Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sailing into the wind

Every thirteen weeks we get a chance to see how the economic winds are affecting the machine vision world, and it’s that time again. The season of third quarter financial results is upon us, with Cognex reporting on October 29th and Dalsa on the 30th.

The two companies serve somewhat different markets: Cognex makes it’s money in ‘smart’ cameras and code readers while Dalsa, in addition to mid-to-high end cameras, framegrabbers and software, makes CCD chips and still has a toe in the digital cinema industry (although not for much longer.) So what conclusions, can we draw from their respective performances?

First, let’s summarize their results.

For Cognex Q3 was down on Q2, but year-to-date revenue is up 19% over the same period in 2007, with income, thanks to a tax adjustment, up 77%. Comparing third quarters, revenue in Q3’08 was about 15% up on the same period in ’07. In other words, a good performance, but perhaps not as strong as we’ve come to expect.

Dalsa are also having a good year, but unlike Cognex, the third quarter of ’08 has been excellent. Year-to-date revenue is up 22% over the same period in ’07, while Q3 ’08 is up 34% on the same period last year. Wisely, Dalsa are getting out of the digital cinema business where they were struggling to make money, so that’s doubtless going to improve prospects for 2009.

And our conclusions? Well it appears the machine vision industry is sailing in to something of a headwind, but nothing too serious. It might be enough to slow things down a little but the growth drivers are still there. Manufacturing companies need to protect their customers from defective products and know they can’t rely on human visual inspection. It’s too expensive and too error-prone. What’s more the manufacturers want process monitoring and control to help avoid waste. In short, the future still looks good for machine vision, even if cutbacks in expenditures mean a slowdown over the next few months.

1 comment:

WurstUndVision said...

Though it's buried in their news release, it seems National Instuments also posted *record* machine vision revenue in Q3.

I would think their new smartcameras have something to do with that, or maybe the industry is less affected by the slowdown that many have thought.