This post has been excerpted from a letter by Chip Rewey, Lead Portfolio Manager of the Third Avenue Small-Cap Value Fund.

Finisar is a well-financed provider of optical subsystems and components, which are used in data communications and telecommunications. It was the market share leader in 2016, according to Ovum (market-leading research and consulting firm focused on digital service providers), and has held that honor since 2008. Demand for optical is being driven by additional network bandwidth needs due to increasing data and video traffic. Video downloads and streaming, social networking, on-line gaming, enterprise IP/Internet traffic, cloud computing, and data center virtualization – these are all putting additional demands on the network for increased bandwidth. In response, the telecom industry is ramping up metro (city-level) deployments in North America and Europe; China is increasing its buildouts supported by government initiatives to complete broadband coverage in rural and urban areas. On the data communications side, there is an increase in hyperscale data centers (think Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure, Google and the like) and deployments of technology to upgrade existing connections to increase speed and efficiency in the networks.

Finisar also provides potential exposure to the growing 3D sensing industry. 3D sensing allows for augmented camera capabilities which enable object recognition, depth data, greater precision and object placement that can be used for virtual and augmented reality. Finisar provides VCSELs (vertical-cavity surface emitting laser) which can be used as part of the 3D sensors. VCSELs have advantages of optical efficiency, low cost and small size. Finisar is expanding its manufacturing capacity of VCSELs at its Allen, Texas facility, which management believes will then allow it to pursue new 3D sensing opportunities in consumer applications.

Finisar common stock declined recently due to near term concerns over slowing demand from China and from a product specific issue, which appears now to be resolved. This provided the Fund an opportunity to acquire shares in this well-financed company at a discount around 25% to our estimated mid-case NAV, for which we attribute no value to the potential opportunity in 3D sensing.


This publication does not constitute an offer or solicitation of any transaction in any securities. Any recommendation contained herein may not be suitable for all investors. Information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable, but cannot be guaranteed.

The information in this portfolio manager letter represents the opinions of the portfolio manager(s) and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, a guarantee of future results or investment advice. Views expressed are those of the portfolio manager(s) and may differ from those of other portfolio managers or of the firm as a whole. Also, please note that any discussion of the Fund’s holdings, the Fund’s performance, and the portfolio manager(s) views are as of June 30, 2017 (except as otherwise stated), and are subject to change without notice. Certain information contained in this letter constitutes “forward-looking statements,” which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “estimate,” “intend,” “continue” or “believe,” or the negatives thereof (such as “may not,” “should not,” “are not expected to,” etc.) or other variations thereon or comparable terminology. Due to various risks and uncertainties, actual events or results or the actual performance of any fund may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in any such forward-looking statement. Current performance results may be lower or higher than performance numbers quoted in certain letters to shareholders.

Date of first use of portfolio manager commentary: July 17, 2017.

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Current performance results may be lower or higher than performance numbers quoted in certain letters to shareholders.