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Photronics Inc (NASDAQ:PLAB)
Q2 2019 Earnings Call
May 22, 2019, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Photronics Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2019 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, this conference is being recorded, Wednesday, May 22nd 2019.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Troy Dewar, Vice President of Investor Relations. Sir, you may begin.

Troy Dewar -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Ashley. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our review of Photronics 2019 second quarter financial results. Joining me this morning are Dr. Peter Kirlin, Chief Executive Officer; John Jordan, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Dr. Christopher Progler, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and Strategic Planning. The press release we issued earlier this morning along with the presentation material which accompanies our remarks are available on the Investor Relations section of our web page.

Comments made by any participants on today's call may include forward-looking statements. They include such words as anticipate, believe, estimate, expect, forecast. These forward-looking statements are based upon a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied and we assume no obligation to update any forward-looking information.

During the course of our discussion, we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial metrics. These numbers are useful for analysts, investors and management to evaluate our ongoing performance. A reconciliation of these metrics to GAAP financial results is provided in our presentation materials.

At this time, I will turn the call over to Peter.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Troy, and good morning, everyone. We performed well during our second quarter in the face of a semiconductor industry downturn due to our design-driven business model, diverse product platform, advanced suite of technologies and resilient customer relationships. In the current industry environment, our customers are introducing new designs as they attempt to attract consumer attention and gain market share in increasingly crowded competitive landscape. These new designs require new photo masks which is great for Photronics. Our leadership position in the market enables us to provide these customers with high-quality masks and they grow revenue despite the current industry slowdown. On top of this, we are investing to improve capability and increase capacity while ramping two new facilities in China. We have placed ourselves in a great position as our performance clearly demonstrates.

Second quarter revenue improved 6% sequentially with growth in both IC and FPD. In IC, high-end memory recovered as anticipated with good demand for NAND and some of the DRAM masks in Asia. FPD growth was once again led by mobile displays, both AMOLED and LTPS LCD. Excluding our new Hefei facility that is currently ramping production, we continue to run at full capacity. These panel producers across Asia preferentially turn to Photronics for their high-end FPD mass needs.

Operating margin improved from the previous quarter as we maintained tight control on costs while ramping two new facilities. Margins were off last year's levels primarily as a result of the start activity in China. All of this plus an FX gain in other income resulted in solid earnings of $0.13 per share.

On our balance sheet, we ended the quarter with $167 million in cash and trimmed our debt to $36 million as we repaid our convertible security. This is significant not only because we reduced our long-term debt but we also lowered our diluted share count. With a significant portion of our China investment complete, we have a great balance sheet and can invest and create shareholder value whether by organic growth, strategic M&A or returning cash to shareholders.

To the first half of 2019, we performed in line with our initial expectations for the year. We've achieved year-over-year growth in each of the first two quarters. In fact, Photronics has grown year-over-year in the last seven quarters and I believe we can continue to do this through remainder of 2019. Margins should improve as we make progress ramping our China factories and begin to generate profits there by the end of the year. Our free cash flow should increase once our China facilities are ramped providing additional options to increase shareholder value. Our performance during this challenging time is due to our design-driven business model, which also benefits from no transitions and our growing exposure to China which continues to expand capacity and production of semiconductors and flat panel displays.

Our total revenue in China this quarter was the highest ever representing 20% -- 26% of our total revenue. In addition, FPD revenue China set a new record representing 47% of total FPD sales. Our China IC customers are developing new products and moving the path to advanced nodes in both logic and memory. This increases diversity of our product mix and decreases customer concentration as we ship masks to dozens of Chinese producers. We announced our Xiamen Investment Agreement in August of 2016. We mentioned that our largest IC customer had signed an agreement with us that will enable us to operate the plant at break-even profitability. Recently, we signed a second long-term purchase agreement with another large customer in China. The business resulting from these two agreements combined with dozens of smaller accounts should support the sustainability of our China IC operations. Each of these companies will enjoy (inaudible) levels of commercial success. As a result, each one at different levels of long-term mask demand. However, just as repositioning the business has increased the breadth and stability of our revenue stream across Photronics, we expect the growing diversity of the customer base in China will ensure in success over time.

The FPD story is similar. We have two customers that signed long-term purchase agreements to support our Hefei investment. They are not the only customers, and while the overall number of FPD manufactures in China is fewer than IC due to the nature of the industry, our sales team has built solid foundation of business, reducing our dependency on any one customer thereby creating a healthier more sustainable revenue stream.

China has a growing number of AMOLED panel producers and we supply masks to all of them. Likewise, we plan to sell a G10.5+ masks to every panel manufacturer using a substrate size. Last month, we celebrated the grand opening of our two new facilities in China. During these celebrations, I was once again reminded of our customers' enthusiasm to have a local supply of high quality photomasks. Government officials also reiterated their support for our contribution to the local supply chain and industry development. We broke ground in Xiamen just over two years ago. In our Hefei, we went from a shovel in dirt (ph) to producing our first mask in less than 18 months. I'm extremely proud of what our team of employees working with our partners and suppliers has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time. While our accomplishments in China over the last few years have been remarkable, our work there is not complete. We must finish the setup and fine tuning of all the tools and qualify many customers in the new facilities. Xiamen 's near-term goals, I have challenged our employees and customers, to fill our current capacity. So we can then increase our investment in providing them more masks for the growing China market. The expected return on these investments was already significantly above our historical ROIC and steps taken to continue developing the business in China further expands potential financial returns. which in turn should enable us to fund our long-term growth plans.

Throughout the first half of 2019, we are performing well and in line with expectations. Equally important, our China facilities are transitioning from the build to the ramp stage as we make the last few adjustments (technical difficulty) and move forward customer qualification. We are ahead of last year's record revenue, now I'm optimistic that we will set a new record this year. This will keep us on track to deliver on our 2020 targets of $630 million revenue and $0.80 EPS. I am pleased with what we have done and excited to see what we've been able to achieve.

Before I turn the call over to John, I would like to point out to those of you who do not know it, that this is Photronics 50th year in the mask business, our Golden Anniversary. We started in a storefront down the street from National Semiconductor start-up facility in Danbury, Connecticut. Today, we are the largest merchant mask manufacturer in the world. We have survived numerous economic downturns and navigated industry consolidation to establish our leadership position. Through it all, we have always focused on being a low-cost producer while providing outstanding customer service. This approach has served us well in the US, Europe, Korea, and Taiwan. We now carry our banner to China. And I'm confident that we will realize the same success there. I thank everyone, employees, customers, suppliers, partners for their support in allowing us to reach this milestone. I look forward with much enthusiasm to see what we can accomplish together.

At this time, I will turn the call over to John to provide commentary on our performance and outlook.

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Peter. Good morning, everyone. Second quarter revenue of $131.6 million was a 6% sequential improvement and 1% better than the same quarter last year. FPD recorded double-digit growth rates when compared with both previous periods, while IC was moderately better than last quarter and moderately lower than last year. High-end IC was the largest contributor to sequential growth improving $3.8 million or 11% over the first quarter, thanks to the recovery in memory orders which we anticipated. Both logic and memory were off the very strong levels of last year. There are still some sectors where demand remains tepid and resolution to the trade issues between the US and China seem to have been pushed out further into the future. Both -- but our customer relationships, long-term purchase agreements and China market share provide reason for optimism on the IC outlook. Overall, we're cautiously optimistic and look for demand to be stable to improving.

FPD performed exceptionally well with displays from mobile applications once again leading the way. High-end FPD comprised mostly of AMOLED masks today continues to be strong in both Korea and China and improved 7% quarter-over-quarter and 26% year-over-year. Our technology for these products is excellent and as AMOLED -- AMOLED is used in more smartphones and in new applications, we are well positioned to grow with this sector. In mainstream, mobile displays are also the driver for growth as LTPS LCD demand improved. Looking forward, we expect demand for mobile applications to remain robust and we anticipate shipping more G10.5 + masks as we are able to complete additional qualifications in our new facility in Hefei, China.

Gross margin was 19.8% reflecting the impact of China's start-up activity and unfavorable mix. China's start-up also impacted operating profit, but lower operating expenses in our other operations as some qualification activity from the first quarter was completed resulted in operating margin of 7%, somewhat better than the first quarter. Below the operating line, other income is primarily comprised of foreign exchange gain. Minority interest is our partners share of the income in Taiwan partially offset by their share of the loss in Xiamen. The bottom line net income attributable to Photronics, Inc shareholders is $8.5 million or $0.13 per diluted share. Operating cash turned positive with lower prepaid VAT for tools delivered into China and resolved many of the timing issues related to our fiscal year rent payments and collections that affected Q1. Operating cash was $17 million for the quarter. CapEx in Q2 was $33.5 million, somewhat less than our Q1 commentary suggested due to rescheduling payments and not a change in project schedule. Year-to-date CapEx is $140 million and we still expect full-year CapEx to be approximately $210 million.

We repaid $61.2 million of debt in the quarter primarily for the $57.5 million convertible securities that matured on April 1st and eliminated 5.5 million potentially diluted shares -- dilutive shares. When combined with the previous repayment of convertible debt in April 2016, 10.4 million potentially dilutive shares have been eliminated over the last three years. As we have previously reported, we also repurchased 3.7 million shares beginning in July 2018. In total, 14.1 million shares or 18% of dilutive or potentially dilutive shares have been eliminated since 2016.

As a result of this latest debt repayment, strong operations and additional actions we've taken over the last several years, our balance sheet is solid. Just over five years ago, we had debt of $194 million including $137 million in convertible senior notes and net cash of $22 million. Since that time, we have eliminated all the converts and we now have $36 million in long-term debt comprised entirely of interest subsidized local borrowings in Xiamen used to finance that project. Repayment of those loans is expected to be made with operating cash anticipated to be generated in Xiamen.

Before I provide third quarter guidance, I'll reiterate the reminder that our visibility is always limited as our backlog is typically only one weeks to two weeks and demand for some of our products is inherently uneven and difficult to predict. Additionally, the ASPs for high-end mask sets are high and as this segment of the business grows a relatively low number of high-end orders, can have a significant impact on our revenue and earnings for a quarter. Given those caveats, we expect third quarter revenue to be in the range of $134 million to $144 million. This assumes that our IC markets will be stable to improving and FPD will remain near full capacity. We also anticipate a larger contribution from the ramp of our China facilities, especially FPD. I'll also caution that any development from the ongoing trade discussions between the US and China could potentially have an adverse impact on our industry and therefore our results. Based on this revenue expectation and our current operating model, we estimate earnings for the third quarter to be in the range of $0.06 to $0.15 per diluted share, including approximately $0.03 to $0.06 per diluted share net negative impact from China's start-up operations.

Through the first half of 2019, we have been performing in line with our expectations. Revenue is up and bottom line results reflect the headwinds inherent in starting up two new facilities. Our balance sheet is in great shape and we are well positioned to achieve sequential growth throughout the rest of the year as our demand grows and we ramp production in China. We expect this will improve cash generation and enable us to further invest in organic growth, be open to strategic M&A opportunities and potentially return more cash to shareholders.

I will now turn the call over to the operator for your questions.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, actually before turning the caller over the operator, John, I think you misstated the guidance. Our third quarter guidance is for revenue between $132 million and $142 million and diluted EPS between $0.05 and $0.14. So I just want to make it clear that this is what was in the press release. And this is the guidance for the Company moving forward. We can now turn the call over to the operator for questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) And our first question comes from the line of Tom Diffely with D.A. Davidson. Your line is now open.

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

Hi guys. Good morning. It's actually Franco in for Tom. First from us, could you quantify the headwinds that you're seeing from China in terms of like the macro headwinds and you know your sales compared to your guide?

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Franco, I think on the slide we talked about the operating profit impact from China was about $4.1 million. If we get it down to the bottom line, it's about $0.04 a share.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

And as far as the business goes, overall revenue and FPD revenue, China set records in the quarter. So I wouldn't describe the market as a headwind. But clearly, the start-up costs affect the bottom line.

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you. And then from that I guess you just announced the new long-term purchase agreement in China for your IC side. After you fulfill this contract, what percentage of the capacity will you be running at?

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Well, I think the way I would answer that question is, this new contract is with another large foundry customer in China. There right now run rate is actually larger than the run rate with the original customer we signed the first contract with. So, no, we won't specifically divulge the exact capacity. With that extra contract, we're very confident we can ramp that facility to profitability quickly. So we now have two large anchors instead of just one, just as we have in FPD.

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

Yeah. Okay. And then do you still expect to be at full capacity on the FPD side at the end of the year?

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Do we still expect the full capacity in FPD at the end of the year?

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, we're still -- we still expect to drive to full loading as we exit the year. You know as we remarked, we shipped our first G10.5+ mask in the current or in the prior quarter in Q2 in the month of April and this quarter's mix will be a mix of qualifications and commercial business shifting as we go through the quarter and the fourth quarter if we continue to stick to our plan, certainly by the time we hit mid-quarter, we should be through all the qualification work and flat out commercial volume.

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

Okay. Very helpful, thank you. And then finally from us, you had previously mentioned that the qualification for the high-end IC was between 9 months to 12 months, one, is this still the case? And then two, how does that compare to the FPD? Thanks.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes, that's certainly true, for high-end IC. As far as FPD is concerned, new qualifications usually run about -- they're typically concluded in a quarter. So once we start, it's anywhere from 30 days to 90 days to completion. So FPD is much shorter and that's why we can ramp the factory to full volume much quicker.

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

All right. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions). And our next question comes from the line of Patrick Ho with Stifel. Your line is now open.

Patrick Ho -- Stifel

Thank you very much. Peter, maybe first off, in terms of the IC qualifications in China, you mentioned that you added on a second customer. Is it fair to say that the bias right now in terms of qualifications with other potential customers is more foundry logic based or is there a good mix between memory and foundry logic?

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

It's weighted Patrick to logic and foundry logic, but there is a growing -- our memory -- as you heard in my prepared remarks, our memory business in China is building, yes. And it's a mix of very large international companies with facilities in China and domestic China manufacturers, so it's both, but still weighted to foundry logic.

Patrick Ho -- Stifel

Great. That's helpful. Maybe as my follow-up question on the display side of things, from a CapEx perspective this year in 2019, China seems to be a little more weighted toward the Gen 10.5 versus AMOLED. So you obviously did very well in getting good revenues on the AMOLED side of things. As 2019 progresses and even to 2020, how do you see the growth forecast for the Gen 10.5 given that that's where I guess the local Chinese vendors are least focused this year?

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So you know as we stay here today, there are two Gen 10.5 factories in volume manufacturing in China. A third one, we'll start the -- the reticle set-- the first reticle set for the third factory will be purchased within the Q3; and the fourth, we expect to see a reticle set purchased, I don't know by around the end of the calendar year, and then the fifth will clearly be in the first half of next calendar year. So, by the end -- a year from now, the overall capacity in China and demand for G10.5 will double and by the end of next calendar year it will go up by a factor of two-and-a-half. So, yeah, the market there for G10.5 is really hitting its sweet spot. This is one of the reasons why we drove so hard to get that Hefei factory built and ready to run reticles to hit the sweet spot of the growth curve in the market. As far as AMOLED goes, you can see from our current financial results that we're doing quite well. Almost half of our FPD business is in China and it's heavily weighted to AMOLED.

Patrick Ho -- Stifel

Great. And final question from me. Maybe for John in terms of the headwinds from China. I understand the start-up costs and the ramp there. Given that you had a really good quarter on the OpEx side of things, of all the remaining I guess headwinds and I guess start-up and ramp costs, is that all going to come out of the cost of goods and that's where we'll see the leverage ss you know 2019 progressive and we go into 2020?

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

We have OpEx in China as well, Patrick. So we see cost of goods and OpEx running at -- the OpEx running at similar level for next quarter, cost of goods obviously varying with the level of business.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

But I think you're right, Patrick, you know our OpEx expenses should be pretty stable in China. They do go up and down quarter-to-quarter, and most of the swing is driven by R&D expenses, so they can move around. But you know as I mentioned, we have a death grip on the operating expenses to the extent we can control them.

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

And as the revenue increases and we start actually shipping more, the tools that are there will be depreciated as well. So cost of goods will increase with the depreciation and amortization as well as the cost of the goods that are produced.

Patrick Ho -- Stifel

Great. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen, there are no further questions at this time. I'd now like to turn the call over to Peter Kirlin for closing comments.

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you for your time this morning. 2019 is shaping up to be a great year for Photronics. I look forward to updating you as we move forward.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your line.

Duration: 31 minutes

Call participants:

Troy Dewar -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Peter S. Kirlin -- Chief Executive Officer

John P. Jordan ` -- Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Franco -- D.A. Davidson & Co -- Analyst

Patrick Ho -- Stifel

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