Tokyo Jun 18, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) — Edited Transcript of Nikon Corp earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 10:59:00am GMT
Hello, everybody. This is Tokunari, serving as CFO as of April 1. I would like to thank our investors, analysts and the media for this opportunity.
In order to prevent a further outbreak of COVID-19, we are at this time, holding this session through the Internet. I know this is causing you inconveniences, but Nikon is giving its top priority to secure the safety of our employees and their families and all the stakeholders, including our customers. Hope you understand this, and I do appreciate for your understanding.
That said, I will cover the financial results for the year ended March 31, 2020, as well as our forecast for the year ending March 31, 2021. Slide 3 shows the summary for the year ended March 31, 2020. On May 12, we disclosed our revised financial forecast. Final revenue was JPY 591 billion, down JPY 29 billion from the number we disclosed in February. Revenue went down JPY 117.6 billion year-on-year. We had a major decline in Imaging Products Business. Though the mirrorless camera grew in sales, but the market as a whole was affected by COVID-19 due to the rapid market shrinkage and the delays in the new product launch. The overall impact here was as much as minus JPY 70 billion.
In Precision Equipment Business, though the semiconductor lithography business grew in revenue, FPD lithography business went down due to the customer investment coming to a full cycle and the postponed installations of some products through the year ending March 31, 2021. So all in all, Precision Equipment Business as a whole went down JPY 30 billion-plus in revenue.
Operating profit was JPY 6.7 billion, down JPY 13.3 billion from the forecast made in February or down JPY 75.9 billion year-on-year. Imaging Products Business became a loss. On top of the decline in revenue, we had a development cost burden for new products as well as the impairment booked. By the way, the restructuring in Imaging Products, which we announced in November last year, is progressing as expected. Our target being during this medium-term management plan, we aim to reduce operating costs as much as JPY 50 billion vis-à-vis the year ended March 31, 2019. We have already reduced the cost by about JPY 25 billion. Profit in Precision Equipment dropped. This can be partly caused due to the loss of onetime profit we had in the previous fiscal year due to the semiconductor device litigation settlement we had.
Slide 4 shows the major changes from the previous forecast made in February. The first line, the impact from COVID-19, its negative impact on revenue was about JPY 33 billion. Operating profit, as shown in the yellow box, JPY 10 billion from COVID-19 and JPY 10.3 billion from fixed asset impairment, were the major factors pushing down the number. In Imaging Products Business, we had intangible fixed asset impairment, such as software and others. In Industrial Metrology Business, we had impairment of goodwill at the time of the acquisition for Nikon Metrology, our overseas subsidiary for measurement. As shown in the table, though we advanced our efficiency and cost-reduction efforts, the total operating profit was down JPY 13.3 billion from the previous forecast.
Please turn to Slide 5. The fourth line from the top, profit attributable to owners of the parent was JPY 7.6 billion, down JPY 9.4 billion from the previous forecast or down JPY 58.9 billion year-on-year. Free cash flow below it was negative of JPY 4.8 billion. This was mainly caused, besides the drop in profit, by the reduced advanced payment and the changes of payment terms. FX during this year-end shows that the Japanese yen appreciated against both the U.S. dollar and the Euro. Its impact on revenue was JPY 14.2 billion, and its impact on operating profit was JPY 4.3 billion, negatively, respectively.
Slide 6 is the summary of the performance by segment, which I will cover later, so allow me to omit my explanation here.
Slide 7. The first segment is Imaging Products Business, mainly cameras and lenses. Revenue was JPY 225.8 billion, down JPY 9.2 billion from the previous forecast back in February or down JPY 70.3 billion year-on-year. Revenue had been progressing mostly in line with the previous forecast till the mid-February. But with the COVID-19 impact becoming larger and larger, we suffered from a drop in revenue because the demand declined, and parts procurement delay became quite obvious, particularly high-end DSLR cameras. And the lenses for mirrorless lenses were postponed in launch. By the way, the COVID-19 impact on the revenue in Imaging Products Business was about JPY 10 billion.
Volume and sales ratio of mid-range and high-end cameras for professionals and hobbyists, our most important business area, improved steadily as well as its interchangeable lens tie ratio against the camera. Online sales ratio also grew. We are diversifying our sales channels. However, operating profit in Imaging Products Business became negative JPY 17.1 billion with COVID-19 impact as much as JPY 4 billion.
Slide 8 is the Precision Equipment Business. This business is to make and sell FPDs, flat panel display, in equipment such as liquid crystal displays and semiconductors. Revenue here was JPY 239.7 billion, down JPY 15.3 billion from the previous forecast or down JPY 34.8 billion year-on-year. FPD or the flat panel display lithography systems revenue declined significantly as customer investment came to a full cycle and moving toward the end of the fiscal year. Installations outside Japan were postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On the other hand, when it comes to the semiconductor lithography business, we completed 4 systems’ installations earlier in the previous fiscal year, as the customer has requested. The new systems sold increased by 13 units year-on-year, but it was not able to offset the loss in the FPD business, making the overall revenue in this segment declined. Operating profit was JPY 46.7 billion, down JPY 4.3 billion from the previous forecast. In light of the onetime profit we had last year from the patent litigation settlement, as much as JPY 15 billion, the segment’s operating profit in real terms was down about JPY 20 billion year-on-year.
Slide 9 is the Healthcare Business. Revenue here was JPY 62 billion, down JPY 3 billion from the February forecast or down JPY 3 billion year-on-year. Up until the third quarter, we were on the upward trend, but COVID-19 pushed down the sales of biological microscopes and retinal diagnostic imaging systems. This business is containing its loss, so we try to select our investment themes and plan to halve the loss year-on-year. We were okay up until the third quarter, but the COVID-19 made our business for medical institutions sluggish, resulting into the further extended loss to JPY 500 million year-on-year.
Slide 10 is Industrial Metrology Business and Others. Revenue was JPY 63.3 billion, down JPY 1.7 billion from the February forecast or down JPY 9.2 billion year-on-year. Revenue grew as planned in the growth segments of X-ray inspection systems and noncontact 3D metrology. But customers in China and Asia were already restricting their own CapEx. Then COVID-19 outbreak impact was added, pushing down the total revenue here. Operating profit, including JPY 3.6 billion from the impairment loss, dropped JPY 3.8 billion year-on-year.
We did have just finished my explanation about each business segment. Next, I will explain our forecast for the year ending March 31, 2021, using Slide 11. We decided to make our performance forecasts undecided because it is rather difficult for us to make a reasonable estimation because it is rather impossible to know when the ongoing COVID-19 impact will come to an end. But we will disclose our forecast immediately after it become possible to make a reasonable calculation. So as of now, our performance forecast is undecided. But here now I would like to take time to explain qualitatively our outlook for the major business year are for the year ending March 31, 2021.
Imaging Products Business. Though parts procurement situation is improving, but the supply chain as a whole is still under the influence of COVID-19. And may I remind you that COVID-19 is hitting the camera demand directly. We are faced with a big drop in sales nowadays. There seems to be some signals for recovery, particularly in China and some geos. But camera-related business is considered to be a luxury goods business. We have to assume for a tough outlook. So it looks like we will have a loss in the year ending March 31, 2021, the second year in a row.
Precision Equipment Business. Though we are now confirming a rather firm demand, but it is still rather difficult for Japanese engineers to go abroad. This is resulting into difficulties in terms of product shipment, delivery and installation, though we are having discussion about the installation timing and others with our customers and partners. But some of the FPD installations we had planned this fiscal year have to be postponed till the year ending March 31, 2022.
As you see here, the environment surrounding us in this fiscal year is quite tough, never experienced in recent years. We have to assume a tough situation in terms of profit and loss. That said though, our equity ratio level is rather healthy at 53.7%. Liquidity at hand and cash and deposit together amount to JPY 400 billion or more. With this healthy financial situation in place, we would like to overcome this quite tough situation.
Lastly, I will touch upon shareholder returns. In May last year, we told you in our financial briefing that during the medium-term management plan, we aim a total return ratio of 40% or more, full year on the dividend JPY 60 or more per share. But if drastic changes are developing, this policy may change.
In light of the rapid deterioration of business environment, while we maintained a total return ratio of 40%, but we have to propose quite regrettably that we withdraw the JPY 60 or more full year dividend per share so that we can secure our capability to keep investing into future growth areas and be able to cope with the crisis going forward. To be specifically, we propose for JPY 10 as the year-end dividend and JPY 40 as the annual dividend, down JPY 20, respectively, from the past forecast.
Yes, the business environment changes so abruptly. But it is truly regrettable that we are not able to keep our promise. As for the dividend for the year ending March 31, 2021, like our forecast in performance, it is undecided. The slide here shows the results of the stock buyback we conducted in the year ended March 31, 2020. The number of shares acquired from November last year until March this year was JPY 22.5 million (sic) [22.5 million]. 6.1% equivalent of the total stocks issued had been fully canceled.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize that we will keep an eye on changes in our business environment. And we will keep the optimal balance between the growth investment and shareholder returns by having long-term perspectives.
This concludes my explanation. Thank you indeed for your kind attention.
Toshikazu Umatate, Nikon Corporation – President, CEO & Representative Director 
This is Umatate, President and CEO. I do appreciate for your precious time despite your busy schedule to attend our financial briefing.
First, I would like to take this moment to express my sincere wish for a quick recovery for those who are infected and affected by COVID-19. And furthermore, I would like to offer my sincere apology for the significant downward revision of the financial performance for the year ended March 31, 2020, despite it was caused by the unexpected situations. Now allow me to explain our response to COVID-19 as well as our progress on the medium-term management plan, including growth strategy.
First, an update on our response to COVID-19. We will carry out our business in general by putting the top priority to the health and safety of employees, suppliers and customers. We are already carrying out those activities, including emergency responses into the critical distributions in production and supply chain management while keeping an eye on the changes taking place day in, day out. The management is now taking actions flexibly and dynamically.
Next, I will report on the progress on the medium-term management plan. Last year, we announced our goals by the year ending March 31, 2022, build a foundation for growth over the mid to long term, aim to achieve 8%-plus ROE. There is no change that by achieving these targets, we will increase the corporate value. We intend to realize these targets by advancing our strategic investment into growth areas.
Now looking at each specific business. Imaging Products Business, the market shrinkage is likely to accelerate, while the competition continues to become harsher and the COVID-19 impact is definitely severe. With this tough business environment in place, we need to further rebuild our business. By doing so, we will aim to achieve a profit at an earlier stage.
In regard to Precision Equipment Business and Healthcare Business care business. Though we are impacted by the COVID-19, but we do believe that these markets are going to be firm on the midterm basis. So by expanding business opportunities, we will expand our profit scale here. As for growth areas, though I will go through details later, but we are now working on alliance initiatives and products launch. We intend to make them as our new business pillar at a certain scale moving into the next fiscal year.
In the governance area, we have already established last year a nominating our committee chaired by an external director. With the latest change, duration of the external directors now went up to 45%. For your further information, we now have Mr. Shigeru Murayama, who has a rich background in heavy machinery; as well as Ms. Asako Yamagami, who is a lawyer, our first female director. As you see, we are now advancing our diversity. We are here to further advance corporate value by enhancing governance by the Board of Directors.
Here, I will explain the progress made and the process to follow in each business. First, I will touch upon the 3 businesses: Imaging Products, Precision Equipment and Healthcare. In Precision Equipment Business, we aim to generate cash in a stable manner. So we will secure cash for our growth. In Imaging Products Business, we aim to become profitable at an earlier stage. With the tougher business environment going on, I have to say that it is rather difficult to achieve the goal of stably secure JPY 20 billion or more operating profit, which we announced last year. I want to explain how to cope with this concretely using the slides to follow.
As for the Precision Equipment Business, we are now getting specific FPD deals for small- and mid-sized panels. For the year ending March 31, 2022, we are having competitive advantage, and we will expand our profit by surely meeting with the demand coming from high-resolution displays. Semiconductor market is here to grow stably on mid- to long-term basis. We do believe that the next big revenue opportunity now will come from the investment into 7-nanometer. We plan to strengthen our China business as well as semiconductor measuring equipment, where we expect to see a growth in investment.
In Healthcare, we do believe that the existing products like microscopes and ophthalmology devices will grow firmly. We are scaling up contract cell manufacturing as our new area. And here, we will further aim at bigger profit and further growth.
Here, I will explain the progress of restructuring in Imaging Products Business. In November last year, we announced our plan to cut JPY 50 billion in business costs compared to the year ended March 31, 2019. Well, first with the tough situation, we aim to realize an early profit and to accelerate deep restructuring efforts and to advance our planned initiatives and to further increase cost reduction.
Details are shown here. We will further select down in product development. We will further promote platform initiatives, and we will aggressively shift resources to growth areas. In sales, we will have a fundamental shift by leveraging digital marketing and other technologies more aggressively. We will review our sales situation and optimize sales companies. Thus, we intend to improve efficiency as thoroughly as possible. In production, we will continue on our efforts to optimize site function and size. At the same time, we’ll advance production capability and technology usage for other businesses.
Next, progress of new business areas and the cost reform. We will create synergy by M&A. With this, we will create business opportunities in growth areas. We will surely expand in scale and execute cost reform. In April, we launched Digital Solutions Business unit. Our foundation has been in component and encoder business, but this new unit is responsible for integrating material processing and vision system and robotics-related businesses as the core of the new growth. They will collaborate with Next Generation Project Division, directly reporting to the development function, and launch specific business opportunities. In component business, we have advanced lidar and precision optical component business. They are firmly advancing.
Cost reduction effort are shown in the right hand, aiming at JPY 18 billion in reduction. Last year, we were able to achieve more than the target. In the meantime, due to further reduction in production of Imaging Products, there were less procurement of materials, thus becoming a headwind against us. But we added here our distribution reform by further slimming indirect and administrative operations so that we can achieve cost reduction more than the target number.
Here, I will explain the progress of the growth area activities. The left diagram comes from the medium-term management plan announced last year. Major points of the progress to date are listed on the right-hand side. In digital manufacturing, we launched optical processing products into the market and began a collaboration with customers using our products. For example, we supplied noncontact 3D metrology systems to machine tool manufacturers. In vision system and robotics area, we started manufacturing lidar sensors as contract manufacturer for Velodyne in the United States as scheduled. We are now expanding production volume. We also launched an intelligent actuator unit for robotic joint units for collaboration robots. We also developed and began sales of embedded cameras.
Healthcare, we obtained a manufacturing license for contract cell manufacturing. This, we believe, is an important step for real business opportunities. We concluded our contract with Heartseed to produce an iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes for clinical trials. We finished development for AI diagnosis by retinal cameras, and now we are preparing to start its usage in Europe.
Next, our strong focus area, namely Material Processing Business. Here, I will explain in details. Nikon aims at solving our customers’ business issues. In other words, we would like to help customers to relieve pain points substantially by offering our unique processing capabilities into core components. For this, we will leverage Nikon’s unique optical processing technology in the areas of additive processing and removal processing, which we have already introduced to you. We have already begun shipping those capabilities to our customers. This time, we are introducing riblet processing. With these capabilities available, we should be able to combine them in a manner best matched with the specific customers’ needs. This will give us to deliver extra new values to benefit our customers and the ecosystem. We will further advance our collaboration with companies both at home and abroad.
In launching Material Processing Business, we are now trying to explore and identify customer values. We are having good dialogues with our customers, so we can truly realize the value we can deliver to our customers. Additive processing, in the left, can be used for repair of molds in turbine blades. With this, they do not have to make those new parts. That’s contributing to cost reduction. We are already using those capabilities to create unique opportunities together with our customers.
The center shows removal hot processing. This can replace metal hand scraping. This can be used to make micromachining dies. We are collaborating with launch customers in this ultra-precision processing area. The right shows riblet processing. This is a new addition. This is a processing technology to reduce fluid resistance. This can be applied to a turbine blade and in the surface of aircraft, resulting in better fuel efficiency and CO2 reduction.
Allow me to explain riblet processing a little bit further. Recently, biomimetics, imitation of living organism, is in the spotlight. Organism has a variety of functions and principles, and biomimetics is to observe and analyze them. This is a kind of top-down approach to make things by imitating them. With 3D printing and microprocessing technologies combined, we may be able to have more possibilities to produce parts and products which have quite unique functions. Riblet processing, this term, is based upon the surface shape of sharkskin. This structure was actually used in the swimsuit and created a hot topic during the Beijing Olympic Games. With the riblet structure in the range of 7-nanometer to several tens of nanometers, we can create the surface which can reduce fluid resistance. With this, we can improve energy efficiency, including fuel consumption reduction. Based on the assumed benefit, the market may grow as much as JPY 1 trillion. We are already working with several potential customers for specific ideas. We believe this is also an important one from ESG perspectives.
We will leverage possible alliances in many in possible areas in the value chain in order to advance the Material Processing Business. We announced our capital alliance in February with XTIA. Its optical comb-based measurement is expected to bring about measure innovation. Exvision, 2 years ago, it became our affiliate, and its high-speed image processing technology is also critical. Last year, we reached a basic agreement with DMG MORI. We entered the official business agreement with DMG MORI in March. As we announced this week, going forward, DMG MORI will jointly sell Lasermeister 101. DMG MORI also plans to embed our LC15Dx into its product. More plans are to come.
In contract processing services, we aim to further expand our access to customers and aim to expand the scope of value offering. We will first work internally and then expand the business as time goes on.
This slide shows business expansion scenario for growth areas. On the mid- to long-term basis, we position materials processing as the core for our growth. We aim at more than JPY 100 billion in revenue. We will use M&A to realize our growth scenario. Strong relationship with customers is going to be quite critical. So we will put emphasis on joint development projects as well as partnership building.
Lastly, I want to explain our midterm and long-term capital allocation. This slide was shown to you the last year. Though capital resources allocation has been reduced due to the rapid change in the business environment, but in principle, we continue on our pathway to focus resources on new fields and to establish new core pillars of profit. So going forward, we get a priority to strategic investment to build growth foundation. With this, there could be some modifications in terms of shareholders’ return, but we will not change its proportion.
Of course, with the ongoing situation upon us, we simply cannot loosen our belt. But it has given us new opportunities and to start new initiatives in a flexible and dynamic way, making us truly united as one team to overcome the difficulties in front of us, so that we can truly start this journey for building our growth foundation.
That’s all for me. Thank you, indeed, for your kind attention.