Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Basler financials for 2011

German camera-maker Basler published their 2011 results at the end of March. I didn’t spot any surprises in the lengthy report, although it’s interesting to see how they see the machine vision industry changing in the years ahead.

But before talking about the future, a quick recap of the past: Revenues for 2011 were up 8% to €55.1m ($72m) and while EBITDA was down slightly, cash flow improved, showing that management seems to have a grip of the fundamentals. Employee numbers and R&D spending also grew slightly, although the latter remains fixed at 12.9% of revenue.

But as I’m not a stockholder I’m more interested in the trends Basler sees in machine vision. In the meaty annual report they look at the camera market in two ways – split into high, mid and low-end segments, and by end application.

Noting that volumes of high-end cameras, (defined as those costing more than €1,500 each (around $2,000),) will remain low, Basler envisage future growth coming from the mid and low-end of the market.

I say that’s all very well, but I suspect margins are tighter on those products. If Basler wants to prosper they need to look at maximizing manufacturing efficiencies.

In terms of end application, factory applications are currently the single biggest market. Basler seems to expect that market to be relatively static but expects growth in the surveillance, medical and traffic areas. Regular readers of this blog will know that for many months I’ve been pointing to the first and third of these as where the action will be in the years ahead. Medical I didn’t see as such a growth area, so that’s an interesting point to note. I suppose though it depends on how one defines “medical”. If pharma falls under that heading it’s less surprising.

The bottom line: a solid set of results and a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2012. Nothing wrong with that.

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