* Cree CEE "cautiously optimistic" on demand growth
* Could tap debt markets to fund growth if needed
NEW YORK May 12 LED lighting maker Cree Inc
(CREE.O) is "cautiously optimistic" that demand for its
products will pick up in the coming months, and it could tap
the debt markets to help fund its growth, Chief Executive Chuck
Swoboda told Reuters on Tuesday.
The company, which currently has no outstanding debt and
more than $400 million in cash, is not currently planning a
debt issuance, but Swoboda said it would be better to issue
debt before the company was in need of cash.
"I think there's always that opportunity, if and when we're
ready," he said.
Cree, which last month posted fiscal third-quarter profit
of $4.0 million, or 5 cents per share, has seen demand from
automobile, cell phone and other consumer applications sink
with the weak economy.
But Swoboda said the U.S. stimulus packaged passed earlier
this year is helping cities and municipalities fund new LED
projects, and the company is expecting some growth in the
"The initial signals are positive," he said.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are typically more
expensive than conventional lights but consume far less energy
and can last for two decades or more.
Those energy savings allow companies or cities to recoup
their investment in the LEDs in as little as two to three
years, Swoboda said.
Shares in Cree have gained nearly 70 percent so far this
(Reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)