II-VI & Lumentum: 6″ 3-D Sensor Fixations

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There are apparently mutual types of obsessions regarding the state of the 3D-sensing businesses of II-VI and Lumentum Holdings, which raise some serious questions:

  • Why did II-VI stress the 6-inch capability of the fab it just purchased, when (as we discussed on our daily blog page) “in the press release announcing Kaiam’s acquisition of the facility several months earlier, those production lines were mentioned only in passing, and the emphasis seemed to be on InP devices, which are produced at a smaller size” (and then later it became clear on II-VI’s last earnings conference call, there was the distinct possibility that it may do little or even no manufacturing of 3D-sensors there)?
  • Even if we assume Apple punished Lumentum for its hubris, how does the specific Gross Margins (GMs) go from 50% and higher to close to a negligible impact by these devices on its total GMs in the foreseeable future?
  • Why does it appear that both II-VI and Lumentum are bending over backwards to highlight future customers besides Apple (in our opinion, when it came to Lumentum around the beginning of its last earnings call, even to perhaps to the point of disingenuousness)?
  • What justification could there be for Lumentum’s short-term business with Apple being so heavily dependent on its own execution, if by now WIN Semiconductors should be pretty much running with the ball itself?
  • Why should the rhetoric of an “initial manufacturing ramp” by II-VI get anybody excited, and if there was any kind of meaningful action, why would the effect on its outlook on performance be described in such a negative fashion – “we don’t expect it to be dilutive to earnings to the company’s average”?
  • Would it not be reasonable to view it as a warning signal that despite all of the hoopla over these sensors, and with Apple needing to ship so many iPhones in the near future, that in the fourth quarter, Lumentum only “shipped approximately $5 million of 3D sensing revenue”?
  • Why is there so much underscoring by both vendors on previous experience with VCSEL solutions in the consumer space?

One does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that the six-inch wafers, which is the total focus of each of these vendors, is undoubtedly causing major difficulties, as we recently anticipated. In addition, Lumentum’s confidence level could not have been bolstered when there was another demonstration of the fickle nature of Apple, when it comes to components for its iPhone, which came very close to home for the supplier, as its previous partner, Viavi Solutions, was replaced by the smartphone manufacturer for a major 3D-sensor application.

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[written by Mark Lutkowitz]

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