ARC International, the microprocessor cores intellectual property company, admits that naming major customers has become a vital part of its strategy to bolster it against the current industry downturn.
While ARC insists that the sector in which it serves is "largely immune" to semiconductor industry cycles, Jim Turley, senior vice-president of ARC, accepts that the company has suffered from association with other technology stocks.
He agrees that it is in the company's interests to name customers. He told Electronics Times: "We are starting to sweet talk the customers a little bit more saying: could we announce your name?
"We do put a little pressure on customers for PR [public relations]."
The news came as the company released full-year results, in which it announced that IBM, Infineon Technologies, VTech Communications and Austrian Mikro-Systeme International are customers. But Turley denies that pressure has been brought to bear on these particular companies to reveal themselves as users of ARC cores.
"Each company has its own time scale," said Turley. "IBM signed up in 1998. There was a certain milestone that was passed that we knew about well ahead of time. They've finished all ARC-based work, but have not finished the entire product, so they gave us the OK to announce them.
"Infineon was the opposite. They encouraged us [to name them] saying, 'we would like to pre-announce this plan'. With VTech, their product is just now ready to ship."
Until now, Turley says ARC has suffered from being so secretive: "We constantly get beat up because we never name customers. We are generally pretty secretive."
He says the company has hitherto only revealed the names of "start-ups that didn't mean anything [to investors]". But the company has some "real beauties" as customers which it has yet to name.
ARC has 73 licences from 44 customers compared with 26 licences and 17 customers a year ago.
Turley said: "Amidst all the doom and gloom, we had a pretty nice quarter and fiscal year. We might be one or one of the few bright spots. We beat analysts' consensus by a little bit. The company is loss-making but we lost less than analysts' consensus."
For the full year, turnover was up 452% to £10.6m while net loss roughly tripled to £16.4m.
Turley says there is no chance ARC will be downgrading any forecasts: "We are sticking by guidance we gave the City when we floated in September. We still plan to cross over into profitability in 2002/3."
With more than £146m cash in the bank, Turley says the company is in a really good position.
"We don't have to waste our time looking for funding. Worst case, we'll sit on a mountain of money or we start looking round for interesting companies to acquire. [But] there's nobody on the front burner that we are going to pop up and announce next week."