3 April 2023
Aehr reports record quarterly order bookings
For its fiscal third-quarter 2023 (ended 28 February), semiconductor production test and reliability qualification equipment supplier Aehr Test Systems of Fremont, CA, USA has reported revenue of $17.2m, up 13% on $15.3m a year ago.
On a non-GAAP basis, net income has grown from $3.1m ($0.11 per diluted share) a year ago and $4.5m ($0.16 per diluted share) last quarter to $4.7m ($0.16 per diluted share).
Order bookings were a record $33.3m. Order backlog (as of end-February) was $31.6m. Effective backlog (including all orders received since the end of fiscal Q3) is $41m. Total bookings for fiscal 2023 to date (including over $9m in bookings received in March) amount to $72.5m.
“Our momentum in silicon carbide wafer-level burn-in continues to grow,” notes president & CEO Gayn Erickson. “During the quarter, our second major silicon carbide semiconductor customer moved from an initial FOX-NP dual-wafer system for engineering and qualification to purchasing their first production FOX-XP multi-wafer test & burn-in systems including our new high-voltage option with high-voltage arc suppression technology. These systems will be upgraded to include our new fully integrated and automated WaferPak Aligner that we are beginning shipments of this quarter. Last week, we announced a follow-on order from this customer for production quantities of our WaferPak full-wafer Contactors that will be used with these systems. We believe that this major silicon carbide customer will purchase a large number of our FOX-XP systems to meet their publicly announced significant increase in planned capacity and revenue growth over the next several years and through the end of the decade,” he adds.
“In addition, our lead silicon carbide customer continued to ramp up their production and their use of our FOX-XP production systems and WaferPak Contactors. During the quarter, we received a $25m order for a significant number of additional FOX-XP wafer-level test & burn-in systems scheduled to ship over the next 6–7 months to meet their increased capacity needs for producing silicon carbide devices for electric vehicles, chargers and electrification infrastructure. Earlier this month, we also announced a $6.7m follow-on order for WaferPaks from the same customer, representing about half of the total WaferPak full-wafer Contactors needed for these FOX-XP systems that each have the capacity to test & burn-in 18 full wafers of devices at a time,” Erickson continues.
“We also continue to make great progress with our previously announced benchmarks and engagements with prospective new customers. We continue to work closely with one of the largest silicon carbide players in the world on a large wafer-level benchmark and qualification… This large wafer-level benchmark and qualification continues toward success as the silicon carbide supplier finishes their internal processes to complete the qualification. As with our other large silicon carbide customers, we expect this silicon carbide supplier to require significant capacity of wafer-level test & burn-in systems to meet the fast-growing demand for silicon carbide devices and electric vehicles over the next decade.”
“We also had a very productive quarter in terms of new customer engagements, which has continued into this quarter,” notes Erickson. “With essentially all Covid-related restrictions behind us throughout the world, our customer-facing meetings and our progress on new customer opportunities have grown substantially. Since last quarter’s conference call, we have added commitments from three additional companies currently making silicon carbide to move forward with full-wafer level evaluations and/or directly to purchase our systems.”
“In addition to our momentum in silicon carbide, we are also now engaged with several gallium nitride semiconductor suppliers ranging from radio frequency (RF) to power devices,” says Erickson. “Since our last call, we also received a commitment from a very large multi-national semiconductor supplier to move forward with a full-wafer-level evaluation of gallium nitride devices. This evaluation includes our new high-voltage option for doing the critical high-temperature reverse bias (HTRB) stress test needed for gallium nitride MOSFETs and amplifiers. We believe gallium nitride will be a significant market, driven by some very high-volume applications such as RF amplifiers, consumer electronic power converters and chargers, solar power inverters, and charger and converter applications in standard and electric vehicles. Feedback from companies has been that several of these applications will require production burn-in to meet the applications’ critical quality and reliability needs. With our proven FOX-XP wafer-level burn-in solution and its cost-effective ability to test thousands of devices in parallel and up to nine wafers at a time with high-voltage capability, we believe we are well positioned to capitalize on this opportunity and believe gallium nitride can expand our total addressable market in a meaningful way,” he adds.
“We also continue to be enthusiastic about the silicon photonics market, especially as it looks to expand its use beyond fiber-optic transceivers to become an embedded application that integrates fiber-optic technology into the chipsets. Multiple market leaders have publicly discussed their investments to integrate silicon photonics transceivers into their microprocessors, graphics processors, and chipsets. While we believe this transition is still several years out, we also believe the silicon photonics test & burn-in market can become significant and could grow to be as large or larger than the silicon carbide market later in this decade,” says Erickson.
“We are very encouraged by the continued positive momentum and expanding growth opportunities we see with our current and prospective customers.”
Fiscal 2023 financial guidance:
For fiscal 2023 (to end-May), Aehr reiterates its prior guidance for revenue of at least $60–70m, up 18–38% year-on-year, with strong profit margins similar to fiscal 2022.
“We remain confident that our bookings will grow faster than revenue this fiscal year as the ramp in demand for silicon carbide and electric vehicles increases, setting us up with strong momentum heading into our fiscal 2024 that begins in June,” says Erickson.
Update on At-The-Market offering
During the quarter Aehr received gross proceeds totaling $7.3m on the sale of 208,917 shares at an average price of $34.78 per share. This leaves $17.7m available under its previously announced offer to sell up to $25m of its common stock on the open market via an At-The-Market (ATM) offering. Under the terms of the ATM equity distribution agreement, the firm may not sell shares during its closed trading windows when it is deemed that the company may be in possession of material non-public information. The firm only plans to sell shares against the ATM during open trading windows and when it believes it would provide the best source of capital with minimal dilution to existing shareholders.