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Axcelis Technologies Inc. Message Board

  • joshua1779 joshua1779 Jul 12, 2013 3:30 PM Flag

    My answer to ksefem - where is Axcelis going

    Let me answer ksefem comment:
    Ten years ago, Axcelis was a larger manufacturer of implantation equipment, than Varian. As recently as 2004 Axcelis outsold Varian. But about that time Varian came up with a new, better way to handle wafers. Single wafer system was technologically much better than the multiple wafer. Axcelis did not develop single wafer and was left behind. From 2005 Varian started crushing Axcelis. To keep us Axcelis went into rush mode and quickly tried to develop single wafer system. Optima line was created. In their rush, Axcelis developed system for all three segments (High current, High energy and Medium) independently. They have spent tons of money and ended up with good systems but
    these systems did not share common components. Three different platforms meant three times bigger inventory of parts, extra costs etc. Meanwhile Axcelis sales were very slow and they started losing money big time. Optima line was selling so-so. It had wafer end loader slower than Varian (350 wafers versus Varian 500). Despite some clear advantages in Axcelis implantation process, Varian was taking the market share. Their president Gary Dickenson was very good at implementing good strategy that hurt Axcelis.
    In 2011 Applied Materials bought Varian for almost $5Billion. That meant Varian was now part of AMAT big echosystem. AMAT sells all the tools needed to make chips, not just implanters. Axcelis was left weak and alone incurring loses. Stock dived to 80 cents. However Axcelis always commanded top market share in the High Energy segment due to their superior implant techonlogy. Axcelis became non existent in Medium segment and very weak in High Current which is 50% of total implanter market. (Medium is about 35% and Energy is 15%). Axcelis total sales dived to $200M a year.

    In the last two years Axcelis developed new common platform called Purion. First they got system for Medium segment. It included top speed end loader as good as Varian and much better cont...

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    • technology to create implantation beam. (Varian uses less precise ribbon beam technique to Axcelis accurate spot beam). Axcelis Purion M uses one electromagnet to Varian's three. Their beam is much “sharper”, precise and has bigger energy range. Axcelis Purion M also uses less power to operate. Few months ago Axcelis released their High energy Purion unit and soon expect High Current Purion. This all means no big inventory of parts and product line superior to Varian across the line.
      Meanwhile Varian as part of AMAT got negatively influenced by all the problems at AMAT. Many people from Varian management got pulled out (including Dickenson) and now work in other divisions at Applied Materials.
      Few months ago Axcelis entered into strategic alliance with another big conglomerate LAM research. Now they no longer are alone and there are speculations that eventually Lam will buy Axcelis.
      Now Axcelis has a new uniform product line and Varian has over ten year old line that is clearly inferior. Also Varian is affected by the mess at Applied Materials.
      All this meant that Axcelis stock is in an uptrend which is very likely to continue for many quarters to come. Financially they are still strong enough to muddle through to the time when they double or triple sales and start making good money. The semi tools industry is on the upswing so it looks like Axcelis finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All this is JMHO

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