The following includes questions and answers at the conference for the financial results for the Second Quarter of the Year Ending March 31, 2010.
Precision Equipment Business
Q. What is the outlook for the market of IC steppers and scanners?
A. While market conditions for IC steppers and scanners are improving, this has mainly centered on bolstering existing production lines, led by a recovery in the IC memory sector, and we anticipate that investment in next-generation lithography products that use the latest NSR-S620 ArF immersion scanner remains some time off. We forecast that the market size for IC steppers and scanners in 2009 will increase from 90 to roughly 100 units, and will rise to 140 to 150 units in 2010, with approximately half of these consisting of immersion scanners.
Q. Can you provide us with information on immersion scanner development for "Double Patterning"?
A. At the current time (November 5, 2009), the NSR-S620 ArF immersion scanner has already outstripped the basic performance level of our existing scanner, the NSR-S610C. We have already shipped three units and expect total shipment of four units by the end of November to customers in Japan, Korea, and the U.S. We are continuing to proceed with development of the NSR-S620 to meet all specifications by March 2010 and to enable our customers to use the new equipment in their mass production process by April to May of 2010.
Q. What is the outlook for the market of LCD steppers and scanners?
A. We expect the market for LCD steppers and scanners to further expand from the second half of this fiscal year through to the first half of next fiscal year, driven by improved operating rates at LCD panel manufacturers. We anticipate the LCD steppers and scanners market size of approximately 70 units in 2009, rising to roughly 85 units in 2010.
Q. Could you tell us about steps to enter the Chinese LCD steppers and scanners market?
A. With growing demand for 7th generation and later LCD steppers and scanners, the Chinese market has developed into an attractive market. While we have taken a rather cautious approach to viewing the Chinese market to date, we will actively proceed with our efforts to fully break into this sector, utilizing our existing overseas subsidiaries established as part of the IC steppers and scanners business, with the aim of launching sales in the next fiscal year.
Imaging Products Business
Q. What is the status of the digital camera market?
A. The digital SLR camera market in the first half of this fiscal year grew over the previous fiscal year in Europe and Asia, while shrinking in Japan and the U.S. At the same time, the compact digital camera market shrank over the previous fiscal year in every region. Even in this background, we were able to expand our market share outside of Japan. Regarding estimated market size for the current year, we have upwardly revised our forecast for digital SLR cameras and interchangeable lenses to 10 million and 16 million units, respectively, and have revised our forecast for compact digital cameras downwards to 98 million units. While the impact of a stronger yen meant that the average market price of products appeared to undergo a considerable drop, the actual fall in product price was not as significant.
Q. What is the outlook for the sales of compact digital cameras?
A. Despite sales of the compact digital cameras in the first half of this fiscal year being affected by a depressed market compared to sales in the previous fiscal year, we were able to achieve a slight increase. We believe this to be due to acclaim for our efforts to enhance our product appeal, such as equipping our products with superior performance and design than those of our competitors. In the U.S. compact digital camera market, our efforts at closer cooperation with retailers and bolstering our marketing efforts have also yielded results, leading to our attaining increased market share. We believe that this kind of performance in the U.S. is also having a positive effect in other regions.