February 25, 2014 / 7:51 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Aixtron warns of more losses as demand still weak

* 2014 operating result to improve but remain in red

* 2014 revenue seen flat vs 182.9 mln euros in 2013

* Demand for production equipment remained weak in 2013

* Aixtron omits 2013 dividend on loss

* Shares indicated 1.9 percent lower

FRANKFURT, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Germany’s Aixtron disappointed investor hopes for a return to operating profit this year as demand for its LED chip-making equipment remained weak.

It expects 2014 revenue to remain flat compared to 2013’s 182.9 million euros ($251 million), while its operating result will improve but remain in the red.

“Although capacity utilization rates in Aixtron’s target industries have increased significantly, for example at leading Taiwanese and Korean LED chip manufacturers, demand for production equipment remained at a very low level throughout the fiscal year 2013,” Aixtron said in a statement on Tuesday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had, on average, forecast an improvement in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to 5.9 million euros this year. ]

Shares in Aixtron were indicated to open 1.9 percent lower, at the bottom of Germany’s technology index, according to pre-market data at 0724 GMT.

Aixtron’s new chief executive laid out a strategy last year focused on returning to profit and wrestling back leadership of the global market for LED chip-making equipment from U.S. rival Veeco Instruments.

But in 2013, weak demand caused Aixtron’s equipment order backlog to drop by 25 percent to 59.6 million euros, while revenue fell by a third to 182.9 million.

Its EBIT loss narrowed to 95.7 million euros from 132.3 million a year earlier, just missing an analyst consensus forecast for a 91.1 million euro loss. By comparison, Veeco’s 2013 net loss widened to $22.1 million from $9.1 million.

As expected, Aixtron said it would pay its shareholders no dividend for a second year in a row.

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