AES Semigas


8 March 2024

Aixtron’s Q4 revenue grows to record €214.2m, aiding full-year growth of 36%

For fourth-quarter 2023, deposition equipment maker Aixtron SE of Herzogenrath, near Aachen, Germany has reported record revenue of €214.2m, up 30% on €165m last quarter and up 17% on €183.2m a year ago: This is also about three times first-quarter 2023’s revenue of €77.2m, underlining Aixtron’s flexibility in its supply chain and manufacturing.

Full-year revenue has hence grown by 36% from 2022’s €463.2m to €629.9m in 2023.

On a geographic basis, Asia fell, from 68% to 50% of full-year revenue (due mainly to Taiwan dropping from €77.5m to €42.6m while Malaysia rocketed from €32.9m to €52m), while the Americas rose further from 18% to 20% (from €83.5m to €126.1m) and Europe rebounded from 14% to 30% (from €63.5m to €189.4m).

Of total annual revenue, equipment sales rose from 82% to 85% (€532.3m, up 40% on 2022’s €380.4m), with the remaining 18% (€97.6m) coming from after-sales (consumables, spare parts and services).
Growth was driven largely by systems for applications in silicon carbide (SiC)- and gallium nitride (GaN)-based power electronics booming from 42% to 74% of equipment revenue. Optoelectronics applications comprised 12% of equipment revenue and LEDs including micro-LEDs 11%.

Specifically, the business received a strong boost from the market launch of Aixtron’s new metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) system types G10-AsP and G10-GaN in January and September 2023, respectively, completing the G10 system generation. After being recognized by a “leading global semiconductor company” for its “excellent performance”, the G10-GaN is already seeing high demand shortly after its launch. Also, the G10-SiC chemical vapor deposition (CVD) systems accounted for about a third of Aixtron’s system sales in full-year 2023, despite only being available since September 2022.

Full-year gross margin rises from 42% to 44%

In fourth-quarter 2023, gross margin was 46%, level with last quarter but up from 45% a year ago. Full-year gross margin rose from 2022’s 42% to 44% in 2023.

In 2023, Aixtron’s launched the new Aixtron Innovation Center. The firm is investing about €100m on the site in a new cleanroom for the development and testing of the next generation of systems. Groundbreaking took place in Q4/2023, and the floor slab of the main building was completed by the end of the year. Work on the shell is underway and the project is on schedule.

R&D spending has correspondingly further increased significantly in a targeted manner by 52% from 2022’s already high level of €57.7m to €87.7m in 2023, including Q4 being up by 70% from €16.4m in 2022 to €27.9m in 2023. Total full-year operating expenses hence rose from €90.6m in 2022 to €122.3m in 2023.

Against the background of Aixtron’s rapidly growing core business, full-time-equivalent staffing grew by 21% during 2023 from 895 to 1086, including R&D staffing rising from 254 to 366 (from 28% to 34% of the total workforce).

EBIT up 50% and net income up 45%

Fourth-quarter operating profit (earnings before interest and taxes, EBIT) of €63.4m is up on €45.3m last quarter and €57.1m a year ago (although EBIT margin of 30% is down slightly from 31% a year ago). Full-year EBIT hence grew from 2022’s €104.7m to €156.8m in 2023, with EBIT margin growing from 23% to 25%.

Quarterly operating cash flow was €18.4m, an improvement from –€0.1m a year previously. However, capital expenditure has almost quadrupled from €12.6m to €45.7m, driving full-year CapEx up from 2022’s €29.5m to €62.4m for 2023. Quarterly free cash flow was hence –€27.4m, worsening from –€12.7m a year ago. Compared with +€7.7m in 2022, full-year free cash flow was –€109.7m in 2023, due mainly to the increased receivables (rising from €119.7m to €157.6m), investments in property, plant & equipment (in particular the new Aixtron Innovation Center) rising from €99m to €147.8m), and the build-up of inventories during 2023 (from €223.6m to €394.5m) in preparation for high planned sales in the coming quarters.

Cash, cash deposits and investments fell during 2023, from €325.2m at the end of 2022 to €209.9m at the end of Q3/2023 then €181.7m at the end of 2023.

However, underlining the firm’s financial strength, the equity ratio of 75% at the end of 2023 is still up on 73% at the end of 2022.

Annual dividend increased by 29%

In view of the very positive business development in the past year, Aixtron plans to again pay out a higher dividend. The Executive Board and Supervisory Board will therefore propose to the annual general meeting on 15 May a dividend payment of €0.40 per eligible share (up 29% from €0.31 per share in 2022).

CFO Christian Danninger’s contract extended

The Supervisory Board has extended the contract of chief financial officer Dr Christian Danninger (which currently expires on 30 April 2024) until end-April 2029.

Quarterly order intake up 28% year-on-year

As demand for efficient power electronics in particular remains strong, in fourth-quarter 2023 order intake rebounded from €118.5m last quarter to €204.5m, up 28% on €160.3m a year ago. Full-year order intake consequently grew by a record 9%, from 2022’s €585.9m to €640.7m in 2023.

Equipment order backlog hence was up, albeit slightly, by 1% from 2022’s €351.8m to €353.7m for 2023.

Growth to continue through 2024 and into 2025

For first-quarter 2024, Aixtron expects revenue to fall back to €100–120m. However, it expects that the high demand for its systems will continue to increase and that revenue growth will continue during 2024.

Based on the equipment order backlog (convertible into 2024 revenue) of about €320m as of 1 January, joined by a forecasted €190–280m in new order intake that should be convertible into revenue during 2024, plus a forecasted €120m in after-sales revenue (all at a budget rate of $1.15/€), for full-year 2024 Aixtron forecasts revenue of €630–720m, gross margin of 43–45% and EBIT margin of 24–26%.

In addition, Aixtron expects further strong sales growth in 2025, fueled by the next wave of growth in GaN and SiC power electronics, plus stable sales in the optoelectronics sector.

See related items:

Aixtron begins constructing new €100m innovation center

Aixtron’s Q3 revenue and earnings up significantly year-on-year

Silicon carbide and gallium nitride power electronics applications grow to 83% of Aixtron’s first-half revenue

Aixtron’s Q1 shipments roughly halved by delays in export licensing

Aixtron maintains annual revenue and earnings growth despite shipment push-outs and delays to export licenses

Tags: Aixtron



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