sweet microtech

The German company Süss Microtec supplies machines for various steps in the production of semiconductors.

(Photo: Süss MicroTec)

Munich. From an investor’s point of view, Bernd Schulte has done everything right so far: the 60-year-old has been in the lead since mid-October. sweet microtech as interim boss. In the three months, the share price has risen 80 percent.

The latest boost for the chip provider’s stock: In early January, Schulte announced that 2022 sales and operating margin would exceed market expectations. As a result, the title rose twelve percent.

The manager wanted to leave the executive office in Garching on New Year’s Eve and return to the supervisory board, to which he previously belonged. He was only supposed to represent CEO Götz Bendele for two and a half months, who took time off to care for a relative. But Bendele unexpectedly canceled his contract in December.

Now Schulte, the experienced former director of the competitor Aixtron, direct the manufacturer of the plant until a successor is found. The head of the supervisory board, David Dean, has provided nine months for the search.

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Süss Microtec becomes more profitable

During this time, Schulte wants to set the course for the future. Investors should be happy with his plans: profitability is a priority. “It’s about being more efficient and increasing the output of our factories,” Schulte told Handelsblatt.

>> Read here: Electronics from Germany are in demand again, but only in niches

An important step in this direction is the conversion to modular production. “This will become increasingly important in the future,” explained the physicist. But that’s not all: “We are trying to find more synergies between the product lines. That will allow us to work more closely with external partners.” This would also increase the quality.

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Süss supplies machines for various steps in semiconductor production. The focus is on the backend, the post-processing of the chips. The Bavarians sell, among other things, so-called bonders, with which various components are connected in one housing. Süss also offers Microtec coaters. They are used to apply photoresist to the silicon wafers on which the chips are made.

Another important business area: Devices that can be used to clean the masks that are necessary for the exposure of crystals. They are used in the interface, that is, the actual production of semiconductors.

Sweet produced in the neighborhood of TSMC

The systems can be found in most modern chip factories. In the immediate vicinity of TSMC in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the Bavarians operate their own production. TSMC is the world’s largest contract manufacturer and a technology leader in the industry. TSMC is one of Süss’s customers InfineonGermany’s best-known semiconductor producer.

Süss benefits from the fact that more chip factories are being built around the world than ever before. TSMC alone spent $36 billion on plant and machinery last year. This year it should be at least 32 billion.

According to calculations by supply chain specialist Everstream, US chipmakers want to invest around $122 billion in new plants by 2025. Also in Germany to build big factories.

Süss Microtec system

The systems can be found in most modern chip factories. Süss benefits from the fact that more factories are being built around the world than ever before.

(Photo: Süss MicroTec)

According to preliminary figures, sales last year amounted to 295 to 300 million euros, Süss announced at the beginning of the month. This corresponds to an increase of almost 15 percent compared to the previous year.

According to information from the company, analysts expected an average of 272 million. The EBIT margin is 8.5 to 10 percent, slightly more than analysts’ estimate of 8.3 percent.

The goals are within reach

Süss is therefore significantly smaller than Aixtron, the best-known chip supplier in Germany. The Aachen target revenue of up to 500 million euros for last year. The company is also much more profitable than Süss: Aixtron promises an EBIT margin of between 22 and 24 percent by 2022.

>> Read here: Electronics association criticizes little progress in Europe’s chip race to catch up

So Schulte has a lot to do. But the short-term CEO doesn’t just want to make Süss more profitable: “We will grow by opening up new markets with our technologies. These are, for example, silicon wafer cleaning, so-called wafers, and solutions for chip production. Silicon Carbide Silicon carbide is an increasingly popular material, especially for semiconductors in electromobility.

Schulte’s predecessor had set himself the goal of reaching sales of more than 400 million euros by 2025. If things continue to rise as they have recently, the company will easily achieve it. The target EBIT margin of 15 percent also appears to be within reach.

If things go according to plan, Schulte will resume his position on the supervisory board in the fall. So far everything seems to indicate that the interlude in the executive chair will be a success.
More: US group maintains its only German chip factory

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