Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Strong results from Basler

The camera manufacturer from Ahrensburg, Germany, had an excellent third quarter, with revenue (turnover) up 23% and positive cash flow, but is everything as rosy as it seems?

Breaking down the figures, all the growth has come from the “Solutions” side of the business. (This is the group that supplies complete inspection systems to the solar panel, flat screen, optical media and rubber seal industries.) What’s more, strong sales of the surveillance cameras would imply that their core machine vision business – products like the Pilot and Scout GigE cameras – is at best, flat.

Looking forward, Basler comment that orders are not coming in at the rate they were earlier in the year: the rise of the dollar has helped US sales but Asian markets in particular are slow. In addition, the flat screen market, which exhibits dramatic swings in demand, appears to be turning down.

So what does all this mean? Clearly, the full year 2008 results will be good, but it looks as though 2009 will be a struggle. Should Basler be searching for a new strategy, or are they on the right path but just facing difficult conditions?

Growing the “Solutions” line has put Basler in the capital equipment business, and that’s notoriously cyclical. But most observers agree that surveillance is a major growth area for machine vision, so perhaps that’s where future cash flow will come from. And where does that leave the machine vision products? The series of recent new product launches suggests they’re not about to abandon that market, so could Basler be spreading themselves a little too thin?

No comments: