The development work undertaken by the communications industry's components companies is still the bedrock upon which the rest of the industry builds, making it important to recognize the achievements of these vital players.
The winner will be announced at the Leading Lights Awards dinner on Monday, May 15, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. On the following day, the Big Communications Event opens its doors for two days of learning, networking and fun.
To find out which companies were shortlisted across all of this year's Leading Lights categories, please check out this story. (See Leading Lights 2017: The Finalists.)
So let's take a look at our finalists.
Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based chip vendor Microsemi Corp. , which supplies its semiconductor solutions to multiple vertical sectors, including the communications networking market, has had an outstanding year in terms of revenues and product developments. Its full-year sales leapt by nearly 33% to $1.65 billion in its fiscal year that ended in early October 2016 and its fiscal first-quarter results for the three months to January 1 2017 were up by 32.3% year-on-year to $435.5 million, while at the same time improving its non-GAAP gross margins (a record 63.5% in the first quarter). In addition, its share price hit an all-time high in January, peaking at $57.97.
For the comms and data center markets, where it supplies systems vendors such as Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Huawei, IBM, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE, it launched: the Switchtec PFX PCIe switch, which it claims provides the highest density, lowest power PCIe switch for data center and communications networks, defense and industrial applications; the miTimePLL, a "new family of network synchronization phase-locked loops for Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE), IEEE 1588 and OTN which have one third the jitter and half the footprint of current devices"; and the PolarFire FPGA family, which, according to Microsemi, offers the lowest power and most cost-optimized FPGA product family that can be deployed in access networks and wireless infrastructure.
Microsemi's portfolio range and executive management are leading the company into another year of anticipated growth, making it one of the stars of the components sector.
Oclaro Inc. (Nasdaq: OCLR) has also reported significant sales growth during the past year: In the six months to December 31, 2016, the company generated revenues of $289.4 million, up by 59% compared with the same period a year earlier. During calendar year 2017, the company expects to increase revenues by up to 30% and maintain gross margins in the upper 30s to 40% range while keeping operating costs at about 17% of sales. As a result of its financial success and healthy outlook, the company saw its share price rise from $4.99 on March 1, 2016 to $8.50 at the end of February this year.
The company's big breakthrough during the past year was the shipment of its CFP2-ACO, which is supporting the transition to higher-speed 100G, 200G and 400G optical networks. The Oclaro product "features a pluggable form factor that enables customers to minimize first installation costs and maintain flexibility to scale their networks over time by adding more capacity as needed," the company notes, adding that it was able to develop the product "by leveraging its photonic integration expertise and leading indium phosphide technology." Oclaro has experienced "strong demand" for that particular product "from both traditional equipment suppliers and new web 2.0 customers for data center interconnect applications." Key customers for Oclaro include Huawei, Nokia, ZTE and Coriant.
Oclaro's success has generated M&A talk during the past year, with many industry analysts believing it could be targeted by larger components companies.
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— Ray Le Maistre, , International Group Editor, Light Reading