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Veeco's orders fall as China market sags

Veeco Instruments Inc., a maker of manufacturing equipment for LED lighting, said bookings were down during the last three months of 2012 as the market for its products in China continued to sag.

The Plainview company also postponed the release of fourth quarter and yearly earnings until it resolves an ongoing review of its accounting.

Shares of Veeco fell 4.73 percent in regular trading to close at $30.04.

Veeco said fourth-quarter bookings, or orders, were down 35 percent from the same period last year, to $92.3 million, in line with expectations.

Veeco expected sales to be down significantly in 2012 after climbing to nearly $1 billion in 2011. That boom stemmed primarily from sales in China, where government subsidies caused LED manufacturers to build aggressively. But the Chinese market for LED equipment became saturated, and demand dropped sharply.

Mark Miller, an analyst with Noble Financial Group, in Boca Raton, Fla., said Veeco's challenges in Asia could worsen as LED companies consolidate or fold, leading to equipment being resold on the secondary market. "Tough times continue, and at the moment it doesn't look like there is any near-term improvement," Miller said.

Veeco chairman and chief executive John R. Peeler said the market for Veeco's key products remains saturated. "Customers across our markets continue to tightly guard spending and limit capacity expansions, and tight credit policies limit some of our Asian customers' ability to raise capital and buy more equipment," he said.

Veeco began an accounting review in November to determine whether it recorded sales revenue at the proper time.

"Our revenue recognition accounting review is ongoing, and we hope to be able to provide an update on our progress soon," Peeler said.

The company has $579 million in cash on hand, up almost 1 percent from September.

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