Nova solicits $5M from investors

March 2, 2007 – Israel metrology equipment provider Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd. says it has agreed to a $5 million private placement of nearly 2 million shares by a group of several investors.

Late last year Nova underwent a business unit reorg and executive shuffle, and laid off about 8% of its workforce, mainly in R&D and operations and including management positions. The company foresees the moves saving $2 million in 2007.

The company posted a 3Q net loss of $800K, slightly more than 2Q net loss of $400K but less than its year-ago net loss of $1 million. Quarterly revenue rose 9% sequentially and 40% year-on-year to $12.5 million.

The company has been trying to turn around its financials for several quarters; 4Q net loss was just $0.8 million, flat with 3Q, and compared with a loss of $1.5 million in 4Q05. Revenues rose 13% sequentially and 60% year-on-year to $6.6 million.

The gradual improvement in the business side offsets distractions from the legal end of things. In October Nanometrics filed a new patent infringement lawsuit against Nova over optical critical dimension technology, following similar litigation in the spring regarding its UV reflectometry and optical critical dimension tools. Nova itself filed suit against Nanometrics in early 2005, over its US patent #6,752,689, “Apparatus for optical inspection of wafers during polishing.”

In September, Nova put a number of lithography metrology patents up for auction, relating to use of a lithography tool with integrated metrology. The company “invited” bids from approximately 100 companies, including leading-edge IC manufacturers, semiconductor equipment manufacturers, and metrology firms, and indicated it would be open to selling outright ownership in the technology.


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