COMET Group: Continuation of strong and profitable growth to 2020

By 2020 the COMET Group plans to grow its sales to CHF 500 million, with an EBITDA margin of 16%-18%. Its Strategy 2020, presented at Investor Day 2015, focuses on new applications that leverage fast-growing trends, on bringing the Group's strengths together for maximum effect, and on working in close partnership with key accounts. For 2015, as a result of the short-term delay in investment in the Asian semiconductor market and the continuing low demand from China in the second half of the year, the Group expects sales to be off slightly year-over-year at CHF 275-285 million, with an EBITDA margin of 12.5%-13.5%. For 2016 the COMET Group is projecting growth of about 10% to CHF 300-320 million, with an EBITDA margin of 14%-16%. Significantly, the ebeam activities will be upgraded to a separate business segment from the start of fiscal 2016.

The COMET Group has successfully strengthened its position over the past several years. Its Strategy 2015, which aimed at the intensified marketing of innovative products and technologies and the accelerated development of high-growth business segments, has been consistently executed. Since 2012 the Group was able to generate strong growth and significant value-added. Customer relationships were deepened effectively, important development orders were won and the stage set for further vigorous growth along current market trends.

Strategy 2020: Growth through new applications and closer partnerships

With its three core technologies, the COMET Group is instrumental in bringing greater safety and security, mobility, sustainability and efficiency to numerous areas of life. This predestines the Group to support developments that are associated with profound social and technological changes and which include trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D technologies, flexible displays, highly functional materials and resource-conserving, efficient processes. In its 2020 growth strategy, the Group prioritizes bringing existing competencies together, tapping new applications based on the core technologies, and enhancing collaborative partnerships with key customers.

The strongest growth in the period to 2020 is expected in the Plasma Control Technologies (PCT) and ebeam Technologies (EBT) businesses. 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 flexible displays. PCT is synonymous with rapid, repeatable production processes and equips its customers to achieve higher manufacturing throughput and profits. 
In the long term, the strongest growth for the Group is expected to come from the ebeam business. As the world's only vertically integrated powerhouse for low-energy electron beam technology, the COMET Group is ideally placed to develop new applications through direct market access. These uses include, for example, surface finishing in the furniture industry and improving the function of pressure-sensitive adhesives and plastic films. At the same time, the ebeam unit sees exciting growth potential in the intensive collaboration with highly regarded partners like Tetra Pak and Bühler. In the X-Ray Systems business, metrology is the foremost new application. For the X-Ray Modules business, a further important growth opportunity is the scanning of hand luggage (carry-on) using new, more powerful technology. 

The Strategy 2020 relies on the following growth levers:
  • Focus 1 – Innovative technologies: Application-specific expansion of competencies and greater use of Group-wide synergies, focused on the core technologies of x-ray, radio frequency and ebeam.
  • Focus 2 – New applications: Entering new, rapidly growing business sectors based on current market and technology trends.
  • Focus 3 – Key account partnering: Intensification and expansion of collaborative partnerships with key accounts.
  • Focus 4 – Operational excellence: Enhancing performance by carefully combining and further developing existing strengths and raising productivity and efficiency.

With the execution of the Strategy 2020, the aim of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee is to increase sales to about CHF 500 million by 2020 (assuming stable macroeconomic conditions and average exchange rates of 0.95 Swiss francs per US dollar and 1.05 Swiss francs per euro). The Group is targeting an EBITDA margin of 16%-18%, on the strength of the planned investment, improvement in productivity and profitability, and exploiting of growth levers. Despite high investment, the company value is expected to grow continuously over the years ahead.

"The Strategy 2020 is the continuation of our growth strategy thus far, but with a heightened focus. We are attuned to rising global growth trends. By combining our strengths to good effect, we can deliver strong growth in close partnership with our customers. Our goal is to reach sales of about CHF 500 million by 2020," says Ronald Fehlmann, Chief Executive Officer of the COMET Group.

Resuming growth after transition year of 2015

Given the short-term delays in investment in the Asian semiconductor market, the still low demand from China and continuing restrained investment activity as a result of the persistent weak oil and gas prices, the COMET Group is slightly adjusting its expectations for 2015. The Board and management now project sales of between CHF 275 million and CHF 285 million, with an EBITDA margin of 12.5% to 13.5% (previously: CHF 290-310 million with EBITDA of 13.5%-14.5%). The forecast for 2016, on the assumption of exchange rates of CHF 0.95 per US dollar and CHF 1.05 per euro, is for approximately 10% growth to EUR 300-320 million and an EBITDA margin of 14%-16%. The Board and management see new and highly attractive future growth potential for the COMET Group.

New organizational pillar: ebeam Technologies becomes its own segment

To support consistent focus in the development of the individual business activities and allow for the expected growth of the ebeam business, the X-Ray & ebeam Technologies segment will be split into two segments as of January 2016. The ebeam unit will pursue its planned strong growth as the separate ebeam Technologies (EBT) segment under the leadership of Charles Flükiger, previously President of X-Ray & ebeam Technologies. The Industrial X-Ray Technologies and Portable X-Ray activities will be combined in the X-Ray Modules (IXM) segment and led on an interim basis by Ronald Fehlmann, CEO of the COMET Group.

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