It's the holiday season

2014 industrial laser market numbers nearing completion

Shortly after you read this, the holiday season will begin in most of the English-speaking world. For many of us, it is the start of an accelerated period where days seem to fly by up until the end of the year when we look back and say, "Where did it go?" Here in the U.S., it starts with Thanksgiving on November 27.

Balancing family, social, and business responsibilities as the end of the year nears can be for some a formidable task, while for others an overwhelming experience. When it's all over we breathe a sigh of relief and say, "we made it."

Here at ILS, we will have already completed our editorial year and will be working on the first issue of the new year. Key to that issue will be the Annual Economic Review, which will represent the culmination of weeks of intensive review of the global economic situation. Fortuitously, thanks to digital publishing, we don't have to commit to final market numbers until mid-December. This is a beneficial change from the old print days when our market forecasts were frozen before the end of November, an analyst's nightmare—estimating year-end numbers with two months left to go. Not that the task is easier, it's just that the number spread is now tighter.

At ILS, we rely heavily on reports from publically traded companies—50, to be exact—that are representative of suppliers of industrial lasers, laser systems, and related products. We track them through the year, compiling quarterly results and guidance comments. From this and a ton of anecdotal information, we arrive at total numbers, which we share and compare with a colleague at sister company Strategies Unlimited. Out of this comes a report that we publish, with extensive comments and analysis by me, in the January/February issue of this magazine.

Even with the respite that digital publication brings, I still have to set aside Christmas thoughts for a week or two as I massage the numbers and consult the crystal ball in deep thought as to what the next year will bring. At least that's the excuse I give my wife when she suggests it's time to go Christmas shopping—an event I enjoy as much as having a root canal.

There is another holiday-related factor that can affect my schedule and that is the lengthy end-of-year time off that many I communicate with take. Here in the U.S. it might be the mandatory fulfillment of vacation time, which can be lost if not taken in the calendar year. This, combined with the many acquaintances who take the days after Christmas off, often complicates my obtaining last-minute corrections and/or photographs for articles I am working on.

In several countries, companies shut down from Christmas through New Year's and, depending on the vagaries of the Christmas day, this can be a lengthy period. I always get some surprises, such as organizations in Japan taking the Christmas holiday for a two-week shutdown.

So, the end of the year—a period many take for reflection on the year past—is rapidly approaching for most of you, but here at ILS it's long since passed and we are already working on the March/April issue.

David A. Belforte
belforte@pennwell.com

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