Siltronic AG continued to be affected by weak demand in Q1 2024 due to increased customer inventory levels, with sales declining nearly 4 percent compared to Q4 2023, primarily due to product mix shifts.

“The start of the year continues to be characterized by weak demand due to increased inventories at our customers. It is still not possible to predict when inventories will return to a normal level. Therefore, 2024 will probably be a transition year on the way to profitable growth,” comments Dr. Michael Heckmeier, CEO of Siltronic AG on the development.

Business Development in Q1 2024

Siltronic generated sales of EUR 343.5 million in Q1 2024, which corresponds to a decrease of 3.7 percent compared to Q4 2023. This development is in line with expectations. While the wafer area sold and sales prices remained nearly stable compared to the previous quarter, the product mix in particular had a slightly negative impact. The Euro/US dollar exchange rate, which averaged 1.09 in Q1 2024 (Q4 2023: 1.08), also impacted sales slightly on a quarterly basis.

Cost of sales decreased by 1.4 percent compared to the previous quarter and therefore could not be reduced at the same level as sales.

As a result, the gross profit in Q1 2024 decreased by EUR 9.1 million compared to the previous quarter. The gross margin decreased from 22.2 percent (Q4 2023) to 20.4 percent (Q1 2024).

The decrease in gross profit was largely offset by positive FX effects and lower selling, administration, and research and development expenses. The FX effects reported in the balance of other operating income and expenses amounted to EUR 5.4 million after EUR -0.8 million in Q4 2023.

EBITDA in Q1 2024 (EUR 90.8 million) was therefore on par with the previous quarter (Q4 2023: EUR 91.1 million). Due to the decline in sales, the EBITDA margin improved from 25.5 percent to 26.4 percent.

EBIT amounted to EUR 36.0 million in Q1 2024 compared to EUR 36.8 million in Q4 2023. The marginal decline is mainly due to a higher depreciation.

Despite continued weak demand, a EUR 27.7 million result for the period was achieved after EUR 32.3 million in the previous quarter. Of this amount, EUR 25.7 million is attributable to the shareholders of Siltronic AG, resulting in earnings per share of EUR 0.86.

Development of equity, net cash flow and net financial assets

With an equity of EUR 2,152.9 million as of March 31, 2024 and an equity ratio of 46.5 percent, Siltronic continues to have a solid balance sheet quality (December 31, 2023: 46.6 percent).

Loan liabilities increased by EUR 53.4 million, mainly due to the partial draw down of a loan. In addition, other provisions and liabilities increased by EUR 31.4 million, mainly due to an investment grant received.

The decrease in cash flow from operating activities compared to the previous quarter is mainly due to reporting date effects in the inflow of trade receivables. In Q4 2023, payments were received from customers shortly before the reporting date, and in Q1 2024 shortly after the reporting date.

In the quarter under review, Siltronic made net payments of EUR 198.7 million for capex including intangible assets. Due to the high capex at the end of 2023, some of which was not due for payment until 2024, capex payments significantly exceeded additions to the balance sheet in the quarter under review. The payments and balance sheet additions were mainly related to the new fab in Singapore.

Due to the change in working capital and the continued high level of investments, both the free cash flow of EUR -137.2 million and the net cash flow of EUR -158.4 million were negative in Q1 2024. As a result, cash and cash equivalents and financial investments decreased by EUR 88.9 million, while loan liabilities increased at the same time. Accordingly, net financial debt increased from EUR 355.7 million at the end of 2023 to EUR 501.0 million as of March 31, 2024.

Outlook: Mid-term targets for 2028 unchanged, 2024 will be a transition year

Driven by several megatrends, Siltronic expects a significant increase in demand in the medium and long term. However, the start to the 2024 financial year was subdued. Although demand for wafers is increasing in the end markets, Siltronic continues to face weak demand in the coming quarters. This is due to higher customer inventories and the associated further postponement of delivery volumes, which will now primarily affect the second half of the year. Customers’ persistently high inventories are recovering slower than originally expected. As a result, the impact of these elevated inventories is expected to be felt throughout 2024, although visibility remains limited.

In an ad hoc announcement on April 26, 2024, Siltronic therefore adjusted its forecast and expects Group sales to be roughly 10 percent below the previous year. This is mainly due to lower volumes and both slightly negative FX- (EUR/USD 1.10) and price effects. The EBITDA margin is forecast to be between 21 and 25 percent. Capital expenditure will decrease compared to the previous guidance and is expected to be slightly below EUR 550 million. Depreciation and amortization is expected to be below EUR 300 million.

Klaus Buchwald to be appointed Chief Operating Officer as early as June 1, 2024

Klaus Buchwald will take up his position as a new member of the Executive Board and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Siltronic AG on June 1, 2024, two months earlier than originally announced. He will be responsible for Operations and Supply Chain, Engineering as well as IT.

Original – Siltronic