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Risk Factors - ASYS

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Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We note these factors for investors as permitted by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You should understand it is not possible to predict or identify all such factors.

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PART I

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

OUR COMPANY

We are a leading, global manufacturer of capital equipment, including thermal processing and wafer polishing, and related consumables used in fabricating semiconductor devices, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and silicon power devices, analog and discrete devices, electronic assemblies, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). We sell these products to semiconductor device and module manufacturers worldwide, particularly in Asia, North America and Europe. Our strategic focus is on semiconductor growth opportunities in power electronics, sensors and analog devices leveraging our strength in our core competencies in thermal and substrate processing. We are a market leader in the high-end power chip market (SiC substrates, 300mm horizontal thermal reactors, and electronic assemblies used in power, RF, and other advanced applications), developing, and supplying essential equipment and consumables used in the semiconductor industry. We are a market leader in the high-end power chip market (SiC substrates, 300mm horizontal thermal reactor, and electronic assemblies used in power, RF, and other advanced applications), developing and supplying essential equipment and consumables used in the semiconductor industry.

We categorize each of our subsidiaries into one of two operating segments, based primarily on the industries they serve:

These operating segments are comprised of the following four wholly-owned subsidiaries:

Semiconductor:

Bruce Technologies, a Massachusetts corporation based in North Billerica, Massachusetts, acquired in July 2004; and

BTU, a Delaware corporation based in North Billerica, Massachusetts, with operations in China, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, acquired in January 2015.

Material and Substrate:

PR Hoffman, an Arizona corporation based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, acquired in July 1997; and

Intersurface Dynamics, a Connecticut corporation based in Bethel, Connecticut, acquired in March 2021.

Our strategic focus in the semiconductor industry is the development of equipment for thermal processing and deposition for semiconductor manufacturing, specifically focusing on substrate, fabrication, packaging and surface-mount technology (“SMT”). The markets we serve are experiencing technological advances and are, historically, cyclical. Therefore, future profitability and growth depend on our ability to invest in, develop and/or acquire and market new technology products and on our ability to adapt to cyclical trends.

Integrated circuits, optoelectronic, sensor, and discrete (O-S-D) components, such as power chips, LEDs, and some MEMS, are semiconductor devices fabricated on silicon and compound semiconductor, such as silicon carbide, wafer substrates. Semiconductor chips are part of the circuitry of many products including inverters, onboard charging, computers, telecommunications devices, automotive electronics and sensors, consumer electronics, and industrial automation and control systems. LEDs manufactured using our equipment are used in industrial, commercial and residential lighting. Our thermal processing and consumable products currently address the diffusion and deposition steps used in the fabrication of semiconductors, LEDs, MEMS and the polishing of newly sliced silicon and compound semiconductor wafers, as well as the packaging and assembly of the electronic components and assemblies. Our reflow ovens provide key thermal processing steps for both semiconductor packaging and electronics

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assembly. Key end-markets for these packages and assemblies include: communications, automotive electronics and sensors, computing and networking, and consumer and industrial electronics.

Our Material and Substrate segment provides solutions to the lapping and polishing marketplace for SiC power chip applications, LED, optics, ceramics and photonics. Lapping and polishing are the processes of abrading components with a high degree of precision for flatness, parallelism and surface finish. Lapping is the process of abrading components with a high degree of precision for flatness, parallelism and surface finish. Common applications for this technology are silicon wafers for semiconductor products, compound substrates, like silicon carbide wafers, for LED and power device applications, sapphire substrates for LED lighting and mobile devices, various glass and silica components for 3D image transmission, quartz and ceramic components for telecommunications devices, medical device components and optical and photonics applications.

We believe our product portfolio, developed through a track record of technological innovation as well as the successful integration of key acquisitions, provides exceptional value to semiconductor manufacturing by increasing yields, efficiency and throughput. We have been providing manufacturing solutions to the semiconductor industry for over 30 years and have leveraged our semiconductor technology and industry presence to capitalize on growth opportunities. Our customers use our equipment to manufacture semiconductor chips, silicon and compound semiconductor wafers and MEMS, which are used in end markets such as telecommunications (5G), consumer and industrial electronics (IoT and embedded devices), computing (data centers), automotive electronics and sensors (xEV), and mobile devices (smart devices). To complement our research and development efforts, we also sell our equipment to, and coordinate certain development efforts with, research institutes, universities and customers.

The semiconductor industry is cyclical and historically has experienced significant fluctuations. Our revenue is impacted by these broad industry trends.

In March 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and the outbreak became increasingly widespread, including in all of the markets in which we operate. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of our business. We are a company operating in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Consistent with federal guidelines and with state and local orders to date, we have continued to operate across our footprint throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the onset of COVID-19 and its negative effects on our business, most prominently reflected in our second, third and fourth quarter fiscal 2020 results, global economic conditions improved during fiscal 2021, resulting in increased demand for our products and services, which led to our earnings for fiscal 2021 substantially exceeding our fiscal 2020 results. There remain many unknowns and we continue to monitor the expected trends and related demand for our products and services and have and will continue to adjust our operations accordingly.

For information regarding net revenue, operating income and identifiable assets attributable to each of our two operating segments, see Note 17 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in this Annual Report. For information on the products of each operating segment, see “Semiconductor Products” and “Material and Substrate Products” within this “Item 1. Business” section. For information on the products of each operating segment, see “Semiconductor Products” and “SiC/LED Products” within this “Item 1. Business” section. For information regarding risks to our business, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”

Our fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30. Unless otherwise stated, references to the years 2021, 2020 and 2019 relate to the fiscal years ended September 30, 2021, 2020 and 2019, respectively.

ACQUISITION

On March 3, 2021, we acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding capital stock of Intersurface Dynamics, a Connecticut-based manufacturer of substrate process chemicals used in various manufacturing processes, including semiconductors, silicon and compound semiconductor wafers, and optics, for a cash purchase price of $5.3 million. Intersurface Dynamics’ results of operations are included in our Material and Substrate segment from the date of acquisition.

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GROWTH AND INVESTMENT STRATEGY

Historically, we have grown our business primarily through acquisitions, including the businesses that currently comprise our two operating segments in the Semiconductor and Material and Substrate industries: Bruce Technologies, BTU, PR Hoffman and Intersurface Dynamics. The businesses we own and operate today have provided substantial returns on our original investments. Our acquisition of BTU demonstrates our ability to unlock value in a company, to grow revenue and improve the performance of acquired assets. Our 2021 acquisition of Intersurface Dynamics bolstered our offerings in the substrate consumables space and incorporated wafer processing coolants and chemicals to our existing consumable and machine product lines. While we continue to believe this inorganic growth strategy is the backbone of who Amtech is as a company, we have also employed the complimentary strategy of pursuing organic growth, particularly during times when we lacked sufficient capital resources to pursue growth through acquisitions. During 2017 and 2018, the completion of several strategic transactions enabled us to build our capital foundation and renew our acquisition efforts; however, these acquisition efforts were temporarily interrupted by our focus on divesting of our Solar business beginning in 2019 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Despite these interruptions, we continued to invest in research and development and will introduce new products in fiscal 2022 to expand our offerings and addressable market. As we move past the pandemic interruptions, we have a renewed objective to grow our revenue and expand our operations through strategic acquisitions, while at the same time pursuing organic growth. We intend to accomplish these parallel objectives through the pursuit of the following strategies:

Capitalize on Growth Opportunities in the Semiconductor Industry by Leveraging Our Thermal and Material Processing Expertise, Top-Tier Customer Relationships, Track Record of Technological Innovation and Exceptional Customer Service. We believe that long-term growth in the semiconductor industry will be driven by emerging growth opportunities in advanced packaging technologies, new compound semiconductor substrates, such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride, and the growing demand for 5G and mobility, consumer and industrial Internet-of-Things (IoT), increased adoption of sensors and electronics in the automotive industry, electric vehicles (EV) and charging infrastructure, and China’s investment in their domestic semiconductor production capacity. As the semiconductor market continues to develop and evolve, advances in process technology will be vital to remaining competitive. We intend to continue leveraging our market position, relationships with leading global semiconductor customers and demonstrated track record of technological innovation and exceptional customer service to maximize sales of our current and next-generation technology solutions. We intend to continue leveraging our market position, relationships with leading global semiconductor customers and demonstrated track record of technical innovation and exceptional customer service to maximize sales of our current and next-generation technology solutions.

Develop Multi-Product Solutions to Expand Our Addressable Market. We are focused on acquiring, developing and licensing new products across our business in response to customer needs in the markets we serve. As we add to our product portfolio organically and through acquisitions, we plan to continue expanding our offerings within the semiconductor and silicon carbide production processes, thus capturing a greater percentage of capital spent on increasing semiconductor and silicon carbide production. As we add to our product portfolio organically or through acquisitions, we plan to continue expanding our offerings within the semiconductor and silicon carbide production processes, thus capturing a greater percentage of capital spent on increasing semiconductor and silicon carbide production. We have successfully developed and acquired products to expand our addressable market and continue to make evolutionary upgrades to our existing equipment and service offerings across our operating segments. We have successfully developed products to expand our addressable market and continue to make evolutionary upgrades to our existing equipment and service offerings across our operating segments. In addition to developing new products, we plan to invest in upgrades to our existing product offerings to stay competitive in the markets we serve. As a result, we increased our research and development expenses in 2021 and expect to continue to invest in capital expenditures and research and development expenses in fiscal 2022 and beyond for these evolutionary upgrades as well as for the development of specific new products. As a result, we saw increased research and development expenses in 2020 and expect to continue to increase our capital expenditures and research and development expenses in fiscal 2021 and beyond for these evolutionary upgrades as well as for the development of specific new products. As a result of our research and development efforts, we intend to begin offering several new products as well as upgraded products in fiscal 2022.

Pursue Strategic Acquisitions That Complement Our Strong Platform. As discussed above, we have historically pursued an acquisition strategy consistent with our focus of maintaining market leadership and technology innovation that addresses the continued growth in the semiconductor industry. As part of this strategy, we continually evaluate potential technology, product and business acquisitions or joint ventures that we believe will increase our existing market share in the semiconductor and SiC industries and expand our addressable market. In evaluating these opportunities, our objectives include enhancing our earnings and cash flows, adding complementary product offerings, expanding our geographic footprint, improving our production efficiency and expanding our customer base. As a result, we continue to manage our balance sheet to maintain adequate liquidity so that we may react quickly as these opportunities arise. As a result, we continue to manage our balance sheet to maintain adequate liquidity in order to react quickly as these opportunities arise. During 2021, we completed the acquisition of Intersurface Dynamics, which incorporated numerous coolants and chemical products to our existing consumable and machine product lines.

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Invest in Our Infrastructure and Capacity. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we completed the move of our subsidiary, PR Hoffman, to a new location. In the fourth quarter of 2020, we finished the move of our SiC/LED segment to a new location. This new location increased our manufacturing footprint and positioned our business to meet the expected longer-term increase in demand for our SiC, optics, and silicon substrate product solutions. This new location allows us to sufficiently increase our manufacturing footprint and position our business to meet the expected longer-term increase in demand for our SiC, optics, and 8 silicon substrate product solutions. Additionally, in the fourth quarter of 2021, we completed the move of our Shanghai facility to a new location. This new location increases our capacity and streamlines our manufacturing processes, thus reducing our lead times. In addition, we are evaluating our management information systems and needs in order to allow for greater efficiencies and to ensure our infrastructure can support our future growth plans.

SEMICONDUCTOR AND MATERIAL AND SUBSTRATE OPERATIONS

We provide diffusion and reflow thermal systems as well as wafer polishing equipment and related services to leading semiconductor manufacturers. Our products include horizontal diffusion furnaces used to produce semiconductors, such as analog, sensors, and discrete devices, and MEMS, as well as double-sided lapping and polishing equipment, double-sided lapping and polishing carriers, and single side polishing templates.

As demand for increasingly sophisticated electronic devices continues, new technologies such as electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, advanced power management, advances in consumer electronics, 5G communications, and IoT will help to drive future growth. Electronic equipment continues to become more complex, yet end users demand smaller, lighter and less expensive devices. Electronic equipment continues to become more complex, yet end users are still demanding smaller, lighter and less expensive devices. This trend, in turn, requires increased performance and reduced cost of ownership requirements of electronic assemblies, printed circuit boards and semiconductors. This, in turn, requires increased performance and reduced cost, size, weight and power requirements of electronic assemblies, printed circuit boards and semiconductors. In response to these developments, manufacturers are increasingly employing more sophisticated production and assembly techniques requiring more advanced manufacturing equipment, such as that supplied by our subsidiary, BTU.

Although the semiconductor market has experienced significant growth over the past fifteen years, it remains cyclical by nature. The market is characterized by short-term periods of under or over utilization of capacity for most semiconductors, including microprocessors, memory, power management chips and other logic devices. When capacity utilization decreases due to the addition of excess capacity, semiconductor manufacturers typically slow their purchasing of capital equipment. Conversely, when capacity utilization increases, so does capital spending. We believe the continued expansion of our consumable product offerings, primarily in our Material and Substrate segment, will enable us to partially offset some of these cyclical effects.

SEMICONDUCTOR PRODUCTS

Our furnace equipment is manufactured in our facilities in Massachusetts and China. The following paragraphs describe the products that comprise our current product lines in our semiconductor business:

Horizontal Diffusion Furnaces. Through Bruce Technologies, we produce and sell 200mm and 300mm horizontal diffusion and deposition furnaces. Our horizontal furnaces currently address several steps in the semiconductor manufacturing process, including diffusion, LPCVD, high temperature oxidation (used in silicon power chips), and annealing. Our horizontal furnaces currently address several steps in the semiconductor manufacturing process, including diffusion, LPCVD, high temperature oxidation (used in silicon and silicon carbide power chips), and annealing.

Our horizontal furnaces generally consist of three large modules: the load station, where the loading of the wafers occurs; the furnace section, which is comprised of one to four thermal reactor chambers; and the gas distribution cabinet, where the flow of gases into the reactor chambers is controlled and is often customized to meet the requirements of our customers’ particular processes. The horizontal furnaces utilize a combination of existing industry and proprietary technologies and are sold primarily to semiconductor customers. Our products are capable of processing all currently existing wafer sizes.

Continuous Thermal Processing Systems. Through BTU, we produce and sell thermal processing systems used in the solder reflow and curing stages of printed circuit board assembly as well as systems for the thermal processes used in advanced semiconductor packaging. Our printed circuit board assembly products are used primarily in the advanced, high-density segments of the market that utilize surface mount technology.

Flip-chip reflow provides the physical and electronic bond of the semiconductor device to its package. Our range of convection reflow systems, utilizing patented closed loop convection technology, are rated at up to 400°C

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and operate in air or nitrogen atmospheres. These products are manufactured at our ISO 9001:2015 certified facility in Shanghai, China and utilize forced impingement convection technology to transfer heat to the substrate. Using configurable heating elements of up to eight kilowatts, they can process substrates in dual lane, dual speed configurations, thereby enabling our customers to double production without increasing the machine’s footprint. Using thermal power arrays of up to five kilowatts, they can process substrates in dual lane, dual speed configurations, thereby enabling our customers to double production without increasing the 9 machine’s footprint. These products are available in four models based on the heated lengths of thermal processing chambers. Heated length is based on the required production rate and loading requirements.

High-Temperature Belt Furnace. We also produce and sell custom, high-temperature belt furnaces, which have been manufactured in Massachusetts for over six decades with ISO 9001:2015 quality certification safe-guarding that each unit is subject to exacting build and test criteria. These furnaces operate at temperatures up to 1200°C and are capable of processing in controlled atmospheres, such as nitrogen, argon and hydrogen. Applications include DBC, furnace brazing, annealing, glass to metal sealing, sintering and heat-treating for diverse markets including automotive, semiconductor, LED and medical.

Aqua Scrub Flux Management. In 2021, we began offering our Aqua Scrub Flux Management technology. The system continuously extracts flux-laden oven atmosphere from the reflow oven process chamber which is then passed through the Aqua Scrub system removing flux and returning clean atmosphere back to the reflow oven chamber. The aqueous-based scrubbing solution utilizes commonly available detergents for the rinse agent concentrate making it environmentally friendly. The system can be easily retrofitted to existing reflow ovens in the field due to its stand-alone design and small footprint.

FUTURE SEMICONDUCTOR PRODUCTS

The following paragraphs describe products currently in the final stages of development that we expect to begin offering to customers during fiscal year 2022 as part of our Semiconductor product lines:

Reflow. Our BTU division has begun a project to replace the current Pyramax reflow product with a next-generation platform. This updated platform will address areas of the market not currently served by the Pyramax line and provide existing customers with additional enhancements and capabilities. This next-generation platform will be launched in fiscal 2022 with full production commencing in 2023.

Selective Soldering. In March 2021, BTU entered into a distribution agreement with Hentec Industries, making BTU the exclusive distributor for Hentec products in Asia. BTU’s primary focus will be on the Hentec selective soldering product lines.

APEX Software. Our horizontal diffusion furnaces utilize a supervisory software system called APEX. In 2020, we embarked on a project to replace the current version, as it runs on a Unix operating system. This updated version will run on a Windows operating system and provide several new enhancements to our horizontal diffusion product line. This version will also provide an upgrade option for our existing base of customers.

MATERIAL AND SUBSTRATE PRODUCTS

Our Material and Substrate segment manufactures the products described below in Pennsylvania and Connecticut and sells them under our PR Hoffman and Intersurface Dynamics brand names.

Substrate Carriers. We manufacture carriers in a variety of sizes and materials. Sizes range from 3 to 38 inches in diameter using a variety of special steels, laminates and extruded polymer raw materials. Silicon wafers, compound semiconductor wafers, and large optics require these special insert carriers. Silicon wafers, compound semiconductor wafers, and large optics require special insert carriers. These carriers combine the strength of hardened steel as the processing backbone with a softer plastic material in the work holes known as an insert. Inserts are permanently molded into the work holes via a pressurized process. These inserted work holes provide smoother processing, improved wafer total thickness variation (TTV) and improved wafer edge quality. Insert carriers are available for all wafer sizes from 75mm to 450mm and can be made from hardened and tempered carbon steel or specialized stainless steel when metal contamination is a processing concern. Insert carriers are widely accepted as the industry solution for both prime wafer and reclaim wafer manufacturers when dual sided lapping or polishing are utilized in their front-end wafer process.

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Substrate Polishing Templates. Our polishing templates are used to securely hold silicon carbide, silicon, sapphire or other wafer materials in place during single-sided wax-free polishing processes. Polishing templates are customized for specific applications and are manufactured to extremely tight tolerances. We offer a variety of options to provide the best solution for each specific process. Polishing templates are manufactured for all brands of tools and virtually any wax-free customer process. Critical front-end wafer surface specifications are finalized during the polishing process.

Double-Sided Lapping and Polishing Machines. Double-sided lapping and polishing machines are designed to process materials such as silicon wafers, sapphire and other wafer-like materials, precision optics, computer disks, ceramic components, specialty metal products to exact tolerances of thickness, flatness, parallelism and surface finish. On average, we believe that we offer our surface processing systems with a lower cost of ownership than systems offered by our competitors. We target the compound substrate, semiconductor, optical sapphire, glass, quartz, ceramics, medical, computer disk and metal-working markets.

Substrate Process Chemicals. Through Intersurface Dynamics, we produce and sell substrate process chemicals which are used to achieve specific surface morphologies on a variety of materials. Our substrate process chemical customers include some of the world's largest manufacturers of semiconductor devices, silicon wafers, precision optics, ophthalmic lens, advanced displays and flat glass. We offer four different product lines: Tensor Series Products, Vector Series Products, Challenge Series Products and Big Blue Products. Tensor Series Products are used by manufacturers of integrated circuits in applications such as cleaning, etching, dicing and CMP. Vector Series Products were designed specifically for grinding, sawing, lapping, cleaning, etching and polishing semiconductor materials such as silicon wafers. Challenge Series Products address similar processes for manufacturers of precision optics, technical ceramics and advanced displays helping to achieve optimum yields. Big Blue Products are economical and easy to use, assuring quick, efficient manufacturing of flat glass and mirror products.

FUTURE MATERIAL AND SUBSTRATE PRODUCTS

The following paragraphs describe products currently in the final stages of development that we expect to begin offering to customers during fiscal year 2022 as part of our Material and Substrate product lines:

Single-Sided Polisher. We have developed a new single-side batch polisher to specifically to address the challenges in polishing compound semiconductor substrates, such as silicon carbide. Silicon carbide material is much harder than traditional silicon and requires additional capabilities not found on existing batch polishing systems in the market. Our single-side polishing equipment was designed to handle SiC wafers with a low cost of ownership and has enhanced throughput and cost of ownership when compared to single wafer CMP systems.

Double-Sided Polisher. The double-sided polisher is the newest evolution of our lapping and polishing systems with the capacity to handle 8-inch wafers, representing a 25% increase over our next largest tool. In addition, several enhancements have been added to provide our customers the ability to use the system for compound semiconductor substrates such as silicon carbide. True 4-way planetary motion allows us to increase material removal rate and provide better flatness. We designed this new system with increased downforce to provide the necessary pressure when lapping or polishing compound semiconductors. There are also other enhancements, such as chilled base plates to keep the system at lower temperatures during the processing cycles.

MANUFACTURING, RAW MATERIALS AND SUPPLY CHAIN

Our semiconductor manufacturing activities consist primarily of engineering design to meet specific and evolving customer needs and procurement and assembly of various commercial and proprietary components into finished thermal processing systems in North Billerica, Massachusetts and Shanghai, China.

Our manufacturing activities in the polishing business include laser-cutting and other fabrication steps in producing lapping and polishing consumables, including carriers, templates, gears, wear items and spare parts in our ISO 9001:2015 certified facility in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from raw materials manufactured to our specifications by our suppliers. These products are engineered and designed for specific applications and to meet the increasingly tight tolerances required by our customers. Many items, such as proprietary components for our semiconductor equipment and lapping plates, are purchased from suppliers who manufacture these items to our specifications.

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Final assembly and tests of our manufactured equipment and machines are performed within our manufacturing facilities. Quality control is maintained through inspection of incoming materials and components, in-process inspection during equipment assembly, testing of assemblies and final inspection and, when practical, operation of manufactured equipment prior to shipment.

Since much of our polishing supplies know-how relates to the manufacture of these products, our Carlisle facility is equipped to perform a significantly higher percentage of the fabrication steps required in the production of its products. However, injection molding for our insert carriers and the manufacture of raw cast iron plates and machine motors are subcontracted out to various third parties. However, injection molding for our insert carriers and the manufacture of raw cast iron plates are 10 subcontracted out to various third parties. Our polishing supplies business relies on key suppliers for certain materials, including specialized steel mills in Germany and Japan, an injection molding machine, a single-sourced pad supplier from Japan and an adhesive manufacturer. Our polishing supplies business relies on key suppliers for certain materials, including two steel mills in Germany and Japan, an injection molder, a single-sourced pad supplier from Japan and an adhesive manufacturer. To minimize the risk of production and service interruptions and/or shortages of key parts, we seek to maintain appropriate inventory levels of key raw materials and parts.

Beginning in 2019 and throughout 2020 and 2021, we experienced increased lead-times for various parts and services across both our operating segments. In response to these increased lead-times, we have increased the amount of on-hand inventory and purchase order commitments related to long lead-time items. As a result of the increases in lead-times for these parts, we have increased the amount of on-hand inventory related to long-lead time items. We have also increased on-hand inventory of certain parts as part of a strategy to mitigate supply chain risk, primarily at our operations in China, due to the trade and tariff environment between China and the United States. Despite these strategic increases, there can be no assurance that we will have enough inventory on-hand at the time we receive orders and that we will not incur delays in production time. Additionally, we may order items prior to receiving a customer order, which could result in increased inventory reserve expenses.

During 2021, we were also affected by the global shipping container shortage, which resulted in logistical challenges primarily related to shipments to and from China and, to a lesser extent, in other geographies including the U.S. and Europe. These challenges led to shipment delays to our customers as well as increased freight charges for both customer and vendor shipments. We expect these shipping trends to continue into fiscal 2022.

CUSTOMERS AND SEASONALITY

Our customers are primarily manufacturers of semiconductor substrates and devices and electronic assemblies. Additionally, our Material and Substrate segment also serves customers in the ceramics and optics industries. During 2021, 73% of our net revenue came from customers outside of North America. In 2019, 59% of our net revenue came from customers outside of North America. This group represented 65% of revenues in 2020. In 2021, net revenue was distributed among customers in different geographic regions as follows: North/South America 27% (22% of which is in the United States), Asia 58% (including 29% in China, 15% in Taiwan and 3% in Malaysia) and 15% in Europe. This group represented 59% of revenues in 2019. In 2020, net revenue from continuing operations was distributed among customers in different geographic regions as follows: North/South America 35% (28% of which is in the United States), Asia 52% (including 25% in China, 15% in Taiwan and 5% in Malaysia) and 13% in Europe. Two Semiconductor customers accounted for 14% and 13% of our net revenues in 2021. In 2020, one Semiconductor customer accounted for 11% of our net revenues.

Our business is not seasonal in nature, but is cyclical based on the capital equipment investment patterns of semiconductor manufacturers. These expenditure patterns are based on many factors, including capacity utilization, anticipated demand, the development of new technologies and global and regional economic conditions. Historically, these cycles typically last between 10-17 quarters, with each complete cycle made up of a contraction phase of about 4-6 quarters, followed by an expansion phase of roughly 6-11 quarters.

SALES AND MARKETING

Due to the highly technical nature of our products, we market our products primarily by direct customer contact through our sales personnel and through a network of domestic and international independent sales representatives and distributors that specialize in semiconductor equipment and supplies. Our promotional activities include direct sales contacts, participation in trade shows, advertising in trade magazines and digital marketing including website SEO and pay-per-click advertising. Our promotional activities include direct sales contacts, participation in trade shows, advertising in trade magazines and the distribution of product brochures.

We use a mix of direct sales, representatives and distributors globally. Manufacturer representatives provide sales coverage in specific geographic regions and are paid a commission when products are sold. Sales to distributors are generally on terms comparable to sales to end-user customers, as our distributors generally quote their customers

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after first obtaining a quote from us and have an order from the end-user before placing an order with us. Our sales to distributors are not contingent on their future sales and do not include a general right of return. Historically, returns have been rare. Distributors of our semiconductor equipment do not stock a significant amount of our products, as the inventory they hold is generally limited to parts needed to provide timely repairs to customers. Our manufacturer representatives and distributors are closely managed by our global sales team.

Historically, each of our segments have been responsible for their own sales and marketing activities, including managing sales personnel and representative and distributor relationships, however, as we continue to refocus and grow our organization, we are developing opportunities for increased collaboration and teamwork across our divisions. These cross-segment collaboration opportunities will continue to be a focus at all levels and departments of the organization, as we believe they can lead to greater efficiencies while reducing operating costs. These efforts are further coordinated by our Vice President of Sales and Customer Service, who oversees all sales and marketing activities at each division.

RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND ENGINEERING

The markets we serve are characterized by rapidly-evolving industry standards and technological change. To compete effectively, we must continually maintain or exceed the pace of such change by improving our products and our process technologies and by developing new technologies and products that are competitive based on price and performance. To assure that these technologies and products address current and future customer requirements, we obtain as much customer cooperation and input as possible, thus increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our research and development efforts. In addition, we look for strategic acquisitions, that will provide us with new technologies to compete effectively in the markets in which we operate.

RD&E expenses may vary from period to period depending on the engineering projects in process. Expenses related to engineers working on strategic projects or sustaining engineering projects are recorded in RD&E. However, from time to time we add functionality to our products or develop new products during engineering and manufacturing to fulfill specifications in a customer’s order, in which case the cost of development, along with other costs of the order, are charged to cost of goods sold. From time to time we add functionality to our products or develop new products during engineering and manufacturing to fulfill specifications in a customer’s order, in which case the cost of development, along with other costs of the order, are charged to cost of sales.

We periodically receive research grants for research and development of products, which are netted against our research, development and engineering costs. In 2021, 2020 and 2019, we recorded RD&E expense of $6.0 million, $3.3 million and $3.1 million, respectively. We plan to continue to develop new products and also to invest in upgrades to existing products to stay competitive in the markets we serve. We plan to continue to develop new products and also to invest in upgrades to existing product offerings to stay competitive in the markets we serve. As a result, we saw increased RD&E expenses in 2021 and expect to continue to increase our capital expenditures and RD&E expenses in fiscal 2022 and beyond for these upgrades as well as for the development of specific new products. As a result of these RD&E efforts, we expect to introduce several new products as well as upgraded products during fiscal 2022.

COMPETITION

We compete in several distinct equipment markets for semiconductor devices, semiconductor substrates, MEMS, semiconductor packaging, and electronics assembly, as well as the markets for supplies used in power semiconductor applications. Each of these markets is highly competitive. Our ability to compete depends on our ability to continually improve our products, processes and services, as well as our ability to develop new products that meet constantly evolving customer requirements. Significant competitive factors for succeeding in these markets include the product’s technical capability, productivity, cost-effectiveness, overall reliability, ease of use and maintenance, contamination and defect control and the level of technical service and support.

The Semiconductor and MEMS Markets. Equipment produced by our Semiconductor operating segment primarily competes with those produced by other original equipment manufacturers. Some of these manufacturers are well-established firms that are much larger and have substantially greater financial and other resources than we have with which to pursue development, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of their products. Additionally, these manufacturers may generally be better situated to withstand adverse economic or market conditions. Competitors of our horizontal diffusion furnaces include Centrotherm GmbH and CVD Equipment, Inc. Competitors of our horizontal diffusion furnaces include Centrotherm GmbH, Sandvik Thermal Process, Inc.

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Our principal competitors for printed circuit board assembly equipment and advanced semiconductor packaging vary by product application. The principal competitors for solder reflow systems are ITW/EAE Vitronics-Soltec, Heller, Folungwin, ERSA, Shenzhen JT Automation Equipment Co., Ltd. and Rehm. The principal competitors for advanced semiconductor packaging are ITW/EAE Vitronics-Soltec and Heller. Our in-line, controlled atmosphere furnaces compete primarily against products offered by Centrotherm and SierraTherm/Schmid Thermal Systems. We also face competition from emerging low-cost Asian manufacturers and other established European manufacturers.

Although price is a factor in buying decisions, we believe that technological leadership, process capability, throughput, safer designs, uptime, mean time-to-repair, cost of ownership and after-sale support have become increasingly important factors to purchasers of our products. As such, we believe we compete primarily on the basis of these criteria, rather than on the basis of price alone.

General Industrial Lapping and Polishing Machines, Supplies and Semiconductor Substrate Markets. Our Material and Substrate operating segment experiences price competition for wafer carriers from foreign manufacturers for which there is very little publicly available information. As a result, we are intensifying our efforts to reduce the cost of our carriers and will continue to compete with other manufacturers of carriers by continuing to update our product line to keep pace with the rapid changes in our customers’ requirements and by providing a high level of quality and customer service. We produce steel carriers, including insert carriers, on advanced laser-cutting tools, which reduces our costs and lead times and increases our control over quality. We produce steel carriers, including insert carriers, on advanced laser-cutting tools, which reduces 12 our costs and lead times and increases our control over quality. Competitors of our lapping and polishing machines and supplies include Lapmaster Wolters, Speedfam Co. Ltd., Hamai Co., Ltd., Onse, Inc. and Eminess Technologies, Inc. Our new single-sided polishing machine, to be introduced in fiscal 2022, will compete with products offered by Applied Materials, Inc. and Revasum, Inc. However, we believe the automation options available with our machine will differentiate our product from others in the market. Our strategy to enhance our sales of wafer carriers and templates includes developing new applications in close collaboration with our customers, continuous improvement to our existing products and providing a high level of customer support and products that deliver greater value to our customers. Our strategy to enhance our sales of wafer carriers and templates includes developing new applications in close collaboration with our customers, continuous improvement in our products and providing a high level of customer support and products that deliver greater value to our customers.

The competitive landscape in the substrate process chemical industry is varied, ranging from large multinational companies to small regional or regionally-focused companies. Intersurface Dynamics competes with much larger companies, such as Entegris, Inc. and Cabot. Our acquisition of Intersurface Dynamics coupled with PR Hoffman's product line allows us to be our customers' sole provider for their polishing processes, by providing the machinery, carriers, templates and slurry.

HUMAN CAPITAL

The Amtech Values

Amtech is focused on growth: company growth and employee growth. To encourage that growth, Amtech’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer developed Amtech’s core values, which are communicated to employees on a regular basis. These core values include the following:

360° Accountability – Hold yourself and others accountable, even if they are at levels above you in the organization; accountability is not one direction.

Trust in Each Other – We can be confident in our expectations of each other in terms of performance, commitment and follow-through.

Sense of Urgency – We perform our work each day with a sense of immediate action and speed, without sacrificing quality. We look for and resolve problems quickly and proactively.

Goal Oriented – Actions and work are driven by established goals, whether self-created or manager-driven.

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Amtech’s Employees

Our management seeks to align employment levels with the needs of the business. We believe we have the appropriate human capital resources to successfully operate and execute our strategy. As of September 30, 2021, we employed 296 people. EMPLOYEES As of September 30, 2020, we employed 296 people. We also employ individuals on a temporary full-time basis and use the services of contractors as necessary. Of our 296 total employees, 36% were engaged in manufacturing, 18% were engaged in sales and service, 15% were engaged in research, development and engineering, and 31% were engaged in other roles. Our employees were based out of the following locations:

Tempe, Arizona corporate offices — 8
Bethel, Connecticut manufacturing plant — 5
N. Billerica, Massachusetts manufacturing plant — 91
Carlisle, Pennsylvania manufacturing plant — 40
Shanghai, China manufacturing plant — 137
Other Asia-Pacific offices — 7
United Kingdom office — 8

Of the 40 people employed at our Carlisle, Pennsylvania facility, 18 were represented by the United Auto Workers Union - Local 1443. We have a three-year agreement with this union, which expires on September 30, 2022. We expect this agreement to be renewed prior to expiration. We have never experienced a work stoppage or strike, and other than employees at the Carlisle facility, no other employees are represented by a union. At select business units, we have hired certain highly specialized employees under employment contracts that specify a term of employment, pay and other benefits. We consider our employee relations to be good.

Talent Acquisition and Retention

The future growth and success of our company largely depends on our ability to attract, train and retain qualified professionals. As part of our effort to do so, we offer competitive rewards, compensation and benefits, including an employee equity award program, performance-based bonuses, health and wellness benefits, retirement benefits, flexible schedules and holiday and paid time off. We understand that effective compensation and benefits programs are important in retaining high-performing and qualified individuals. Management is currently working with a consulting firm to study the competitiveness of our compensation programs for non-executive employees relative to their roles and responsibilities and the geographies they work in. Additionally, we continue to assess our healthcare and retirement benefits each year in order to provide competitive benefits to our employees.

We know that retention of high-performing employees benefits us and our customers. We are committed to helping our employees develop in their careers and thrive within the company. Management provides regular performance reviews to ensure our employees are receiving timely and constructive feedback, as well as rewards based on their performance. These performance reviews also assess each employee’s performance as it relates to Amtech’s Values. We believe these programs and efforts contribute to attracting and retaining a talented and driven workforce.

Turnover

In 2021, our total employee turnover was 14.9%, of which approximately 75.0% was voluntary. Approximately 18.2% of voluntary turnover were employees that retired from the workforce. The average tenure of our employees is approximately 10.5 years and approximately 48.5% of our employees have been employed with us for more than 10 years.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Amtech is dedicated to building a diverse workforce, fostering a culture built on the principle of inclusion, and maintaining a workplace free from discrimination. We strongly believe that a diversity of experience, perspectives and backgrounds will lead to a better environment for our employees and better products and service for our customers.

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Amtech’s commitment to diversity covers our Board of Directors, our leadership team and all teams and functions across our global locations.

Health and Safety

It is our highest priority to keep our employees, customers and suppliers safe. We provide our employees with ongoing safety training to ensure safety policies and procedures are communicated and implemented in an effective and timely manner.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is and has been our top priority to protect the safety and well-being of our employees and their families, our customers and our communities. Our commitment to this was evidenced by our response to the pandemic. We implemented work-from-home options for all our office personnel, where possible, and added additional shifts to reduce personnel in the building. Additionally, at our facilities, we followed enhanced safety and health protocols, including performing health checks and temperature screenings, practicing social distancing, providing personal protective equipment and increasing facility cleanings.

PATENTS

The following table shows our material patents and the expiration date of each patent:

To our knowledge, there are currently no pending lawsuits against us regarding infringement of any existing patents or other intellectual property rights or any material unresolved claims made by third parties that allege we are infringing the intellectual property rights of such third parties.