ASTI reports a 20-fold increase in net profit for first half of 2004

NOVEMBER 30--ASTI Holdings Limited (ASTI; Singapore; www.astigp.com), a global technology company and market leader in semiconductor equipment, service, and machine vision, announced a 20-fold increase in profit after tax and minority interests for the first half of FY2004.

Nov 30th, 2004

NOVEMBER 30--ASTI Holdings Limited (ASTI; Singapore; www.astigp.com), a global technology company and market leader in semiconductor equipment, service, and machine vision, announced a 20-fold increase in profit after tax and minority interests for the first half of FY2004 to S$10.5 million, up from just S$0.5 million in the corresponding period last year. The improvement in ASTI's profits is mainly attributable to the increase in turnover and an improvement in gross profit margin. Gross cash grew from S$26.6 million to S$32.4 million.

ASTI's improved performance for the first half of 2004 was driven mainly by the growth in the semiconductor industry that began in the second half of FY2003. ASTI recorded a 97% increase in turnover to S$62.8 million compared to S$31.9 million in the same period last year. Compared to the first quarter, turnover growth was 13% whilst net profit increased by 14%.

For the first half of FY2004, ASTI experienced a 144% growth in sales to S$39.1 million for its equipment division compared to S$16.0 million in the same period last year with Asian customers contributing to the bulk of sales. The service division enjoyed increased business in the Philippines' operation and experienced an 18% increase in turnover from S$15.8 million to S$18.8 million. Additionally, beginning 2004, ASTI set up a machine vision solution division that contributed $4.9 million turnover to the Group in the first half year of operation.

ASTI enjoyed two strong quarters of continued growth. Comparing quarter-to-quarter, revenue in the equipment division improved by 22%, from S$17.6 million to S$21.5 million. The service division also enjoyed a 20% increase in revenue from S$7.9 million to S$9.5 million. Machine vision solution division however experienced an 11.5% decrease in turnover.

Chief executive officer Charles Cher said, "Our equipment and service divisions have benefited from the semiconductor recovery, with customers in Asia being main contributors to our revenue. According to the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), which released its forecast in mid-July, sales of semiconductor equipment are expected to increase by 63% to US$36.2 billion in 2004. Despite the rising concerns over semiconductor inventories overhang and excess capacity, which will have an impact on spending for capital equipment, we believe that we are still on track for a positive year."

He added, "We are also optimistic that our machine vision solution division--a new growth driver for the group, will enable us to expand our business beyond the semiconductor industry."

According to the AIA, the world vision inspection market totaled US$6.6 billion in 2003 and is forecast to grow at nearly 9% annually through 2008.

Cher said, "We have successfully provided our machine-vision solutions to the lens and metals industries, and we see significant potential in the plastics, silicon, and paper industries. We hope to expand the customer base of our proprietary Microview line of products and technology to cater to a wider scope of industries."


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