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EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR)

2012 Citi Technology Conference Call

September 6, 2012 2:00 pm ET

Executives

Hong Q. Hou – Chief Executive Officer

Mark B. Weinswig – Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Thanks for attending Citi’s Annual Technology Conference. My name is Kevin Dennean, I’m the Comm Equipment Analyst here at Citi. Thanks for joining us today. A couple of quick house keeping issues, first we do have disclosures up in front end, we encourage you to take a look at those. Secondly, the presentation it’s being webcast, the format is going to be a presentation from EMCORE. Since you may up here in the stage and we’ll turn it out to the audience for questions from you folks. If you do have a question raise your hand, we’ll get a mike to you, so for the benefit of those listening on the webcast, so they have the benefit of hearing your question.

So we’re pleased to have EMCORE back with us again this year. To my right here your left is Hong Hou, CEO of EMCORE; and to my left your right is Mark Weinswig, the Chief Financial Officer. Hong is going to kick it off with a presentation, get us caught of the speed on a story that I think has changed a fairly given out over last year itself. So with that I’ll turn it over to you Hong.

Hong Q. Hou

Thank you Kevin. Good afternoon, as Kevin said I’ll give you a update, EMCORE certainly to some of you are pretty familiar name, but over the last several years we have restructured the company especially in the last couple of quarters, pretty significantly. I think we are very excited about the business flowing out we have right now. And the first slide, just to give you a quick overview of the company. We run the fiscal year from October through September, so we’ll be finishing our fiscal 2012. But in last year, our revenue roughly about $200 million and we operate headquartered in Albuquerque in New Mexico and our fiber optics components effort has been primarily in California.

We’ve a factory in China and we also have a joint venture on the solar side, solar energy solar power side we have 40% equity interest that is based in China as well. And the three primary operations in U.S, our headquarter in Albuquerque, which is also the site of design and manufacture of space solar components and solar panels for satellite. And the other two main locations are in Pasadena, California area and Newark, California area in the Bay area.

So we had four business units and in two business segments, one segment is in Fiber Optics and the other one is a Solar Photovoltaics. And actually over the last three months we have gone through a pretty substantive restructuring as Kevin mentioned. And we about a year ago the management team along with our Board of Directors had a very thorough review on the product line profitability.

So we get a pretty diverse portfolio of which some of the products and reaches now almost the end of life, so we decided to discontinue some of the products. We are the first couple of other areas for example enterprise fiber optics components, which needs significant investment to keep the leading position. And we decided to divest that business and we did, we sold the Fiber Optics business VCSEL-based to Sumitomo in early May.

The other area we’ve been contemplating a different strategy over the last actually two, three years with the CTV our concentrated photovoltaics. So basically a solution based on high efficiency solar cell, we developed that for space power applications combined with the optics to solve and to try to provide the most cost effective solution for a land based solar power applications. As you will probably know that market has been I would say very dynamic in the last couple of years, we feel like try to catch a falling knife, so there’s too much risk, too much exposure and about a month ago we decided to consolidate the entire effort into our joint venture with a Chinese partner and we’ll still maintain a 40% of equity interest and but we would not have any further investment into that area.

So after this two major restructuring along with a tremendous effort to recover from the flood impact in Thailand for our contract manufacturers, we now are pretty excited about they are lined up and in the next presentation we’ll be changing our – the business to line up basically right now we have three operating divisions; space, solar, those are broadband, cable TV and telecom optical components.

Out of this three there are two of them that really are pretty established, stable business and we’re the market leader and the revenue combine this two divisions roughly about $150 million and a gross margin about 28% to 30%, operating margin in a range about 8% to 12%. So we have a great visibility and a lion share in the market in strongest competitive positions in the market place.

Back to this division we called broadband, the other one is called the space solar power. For these two divisions, the business representing about 5% to 10% year-over-year growth. They are cash cows but they are not ready to driving engine for the group. But the driving engine out of our business portfolio, is the telecom optical components and after to carve out of the enterprise optical component that part was really you have two major product lines, one is the ITLA, that the integrated tunable laser assembly and ideally suited for 40 and 100 gigabit even in the future of 400 gigabit coherent transmission system. The other one is a newly introduced a product Tunable XFP for 10 gigabit small form factor (inaudible).

So in the next few slides, I’ll give you more detailed update in each of this three business areas, and then leave plenty of time for you to ask any questions. Talk about our broadband fiber optics business, first. This is a portfolio primarily attracts the transmitting, receiving line cards in say your cable TV fiber collections, hybrid fiber collection network to provide broadband single-play services. With a leading supplier, we probably have about 75% of the share in North America, our customer base is basically who is who and everyone equipment manufacturer space Motorola, Cisco, Aurora. Harmonic and Arris, and also some second tier equipment manufacturers.

We have been providing the key components have been driving the innovation to industry and it will provide multi cost effective way to operate the network, so that they will have enough bandwidth to compete with Telcos Fiber To The Home infrastructure and bandwidth offering.

In addition we have some differentiating technology in the Terahertz area in a radio frequency over fiber and also the Fiber Optic Gyro. Those are the enabling technology we believe over the next several years, we’ll be able to build a pretty strong business and which can deliver 25% year-over-year growth. But a cable TV side fundamentally will have about 5% to 10% year-over-year growth.

Again the competency in this area is not as serious as say in a telecom enterprise optical space. And we were able to hold on a pretty good margin and we continue to innovate and reduce the cost through engineering design and our fulfillment infrastructure was damaged during the flood and we rebuild the manufacturing infrastructure in a wholly owned subsidiary in China. And so we expect over the next several quarters, we’ll be able to improve the operating margin to internal manufacturing. But right now, we’ve fully recovered from the flood and in terms of the capacity and the cost structure of that end of the September.

So the product we offered again, if you are seeing isn’t what we are allow to show it’s here, as more to send a long pizza box format, our primary business is the ODM, we designed the product in the line card and private label for our customers. So that’s our broadband business,

Telecom Fiber Optics business and this is really the growth engine and this is the area representing probably the fastest growth of the optical component industry. So we again in this business unit we have two product lines, one is a tunable laser over the entire C-band or L-band, viewed upon the external cavity laser platform, so this laser is really be considered as the laser choice by the industry for 40 gigabits and 100 gigabits coherent applications. And we have been developing and improving this laser design over the last 15 years through our ownership at EMCORE, our previous ownership entered Intel. It’s really very difficult to make and then representing a very high barrier for competition, but the unique attribute or characteristic of this laser is really perfectly suitable for the coherent applications.

Today for our 40 gigabit and 100 gigabit, even in the future 400 gigabit per second applications. The second part of line is 10 gigabit tunable XFPs, this one is a pretty hard product as well and the primary target is to replace the fixed wavelength DWDM XFP transceivers and 300-pin transponders and for where the equivalent performance in much smaller form factor and power consumption.

So the market driver for our tunable XFP is to replace 300-pin transponder as I talked about and the fixed wavelength XFP that had aggregated total addressable market, anywhere from the kind of which report you’re reading and the $250 million to even $400 million, $500 million per year, and we’ve seen a lot of applications the replacement of the fixed wavelengths, part of way to the replacement of the 300-pin transponder that effort just started and the reason that’s important to notice the timing is that we’re not number one, in tunable XFP and JDS Uniphase and Finisar are probably more established like a better market penetration, but we believe our product has the better performance for the applications that we are replacing 300-pin transponder, when that application start picking up we should be benefiting from that favorable churns to us.

Then the product line of tunable ITLA is really as I said for the coherent architecture, but two years ago, people have a lot of debate in coherent and NiTi applications are mainstream, I don’t think they are in much of the debate at this point anymore because of the total compatibility to 40 gigabit to 100 gigabit even in the future of 400 gigabit and coherent, it’s becoming the mainstream in every equipment manufacturers, if they have not having their own system to deploy. They are working to deploy and developing that systems. And we are riding up front and center of this new wave of industry trend.

So the manufacturer infrastructure was also damaged by the Thailand flooding and fortunately, we were keeping our heads down in the last year or so, we’ve got that the ITLA production line fully filled up and right now we are running a full capacity at a pre-flood level. About a month ago, we announced our plan to increase the capacity by another 50%, so we are in a process of receiving the key along these equipment, which should be getting the additional capacity put in place within four months. So with the additional capacity, we’ll be able to have a run rate above $50 million a year. That infrastructure can support the revenue level of a $50 million a year.

So then the tunable XFP line was damaged by the flood and also. And we rebuild it and right now really are at we still doing the manufacturing in the Bay Area facility, needless to say that not are cost competitive. So we are shipping products at a negative gross margin and now I’d mentioned about a year ago when we review the product line profitability, we have 12 product lines losing money, and through this one year restructuring, right now the only product line we’re losing money is this one, tunable XFP. But we have a clear path to fix this problem, the path is that we view the line at Fabrinet in Thailand.

We had produced a part in a qualification side to half way through that. Our key customers are scheduling to – are scheduled to visit us to have their on-site ordered later part of this month. So we expect it by the end of October, we should be getting the green light from the two key customers that’s representing about 65% to 70% of our current demand for the tunable XFP out of the 15 qualified customers. So once we’ve got this tool going the others should follow. We’re pretty optimistic, by the end of December everything we should get our product line fixed to not having any for losing money, product line.

So at the end, in pictorial form, the tunable XFP is on the left-hand side and that ITLA is laser integrated with the control circuit for wavelength tuning. We also separately offer a sub assembly product, which has kept our engines in the tunable XFP to some selected customers. In this area we are not only offering the market-leading products, we have a couple of generations of the products in our roadmap. Immediately we are begin the development is a 100 gigabit CFP Transceivers and micro-ITLAs, and then followed after that is the integrated products within the tunable lasers and the modulators were 40 and 100 gigabit of applications.

Our strategy is that we have a narrower product portfolio compared to our peers in the industry, but we wanted to fully exploit the advantage of this platform, external cavity laser, so that we can fully utilize our manufacturing infrastructure and our knowledge base.

In our view, that coherent it’s just started at this point, it started with the line card, then it’s going to be expanded into the transponder transceiver area. When that happening – when that transition is happening, the industry need a compact small form factor and low power optical engines. And we wanted to get ourselves ready before that transition happens.

So again the recovery at this point of time we pretty much get a fully recovered for every product line and manufacturing infrastructure, compared with the pre-flood level. And the added capacity, it’s really to satisfy the increasing demand from the marketplace and the customers.

So we have a very strong customer base I think it’s fair to say, the telecom side that there are no customers they haven’t qualified our products. So when we increase the capacity we don’t really have to say qualify additional customers, it’s simply driving the favorable market share shift to our side. And on half of that, the industry is forecasting a very healthy growth. In the telecom side, we’re able to demonstrate pre-flooding 100% revenue growth year-over-year for two years in a row. We’re expecting the telecom side to continue to grow at a pace probably greater than 60% year-over-year.

So on the solar side people would often ask this is really different things. Yeah, there are little synergy between solar and fiber optics component, how do I get there is because of the company’s legacy and history, in core competency of semiconductor material devices. So it’s a good cash cow business and very stable and very, they are going to get a long visibility. We have multiple years supply agreement with almost all key customers in the aerospace industry. So counting in the three years our backlog is in the $90 million range. And with the schedule to be delivered is in the $46 million, right now we have in the backlog.

What we have is a multiple-junction solar cells and some of them we integrate into the solar panels, and this is for radiation-hardened application of the spacecraft. Their most recent launch is the Curiosity to Mars and we supply the solar panel, which powered the spacecraft to cruise from the earth orbit over to Mars. And we have launched, supported over 110 programs so far which have the spacecraft launched and they are operating in the orbit. We had zero on-orbit failures. So we are actually very well recognized in the industry as a quality and reliability leader. For that we can commence some premium they can reduce the insurance premium cost.

At the end of product, in this areas as we supply solar cells to some customers, we supply the fully integrated solar panels. The business in this area again it’s about $60 million to $70 million of gross margin, about 30% and the operating margin about 8% to 12%. So it does have a little bit variability because we do all the manufacturing in Albuquerque, so we have our fixed cost and it depends on our program timing. If $4 million roll into one quarter the other quarter can cost some variability in margins. But we are basically in duopoly situation, the only other competitor viable one is a subsidiary of Boeing company. And we are the sole supplier to many of the aerospace industries.

So this is a great business we get a good visibility and you know there are about 320 geosynchronous orbit satellites in there, and their service life is only about 15 years. So every year, we need to replace about 20 some satellites. Translate into dollar amount, this 20 some might long solar panel level is about $150 million business.

So you know I think this is sustainable it’s not really going to be impacted by the government spending much because our total revenue mix is only about 10% are from the government. But that also representing a upside it really, if the spending cycle comes back in the future, we are fully ready because our infrastructure is certified as the trusted supplier by our government.

So I would just use a one slide to talk about our joint venture, a couple of years ago, we established a CTV joint venture with a Chinese company, the largest LED manufacturer, called San'an Optoelectronics. They have a tremendous type of penetration and great relationship with the local governments, so we view the facility, it’s fully up and running, and we have produced about 35 megawatt of CTV modules and we’re scheduled to get out 50 megawatt complete before the end of this year and get them installed. And next year, the infrastructure can support 100 megawatt, and now the solar market right now is crazy. It’s really very dynamic, very risky, but the near term focus for Suncore, is going to be on the Chinese market only to the area, they values the unique contribution of more power generation by CTV systems.

I think the industry is going to be going through a restructuring consolidation after that we will see how to go but, no matter what to through this transaction we announced about a month ago, and EMCORE does not have any exposure on the loan balance sheet basically we wrote off all the investment on our balance sheet. They are no impact on the income statement either, because according to equity accounting principal, so it’s a lot of gain of the joint venture is not going to be reflected in our P&L unless it goes to the positive territory.

So last slide to recap basically a take away once you to have is that we are different EMCORE now, we are absolutely, I think the management and the Board of Directors have never been this determined to drive the profitability. We had gone through the restructuring, we have recovered from the floods. And now the three business units, two of them are the cash cow, have this very stable and predictable performance with the profitable business. And the telecom representing the fastest growing business, the two products probably two components, the two product lines are the two fastest growing product lines in the industry.

So the ITLA already recovered and it’s already profitable, the only one we’re working on to turn that around is tunable XFP. By transferring manufacturing from Bay Area to Thailand and ramp up the certain capacity, we’ll turn that product line to profitability. Therefore, the whole company, the combined basis will be turning into profitability, again. If you remind – I’m saying the profitability so many times that’s really the single focus for the management team, in the next several quarters. Thank you very much.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Hong, once you join us back here and maybe we can talk a little bit, there’s a lot of stuff and clearly a lot of changes at EMCORE over the last year, just want to frame it out a little bit. So when we think of EMCORE, we should think about it as being kind of leaner, meaner, EMCORE that’s wholly focused on profitability. And is it right when we look at, talk about the solar business first, I just wanted to make sure that we understand it correctly, your CTV business has been essentially de-risked the passing into a JV, where it doesn’t pull through the P&L and is it fair to say that you don’t have really kind of capital requirements in terms of funding that business in terms of CapEx and things like that.

Hong Q. Hou

Right, okay, so we contributed capital and the joint venture partner they generated tremendous governmental subsidy, so they are well capitalized, and we do not have any fund, they don’t have any need for further capital investment.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

And then, Mark this space solar business that stays within EMCORE and it’s sounds like that is kind of the CFO, dream business right, really secure position, Hong spoke about much of back.

Mark B. Weinswig

We love that businesses and it has $45 million of backlog and this backlog will be cyclical in the next 12 months. So we typically have about 85% and 90% coverage of the every internal quarter, it’s profitable and it has an operating margin of 8% to 10%, which is a very nice business to have.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

And it’s sort of business you think any time that you hitting that so many [news] of semiconductor we should think about utilization rate because that is always kind of a leverage point. It’s the sort of business that you are able to maintain both the steady state utilization rate, so that margins and through puts are relatively confident.

Hong Q. Hou

Key thing for us is to making sure we’ve discern amount of revenue and so for us basically being between $63 million and $70 million, which means we are running the fab at very high capacity levels, which means that we can actually meet our target margins.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Okay. Terrific, right, so let’s focus a little bit on the Telecom side after that we’ll turn out the floor on Q&A. So in terms of you need a lot of tough decisions as an orientation of improving the product portfolio. And can you talk a little bit about you mentioned that you dug us your enterprise business. What was behind that decision, what was – and clearly it’s driven by profitability what was in enterprise more profitable was it the scale issue, was it a product issue and why we play better going forward?

Hong Q. Hou

Yeah. So Kevin, the enterprise business requires, we have a list of facts, the list of facts, we primarily the supporting the internal need. So the internal needs as parallel to optical cables and active optical cables, we just did not have enough need to load the fixed infrastructure, you are talking about semiconductor manufacturing.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Right.

Hong Q. Hou

That’s right on the fixed cost is too high for us to maintain the fab. But if we go to the marketplace to get a list of components on the open merchant, it’s not exactly working very well, it’s takes a long cycle to get it qualified. So we kind of like facing this under utilization issue. Yeah we can get into more areas like a XFP plus but is already commoditized.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Right.

Hong Q. Hou

You have to invest more to get into the blood bath and we just feel like you know that’s hard for us to turn that around.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Okay.

Hong Q. Hou

But you can representing tremendous value to a company like Sumitomo who has other applications like automotive and consumer electronics.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Because they were will be able to take that mix of capacity.

Hong Q. Hou

Exactly, they can better utilize the fact certainly to our sense.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

So let’s focus now on similar remaining telecom products, and may be you can talk about too specifically. The Tunable laser business and its application in coherent and may be you can talk a little bit about tunable XFPs. What’s different about how EMCORE provides the tunable laser and you really wanted to. I think you said that – I think also the technology difference that you have versus competitors if you miss that all, I can start up now, and I’ll leave it to the doctor, if we were to kind of walk through that. You know everybody has a little bit of a different design technology going after the tunable laser market. We use the what’s known as store cavity laser, it allows us to have really superior performance especially in when you talk about the needs of 40 and 100 gig kind of the surgical requirements and they aligning it. Our laser basically becomes the laser of choice of this market.

You know prior to flood we thought that we had about 85% plus market share. And now that we have aligned the back, around back up we are looking to basically be able to go back and get as much market share back as we can.

Mark B. Weinswig

So this laser really has been designed and manufactured and probably seven to eight years ago, primarily to support 300 pin transponder as of now. And because we initially I see is not that good, and EML performance is not that good. So our lasers was used primarily to support that. Two of that will have established a very mature manufacturing infrastructure. When the coherent concept started four, five-years ago, first, we were working with Nortel and [Ciena] in a key equipment manufacturers. And we were working with them very closely, very quickly we’ll realize this really laser of the choice.

All the key attributes been it’s like a narrow bandwidth high power and stability wavelength in everything you need for the coherent applications. Then very quickly was adopted by the industry and pre-flood we had pretty much everyone already qualified. So yeah certainly there are some competition in some of them is using the monolithic laser the DSC lasers. But is it more a fundamental design issue. And it’s not like they are not capable of improving it., if they don’t want to change their platform drastically, though not have a easy way to improve the laser performance to meet the coherent laser applications, when they chance to platform they encroach into our intellectual property territories. No, think we’ll have a significant lead in this area in foreseeable future, and if I’ve to predict I don’t see any way if you look it at catch up in that performance in the next 18 months.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

And is that a function of the fact that you are an external. You’ve in terms of the cavities longer and we are in competitive products what do they bring to market.

Hong Q. Hou

They use the semiconductor about a millimeter or two millimeter long cavity, but if you

Imagine, if you can get it stretched to half an inch to an inch at length. It’ going to be so

expensive to make so low yield and the performance it’s going to be compromised.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

And at the same time you said that your external cavities service like laser, it’s a mature product and through manufacturing process, it’s actually your yield probably pretty high.

Hong Q. Hou

So there yeah and we have gone through the learning curve, several years ago.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

I’ve a quick question on kind of demand trends on that and we’ll turn the floor for question. Can you talk a little bit about and demand trends on 40G and 100G I understand you mentioned that you currently manufacture, if I understood it correctly the current manufacturing that in your California facility, is planned to send the manufacturing over to China. But have how is the demand trend been, have you seen kind of continuous ramping is it more fits and starts, smoothening your curve?

Hong Q. Hou

So that the demand trend for this ITLA product line right now we know really we recovered to the pre-flood capacity, we still have to mouth. And ITLA laser is manufactured out of the production line, is spoken to, into the customers right away. And I think we through this, the flood process has starved the supply chain so much I think even the overall market take a pause there, leveled off a little bit because of CapEx I think our customer are probably smart enough try to stock pile a little bit, a month, to two months supply. So that’s why we committed capital to build additional capacity of a 50% more. As for tunable XFP, we have 15 customers qualified using our product in their commercial shipment system. But you know we are facing a dilemma, the more we produce in the Bay Area, the more money we would lose.

We have to be comparative in the pricing. But we don’t want to develop a gap. When we develop a gap to the customers, they haven’t get any parts from us for a while, our name will drop off their radar screens, so we in that funny periods and but that period is going to be ending in October.

Question-and-Answer-Session

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Hello, we see if we have any questions in the audience. The mike is coming.

Unidentified Analyst

I’m just wondering, I noticed I’m one of your customer chart you had Opnext and Eau Claire, I was wondering, what you were actually selling to Opnext and Eau Claire, I think of them as more a competitors.

Hong Q. Hou

They are in many areas and that had also acquired the 40 gig and 100 gig (inaudible) line card transponders business, the Mintera for Oclaro, and StrataLight for Opnext in the past, they are using ITLA as well.

Unidentified Analyst

And then back to the 10G except pretty established market well (inaudible) issue is there and I think Finisar. What’s your landscape going to look like?

Mark B. Weinswig

The landscape looks like if you think about yeah there are two more established suppliers in there. But in order to make tunable XFP you probably pretty much have to have your own laser stores. Look at today maybe four five companies are capable of moving and making that. They are five or six year ago there are probably 25 companies making 300 pin transponders. So I think in three, four suppliers it’s not really crowded space we’ll get our fair share of business. Also for one particular application which is 300 pin transponder replacement, we do believe we have advantage if we operate at same price the performance as we were told by some customers, our product is the only one as today, can meet the current 300 pin transponder specification. So any other questions from floor.

Unidentified Analyst

I’ve one quick follow up on that, and it’s somewhat similar question So (inaudible) optical transceiver it’s a very messy market charge rate. And commoditize them as a tunable it seems that there is secret (inaudible) of tunable laser. But how you are going to win, how you are going to design win, you’ve talked about one specific application for tunable transponder replacement, but in a broader sense how do you break into that market, is it do you think that OEMs want to kind of balance quarters across a small – a few components provided, is it, will it be on price, will it be on reliability, capacity and supply chain. So just wondering how do you get traction in that market. We’ve heard other people talk like getting in there. And to a great extent it’s still JDSU’s market.

Hong Q. Hou

Yeah, it’s tough and for the MSA product especially it’s tough, we are selling our performance for a tenability, power and 300-pin direct replacement, we think in those specification, those niche applications, not niche, exactly it can be pretty big market when the replacement started.

We have a better advantage of that. And also the equipment manufacturer, the reason they develop MSA, they want to have market to get lighter, so that they can, we can fight out for our fair share of the business. It’s not going to be easy, but we will get out there our fair share of allocations.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

But it sounds like really where you think your best opportunities would break in without using prices (inaudible) the performance because of the 300 pin transponder.

Hong Q. Hou

Exactly.

Kevin J. Dennean – Citigroup Global Markets

Okay. Perfect. With that I think we are out of time. Thanks everybody for joining us. Hong, Mark thanks very much, we appreciate it. Thanks.

Hong Q. Hou

Thank you, Kevin.

Mark B. Weinswig

I appreciate it. Thanks.

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