Comet Group continues its growth trajectory in 2021


Full year 2021
– Sales growth of 29.8% to CHF 513.7 million (EX20: 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% (EX20: 13.6%)
– Meeting delivery commitments to customers despite supply chain challenges

Outlook for 2022
– Workforce health and ability to deliver as top priorities
– Capabilities in place to meet customer 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 delivered strong results. The Group successfully managed pandemic-related bottlenecks in global supply chains, maintaining the ability to reliably deliver to customers. The Group seized its opportunities in the semiconductor and electronics industry. This market is booming thanks to the increasing interconnectedness of our world and the acceleration of investments triggered by post-COVID-19 shortages and the trend towards regional independence and resilience, which are driving a sharp increase demand for semiconductors and electronics. Additionally, the automotive, aerospace and safety inspection markets rebounded with increased travel and despite the resurgence of the pandemic in the final months of the year.

Net sales increased by 29.8% year-on-year to CHF 513.7 million (EX20: CHF 395.8 million). Thanks to strong sales volumes and more efficient processes, the EBITDA margin improved from 14.8% to 20.0%. Net profit increased by 143.8% to a new all-time high of CHF 67.4 million, or CHF 8.68 per share. Return on capital employed nearly doubled from 13.6% to 26.8% and increased profitability boosted free cash flow to CHF 41.6 million during the year. FY20 at CHF 57.8 million. The Group’s balance sheet is very healthy, with an equity ratio of 56.1% and a net debt/EBITDA ratio of minus 0.4.

PCT: successfully managing demand from the booming semiconductor market
The semiconductor industry boom continued in 2021. Major trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, high performance computing and data storage applications are driving the development of larger chips. sophisticated machines with ever-increasing capabilities. The ever-increasing complexity of the latest chip designs continues unabated, requiring more and more plasma processes in production, opening up more opportunities for the Plasma Control Technologies (PCT) division.

In this extremely favorable environment, PCT further strengthened its leading position in the market for vacuum capacitors and impedance matching networks (also called matches). This is reflected in an increased number of winning designs compared to the previous year. The Asia Design Center, opened in Korea at the end of 2020, has also contributed gratifyingly to this success. To meet growing demand, PCT has increased its investments in production capacity, operational efficiency and a customer-centric mindset. In addition to the growth of market-leading products, the innovative new family of high-frequency generators opens up the possibility for the division to tap into an additional addressable market currently estimated at approximately CHF 1.2 billion by 2025. Beta testing with first generators have so far shown encouraging results with a number of potential customers. The first sales are expected in 2022.

Thanks to booming demand and continued expansion of its market share, PCT managed to increase its turnover by 36.2% to CHF 306.1 million, compared to CHF 224.7 million the previous year. . Reflecting the start of production in Penang as well as continued cost discipline and further efficiency improvements, PCT achieved a 63.1% increase in operating profit to CHF 80.5 million at EBITDA (FY20: CHF 49.3 million). The EBITDA margin thus improved to 26.3%, compared to 22.0% the previous year.

IXS: strategy execution on track, profitability up, further progress in sight
The realignment of the IXS division has accelerated in 2021. Although this journey is not yet fully complete, the division has achieved significant milestones, achieving full-year profitability based on EBITDA . The division continued to move into the area of ​​semiconductor devices, reducing the existing complexity in part of its product portfolio and focusing on value-driven offerings. One of the highlights was securing a first order with the new FF 35 Semi system to test advanced packages from one of Taiwan’s largest device foundries. In addition, work on the cost base continued, which remained stable despite a gradual recovery in end markets and largely contributed to the improvement in operating profit.

IXS recorded a 30.1% increase in sales to CHF 138.9 million in 2021 (previous year: CHF 106.8 million), signaling a return to pre-pandemic levels. With an EBITDA of CHF 8.9 million, the division achieved an impressive turnaround (previous year: loss of CHF 1.0 million). The EBITDA margin increased from -0.9% the previous year to 6.4%.

IXM: successful launch of advanced product families, recovered end markets
The market for X-ray tubes and modules has largely recovered from the crisis of the previous year. After a gradual recovery in the first half, demand in the main non-destructive testing and safety inspection markets stabilized in the second half. The strengthened product portfolio has paid off. Thanks to strong funding, IXM was able to pursue new developments in various product families despite weak end markets the previous year and successfully launch them in 2021 alongside market recovery.

Net sales increased by 28.4% to CHF 78.9 million (EX20: CHF 61.5 million). Thus, a pre-covid level had already been reached. EBITDA improved by 69.2% to CHF 15.3 million (EX20: CHF 9.0 million), equating to an increase in EBITDA margin from 14.7% to 19.4%.
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Dividend
At the General Meeting of Shareholders 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%).

Outlook
The Comet group approaches 2022 with significant momentum. Our customers continue to trust us and thus offer us new opportunities. The Group is focused, financially and structurally stronger than ever. With more flexible and lean processes, an invigorated corporate culture and a strong backlog, Comet is well positioned to capitalize on 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 of the semiconductor and electronics markets are intact. In the automotive, aerospace and security markets, Comet is also experiencing varying degrees of recovery. For Comet, 2022 will therefore be about increasing its capacity and adapting to the growing needs of its customers, mastering its supply chains and remaining ready to deliver – 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 analyst conference
Detailed annual figures will be presented today March 4 at a media and analyst conference at 10:00 CET in Zurich, Switzerland (Restaurant Metropol, The Great Hall, Fraumünsterstrasse 12, CH 8001 Zurich).

Call numbers:
+41 (0)58 310 50 00 (Europe)
+44 (0) 207 107 0613 (UK)
+1 (1)631 570 5613 (USA)
For other countries click HERE

Webcast (link):
English, 10:00 CET, March 4, 2022:
https://services.choruscall.com/mediaframe/webcast.html?webcastid=YXsW3wAw

For more information, please consult our online annual report available at (link):
https://reports.comet-group.com/21/en/
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Format of the Annual General Meeting of April 14, 2022
Comet will hold the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on April 14, 2022 with the physical presence of shareholders in Bern, Switzerland. Further details will follow with the meeting invitation.

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Definition of alternative performance indicators (APM)
EBITDA: Operating profit according to the consolidated statement of income before depreciation and impairment of property, plant and equipment, rights of use and intangible assets.
EBITDA margin: EBITDA as a percentage of net sales
Equity ratio: Total equity attributable to shareholders of Comet Holding AG divided by total assets
Free movement of capital: Net cash flow from operating and investing activities
Return on capital employed (ROCE): ROCE is the ratio of operating income minus income tax (NOPAT) to total capital employed. Capital employed is defined as net working capital (aggregate amount of net trade receivables, inventory, trade payables, sales commissions and contract liabilities) plus non-current assets employed (aggregate amount of property, plant and equipment, of use and intangible assets).

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