2017: A Good Year for ATE

Test equipment sales were up, and so were the share prices of ATE stocks.


The rising revenue enjoyed by automatic test equipment vendors in 2017 translated into soaring stock prices for some publicly held companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 25% for 2017.

Advantest’s shares traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange had a 2017 low of 1,787 yen (about $15.85 at the year-end currency exchange rate) and a 52-week high of 2,698 yen ($23.92), up 51% from the low point. The stock finished the year at 2,091 yen ($18.54). Advantest’s over-the-counter shares traded in the U.S. were about that level at year-end, carrying a price of $18.46.

Teradyne’s shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, ranged between $25.24 and $44.63 during 2017, a difference of nearly 77%. The stock finished the year at $41.87, 6% lower than the peak price.

Xcerra’s stock, traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, closed the year at $9.79 a share, below the $10.25 a share that Hubei Xinyan Equity Investment Partnership and China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund have agreed to pay for all of Xcerra’s shares, in a transaction valued at about $580 million. The deal has been delayed due to continued consideration by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Regulators in China, the U.S. and other countries must give their approval, as well.

Over the past 52 weeks, Xcerra shares have traded between $7.21 and $10.15, a difference of 40.8%.

Meanwhile, Cohu finished 2017 at $21.95 a share, also trading on NASDAQ GS. During the year just past, Cohu shares basically doubled in price, from a low of $12.64 to a high of $26.17.

Astronics Corp., the parent company of Astronics Test Systems, had a heady year on NASDAQ GS, trading between $23.95 and $44.19 during 2017. The stock finished 2017 at $41.47.

In 2017, inTEST also had a good year for its shares, more than doubling in price at one point.

TER, for Teradyne, could be the bellwether ATE stock for many investors. It is one of the largest ATE suppliers in the world, chiefly competing with Advantest in that market. Based in North Reading, Mass., a Boston suburb, the company got nearly half of its annual sales in Taiwan and China during the three years from 2014 through 2016.

According to the company’s most recent proxy statement, BlackRock owned 8.6% of Teradyne’s shares. Baillie Gifford & Co. held 8.26% of the company’s stock, while The Vanguard Group had an equity stake of 7.92% and Ameriprise Financial owned 5.32%. Regulatory filings show BlackRock has since increased its ownership to 10.3% of Teradyne’s shares, while Baillie Gifford reduced its stake to 4.59%.

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