Cree expects lighting to drive future growth

April 23, 2009
Cree expects to see growth of its LED lighting and LED component product lines, despite a sequential drop in revenue for the last quarter.
Cree has announced revenue of $131.1 million for its third quarter of fiscal 2009, ended March 29, 2009. This represents an 11% decrease from the previous quarter, and a 5% increase compared to the same quarter last year.

LED product revenue was $112.4 million, or 86% of the total revenue. LED sales were down 11% sequentially, and up 6.6% compared with the same quarter last year. In the last four quarters, Cree’s LED product revenue was just below $479 million.

GAAP net income was $4.0 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, compared to net income of $5.7 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, for the same quarter last year.

Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO, described the quarter as “solid” and said that growth in LED lighting partially offset lower demand for auto, mobile and consumer applications. “We target total LED revenue to rebound in Q4 driven by increased demand for commercial lighting and video screens,” he added.

In its fiscal year 2010, Cree is targeting continued growth of LED lighting and LED component product lines, and says it is planning to continue to invest in R&D and capacity to enable this growth.

For the quarter ending June 28, 2009, Cree targets revenue in a range of $137 million to $143 million with GAAP earnings of $0.05 to $0.07 per diluted share.

In the current quarter, Cree is increasing its capital expenditures, primarily for capacity increases in China for packaged LED production, and the continuing transition of LED chip production to four-inch wafers. Swoboda said that Cree remains on track to be manufacturing more than 50% of its chips on four-inch wafers by the end of June 2009. The proportion will continue to increase in the future.

Swoboda was asked about the application mix of Cree’s LED business, and commented that mobile is a pretty small percentage. “I think lighting is by far the biggest,” he said. “It’s probably half the business today and then when you add in video screens, that’s probably three quarters of the business.”

Within LED lighting, Swoboda said that “Components is the vast majority, chips would be second, and systems is the third piece.” [Components comprises XLamp and other packaged LEDs, while Systems is the luminaires business acquired along with LLF.] “Systems is still a relatively small percentage of the overall LED business,” said Swoboda. “It is growing nicely. When we bought it a year ago it was a very small business and while it’s growing and gaining momentum, it’s still a single digit percentages of our revenue.”