Rogers Corporation (NYSE:ROG) will be a major participant in European Microwave Week 2015 (EuMW 2015), Europe’s largest trade show devoted to RF/microwave technology and applications. The conference and exhibition run September 6-11, 2015 at the Palais des Congres, Paris, France. EuMW 2015 includes the 45th European Microwave Conference, the 10th European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference (EuMIC 2015), the 12th European Radar Conference (EuRAD 2015), and a large exhibition floor.
See Rogers Advanced Connectivity Solutions at Booth 263
Rogers ACS will be exhibiting in Booth 263 Sept. 8-10. Stop by and let us help with advice and design information concerning our high-performance printed-circuit-board (PCB) materials, including RO3003™ laminates. RO3003 laminates have tightly controlled dielectric constant (3.04+/-0.04 at 10GHZ) and very stable dielectric constant performance over temperature (-3 ppm/°C from -50°C to 150°C). The RO3003 PTFE-ceramic composite resin system enables very low dielectric loss (0.0010 at 10GHZ), and laminates can be purchased with rolled copper to further enhance PCB insertion loss performance. Due to its excellent electrical properties, RO3003 laminates are often chosen for millimeter wave applications such as 77-79GHZ automotive radar sensors and 60GHz point to point backhaul applications.
Rogers + Arlon®
Visitors to the exhibition booth can also learn about the recent acquisition of material supplier Arlon, LLC. The Arlon business is well established as a top supplier of high-frequency circuit materials and engineered silicone materials and is an excellent strategic fit with our PCB materials and high-performance elastomers. The acquisition adds to the materials diversification and expertise at Rogers and benefits customers with a significantly expanded choice in high-performance materials.
Rogers’ John Coonrod to Present at Tech Conference & MicroApps
John Coonrod, Technical Marketing Manager at Rogers Advanced Connectivity Solutions & author of the popular ROG Blog series, will deliver four presentations: one during the Microwave Conference and three MicroApps presentations on the exhibition floor.
The conference presentation, scheduled for 8:30-8:50 AM on Wednesday, September 9, will be of interest to designers and users of high-frequency filters and PCB material specifiers: “Applied Methodology for Harmonic Suppression of Microstrip Edge Coupled Bandpass Filters Using Composite Circuit Materials.”
Coonrod will also deliver three different MicroApps presentations during EuMW 2015:
- “Composite Circuit Materials Used to Suppress Harmonic Modes in Microstrip Edge Coupled Filters” (Tuesday, September 8, 13:00)
- “Microwave PCB Structure Selection: Microstrip Versus Grounded Coplanar Waveguide” (Wednesday, September 9, 14:30)
- “PCB Fabrication Influences on Microwave Performance” (Thursday, September 10, 15:30)
Rogers Corporation is a Founding Member of RF Energy Alliance
The RF Energy Alliance (RFEA) is standardizing, promoting, and educating audiences in solid-state RF energy—a clean, highly efficient, and controllable heat and power source. Members envision a fast-growing, innovative marketplace built around this sustainable technology, contributing to quality of life across many applications. As a founding member, Rogers Corp. will host RFEA’s Dr. Klaus Werner as he presents the state of the Alliance at 11:30 on Wednesday, September 9, and at 11:30 on Thursday, September 10 at booth 263.
Circuit performance may start with the choice of printed circuit board (PCB) material, but achieving a desired level of circuit performance can also have a great deal to do with how circuits are fabricated on a chosen PCB material. Attendees to the MicroApps sessions at the recentIEEE 2015 International Microwave Symposium (Phoenix, AZ) in particular, the Rogers Corp. MicroApps session, “PCB Fabrication Influences on Microwave Performance,” learned how such factors as circuit-board thickness and choice of transmission-line metal can impact the final performance of both active and passive circuits fabricated on a particular PCB material.
Insertion loss is usually an important parameter for most high-frequency circuits, especially where signal power is limited, and for RF/microwave printed circuits, insertion loss is highly dependent upon the choice of PCB material thickness. To demonstrate, three high-frequency 50 ohm circuits were made and modeled from the same circuit-board material, but at three different thicknesses. The material was RO4835™ circuit laminate from Rogers Corp. and the thicknesses were 6.6, 10.0, and 30.0 mils. RO4835 rigid thermoset laminate material has a dielectric constant of 3.48 at 10 GHz through the z-axis (thickness) of the material, controlled to a tight tolerance of ±0.05. This circuit material exhibits thermal conductivity of 0.69 W/m/°K and features excellent dimensional stability in the x-y plane. But what some designers may not realize when using this material is that the choice of thickness does matter, especially regarding insertion-loss performance.
All three circuits were modeled, fabricated, and measured, to compare simulated and measured performance levels for the different PCB thicknesses. Modeling was performed with the aid of the MWI-2014 simulation software from Rogers Corp., using Hammerstad and Jensen closed-form equations. Simulations were compared with measurements performed on a wideband vector network analyzer (VNA), a model E8346C from Agilent Technologies (now Keysight Technologies), capable of performing broadband S-parameter measurements from 10 MHz to 50 GHz. The swept-frequency simulated and measured results for each different circuit thickness agree quite closely across a modeled/measured frequency range of DC to 20 GHz. It is the ways in which the total losses for each thickness of PCB material break down in the simulations that are quite different.
The measured and modeled swept-loss plots showed total insertion loss. The modeled total insertion loss, however, is further broken down and compared in terms of dielectric and conductive circuit losses for each thickness of circuit-board material. Any fabricated circuit can be evaluated in terms of its insertion-loss components, which include the dielectric loss of the circuit material, the conductor loss of the circuit traces, the leakage loss of the PCBs, and the radiation loss of the circuit traces. In this presentation, two of the four insertion-loss components, dielectric loss and conductor loss, were examined for the three different PCB thicknesses to better understand how circuit thickness played a role in this important high-frequency circuit performance parameter.
The dielectric losses for the three thicknesses of PCB material are quite close in value, increasing steadily with frequency and with an overall increase in modeled dielectric loss as a function of frequency. But these differences are very slight—almost negligible when comparing the modeled dielectric losses for the 6.6- and 10.0-mil circuit materials. The largest differences in simulated dielectric losses occurred between the thinnest and thickest circuit materials, with about 0.2 dB/in. dielectric loss at 15 GHz for the 6.6-mil-thick RO4835 material compared to about 0.25 dB/in. dielectric loss at 15 GHz for the 30-mil thickness of the same circuit material.
Simulated conductor losses, on the other hand, were not quite as similar for the three thicknesses of PCB material, with this loss component of PCB insertion loss increasing steadily as thinner circuit laminates are used. For the thickest of the three RO4835 PCB materials, the modeled conductor losses remained under 0.1 dB/in. of transmission line through about 10 GHz and only slightly above 0.1 dB/in. of transmission line through 20 GHz. In comparison, for the thinnest of the three RO4835 PCB materials, the modeled conductor losses were slightly less than 0.4 dB/in. at 10 GHz, climbing to about 0.6 dB/in. at 20 GHz. Conductor losses for transmission lines on the 10-mil-thick RO4835 PCB material were just about midway between the conductor loss values for the thinnest and thickest of the circuit laminates that were modeled.
As a further examination of how fabrication choices can affect PCB performance, microstrip edge-coupled bandpass filter circuits fabricated on RO4835 circuit material were compared for circuit laminates with bare copper transmission lines and for circuit laminates with copper transmission lines having solder mask protection. Solder mask is a polymer layer added to PCB copper traces to protect against the effects of oxidation and to prevent solder bridges from forming between closely spaced circuit traces. Both filter circuits were fabricated on 20-mil-thick RO4835 circuit laminates, identical except for the solder mask. Adding the solder mask provides reliable long-term protection against the deleterious effects of oxidation, but it also results in some tradeoffs, such as additional transmission-line insertion loss. For example, the modeled insertion loss for the filter circuit with bare copper transmission lines was about 0.25 dB/in. at 10 GHz, climbing to about 0.50 dB/in. at 20 GHz. In comparison, the modeled insertion loss for the filter circuit with copper transmission lines covered with solder mask was slightly more than 0.30 dB/in. at 10 GHz, rising to about 0.60 dB/in. at 20 GHz.
Perhaps even more significant, especially in the design process for such a filter, the choice of using or not using solder mask on the PCB material made a difference in the location of the filter center frequency and quality factor (Q), with the center frequency slightly lower for the filter using PCB material with solder mask. S-parameter measurements on the microwave VNA revealed a center frequency of 2.9499 GHz and a Q of 8.7993 for the filter with solder mask, and a center frequency of 3.0144 GHz and a Q of 8.9627 for the filter with bare copper conductors. The bandwidths for the two filters were almost identical, at 335.25 MHz for the filter with solder mask and 336.32 MHz for the filter with bare copper transmission lines
Of course, these are just a few examples using RO4835 circuit laminates, but they point to the importance of carefully considering PCB fabrication approaches and material parameters before starting a design. As shown, such parameters as thickness and use of solder mask can affect performance and perhaps make the difference between achieving circuit performance results in just one design iteration versus having to perform multiple design iterations. For those interested in further information on these comparisons, using additional RO4000® series materials, copies of the MicroApps presentation are available for free download from Rogers Corporation’s Technology Support Hub.
ROG Mobile App
Download the ROG Mobile appto access Rogers’ calculators, including the popular Microwave Impedance simulation tool, literature, technical papers, and the ability to order samples of the company’s high performance printed circuit board materials.
Ask an Engineer
Do you have a design or fabrication question? Rogers Corporation’s experts are available to help. Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.
Rogers Corp. will host an investor day for the professional investment community on Wednesday, August 12, 2015, at the New York Stock Exchange, 11 Wall Street, New York, NY.
Attendance at the event is by invitation only, but the general public is invited to view the presentations and listen to a live audio webcast of the event beginning at 12:00pm (ET) and lasting for approximately 2.5 hours, on August 12, 2015 on the Rogers Corporation website at http://www.rogerscorp.com/ir.
The presentations referenced during the call will be posted to the Company’s website at http://www.rogerscorp.com/ir and a replay of the webcast will be available for approximately 90 days following the investor day.
Presenters at this conference will include:
- Bruce Hoechner, President and CEO
- David Mathieson, Vice President Finance and CFO
- Jeff Grudzien, Vice President Advanced Connectivity Solutions
- John Quinn, Vice President and General Manager of Elastomeric Material Solutions
- Helen Zhang, Vice President Power Electronics Solutions and President Rogers Asia
Other members of the Company’s executive management team will also be present.
Advances in clean technology and renewable energy continue unabated and the results show. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy now accounts for 18% of US electricity generation capacity and 15% of U.S. electricity production in May 2015. Solar power accounts for 1.3% of electricity, windfor 5.3%, wood and wood-derived fuels for 1%, and hydro for 6.2%.
In the EU, the Joint Research Centre released its latest wind status report, showing that wind energy provided Europe with 8% of its electricity in 2014, equivalent to the combined annual consumption of Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, and Ireland. That will rise to 12% of European electricity by 2020. The Renewable Energy Directive requires renewables to make up at least 20% of the EU’s energy mix by 2020.
Research into new renewable materials and processes has produced a wide range of developments. At Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) Organic Chemistry laboratories, an organic semiconductor material has been developed that offers a much cheaper alternative to the inorganic materials currently being used in solar cells. The efficiency of the new semiconductors, confirmed to be 16.9% by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, is a vast improvement over the 2.4% efficiency of inorganic systems.
A new study from the Stockholm Environment Institute took a deeper look into the costs and capacities of Li-ion battery packs for electric vehicles. One of the key findings was:
The scholars estimate that the inflection point for batteries is approximately $150 per kilowatt hour, shown by the rose-colored band in the below graph. If costs reach as low as US$150 per kWh, this means that electric vehicles will probably move beyond niche applications and begin to penetrate the market widely, leading to a potential paradigm shift in vehicle technology. Studies show this point potentially being reached as early as 2025.
A new renewable energy study outlines a plan for each of the 50 U.S. states to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, and UC Berkeley researcher Mark Delucchi, took a close look at the current energy demands of each state in four sectors: residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation. They analyzed current fuel consumed – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables – and calculated fuel demands if all fuel usage was replaced by electricity. This produced a 39% reduction in total end-use power demand by 2050. They then figured out how to power the grid by analyzing each state’s sun exposure, wind maps, geothermal energy, and hydroelectric dams. The end result was an 80% transition to renewables by 2030 and a full conversion by 2050. An interactive map summarizing the plans for each state is available at www.thesolutionsproject.org.
Power Conversion Technology in Clean Tech
Some of the fastest growth segments for producing electricity from renewable resources are photovoltaic cells and windmills. These clean energy technologies have reached high power levels. This results in the need for semiconductor power electronics, such as insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), to convert the power being generated — either as a variable frequency AC in windmills, or as DC in solar cells — to a well-regulated 50/60 Hz AC power than can delivered and distributed in the energy grid. This also allows devices to be smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient.
Switching losses that occur in inverters are an important issue to be considered to improve the efficiency of the inverter. Within the semiconductor devices, power substrates provide interconnections and cool the components. Curamik® ceramic substrates are designed to carry higher currents, provide higher voltage isolation, and operate over a wide temperature range. Rogers’ RO-LINX® busbars serve as power distribution “highways.” These laminated busbars provide a customized liaison between the power source and capacitors, resistors, integrated circuits (ICs), integrated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), or complete modules.
A message from Bruce Hoechner, CEO, Rogers Corporation:
Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Results for the Second Quarter of 2015.
In Q2 2015, Rogers achieved strong growth in non-GAAP earnings delivering $0.67 per diluted share, an increase of 15.5% versus Q2 2014. In addition, we achieved record setting second quarter net sales for the period of $163.1M, up 6.3% over Q2 2014.
In Q2, organic net sales decreased, primarily as a result of a sudden sales decline into the Chinese wireless telecom market. The Company believes that the widely-reported government actions in Chinese state-owned telecom enterprises may have temporarily delayed certain projects. In addition, actions by Chinese circuit fabricators to reduce inventory levels further impacted Rogers’ sales into this sector. We believe this situation is temporary and we expect to see a progressive recovery in organic net sales during the remainder of 2015.
During the second quarter, our disciplined approach on cost management and operational excellence initiatives helped us maintain strong organic margin performance.
Roadmap for Consistent Profitable Growth
I’d like to review the four elements of our growth strategy. We continue to have confidence in this roadmap, which led us to record results in 2014 and has helped us maintain profitability during challenging market conditions this quarter.
We are building a more Market-Driven organization through a deep understanding of global growth markets. A good example of this was the Q1 introduction of our new megatrend category, Safety and Protection. This change was based on our ongoing assessment of market opportunities, as well as the growth we have experienced in worldwide demand for innovative solutions in consumer safety and protection. From a customer perspective, we are developing deeper partnerships through cooperative activities, including Innovation Days and joint development projects with industry leaders. These efforts help us to uncover customer needs and identify ways that Rogers can help our customers win in a competitive market.
We are accelerating our efforts in Innovation Leadership, increasing our R&D investment and finding creative approaches to new product development, as well as continuous improvement of our innovation processes. This commitment is leading us to develop a strong pipeline of next generation and new products to meet market demand.
We continue to pursue Synergistic M&A opportunities, focused on targeted, bolt-on businesses that leverage our global strengths and broaden the portfolio of solutions we provide to our customers. We are now six months into the Arlon integration, and we are very pleased with the fit between our legacy businesses as the team turns its focus to joint opportunities that drive top-line growth. The integration is going smoothly and we are on track to meet our initial integration goals by year’s end. I’ll speak more to Arlon’s contributions later in the call.
We are also excited about our progress within the final element of our strategy – Operational Excellence. Over the past two years we have invested in resources to drive process and system improvements that have helped us increase yields, achieve greater manufacturing efficiency and control costs. Each of our business segments are reducing scrap and increasing throughput through formalized programs such as Six Sigma and Business Process Management, as well as grass roots efforts from our dedicated front-line employees. This focus is helping us deliver strong organic margins, higher profitability, better service to our customers and greater returns to our shareholders.
While we face some short-term market headwinds, we are confident in our longer-term growth prospects of achieving 15% revenue growth through a combination of organic and acquired growth.
We achieved net sales of $163.1M, an increase of 6.3%, and delivered strong earnings with non-GAAP EPS of $.67 per diluted share, which is a 15.5% increase over last year. On a currency-adjusted basis, organic net sales declined 4.9% compared to Q2 2014. In addition to the aforementioned market dynamics in China, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates unfavorably impacted Rogers’ revenues by approximately $8.3M, or 5.4%.
We are very pleased with the consistent performance of the recently acquired Arlon business, which more than offset the decline in organic sales during the quarter contributing $25.4M, or 16.5%, and EPS of $.14.
Gross margin was 37.1%, which is essentially flat year-over-year. Non-GAAP operating margin was 12.9%, up 230 basis points over Q2 2014. We expect to see continued margin strength from our ongoing commitment to process and system improvements.
Advanced Connectivity Solutions
I want to take a moment to introduce the new name of our Printed Circuit Materials segment, which is now known as Advanced Connectivity Solutions (or ACS). As we looked at our business from an Outside-In perspective, we determined that the name Advanced Circuit Materials was somewhat limiting. The new name better reflects our capabilities and takes into account the addition of the Arlon business. This change represents an important philosophical shift in how Rogers approaches this segment by expanding its potential areas of business beyond existing material sets into new areas of RF/Microwave and Digital connectivity.
In Q2 2015, ACS achieved net sales of $66.4M, including $13.8M from Arlon, which is an increase of 8.0% over Q2 2014. We continue to see healthy demand for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (up 19%) as well as aerospace and defense applications (up 65%). The strong growth in these segments, however, was more than offset by a sudden sales decline in the Chinese wireless telecom market, which resulted in a higher than expected inventory build in the supply chain. We are beginning to see acceleration in the 4G/LTE build out in China and believe that demand will progressively improve during the remainder of the year.
The ACS team has been implementing industry best practices to increase productivity and improve yields across its three global manufacturing facilities. These initiatives have helped the business reduce manufacturing costs and deliver consistent margin performance.
Looking ahead in ACS, we expect to see a recovery in the China 4G/LTE build out. Recently, one of the top three telecom providers in China announced plans to build additional base stations in 2015. This increases the total of all three telecom providers to 930,000, up from the previous estimate of 800,000. While the industry outlook for base station deployments in China is positive for the second half of the year, we remain cautious in Q3 about the timing of that build out. In the automotive market, we expect to see continued growth in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems where the compounded annual growth rate is projected to be 31% through 2019.
Elastomeric Material Solutions
We have also changed the name of our High Performance Foams (or HPF) segment. Moving forward, we will refer to this business as Elastomeric Material Solutions (EMS). Like we did in ACS, we arrived at this new name by taking a market-driven approach, viewing the business from the perspective of our customers and markets. Our intent is to more clearly reflect the broad capabilities we offer our customers, particularly with the addition of the Arlon product lines. By definition, elastomeric materials are elastic materials composed of long chain-like molecules, or polymers, which are capable of recovering their original shape after being stretched to great extents. Our PORON®, BISCO®, Arlon and e-Sorba® materials would all be classified as elastomeric materials. These solutions help our customers to protect, isolate and secure their products to ensure optimal performance and reliability.
For the quarter, EMS achieved net sales of $47.0M, including $6.7M from Arlon, yielding an increase of 9.9% over Q2 2014. Weaker demand in portable electronics (down 26%) partially offset strong demand in applications for the general industrial (up 80%) and mass transit (up 40%) markets. There two main drivers for the shift in the portable electronics market: First, is the decline in overall mobile phone volume and, more specifically, feature phone volume, and second is the continued migration away from the use of LCD foam gaskets in smartphone and tablet designs.
EMS has implemented a number of process improvements that contributed to yield increases. In addition, enhancements to Sales and Operations Planning have helped lead to greater accuracy in production planning and improvement in on time delivery.
The EMS organization is addressing headwinds in the portable electronics market by re-focusing the business on other growth categories. For example, we see opportunity in the mass transit segment, where the confluence of global urbanization along with long-term climate and energy goals is expected to drive a compounded annual growth rate of 7% through 2020. In addition, EMS has intensified its efforts around the higher-growth market segments within the General Industrial and Consumer Comfort and Impact Protection sectors. We see additional opportunities for growth through geographic expansion in both the consumer and General Industrial segments.
Power Electronics Systems
Power Electronics Systems (PES) net sales were $38.5M, a decrease of 10.2% compared to Q2 2014. On a currency adjusted basis, PES sales grew 5.3% from the prior year, indicating solid volume growth. Our results primarily reflect strong demand in EV/HEV applications (up 105%) as well as laser diodes (up 13%). This performance was offset in part by weaker demand in variable frequency drives (down 25%) and certain renewable energy applications (down 38%).
From an operational standpoint, PES is investing in automation and process technology improvements to lower costs and reduce lead times. These efforts are also leading to yield increases and substantial improvement in on time delivery.
Looking ahead in PES, we see continued growth in the EV/HEV markets where the compounded annual growth rate is expected to be 32% through 2020 based on worldwide demand for improved fuel efficiency and a reduction in Carbon Dioxide emissions. This focus is also driving growth in vehicle electrification, or X-by-wire, where the compounded annual growth rate is estimated at 12% through 2020.
Megatrends and Markets
Of Rogers Q2 revenues, 62% were in our key megatrend markets. We remain confident that we are in the right global growth markets based on the projected growth rates in key applications.
For example, consumer demand for mobile video content is expected to drive nearly 60% growth in mobile data traffic over the next four years, presenting a great opportunity for Rogers’ wireless telecommunications applications.
As previously mentioned, consumer demand and government mandates for clean energy alternatives are contributing to a strong outlook in the EV/HEV market, where the CAGR is 32% through 2020.
And we expect additional growth from our newest megatrend – Safety & Protection. This is due in large part to the strong demand for applications in automotive radar systems. Industry experts are predicting a compounded annual growth rate of more than 30% through 2020, and growth from less than 20 million units in 2014 to nearly 96 million units in 2020.