Business for the Comet Group has followed a positive trend in the second half of the year. New orders picked up significantly and the cost-saving measures taken are working. For the full year 2019 the Comet Group reaffirms its August guidance of sales of between CHF 350 million and CHF 370 million and an EBITDA margin of 7.0% to 8.5%.
At today’s Capital Markets Day, Comet presents its repositioning as well as “Boost”, the Group-wide growth and efficiency program.
The repositioning of the Comet Group is well underway. Its central element is that the Group is focusing on process-critical plasma control and x-ray technology, used primarily in the high-volume, high-growth semiconductor market. At the same time, the existing activities in the aerospace, automotive and security markets continue to be vigorously driven forward, supported by modular standardization. Particular attention is devoted to solutions based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, which can deliver unequaled value-added for customers in all business segments. For the ebeam business, the process of examining strategic options is underway.
The semiconductor industry is on the verge of another technological leap. The miniaturization to achieve even smaller microchip dimensions by advancing from today’s 7-nanometer scale to the new 5 nm level and then to the coming 3 nm realm requires various new manufacturing techniques and also, importantly, high-performance quality control steps that are possible only with x-ray technology. For example, the use of microprocessors for autonomous driving demands a level of reliability several factors higher than before, and this reliability can be verified with the help of x-ray-based approaches.
In this demanding and dynamic environment, Comet plans to substantially expand its already strong market position and technology leadership in vacuum capacitors, impedance matching networks, x-ray modules, and CT and in-line x-ray systems, as well as develop new application segments. Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a key role in this. The goal is to greatly accelerate customers’ development process for new products and techniques, give process modules and production systems the ability to learn, and prevent interruptions of manufacturing processes or anticipate problems in time. Comet will make this area a priority focus of investment.
Creation of manufacturing capacity in Malaysia planned
Asia is already home to more than 70% of the world’s production plants for the semiconductor industry. In order to enable the Group’s expected growth, Comet plans to establish a subsidiary in Penang, Malaysia, and, together with a local partner, open a manufacturing facility there.
“Boost” program: for more efficiency, lower costs and faster execution
Through the Group-wide Boost program, Comet will not only speed up growth but also improve efficiency in all areas of the company. As one part of this effort, an improved operating model is to enable a company structure geared to growth and technology leadership, simplify and speed up business processes, shorten development times, and heighten the flexibility of supply chain management.
For 2020, Comet expects a continued demand recovery in the semiconductor market and the x-ray sector. Underpinned by the strong market position, the adopted focus strategy and the Boost improvement program, Comet aims to achieve profitable growth of 15% CAGR over the period to 2025, with a 2025 EBITDA margin of about 25% and a 2025 ROCE of 30%.
March 19, 2020 Publication of annual results
April 23, 2020 Annual Shareholder Meeting