Kromek achieve strong revenue growth, up 16% to £12.1m

Kromek Group plc (LON:KMK), a leading developer of radiation and bio-detection technology solutions for the advanced imaging and CBRN detection segments, has announced its final results for the year ended 30 April 2022.

Financial Highlights

·      Revenue increased 16% to £12.1m (2021: £10.4m)

·      Gross margin was 46.7% (2021: 48.4%) ·      Adjusted EBITDA loss reduced to £1.2m (2021: £1.7m loss)*

·      Loss before tax reduced to £6.1m (2021: £6.3m loss)

·      Cash and cash equivalents at 30 April 2022 were £5.1m (30 April 2021: £15.6m)

*A reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA can be found in the Financial Review.

Operational Highlights

Advanced Imaging

·   Strong revenue growth with delivery under component supply agreements and increased customer engagement for future projects

·        Sustained delivery in medical imaging:   

o   Ramp up in delivery continued as planned under medical imaging contract expected to be worth US$58.1m over the seven-year life of the contract that was awarded in 2019

o   Completed delivery of a US$600k order from an OEM customer for detectors to be used in niche SPECT applications, with further orders expected

o   Commenced commercial development engagement with three new strategic OEM customers

·     In security screening, the Group completed a two-year US$1.6m project with the US Department of Homeland Security and entered two new commercial development engagements with OEMs

·    Signed a seven-year supply agreement, worth up to US$17m, in industrial screening with a US-based OEM and secured a US$250k repeat order from a US-based aerospace and defence company

CBRN Detection

·    Significant momentum in nuclear security, with the winning of new and repeat orders and participation in a greater number of tenders reflecting the growth in global government defence spending:

o   Awarded a two-year contract, worth up to US$1.6m, by a US federal entity for the D3S-ID wearable nuclear radiation detector – with a further US$300k order received during the year and US$695k post year end 

o   Repeat orders received from the European Commission for the D3S-ID

o   Received orders from three customers for the D5 RIID

o   A four-year contract worth £1.7m was received from a UK government agency customer for CBRN detection products and services

o   Invested in developing new channels to market, including the signing, post year end, of a distribution agreement with Smiths Detection Inc. for the North and South American markets

·      32 new customers won in the civil nuclear segment

·      Significant progress in the development of bio-security solutions:

o   Awarded a US$6m contract extension from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”), an agency of the US Department of Defense, to advance the development of a mobile wide-area bio-security system

o   Successfully completed piloting in schools, airports and other locations of an airborne COVID-19 detection system under a project funded by Innovate UK and commenced productisation phase

Procurement, Manufacturing and IP

·     Measures implemented to strengthen supply chain, including procurement team expansion and establishing strategic relationships with suppliers

·     Increased utilisation of expanded production capacity in the UK and US facilities following enhancement to manufacturing processes in the prior year

·      8 new patents were filed and 9 were granted during the year 

Dr Arnab Basu, CEO of Kromek, said: “We are pleased to report a year of good progress as we delivered on existing contracts and development programmes in both the advanced imaging and CBRN detection segments. Our revenues grew by 16% compared to the previous year as we saw increased commercial traction, particularly in the CBRN segment, and ended the year in a better position than we began it. 

“Looking ahead, we entered the new financial year with a higher order book than the previous year and the highest level of revenue visibility in our history. The current geopolitical environment is driving greater interest from government agencies for our CBRN family of products and in advanced imaging we are experiencing heightened engagement with OEMs due to our strategic position as the only commercial independent global supplier of CZT. Consequently, for FY 2023 we anticipate substantial year-on-year revenue growth and we look forward to the future with increased confidence.”

Operational Review

During the year to 30 April 2022, Kromek made good progress in both the advanced imaging and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) detection segments of the business. Kromek delivered on its existing contracts and development programmes, won new and repeat orders and experienced increased customer engagement regarding future contracts. This resulted in revenue for FY 2022 increasing by 16% over the previous year, with commercial momentum increasing throughout the year, particularly in the CBRN detection segment. The Group also continued to increase utilisation of the expanded production capacity that it had gained through the processes introduced in the previous year to optimise manufacturing across its facilities. Accordingly, and notwithstanding the impact of supply chain pressures as described further below, Kromek ended the year in a stronger position than it had entered it.           

Advanced Imaging Segment

The advanced imaging segment comprises the medical imaging, security screening and industrial screening markets. Kromek provides OEM customers with detector components, based on its core cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) platform, to enable better detection of diseases such as cancer and cardiac conditions, contamination in industrial manufacture and explosives in aviation settings.

In this segment, commercial engagement with customers consists of an initial design phase followed by incorporation of the Group’s detectors and technologies into a customer’s system and then the award of a multi-year supply contract, which provides long-term revenue visibility. The Group has an established track record of winning orders for development purposes that transition to multi-year supply contracts from customers in gamma probes, bone mineral densitometry (“BMD”) and single photon emission computed tomography (“SPECT”) in medical imaging as well as in security and industrial screening. This success is evidenced by the significant contracts awarded in H2 2019 in medical imaging and also in the year under review in industrial imaging, which are expected to be worth approximately US$58.1m and US$17m, respectively. As Kromek continues to win such contracts, its revenue base expands and the revenue profile becomes increasingly predictable.  

Kromek delivered strong growth in this segment compared with the 2021 financial year as the Group continued to deliver detector components to its customers under orders for development purposes and multi-year supply contracts. The Group also experienced greater customer engagement regarding future projects as normal business has resumed following the temporary redirection of resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical Imaging

In recent years, leading OEMs in medical imaging have been increasingly adopting CZT detector platforms as the enabling technology for their product roadmaps. The rate of new product introduction with this class of detector is increasing with both GE Healthcare and Siemens Healthineers introducing new products in their clinical SPECT and CT business in 2021. CZT detector platforms enable OEMs to significantly improve the quality of imaging, which leads to earlier and more reliable diagnosis of disease. Kromek’s CZT detector solutions are increasingly being commercially adopted for SPECT, molecular breast imaging (“MBI”) and BMD applications. These, along with computed tomography (“CT”), are key target areas for future growth as they address diseases particularly associated with an ageing population such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular illnesses and osteoporosis. Kromek also serves the gamma probes market in medical imaging, which are used during surgery for the removal of lymph nodes.

The Group continued to fulfil its existing supply orders in medical imaging and progress its development programmes. Delivery continued to ramp up as planned to a significant OEM customer that, in H2 2019, awarded a contract expected to be worth a minimum of US$58.1m over an approximately seven-year period. In addition, the Group continued delivery of a US$600k order received in H2 2021 from a different customer for the supply of detectors to be used in niche SPECT applications. This delivery was completed by the end of the 2021 calendar year as planned and the Group expects to continue the supply of detectors to this longstanding customer with new orders in the current year.

There was a significant increase in new business activity as the impact of the pandemic – which had caused a temporary redirection of resources in healthcare settings – continued to recede. This applied particularly in the Group’s key target areas of CT and SPECT, supported by the growing industry adoption of new techniques and rollout of new systems. The Group commenced commercial development engagement with three new strategic OEM customers in this market. These initial orders are for the supply of CZT-based detectors for use by the OEM customers in their commercial development programmes.

One of the Group’s US medical imaging customers received FDA approval for its system for a niche nuclear medical application, which is using Kromek’s detectors. The Group has received several orders from this customer, which the Group expects to continue on an ongoing basis.

Security Screening

In security screening, Kromek’s technologies are used in travel, primarily aviation, settings to enable its customers to meet the high-performance standards they require, and as demanded by regulatory bodies, to ensure passenger safety while increasing the convenience and efficiency of the security process. The Group provides OEM and government customers with components and systems for cabin and hold luggage scanning. 

During the year, the Group continued to deliver under its existing component supply agreements in the security screening market. In its development work, the Group completed a two-year US$1.6m project funded by the US Department of Homeland Security for a CZT detector platform for threat resolution for hold baggage, hand baggage and cargo screening systems. The Group expects commercial adoption and integration of this platform in multiple commercial advanced baggage screening products. The Group also entered two new commercial development engagements during the year to customise its detector solutions for incorporation into OEM customers’ systems. This development process has been completed with one of the customers and the customised detectors have been delivered to the customer, and the Group expects to receive further orders from this customer.

Industrial Screening

In industrial screening, Kromek provides OEM customers with detector components for incorporating into scanning systems used during manufacturing processes to identify potential contaminants. 

During the year, the Group signed a seven-year supply agreement, worth up to US$17m, to provide CZT-based detector components for incorporation into systems for identifying contaminants for the purpose of product quality inspection. The contract is with a US-based, sector-leading industrial OEM with a global customer base and was awarded following the completion of a two-year development programme. Initial delivery under this contract commenced during the year and is expected to ramp up in the current financial year.

Also, during the year, the Group was awarded a US$250k repeat order from a US-based customer that is a global leader in aerospace and defence technologies. The customer’s system, which incorporates Kromek detectors, is used for in-line quality control in manufacturing processes.

CBRN Detection Segment

In CBRN detection, Kromek provides nuclear radiation detection solutions to the global homeland defence and security market. Kromek’s compact, handheld, high-performance radiation detectors, based on advanced scintillation technology, are primarily used to protect critical infrastructure and urban environments from the threat of ‘dirty bombs’. The Group’s portfolio also includes a range of high-resolution detectors and measurement systems used for civil nuclear applications, primarily in nuclear power plants and research establishments. In addition, Kromek is developing bio-security solutions to detect a wide range of airborne pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).

The Group won new and repeat orders in the nuclear security and civil nuclear markets during the year and participated in an increasing number of tenders reflecting the growth in global government defence spending. With the current geo-political environment, the commercial momentum in this market increased during the fourth quarter and has remained high into the current financial year. Kromek also made significant progress with its development programmes in bio-security and anticipates early commercial deployment of its products in this segment during the current financial year. 

Nuclear Security

Kromek’s nuclear security platforms – D3S and D5 – consist of a family of products designed to cater for the varying demands of homeland security and defence markets. In particular, the D3S platform is widely deployed as a networked solution to protect cities, buildings or critical infrastructure against the threat of use of nuclear ‘dirty bombs’ by terrorists.

The Group was awarded a contract by a US federal entity for its D3S-ID wearable nuclear radiation detector that is designed to enable first responders, armed forces, border security and other CBRN experts to detect radiological threats. The contract will be delivered over two years and is worth up to US$1.6m. In the final quarter of the year, this customer made a repeat order worth US$300k and then a further order post year end of US$695k. The Group also continued to receive repeat orders from the European Commission for the D3S-ID.

During the year, the Group received orders from three customers for its D5 RIID high-performance radiation detector designed for challenging environments, which was launched in the previous year. This included an order worth £173k from an existing UK government agency customer and orders from two new customers. As further testament to the strength of both its solutions and long-term relationships, towards the end of the year, the UK government agency customer awarded a further four-year contract worth £1.7m for the provision of CBRN detection products and services. 

The Group has put significant effort into developing new channels in this market and are seeing increased traction for its products. This includes entering into an agreement, post year end, with Smiths Detection to market and distribute its D3 and D5 series of wearable radiation detectors and identification solutions to North and South American markets. The current geopolitical events have provided an increased emphasis for government spending in this segment as NATO countries are all increasing their defence budgets. The threat of a nuclear event is also at an all-time high since the end of the cold war. Kromek’s products provide best-in-class capability to provide early warning and mitigation capability in case of an event.

Civil Nuclear

In the civil nuclear market, the Group won 32 new customers during the year compared with 24 for 2021. Kromek continued its programme of work under a development and supply contract awarded in the previous financial year, worth a minimum of US$960k, which is for a product with both nuclear security and civil nuclear applications. The project is progressing on schedule, with the development work being completed by the end of calendar year 2021 and the product is now in the validation phase ahead of the commencement of supply, which is expected to start in the current financial year.  

Biological-Threat Detection

Kromek is developing bio-security solutions consisting of fully automated and autonomous systems to detect a wide range of airborne pathogens using genomic sequencing for the purposes of national security and protecting public health. Since H2 2019, the Group has been working with DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense, to develop a biological-threat detection system that autonomously senses, analyses and identifies airborne pathogens. The programme was established to combat bioterrorism and is now also aimed at providing an early warning system in the event of a virus outbreak to enable action to be taken to localise the spread and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or global pandemic. The Group is also working under a programme funded by Innovate UK, which commenced in 2021, to develop a bio-security solution to support end-use cases specifically for COVID-19 detection.

During the year, Kromek continued to deliver on the development milestones under its programme with DARPA and received a US$6m contract for the next phase. The programme is for the development of a completely automated wide spectrum airborne pathogen detection system that is fully mobile and runs autonomously. It is being designed to be networkable and provide wide-area monitoring capability in near real-time. To date, the Group have been awarded a total of over US$13m by DARPA under this programme.

Several successful pilots were carried out for the fully automated genomic sequencing platform in the UK and US. During the year the Group published a white paper outlining the challenges the world faces from the emergence of natural and synthetic pathogens. The main recommendations of the white paper include the implementation of a national network of automated genomic sequencing systems. These systems can provide an early warning alert for the emergence and understanding of the prevalence of pathogens in the environment, and this has been fed into a government consultation process led by the Cabinet Office, which is aimed at forming a national strategy for bio resilience and bio security for the UK. The initial findings are very well aligned to the Group’s platform, and it continues to work with multiple government agencies to define use cases and widescale implementation opportunities.

Under Kromek’s programme funded by Innovate UK to develop a solution for airborne COVID-19 detection, it successfully completed piloting of the system at several sites, including schools, airports and other locations. The solution is now in the productisation phase, with a manufacturing partner having been identified and a number of pre-production models also having been produced. Further, the Group engaged in validation of the technology in third-party laboratories with very positive results on the detection levels, sensitivity and false alarm rates.

Procurement

As previously stated, growth was impeded during the year by supply chain pressures, particularly global electronic component shortages. Specifically, the late arrival of certain components prevented the completion of orders totalling approximately £2.9m that were scheduled to be delivered before the year end. These orders have now begun to be shipped and the revenue is expected to be largely recognised in the first half of the current financial year.

Several steps were taken during the year to strengthen Kromek’s supply chain so that the Group is better positioned to be able to manage such pressures going forward. As discussed in the Chief Financial Officer’s Review, inventories increased with components being sourced when available rather than in accordance with what had previously been the normal supply lead times. The Group bolstered its procurement team during the year and have transitioned buying cycles to accommodate the current longer lead supply times. This has significantly helped management, enabling greater visibility over orders. In addition, Kromek has widened and strengthened its supplier base through establishing an increased number of strategic, rather than transactional, relationships with key suppliers.

R&D, IP and Manufacturing

Kromek continues to ramp up several projects that commenced in 2021 for the expansion of production capacity and increased process automation. These programmes are resulting in greater productivity and cost efficiency in the manufacture of CZT and non-CZT products in both the Group’s UK and US facilities.

Kromek is focused on developing the next generation of products for commercial application in its core markets. As noted, during the year the Group continued to advance development programmes with a number of partners and, in particular, significantly progressed the development of its biological-threat detection solution.

During the year, the Group applied for 8 new patents and had 9 patents granted across three patent families, bringing the total number of patents held by Kromek to in excess of 250. The new applications cover innovations in both of Kromek’s segments.

Financial Review

Revenue

The Group generated total revenue of £12.1m (2021: £10.4m), an increase of 16% over the prior year. However, growth was impeded, as noted above, by global supply chain issues. The split between product sales and revenue from R&D contracts is detailed in the table below.

Revenue Mix2022
£’000
2022
% share
2021
£’000
2021
% share
Product9,93582%5,83656%
R&D2,12018%4,51644%
Total12,055 10,352 

Gross Margin

Gross profit at £5.6m (2021: £5.0m) represented a margin of 46.8% (2021: 48.4%). The slight reduction in gross margin is attributable to the change in revenue mix and the increase in component prices due to supply chain pressures.

Administration Costs

Administration costs and operating expenses increased by £1.3m to £12.2m (2021: £10.9m). This increase is substantially the net result of:

·      £0.2m of amortisation due to continued investment in the technology platform and product applications;

·      £0.5m bad debt expense having assessed receivables at the year end for expected credit losses;

·      a £0.2m increase in travel and subsistence due to the global relaxation of travel restrictions;

·      a £0.5m increase in staff costs due to general salary increases and the planned expansion of personnel to support the biological detection project; and

·      savings of £0.1m relating to facility and general office expenses.

Adjusted EBITDA* and Result from Operations

Adjusted EBITDA for 2022 was a loss of £1.2m compared with a loss of £1.7m for the prior year as set out in the table below:

20222021
£’000£’000
Revenue12,05510,352
Gross profit5,6365,006
Gross margin (%)46.7%48.4%
Loss before tax(6,129)(6,331)
EBITDA Adjustments: 
Net interest548546
Depreciation of PPE and right-of-use assets1,7511,685
Amortisation2,5692,359
Share-based payments236106
Exceptional Item(132)(52)
Adjusted EBITDA*(1,157)(1,687)

*Adjusted EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, amortisation, exceptional items, early settlement discounts and share-based payments. Share-based payments are added back when calculating the Group’s adjusted EBITDA as this is currently an expense with no direct cash impact on financial performance. Adjusted EBITDA is considered a key metric to the users of the financial statements as it represents a useful milestone that is reflective of the performance of the business resulting from movements in revenue, gross margin and the costs of the business.

The Group’s loss before tax was reduced to £6.1m compared with £6.3m in the prior year. The improvement is primarily due to the increase in gross profit and higher other operating income as described below, partially offset by the increase in operating costs.

During 2022, the Group recognised a gain of £2.1m (2021: £2.0m loss) in the statement of other comprehensive income that arose from foreign exchange differences on the translation of foreign operations as described in note 2 to the financial statements. This gain has been treated as a reserve movement, consistent with the prior year. This accounting treatment is unlike the £0.2m foreign exchange loss arising on the revaluation and realisation of working capital balances that were expensed to the profit and loss account during the year.

Tax

The Group continues to benefit from the UK Research and Development Tax Credit regime as it invests in developments of technology. The Group recorded an R&D credit of £0.9m for the year (2021: £1.0m credit) arising from the option of surrendering tax losses in the year that qualify for cash credit, rather than carrying forward the tax losses to set against future taxable profits. The Group’s deferred tax provision for the year remained static at £nil (2021: £nil) due to the distribution of losses between the UK and US operations, and accordingly there was a total tax credit to the income statement for the Group of £1.2m (2021: £1.0m credit).

Earnings per Share (“EPS”)

The EPS is recorded in the year on a basic and diluted basis as 1.1p loss per share (2021: 1.5p loss per share after excluding exceptional items), reflecting the £0.4m reduction in loss for the period.

R&D

The Group invested £5.6m in the year (2021: £5.5m) in technology and product developments that were capitalised on the balance sheet, reflecting the continuing investment in new products, applications and platforms for the future growth of the business. This expenditure was capitalised in accordance with IAS38 to the extent that it related to projects in the later stage (development phase) of the project lifecycle.

The Group continues to advance its development roadmap in relation to the automated wide-area detection of biological and viral pathogens, involving portable DNA sequencing. It is the Board’s belief that this technology platform, which enables the identification of COVID-19 and other biological pathogens, offers significant medium-term opportunities for the Group in this critical market.

The other key areas of development continue to be the development and expansion of the D5 suite of products and the SPECT platforms. All such investments in research and development are linked to contract deliverables and, in the Board’s belief, add to the significant future revenue opportunities that the Group’s technology offers. The Group continues to undertake this investment to strengthen its commercial advantage. 

During the year, the Group undertook expenditure on patents and trademarks of £0.2m (2021: £0.2m) with 8 new patents filed and 9 patents granted across 3 patent families.  

Other Income

The Group generated total other operating income of £1.4m (2021: £0.4m), which predominantly comprises the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP) loans in the US. The Group had been granted PPP loans totalling US$1.8m (£1.4m) in the prior year and, during the period under review, applied for, and received, forgiveness for repayment from the US Government. In the prior year period, £0.3m of the £0.4m of other operating income comprised UK Government grants in response to COVID-19. The balance of remaining other operating income relates to grants received from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provided by the UK Government in response to COVID-19’s economic impact on businesses and other small miscellaneous grants. 

Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure in the year amounted to £0.7m (2021: £0.5m), which primarily relates to modest capital expenditure across lab and computer equipment and manufacturing projects.

Financing Activities

The Group’s US operations secured an Economic Injury Disaster Loan of £0.4m in August 2021.

Cash Balance

Cash and cash equivalents were £5.1m as of 30 April 2022 (30 April 2021: £15.6m). The £10.5m decrease in cash during 2022 was primarily due to the combination of the following:

·     Adjusted EBITDA loss for the year of £1.2m, which includes the PPP loan forgiveness of £1.4m

·     Net cash used in financing activities of £1.6m

·     A net increase in working capital of £4.8m

·     R&D tax receipts of £1.3m

·     Investment in product development and other intangibles, with capitalised development costs of £5.6m and IP additions of £0.2m

·     Capital expenditure of £0.7m

·     Impact of foreign exchange of £1.0m

Working capital increased by £4.8m as a result of the following:

·     A £4.3m increase in inventories held on 30 April 2022 to £10.5m (30 April 2021: £6.2m). This increase was primarily in order to secure surety of critical electronic components for delivery of FY 2023 revenues in response to supply chain pressures. As such, the Group sourced component inventory when available, rather than in accordance with normal supply lead times. There was significant component price inflation caused by the constrained market supply, which also contributed to the increased spend on inventories;

·     £0.2m decrease in trade and other receivables, reflecting the timing of receipts; and

·     a £1.7m increase in trade and other payables to £8.9m (2021: £7.2m) due to the timing of invoicing around the year end.

Outlook

Kromek has had a positive start to the new financial year with a significantly larger order book than at the same point last year and the highest level of revenue visibility in its history. The Group has excellent visibility over full year revenue forecasts with approximately 53% of its forecast revenue contracted, 37% going through contract negotiation and the remaining 10% expected to be provided by its regular repeat order business.

As a result, the Group anticipates a substantial year-on-year increase in revenue, in line with market expectations, with accelerated growth in both its advanced imaging and CBRN detection segments.

The anticipated growth is based on delivery under existing long-term contracts, new orders won last year and the sustained demand being received for Kromek’s products. In particular, the current geopolitical environment is driving increased interest from government agencies in Kromek’s products in the CBRN detection segment. In advanced imaging, Kromek’s CZT-based products continue to be in high demand from both existing and new OEM customers.

The Group continues to maintain tight cost control, improve collections and manage cash flow. The Group is also effectively managing its supply chain and the current challenges around obtaining critical components. The high revenue visibility for the current year means the Group can manage its inventories efficiently and avoid potential delays in the delivery of orders.

Looking further ahead, Kromek is operating in multiple substantial markets where its technology enables the Group’s advanced imaging customers to differentiate their products, forming an important part of the roadmap of major OEMs, and allowing its CBRN detection customers to enhance national defence. The demand for technology that enables early medical diagnosis to improve patient outcomes and government vigilance to the threat of terrorism will continue. In addition, its strategic position in the advanced imaging segment was significantly strengthened during the year with Kromek becoming the only commercial independent global supplier of CZT. Consequently, the Board continues to look to the future with great confidence.     

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