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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Business / 2001 Globe 100

LTX chief Roger Blethen
LTX Corp. chief executive Roger Blethen, with one of the company's chip testers, says LTX will spend 50 percent more on R&D this year. (Globe Staff Photo / Wendy Maeda)

Timing, plus a retooling, pay off


Top 10 Companies

1. Teradyne Inc.
2. Analog Devices Inc.
3. LTX Corp.
4. EMC Corp.
5. Helix Tech. Corp.
6. ACT Manufacturing
7. Millipore Corp.
8. Talbots Inc.
9. Cytyc Corp.
10. FleetBoston

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hief executive Roger Blethen is the first to admit that LTX has benefited from being on the crest of a highly cyclical industry.

The semiconductor industry, and companies such as LTX that provide equipment to test computer chips, are known for

pronounced boom and bust


But LTX's lofty spot on The Globe 100 isn't just the result of a peaking business cycle, says Blethen, who helped cofound the company 1976 and who took the helm in 1996.

Instead, LTX virtually remade itself when it scrapped a handful of disparate products and in 1998 launched its Fusion system for testing a wide array of computer chips.

Since then, Blethen says, the numbers have told the story of a successful strategy.

''The measures for us that are telling,'' he says of the last fiscal year, ''is we doubled our best revenues ever, we achieved very high profit margins, and our selling, general, and administrative expenses were half of what they had ever been.

''Cyclicality alone wouldn't generate the kind of improvements you see in LTX's income statement,'' he adds. ''We're a

very different company than we


For the year ended July 30, 2000, LTX posted net income of $78.7 million - almost exactly what the Westwood company lost in fiscal 1998. Among the financial standouts in LTX's most recent year is a post-tax profit margin of 25.8 percent.

Despite slowing market conditions, Blethen recently predicted the firm could capture two or three new customers each quarter. Meanwhile, he's sticking to his guns.

''This year,'' he says, ''we're spending 50 percent more on research and development, and we're adding to our engineering force.

''In the fast years, you race to meet customer demand, and in the slow years you charge ahead with your investments.''



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