Strategically Blogging

Fiber Laser Market Continues to Evolve

Allen Nogee 09/05/2014

I’ve always been a person who has been very interested in the latest technology, and sometimes it’s hard for me to believe how much technology has changed over the years.

Everything from flat screen TVs, DVRs, audio equipment, cables and wiring, computers, tablets, smartphones, and so many others have evolved over the years, and in most ways, the new technology is quicker, smaller, cheaper, and more energy efficient. Today we take all these things for granted, but it wasn’t that long ago that a flat screen TV or a smartphone was a novelty. Today we just can’t even imagine living without these things.

Martin Shih

A Win-Win Situation: Cree Announces Investment in Lextar through Private Placement

Martin Shih 09/05/2014

Cree recently announced plans to invest US $83M in Lextar Electronics, one of Taiwan’s major LED manufacturers, in order to acquire 13% of Lextar shares and to enter a supply/royalty agreement. Cree will become Lextar’s second largest shareholder (AUO, Lextar’s parent company, is the biggest shareholder) and obtain one member of BOD. This deal is expected to be done at the end of 2014 and the lock-up period is 3 years, which means Lextar will reserve its capacity for Cree for 3 years.

Lasers in Medical Imaging: The Forecast Looks Very Bright

Allen Nogee 07/11/2014

Almost all medical imaging to date has used one of three technologies: X-rays, magnetism (MRI), or ultrasound. X-rays alone have been used for almost 120 years now, and although today’s imaging technology has improved vastly over the many years, the fact remains that x-rays, ultrasound, and magnetism are all technologies that, due to many factors, produce coarse images, at least by today’s standards. But what if a very coherent light source was used instead, maybe a laser?

Actually, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), which produces images based on the reflections of coherent light, is not a new technology. OCT has been used since the early 1990s, especially in the area of ophthalmology, where the images produced by OCT are 100 times finer than standard images produced by ultrasound. In just the last five years, OCT has become one of the most important retinal imaging techniques used today.

The Impact of the Epistar Acquisition on the LED Industry

Martin Shih 07/09/2014

Epistar (2448.TW) announced a plan to fully acquire Forepi (3061.TW), the second-largest chipmaker in Taiwan, through a share swap (1:3.448), implying 18% share dilution to Epistar. The effective date will be the end of 2014, and Forepi will be delisted from the TAIEX.

After the merger, Epistar will become the world’s largest LED chip maker in terms of capacity with a global market share of 15%, which will better position the company to lead in future technology development.

EPA's New Emissions Cutting Plan Could Have an Effect on LED Lighting

Philip Smallwood 06/30/2014

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by as much as 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EPA will finalize the proposal in mid-2015 and then give states a year to design their own plans to meet targets. The organization will let states meet emission targets for power plants in several ways, including through plant upgrades, by switching from coal to natural gas, by improving energy efficiency, or by promoting renewable energy outside the plant site. This approach will give states greater flexibility in designing plans to meet the EPA’s targets.

What a weak dollar means to photonics

By Tom Hausken
The dollar has been declining steadily again (see figure) but how much difference does it make to lasers and photonics? A lot to any salesperson who is competing in an export business. A falling dollar is like a discount in the price given to the buyer. And it can mean a lot to the value that we analysts assign to markets (such as in our new market estimate ). For example, a falling dollar inflates the value in dollars of the production of Japanese blue-violet diode lasers for Blu-Ray players. But it doesn't mean a lot overall, for a lot of reasons. Why is that?


The conventional wisdom is that a falling dollar makes U.S. goods and services cheaper abroad, and foreign goods and services more expensive in the U.S. That is, it makes U.S. goods more competitive, and it deflates U.S. debt owed others as counted in foreign currency.

But many companies don't sell directly to companies abroad. A more complete downstream product may be exported by the customer's customer, but either way, the effect may be minimal--or at least obscure--to the photonics manufacturer.

Second, companies commonly import subcomponents from all over the world. A lower dollar then raises the cost to manufacture, erasing some or all of the advantages when it exports the complete product.

And, a lot of companies manufacture in the destination markets. This can help hedge against changes in currencies, among other things. In the example of Japanese blue-violet diode lasers, it changes the average prices and overall value, in dollars, that we assign to a market. But that can seem rather artificial when most of the Blu-Ray players are assembled in Asia anyway.

More often, the gains and losses from a falling dollar amount mostly to changes in market share: U.S. companies vs. non-U.S. companies, and U.S. importers vs. U.S. exporters.

For an explanation how a falling dollar is unlikely to create many new jobs in the U.S., read this article. It cites the reasons above, and notes that much of U.S. manufacturing is capital intensive, not labor-intensive. And, many manufacturers are small and not likely to ramp up hiring dramatically even if sales do improve.

Just the same, every little bit helps, especially if it means tipping a business from the red to the black or deeper into the black.

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