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by Klaus Schachinger, Euro am Sonntag
A.ixtron accelerates. “We are in such a strong position as we have not for years,” drummed company boss Felix Grawert a few days ago at the virtual general meeting of the technology company from Aachen. AIXTRON markets recorded double-digit growth rates, the electrical engineer encouraged the shareholders to be confident. The message was well received at the stock exchange. The share price increased.
Grawert, who moved from the semiconductor company Infineon to the board of AIXTRON in 2017 and has been CEO since March, has succeeded in developing coveted products with the promising technology portfolio and in setting up AIXTRON more broadly. That hadn’t always worked in the past.
Aixtron develops machines for the semiconductor industry that use a special process (MOVCD) to apply ultra-thin layers of atoms to the wafers for the production of semiconductors – including wafers for chips with so-called compound semiconductors instead of silicon as the raw material. These are, for example, gallium arsenide, gallium nitride or silicon carbide, which consist of several chemical elements. They are more suitable than silicon for certain applications, in LEDs, solar cells, high-speed transistors and components for electric drives or in 5G mobile communications.
For AIXTRON, the increasing popularity of compound semiconductors in renewable energies, electromobility and 5G is the gateway to new growth markets. In 2021, the Aachen-based company expects significant growth in systems that produce semiconductors based on gallium nitrite for power electronics. Because of the lower heat radiation of these chips, charging devices, for example, can be built smaller. From 2022, AIXTRON’s business with systems for manufacturing power semiconductors from silicon carbide is also expected to pick up. The power electronics are used in charging stations for cars with electric or hybrid drives.
High order intake
AIXTRON provided evidence of the good business prospects at the beginning of May with a surprisingly high order intake. At 124.4 million euros at the end of the first quarter, the volume of orders was 81 percent above the previous year and 35 percent above the previous quarter. Systems for the production of electronic components for the 5G cellular standard are particularly in demand at the moment.
For the year as a whole, Aixtron is now aiming for the upper end of the forecast ranges for incoming orders and sales: EUR 340 to 380 million in the order book and EUR 320 to 360 million in revenue. In addition, the management board expects a higher operating return and is now aiming for an 18 percent margin on operating profit (EBIT) instead of the previous 16 percent.
Setback in a major project
AIXTRON’s subsidiary Apeva had to cope with a rejection of the long-awaited order from a large Asian customer for machines to manufacture micro LEDs in large OLED screens.
20 million euros had been invested in the project. The technology is now being marketed in China. The layoff of employees in Korea and Germany is expected to burden AIXTRON with four million euros in the current quarter. However, with a 77 percent equity ratio and 341 million euros in cash reserves, the company can cope with this setback.
Confidence: The optimism of the AIXTRON board of directors and the high Incoming orders push the Share price on again.
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Image sources: AIXTRON SE