Bookham set to become leading light in optical component manufacturing

Bookham Technology took a major step towards its goal of becoming a world leader in optical components, unveiling first-half revenues up 900% to £7.13m and plans for a second factory.

The company reported a net loss of £17.7m for the six months to July, but the omens were good as demand for its products was fuelled by fast-growing internet-driven companies such as Nortel.

Bookham’s founder and chief executive Andrew Rickman said: `The results reflect increasing acceptance of our products within the optical networking marketplace. Our patented technology is seen to offer important competitive advantages, especially in the scalability of the manufacturing process.’

A new high-volume manufacturing site in Swindon employing 270, together with additional capacity at the company’s plant in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, will quadruple Bookham’s production by December.

The company is planning a secondary share offer, allowing it to tap into projected demand for fibre optic products of $23bn by 2003. It is thought this will be a mix of newly-issued stock and the part-sale of tightly-held equity by existing backers. City brokers expect strong interest given the upbeat outlook for the company.

David Larkam, analyst at stockbrokers Old Mutual Securities, said: `Bookham is just exploding at the moment. Its build-up rate is very, very steep. The only problem at the moment is fulfilling orders.

`The company could probably double output again within the next 12 months. It would not be surprising if it bought a plant in the US,’ he added.

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