AMS shifts east, to sensors

September 29, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
AMS AG (Premstaetten, Austria) has gone from 2,200 employees in 2016 to more than 8,000 employees in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Over the same period of time the company has shifted its stance from that of an analog and mixed-signal IC company that does sensors to a company with a platform approach to sensor subsystems. That also implies a change from ASICs to application-specific standard products (ASSPs) and the offer of hardware and software and application and use case knowledge.

And the change has been made since Alexander Everke took over the CEO position on March 1, 2016. In a notable spurt of growth and investment the Austrian company is now rapidly building up a manufacturing base in Singapore with the help of the Economic Development Board there. It is already employing thousands of people in Singapore while manufacturing capacity is only just being installed and ramped up at two new sites.

This is in keeping with the dynamism and ambition of Everke. As he said to a recent press tour visit to AMS headquarters: "Either you go big or you go home."

Part of the problem is that at €600 million in annual revenue (about $700 million) AMS is neither small nor big on a global scale and as a public company a potential takeover target itself. Everke came to the CEO's position promising growth. In 2016 he said the company would achieve a 30 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next three years. At the recent press tour Everke upped the rhetoric: "We will grow at more than 40 percent per year. We are comfortable we can deliver that."

That is a big promise even in the context of a semiconductor marker that is expected to grow nearly 20 percent in 2017. In the second quarter of 2017 AMS achieved nearly 37 percent year-on-year revenue growth and the company is forecasting 50 percent annual growth in the second half of 2017.

As he was coming in to the company back in 2016, Everke helped it conduct a strategic review that concluded that there was not enough growth or differentiation in the IC sector. Everke and his colleagues decided the company needed to move its center of gravity up the value chain to hardware-software platforms based on key sensor technologies that it either had, or that it could acquire. Everke then dropped a legacy plan to open a mixed-signal wafer fab in New York (see AMS pulls out of $2 billion wafer fab project). That and subsequent investment in Singapore means that the AMS center of gravity has also moved East.

Everke emphasizes that AMS is not dropping IC manufacturing. But wherever IC manufacturing can be outsourced it should be, he said. Internal resources such as those used for ICs are used where AMS has differentiating technology.

Next: Where is AMS hiring?


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