an elegant and very compact solid-state amplifier that works on the attosecond-through-the-picosecond range," Ambroseo told investors in an earnings call last week. "It's so clever, we should have thought of it," he added about the company's technology.

"We can use that amplifier in conjunction with existing oscillators — in addition to the oscillators that we've acquired through the Innolight acquisition — to bring forth a range of new products that will address existing markets within microelectronics," Ambroseo said. "We envision packaging combinations of Innolight and Midaz technologies that have many similarities to our highly successful Obis [laser] technologies."

In its earnings news, Coherent reported a profit of $63 million for the year, or $2.62 per share, down from $93 million (and $3.66 per share) in fiscal 2011. Yearly sales were down to $769 million from $802 million year over year. Fourth-quarter profits also slid significantly, from $31 million in 2011 to $12.5 million.

"Revenue is slightly below the lower end of our guidance range due to a delay in the delivery of core components, resulting in the rescheduling of the customer acceptance test of one of the larger excimer annealing systems," Simonet said of the fourth quarter. The company didn't specify which component was delayed or provide the name of the supplier.

Because those large Gen-8 annealing systems sell for more than $7 million each, "we are more susceptible to wider swings in the revenue number" as those systems become a larger part of the company's revenue, she said.

There was sequentially stronger demand in materials processing, she said, and "record orders for our Meta laser workstations contributed to the materials processing total."

Demand also was up in the instrumentation and scientific markets — led by medical OEM orders for both aesthetic and ophthalmic products — but down in microelectronics, Ambroseo said, because of the timing of flat panel display (FPD) orders and a slowing in the semiconductor market.

"While we expect these trends to continue in the current quarter, we also anticipate another round of meaningful FPD bookings in fiscal 2013," he said.

For more information, visit: www.coherent.com



GLOSSARY
amplifier
A device that enlarges and strengthens a signal's output without significantly distorting its original waveshape. There are amplifiers for acoustical, optical and electronic signals.
excimer
A contraction of "excited dimer." The term refers to an excited species made by combination of two identical atoms or molecules, one of which is excited and one of which is at a ground state.
pulsed laser
A laser that emits energy in a series of short bursts or pulses and that remains inactive between each burst or pulse. The frequency of the pulses is termed the pulse-repetition frequency.
solar cell
A device for converting sunlight into electrical energy, consisting of a sandwich of P-type and N-type semiconducting wafers. A photon with sufficient energy striking the cell can dislodge an electron from an atom near the interface of the two crystal types. Electrons released in this way, collected at an electrode, can constitute an electrical current.
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