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At a Glance

Uppers

Working with the latest technology in LED and semiconductors

Low cost-of-living for employees at the Raleigh-Durham headquarters

Downers

Long hours and excessive overtime, resulting in poor work/life balance

Low compensation and few opportunities for promotions

The Bottom Line

Cree is an industry leader in LED technology, although insiders report a low level of job satisfaction and high turnover rates due to long hours and negative work environment.

About Cree, Inc.

Cree has its name in lights. It is an innovator of wide bandgap semiconductors, focused on silicon carbide and gallium nitride materials, devices for power and radio-frequency (RF) applications and specialty lighting-class light emitting diode (LED) products.  Cree operates two segments. Wolfspeed segment offers silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN), used in transportation, power supplies, inverters and wireless systems. While, LED products is consist of LED chips and components use in lighting, screens, automotive and specialty lighting applications.  Brands include XLamp and J Series. China is responsible for nearly 30% of sales.  The company was founded in 1987.  In 2020, Cree decided to sell LED Business to SMART Global Holdings, Inc.

Operations

The company's operating and reportable segments are: Wolfspeed (some 55%) and LED Products (more than 45%)

The Wolfspeed segment includes silicon carbide materials, power devices and RF devices, and the LED Products segment includes LED chips and LED components.

Geographic Reach

Headquartered in North Carolina, China is Cree's largest geographic market accounting for nearly 30%. Europe generates more than 25%; the US and other countries together represent some 25% of total revenue.

It has locations in Morgan Hill, California; Ipoh, Malaysia; Fayetteville, Arizona and; Hong Kong.

Sales and Marketing

In 2019 Arrow Electronics accounted for 15%. A substantial portion of its products are sold to distributors. Distributors stock inventory and sell the products to their customer base, which may include: value added resellers and manufacturers. Cree also utilizes third-party sales representatives who generally do not maintain a product inventory; instead, their customers place orders directly with Cree's or through distributors.

Advertising costs are included in sales, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations and amounted to approximately $4.1 million, $4.2 million, and $3.9 million for the years ended June 28, 2020, June 30, 2019 and June 24, 2018, respectively.

Financial Performance

After several years of steady growth, Cree's revenue suddenly went down in 2020.

That year, revenue slipped 16% to $903.9 million. The decrease in Wolfspeed segment revenue was primarily due to the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China, weakening demand in Asia, and customer demand limitations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The decrease in LED Products Segment revenue was primarily due to overall market softness in global LED demand as well as supply, labor and output challenges due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In 2020, the company reduced its loss from $375.1 million to $191.7 million. Lower cost of revenue and a non-operating income of $19 million contributed to the reduction in loss. 

Cash and cash equivalents at the end of the period were $448.8 million. Cash used in operating activities was $29.0 million and cash used in investing activities was $486.9 million, while financing activities provided $464.3 million to the company. Main cash uses for the year were for purchases of short-term investments, purchases of property and equipment, and payments on long-term borrowings.

Strategy

With the current strength of its working capital position, it believes that it has the ability to continue to invest in the further development of its products and, when necessary or appropriate, make selective acquisitions or other strategic investments to strengthen its product portfolio, secure key intellectual properties and/or expand its production capacity.

From time to time, it evaluates strategic opportunities, including potential acquisitions, joint ventures, divestitures, spin-offs or investments in complementary businesses, and it has continued to make such evaluations. It may also access capital markets through the issuance of debt or additional shares of common stock in connection with the acquisition of complementary businesses or other significant assets or for other strategic opportunities.

It is currently building a new silicon carbide fabrication facility in Marcy, New York, to expand capacity for its silicon carbide device business. It expects to invest approximately $1.0 billion in construction, equipment and other related costs for the new facility through fiscal 2024, of which approximately $500 million is expected to be reimbursed by the State of New York through a grant program administered by Empire State Development. Given its current cash position, it believes it is in a good position to adequately fund the construction of the facility.

Cree, Inc.

4600 Silicon Dr
Durham, NC 27703-8475
Phone: 1 (919) 407-5300

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: CREE
Stock Exchange: , NASDAQ
EVP and CFO: Michael E. McDevitt
EVP Power and RF; CEO, Wolfspeed: Franco Plastina
Chairman, President, and CEO: Charles M. Swoboda
Employees (This Location): 175
Employees (All Locations): 5,130

Major Office Locations

Durham, NC

Other Locations

Goleta, CA
Durham, NC
Research Triangle Pa, NC
Racine, WI
Paris, France