Photronics Inventory: Time To Get Again In (NASDAQ:PLAB)

Oleh Stefaniak/iStock through Getty Photographs

Photronics (NASDAQ:PLAB) has see-sawed in 2022. The inventory has gone up and down this yr after a livid rally in direction of the top of final yr, which can have led some to the sidelines. Nevertheless, the inventory has now cooled off, which could not be such a nasty factor after the great run it had. Moreover, if fundamentals, valuations and charts are any indication, it might be time to get again in. Why will likely be coated subsequent.

PLAB is exhibiting power beneath

The tech sector has struggled in 2022, so it’s no shock for PLAB to get dragged alongside as a producer of built-in circuit or IC and flat panel show or FPD photomasks. The inventory is down 6.8% YTD in 2022. Nevertheless, the latest decline within the inventory comes after a yr wherein it appreciated by 68.9%, a lot of it coming within the final month of 2021.

Some consolidation after such a giant transfer was warranted. The chart under exhibits how PLAB has gone sideways in 2022 after hovering larger in direction of the top of 2021. Nevertheless, the final path of the inventory nonetheless appears to be pointing up. Declines are non permanent and it seems the inventory needs to maneuver up primarily based on the chart patterns.

PLAB chart


Furthermore, it’s value noting that PLAB has really outperformed in comparison with different semis and tech shares normally. For example, the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) has misplaced 12.7% YTD and the Invesco QQQ belief (QQQ) has misplaced 12% YTD. PLAB has finished higher as compared. This outperformance could possibly be seen as an indication of underlying power, a bullish sign for PLAB.

The inventory didn’t get hit as exhausting as another shares and it was faster to get again on its toes. The inventory was even capable of totally get better from its losses at one level. The worth motion factors to a degree of resilience in PLAB that would turn out to be useful in a market setting that has seen volatility rise for quite a few causes.

Why PLAB didn’t fall as a lot as different shares

The resilience of PLAB is because of a few causes. Not like different high-flying tech shares that acquired hit exhausting, PLAB by no means acquired to the purpose of buying and selling at lofty valuations. The desk under exhibits the multiples for PLAB. For example, PLAB has an enterprise worth of $1.07B, which is the same as 5.23 instances EBITDA on a trailing foundation and 4.06 instances EBITDA on a ahead foundation.

The steadiness sheet is wholesome and the inventory is valued at simply 1.27 instances guide worth. All numbers which are a lot decrease than the sector median. PLAB is comparatively low cost, particularly for a inventory that’s not that far faraway from its 52-week excessive, having gained 44.2% within the final 12 months.


Market cap


Enterprise worth


Income (“ttm”)




Trailing P/E


Ahead P/E


PEG ratio






EV/gross sales


Trailing EV/EBITDA




Supply: SeekingAlpha

Why PLAB has cause to be bullish

Multiples may go decrease if the inventory retains doing what it has been doing, which goes sideways although the corporate is rising at a fast tempo. Q1 FY2022 income, as an illustration, elevated by 24.8% YoY to $189.8M, the fourth consecutive quarter with income setting a brand new document. Internet revenue attributable to shareholders was $23M or $0.38 per share, a rise of 192% YoY.

Word that PLAB spent $3M on inventory buybacks in Q1 FY2022, $10M lower than in This fall FY2021 and Q1 FY2021, which makes earnings progress much more spectacular. Margins soared larger because of top-line progress, but additionally because of value changes. If the Q1 FY2022 numbers are any indication, then FY2022 is gearing as much as be the fifth consecutive yr of document income. The desk under exhibits the numbers for Q1 FY2022.


Q1 FY2022

This fall FY2021

Q1 FY2021









Gross margin






Working margin






Working revenue






Internet revenue attributable to Photronics shareholders












Supply: PLAB Kind 8-Okay

The desk under breaks down income by section. Income from IC photomask and FPD photomask had been each document highs at $129.8M and $60.1M respectively.

Q1 FY2022

This fall FY2021

Q1 FY2021



IC photomask


















FPD photomask


















Steerage requires Q2 FY2022 income of $188-196M, a rise of 20.2% YoY on the midpoint. The forecast expects EPS of $0.32-0.38, a rise of 105.9% YoY on the midpoint.


Q2 FY2022 (steerage)

Q2 FY2021

YoY (midpoint)





Working margin








PLAB has new monetary objectives

As well as, administration up to date its long-term goal mannequin. The previous mannequin from 2020 referred to as for gross margins within the mid to excessive 20s and working margin within the mid to excessive teenagers, which signify prior peaks. PLAB has surpassed these targets with its Q1 report, which suggests new targets are wanted. The brand new mannequin targets income of $850M, gross margin of 34-36%, working margin of 24-25% and EPS of $1.90-2.00. From the Q1 earnings name:

“So for our new long-term mannequin, we see gross margins reaching the mid-30s and working margin within the mid-20s. This enchancment in profitability ought to produce larger money flows and EPS, together with earnings approaching $2 per share and free money circulation of $200 million yearly, elevating the monetary profile of our enterprise and in the end creating better worth for our shareholders.”

A transcript of the Q1 FY2022 earnings name will be discovered right here.

Whereas steerage was restricted to Q2, PLAB did add some coloration as to what FY2022 is shaping as much as be like.

“We’re seeing an acceleration of the developments that drove and achieved document efficiency in 2021 and are assured that 2022 will likely be even higher for Photronics, our clients, our staff and our shareholders.”

Final yr was a superb one for PLAB and if administration is correct, then this yr will likely be even higher.

PLAB is just not good

PLAB has loads going for it, nevertheless it’s not with out flaws. The desk under breaks down income by geographic space. Whereas PLAB is energetic in a number of markets, a lot of PLAB’s latest progress is pushed by China. Income in that market grew by 19.9% QoQ and 118.9% YoY, surpassing all different markets.

Q1 FY2022 income

QoQ change

YoY change




























Supply: PLAB Kind 10-Q

This may be seen as each a superb factor and as a nasty factor. On the one hand, the numbers present that PLAB made the precise name with regard to China. Recall that PLAB determined a number of years in the past to deal with China, which required heavy investments. A number of spending affected profitability in previous quarters, however PLAB is now reaping the fruits of its labor and the sturdy progress is proof of it.

However, PLAB has change into very reliant on China for progress, which is probably not such a superb factor. If one thing had been to occur in China, PLAB stands to be impacted enormously. This might occur if the U.S. authorities imposes commerce sanctions on China, inflicting progress to drop. Different markets will not be increasing as quick, which suggests PLAB will likely be hard-pressed to continue to grow if China falters for no matter cause. This will change into an issue for PLAB sooner or later.

Investor takeaways

A earlier article concluded that the time had come for lengthy PLAB with the best way fundamentals, valuations and charts had been all arrange, although the inventory was struggling on the time. For example, the inventory was buying and selling under guide worth, which some individuals think about to be an indication of an undervalued inventory. Betting on PLAB turned out to be a clever transfer on the time with the inventory having appreciated by roughly a 3rd, even with the latest pullback within the inventory.

The inventory soared larger in December because of an impressive This fall report, which validated the bull case for PLAB. But an replace to the earlier article cautioned that the time had come to lock in earnings after the rally and with headwinds gathering power. Because it occurred, the inventory did go on to right, caught available in the market turmoil triggered primarily by a hawkish Fed and struggle in Europe.

These headwinds stay on the market. As well as, PLAB nonetheless faces the opportunity of having its entry to China curtailed due to commerce sanctions. As proven beforehand, China makes up an more and more bigger proportion of PLAB’s gross sales. Dropping entry to its quickest rising market would positively affect PLAB and never in a great way.

PLAB is just not with out dangers. The inventory market has change into a more durable setting in 2022 in comparison with say 2021. Given in the present day’s setting, it might not be uncommon for individuals to cross on the chance to guess on PLAB, regardless of how a lot it has going for it. Individuals might merely select to be cope with what they acquired after the late rally as a result of prevailing uncertainty available in the market and the dangers related to that.

I’m bullish PLAB nonetheless. There are dangers, however PLAB has managed to deal with them properly contemplating the circumstances. PLAB’s capacity to stay resilient within the face of adversity is an effective signal with headwinds not anticipated to go away anytime quickly. Earnings progress stays sturdy with EPS coming near tripling in the latest earnings report.

Market demand stays elevated in each the semiconductor and cellular show industries. PLAB stays comparatively cheap with multiples the place they’re. PLAB appears like an organization that’s within the early innings of an enlargement that has legs to it, as indicated by the newest monetary mannequin from PLAB. PLAB is just not a guess with out dangers and it might take some time earlier than there’s a reward, nevertheless it’s a guess value taking.

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