Stock Watch: Nikon is one of the world’s most prestigious optics companies today, with a name that is synonymous with quality. The story for the company is: 1) it owns a large chunk of the digital camera business and, 2) it is the world’s second largest stepper manufacturer. Nikon is a triple play on consumer electronics, digital photography, and semiconductor lithography.

The company has engineered a masterful transition from film to digital cameras, where most have tripped up. It arguably has one of the best line-up of Digital SLRs on the market today — where it was well behind ten years ago. Nikon has also been extremely aggressive with a new line-up of lenses designed to take into account the unique differences of digital imaging chips. The small image chip size gives it economic advantage as well.

In steppers, Nikon is a clear leader in what has turned into a duopoly. It has steadily chipped away the disadvantages it may have had since the emergence of ArF scanners. Nikon is the sole supplier at Intel for ArF immersion scanners. The company also just bagged Intel’s prestigious Supplier Continuous Quality Improvement (SCQI) award. This award is Intel's highest honor for its suppliers, acknowledging extraordinary commitment to quality and exceptional performance. Nikon is among an elite group of 14 suppliers to receive the SCQI award for 2008. You can’t have better demonstration of Nikon’s current technology and capabilities. Nikon is also the leading supplier of FPD steppers, giving it a solid backbone of business in display manufacturing.

The current management is very strong. Kazuo Ushida, President of Precision Equipment Company is young and dynamic. He reminds me more of Shoichiro Yoshida, who built the group so famously in the eighties, than the classic Japanese director. For more research: Nikon's ticker is 7731 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. If you’re planning a visit, here is the link to Google Maps — 090316

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