Light at the end of the financial tunnel for laser firms?

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Laser and laser system manufacturers have released positive financial results in the last week, with major companies reporting encouraging revenues and profits despite challenging market conditions.

For its third fiscal quarter 2012/2013, which ended on 29 June, Coherent announced net sales of $213.7 million and net income profit of $16.7 million. These results compare to net sales of $196.4 million and net income of $17.2 million, for the third quarter of fiscal 2011/2012. The quarterly sales figure represents an 8.8 per cent increase over the same period 12 months ago.

John Ambroseo, Coherent's president and CEO, predicted that the company would see a number of interesting opportunities in the coming 12 months, with new technologies being tested and taken up by customers.

He said: 'We expect to see meaningful orders in our laser annealing business as early as the current quarter and extending into fiscal 2014. We shipped a three-kilowatt fibre laser prototype to a lead customer, and the initial test results are positive. The next phase of testing is field deployment qualification, which is the precursor to a volume commercial order.

'And finally, we have delivered lasers to a number of customers who are developing processes for strengthened glass cutting,' Ambroseo added.

Trumpf, reporting its full-year results for 2012-2013, produced less dramatic results than Coherent in terms of an annual increase – but managed to produce record sales in challenging times.

In the 2012/13 fiscal year, which also ended in June, the Trumpf Group generated sales of some €2.35 billion, corresponding to a small increase of around one per cent over the previous year's sales of €2.33 billion. This annual sales figure is the highest in the Ditzingen company's 90-year history.

Despite the increase in sales, however, Trumpf said net profits are likely to be slightly down on the previous year because of higher expenditure on wages. The company had 9,925 employees at the end of the fiscal year – nearly four per cent more than 12 months before.

'The increase over the previous year is small, but considering the extremely difficult market conditions we faced, we can certainly be pleased with the result,' said Trumpf president Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller when presenting the preliminary figures. 'We are expecting a pre-tax result lower than that of the previous year.'

In 2011/12 the company achieved a pre-tax profit of €211 million. The final figures will be presented in October.

Rofin-Sinar Technologies also reported increased revenues. Sales for its third quarter, to 30 June, were $139.1 million – up six per cent from $131.7 from the same period last financial year. Net profit for the period was $8.7 million – up four per cent from $8.4 million 12 months earlier.

For Rofin-Sinar, much of the growth came from Asian markets. CEO and president Gunther Braun said: 'We experienced strong sales in the quarter to the machine tool and electronics industries mainly triggered by China, while sales to the semiconductor industry also improved significantly on a sequential basis.'

'Order entry in Europe was slower than expected whereas North American and Asian orders marked our best quarter during this fiscal year. The global markets continue to be challenging and the slower pace of GDP growth in China might influence our business in the coming months. However, we believe that our solid backlog, combined with ongoing sales activities and focused efforts in the Asian markets, will help us to deliver reasonable fourth quarter results.'

  • Rofin's increased sales to China and other Asian markets reflect a trend found in sales of German machine vision systems for automation in Asia, leading to that region outstripping Europe in terms of sales. See more here