Laser market results confound the experts

We publish the ILS annual report on the global markets for industrial lasers in the January/February issue, which will in the hands of subscribers and appear on the ILS website this week.

New Image 2

The collection of financial data and supporting information is a year-long activity—especially the information gathering function, as the data collection activity occurs primarily in November when all public company reports become available. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a tedious but satisfying assignment. We publish the ILS annual report on the global markets for industrial lasers in the January/February issue, which will in the hands of subscribers and appear on the ILS website this week. All the more reason to subscribe to ILS (if you qualify), to perhaps get early clues in stock market trading.

For the rest of you, the good news is that 2016 was a pretty good year—a 10.2% gain in revenues with a qualification you'll need to read about. As has been the trend, fiber lasers led the way with a 12% revenue increase and the Other category loaded with excimer laser gains (which we'll explain) showed a whopping 54% increase. Both of these contributing to revenue losses in CO2 and solid-state laser results.

Micromaterial processing bumped up by 23.5% (again based on a one application hit) and macromaterial processing cooled down a bit to 4.5% growth, as demand for metal cutting felt the effects of global disruptions in the marketplace.

Laser marking revenues slowed in 2016, yielding a 3.1% increase mainly due to rampant selling price cuts among the more than 230 system suppliers. Even fiber laser revenues in this category showed the effect of price cutting with only a 5.3% gain.

Micromaterial processing was the sterling performer due to the OLED annealing application that contributed to a 102.8% revenue growth for excimer/other lasers. Additive manufacturing was strong at 22.1%, sharing total growth with higher power units lodged in the Other macro category.

High-power fiber lasers (10.9%) continued to slice into comparable power CO2 laser sales (-3.1%) and the upstart high-power direct diode lasers made an appearance at metal cutting tradeshows, contributing to a 7.1% revenue growth in the Other category.

These are just a few of the highlights of my market analysis in the January/February issue. I'll be commenting more in the coming weeks. Defying all the post-election analysts, we think 2017 will continue favorable news for the industrial laser sector, with a only slight decrease in revenue growth to 8.7% over 2016.

More in DABbling