Lower LED shipments pull Cree revenue downwards

Jan. 19, 2007
Cree has reported a significant drop in LED shipments, although revenue from packaged LEDs is growing in significance.
Cree has announced revenue of $88.8 million for its fiscal second quarter ended December 24, 2006. This represents a 16% decrease compared to revenue of $105.6 million reported for the year ago period.

The revenue figure fell below Cree's revised estimates of $90-92 million, issued in December (see news item).

Significantly, Cree's LED revenue was $65.5 million, down 21% compared with the previous quarter and down 24% year-on-year.

Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO, said that LED component sales (such as XLamp packaged LEDs) increased to more than 10% of total LED revenue for the first time. "This growth is an important leading indicator of how we plan to grow the company over the next several years," he said.

Overall, LED unit shipments fell by 15% sequentially, but were still 5% higher than the same quarter last year. However, the LED average selling price (ASP) was down 7% sequentially and down 28% year-on-year.

LED production cost per unit increased 10% sequentially and 3% year-on-year, reflecting a shift from mid-brightness to high-brightness LEDs (Cree's own classifications), with the latter now accounting for 48% of production.

Cree also said that it had qualified the first processes for the growth of LEDs on four-inch wafers, which will eventually help the company to improve the productiivity of large-area LED chips.

For the first quarter of calendar 2007, Cree expects a similar level of revenue with earnings of 4-5 cents.

Net income for the final quarter of calendar 2006 was $16.5 million, or $0.21 per diluted share, which includes a gain from the sale of marketable securities of $0.15 per diluted share, compared to $17.7 million or $0.23 per diluted share for the same period last year.

"As we announced in early December, the second quarter was more challenging than we had targeted with lower LED chip sales," said Swoboda. "Despite the challenges in the LED chip business, we continued to make progress on our strategy to expand our business by leveraging our strengths in LED chip and SiC materials technology to broaden our product line with higher-value, component level products for the emerging markets in LED lighting and power."