The future of this laser business is getting awfully bright.

JDS Uniphase

(JDSU)

on Wednesday reported strong fiscal fourth-quarter earnings, surpassing analysts' expectations by 2 cents and boosting sales-growth estimates.

JDS executives cited "synergies" with newly acquired

E-Tek

as the primary driver of this improved forecast. Company officials declined to take questions concerning the

proposed $41 billion merger with component rival

SDL

(SDLI)

, citing ongoing discussions with antitrust regulators.

Go Figure
JDS-SDL deal gap widening

Source: BigCharts

JDS is rising on the tide of increased demand for optical components, such as pump lasers, optical amplifiers and other devices that companies including

Lucent

(LU)

,

Nortel

(NT)

and

Alcatel

(ALA)

integrate into fiber-optic networking equipment. The company said its biggest challenge is keeping up with that demand.

To bolster these efforts, JDS set plans to increase manufacturing capacity by a factor of four over the next 18 months. To help manage this breathtaking growth rate, the company said it was relying not only on increasing plant capacity but also outsourcing basic fabrication processes and by expanding its automated assembly production.

JDS President and COO Charles J. Abbe was nearly gleeful as he told analysts on the conference call that despite the acquisition of 10 companies in the past year, he was keeping the company lean. The best measure of this, said Abbe, was that revenue growth for the fourth quarter was twice the growth of new employees. The company had 18,000 employees at the end of June.

Analysts asked whether managing raw materials and other supplies was a challenge to the company's high growth expectations. JDS officials said they have had success at managing their supply chain, and that any foreseeable execution problems would be an internal problem, not a supply-related problem.

The only question the company answered regarding the SDL acquisition is whether the company's customers were in favor of the deal. And were they? Of course, purred CEO Jozef Straus: "Several customers were very much excited by this."