Nanotech: Atomic Potential

12/31/2004 12:00 am EST


Josh Wolfe

Editor, Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report

Josh Wolfe seeks "big" gains from the world of "small" science. His area of expertise is the emerging field of nanotechnology. Here, he looks at a nanotech firm whose instruments allow scientists and researchers to operate at the atomic level.

"Our top pick for 2005 is FEI Company (FEIC NASDAQ), a company today known for providing semiconductor equipment that has aggressively established a leadership position in nanotechnology. FEI is a key vendor of critical nanotechnology tools, including transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), focused ion-beam systems (FIBs), and DualBeam systems that combine a FIB column and a SEM column on a single platform. These instruments provide nanotechnology researchers with the ability to image and manipulate atomic scale materials and devices.

"In its most recent quarter, FEI singled out nanotechnology tools as the strongest component of its business, with the company's 'Industry and Institute' markets seeing 29% sequential sales growth over the previous quarter and a 22% increase over the prior year. FEI also boosted its gross margin for the quarter to 42.3% from 40.3% in the previous quarter. We continue to believe FEI's business will be boosted over the coming quarters by substantive corporate and academic investments in nanotechnology instrumentation."

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