Mar 04, 2021 / 6:00 CET/CEST
Bad Ragaz/Switzerland, March 4, 2021
Record sales in fourth quarter 2020
INFICON recorded significant double-digit sales growth in all four target markets and world regions in the fourth quarter of 2020, both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter. Quarterly sales increased in the months from September to December by 21.5% compared with the final quarter of 2019, and by as much as 27.1% compared with the third quarter 2020. Excluding positive currency effects of 4.7 percent of sales, primarily from the weakness of the U.S. Dollar against the Euro, organic growth was 16.8%. Several factors contributed to this strong last quarter: On the one hand, Asia has already broadly and Europe to quite an extent recovered from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only in the USA, is the economy still suffering greatly from the virus. On the other hand, the demand in the classic semiconductor market stayed high, both at chip producers as well as at equipment manufacturers. The other target markets also recovered ever more noticeably from the Corona set back towards year-end. With a very healthy order backlog, INFICON is looking confidently on the business development in the year just started.
INFICON's largest target market Semi & Vacuum Coating contributed in the fourth quarter sales of USD 52.5 million or 44.9% to Group sales. Both annual (+23.0%) and quarterly (+23.8%) sales grew significantly due to the continued high demand in the semiconductor business and the broad recovery in Asia, especially in China and Taiwan. In contrast, the vacuum coating business remained rather modest as in the preceding quarters.
In the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Automotive market, sales increased in the fourth quarter by 21.9% compared with the same prior year period and by 25.8% over the third quarter 2020 to USD 23.9 million. Certain catch up effects in Asia and above all, a recent revival in the traditional and an ongoing strong demand in the E-mobility sector supported this development.
Parallel to the recovery in Europe, the General Vacuum market grew by 21.4% in the last quarter compared with the prior year figure, and by 22.8% over the third quarter to USD 31.8 million.
The Security & Energy market that is characterized by large individual orders recorded a massive increase of 85.1% to USD 8.7 million compared with the third quarter. Year over year, the plus was 11.5%. The growing measurement and analysis business in the energy sector mitigates the dependency on large public sector orders to some extent.
The gross profit trend could not could not quite keep pace with the increase in sales. Higher material and logistics costs, inefficiencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the weak US Dollar curtailed the development of the gross profit. While it increased by 16%, the gross profit margin fell by 2 percentage points to 47.1%. In the fourth quarter, INFICON invested again considerable means into research and development. With USD 10.6 million, spending here was 26% higher than a year ago. INFICON will introduce a series of new products and technologies in the current year. INFICON continued to keep other costs tightly under control, resulting in an operating profit of USD 21.5 million after USD 16.0 million a year ago. This corresponds to an operating profit margin of 18.4% for the fourth quarter, after 16.6% a year ago. After taxes, the net profit of the quarter amounted to USD 17.1 million, or 14.6% of sales. The net profit per share was USD 7.00 after USD 6.45 a year ago.
Year-end results 2020
The international economic environment and especially the COVID 19 pandemic were challenging circumstances during 2020. Still, INFICON increased its yearly sales by 4.2% to USD 397.8 million. Excluding currency effects of 1.6 percentage points, the organic growth was 2.6% for 2020. The strongest increase year over year resulted in the Semi & Vacuum Coating market where INFICON reached a plus of 16.7%. This market contributed 48% of group sales in 2020 with total sales of USD 191 million. The second largest market, General Vacuum, closed the year with a slight plus of 0.5% and USD 107.5 million of sales; this market contributed with 27%, one percentage point less to Group sales than a year ago. The pandemic left its mark especially in the second and third quarter on the sales trend in the Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Automotive market. Per year-end, this market showed a minus of 5.7% to USD 79.6 million and contributed 2 percentage points less than a year ago. Despite its fulminant growth in the final quarter, the overall sales generated in the market Security & Energy during the full year show a significant decline of 25.9%. INFICON's smallest target market thus only contributed USD 19.7 million or 5% to Group sales after 7% a year ago.
The regional sales analysis shows for the business year 2020 a very pleasing sales development in Asia (+12.2%). This region and especially the Asian semiconductor market recovered quickly from the first wave of the Corona pandemic. With USD 172.6 million, INFICON generated 43.4% of its sales in Asia. Europe contributed USD 116.2 million or 29.2% to Group sales – practically unchanged from 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic is still impeding the business in the Americas where sales fell by 6.9% to USD 104.7 million which corresponds to a sales contribution of 26.3%.
In comparison with 2019, gross profit remained practically unchanged at USD 188 million; as a percentage of sales, however, the gross margin fell by 2 percentage points to 47.3%. Expenses for research and development climbed by 13% to USD 39 million, while the sales, general, and administrative costs were reduced by 2% to USD 87.1 million. This resulted in an operating profit of USD 61.9 million or 15.6% of sales after USD 64.8 million or 17.0% a year ago. Net profit amounts to USD 49.3 million after USD 52.8 million for 2019, yielding a net profit margin of 12.4% after 13.8% a year ago. Net profit per share was USD 20.18 at year-end compared with USD 21.66 for 2019.
Cash flow and balance sheet
INFICON generated a solid operating cash flow of USD 20.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. For the full fiscal year, the operating cash flow amounts to USD 50.5 million compared to USD 53.8 million recorded in the prior year. INFICON closed the year with net cash of USD 40.9 million after USD 50.1 million a year ago. The balance sheet features an ongoing strong equity ratio of 73% (prior year 75.9%).
Proposed dividend payment and Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting scheduled for March 31, 2020 will again be held without personal attendance of shareholders due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting to pay out a dividend for 2020 of CHF 16.00 per share. As in prior years, the pay out ratio thus remains with currently 88% on its traditionally high level. As the long-serving Board member, Dr. Thomas Staehelin is no longer available for re-election, the Board of Directors proposes to elect Dr. Reto Suter as a new member of the Board. Furthermore, an amendment to the Articles of Association will be proposed to the Annual General Meeting in order to enable virtual General Meetings in the future. The invitation to the Annual General Meeting including the full agenda and all proposals of the Board of Directors is available online at https://ir.inficon.com/shareholder-services/annual-meeting. It will also be sent today to registered shareholders and be published in Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce today.
With a view to the order intake for the upcoming months, INFICON is quite positive for the year 2021 in all target markets. The current economic situation remains nevertheless fragile due to the international trade disputes and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, INFICON expects sales of USD 420 million to USD 450 million at an improved operating profit margin for the current business year 2021.
Online media and analyst conference
INFICON discusses today, March 4, 2021, its fourth quarter and year-end results 2020 in greater detail in an English language media and analyst conference. The conference takes place online at 09:30 a.m. CET via Microsoft Teams. Participants are asked to log into the conference using the following link http://bit.ly/IFCN_Q4_Webcast. Participants will be muted during the presentation and questions can be submitted in writing via the chat function. Participants may also signal that they would like to ask a question verbally via the “raise your hand” button. The presentation visuals are available from 07:00 a.m. for download in the Investor section of the INFICON website www.inficon.com.
Annual Report 2020
INFICON's Annual Report is available online on www.inficon.comin the Investor section or directly at http://bit.ly/IFCN_IR_publications. INFICON expands the scope of its yearly reporting with a markedly enlarged sustainability report.
Communication Calendar 2021
The first quarter results will be announced on April 22, 2021 with the distribution of a press release at 07.00 CEST and an English language online conference at 09:30 CEST which will later be recorded and archived. The communication calendar of INFICON is continuously updated and available online at http://bit.ly/IFCN_calendar.
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Chief Financial Officer
+423 388 3510
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