AMS wants out of environmental sensing

February 06, 2019 // By Peter Clarke
Austrian mixed-signal semiconductor and sensor company AMS AG is ready to sell off parts of its environmental sensor business and turn a corporate strategy that was based on four pillars of sensing into one based on three – optical, imaging and audio. The company has also shelved a plan for a secondary listing of its stock in Hong Kong.

In a statement outlining its fourth quarter financial results AMS said the company has decided to reduce its effort in environmental sensing and has started redeploying R&D resources away from environmental sensing and into optical sensing. The company added that it is actively exploring strategic options for parts of its environmental sensing business.

Present CEO Alexander Everke conducted a strategic review of AMS business in his first six months in office in 2016 and was happy at that time to continue with environmental sensing (see CEO interview: Everke of AMS on four pillars of sensing ). Everke inherited the AMS environmental sensing business after the company had made a series of acquisitions before he took the CEO position. AMS grabbed AppliedSensor GmbH (Reutlingen, Germany) in 2014, the environmental sensor business unit from NXP Semiconductors NV in 2015 and Cambridge CMOS Sensor Ltd. (Cambridge, England) in June 2016.

However, after years assimilating these businesses AMS clearly feels optical sensing has better medium- and long-term prospects.

In the 4Q18 AMS achieved sales revenue of US$491.4 million, down 8.4 percent from $536.6 million in 4Q17. The net income was $1.1 million which compared with $117.0 million in 4Q17. For the full year 2018 AMS sales were $1.63 billion, up 34 percent from 2017 and net income was $106.6 million. The net income was comparable with the $101.3 million profit made in 2017.

The growth in annual sales was driven by AMS consumer business including 3D sensing and advanced light sensing but the fourth quarter slow down also reflected AMS' exposure to volatile consumer business. Because of that volatility and macro-economic uncertainties AMS forecast 1Q19 revenues of between $350 million and $390 million.

AMS said that its automotive, industrial, and medical businesses all performed well in 2018 and continue to provide a diversified range of non-consumer end markets with a clear focus on advanced sensing applications for global OEMs.

Capital expenditures for 2018 were $471.2

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