Mar 02, 2023 / 7:00 CET/CEST
Chief Financial Officer
+423 388 3510
Record sales in fourth quarter 2022
Sales reached a new high in the fourth quarter of 2022 with USD 159.4 million. This is an increase of 10.3% over the same period of the prior year which was so far with USD 144.5 million the strongest quarter for INFICON. Compared with the preceding third quarter, sales increased by 10.8%. Excluding negative currency effects of 6.5 percentage points, the organic sales growth for the quarter was 16.8%. INFICON grew in all target markets and world regions in the closing quarter of 2022. With an unchanged high order backlog and a dynamic order intake, INFICON assesses the current business year optimistic. The capacity expansion program of the last two years is about to be completed as planned.
Sales to customers of INFICON’s largest target market Semi & Vacuum Coating reached a record-high level of USD 83.9 million and thus contributed 52.9% to Group sales. Both, in a year-over-year (+8.3%) as well as quarter-over-quarter (+11.3%) comparison, sales grew in all world areas. Following the enormous gains in Asia in the previous quarters, the sales volumes picked up especially in North America and Europe during the reporting quarter. Demand from the logic chip market remained stable, while a certain slowdown was noticeable in the memory chips market. INFICON assesses the prospect for the following quarters overall rather positive.
In the General Vacuum market, too, INFICON achieved a new high with sales of USD 39.4 million. This equals an increase of 7.1% both year-over-year as well as compared with the preceding third quarter. The contribution of the second largest target market to Group sales remained stable at just under a quarter. Due to the large exposure to Europe, the weakness of the Euro affected the sales development reported in US Dollars somewhat negatively. The expectations for this market are stable to slightly declining.
In the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Automotive market, sales increased strongly (+10.2%) in the fourth quarter. Compared with the third quarter, the sales of USD 27.0 million remained stable (+0.4%) on a high level. The continuously dynamic market for leak testing of lithium-ion batteries and battery modules remains the current and future sales driver.
INFICION achieved the largest sales increase in its Security & Energy market which is strongly influenced by large-scale orders from the public sector. The yearly comparison reveals an increase of 59.6% to USD 9.1 million; compared with the third quarter, sales were almost doubled with a plus of USD 93.6%. This is largely due to the renewed shipments of the person-portable analysis systems, HAPSITE®, to the U.S. Department of Defense. INFICON assesses the further development for the next quarters positively.
Gross profit grew by 8.9% to USD 73.5 million and the margin improved compared with the two preceding quarters. Yet, the slightly lower gross profit margin of 46.1% in the yearly comparison shows the higher material and logistics costs and remaining bottlenecks in global sourcing. Towards year-end, some signs of improvements were noticeable here. The expenses for technology and product developments remained high and practically unchanged with USD 11.7 million. Other costs rose slightly, reflecting not least the year-end shipping efforts. The operating profit reached USD 33.9 million for the quarter. This is an increase of 9.0% and yields an operating profit margin of 21.3% after 21.5% a year ago. Net profit rose by 12.5% to USD 29.6 million following USD 26.3 million in the prior year. This results in a strengthened net profit margin of 18.6% of sales. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter rose from USD 10.76 a year ago to now USD 12.11.
INFICON’s two-year investment program to increase the Group’s manufacturing capacities by around 50% was largely completed in the fourth quarter. Yet, INFICON is again expanding its investment program with a view to the high order backlog as well as the medium- to long-term expectations.
Year-end results 2022
The full business year 2022 confronted INFICON with quite some challenges. In hindsight, they were all well mastered. Despite shortages on the supply markets, the running expansion projects which led to changes made to our buildings and manufacturing processes, as well as sudden necessary additional measures to safeguard a seamless energy supply, Group sales rose by 12.7% to USD 581.3 million. Excluding small positive effects from acquisition of 0.2 percentage points and negative currency effects of 5.2%, the organic growth for the full fiscal year was 17.7%.
INFICON achieved the strongest sales increase in its Semi & Vacuum Coating target market with a plus of 16.8% to USD 305.3 million. Sales to this market accounted for 52.5% of Group sales. The second largest target market, General Vacuum, also grew markedly. Sales rose by 13.9% to USD 152.0 million, a contribution of 26.1% to Group sales. In local currencies, the sales in this market developed even more dynamically. In the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Automotive market, sales rose by 1.1% to USD 100.9 million. This market equals a share of 17.4% of Group sales. Supported by accelerating shipments of HAPSITE® analysis systems towards year-end, INFICON’s smallest target market, Security & Engergy, reported rising sales of 9% to USD 23.1 million for the full year. This market’s contribution to Group sales remained stable at around 4%.
The regional sales split reveals that Asia remained INFICON’s most important market area in 2022, generating 47.5% of overall sales. The full-year sales figures remained largely unchanged for Europe (25.0%) and America (26.7%). In the fourth quarter, sales grew most dynamically in America (+26.6% to USD 44.2 million) and Europe (+5% to USD 35.6 million). In local currencies, the sales in Europe also reached double-digit growth.
Compared with the sales dynamics, the gross profit rose a nudge slower by 8.0% to USD 266.7 million. The reasons stated above pressed the gross profit margin for the full year from 47.9% reached in the prior year to now 45.9%. The expenditures for research and development of USD 45.5 million remained practically constant, the general, sales and, administrative costs grew under-proportionately to USD 109.6 million. INFICON thus closed the demanding business year despite some challenges with an operating profit of USD 111.6 million. This is an increase of 11.2% over the prior-year figure and yields a just slightly lower operating profit margin of 19.2% after 19.5% a year ago. Net sales rose by 10.2% to USD 88.5 million or USD 36.20 per share, up from USD 32.87 calculated for fiscal 2021.
Cash flow and balance sheet
The increased sales level, as well as the measures to safeguard the current production by higher inventories increased the working capital to USD 210 million or 32.9 percent of sales. The now almost completed expansion program accounted for expenses of USD 34 million in the year under review. INFICON still generated a robust operating cash flow of USD 14.9 million in the fourth quarter and of 46.2 million for the full year, after USD 85.1 million in 2021. INFICON closed the year with a noticeably lower net cash position of USD 2.5 million (prior year USD 54.6 million). The balance sheet features a high equity ratio of 64.6% (prior year 69.2%) per year-end 2022.
Dividend proposal and Annual General Meeting
As the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be largely behind us, shareholders are warmly invited to participate personally at the Annual General Meeting scheduled for March 30, 2023. The Annual General Meeting will take place at the University of Applied Sciences OST in Buchs/SG. With a view to the capacity expansions of the last two years and the respective high investments of over USD 60 million, as well as the further planned investments to accommodate future growth, the Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting to distribute CHF 18 as ordinary dividend for the business year 2022. This represents a still high payout ratio of 54%. Lukas Winkler, CEO of the INFICON Group until the end of 2022, is proposed for election as a new member of the Board of Directors. Dr. Richard Fischer is no longer available for re-election. The invitation including the items on the agenda and all the Board of Directors’ proposals is available online at https://ir.inficon.com/annual-general-meetings/. The invitation is published today in the Swiss Gazette of Commerce and will be sent to all registered shareholders.
Despite all the global uncertainties, INFICON assesses the outlook for the upcoming quarters mostly optimistic. The solid order backlog, the current order intake, the production expansions which are now all on stream, and the expectations for the developments in our end markets, let us expect sales in the range of USD 570 million to USD 610 million and an operating profit margin of around 19%.
Media and Analyst conference
INFICON discusses today, March 2, 2023, at 09:00 CET its fourth quarter and full-year results in more detail at an English-language media and analyst conference in Zürich, Zunfthaus zum Rüden, Limmatquai 42, CH-8001 Zürich. The presentations will also be streamed via MS Teams. Online participants are requested to log in via https://ir.inficon.com/conference-calls-or-webcasts/. The presentation visuals are available for download in the investor relations section of the INFICON website www.inficon.com from 07:00 a.m.
Annual Report and Sustainability Report 2022
INFICON’s Annual Report 2022 is available for download at www.inficon.com in the investors’s section or directly following this link https://ir.inficon.com/financial-results-and-presentations/.
Apart from the expansion projects mentioned above, INFICON invested in 2022 substantial means also in its operational sustainability. In Balzers/LI, the HVAC system of the entire facility was renewed. Recuperating heat from production has already saved 50% of the energy needed. We expect after a full year savings of up to 90%. The electric energy used at all major production sites now comes from 100% renewable sources. Photovoltaic panels support this effort. Landscaping around the Syracuse/NY/USA works follows a new nature conscientious concept with a view to strengthen the biodiversity. Our yet expanded sustainability report 2022, elaborated and certified according the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards, documents these examples and many more achievements.
Communication calendar 2023
The results for the first quarter 2023 will be published on April 26, 2023, at 07:00 a.m. in a press release and at 09:30 a.m. at an English-language online conference which will be recorded and archived. The communication calendar of INFICON is continuously updated and available at https://ir.inficon.com/financial-calendar.
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INFICON is a leading provider of innovative instrumentation, critical sensor technologies, and Smart Manufacturing/Industry 4.0 software solutions that enhance productivity and quality of tools, processes and complete factories. These analysis, measurement and control products are essential for gas leak detection in air conditioning/refrigeration, and automotive manufacturing. They are vital to equipment manufacturers and end-users in the complex fabrication of semiconductors and thin film coatings for optics, flat panel displays, solar cells and industrial vacuum coating applications. Other users of vacuum based processes include the life sciences, research, aerospace, packaging, heat treatment, laser cutting and many other industrial processes. We also leverage our expertise in vacuum technology to provide unique, toxic chemical analysis products for emergency response, security, and environmental monitoring. INFICON is headquartered in Switzerland and has world-class manufacturing facilities in Europe, the United States and China, as well as subsidiaries in China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States. INFICON registered shares (IFCN) are listed on SIX Swiss Exchange. For more information about INFICON and its products, please visit www.inficon.com.
This press release and oral statements or other written statements made, or to be made by us contain forward-looking statements that do not relate solely to historical or current facts. These forward-looking statements are based on the current plans and expectations of our management and are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks that could significantly affect our current plans and expectations, as well as future results of operations and financial condition. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.