Amtech records flat Q4, reports increasing quoting activity

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With higher efficiency cell and module technologies being adopted by manufacturers and production capacity being added, the market for production equipment suppliers is rebounding. Amtech appears to be one of the beneficiaries of this trend with increasing orders, revenues and margins Y/Y, although far from stellar growth.

Amtech reported its Q4 fiscal 2015 results yesterday, in which it posted net revenues of US$28.2 million, of which solar contributed $12.8 million. From this it posted a net profit of $1.3 million. Bookings were down 30% to $28.2 million Q/Q in Q4, however it was a sharp increase of 42% from the $19.8 million booked in Q4 2014.

The company, which operates equipment ventures in both the U.S. and in Europe, reported bookings of $18.8 million in Q4 2015, down from $30.2 sequentially, but markedly up on $11.2 on Q4 2014. Amtech’s backlog was also up Y/Y, to $34.6 million from $28.5 million the previous year, but down from $46.9 million in Q3 2014.

Gross margin for the quarter was down slightly to 23%, from 25% in Q3, but up sharply from 13% in Q4 2014. The Q/Q reduced margins were attributed to lower volumes in “solar and polishing”, offset by an increase in semiconductor equipment volumes.

Amtech President and CEO Fokko Pentinga noted that while the equipment market remains “soft” that “quoting activity continues to grow and we see a great depth and breadth in the number and type of customers.” Pentinga added that the financing of production expansions “appear[s] solid.”

“Conclusively, we are on brink of the changing and growing market for solar with many multi-gigawatt extension plans being announced,” said Pentinga. “We are in discussion with multiple prospective customers on some major technology turnkey projects, establishing complete cell production lines.”

On the technology front, Amtech reports that it will have a new generation of its Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) tooling in early 2016. In terms of its technology acquisitions within solar, Amtech reports that its acquisition of SoLayTec has strengthened its solar technology portfolio. The company claims SoLayTec’s InPassion PECVD tooling can upgrade standard cell lines to PERC production, delivering efficiency gains of up to 1% on mono cells.

Amtech reports that it will finish the quarter with cash and equivalents of $25.9 million, up from $23.7 million Q/Q. It is forecasting between $22 million to $24 million in revenue for the quarter ending December 31 2015, with margins in the mid-20% range. It does not expect to record a profit in this period during lower shipment volumes.