Chinese etching tools giant AMEC sees 2023 sales rise more than 30% on strong demand from mainland semiconductor fabs

Shanghai-based AMEC said in a regulatory filing on Sunday that its 2023 revenue is expected to reach 6.26 billion yuan (US$879 million), up 32.1 per cent from the previous year, on the back of strong domestic demand. The company said it recorded 8.36 billion yuan worth of new orders, a 32.3 per cent year-on-year increase.

Net profit last year is projected to be from 1.7 billion yuan to 1.85 billion yuan, representing year-on-year growth of between 45 per cent and 58 per cent.

AMEC’s positive earnings guidance reflects its successful strategy to expand sales on the mainland, months after founder, chairman and chief executive Gerald Yin Zhiyao said the firm had devised a detailed road map to replace foreign-produced components with domestic parts amid tightened US semiconductor sanctions.
Shanghai-headquartered Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment is China’s leading provider of process technologies, tools and expertise for manufacturers of semiconductors and light-emitting diodes. Photo: Handout

Yin had said 80 per cent of US-restricted components that AMEC used would be replaced with domestic parts by the end of last year. He expected the company to achieve a 100-per cent replacement rate in 2024.

AMEC shares in Shanghai closed down 2.07 per cent to 134.66 yuan last Friday.

With state-backed efforts to localise great swathes of China’s semiconductor supply chain, mainland semiconductor foundries have accelerated adoption of locally made equipment since October 2022, when Washington first tightened export controls to cut off the country’s access to advanced chip-making gear from the US, Japan and the Netherlands.

AMEC expects sales of its core etching tools, including so-called capacitively coupled plasma (CCP) and inductive coupled plasma (ICP), to account for 75 per cent of the firm’s total revenue last year, which would be up nearly 50 per cent to 4.7 billion yuan.

Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment’s Prismo UniMax system is used to mass-produce gallium nitride-based mini-light-emitting diodes found in products that include televisions, laptop computers, monitors, and automotive and outdoor displays. Photo: Handout

AMEC said that its CCP and ICP equipment saw increased adoption by domestic foundry clients on the strength of the firm’s breakthroughs in core technologies last year.

Etching tools are some of the most important processing equipment used by semiconductor foundries. It is an area where China has strong players such as AMEC and state-backed Naura Technology Group.

AMEC’s domestic CCP equipment market share is projected to hit 60 per cent in the near future, up from 24 per cent in October 2022. The firm’s share in ICP gear sales on the mainland is predicted to reach 75 per cent from almost zero, according to company chief executive Yin, after once-dominant US chip equipment maker Lam Research saw its mainland sales drop sharply.

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