© AT&S PCB | March 01, 2010

AT&S: Mobile Devices continues as strongest segment

The bulk of sales for the Austrian PCB manufacturer AT&S – €160 million or 59% of total – continued to be generated by business segment <em>Mobile Devices</em>.

Business developments and performance
Mobile Devices represents a high proportion of AT&S’s total sales, so that the Group’s business is naturally subject to seasonal variations. Typically, the 1Q and 4Q of the financial year are periods of low capacity utilisation, with excellent utilisation in the 2Q and 3Q.

The current financial year is also affected by the strained global economic situation. As a result, sales in the first quarter of the financial year 2009/10 were down by €32.0m (27.7%) compared with the same period last year, and even in comparison with the already very weak 4Q of 2008/09 there was a reduction of €15.3m (15.5%). In the 2Q, though, sales were already 6% higher than in the first quarter despite the difficult market environment, and in the 3Q they rose by a further 15%.

The bulk of sales – €160 million, or 59% – continued to be generated by Mobile Devices. In spite of the gains in market share at the high technology end of the spectrum, the overall share contributed by Mobile Devices has fallen compared with last year. However, the 3Q compared with the preceding quarters showed a considerable increase again. Industrial business, with a nearly 30% share of sales in the first three quarters, continued to gain in importance, and was even somewhat higher than in the like period last year. Compared with the same period last year, Automotive sales in the first half of the financial year clearly reflected the crisis experienced by automobile manufacturers.

In the 2Q, however, a 17% rise in sales compared with the preceding quarter signalled an upward trend. In the 3Q there was a further improvement of 15%. Services business (design, assembly and trading) has declined sharply due to the discontinuation of various activities in the segment.

In the Group’s target markets, the long-term trend is still for the industry to move to Asia. However, changes in the customer base in the current financial year have meant a significant increase in the importance of sales revenues from producers in Canada and the USA. The proportion of sales in this market in the third quarter was 22%, while the share contributed by Asia fell back to 32%. Despite the economic crisis, sales to European customers remained stable as compared with last year as a result of gains in market share.

The successful implementation of the restructuring plans should for the time being conclude the process of necessary strategic adjustment and ensure that AT&S is well positioned for the future. The three Austrian facilities are now focused exclusively on the European market, the plant in India will support the European business with medium-sized batches of printed circuit boards produced at competitive prices, and the Korean facility will round out the product portfolio with its flexible and rigid-flexible circuit boards. And in Shanghai, the biggest HDI plant in China will continue to provide large volume production for the global market.

The improvement in sales in the course of the first three quarters of the financial year 2009/10 signals an upwards trend, and on the basis of existing orders and information about future requirements sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be relatively robust, although for seasonal reasons lower than in the third quarter. Sales for the whole of the current financial year are expected to amount to roughly EUR 360m.

The cost savings from adjusting production capacities were already reflected in the positive results achieved in the second quarter, and were even more marked in the third quarter. They will also contribute to improved results in the fourth quarter. On the basis of the results achieved to date and the budgets for the fourth quarter, operating results for the whole financial year not including non-recurring items are expected to be clearly positive.

Investments in new technologies are expected to bring a slight increase in investing activities in the final quarter; these will continue to be financed out of operating cash flow, so that there should be no increase in net debt as at the end of the current financial year.


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