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Electronics news digest
13 May 2009, News, Electronic News Digest

South Africa

Announcing its financial results for the year ended 28 February 2009, Altech reported an increase in revenue of 11% over last year, to reach R9,164 billion. Earnings per share were up 35% to 569 cents and dividends were 323 cents per share, an increase of 12%.

Overseas

Business

Fairchild Semiconductor announced financial results for the first quarter ended 29 March 2009. Sales were $223,3 million, down 30% from the prior quarter and 45% lower than the first quarter of 2008. The company reported a first quarter net loss of $51,1 million or $0,41 per share compared to a net loss of $218,1 million or $1,76 per share in the prior quarter and net income of $17,1 million or $0,14 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2008. Included in these results is a $6,7 million charge for restructuring and impairments.

Cypress Semiconductor announced that revenue for the 2009 first quarter was $139,3 million, down 15,6% from $165,1 million for the prior quarter, and down 17,3% from $168,4 million for the year-ago period (excluding SunPower). The company recorded a GAAP net loss of $90,7 million in the 2009 first quarter, or a diluted net loss per share of $0,67. This compares with last quarter’s diluted net loss per share of $2,88. GAAP diluted loss per share in the year-ago quarter was $0,15.

Net sales for Microsemi’s second quarter ended 29 March 2009 were $105,7 million, down 16,6% from net sales of $126,7 million in the second quarter of 2008, and down 19,1% from net sales of $130,6 million in the first quarter of 2009. Non-GAAP gross margin in the second quarter of 2009 was 47,1%, compared to 51,5% in the second quarter of 2008 and 51,8% in the first quarter of 2009.

Xilinx announced fiscal 2009 sales of $1,83 billion, down 1% compared with $1,84 billion in fiscal 2008. Net income increased 0,4% to $375,6 million, or $1,36 per diluted share, in fiscal 2009 versus net income of $374,0 million, or $1,25 per diluted share, in the prior fiscal year. Fourth quarter sales were $395,0 million, down 14% sequentially and down 17% from the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year. Fourth quarter net income was $70,5 million, or $0,26 per diluted share, including a $20,9 million pre-tax gain on the early extinguishment of convertible debentures and a $1,0 million pre-tax impairment charge on investments. Collectively, these income and expense items represented approximately $0,06 per diluted share after tax.

Altera announced first quarter sales of $264,6 million, down 16% from the fourth quarter of 2008 and down 21% from the first quarter of 2008. First quarter net income was $44,0 million, $0,15 per diluted share, down from net income of $83,0 million, $0,28 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2008 and $83,9 million, $0,27 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2008. First quarter 2009 results include a previously announced $5,2 million pretax restructuring charge.

Freescale reported net sales for the first quarter of 2009 of $840 million, compared to $1,41 billion in the first quarter of 2008 and $940 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Net sales for the first quarter of 2009 declined 11% from the fourth quarter of 2008 and 40% compared to the same period last year. During 2008, the company announced that it was exploring strategic options for its cellular handset business and that it had ended its previous contractual supply agreement with Motorola. Excluding sales in its cellular products group, revenues for the company’s remaining businesses declined 15% from the fourth quarter of 2008 and 31% compared to the first quarter of 2008. The reported loss from operations for the three months ended 3 April 2009 was $351 million, compared to a loss of $152 million in the first quarter of 2008.

Companies

Micronic Laser Systems and Skanditek Industrifö:rvaltning have signed a letter of intent whereby Micronic intends to acquire Mydata Automation. The transaction is structured so that Micronic acquires Mydata from Skanditek and the minority shareholders against payment in the form of newly issued shares in Micronic. Following the transaction, Skanditek will be the largest shareholder in Micronic, owning close to 38% of the capital and vote. The combined company will have a revenue of approximately 1,2 billion SEK (Swedish Kronor) annually, employ 640 people and have a market presence in more than 40 countries.

M/A-COM Technology Solutions was recently acquired by John Ocampo for up to $90 million. John Ocampo is the owner of GaAs Labs LLC, a semiconductor private equity fund based in California. In this transaction, current owner Cobham received $30 million in cash, $30 million in senior loan notes secured on the M/A-COM assets and $30 million dependent on future revenue in the period 2010 to 2012. There are no conditions to closing and the transaction has been completed.

Tyco Electronics has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its wireless systems business to Harris Corporation for $675 million in cash, subject to final working capital adjustments. Tyco’s wireless systems business generated sales of $461 million in fiscal 2008. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to close toward the end of 2009.

Microsemi has acquired the Space Level Power Products business of Spectrum Microwave, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Spectrum Control. Spectrum Microwave is a provider of RF and microwave components and systems. The acquired technology consists of MIL-PRF 38534 power products for the satellite and high-reliability markets including Rad Hard linear regulators, Rad Hard switching regulators, and Rad Hard point of load (POL) devices. Financial details were not disclosed.

Qualcomm and Broadcom have entered into a settlement and multiyear patent agreement. The agreement will result in the dismissal with prejudice of all litigation between the companies, including patent infringement claims in the US and the withdrawal by Broadcom of its complaints to the European Commission and the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Under the agreement, the companies have granted certain rights to each other under their respective patent portfolios. Qualcomm will pay Broadcom $891 million over a four-year period.

Industry

Despite the current economic climate, the electronica & productronica China exhibition held in March managed to draw a record number of attendees, up 10% from last year to over 28 000 from 24 countries. A total of 306 exhibitors from 17 countries presented at this year’s show, 40% of which were from outside China. Reflecting some degree of exhibitor pessimism, floor space was slightly reduced this year to 11 500 square metres.

Total revenue earned from RFID transponders, readers, software and services will amount to more than $5,6 billion in 2009, according to the latest market data from ABI Research. The research shows that under current conditions RFID technology is best positioned as a cost-saving solution among enterprise users.

Even though the overall world fibre-optic test equipment (FOTE) markets recently witnessed a decline because of the economic slowdown, growth rates are projected to pick up by the end of this year. Two segments in particular, the optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) and the optical spectrum analyser (OSA) segments, have experienced higher growth rates than the others. Market researcher Frost & Sullivan has found that the worldwide FOTE market earned revenues of over $567,40 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $618,52 million in 2013.

Worldwide semiconductor revenue totalled $255 billion in 2008, down 5,4%, or a decrease of $14,5 billion from 2007 revenue, according to the final market share analysis by Gartner. The steep decline in the market in the final quarter of 2008, combined with the ongoing economic weakness, signals far worse declines in 2009. Gartner’s annual semiconductor market share analysis examines and ranks the worldwide and regional revenue for more than 275 semiconductor suppliers, in 65 separate product categories and eight major market categories. It serves as a benchmark for semiconductor industry performance, as well as a means for individual companies to assess their revenue performance against their competitors. Intel held the No. 1 position for the 17th consecutive year in this analysis, increasing its market share to 13,3% in 2008, although it saw its revenue decline by 0,5%.

Technology

IBM, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Global Foundries, Infineon Technologies, Samsung Electronics and STMicroelectronics have defined and are jointly developing a 28 nanometre, high-k metal gate (HKMG), low-power bulk CMOS process technology. The favourable leakage characteristics of the HKMG technology are said to result in optimised battery life for the next generation of mobile products.

A multinational group of researchers has successfully manufactured an optical waveguide structure with highly non-linear behaviour and ultra-fast performance, making it possible to achieve data transmission speeds beyond 100 Gigabits per second with silicon devices alone. The researchers, from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), the ETH University (Switzerland), Lehigh University (USA) and inter-university research centre IMEC (Belgium), took the silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) approach, combining standard CMOS processing, deep ultraviolet lithography and organic molecular beam deposition. The research created a 170,8 Gbps – the fastest silicon photonic optical signal processing demonstrated to date – by mixing four signals with data rates of 42,7 Gbps – using the SOH waveguide which is only 4 mm long and has a nonlinearity coefficient of 105 (Wkm)-1.


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