VAT’s share price declined during the first six months of 2022 along with most other equities, primarily reflecting global macroeconomic uncertainties centered on rapidly rising inflation, coupled with moves from many central banks to significantly increase interest rates and the ongoing war in the Ukraine. These short-term macro concerns drove a broad sell-off in equities in the first half of the year – including those of VAT – despite the current very strong market demand for VAT’s advanced vacuum valves, the company’s improving business results and positive outlook for 2022 provided in April with the presentation of its Q1 2022 trading update.
VAT’s share price on June 30, 2022, amounted to CHF 227.60, compared with the historical high of CHF 469.60 reached on January 3. VAT’s market capitalization at the end of June amounted to CHF 6.8 billion, about 50% less than at the beginning of the year. The Swiss Leader Index decreased by about 21% during that period. Trading liquidity in VAT shares remained at the same level as a year ago at approximately 80,000 shares per day.
Nevertheless, VAT’s medium-term growth drivers – mainly in the semiconductor industry, VAT’s largest end market – remain firmly in place. Megatrends such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and the shift to home office and e-commerce require increasing numbers of semiconductors, as well as higher-performance semiconductors that can only be manufactured in the purest vacuum environments, which plays to VAT’s market-leading technology advantages.
Therefore, VAT expects growth to continue in both its Valves and Global Service segments in 2022. The company believes it can capture the significant opportunities offered by a growing market based on its leading market and technology positions and the successful execution of its proven strategy for profitable growth. This is centered on increasing market share in its core Valves business, growing the Global Service business, expanding into value-adding adjacencies, and continued improvements to operational performance through an optimized global footprint.
VAT’s major shareholders
There have been no substantial changes among VAT’s top shareholders since the beginning of 2022. As of the publication of this half-year report, there are three shareholders who each own more than 3% of VAT’s outstanding shares and whose cumulative shareholding amounts to about 21% of VAT’s shares. The free float of VAT shares, as defined by the SIX Swiss Exchange, amounted to approximately 90% at the end of June 2021 and the number of registered shareholders amounted to 16,725.
On May 25, 2022, VAT paid its shareholders a dividend of CHF 5.50 per share for the business year 2021, in line with its stated policy to pay a dividend of up to 100% of free cash flow. VAT also expects its dividend for the business year 2022 to be in line with this policy.
VAT added to Swiss Leader Index
On March 31, 2022, VAT was included into the Swiss Leader Index (SLI), replacing Vifor Pharma AG that was delisted as the result of a takeover. The SLI measures the development the 30 largest and most liquid instruments of the Swiss equity market SPI and thus increases the weight of smaller components versus the SMI.