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EL SEGUNDO, CA – Shrugging off any hint of a slowdown, first-quarter global mobile handset shipments rose 17% over the same period last year, according to iSuppli Corp.
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BRUSSELS – A proposed International Electrotechnical Commission standard on electronics equipment safety has been voted down by a majority of voting countries.
 
The draft of IEC 62368, Audio/Video, Information and Communication Technology Equipment - Safety – Requirements, would have required plastic enclosures for household electronic products to withstand candle flame ignition. Critics claim the rule had no valid fire safety rationale, but enormous potential negative consequences, including the introduction of hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals into consumers' homes and bodies.
 
Eighteen of the 31 voting countries (58%) voted against the IEC draft standard, far more than the 25% needed to defeat the standard.

According to a contingent of scientists and experts who lobbied against IEC 62368, while the majority of the draft would strengthen existing standards for electronic product safety, the disputed Clause 7, which was promoted as an enhanced fire safety standard, in fact had limited potential to affect fire safety, as appliance fires represent only a small number of the total candle fires in the US each year. 
 
Appliance fires caused by candles in the US amount to 3% of total candle fires, result in no deaths, and cause $5 million worth of property damage a year, according to a 2007 report by the National Fire Protection Association.

But meeting the requirements outlined in Clause 7 would likely have forced producers to use hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals that can migrate from consumer products into dust, humans and animals, where they persist and bioaccumulate. 
 
The coalition, including Dr. Arlene Blum, a visiting chemistry scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, Friends of the Earth, Design Chain Associates, the Center for Environmental Health, the Initiative for Green Science Policy, and a other scientists, physicians and NGOs cited dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers as evidence of environmental toxicity and negative health impacts. 

The fire-retardant chemical industry, they claim, does not provide adequate information about the chemical composition or toxicology of its products, nor does it acknowledge the extensive literature of scientific publications showing environmental and health/safety problems.

"Through deceptive and incomplete data, and sheer force of will, the fire-retardant industry has, over the past several years, very nearly succeeded in making this candle flame ignition requirement a fait accompli," said Mike Kirschner of Design Chain Associates. "The electronics industry's desire is to improve environmental performance of its products and this would have driven it in the other direction for no good reason."

Two other draft IEC standards propose candle standards for consumer electronic housing. Revisions of IEC 60065 (TV and audio equipment) and IEC 60950 (IT equipment) incorporate the same clause candle flame resistance requirements. Also, the National Association of State Fire Marshals has introduced the requirement in Canadian CSA and American UL standards, which have votes scheduled for May 19.  
MACAU, CHINA -- EMS provider Nam Tai Electronics reported March net earnings of $28.4 million on sales of $147.1 million.

For the quarter, net income was up 238% to $28.4 million from a year ago, boosted by the sale of Nam Tai's shares in J.I.C. Technology Co.

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EIGHTY FOUR, PAAmetek Specialty Metal Products named Peter Hoctor regional sales manager for Europe, responsible for sales and marketing the company’s full line of products. He has 15 years’ experience in the sales and marketing of specialty metals.
 
Hoctor is currently sales manager, Europe, for Reading Alloys, which was acquired by Ametek in April. Hoctor will retain his position with Reading Alloys, while assuming additional responsibilities for Ametek.
 
Europe accounted for the greatest portion of the company’s international sales, which topped more than $1 billion for the first time in 2007. Ametek has plants in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany and the UK. 
 
 
TEMPE, AZ -- Manufacturing failed to grow for the third consecutive month in April as the PMI registered 48.6%, flat with March.

The good news: Backlogs grew, breaking six consecutive months of decline, and new export orders showed continued strength. Customers inventories dropped. The Computer and Electronic Products sector reported growth in April.

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HELSINKI, FINLAND – Industry reports indicate Elcoteq is in final talks to acquire Taiwan's Arima Communications, which manufactures mobile handsets for Sony and LG Electronics, among others.
 
Industry sources claim an announcement can be expected once terms are finalized. However, Arima has denied a possible acquisition.
 
Stephen Hung, spokesman for Arima, said no talks were going on between the two companies, and Elcoteq spokeswoman Minna Aila reportedly declined comment, citing company policy not to comment on market rumors.
 
EMS provider Elcoteq, which builds for Nokia, among others, is reportedly interested in increasing its ODM capabilities. Arima has an R&D staff in its Taiwan and China locations.
SALT LAKE CITY – CirTran Corp. has issued a promissory note for $315,000, the EMS company's second in the past month. 
 
Under the terms of the April 7 note, the company received proceeds of $300,000 from Albert Hagar, to whom it will repay an aggregate of $315,000 within 30 days after demand is made for payment. CirTran president Iehab Hawatmeh gave a personal guarantee for the note.
 
It is the second time in a month the company has issued a $315,000 note. On March 31, CirTran issued five promissory notes for an aggregate indebtedness of $315,000 to five individuals.
 
For its 2007 fiscal year, CirTran reported a net loss of $7.2 million on revenues of $12.4 million.
TAIPEI – Foxconn Electronics reported first-quarter net profits rose 2.9% year-over-year to NT$16.07 billion (US$528.6 million), despite sales growth of more than 20%.

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MONTREALAim Solder named Michael Burgess strategic account manager, responsible for the company’s line of solder assembly materials.  He will manage and coordinate all promotional, sales and customer support activities.
 
Burgess holds a degree in engineering and brings more than 17 years of industry experience, including stints at Cookson and PhotoStencil. He is based in Monument, CO.
 
Montreal-based Aim is a global manufacturer of assembly materials.
 
SAN JOSE, CA – Worldwide sales of semiconductors of $63.4 billion for the first quarter of 2008 were 3.8% higher than the same period last year, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported today.

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SANTA ANA, CA – PCB manufacturer TTM Technologies Inc. reported first-quarter 2008 net sales of $174.1 million, up 3.9% year-over-year.
 
Net income was $14.4 million, up 21.5% compared to the same period last year, according to TTM.
 
Strong operating cash flow of $26.8 million enabled further pay down of debt associated with the Printed Circuit Group acquisition, the firm said. TTM paid down $10 million in debt during the first quarter, reducing the debt balance to $75 million.
 
“We delivered another quarter of solid financial performance, with the aerospace/defense end market showing improved strength, coupled with continued strong demand for our high-tech manufacturing services. Our results were above expectations, and we realized sequential improvement in net sales, gross margin and net income,” said Kent Alder, president and CEO of TTM.

TTM posted operating income of $24.4 million for the quarter, up 39.2% sequentially.
 
For the PCB manufacturing segment, first quarter net sales were $148.7 million, up a slight 0.8% sequentially.
 
TTM estimates second-quarter revenues in a range of $170 million to $177 million.
ST. LOUIS – Electronics provider LaBarge Inc. reported fiscal 2008 third-quarter net sales of $75.4 million, up 27% year-over-year. Net earnings rose 52% year-over-year to $4.3 million, the company said.
 
Net sales for the nine months ended March 30 grew 18% to $201.7 million compared to the same period in 2007. Net earnings for the period grew 21% to $10.3 million.
 
Bookings remained strong during the third quarter, with the largest contributions coming from the defense, industrial and natural resources market sectors, said LaBarge.
 
After a record level of shipments in the third quarter, backlog at March 30 was $238.06 million, down 3% sequentially, and up 16% from a year earlier.
 
Shipments on a variety of defense programs comprised the largest portion of revenues, accounting for 37% of net sales, compared with 39% in the previous year’s third quarter.
 
Shipments to industrial customers were 19% of revenues, compared to 14% in the same quarter last year. Shipments to commercial aerospace customers were 8% of revenues, compared with 5% last year. Shipments to medical customers represented 7%, versus 3% in the year-ago third quarter.
 
LaBarge anticipates sales and earnings in the fourth quarter to be comparable to third-quarter results.

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