Cree’s quarterly revenue falls 16 percent

LED lighting company Cree reported a 16 percent decline in revenue in its fiscal first quarter as the Durham-based company’s efforts to regain its momentum remain a work in progress.

Cree shares fell as much as 10 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday.

Cree reported after the markets closed that revenue from continuing operations totaled $321.3 million, down from $381.5 million a year ago. Analysts polled by Bloomberg News were projecting that revenue would reach $322.4 million.

The company also projected that revenue from continuing operations for the next quarter would range from $310 million to $330 million, roughly in line with this quarter’s results.

Cree suffered a sales shortfall in the spring when conversion to a new software system disrupted its customer service. The company said at the time that rebuilding its sales levels wouldn’t happen overnight.

During the quarter, “customer service levels improved, with good on-time delivery and better lead times,” CEO Chuck Swoboda said during a conference call.

He added that the improved customer service, combined with new LED lighting products released last quarter, boosted the number and dollar volume of the company’s quotes for commercial lighting projects. He called those quotes “a leading indicator for future demand.”

“We know building order momentum will take time, but we believe we are on the right track,” Swoboda said.

Earlier this month Cree named a new president of lighting, Daniel Castillo, who previously was senior vice president of the oil, gas and petrochemical business at Eaton Corp. and also was an executive at Cooper Lighting.

Cree’s revenue from continuing operations excludes $49.9 million in revenue from its Wolfspeed power and radio frequency subsidiary, up from $43.9 million. Cree has agreed to sell Wolfspeed for $850 million in cash to Infineon Technologies, Europe’s largest semiconductor company.

Adjusted net income from continuing operations was $9 million, or 9 cents per share, down from $15 million a year ago.

Revenue from lighting products, which accounted for 57 percent of revenue from continuing operations, fell 26 percent. LED revenue rose 3 percent.

Cree, which employs more than 2,000 workers in Durham, sells LED light bulbs and indoor and outdoor LED lighting fixtures, as well as components other companies use in LED lights. Its LEDs are used to illuminate mobile phones, TVs, electronic signs and car dashboards.

Cree confirmed last week that it had laid off “a very small number” of workers at its Durham headquarters as well as a “limited” number of employees in Racine, Wis.

Earlier Tuesday Cree shares closed at $25.20, up 40 cents. The company’s shares have fallen 5.5 percent this year.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii