The first quarter proved to be another profitable one for the TASE-traded

PCB Group

, due mainly to profits made by its subsidiary


(Nasdaq:CAMT), a developer and manufacturer of monitoring systems for the printed circuit board industry.

PCB indicated further that in an effort to improve its competitive edge, it plans to invest $6 million over the next few years in the establishment of worksites in China. The locations for the factories have already been found.

PCB, today a holding company, ended the first quarter of this year with a net profit of NIS 10.5 million, 70% growth compared to the NIS 6.2 million profit it saw in the comparable quarter last year.

Camtek ended the year's first quarter with a net profit of NIS 13.4 million on a trade volume of NIS 68.4 million. Camtek's contribution to PCB's profits was NIS 7.9 million.

It is not certain however that Camtek will continue to make such a contribution to PCB's earnings in the next quarters. In a report reminiscent of a profit warning, Camtek says it estimates Q2 revenues to be around $13 to $16 million.

The group isn't expecting its manufacturing arm to do well in the next few quarters either.

Though activity in this section grew by 40% in the first quarter to NIS 38.5 million, still the company reports lowered demand. PCB does claim, however, that at this point it still remains difficult to foresee the effect of this decline on the financial results in fiscal 2001. In Q1 trade on printed circuitboards did earn NIS 4.5 million in net profit, as opposed to NIS 3 million in the comparable quarter last year.

Another PCB holding, Amitec, has continued its efforts in the research, development and manufacturing of advanced substrates for the semiconductor industry. The technology, now patented in the U.S. and in the process of applying for more patents, is uniquely designed for manufacturing high-density multilayer connections.

Business interactions with leading strategic clients in the field, where the new developments can be applied are continuing. Research and development costs for Amitec deducing their financing costs came to NIS 2.5 million at the time of the report.