Nanometrics trims product lines, eyes core metrology market growth

June 8, 2007 – Yet another move in a busy spring has left Nanometrics Inc. feeling better about its positioning in the market with a core group of metrology technologies, after the recent sale of two tangential product lines, the company says.

The first transaction involves the Yosemite CD-SEM technology originally developed by Soluris Inc. and acquired by Nanometrics in March 2006, which has now been sold to Korean chip equipment firm SNU Precision Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. Under Soluris’ stewardship, income generated from the company’s flagship IVS 155 overlay tool had been plowed back into R&D for the Yosemite CD-SEM in two joint development projects with customers, but the technology faced a likely long uphill battle vs. entrenched and far larger competitors, and Nanometrics deemed it was unworthy of further investment.

Ironically, Korea is also where Nanometrics recently said it will consolidate all its overlay metrology production, a move that will result in the closure of Soluris’ Concord, MA facility. The company already makes its Orion and Caliper systems in Korea.

The other product line divestiture is the DiVA series of moderate power, low-cost IV instruments primarily for use in the RF microwave industry, which was part of Nanometrics’ acquisition of Accent Optical Technologies Inc. a year ago. The line, which represented <$1 million in annual sales, was sold on May 31 to Lowell, MA-based Auriga Measurement Systems LLC for an undisclosed amount, according to the company.

“The DiVA is a well-established product that has no synergy with our metrology business, and the Yosemite includes some excellent technology but serves a market outside of our product focus,” explained Bruce Rhine, CEO of Nanometrics, in a statement. He added that these moves better position Nanometrics to pursue its growth strategy for overlay, optical CD, thin-film and integrated metrology markets.

These product line divestitures cap off a spring of corporate changes as well for Nanometrics. In March, CEO John Heaton mysteriously left the company (no details were provided about his departure), with then-chief strategy officer Rhine, former chairman/CEO of Accent Optical, taking the reins on what was described as an interim basis. One month later, CFO Dave McCutcheon followed him out the door “to pursue other opportunities,” replaced by chief accounting officer Quentin Wright.


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