Cree Shares Sink on Earnings, Outlook

Shares of Cree fell in after-hours trading Tuesday after the company released fiscal third quarter earnings and a fourth quarter outlook that failed to meet analysts projections.

Durham-based Cree (Nadsaq: CREE), which sells products for light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, said net income was $5.7 million, or 6 cents a share, in the quarter.

A year earlier, income was $21.1 million, or 27 cents a share. But excluding one-time items in both years, including stock expenses, amortization and a tax benefit of 22 cents in the year-ago quarter, net income nearly tripled. It went from $4.7 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2007 to $12 million a year later, Cree said.

Earnings per share, excluding one-time items, were 14 cents. Revenue increased 38 percent, to $125 million.

But analysts polled by Reuters had expected, on average, after-items earnings of 15 cents.

In a statement, CEO Chuck Swoboda said sales of LED components topped sales of LED chips for the first time.

LED technology uses semiconductors to emit light. Cree, a leader in making the chips used to light LEDs in devices ranging from cell phones to auto dashboards, has been moving its business toward developing products that can be placed into fixtures for residential and commercial LEDs.

In February, the company announced that it was buying LED Lighting Fixtures, which manufactures LED fixtures, for as much as $103. Neal Hunter, LED Lighting Fixtures' chief executive, is a co-founder and former CEO of Cree.

The purchase increased revenue by $0.7 million and cut earnings by 1 cent per diluted share in the quarter, Cree said. Swoboda told analysts in February that the deal should add $30 million to Cree's revenue in the fiscal year starting in July.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, which ends June 29, Cree said it expects revenue between $129 million and $133 million and after-items earnings of 12 to 14 cents per diluted share. Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting, on average, earnings of 16 cents a share.

Cree shares were off about 10 percent, to $28.05, in after-hours trading Tuesday.

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