By Kari Williamson

Joel P. Moskowitz, Ceradyne President, CEO and Chairman, says: “Our diversification strategy of products, markets and geography demonstrated its relevance in 2011. As the year progressed, our solar business declined as the result of significant over capacity and excessive inventory levels of our customers, particularly in China. Yet other areas of Ceradyne, such as defense, nuclear and industrial, showed additional strength which allowed us to meet our internal goals and continue to implement our 'Ceradyne $1 Billion' strategy."

For 2012, the company expects sales in the range of US$590-625m.

Moskowitz adds: "2012 should reflect continuation of certain trends we saw in 2011. Although we expect our solar business to exhibit weakness early this year, we believe our customers will work off their inventories with resultant firming of Ceradyne solar related business levels later this year.

“We also expect a strong defence sector in 2012, particularly in Ceradyne's lightweight ceramic body armour. Although the enhanced combat helmet (ECH) qualification process has taken longer than originally expected, we are very optimistic about this programme."

He adds that the company will prioritise its R&D pipeline of new advanced technical ceramics.

“Continuing outstanding results in the oil field of our PetroCeram® ceramic sand screen has encouraged us to expand our internal capacity and increase our technology and marketing team in Kempten, Germany. We are substantively increasing our manufacturing capacity of the isotope B10 in Quapaw, Oklahoma in response to what we believe are increasing opportunities in the nuclear power plant industry, particularly in China," he adds.