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Materials and Cost Benchmarking

Troubled Soitec Waits for Solar

20 November 2013

French semiconductor materials supplier Soitec SA reported a net loss of 159.9 million euro (about $215 million) on consolidated sales of 91.0 million euro (about $125 million) for the first half of its fiscal year, which ended September 30.

This follows a net loss of 209.5 million euro (about $280 million) on consolidated sales of 262.9 million euro (about $355 million) in its fiscal year to March 31, 2013.

Soitec (Bernin, France) is the primary supplier of semiconductor-on-insulator (SOI) wafers for use in the fully-depleted SOI (FDSOI) manufacturing process being pioneered by STMicroelectronics NV (Geneva, Switzerland) at the Crolles wafer fab near Grenoble, France. Soitec is attempting to diversify into the supply of wafers and semiconductor materials for solar power and lighting applications but had almost no sales in these areas in the six-month period.

First half year consolidated sales fell by 30.1 percent compared to the same period a year before. This included a 3.9 percent decrease in the dollar/euro exchange rate.

Soitec said the group's available cash resources amounted to 117.0 million euro (about $160 million) at the end of September. This compared with the declared cash resources of 130.1 million euro (about $175 million) at the end of March. A restructuring program called Soitec 2015 aimed at lowering the company's cost base continues, Soitec said.

Soitec said that for the next six months it expects sales to be flat in its electronics sector with the possibility of sales of significant sales electricity through a 44MW solar power plant in South Africa. About half of the capacity is in place but Soitec is awaiting sign-off by the South African government's Department of Energy.

Soitec added that reports of design wins for FDSOI from STMicroelectronics are welcome they do not yet translate into wafer volumes to offset a decline in conventional 300-mm SOI wafer sales. The company added that design wins need to lead to mass adoption by several other industry players to generate sufficient revenue for Soitec, directly or from royalties paid by its licensees, such as wafer producer Shin Etsu Handotai.

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