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Slowdown in Veeco revenue

Income and revenue have slowed for Plainview-based LED toolmaking company Veeco Instruments Inc., due in part to tighter commercial credit in China, lessened demand for PC hard disks, and a slowdown in flat-screen TV backlighting production. Despite the slowdown, Veeco said it expects long-term improvement within a more promising niche in the LED market, solid-state lighting, as prices fall and light-emitting diodes come into increasing use. But the company said market conditions for the next few quarters will likely cause sales to lag for its equipment, which is also used to make solar power cells. For the quarter ended Sept. 30 the company reported making $52.6 million on sales of $268 million, down from $93.7 million on $277.1 million in the same quarter last year. The company has 900 employees and a $1-billion market capitalization. In context, Veeco has done well, given the challenging business environment, chief executive John R. Peeler said in a release this week. "We expect widespread adoption of LED lighting led first by the commercial, municipal and industrial sectors, which make up 75 percent of the lighting market, followed by residential users." -- Joseph Mallia


IBM names first woman CEO

IBM Corp. named Virginia Rometty as the company's first female CEO yesterday, as Sam Palmisano stepped down from the position. Palmisano, 60, who has been CEO for nearly a decade, will stay on as chairman. Rometty, 54, is in charge of IBM's sales and marketing and has long been whispered about by industry watchers as Palmisano's likely heir. With Rometty's appointment, effective Jan. 1, women will be in charge of two of the world's largest technology companies. Last month Meg Whitman was named CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. -- AP

Americans glum on economy

Americans say they feel worse about the economy than they have since the depths of the Great Recession. And it's a bad time for a bad mood because households are starting to make their holiday budgets. Consumer confidence fell in October to the lowest since March 2009, reflecting the big hit that the stock market took this summer and frustration with an economic recovery that doesn't really feel like one. The Conference Board, a private research group, said yesterday its index of consumer sentiment came in at 39.8, down about six points from September and seven shy of what economists were expecting. The reading is well above where the index stood 21/2 years ago, at 26.9, but it's not even within shouting distance of 90, which is what it takes to signal the economy is on solid footing.-- AP

Ford tumbles in reliability poll

Ford fell 10 spots in Consumer Reports' annual auto reliability survey, hurt by glitchy touch screens and transmissions. It now ranks 20th out of 28 major brands, based on a survey of the magazine's subscribers released yesterday. The Dearborn, Mich., automaker had been closing the quality gap with Japanese brands in recent years. Japanese automakers continued to dominate the survey's top rankings. Brands from Toyota, Honda and Mazda held the top nine spots in the 2011 study, while Chrysler's Jeep was the top brand from a U.S. automaker. At Ford, subscribers found problems with the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch dashboard control screens, saying they froze or were difficult to use, said David Champion, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Also, the company's new small cars, the Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact, have new automatic transmissions that shift often and awkwardly, Champion said. -- AP

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