Arthur W. Zafiropoulo, Chairman & CEO, Ultratech, Inc., San Jose, CA USA
To successfully maneuver in today’s restless economic waters, companies must possess a stellar balance sheet with a strong cash position, and provide leading-edge technology.
While corporate and existing markets drove the recovery from the last several downturns, today, consumers are the driving force behind the entire economic cycle and responsible for both the ups and the downs. Already, we are beginning to see increased inventories on store shelves. As a result, chip companies will not buy tools to increase capacity. Instead, increased implementation of next-generation technologies will take a greater percentage of their budgets, and chip makers will purchase equipment with leading-edge technology. This is confirmed by the escalating interest from advanced logic manufacturers for laser spike anneal (LSA) systems and packaging lithography tools driven by 45nm and below manufacturing. Companies will spend money on breakthrough technology that enables them to manufacture devices at advanced nodes when the recovery arrives.
As companies continue to look for ways to reduce costs, conserving energy will become a more prominent focus. A truly bright spot in energy conservation is advanced LED devices. Today, lighting utilizes ~20% of global energy. As a result, the industry is transitioning to white light and high-brightness LEDs (HBLEDs), which have a long life and use only a fraction of energy compared to incandescent and fluorescent lighting. As conservation efforts intensify, I believe this market has the potential for significant growth. LED lighting technology dramatically enables energy conservation and Ultratech has an active part in this effective solution by providing leading technology in our lithography steppers for advanced LED device manufacturing.
I believe the first half of 2009 will be difficult. However, companies that have a strong cash balance are ideally positioned for potential growth and possible strategic and accretive acquisitions. As the industry undergoes further consolidation, I feel there will be a small recovery in the second half of the year.