Thursday, December 1, 2011

Machine vision acquisitions news

PPT Vision, despite being a pioneer in the machine vision field, has been struggling for a long time. It’s probably good news then that a White Knight, in the form of Datalogic S.p.A. of Italy has ridden to their rescue.

According to the press release on the Datalogic website, they are paying $5.2m for a business with revenues of $6m. That ratio – 86% of revenue – tells us that PPT was not doing well, despite their market reputation, an enviable patent portfolio, and a recently rejuvenated product line-up.

But what does this move tell us about the state of the machine vision industry?

Well to answer that. Let’s take a look first at Datalogic. This is a company with 2010 revenues of €393m (around $515m), making them bigger than Cognex, that is concentrated in code marking and scanning, with related ventures in machine vision (using rebranded products, I believe,) and vision-based retail loss prevention (Evolution Robotics.)

The PPT acquisition comes hot on the heels of Datalogic’s deal to buy code printing and reading company Accu-Sort for $135m (147% of revenues.) (Press release here.) Clearly then, as the Italians say in the PPT announcement, they see “interesting growth prospects” in machine vision.


Well, Datalogic are now going head-to-head with Microscan in the code reading and machine vision field. It also means that Cognex is no longer the undisputed heavyweight champion, though their profitability and cash reserves are second-to-none.

Will this prompt a further urge to merge? In the machine vision camera world we’ve already seen AVT parent Augusta snapping up manufacturers with complementary product portfolios, and then there was Dalsa’s acquisition by Teledyne, so I think the answer is yes, expect more mergers and acquisitions.

As for me, I’m going to start a vision company and then sell out to one of these big players.

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