Outlook for 2024

Ready for the upswing.

Comet is emerging stronger from the correction in the semiconductor cycle. Thanks to a sound financial footing, the product portfolio was expanded and the market launch of new products and services was driven forward. Comet is prepared for the approaching upturn.

“We are well positioned to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in the upswing.”

Stephan Haferl

CEO of the Comet Group

Signs of a coming upward trend in the semiconductor market at the start of fiscal year 2024

The first nine months of 2023 were defined by the pronounced cyclical correction in the semiconductor industry. The sharper-than-expected slump gave way to a stabilization in the last quarter of the year, with individual market segments even showing nascent growth. The balance of supply and demand for semiconductors is expected to improve in the foreseeable future, which should lead to a recovery in new orders for equipment manufacturers and thus for Comet as their supplier. The secular, long-term trend is intact. The digitalization and electrification of the economy and society are advancing inexorably. The growth prospects for semiconductor manufacturers and their suppliers are correspondingly positive.

In contrast to the semiconductor industry, the traditional automotive, aerospace and security markets proved stable well into fiscal 2023. It was not until the end of the year that the slowdown in global economic growth caught up with these markets, too. Despite this, the two x-ray divisions, X-Ray Systems (IXS) and X-ray Modules (IXM), operated in a solid market environment on balance over the year. Currently this situation is expected to continue in fiscal year 2024 and form the basis for further growth in both divisions.

Global uncertainties have increased

The world economy is presently facing great challenges. Inflation, although lower than in 2023, will continue to put pressure both on consumers and companies. In addition, geopolitical tensions and trade conflicts are causing uncertainty. While the cycle of interest rate hikes by the world’s most important central banks is now likely to have passed its peak, thereby defusing a negative factor for economic growth, the global economic trajectory remains uncertain.

The Comet Executive Committee. From left to right: Dionys van de Ven (President of X-Ray Systems), Robert Leindl (CIO), Meike Boekelmann (CHRO), Stephan Haferl (CEO), Nicola Rotondo (Interim CFO), Michael Berger (President of X-Ray Modules), Joeri Durinckx (President of Plasma Control Technologies), André Grede (CTO).



Divisions geared for growth

The digital transformation of industry and society is progressing at a rapid pace, driven by the sweeping introduction of digital technologies and data-driven processes. It is revolutionizing the way businesses operate, changing how people interact with technology, and influencing the way governments and organizations deliver services.

Increasingly-powerful microchips are essential building blocks of this transformation. A striking example is high-bandwidth memory (HBM). In HBM, up to eight DRAM modules (dynamic random access memory) are stacked vertically. Such technologies will accelerate the sales growth of semiconductors, expanding the market at an annual rate of about 9% from USD 550 billion in 2023 to an expected USD 1 trillion in 2030.

For Comet, this means that net sales with the semiconductor sector are projected to account for more than 80% of the Group’s overall sales in the next three to five years. A high proportion of this revenue will come from the products of the PCT division. In addition, our two x-ray divisions will also record significant sales increases in the semiconductor market.

“In 2024 as every year, we will make focused investments in our growth."

Nicola Rotondo

Interim CFO of the Comet Group

With the newly launched Synertia® platform, the PCT division is superbly positioned in the RF subsystems market to benefit from the developments in microchip production. With Synertia®, PCT has not only created a fully modular platform, but also the engine for future growth. The data-driven Synertia® is one of the most powerful RF subsystems currently available on the market. It enables fast response times and, as a first, allows data-based real-time insights into the plasma process. These capabilities enable the PCT division to actively support and shape the technological transformation of tomorrow.

The IXS division is on the cusp of a groundbreaking development in x-ray-based quality inspection for the advanced packaging (AP) segment. AP, as a key technology for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, 5G and smart automotive systems, is poised for predicted growth of about 12% per year between 2023 and 2027. The increasing complexity and miniaturization of IC packages mean that conventional optical inspection methods are reaching their limits. This is where x-ray inspection comes in: It offers deeper vision into objects and provides valuable information for process development and monitoring. Together with market leaders in microchip production, IXS is developing customized solutions for the challenges in AP. The aim is to substantially reduce customers’ defect rate in order to help them achieve optimum yields.

Like IXS, the IXM division is benefiting from the trends in microchip production. The progressive miniaturization of electronic components and the higher packing density require ever more complex production processes with a higher susceptibility to errors. This in turn increases the need for efficient, non-destructive testing procedures in order to minimize potential manufacturing defects and the associated risks, such as in batteries for mobility solutions. Addressing this need, IXM offers its customers integrated solutions that enable fast and automated inspections and data analysis. IXM is also expanding its offering to new markets, particularly in the area of electronics and battery technology.