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China lighting ban brightens future for Plainview LED toolmaker

Veeco's Maxbright LED-making machine. The company said net

Veeco's Maxbright LED-making machine. The company said net income fell to $11 million during April, May and June, 2012. Credit: Veeco Instruments Inc.

Shares of the Plainview-based LED toolmaker Veeco Instruments Inc. rose nearly 10 percent since news Friday that China will ban incandescent lighting.

Veeco's stock had share volume of 7 million Friday, by far the highest level this year, opening at $26.75 and closing at $29.20.

In premarket trading Monday Veeco stock was up  $0.39 to 29.59.

Veeco sells the sophisticated machines that make light-emitting diodes and other electronic circuitry, with its base LED-making models starting at $2 million.

The Chinese government said Friday it will ban incandescent bulbs within five years as an energy-saving step. Starting Oct. 1, 2012, it will no longer allow imports or sales of bulbs 100 watts or higher. In 2014 the ban will be extended to 60 watt bulbs, and in 2016 to 15 watt bulbs.

Fluorescent and LED lighting are typical replacements for incandescent bulbs.

Last year, China produced 3.85 billion incandescent light bulbs, and 1.07 billion were sold domestically, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency said, according to an AP report.

Lighting is estimated to account for about 12 percent of China's total electricity use, and the nation sees a major opportunity for energy savings and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.

Meanwhile the United States is set to ban the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012 and the European Union has agreed to phase out the bulbs by the same year.

Just two weeks ago Veeco reported in its quarterly earnings statement that its income and revenue have slowed, due in part to tighter commercial credit in China, lessened demand for PC hard disks, and a slowdown in flat-screen TV backlighting production.

In the October earnings report, Veeco said that despite the slowdown 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.

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.

Though its shares are down 32 percent for the year, Veeco has done well, given the challenging business environment, chief executive John R. Peeler said in October. He remained optimistic, saying, "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." 

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