More San Diego Layoffs Hit Cymer, Goodrich Aerostructures, La Jolla Pharmaceutical

3/17/09Follow @bvbigelow

With unemployment in San Diego County at 8.6 percent in January—its highest level since the 1970s—it should come as no surprise that some of San Diego’s leading technology companies continue to shed workers. Still, the depth of the layoffs has been surprising among the companies we follow at Xconomy. You can check our updated list of San Diego tech and life sciences layoffs here.

—The biggest surprise for me was an additional 130 layoffs disclosed last week at Cymer (NASDAQ: CYMI), which supplies advanced lasers for use by chipmakers. The company makes deep ultraviolet laser systems that serve as a highly precise light source in the photolithographic process in which microcircuitry is printed on silicon wafers. The boom-and-bust nature of the semiconductor industry over the past 20 years has made Cymer adept at managing its operating costs and work force levels as a matter of necessity. So it was unusual to see the company announce its third major layoff since November.

Roughly 120 of last week’s 16 percent workforce reduction fell among employees at Cymer’s San Diego headquarters. In a filing with government regulators, Cymer said it expects to incur about $3.7 million in charges for the quarter end March 31, primarily for severance expenses. Cymer says it has laid off 38 percent of its work force since November, or about 320 workers worldwide, with most of the cutbacks in manufacturing and engineering.

—Less surprising was word that Goodrich Aerostructures, which designs and makes aerodynamic structures and other specialized aircraft parts in Chula Vista, CA, eliminated 112 positions at the end of February. Spokesman Patrick Palmer told me the aerostructures business was set back by Boeing’s postponed introduction of the next-generation 787 Dreamliner. Boeing said last week that production of its newest commercial jet, built for fuel efficiency with mostly lightweight carbon composites, is back on track after repeated production glitches and a two-month strike last fall. Palmer says the aerostructures unit, part of Charlotte, N.C.-based Goodrich, has been reorganizing its operations and has even been hiring development engineers to work on new projects.

—Finally, San Diego’s La Jolla Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: LJPC), which announced the failure of its sole drug candidate in a clinical trial of lupus of the kidneys, told the state Employment Development Department it’s laying off 94 employees by April 20. La Jolla Pharmaceutical said in a statement last month that it was taking steps to reduce costs, and evaluating its strategic options to maximize the value of its assets. Luke reported the Feb. 12 collapse of the company’s stock after an independent panel of safety monitors found that La Jolla Pharmaceutical had no chance of reaching its goals of effectively treating lupus nephritis.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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