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Camera module supplier Partron eyes record sales, considers affiliate IPO

Wider industry use of camera modules raises the need for an IPO of OPTIMECH for business expansion, CEO says

By Jun 04, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Workers at Partron's Vietnam plant 
Workers at Partron's Vietnam plant 

South Korea’s Partron Co., specialized in electronic parts for telecommunication devices, started as a mobile phone antenna maker in 2003 after spinning off from Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co.

The company has since grown its business by supplying camera modules to Samsung Electronics Co. for its Galaxy series of smartphones, which helped Partron to rise in status to an enterprise with 1 trillion won ($0.9 billion) in sales revenue in 2011.

With the adoption of camera modules spreading from smartphones to cars and other telecommunication devices, Partron is aggressively widening its business scope to various sensors with a plan to list its affiliate OPTIMECH Co. on the domestic market to raise money for expansion.

“Our automotive camera module business is growing rapidly while biometric and healthcare sensors begin to take off. We expect a record (business) earnings this year,” Chief Executive Kim Jong-koo said in a recent interview with The Korea Economic Daily.

According to analysts’ estimates, Partron is forecast to post 1.4 trillion won in revenue with an operating profit margin of 5% this year, as the company has started to supply camera modules for advanced driver-assistant systems (ADAS) to top Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Co.

In 2020, the company reported an operating profit of 41.9 billion won on revenue of 1.18 trillion won.

Kim, former vice president of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, said from the third quarter the company will widen the type of ADAS components it sells to include modules for surround-view cameras and rear parking sensors. It also plans to ship an increased volume of optical sensor modules for an unidentified US electric vehicle maker from June.

Partron CEO Kim Jong-koo
Partron CEO Kim Jong-koo

OPTIMECH IPO PLANNED FOR AUGUST

Increased sales of camera modules have also boosted sales at its subsidiary OPTIMECH, which produces LED products and electric actuators, used in image precision control applications.

OPTIMECH, which posted 7.7 billion won in operating profit on sales of 89.6 billion won in 2020, expects its revenue to grow above 100 billion won this year.

“We have pursued organic business growth for OPTIMECH. But the time has come for us to seek outside funds for expansion. We’re considering an initial public offering of the company in August,” CEO Kim said.

Kim said Partron’s next growth driver will be sensors.

The company currently makes various kinds of sensors, including fingerprint sensors, non-contact infrared temperature sensors, barometer sensors and PPG sensors, which can be applied to wearable devices such as smart bands, watches and mobile phones to measure the heart rate and oxygen saturation.

“We’re developing an automotive intelligent sensor module with a Korean company and a smart diaper for babies with an overseas company. Sensors have great growth potential,” he said.

A Samsung Electro-Mechanics camera module
A Samsung Electro-Mechanics camera module

Starting from the first quarter, Partron has also been supplying a US telecommunications company with a hotspot device, which allows people to access the Internet, typically using Wi-Fi, via a wireless local area network (WLAN).

Partron said it will raise the portion of 5G hotspot devices, priced at about $200 a unit or five times more expensive than 4G devices, from July.

Write to Byung-Keun Kim at Bk11@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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