COMET Group reaffirms its effective adopted growth strategy 2020 and reveals specifics about growth opportunities

The COMET Group is on track for success with its growth strategy. At its Investor Day, the Group is showing concretely how it plans to direct and focus the strong growth to 2020 and beyond. As one initiative among its targeted growth opportunities, COMET is unveiling its demonstrator, developed with Bühler AG, for the inactivation of bacteria on granular dehydrated foods using ebeam.
The COMET Group is reiterating its target of growing sales to about CHF 500 million by 2020 with an EBITDA margin of 16-18%. For fiscal year 2016, thanks to the strong business in the semiconductor market, the Group is expecting results at the upper end of the issued guidance range of CHF 300-320 million for sales and of an EBITDA margin of 11-13%.

 
With its three core technologies of x-ray, ebeam and radio frequency (RF) power, the COMET Group helps bring greater safety and security, mobility, sustainability and efficiency to numerous areas of life. With leading technologies and innovative products, it supports current social and industrial trends such as the Internet of Things, 3D technologies, security and safety inspection, and efficient, resource-saving processes.
 
The strong business performance during 2016 demonstrates the success of the COMET Group's strategic focus on new applications that leverage fast-growing trends and on working in close partnership with key accounts. In 2016 the Group stepped up investment in all three of its major technologies and began the construction work for the expansion of production capacity in Flamatt. The foundation is thus laid for the further growth to 2020 and the years beyond.
 
Radio frequency technology: Further vigorous growth in core business through innovation and expansion of competencies
In the period to 2018 the COMET Group continues to expect the strongest growth to come from the Plasma Control Technologies business. PCT, with its strength in radio frequency technology, is superbly positioned as a strategic partner to customers for the fabrication of 3D data-storage technologies, new manufacturing processes for high-growth IoT applications, and the latest displays. For customers in these markets the COMET brand is synonymous with rapid, replicable control processes and high performance and profitability in production.
 
To provide continuing optimum support for customers' rising requirements for speed and precision in the fabrication of semiconductor chips, PCT invests in the development of novel solutions. Going forward, perfectly coordinated software and hardware in generators and impedance matching networks are to ensure a well-integrated RF power portfolio. To achieve this, PCT is developing new control software with the latest sensing and measurement technology. This requires ever-increasing software expertise, which PCT is purposefully building up.
 
X-ray: Solid profitable growth – metrology a new application, and security inspection market remains in focus
With its x-ray technology, the COMET Group helps make the interior of components visible so defects can be spotted in time. The x-ray offering thus creates an important basis for the improvement of product quality and the resource-conserving use of materials. Due to the growing complexity of components and the rise of additive manufacturing methods, the measurement (metrology) of internal structures based on high-resolution 3D images is also increasingly gaining in importance right in the production line (inline computed tomography). This opens up new applications for the COMET Group's CT systems marketed under the YXLON brand. Measurement data from two- and three-dimensional radiography enable manufacturers to improve their production processes. The Group is addressing these new opportunities of Industry 4.0 together with various partners. In the X-Ray Modules business, another growth opportunity is the scanning of hand luggage (carry-on) using more powerful technology. The COMET Group has developed solutions for the faster and more exact identification of substances and will soon put them to the test in the field.
 
ebeam: Digital printing launched as new application; project with Bühler for inactivation of bacteria on dehydrated foods is soon to enter field testing; Tetra Pak rollout on track
The strongest growth for the Group in the long term is to come from the ebeam Technologies business. As the world's only vertically integrated powerhouse for low-energy ebeam, the COMET Group is uniquely placed to tap new applications. A key focus here is on using ebeam instead of chemicals in the sterilization of packaging at Tetra Pak. The alignment of the supply chain to manufacture higher volumes for the rollout with Tetra Pak is progressing to plan. As a new and promising application, COMET is presenting the curing of inks in digital printing. In analog printing technologies, ebeam is already established, since it is a safe and environmentally friendly process. Moreover, inks cured with ebeam do not require expensive and often harmful photoinitiators, an advantage which is particularly attractive for manufacturers of food packaging. As a result of the market's clear demand for individualized packaging, growth is highest in the digital printing sector. At this year's drupa trade show of the world's printing and paper industry, a new ebeam product was therefore launched that meets the specifications of digital printing processes. The strong customer interest bodes well for this innovation.

The COMET Group's collaboration with Bühler, started in 2015, is also producing early results. At Investor Day, the COMET Group and Bühler are jointly presenting a demonstrator for the treatment of granular dry foods, such as spices. Thanks to ebeam, bacteria on foods are rendered harmless without the use of chemicals or steam and without compromising food quality. The field test is planned for 2017. The COMET Group is also working on other attractive applications, for which letters of intent and non-disclosure agreements have been signed with a number of partners.
 
COMET has momentum: Results for 2016 expected at upper end of guidance; growth targets for 2020 stand
The proven emphasis on new applications and key accounts, together with the focused management of the strategic initiatives, pave the way for continuing strong and profitable growth. The Group therefore reiterates its target (given stable macroeconomic conditions and assuming exchange rates of CHF 0.95 to the US dollar and CHF 1.05 to the euro) of boosting sales to approximately CHF 500 million by 2020, at an EBITDA margin of 16-18%. Despite high investment – especially also in the building expansion in Flamatt – the Group expects to continually increase its return on capital employed over the coming years. For fiscal year 2016, thanks to the strong business in the semiconductor market, the Group is expecting results at the upper end of the communicated guidance range of CHF 300-320 million for sales and of an EBITDA margin of 11-13%.
 
"With its technologies the COMET Group is closely attuned to global growth trends and has gained real momentum. This year we have invested in important groundwork for further strong, profitable growth. By clearly focusing and combining our strengths, we are able to deliver vigorous growth in close partnership with our customers," explains Ronald Fehlmann, CEO of the COMET Group.

To the presentation slides
To the video of the CEO presentation