Record revenues in H120 despite pandemic

IQE 8 September 2020 Update
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IQE

Interim results

Tech hardware & equipment

8 September 2020

Price

61.5p

Market cap

£490m

Net debt (£m) at end June 2020 (excluding £48.1m finance leases)

7.4

Shares in issue

797.3m

Free float

86.7%

Code

IQE

Primary exchange

AIM

Secondary exchange

N/A

Share price performance

%

1m

3m

12m

Abs

0.2

36.1

22.9

Rel (local)

1.4

46.9

47.7

52-week high/low

75.05p

20p

Business description

IQE is the leading supplier of epitaxial compound semiconductor wafers globally. The principal applications include radio frequency semiconductors, devices for optical networks, vertical cavity lasers, infrared semiconductors and power electronics

Next events

FY20 results

March 2021

Analysts

Anne Margaret Crow

+44 (0)20 3077 5700

Dan Ridsdale

+44 (0)20 3077 5729

IQE is a research client of Edison Investment Research Limited

IQE’s revenues grew by 35% year-on-year during H120 to a record £89.9m, taking the group from a £1.9m adjusted operating loss in H119 to a £4.3m adjusted operating profit. We upgrade our FY20 estimates in line with management’s guidance. The resultant 15% revenue upgrade changes the outcome from a loss to £3.1m adjusted PBT.

Record revenues in H120 despite pandemic

Year end

Revenue (£m)

EBIT*
(£m)

PBT*
(£m)

EPS*
(p)

DPS
(p)

P/E
(x)

12/18

156.3

16.0

14.0

1.38

0.0

44.6

12/19

140.0

(4.7)

(7.0)

(2.46)

0.0

N/A

12/20e

165.6

5.0

3.1

0.28

0.0

222.3

12/21e

178.2

12.0

10.9

1.05

0.0

58.5

Note: *EBIT, PBT and EPS are normalised, excluding amortisation of acquired intangibles, exceptional items and share-based payments.

Record first half revenues return group to profit

In line with June guidance, group revenues grew by 35% year-on-year during H120 to a record £89.9m. Wireless revenues jumped by 51% to £45.5m as IQE’s long-standing customers benefited from major design wins and investment in 5G infrastructure. Additionally, we believe IQE took market share in Asia. Photonics revenues rose by 22% to £43.4m. Production for IQE’s major vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) customer was consistently strong throughout the period. Given the high proportion of fixed costs, the strong year-on-year revenue growth took the group from a £1.9m adjusted operating loss in H119 to a £4.3m adjusted operating profit. Net debt reduced by £8.6m during H120 to £7.4m at the end of June (excluding £48.1m IFRS 16 lease liabilities). Cash generated from operations more than trebled year-on-year to £15.1m, while capital expenditure was only £1.1m as the major infrastructure investment programmes all completed in FY19.

Estimates upgraded

Given the strong performance for the year to date and positive trading updates and outlooks from key customers, management has provided guidance for FY20. This is for revenues of at least £165m, which is a year-on-year increase of over 18%, with an adjusted EBIT of at least mid-single digits. We have updated our FY20 and FY21 forecasts accordingly, while noting that this guidance assumes an atypically weaker second half performance, reflecting the uncertainty in the global economy.

Valuation: Share price above pre-pandemic levels

IQE’s share price has more than recovered the ground lost during the panic selling in March. At current levels IQE is trading at a premium to the mean of the sample of companies engaged in manufacturing VCSEL epitaxy. Given IQE’s broader product portfolio we believe it is reasonable for IQE to trade on multiples that are at the upper bound of this sample. However, we believe that further share price improvement will require greater visibility of how handset demand will be affected by any pandemic induced recession and whether the switch to 5G and the availability of as yet unknown ‘killer apps’ will be sufficient motivation for cash-strapped consumers to justify upgrading their handsets.

H120 performance

Record first half revenues return group to profit

In line with June guidance, group revenues grew by 35% year-on-year during H120 to a record £89.9m. While this result was flattered by £2.5m of forex tailwind, the Q120 performance was slightly ahead of internal expectations and trading in Q2 was strong, with no disruption to production from coronavirus related lockdowns or any significant impact on the supply of materials. Wireless revenues jumped by 51% to £45.5m. H119 wireless revenues were adversely affected by customers destocking in response to the uncertainty caused by lengthening smartphone replacement cycles and by the disruption to global semiconductor supply chains caused by Huawei’s addition to the US Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List. In contrast, during H120 IQE’s long-standing wireless customers have benefited from major design wins and investment in 5G infrastructure. In addition, we believe that IQE is taking market share in Asia. Photonics revenues rose by 22% to £43.4m. Production for IQE’s major VCSEL customer was consistently strong throughout the period.

Given the high proportion of fixed costs, the strong revenue growth took the group from a £1.9m adjusted operating loss in H119 to a £4.3m adjusted operating profit. The adjusted cost of sales increased by £14.3m to £70.4m and adjusted indirect costs rose by £2.5m to £15.0m. £2.3m of the cost increases relate to an increase in amortisation, the remainder primarily to ramping up production in the Newport facility and taking on all of the costs of Singapore JV when the group increased its ownership of the JV to 100% in October 2019. The group incurred £7.5m exceptional costs, which are described in Exhibit 1. £1.1m of these exceptional costs were cash items.

Exhibit 1: H120 P&L breakdown of exceptional items

Category

Value* (£m)

Details

Share-based payments

0.3

Exceptional legal fees

0.7

Fees incurred defending a non-core patent. The arbitration hearing in September determined entirely in IQE’s favour.

Impairment of intangible assets

6.5

Impairment of cREO patent and development costs that are not related to filters, following a decision to focus cREO activity on the filter market.

Onerous contract provision

1.8

Cost of minimum guaranteed future royalty payments to Translucent agreed when the cREO technology was acquired. These are still payable although the date when IQE will start to generate revenues from commercial exploitation of the technology has been delayed.

Source: IQE. Note: *Before adjustment for tax.

Strongly cash generative now expansion programme complete

Net debt reduced by £8.6m during H120 to £7.4m at the end of June (excluding £48.1m IFRS 16 lease liabilities). Cash generated from operations more than trebled year-on-year to £15.1m despite the £1.1m exceptional cash-cost related to legal fees (see Exhibit 1). Capital expenditure dropped from £19.0m to £1.1m. This is because the programmes to build infrastructure at the Mega Foundry in Newport, South Wales, and expand capacity in Taiwan and Massachusetts all completed in FY19. Newport Mega Foundry already has bays for an additional 10 reactors, so future investment will be primarily only in reactors rather than the supporting infrastructure and thus proportional to incremental revenue development. Capitalised development expenditure fell from £4.8m in H119 to £2.6m reflecting a more disciplined, commercially orientated new product development process.

During H219 management agreed a £30m asset financing facility, increasing total available facilities to around £57m. This will provide support if the longer-term impact of the coronavirus is to reduce demand for new mobile phones. During H120 management has negotiated an agreement with HSBC to relax debt covenants in December 2020 and June 2021. This is a precautionary measure to ensure continued access to debt facilities in severe downside scenarios.

Exhibit 2: Revenue analysis and top-line estimates

2018
actual

2019

actual

2020e
Old

2020e

New

2021e
Old

2021e

New

Wireless (£m)

87.9

68.2

61.3

79.8

68.1

81.3

Photonics (£m)

66.8

69.8

80.2

83.7

94.7

94.7

CMOS++ (£m)

1.6

2.1

2.1

2.1

2.1

2.1

Total (£m)

156.3

140.0

143.7

165.6

164.9

178.2

Growth

Wireless

-22%

-10%

17%

11%

2%

Photonics

4%

15%

20%

18%

13%

CMOS++

29%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Total

-10%

3%

18%

15%

8%

Source: IQE data, Edison Investment Research estimates

Outlook and estimates

Given the strong performance for the year to date and positive trading updates and outlooks from key customers, management has introduced guidance for FY20. This is for revenues of at least £165m, which is a year-on-year increase of over 18%, with an adjusted operating profit of at least mid-single digits. We have updated our FY20 and FY21 forecasts accordingly.

Wireless segment demand: There remains considerable uncertainty as to how demand for IQE’s epitaxy will develop over the remainder of the forecast period. In July Skyworks provided guidance of double-digit sequential revenue growth during the quarter ended September 2020, citing strong demand related to design wins for its front-end Sky5 platform in handsets for Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Motorola and other Tier-1 players. A week later RF chip manufacturer Qorvo provided guidance of sequential revenue of at least 17% for the same quarter, noting long-term drivers in 5G handsets and infrastructure. In August research house IDC predicted that the worldwide smartphone market would decline 9.5% y-o-y in 2020, then grow by 9% in 2021 and return to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2022. This view is much less pessimistic than the 21% drop in global wholesale smartphone revenues during FY20 predicted by Strategy Analytics in April.

In our opinion IQE should outperform the global smartphone market in FY20 for several reasons: (1) IQE suffered from severe inventory destocking during FY19, which has reversed; (2) its long-standing wireless customers have benefited from major design wins and (3) IQE itself is, we believe, taking market share in Asia. In addition, IQE also supplies epitaxy for wireless infrastructure and is therefore likely to be a beneficiary if individual governments opt to invest in 5G infrastructure as part of post-pandemic stimulus packages. There is already some evidence of this in Asia. We model 17% year-on-year growth in wireless revenues for FY20 as a whole, followed by modest (2%) growth during FY21. The guidance implies that H220 performance will be weaker than that for H120, although the second half is usually stronger one,

Photonics segment demand: We assume that IQE will continue to be the major supplier of epitaxy for the original VCSEL customer, which we have previously assumed is part of the Apple supply chain. While the details of the iPhone12 have not yet been announced, concept illustrations posted by PhoneArena suggest that it will contain a LiDAR system, potentially for use in virtual reality/augmented reality applications. If so, the number of VCSELs per phone will increase by around 1.5 times, which is consistent with IQE’s comment that the continued growth is related to content gain. Our view of 20% segmental growth for FY20 as a whole, which is only a modest decline in revenues from H120 to H220, is supported by content gain in this major supply chain. This gives both upside and downside risk to our segmental estimate, depending on whether the iPhone12 launch this autumn, which has already been pushed back from the usual September to late-October, is delayed any further and whether consumer appetite for the potential new features and ‘killer apps’ is sufficient to encourage them to upgrade their phones.

Cost base: We increase our estimates for indirect costs in line with H120 levels. This, together with a change in the underlying FY21 tax rate from 18% to 19%, cancels out the higher revenue estimate in FY21.

Capital expenditure: Our estimate of £10.0m capex for FY20 is at the upper end of management guidance. The actual amount will depend on how quickly management expects the market to grow in FY21 and beyond.

Capitalised development costs: We have cut our FY20 and FY21 estimates from £10.0m to £6.0m in line with H120 levels.

Exhibit 3: Changes to estimates

FY19

FY20e

FY21e

Actual

Old

New

% change

Old

New

% change

Revenue (£m)

140.0

143.7

165.6

15.2%

164.9

178.2

8.1%

Adjusted PBT (£m)

(7.0)

(6.2)

3.1

N/A

11.6

10.9

-6.2%

Adjusted EPS (p)

(2.46)

(0.83)

0.28

N/A

1.13

1.05

-6.7%

Capitalised R&D (£m)

10.0

10.0

6.0

-40.0%

10.0

6.0

-40.0%

Property, plant and equipment (£m)

31.9

9.0

10.0

11.1%

9.0

10.0

11.1%

Net (cash)/debt excluding finance leases at year end (£m)

16.0

22.7

10.3

-54.4%

6.5

(2.6)

N/A

Source: Company accounts, Edison Investment Research

Given that future demand for both wireless and photonics epitaxy will be determined by the severity of any global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we have prepared a sensitivity analysis showing the impact on FY20 adjusted operating loss of alternative year-on-year changes in wireless and photonics revenues. This is shown in Exhibit 4.

Exhibit 4: Sensitivity analysis – adjusted operating profit FY21 (£000s)

FY21 wireless revenue growth/decline

5%

2%

0%

-2%

-5%

FY201 photonics revenue growth

0%

6,377

4,819

3,781

2,742

1,185

5%

9,102

7,544

6,506

5,467

3,910

10%

11,826

10,269

9,230

8,192

6,634

13%

13,543

11,985

10,947

9,909

8,351

15%

14,551

12,993

11,955

10,917

9,359

Source: Edison Investment Research

Valuation: Share price above pre-pandemic levels

We include a comparative valuation of IQE versus its broader (if imperfect) peer group below. Unlike some of its peers, IQE’s share price has more than recovered the ground lost during the panic selling in March. At current levels IQE is trading at a premium on an EV/EBITDA basis with regards to the mean of the larger sample and the mean of the sample of companies engaged in manufacturing VCSEL epitaxy. It is trading above the upper bound of the sample of VCSEL peers with regards to year two P/E multiples.

Given IQE’s broader product portfolio than its VCSEL peers, as well as its ability to manufacture VCSELs on 6” rather than 3” wafers, which confers cost-competitive advantages, and its ability to manufacture on multiple sites, which gives it relative resilience to US-China trade disputes, we believe it is reasonable for IQE to trade on multiples that are at the upper bound of the VCSEL sample. However we believe that further share price improvement will require greater visibility of how handset demand will be affected by any pandemic induced recession and whether the switch to 5G and the availability of as yet unknown ‘killer apps’ will be sufficient motivation for cash-strapped consumers to justify upgrading their handsets.

Exhibit 5: Peer valuation

Name

ytd performance (%)

Market cap ($m)

EV/Sales 1FY (x)

EV/Sales 2FY (x)

EV/EBITDA 1FY (x)

EV/EBITDA 2FY (x)

P/E 1FY (x)

P/E 2FY (x)

Epitaxy

GCS Holdings

(29.9)

150

2.1

N/A

N/A

N/A

42.4

N/A

N/AIntelliEPI (Cayman)

(17.0)

66

2.5

2.2

14.0

13.5

55.4

31.4

LandMark Optoelectronics

(23.9)

729

8.8

6.7

18.2

13.5

40.3

25.6

Soitec SA

14.0

4,195

5.9

4.4

19.8

14.1

37.8

23.4

Visual Photonics Epitaxy Co

(34.7)

486

5.4

4.5

13.8

11.2

25.0

20.1

WIN Semiconductors

(2.9)

4,129

4.9

4.4

10.8

9.9

19.3

17.9

Opto-electronics

II-VI

15.8

4,043

1.9

1.8

9.3

7.9

15.2

12.0

EMCORE

10.9

99

0.7

0.6

(96.7)

11.1

(16.0)

48.1

Lumentum Holdings

(3.7)

5,742

2.9

2.7

8.6

7.8

13.2

11.7

Mean – Epitaxy and Opto-electronics

3.9

3.4

13.5

11.1

31.1

20.3

IntelliEPI (Cayman)

(17.0)

66

2.5

2.2

14.0

13.5

55.4

31.4

LandMark Optoelectronics

(23.9)

729

8.8

6.7

18.2

13.5

40.3

25.6

Visual Photonics Epitaxy Co

(34.7)

486

5.4

4.5

13.8

11.2

25.0

20.1

Mean – VCSELs

5.5

4.5

15.4

12.7

40.2

25.7

IQE

20.8

652

3.0

2.8

17.3

13.5

222.3

58.5

Source: Refinitiv, Edison Investment Research. Note: Prices at 7 September 2020. Grey shading indicates exclusion from mean. IQE’s EBITDA includes losses from JV.

Exhibit 6: Financial summary

£'000s

2018

2019

2020e

2021e

Year end 31 December

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

IFRS

PROFIT & LOSS

restated

Revenue

 

 

156,291

140,015

165,555

178,158

Adjusted Cost of Sales

(119,536)

(119,145)

(130,500)

(134,898)

Adjusted Gross Profit

36,755

20,870

35,055

43,259

EBITDA

 

 

26,404

16,246

28,715

36,753

Depreciation and Amortisation

(12,882)

(22,289)

(23,968)

(25,068)

Operating Profit (before amort. and except.)

 

 

16,040

(4,676)

5,047

11,985

Acquired Intangible Amortisation

0

0

0

0

Exceptionals

(8,424)

(14,897)

(9,346)

0

Share based payments

1,044

771

(550)

(550)

Operating Profit

8,660

(18,802)

(4,849)

11,435

Underlying interest

(66)

(1,606)

(1,600)

(800)

Exceptionals and losses from JVs

(1,847)

(4,540)

(300)

(300)

Profit Before Tax (norm)

 

 

13,974

(7,019)

3,147

10,885

Profit Before Tax (FRS 3)

 

 

6,747

(24,948)

(6,749)

10,335

Reported tax

(5,558)

(10,180)

1,826

(2,068)

Profit After Tax (norm)

11,229

(19,010)

2,549

8,817

Profit After Tax (FRS 3)

1,189

(35,128)

(4,923)

8,267

Average Number of Shares Outstanding (m)

761.8

787.2

796.8

797.3

EPS - normalised (p)

 

 

1.38

(2.46)

0.28

1.05

EPS - (IFRS) (p)

 

 

0.13

(4.51)

(0.66)

0.99

Dividend per share (p)

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

BALANCE SHEET

Fixed Assets

 

 

267,476

300,047

292,079

283,011

Intangible Assets

121,775

118,456

116,648

114,240

Tangible Assets

124,520

136,557

130,397

123,737

Other

21,181

45,034

45,034

45,034

Current Assets

 

 

94,531

72,533

87,477

109,813

Stocks

35,709

30,668

32,657

39,048

Debtors

38,015

33,065

40,368

43,441

Cash

20,807

8,800

14,452

27,324

Other

0

0

0

0

Current Liabilities

 

 

(48,893)

(32,646)

(37,576)

(39,958)

Creditors

(48,893)

(27,529)

(32,459)

(34,841)

Short term borrowings*

0

(5,117)

(5,117)

(5,117)

Long Term Liabilities

 

 

(3,836)

(69,491)

(69,491)

(69,491)

Long term borrowings*

0

(67,631)

(67,631)

(67,631)

Other long term liabilities

(3,836)

(1,860)

(1,860)

(1,860)

Net Assets

 

 

309,278

270,443

272,490

283,375

CASH FLOW

Operating Cash Flow

 

 

16,988

8,948

23,252

29,672

Net Interest

(66)

(671)

(1,600)

(800)

Tax

(665)

(151)

0

0

Capital expenditure and capitalised R&D

(42,362)

(41,834)

(16,000)

(16,000)

Acquisitions/disposals

0

10

0

0

Financing

813

712

0

0

Dividends

0

0

0

0

Net Cash Flow

(25,292)

(32,986)

5,652

12,872

Opening net debt/(cash)*

 

 

(45,612)

(20,807)

63,948

58,296

HP finance leases initiated

0

0

0

0

Other

487

(51,769)

0

0

Closing net debt/(cash)*

 

 

(20,807)

63,948

58,296

45,424

Source: Company accounts, Edison Investment Research. Note: *Including IFRS 16 finance lease liabilities.


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Copyright: Copyright 2020 Edison Investment Research Limited (Edison).

Australia

Edison Investment Research Pty Ltd (Edison AU) is the Australian subsidiary of Edison. Edison AU is a Corporate Authorised Representative (1252501) of Crown Wealth Group Pty Ltd who holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (Number: 494274). This research is issued in Australia by Edison AU and any access to it, is intended only for "wholesale clients" within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001 of Australia. Any advice given by Edison AU is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances, needs or objectives. You should, before acting on this advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. If our advice relates to the acquisition, or possible acquisition, of a particular financial product you should read any relevant Product Disclosure Statement or like instrument.

New Zealand

The research in this document is intended for New Zealand resident professional financial advisers or brokers (for use in their roles as financial advisers or brokers) and habitual investors who are “wholesale clients” for the purpose of the Financial Advisers Act 2008 (FAA) (as described in sections 5(c) (1)(a), (b) and (c) of the FAA). This is not a solicitation or inducement to buy, sell, subscribe, or underwrite any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. For the purpose of the FAA, the content of this report is of a general nature, is intended as a source of general information only and is not intended to constitute a recommendation or opinion in relation to acquiring or disposing (including refraining from acquiring or disposing) of securities. The distribution of this document is not a “personalised service” and, to the extent that it contains any financial advice, is intended only as a “class service” provided by Edison within the meaning of the FAA (i.e. without taking into account the particular financial situation or goals of any person). As such, it should not be relied upon in making an investment decision.

United Kingdom

This document is prepared and provided by Edison for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer or solicitation for investment in any securities mentioned or in the topic of this document. A marketing communication under FCA Rules, this document has not been prepared in accordance with the legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

This Communication is being distributed in the United Kingdom and is directed only at (i) persons having professional experience in matters relating to investments, i.e. investment professionals within the meaning of Article 19(5) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005, as amended (the "FPO") (ii) high net-worth companies, unincorporated associations or other bodies within the meaning of Article 49 of the FPO and (iii) persons to whom it is otherwise lawful to distribute it. The investment or investment activity to which this document relates is available only to such persons. It is not intended that this document be distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons and in any event and under no circumstances should persons of any other description rely on or act upon the contents of this document.

This Communication is being supplied to you solely for your information and may not be reproduced by, further distributed to or published in whole or in part by, any other person.

United States

Edison relies upon the "publishers' exclusion" from the definition of investment adviser under Section 202(a)(11) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and corresponding state securities laws. This report is a bona fide publication of general and regular circulation offering impersonal investment-related advice, not tailored to a specific investment portfolio or the needs of current and/or prospective subscribers. As such, Edison does not offer or provide personal advice and the research provided is for informational purposes only. No mention of a particular security in this report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell or hold that or any security, or that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.

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Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

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United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

Frankfurt +49 (0)69 78 8076 960

Schumannstrasse 34b

60325 Frankfurt

Germany

London +44 (0)20 3077 5700

280 High Holborn

London, WC1V 7EE

United Kingdom

New York +1 646 653 7026

1185 Avenue of the Americas

3rd Floor, New York, NY 10036

United States of America

Sydney +61 (0)2 8249 8342

Level 4, Office 1205

95 Pitt Street, Sydney

NSW 2000, Australia

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