- Sales growth of 29.8% to CHF 513.7 million (FY20: CHF 395.8 million)
- EBITDA margin of 20.0%, up from 14.8% in 2020
- Return on capital employed (ROCE) nearly doubled to 26.8% (FY20: 13.6%)
- Delivery commitments to customers met in full despite supply chain challenges
Outlook for 2022
- Health of workforce and ability to deliver as first priorities
- Capacities in place to meet customer's needs in all target markets
- Continued investments in R&D, capacities, digitalization
- Committed to promoting corporate culture and sustainability
In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comet again achieved robust results. The Group successfully managed the pandemic-related bottlenecks in the global supply chains, maintaining the ability to deliver dependably to customers. The Group took advantage of its opportunities in the semiconductor and electronics industry. This market is booming thanks to the increasing interconnectedness of our world and the accelerated investment triggered by post-COVID-19 shortages and by the trend toward regional independence and resilience, all of which are driving a sharp rise in demand for semiconductors and electronics. In addition, the automotive, aerospace and security inspection markets picked up as travel increased, and despite the resurgence of the pandemic in the final months of the year.
Net sales grew by 29.8% from the prior year to CHF 513.7 million (FY20: CHF 395.8 million). Thanks to strong sales volumes and more efficient processes, the EBITDA margin improved from 14.8% to 20.0%. Net income rose by 143.8% to a new all-time high of CHF 67.4 million, or CHF 8.68 per share. The return on capital employed nearly doubled from 13.6% to 26.8% and the increase in profitability buoyed free cash flow, which grew from CHF 41.6 million in FY20 to CHF 57.8 million. The Group's balance sheet is very sound, with an equity ratio of 56.1% and a net debt/EBITDA ratio of minus 0.4.
PCT: successfully managed demand of the booming semiconductor market
The boom in the semiconductor industry continued in 2021. Major trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, high-performance computing and data storage applications are driving the development of more sophisticated chips with ever growing capabilities. The steady increase in complexity in the latest chip designs continues unabated, which requires more and more plasma processes in production, thus opening up more opportunities for the Plasma Control Technologies division (PCT).
In this extremely favorable environment, PCT has further expanded its leading market position in vacuum capacitors and impedance matching networks (also known as matches). This is reflected in an increased number of design wins compared to the previous year. The Asia Design Center, opened in Korea at the end of 2020, also made a gratifying contribution to this success. To meet the growing demand, PCT increased its investments in production capacity, operational efficiency and a customer-centric mindset. In addition to growth in market-leading products, the new innovative family of high-frequency generators opens up the possibility for the division to tap into an additional addressable market currently estimated to reach about CHF 1.2 billion by 2025. Beta tests with the first generators have thus far yielded encouraging results with a number of potential customers. The first sales are expected in 2022.
Thanks to booming demand and a continued expansion of market share, PCT succeeded in increasing sales by 36.2% to CHF 306.1 million, compared to CHF 224.7 million in the previous year. Reflecting the start of production in Penang as well as continued cost discipline and further efficiency improvements, PCT achieved 63.1% higher operating earnings of CHF 80.5 million at EBITDA level (FY20: CHF 49.3 million). The EBITDA margin thus improved to 26.3%, from 22.0% in the prior year.
IXS: strategy execution on track, profitability up, further progress in sight
The realignment of the IXS division gained momentum in 2021. Although this journey is not yet fully completed, the division reached important milestones, achieving full-year profitability on an EBITDA basis. The division continued to shift toward the semiconductor device arena, reducing the complexity existing in part of its product portfolio and focusing on value-driven offerings. A highlight was the win of a first order with the new FF 35 Semi system for testing advanced packages from one of the largest device foundries in Taiwan. In addition, work on the cost base continued, which remained stable despite a gradual recovery in the end markets and made a significant contribution to the improved operating result.
IXS recorded 30.1% higher sales of CHF 138.9 million in 2021 (prior year: CHF 106.8 million), signaling a return to the pre-pandemic level. With EBITDA of CHF 8.9 million, the division has achieved an impressive turnaround (prior year: loss of CHF 1.0 million). The EBITDA margin rose from -0.9% in the prior year to 6.4%.
IXM: successful launch of leading-edge product families, end markets recovered
The market for X-ray tubes and modules largely recovered from the previous year's slump. After a gradual recovery in the first six months, the demand in the core markets of non-destructive testing and safety inspection stabilized in the course of the second half of the year. The strengthened product portfolio paid off. Thanks to solid financing, IXM was able to push ahead with new developments in various product families despite the weak state of the end markets in the previous year and successfully launch them in 2021 in parallel with the market recovery.
Net sales increased by 28.4% to CHF 78.9 million (FY20: CHF 61.5 million). Thus, a pre-covid level was already reached. EBITDA improved by 69.2% to CHF 15.3 million (FY20: CHF 9.0 million), which is equivalent to an increase in the EBITDA margin from 14.7% to 19.4%.
At the Annual Shareholder Meeting scheduled for April 14, 2022, the Board of Directors will propose a dividend of CHF 3.50 per share (2021: CHF 1.30). This represents a distribution of 40% of the Group's net income (2021: 37%).
The Comet Group has entered 2022 with significant momentum. Our customers continue to place their trust in us and as such have given us new opportunities. The Group is focused, financially and structurally more robust than ever before. With more flexible and leaner processes, an invigorated corporate culture and a high order backlog, Comet is well-placed to leverage the potential of the growing digitalization of society. At the same time, it is equipped to successfully counter macro-economic risks.
The long-term drivers for the semiconductor and electronics markets are intact. In the automotive, aerospace and security markets, Comet is also witnessing various degrees of recovery. For Comet, 2022 will therefore be about expanding its capacity and adapting to the growing needs of its customers, controlling its supply chains, and remaining ready to deliver - all while balancing current uncertainties.
Assuming no significant deterioration in the macroeconomic situation, Comet Group expects to achieve net sales between CHF 570 million and CHF 610 million and an EBITDA margin between 21% and 23% in 2022.
Media and analysts' conference
The detailed annual figures will be presented today March 4 at a media and analysts' conference at 10:00 a.m. CET in Zurich, Switzerland (Restaurant Metropol, The Great Hall, Fraumünsterstrasse 12, CH 8001 Zurich).
+41 (0)58 310 50 00 (Europe)
+44 (0) 207 107 0613 (UK)
+1 (1)631 570 5613 (USA)
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English, 10:00 a.m. CET, March 4, 2022:
For more information, please refer to our online Annual Report available at (link):
Format of the Annual General Meeting on April 14, 2022
Comet will hold the Annual Shareholder Meeting of April 14, 2022 with physical presence of shareholders in Berne, Switzerland. Further details will follow with the invitation to the meeting.
Definition of alternative performance measures (APM)
EBITDA: Operating income as per consolidated statement of income before depreciation, amortization and impairment losses on property, plant and equipment, right-of-use assets and intangible assets.
EBITDA margin: EBITDA as a percentage of net sales
Equity ratio: Total equity attributable to the shareholders of Comet Holding AG divided by total assets
Free cash flow: Net cash flows from operating and investing activities
Return on capital employed (ROCE): ROCE is the ratio of operating income less income tax (NOPAT) to total capital employed. Capital employed is defined as net working capital (aggregated amount of net trade receivables, inventories, trade payables, sales commissions and contract liabilities) plus noncurrent assets employed (aggregated amount of property, plant and equipment, right-of-use assets and intangible assets).