The global coronavirus pandemic presented ATS with a highly uncertain environment at the start of fiscal 2021. The health, safety and mental wellness of our employees was our first priority. At the same time, we realized that our work and commitment to innovation, continuous improvement and quality were still very much needed, as never before, to help our customers continue operating and get their critical products to market. I am incredibly proud of how our ATS leaders stepped up to care for our people, who in turn took care of our customers.
Across the Company, we adopted critical new health and safety practices such as physical distancing, remote work and flexible schedules to keep employees safe. Travel restrictions and temporary closures at some customer sites disrupted our after-sales services and project installation activities and added costs to some projects – but our business leaders and employees adapted and found creative ways to overcome pandemic-related obstacles. You can read some of these stories on page 10.
ATS was built on finding solutions to manufacturing problems. Pandemic or not, our customers still needed us – and in life sciences, their needs were urgent. Our customers provide cancer and diabetes treatments and other critical medicines and devices. ATS employees rose to the occasion – even though half of our people were working from home. Our teams persevered by switching to digital tools, collaborating across regions and businesses, and pushing themselves to find new ways to meet high standards and expectations.
Through COVID-19, we proved the strength of our recent business transformation and business model, with its focus on realigning to strategic and growing markets, and maintaining decentralized operations. Those decisions stood us in good stead through the early choppy waters of fiscal 2021.
Strong Fiscal 2021 Financial Performance
After a challenging start to our fiscal year brought on by the pandemic, including some delayed and cancelled orders, our business rebounded nicely over the balance of the year. Full-year results were strong overall and ATS continued to drive value for shareholders. Our fiscal 2021 revenues, at $1.4 billion, were in line with those of the previous year, and the fiscal fourth quarter marked a return to positive organic revenue growth. We continued to drive margin expansion, in line with our long-term plan.
We ended the year with record Order Bookings of $1.6 billion, a healthy Order Backlog of $1.2 billion and a significant funnel of future opportunities.
Our life sciences results were strong, driven by traditional and COVID-19-related opportunities. This business continued to account for more than half of ATS revenues. Revenues and Order Bookings in consumer products and energy also bounced back in the second half of the year.
Deploying Capital with Discipline
ATS continues to allocate capital where it will deliver the best results – to areas that are strategic to our long-term business.
During the year, we adjusted our transportation business by divesting and closing non-strategic facilities and small branch offices to help mitigate a downturn in transportation markets and sharpen our focus on electric vehicles. We were pleased that our EV expertise was recognized with a $60 million Order Booking in April 2020 and another large award in March 2021, to design, build and install battery assembly systems for global auto manufacturers.
We also continued to pursue strategic acquisitions and added two new businesses to the ATS family, strengthening and diversifying our portfolio.
- We acquired Parma, Italy-based CFT S.p.A, a global supplier of processing and packaging automation equipment for the food and beverage sector, in March 2021. CFT complements our MARCO acquisition of the previous year and is an important step in expanding in the highly regulated food and beverage equipment market.
- Inimco CV, located in Temse, Belgium, became part of our Process Automation Solutions subsidiary. Inimco offers digital knowledge, resources and solutions for the process and manufacturing industry. It helps customers gain insights into their machine and productivity data and improve efficiency. We see great opportunity in combining digitalization (collecting, storing, analyzing data) with our expertise in custom automation to remove manufacturing bottlenecks for customers.
After fiscal year-end, we acquired California-based BioDot Inc., which expands our life sciences capabilities in precise, lowvolume fluid dispensing systems. BioDot’s dispensing and lab automation products enable its customers to manufacture billions of test devices annually. As with our other additions, it will open doors to new and growing markets and add diversity to our portfolio.
Generating Value with ABM
The ATS Business Model, which we call ABM, is our playbook for pursuing innovation and operating improvements. With people, process and performance at its core, the ABM is a repeatable model. As we build a global leader through internal growth and strategic acquisitions, ABM acts as our common language, helping us to integrate new businesses and helping new employees to understand our culture.
This year, we switched to virtual and digital Kaizen and innovation events, and found the benefits generally outweighed the drawbacks of not being able to meet in person.
ABM is in its fourth year. While we have accomplished much already, there are meaningful improvements to come as we expand the focus to commercial practices and processes.
Our culture and innovation mindset helped us to support customers with a range of challenges during the year. For example, the ATS Life Sciences team dramatically accelerated development of automation systems for a U.S. client so it could produce high volumes of COVID-19 rapid test kits in a very tight time period. Processes that would normally take more than 40 weeks were streamlined. We successfully completed the project in 14 weeks! This was a great example of ABM and Kaizen principles in action.
We are not out of the pandemic yet. Our world remains very dynamic. I am confident that with our experienced leadership, highly skilled employees and sound strategy, ATS is well positioned to benefit from major global tailwinds. These include:
- Companies seeking the benefits of automation, including higher quality and throughput, labour cost savings and the ability to meet stringent regulations;
- Customers seeking to mitigate supply chain risks by strategically scaling or relocating manufacturing globally;
- The electrification of vehicles; and
- Nuclear power plant refurbishment and decommissioning.
After this momentous year, I want to thank all of our leaders and employees for your commitment and positive attitude, and thank our customers for the trust you place in ATS. As I write, COVID-19 vaccinations continue to trend upward and with the rebound in business at year-end, I am excited to move Forward Together as we build, grow and expand ATS.