4 May 2021
Riber grows margin and makes profit in 2020 despite 10% drop in revenue
For full-year 2020, Riber S.A. of Bezons, France – which manufactures molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) systems as well as evaporation sources and effusion cells – has reported revenue of €30.2m, with a limited contraction of just 10% from 2019’s €33.5m.
The firm says that the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures introduced by governments in most countries have deeply affected business and limited travel to visit Asian clients to finalize their machine installations, resulting in revenues being deferred.
Despite these operational difficulties, Riber was able to respect its production plan, due to its adapted organization, and deliver to its clients within the timeframes set.
MBE system sales showed a good level of resilience, with 10 machines delivered, versus 12 in 2019, yielding Systems revenue of €18.2m (down 21% from €23m).
Due to the current lack of investment in the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen industry, the evaporator market remained sluggish, with Evaporators revenue falling further, from 2019’s €1.1m to just €0.3m in 2020.
In line with the strategy rolled out by the firm, sales of Services & Accessories further strengthened their organic growth, rising by 25% from 2019’s €9.4m to a record €11.7m in 2020, despite the export licenses rejected in December for €1.7m.
Due in particular to a favorable change in the product mix and better productivity, gross margin was 30.1%, slightly higher than 2019’s 29.6%.
Operating expenditure fell from €9m in 2019 to €8.4m in 2020, primarily factoring an 18% drop in sales & marketing costs. Administrative costs rose by 6%. Gross R&D investments were increased by 16%, from €2.4m to €2.8m (9.4% of revenue).
Operating income was €0.7m, down from €0.9m in 2019 (falling from 2.7% to 2.3% of revenue). Likewise, net income fell from €1.1m (3.4% of revenue) in 2019 to just €0.3m (0.9% of revenue) for 2020, although this includes -€0.4m of financial income and expenses (linked primarily to a provision for the exchange rate risk on receivables denominated in US dollars).
The cash position rose by €2.1m during 2020 to €8m, reflecting the impact of an increase in working capital requirements, positive cash flow from operations, and two government-backed loans (€8m) that were taken out and will be repayable from 2022.
Shareholders’ equity is down by €0.2m to €19m, linked to earnings for the year and the distribution of amounts drawn against the issue premium for 2019 to shareholders.
Riber notes that in 2020 it faced a significant slowdown in its commercial activity. On the one hand, a number of clients deferred their investment decisions due to the lack of visibility in the context of the health crisis. On the other hand, the French authorities refused to issue several export licenses to the firm for a total of €13m for the year.
As a result, the order book has contracted significantly during 2020, from €28.7m to €14.4m. System orders of €5.7m include two research machines. Orders for Services & Accessories have risen by 26% to €8.7m.
Outlook for 2021
Driven by information technology innovations, the MBE market is still fundamentally buoyant, reckons Riber. The firm expects to consolidate its order book in 2021, as illustrated by the additional orders for one research machine and two production machines, announced in January, March and April, respectively.
Riber also expects to benefit from investments being made in the semiconductor industry as part of stimulus plans. Meanwhile, the Services & Accessories business is expected to continue to progress.
Building on a sound financial structure, the firm aims to continue improving its profitability compared with 2020.
Illustrating its confidence in the company’s future, the Executive Board is submitting a proposal to shareholders at the General Meeting on 25 June to approve a cash payout based on reimbursing part of the issue premium for €0.03 per share (to be released for payment on 7 July).