The few publicly listed US machine vision companies have started publishing their 2012 results, and the Europeans follow in a month’s time, so as the next few weeks roll by I’ll be taking a look at what kind of year these companies had.
We start today with Teledyne, parent of camera-maker Dalsa. Since 2010 Dalsa has been wrapped in to Teledyne’s Digital Imaging group, which includes some smaller companies making IR sensors and LIDAR systems. Overall, Teledyne’s 2012 results tell us little about the machine vision business, because Dalsa is only about 10% of total revenues, but we can extract a few numbers.
First off, the fourth quarter was not a happy one, with a $10.2m increase in Digital Imaging revenues being attributed to a $12.8m gain attributed to newly-acquired Optech. In other words, when comparing apples-to-apples, sales were slightly down.
That’s consistent with information put out by the AIA and others suggesting buyers held back at the end of 2012. What’s interesting though is the growth in Digital Imaging profit, which more than doubled in the fourth quarter versus the same period in ’11. I think this tells us there’s been some cost-cutting going on. Problem is, we don’t know where.
And the outlook for 2013? Assuming those sales deferred from Q4 ’12 come in during Q1 ’13, I think this promises to be a good year. The bigger question might be whether Dalsa’s success can be sustained in the face of continued cost-cutting. I shall be watching Teledyne’s stock (NYSE:TDY) closely, but in the long run, might Basler, as the only other volume linescan camera manufacturer, be the better investment?