Is LED Market Finally Getting Better?

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Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) is a bit of a surprise. The LED company is gaining after earnings. After revenue rose 17% to $315.8 million, its earnings rose by 13% to $31.8 million or $0.27 per share on a comparable basis for analysts. This was at the high-end of its target range. Cree's CEO also said that the backlog is stronger than it was at this point last quarter, but he hedged by saying that "visibility is still limited and the macroeconomic environment remains a headwind." He also talked up the leverage in its "fully integrated vertical lighting model."

So, if the backlog is higher, then guidance looks good too. Cree is targeting revenue in a range of $320 million to $340 million and its non-GAAP net income is targeted in a range of $31 million to $36 million, or $0.27 to $0.31 per share. Thomson Reuters had estimates $0.30 EPS and $333.27 million in revenue. This is far from great guidance, but it is still a sign that the LED market is finally getting back on its feet.

Cree is leading the sector higher with a gain of 8.7% to $28.55 against a 52-week range of $20.25 to $33.45.

Shares in rival Veeco Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: VECO) gapped higher to $30.61, but shares are currently up by only 0.5% at $30.20 against a 52-week range of $20.35 to $38.39. Aixtron SE (NASDAQ: AIXG) has disappeared off of many radars now, but shareholders believe the news will be good for it too. This German player is up by more than 3% at $13.36 against a 52-week range of $11.18 to $19.44. In Taiwan, ADRs of SemiLEDs Corp. (NASDAQ: LEDS) are up by 2.6% at $1.57 against a 52-week range of $1.52 to $4.84.

The LED sector has been very difficult to invest in because the growth petered out so much faster than many clean energy investors were expecting. The sector is massively off of its old highs, but so far there is at least some hope that the growth is coming back in a somewhat normalized level. As a reminder, Cree has a market cap of $3.3 billion.

JON C. OGG

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