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PARIS – Gas supplier Air Liquide will open three electronics materials centers this year in Japan, Taiwan and China.
 
The company, which supplies nitrogen and other gases, employs 3,000 workers and had sales of €944 million in 2007.
TORONTO – EMS provider SMTC Corp. reported fourth quarter revenue of $66.8 million, up 24% sequentially, and down 12.2% year-over-year.
 
For the quarter, net earnings were $1 million, up from a net loss of $1.2 million in the third quarter, but down 52.4% year-over-year.
 
Gross profit was $6.4 million, or 9.5% of revenue, compared with $3.4 million (6.3% of revenue) and $7.7 million (10.1%) year-over-year.
 
“Fourth quarter results reflect our customers' resumption of traditional order levels that were unusually low in the previous quarter. As expected, our results did not attain the record level in 2006; however, our overall financial performance was in line with our expectations,” stated John Caldwell, president and CEO. “Notably, we have engaged with several new customers that are now ramping to solid revenue levels. We also progressed two important strategic initiatives to bring additional capability to our customers by expanding our footprint in Mexico and China.”
 
Revenue for 2007 was $256.4 million and net income was $2.7 million, down 2.4% and 74.3% respectively year-over-year. Caldwell blamed very soft orders in the third quarter for the drop. Cash flow from operations was $25 million.
 
"Our goals for 2008 are to achieve substantially higher earnings on a growing revenue base, as well as continuing to generate cash from operations to further reduce debt,” Caldwell said. “We expect results in the second half to be stronger with new customers, ramping to higher volumes and seasonality of certain of our longstanding customers.”
TAIPEIDelta Electronics reported consolidated sales revenues for February of  $299.4 million, up 24% year-over-year, and down 26% sequentially.
 
The company's cumulative consolidated sales revenues from January to February were $702 million, up 28% compared to the same period last year.
 
Delta Electronics’ power system business – recently consolidated into one group – constituted 56% of February sales, components represented 19%, video displays 3%, and industrial automation 6%. Other, including EMS services, was 16%.
 
BISIE, CONGO – Congolese rebel soldiers are running national tin mines and causing havoc with consumer electronics firms intent on following best practices for corporate humanitarianism.
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BANNOCKBURN, IL – Bob Black, the gregarious president and chief executive of Juki Automation Systems, and Zhou Xin, senior director of advanced technology research and development at Huawei Technologies, are among the nominees for IPC’s board of directors.
 
Also nominated was Graphic Plc executive chairman Rex Rozario.

Elections will be held April 1 at the Apex trade show. If elected – a certainty – the three would each serve two-year terms between April 2008 and March 2010.
 
The nominations of Rozario and Xin are notable as IPC has had fewer than a handful of directors since its inception in 1957.
 
Rozario, a 53-year industry veteran who has reported ties to PCB pioneer Paul Eisler, is based in Devon, UK. Xin has 20 years of technical and research experience in electronics manufacturing and is based in Shenzhen. He chairs the European Institute of Printed Circuits, suggesting greater ties between that group and IPC is in the offing.

Black has nearly 35 years of senior executive management experience in the PCB and semiconductor industries.
 
Nominees were selected by IPC’s Nominating and Governance Committee and approved by the full board.
 
The IPC also announced OneSource Group chief executive Nilesh Naik was nominated as chairman, Rohm and Haas vice president Bob Ferguson as vice chairman, and OnCore Manufacturing Services president and CEO Steve Pudles as secretary/treasurer.  
BANNOCKBURN, IL -- Executives from IPC and more than 35 other electronics assembly suppliers met in China in February to discuss the prospects for producing a trade show there.

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EL SEGUNDO, CA – Total worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter amounted to 76.2 million units, up 11.7% sequentially and up 14.2% compared to the same quarter in 2006.
 
The quarter was strong for top-tier U.S. PC brands, with Hewlett-Packard padding its dominance in the global market, Dell showing signs of a resurgence and Apple coming on strong, according to iSuppli Corp.
 
In the fourth quarter, H-P’s global PC shipments rose to 14.6 million units, up 25.5% year-over-year, says the research firm. It marked the sixth straight quarter H-P led the worldwide PC shipments rankings.
 
“Hewlett-Packard has capitalized on its strong channel presence and its strength in the fast-growing notebook PC segment, allowing it to attain and maintain market leadership,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for iSuppli.
 
Dell saw its fortunes improve considerably in the quarter, with shipments of 11.3 million units, up 17.4% year-over-year. This compares to 1.5% growth during the third quarter. Dell’s shipments were up 14.1% sequentially, the largest percentage increase among the top six brands, says iSuppli.
 
Apple ranked No. 6, a position the company has held since the third quarter of 2007. The company’s total fourth-quarter PC shipments grew 39.3% year-over-year, with equally strong growth for its desktop and notebook businesses.
 
As a result of its acquisition of Gateway in the fourth quarter, Acer achieved the No. 3 ranking, moving ahead of Lenovo. Incorporating shipments from Gateway, Acer shipped 7.2 million PCs in the fourth quarter, representing year-over-year growth of 25% on a combined basis. Lenovo shipped 5.8 million units, and in the process achieved a year-over-year growth rate of 21.3%, according to iSuppli.
 
Toshiba maintained its position as the fifth-largest PC OEM on a worldwide basis, shipping 3.1 million units, up 25.3% year-over-year.
 
H-P achieved the No. 1 shipment ranking for 2007, knocking rival Dell from the top spot. H-P shipped 49.6 million PCs in 2007, a 29.7% increase, more than double the growth rate achieved by the whole PC market, says the firm.
 
Dell achieved 2007 PC shipments of 39.7 million, up 1.7%. H-P and Dell achieved market shares of 18.5% and 14.8% respectively for the year.
 
Apple’s unit shipments grew 33.6% in 2007, giving the company a 2.8% share of the global market.
 
On the Gateway acquisition, Acer overtook Lenovo for third with a market share of 9.1%.
 
Lenovo achieved 7.5% market share, up from 7% in 2006. Rounding out the top five was Toshiba, which also had impressive growth of 22.5% year-over-year, giving the company a market share of 4.2%.
 
Further shuffling could be in store if Acer’s planned acquisition of Packard Bell is approved by European regulatory bodies.
 
Acer’s shipments have been adjusted to incorporate Gateway’s shipments for the fourth quarter, the full year 2007, and all historical quarters.
SAN MARCOS, CAAmistar Corp. has entered into an agreement to sell the assets of its automation machine division to newly formed Amistar Automation Inc., based in San Marcos, CA. Financial terms were not disclosed.
 
Joseph Pultinevicius becomes president and chief operating officer and Richard Geisz vice president of operations for Amistar Automation.
 
The new company takes over a series of process equipment lines for assembly and product identification. The company will also continue to distribute the i-Pulse line of SMT and automated optical/laser/x-ray inspection equipment.
 
Amistar Corp. will provide service, warranty and support to existing customers.
MINNEAPOLIS – Nortech Systems reported net sales of $29.3 million for the fourth quarter, up 6% year-over-year. Operating income was $1.1 million, up 47% compared to 2006. Net income totaled $504,112, up 13.8% year-over-year.
 
For 2007, the company reported record net sales of $118.1 million, up 12% year-over-year. Operating income increased 38%, to $3.6 million. Net income was $1.6 million, up 20% compared to 2006.
 
“Last year’s accomplishments were highlighted by a successful acquisition and the launch of our Lean manufacturing initiative,” said Mike Degen, Nortech’s president and CEO.
 
“Our backlog position ended the year strong across our company, positioning us well for the first quarter,” he said.
 
The acquisition of Suntron’s assembly operations in Garner, IA, last February added capabilities and customers in new markets, including agriculture and oil and gas.
 
Nortech’s Lean manufacturing initiative was deployed at its aerospace systems operation last year. Rollouts are planned at other Nortech locations during 2008. 
SAN JOSE Tessera Technologies claims recent questions over a handful of the chip-packaging firm’s patents mischaracterized the process and the patents’ validity.
 
“Nothing issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in these reexaminations has overturned our patents. We believe the market may have misunderstood the PTO’s terminology, and we are taking this opportunity to clarify the process,” said Scot Griffin, senior vice president and general counsel, in a statement. “Claims of a patent cannot be invalidated in reexamination until the process is fully complete, including all appeals.”
 
The PTO recently issued office actions regarding claims in five Tessera patents, and the company anticipates action on a sixth shortly. However, asserts Tessera, the PTO reexamination process does not suggest a final determination against the company. Moreover, after a determination, Tessera could appeal and the patents would remain in force throughout all appeals.
 
Tessera is familiar with prior art to the patents under reexamination because of previous lawsuits; the company says those lawsuits were resolved in its favor.
 
On March 4, Tessera petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to review the recent decision to stay its wireless ITC action. ITC staff also filed its own petition arguing against the stay. The commission is expected to decide within the next 25 days whether it will review the stay decision.
 
On March 5, Amkor filed a motion with the arbitration panel to stay the scheduled March 31 hearing with Tessera, in view of the recent PTO reexamination actions. Tessera opposes this motion.
SEOUL – A former senior engineer with South Korea's LG Electronics has been arrested for pilfering flat-screen TV technology and leaking it to China, say published reports.
 
LG pegged the losses from the leak at some $1.4 billion, according to the reports.
 
The former employee has been charged with stealing computer files on the design of LG’s PDP plant after leaving the company in 2005. Two other LG employees have also been indicted, according to reports.
 
Since February, the former employee has advised Changhong-Orion PDP-Chaihong of China on constructing a PDP plant in Szechuan province. The Chinese company is expected to come online in December.
 
LG Electronics, Samsung SDI and Matsushita of Japan are the only companies that had this technology, the spokesperson said. The technology involves creating eight PDP units from one.
 
SALT LAKE CITY Inovar Inc. and IWIA have merged and will now operate under the name Inthinc.
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