Posts Tagged ‘Sapphire Production Ramp’

According to the Engineering News-Record, the Mesa, AZ sapphire the majority of the project work has been completed and the project is finishing up now. The facility work began in November and was completed by 400 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 640, who worked double shifts for seven days a week to complete the project. Additionally, the article does reference that the Mesa site was declared a free-trade zone, which will eliminate the ability to track shipments coming out of Mesa through customs.

“They started back in November and have been working two shifts, seven days per week,” says Roy Hamilton, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 640. “We had about 400 members out there, but most of the work is finishing up now. The furnaces that melt the silicone and turn it into the sapphire glass need an enormous amount of electrical power, much more than the solar-panel process needs.” He adds, “SRP had to build two new switchyards for this project—that’s how much power it’s going to use.”

Apple says the Mesa project will create 1,300 construction jobs. The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters 469, Phoenix, says the fast-track job means work for 200 or more of its members for the rest of 2014. Work includes “installation of condenser water systems, chiller water systems and inert-gas systems [entailing] the use of 48-inch pipes down to six-inch pipes,” said a union spokesman.

In addition, the Mesa site was declared a free-trade zone, so goods can be shipped and received internationally without oversight from customs agents.

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by Matt Margolis

Analyst Stephen Chin from UBS, indicated in his April 29th report that his checks indicated that GTAT shipped out approximately 2,200kg of sapphire ingots to China to be processes into sapphire screens.  GT is currently recruiting for Inventory Control Analysts as evidenced by the company’s April 24, 2014 job posting on the company website.  Inventory control analysts typically monitor inventory (in this case sapphire) to ensure that levels of inventory are adequate as well as to monitor sale orders and overall production.  I spent some time in one of my previous “full-time” jobs, doing inventory audits and visiting various manufacturing locations.  It is very important to tag, monitor and count inventory levels.  Additionally, since GT is growing and accumulating massive amounts of sapphire inventory it is critical to understand expected deliveries as well as logistics.  Just like the UPS commercial, “What can brown do for you,? knowing your logistics is very important since Apple operates a just in time assembly process.  Apple’s just in time assembly process keeps carrying costs low and does not tie its precious cash by holding large amounts of inventory.

One interesting bullet point within the key duties and responsibilities section is the mention of “releasing and logging new part number releases”.  The key duties and responsibilities seem to indicate that GT will be producing multiple part numbers i.e. variations of cored sapphire inside the Mesa, AZ sapphire plant.  If GT is indeed coring ingots and shipping to China for processing this bullet point would likely indicate that GT is making sapphire for not just one Apple device but multiple Apple devices.  Any thoughts I have related to GT producing sapphire for multiple devices always forces me to revisit the 9 phases (sections) of the Mesa, AZ sapphire plant.  Is each phase in the Mesa sapphire facility dedicated to the production of sapphire for a specific Apple device?  What I can tell you is that Module 1 through Module 4 have been delivered to GT for possession based on my review of the issued permits and descriptions.

 

1.2.1       Phases. Landlord anticipates that it will deliver possession of the Premises to Tenant in multiple phases as each phase of the Premises (each, a “Phase”) becomes ready for delivery to Tenant.  As used in this Lease, the term “Current Demised Premises” shall mean, at any given time, the Premises or the Phase(s), and the portion of the Premises corresponding to such Phase(s), of which Tenant has accepted delivery in accordance with Section 1.4.  Exhibit C describes each of the nine (9) Phases of the Premises.  The Phases are designated on Exhibit C as “Phase 1”, “Phase 2”, “Phase 3”, “Phase 4”, “Phase 5”,”Phase 6”, “Phase A”, “Phase B” and “Phase C”.  Except as expressly set forth in Sections 1.2.2, 1.3 and 1.4, Landlord shall deliver each Phase of the Premises to Tenant in its then “as-is” condition without any representations or warranties regarding condition.

 

Inventory Control Analysts Key Duties and Responsibilities

  •  A dynamic individual that can interact with Engineering, Logistics, and Operations to ensure that the inventory counts and numbers are up-to-date and accurate to the best of their ability.
  • Maintain orders and inventory in SAP in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Maintain and distribute a real time order report.  Track inventory orders and report to management.
  • Modify as necessary.
  • Work with Operations Analyst to identify BOM changes and SAP part number changes that directly affect open and pending sales orders that directly affect inventory.
  • Work with Operations order team for releasing and logging new part number releases for engineering and operations in SAP.
  • May interact with Finance and Logistics to provide customer specific product information on Inventory related issues.

                         Inventory Control Analysts Required Skills

  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail. High level of accuracy is required.
  • Working knowledge of capital equipment production.  Strong familiarity with the sales order process in a production environment.  Clear understanding of part numbering systems, bills of materials, revision control, engineering interface and Logistics.
  • Competent user of SAP with strengths in order entry and sales order process.
  • Clear communicator that can address all management levels of the organization.
  • Strong computer skills capable of producing Excel spread sheets and reports that may be distributed widely.   Able to generate reports directly out of SAP.

by Matt Margolis

Apple submitted two applications to the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) No. 221 for approval.  Apple’s application for Sub Zone designation at the Apple/GT facility was submitted to the FTZ office on December 17th, 2013 and Apple’s application for “Interim” Production Notification Application was submitted to the FTZ office on December 30th, 2013.  The Interim Production Notification Application indicated that Apple had an aggressive go-live timeline of February 2014.  The Apple/GT facility was granted a temporary C-of-O (Certificate of Occupancy) to commence with occupancy and production of Quick Start 140 area on January 10th, 2014.  Quick start 140 was located in Module 1 of the Mesa facility and contained 140 “tools,” which are also know as sapphire growth furnaces.

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Apple’s application for Sub Zone 221 designation was submitted to the FTZ office on December 17th, 2013. The Apple/GT facility was formally granted Sub Zone approval on March 19th, 2014.  The Sub Zone approval was the final step required before Apple and GT could begin in earnest to manufacture intermediate components for consumer electronics for exports as indicated in their original Sub Zone application.

Apple Inc./GT Advanced Technologies Inc., Mesa, AZ, 221A, approved 3/19/2014 (S-5-2014)

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Another interesting fact to point out is the Master Development and SOW agreement between Apple and GTAT is that the agreement requires any additional furnace purchases, would be negotiated in good faith prior to the second Milestone Payment made under the Prepayment Agreement.  GT reported during their Q4 2013 conference call on February 24th, 2014 that they had received the second Milestone Payment from Apple.  The receipt of the second Milestone Payment from Apple signals that the furnaces that were required to be purchased and deployed as part of this agreement were all ordered on or before February 24th, 2014.

According to Port Authority records, sapphire growth furnace deliveries began heading to Mesa, AZ on December 2nd, 2013 and the last known delivery was recorded on March 10th, 2014.  I have tracked 1,265 furnace deliveries that have passed through Port Authority.  Additionally, any and all domestic furnaces that did not pass through Port Authority (i.e. truck) would not be caught in my sapphire furnace fishing net.

I have assumed GT deployed $251m of PPE ($180m) and Inventory ($71m), which would account for 837 additional furnaces inside Mesa giving me a total confirmed/estimated of 2,102 furnaces.  The book cost that GT assigned to each furnace that was deployed and taken out of inventory could be substantially lower than $300,000 per furnace.  If, GTAT’s price per furnace is actually $30,000 lower than my estimate it would add almost 100 furnaces to my estimate, conversely a $30,000 increase would decrease my estimate by 100 furnaces.

Based on my correspondence with a sapphire industry expert, GT had previously touted their ability to ramp up 500 furnaces per month at ASF equipment customer locations.  However, GT has already informed investors that they dedicated a vast majority of their ASF capacity to the Mesa, AZ sapphire effort, which would likely drive their drive GT’s maximum furnace ramp north of 500 furnaces per month.  Based on the furnace delivery dates and GT’s touted ability to ramp up efforts and focus on Mesa I’m becoming hard pressed NOT to believe that the Apple’s Mesa Sapphire plant WAS  likely operating at or near full capacity just days after the receiving the official unlimited go-live approval from the FTZ on March 19th, 2014.

 Tracked Furnace Deliveries and Estimated GTAT Furnace Deliveries

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My Estimated # of Furnaces Purchased/Deployed in Mesa, AZ

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Apple’s purchase of additional Furnaces and Similar Furnaces will be made under the terms of Apple’s Master Equipment Purchase Agreement (the “MEPA”).  Apple and GTAT will negotiate in good faith to execute the MEPA as soon as possible following the Effective Date, but in any event prior to the second Milestone Payment made under the Prepayment Agreement. Prepayment Agreement

 

We have dedicated the vast majority of our current ASF capacity to support this multi-year commitment.  This has limited our ability to take additional ASF business in the near term and has restricted our ability to ship backlog on short notice (GTAT Q3 2013 Prepared Remarks)

 

GTAT 2012 Presentation on their Sapphire Equipment

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Apple’s Entire “Interim” Production Notification Application is Below

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Full Disclosure: I am long GTAT and have no plans to buy or sell any holdings

 

According to GTAT’s latest SEC filing on 4/22/14, GT has received the 3rd prepayment from Apple, which leaves just one prepayment remaining. The final prepayment from Apple is expected to be received based on the agreed upon date in the prepayment agreement, which is not currently available to the public.

The Company and Apple entered into a Master Development and Supply Agreement and related Statement of Work (or the “MDSA”), pursuant to which we will supply sapphire material to Apple. In connection with this supply arrangement, we also entered into a Prepayment Agreement with Apple pursuant to which we will receive $578 million (the “Prepayment Amount”), in four separate installments, as payment in advance for the purchase of sapphire goods, of which $225 million was received in Fiscal 2013 and the second and third installment were received in 2014.

The expanded sapphire material operations are expected to generate a more stable revenue stream than the capital equipment business. This factor is expected to be beneficial to the long-term prospects and long-term value of the Company.

In order to prepare to meet the sapphire material supply obligations under the MDSA, management made a strategic decision to allocate much of its sapphire and other resources to the establishment of our expanded sapphire material operations. These decisions had a negative impact on the financial results for Fiscal 2013 as short-term revenue opportunities from equipment sales for the second-half of Fiscal 2013 had to be delayed in order to prepare to meet the sapphire material obligations to Apple. The Company’s Board of Directors supported this strategic decision of management and believes it will result in a more sustainable and value generating company.

The details available regarding the timing of prepayments between GTAT and Apple are below:

2. Prepayment.

(a) Subject to Sections 2(c) and (d) below, and provided that, at the time for each payment (i) no Trigger Event (as defined below) has occurred and (ii) there are no ongoing disputes under the Facility Lease Agreement which have a material impact on the use of the manufacturing facility to be located in Mesa, AZ that Apple is purchasing and developing (the “Mesa Facility”) for its intended purpose, Apple will make the Prepayment by remitting funds to an account designated by GTAT as follows (the “Milestone Payments”):

· $[***] within [***] Business Days after execution of all of the Transaction Documents;
· $[***] by close of business on [***];

[***] Portions of this exhibit have been redacted pursuant to a confidential treatment request. An unredacted version of this exhibit has been filed separately with the Commission

· $[***] by close of business on [***];
· $[***] by close of business on [***].

(b) The Prepayment proceeds shall be used exclusively to [***].