Micronas sells more Hall sensors, earns less

February 20, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In 2013, sales and earnings of chipmaker Micronas declined despite stronger demand in terms of units. The company sells mostly Hall sensors and related devices into the automotive industry. Micronas CEO Matthias Bopp expects another bumpy year ahead with large variations in the markets.

Though the company in 2013 produced and sold 6 % more Hall sensors than in the year before, net sales declined almost 10 % to CHF 152 million (about € 124 million or GBP 103 million). Pofit after tax even crashed by 66 % to just CHF 6.6 million. The company blamed the poor figures to the continuing weakness of the yen. The market for automotive devices in Western Europe also was weak, with registrations declining against 2012. The strong growth in the US and Chinese market did not suffice to compensate for the slacking demand in Japan and Western Europe.

The company's new industrial segment also wrote red figures despite a sales increase of almost 36%. At least this segment could reduce its loss from CHF 2.9 million to CHF 1.06 million.

As a result of the difficult situation, Micronas halted its R&D activities in Villach, Austria. Research and Development will continue in both Freiburg and Munich.

The market development in the year ahead won't be much better, Bopp said in a statement. Though the demand for cars in Europe has bottomed out, the variations in this market are expected to continue. For this reason, Bopp expects just a slight recovery. Positive signals come from Micronas' wafer fab utilisation which rose from 75 % to 80 % in the course of 2013, and from product development: All new designs in 2013 were based on 8-inch wafer technology which supports the company's ongoing transition from 6" to 8" and thus helps increasing its productivity.

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