COMET delivers organic growth of 18% and doubles earnings
The COMET Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of components and systems for the growth markets of non-destructive testing, security and semiconductors, in 2007 achieved organic growth of 18% (prior year: 6%). Including the YXLON group from its acquisition on July 19, 2007, consolidated sales were CHF 171.1 million (prior year: CHF 96.2 million). This drove an increase in the COMET Group’s EBITDA to CHF 21.8 million (prior year: CHF 10 million) and allowed earnings per share to nearly double from CHF 4.11 to CHF 8.07. Shareholders will be asked to approve a dividend increase to CHF 3.00 per share.
Modules & Components division
In 2007 the Modules & Components division, newly formed in connection with the acquisition of the YXLON group, generated sales growth of 20% and improvements of 17.6% in EBITDA and 14.4% in EBIT. Within the division, both Vacuum Capacitors and Industrial X-Ray grew more strongly than the Group average. Vacuum Capacitors further cemented its position as a supplier to semiconductor fabrication plants and progressed the forward strategy in the market segment of RF (radio frequency)modules. This enabled the Vacuum Capacitors activities – after an excellent 2006 with growth of 58% – to defy the significant slowdown in the semiconductor market cycle in the second half of 2007 by growing 20% in the full year. The year also saw considerable investment in Switzerland, the USA and China to set the stage for continued growth in this business. Industrial X-Ray delivered a substantial improvement last year. After stagnating in 2006, sales grew by 20% in 2007. Expectations in the area of integrated X-ray sources were surpassed, thus making up for a relatively disappointing performance in analytic market solutions. Through rigorous cost management, the profit contribution was visibly enhanced.
Sales in the Systems division for 2007, at CHF 80.0 million, were limited by the fact that the YXLON group was acquired only as of July 19. While the YXLON group fully met expectations for growth and earnings, the profitability of Feinfocus remained less than planned despite sales growth of 26%. In addition, amortization totalling CHF 5.7 million weighed on EBIT, which was a deficit of CHF 2.2 million. This amortization related to the purchase price allocation for YXLON, integration costs, and one-off write-downs at Feinfocus. In spite of this, the transition year of 2007 brought positive EBITDA of CHF 4.0 million. A clear picture emerges from the 2007/2006 pro-forma comparison for the division, which reveals sales growth of 15% and a more than twofold rise in EBITDA from CHF 4.3 million to CHF 9.6 million.
The Board of Directors of COMET Holding AG decided at its meeting on March 20, 2008 to propose to shareholders at the Annual Meeting (set for April 24 in Berne) to increase the dividend from CHF 2.00 to CHF 3.00 CHF per share. The Board also decided to support the request from the shareholder group consisting of Absolute Capital Management and Sterling Group (16%) to elect Rolf Huber to the Board of Directors. Mr. Huber, born in 1965, holds a Dipl. Ing. ETH engineering degree.
Annual Shareholder Meeting
Although the signs for the business climate in 2008 are mixed and the stronger Swiss franc will make itself felt, the Board of Directors and executive management are confident that the actions taken have laid a solid foundation for the continuing positive performance of the COMET Group.