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POET Technologies Inc.

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POET Technologies Reports Second Quarter 2019 Financial Results
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August 28, 2019 18:51 ET | Source: POET Technologies Inc.

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 28, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- POET Technologies Inc. (“POET” or the “Company”) (OTCQX: POETF; TSX Venture: PTK), a designer, developer and manufacturer of optoelectronic devices, including light sources, passive wave guides, and Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) for the data- and tele-communication markets, today reported its unaudited consolidated financial results for the three and six months ended June 30, 2019. The Company’s financial results as well as the Management Discussion and Analysis for the periods have been filed on SEDAR.

Due to the impending sale of its wholly owned subsidiary, DenseLight Semiconductor Pte Ltd (“DenseLight”), the Company is required to report the activities of DenseLight as a discontinued operation with effect from January 1, 2019. The Financial Statements filed today reflect this classification. The Company intends to continue to operate as a single integrated entity until the sale is completed, which is expected to close on or before October 31, 2019. For comparative purposes, all financial data below represent the combined results from both continuing and discontinued operations and is presented on a proforma, non-IFRS basis in the table at the bottom of this press release. The required IFRS presentation of the Company’s Financial Statements can be found in its recent filings on SEDAR.

Second Quarter and Recent Highlights:

Revenue, including contribution from discontinued operations, decreased to US$1.4 million in Q2 2019 from US$1.8 million in Q1 2019, however, revenue year-to-date increased by 129%, from US$1.4 million in 2018 to US$3.2 million in 2019;
Gross margin, including contribution from discontinued operations, contracted to 70% in Q2 2019 from 80% in Q1 2019 while year-to-date gross margin increased to 76% in 2019 from 59% in 2018;
The third and fourth tranches of Convertible Debenture private placements were closed for gross proceeds year of US$1.1 (C$1.4) million, bringing the total capital raised year-to-date through the Convertible Debentures to approximately US$3.6 (C$4.8) million;
Signed definitive agreement for the sale of DenseLight (the “Share Sale Agreement” or “SSA”) on August 20, 2019.
Scheduled Annual and Special Meeting of the Shareholders for September 20, 2019 in Toronto.
The closing of the sale of DenseLight is expected to occur on or before October 31, 2019 and is subject to certain conditions that are outlined in the SSA, including the approval of POET’s shareholders.
Part 1; Focus on the future!

POET has targeted as the first application of the Optical Interposer the development of Optical Engines for transceivers. Transceivers are used to convert digital electronic signals into light signals and to transmit and receive those light signals via fiber optic cables within datacenters and between datacenters and metropolitan centers in a vast data and tele-communications network. We have delivered and expect to deliver more prototypes of certain components designed for our Optical Engines throughout the remainder of 2019, and prototype Optical Engines later in the year. These prototypes are expected to address an emerging high-growth segment of the current market for Optical Engines. Continued development of our Optical Engine prototypes is intended to add several commonly used communication protocols and data speeds to increase the functionality of our Optical Engines and to address broader markets. Concurrently, we also intend to begin development of additional applications for the Optical Interposer platform in telecommunications, and other rapidly growing markets.

Virtually all of POET's R&D expenditures in recent years have been in some way connected to the Optical Interposer. We expect to continue to spend the majority of our R&D resources for the foreseeable future on Optical Interposer-based components across a variety of potential applications. We also incur R&D expenditures for conventional non-interposer-based products that we develop and manufacture for our legacy sensing product lines that represent the majority of our current sales. However, we intend to develop and transition these products to the Optical Interposer, because of the resulting cost and performance advantages that it provides.

POET’s Optical Interposer development program consists of over 20 development projects in three areas: 1) Active Component Development, which includes a variety of application-specific Indium Phosphide (InP)-based lasers, detectors and modulators; 2) Passive Component Development, which includes application-specific filters, mux-demux devices, waveguides and spot size converters, all designed and fabricated using POET’s proprietary dielectric materials and processes; and 3) Core Integration Process Development, which includes processes such as assembly, hermetic sealing, flip-chip techniques, reflection management, and wafer-level test.

In order to optimize our development resources, we have taken a “building block” approach, beginning with the most fundamental functions needed for the Optical Interposer in each of these three areas. The Optical Interposer is unique in the industry, incorporating several “first time ever” implementations of advanced semiconductor packaging techniques to optics and completely new, novel designs for components. To minimize risk and maximize the probability of successful outcomes, we run parallel development programs, both internal and external. Our external programs engage development partners or subcontractors to provide devices, process expertise or equipment that we do not have internally.

As a platform technology, Optical Interposer development does not have a specific end-point. Each application of the Optical Interposer requires development specific to the application. POET’s product roadmap is currently focused on the development of Optical Engines for optical transceivers. Optical Engines include all of the photonics-related components of a transceiver but do not include several of the electronic devices needed for a functioning transceiver module. Nor does it include the external packaging and optical fibers. The electronics needed for a transceiver that are not part of the Optical Engine include such devices as Trans-Impedance Amplifiers (TIA’s), laser drivers, etc. that are produced by major semiconductor manufacturers. Nevertheless, Optical Engines represent the majority of the cost and value of most optical transceivers.

The “active” components that are included in a POET Optical Engine include lasers, detectors and modulators fabricated on InP substrates. To exploit the unique functionality of the Optical Interposer, each of these devices must be made to a design that integrates spot size converters (“SSCs”) and allows the device to be compatible with a flip-chip assembly process. Our DenseLight subsidiary has been engaged for the past two and one-half years in the development of designs and process technologies to build such devices for the Optical Interposer. To accelerate the development process, we have either combined efforts with development partners, purchased wafers to specific designs or licensed technology as a means to supplement our internal development efforts. One of our earliest internal developments is a QuadPIN photodetector, which was introduced to customers for qualification in late 2018 at 25G1 speeds. The performance of this device is being improved to allow it to be used at 50Gbps speeds for use in 400G transceiver Optical Engine.

As we continue that development, we intend to place our QuadPIN device on an Optical Interposer with an integrated thru waveguide, primarily as a means to demonstrate the functionality and versatility of the Optical Interposer platform. We have supplemented our active component device development with co-development partners and license agreements, including for certain types of lasers and modulators. In particular, we have initiated the development of Optical Interposer-compatible components at Almae, one of our development partners. This not only mitigates the risk to internal development and accelerates time to market, but it also ensures a second source of Optical Interposer-compatible active components, a critical part of our strategy going forward. In parallel to these activities,
Part 2; Focus on the future!
POET has also directed development programs in the other two areas for the Optical Interposer platform outside of DenseLight, including Passive Component design and development and Core Integration process development. Passive devices, as mentioned above, include filters, mux-demux devices, waveguides and spot size converters, all designed and fabricated using POET’s proprietary dielectric materials and processes.

We recently established a waveguide development lab in Ottawa in association with Mill View Photonics. We plan to expand that effort over time in order to design waveguides for specific applications for the Optical Interposer across several vertical markets. The actual fabrication of the passive devices, which are built on 8-inch diameter silicon wafers is performed by our foundry partner, SilTerra Malaysia (“SilTerra”). The devices fabricated at SilTerra represent the base foundational elements of the Optical Interposer on which the active devices are placed. In early 2018 we transferred the basic processes for the deposition and patterning of our proprietary dielectric material from a university lab to SilTerra. We purchased dedicated equipment in order to preserve the intrinsic intellectual property of the processes, and since early 2018 we have continued to improve those processes in order to make them suitable for high volume manufacturing.

The third area, Core Integration Process Development, highlights the fundamental benefits of the Optical Interposer platform as primarily an advanced packaging technology that allows true wafer-scale assembly and test. We do not believe that such true wafer-scale integration has yet been demonstrated by any other technology in the photonics industry. We are able to achieve chip-level integration and wafer-scale assembly, test and packaging because all of the active devices include SSCs and are designed to be placed and “matched” to passive device interfaces on the foundational Optical Interposer wafer using pick-and-place assembly techniques. We achieve high levels of coupling efficiency between each device, eliminating the high cost and cumbersome process of testing each component following placement. Once placed and tested at wafer scale, each Optical Interposer device is sealed, the wafer is separated into hundreds of individual die, and the final Optical Engine is ready for shipment to the customer. Each of these process steps, from flip-chipping of devices onto the dielectric, pick and place assembly, hermetic sealing and singulation required substantial innovation and development, including several techniques that are unique in the photonics and compound semiconductor industries.

Late in 2018 we were approached by two large global networking companies that saw promise in using all or part of our Optical Interposer technology for their 400G transceiver development projects. These projects offered the benefits of payment for development, intersection with major companies at the early stage of their development projects for next generation transceivers, the prestige of working with industry-leading companies, and the potential for our Optical Engines to be included as major components of the planned shipments of transceivers by these companies. We took a major decision to reorder our priorities in order to effectively support these companies. We believe that addressing product-specific requirements with willing partners and committed funding is the optimal way to introduce the Optical Interposer technology to the market. Identifying and overcoming individual technical challenges increases the likelihood of success and promotes innovation.
Part 3; Focus on the future!

We expect that successful implementation of our designs into component prototypes, combined with the cost advantage inherent in Optical Interposer-based solutions, will lead to additional funding for other projects, as well as to contracts for the delivery of production devices, once fully qualified.

The immediate consequence of our decision to work with leading industry partners on 400G transceivers was to give priority to the acceleration of the development of higher performance lasers, modulators and detectors needed for 400G, at the expense of our programs for 100G. Another factor in our decision-making process was that the market for 100G transceivers has flattened in terms of revenue and appears to be maturing much faster than the industry anticipated. Industry total revenue for 100G transceivers in 2019 is expected to be flat or lower than 2018. With unit volume going up, pricing is down and therefore margins are squeezed even more heavily than during 2018.

Our plan to deliver 400G devices is essentially unchanged from prior plans, which targeted the release of Transmit and Receive (TROE) Optical Engine prototypes to customers for qualification2 in the second half of 2019. Our revised plan calls for all of the required active components, waveguides for certain standards, and core integration processes to be far enough along to allow the Company to produce both 400G prototypes and 100G prototypes late in 2019 and into early 2020.

We expect to be able to introduce the less complex standards, such as DR4 for 400G and Parallel Single Mode 4-fiber (“PSM4”) for 100G somewhat earlier than the more complex FR4 for 400G and Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (“CWDM”) standards. In each case we have multiple parallel programs aimed at these prototype products, utilizing both internal and external development resources. Further, while we had forecasted the completion of a Receive Only Engine (ROE) for 100G as our first planned prototype, we now expect that there will be little demand for a separate ROE, since customers will be able to qualify a full TROE instead, performing one rather than two qualification cycles for a more complete solution.

However, a 100G TROE with a CWDM filter represents the second generation of transceivers being adopted and a standard which is expected to be dominant in the 100G datacom market in China. Early adopters of 100G transceivers in the United States utilized PSM4, a standard that does not incorporate the highly complex CWDM filter. The inherent cost advantage of an Optical Interposer-based 100G Optical Engines should still allow entry into the 100G market, but the level of penetration will depend on how far pricing will have fallen by year-end and into 2020. Nevertheless, because of the size of the market and the need for transceiver module suppliers to address margin concerns, an offering of a 100G CWDM TROE could still have major impact on POET’s datacommunications revenue over the next one to two years. Overall, we believe that our revised development roadmap represents a sound foundation for growth in 2020 and beyond. In recent quarters,

POET has taken major steps to advance its development of Interposer-based new products, including through the purchase of equipment, improvement of facilities and the strengthening of its engineering team with more highly qualified talent and larger staff, all represented in POET’s consolidated financial statements through additions to fixed assets and increased operating expenses. Certain additional capital equipment may be needed to enhance our development and production capabilities, but we expect only marginal increases in operating expenses over the quarter, as we are able to address the needs of our customers with our existing engineering staff and production facilities. Following the separation of the two companies, we will continue development of active devices at DenseLight at least through mid-2020. The next several quarters will be devoted to the successful completion of funded development programs, the introduction of new devices into qualification cycles with customers, and preparation for higher production volumes in subsequent quarters.

As a result of the contractual commitments to demonstrated certain aspects of the performance of the Optical Interposer, its components and sub-assembly prototypes, we anticipate additional Optical Engine prototype orders in late 2019 and into early 2020, fielded by our newly established Singapore subsidiary company, POET Technologies Pte Ltd (“POET Singapore”). Although the markets for photonic devices have been flat during the first half of 2019 due to global trade uncertainties, we remain optimistic that DenseLight will remain on a trajectory to meet forecasted revenue in the range of approximately $8 to $10 million. Gross Margins should increase as a result of the proportion of higher margin development contracts for Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) that utilize DenseLight’s existing engineering and operations staff. Negotiation efforts and transition activities related to the separation of the two companies have both required serious management attention. Nevertheless, we continue to plan for success in product development, with an intention in early 2020 to expand projects to markets beyond data communications for our Optical Interposer technology, such as telecommunications, Automotive LIDAR, and integration with Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), including switches and graphics generators.
A link to a live webcast of the AGSM of POET Technologies will be posted under the Investor Relations section of POET's website in advance of the meeting.
Register for the POET Technologies $PTK $POETF Annual & Special Meeting of Shareholders. Presenting at: 09/20/2019 10:00 AM (ET) Fill all fields & press Enter to join.
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