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Electronics news digest
28 May 2008, News, Electronic News Digest

South Africa

Altech announced its results for the year ended 29 February 2008. Headline earnings per share improved by 23% to 551 cents. Revenue increased by 22% to R8,2 billion, and operating profit by 17% to R664 million. Net asset value per share increased from 1863 cents to 2026 cents with cash balances of R1591 million reflecting the strength of the company's balance sheet. Return on shareholders' equity increased from 22,7% to 25,4%, and a dividend of 288 cents per share was declared, representing an increase of 20%. The biggest revenue contributor continues to be the company's telecommunications division, which upped revenues by nearly 20% from R4976 million in 2007 to R5950 million this year.

Overseas

Business

RF Micro Devices announced that effective immediately, it is reducing its investments in wireless systems, including cellular transceivers and GPS solutions, in order to focus on core semiconductor component opportunities, including cellular front ends and other components in its Cellular Products Group (CPG) and the expanding portfolio of semiconductor components in its Multi-Market Products Group (MPG). As a result, the company currently expects to eliminate product development expenses related to its wireless systems business by approximately $75 million this fiscal year beginning in the June 2008 quarter, with the full benefit expected to be realised in the December 2008 quarter.

Avnet reported revenue of $4,42 billion for third quarter fiscal 2008 ended 29 March, 2008, representing an increase of 13,3% over third quarter fiscal 2007. Net income for the most recent quarter was $107,2 million, or $0,71 per share on a diluted basis, as compared with net income of $105,2 million, or $0,70 per share, for the third quarter last year. Operating income for third quarter fiscal 2008 was $166,8 million, down 3,4% as compared with operating income of $172,6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Kontron generated 105,9 million Euros in sales for its first fiscal quarter of 2008. This represents nominal growth of over 10% compared with the same period last year. When adjusted for exchange-rate losses precipitated by the sharp decline in the US dollar, organic growth was around 20%. Particularly strong drivers of growth were Europe and the emerging markets, including Russia and China.

Digi International reported revenue of $43,1 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2008, compared with $42,9 million for the second fiscal quarter of 2007, an increase of 0,5%. Gross profit margin was $23,2 million, or 53,8% for the second fiscal quarter of 2008 compared to $22,5 million, or 52,5% for the second fiscal quarter of 2007. Net income was $3,1 million in the second fiscal quarter of 2008, or $0,12 per diluted share, compared to $3,6 million in the second fiscal quarter of 2007, or $0,14 per diluted share.

Microchip reported results for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008. Net sales were $260,4 million, up 3,1% sequentially from net sales of $252,6 million in the immediately preceding quarter, and up 0,9% from net sales of $258,2 million in the prior year's fourth quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per share were 42 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2008, compared to 39 cents per diluted share in the immediately preceding quarter and 37 cents per diluted share in the prior year's fourth quarter.

National Semiconductor announced that it would eliminate approximately 130 positions across the company, primarily in product line and support functions. The company says this action reflects a strategic aligning of its resources as part of its focus on accelerating revenue growth in key market areas that require better power management and energy efficiency. In the current fourth fiscal quarter, which ends 25 May, 2008, the company expects to record approximately $10 million of charges primarily for severance, of which the vast majority relates to this action.

Epcos has reported results for the second quarter of its fiscal 2008 year. Sales were 362 million Euros, down 1% year on year and down 2% sequentially. EBIT was 26 million Euros, compared to 28 million Euros in the similar period last year, and an identical amount in the first quarter of 2008. Net income for the first half of fiscal 2008 was up 22% year on year.

RF Micro Devices reported financial results for its fiscal 2008 fourth quarter ended 29 March, 2008. Quarterly revenue decreased approximately 13,7% year-over-year and approximately 17,2% sequentially to $221,9 million. Operating loss was approximately $31,6 million on a GAAP basis, resulting in a loss per share of $0,06. The company repurchased 30 million shares in the March quarter, reducing the total number of shares by approximately 10%.

NXP Semiconductors announced first quarter sales of $1519 million, a comparable growth of 0,8% over the first quarter of 2007 and a decline of 7,5% from the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting the continuing softness of the overall market as well as normal seasonal weakness. Adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter was $183 million, the same level as the first quarter of 2007, but down from $349 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Companies

As part of a large-scale campaign to address its contribution to global climate change, EBV Elektronik has launched an event called 'By Bike to EBV'. For each kilometre covered by employees of EBV throughout EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) between April and October 2008 by cycling to the office or to a public transport stop or station, EBV will donate 0,15 Euros. The money raised will be donated directly to Rettet den Regenwald, an organisation working to save the rain forests, and Bund Naturschutz, a nature organisation in southern Germany, for its purchase of 6000 square metres of protected land on the banks of the Danube.

Qimonda and Elpida Memory announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding for a technology partnership on joint development of DRAM memory chips. In the planned cooperation, Qimonda will provide its know-how with the innovative Buried Wordline technology and Elpida its advanced stack capacitor technology. The strategic technology cooperation will leverage the strength of both companies to accelerate their roadmap to DRAM products featuring cell sizes of 4F². The companies plan to introduce the jointly developed innovative 4F² cell concept in the 40 nm generation in calendar year 2010 and to subsequently scale it to the 30 nm generation.

Hammond Manufacturing, an international manufacturer of moulded, die-cast and metal enclosures for the electronics, electrical and allied industries, has taken a significant equity participation in Ritec Enclosures, an ISO 9001 approved Taiwan-based manufacturer of similar products. As the first tangible result of the new arrangement, Hammond will distribute Ritec products in North America and Europe, while Ritec Enclosures, which has a strong presence throughout the Far East and China, will become a key distributor for the Hammond product range in the region.

Epcos has acquired the activities of NXP Semiconductors in the area of RF-MEMS. The acquisition sees Epcos continuing its strategy of cooperative ventures and acquisitions aimed at extending its technology and product range, boosting its growth and entering new growth sectors. The new MEMS business opens up additional market potential to the company in the high triple-digit million-euro range in the mobile communications market.

Infineon has acquired 100% of Primarion, to further strengthen its activities in the field of power management applications. Primarion - a fabless company headquartered in California - designs, manufactures and markets digital power ICs for computing, graphics and communication applications.

In its latest transformational move, NXP Semiconductors will acquire the Broadband Media Processing (BMP) business of Conexant Systems. With this transaction, NXP's existing set-top box and digital TV operations will be combined with Conexant's BMP business, which provides solutions for satellite, cable and IPTV applications, and accounted for $205 million in revenue in 2007. The combined operations are expected to create a top three player in digital video systems with the scale to establish a strong leadership position. Under the terms of the deal, NXP will pay Conexant $110 million in cash up front, and additional consideration of up to $35 million based on achievement of certain revenue milestones over the period from closing through 2009.

Qimonda and Centrosolar Group, a German solar company, signed a contract to jointly build, equip and operate a solar cell manufacturing plant. The joint venture will produce solar cells based on silicon and will be owned 49% by Centrosolar and 51% by Qimonda Solar. In the planned cooperation, Qimonda will contribute its existing know-how in silicon-based mass production as well as important access to silicon supply. Centrosolar will contribute its expertise with solar systems and the sales and distribution of solar modules. The venture company which will be located on Qimonda's existing site in Vila do Conde, Portugal is planned to initially invest 70 million Euros by September 2009.

Adlink Technology announced the completion of its acquisition of Ampro Computers. The addition of Ampro enables Adlink to offer extreme rugged, rugged and industrial products and services for use in aircraft, trains, ships and other environments that subject equipment to extended temperature, shock and vibration. Adlink is now the owner of all shares outstanding in Ampro, making the new entity the third largest industrial PC manufacturer in Taiwan.

Mentor Graphics entered into a partnership with NXP Semiconductors in which Mentor's Design-for-Test (DFT) products will be used by NXP to further improve the quality and time-to-market of NXP's solutions. Under the agreement, Mentor also obtains rights to NXP's internally-developed test tools, technology and talent as a portion of NXP's DFT tools development organisation joins Mentor's Design-for-Test product division. This division of Mentor is also establishing a new R&D facility in Hamburg.

Industry

Worldwide sales of semiconductors of $63,4 billion for the first quarter of 2008 were 3,8% higher than the $61,1 billion reported for the first quarter of 2007, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). March sales of $21,1 billion were 3,4% higher than the $20,5 billion reported for February 2008. Sales declined by 5,1% in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the $66,8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2007. SIA said the decline reflects a normal seasonal decline from the historically strong fourth quarter.

The 2007 medical semiconductor market was dominated by the usual large semi-conductor companies: Toshiba, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments. According to a report by Databeans, the companies held market shares of 11,8%, 11,5% and 10,9% respectively. However, there are many other suppliers that are gaining share, and as with any emerging and enabling industry, there is plenty of room for more. The report shows that the industry was worth $2,6 billion in total for the year.

Technology

A company called Project Better Place is planning a bold strategy to make electric vehicles more practical, and will soon launch two pilot projects, in Israel and Denmark. The company aims to address two of the biggest challenges related to electric vehicles, namely their limited range and the time taken to recharge the batteries. The first part of the projects will be the installation of a massive recharging infrastructure, with approximately one recharging outlet installed for every six of the cities' parking places. The company has also made arrangements with Renault to manufacture electric cars with batteries that can be replaced automatically by robotic systems at service stations.


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