SAN DIEGO--Banking on X-ray lithography as its main ticket for the future, JMAR Technologies Inc. today announced it will discontinue its standard semiconductor products business in order to place more emphasis on next-generation exposure tools and light sources for wafer fabs.
JMAR's standard semiconductor product lines include FIFOs, Gigabit Ethernet media access controllers (MACs), physical-layer (PHY) devices, and commercial ASIC chips.
In the restructuring, the San Diego-based company plans to sell its standard chip product line current operated by JMAR Semiconductor Inc. (JSI) in Irvine, Calif. However, JMAR said it intends to continue and make additional investments in JSI's semiconductor operation to serve defense applications at the U.S. Government's Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) in Sacramento, Calif.
JMAR said it will also more closely coordinate its semiconductor processing activities with the company's positioning and metrology equipment operations in the JMAR Precision Systems Inc. subsidiary, located in Chatsworth, Calif. The company said these operations possess "many synergies that could be exploited" to increase support to chip-processing customers as well as to advanced lithography and precision metrology product lines.
JMAR has been increasing its emphasis on X-ray lithography since its acquisition of Semiconductor Advanced Lithography Inc. in Vermont last year (see Aug. 9, 2001, story). The company has formed the JMAR/SAL NanoLithography division to develop X-ray steppers as a candidate for next-generation lithography as well as to address processing steps in gallium-arsenide (GaAs) fabs. X-ray light sources for an integrated lithography system is also being developed at JMAR Research in San Diego, and a prototype is scheduled to be completed by the third quarter this year (see March 28 story).
"Despite what we considered to be the bright prospects for JSI's standard chip line of business, we recognized that it no longer fits into JMAR's current business strategy and that we could realize a far higher return on our resources by investing them elsewhere within JMAR," said John S. Martinez, chairman and CEO of the company.
"We believe that the recovery of the microelectronics market, which appears imminent, could make JSI's established fabless semiconductor production and distribution capabilities valuable to those within the chip industry who wish to take full advantage of the market's expected rebound," he said. "We will be evaluating opportunities to sell those assets to such parties in the months ahead."
However, JMAR expects to record "significant write-offs related to the semiconductor subsidiary as the company continues to hunt for a buyer, said Dennis E. Valentine, chief financial officer. "Beginning in the first quarter of 2002, as a result of the decision in that quarter to discontinue the standard semiconductor chip product line, it will be reflected as discontinued operations in accordance with generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP)," Valentine said. "We further anticipate reporting some additional non-recurring charges in the first quarter of 2002 related to the shutdown of the chip business.
"However, we expect the charges in this quarter to be more than offset by previously announced profitable sales of other investments," he added.