Thursday, March 28, 2013

Basler’s 2012 results

There are two dominant camera makers in Germany. Allied Vision Technology, (AVT,) which acts like the brash young upstart, and Basler, who I’d characterize as the cautious and methodical wise old man. I reported on AVT’s 2012 results back on March 20th, (“Machine vision financials”) and now we have those from Basler.

I’m not going to weigh one against the other, but you might be interested in my take on some of the details.

First the overview: revenue (sales) and income (profit) were pretty much unchanged from 2011. What did change though were headcount (up by 23,) and R&D spend, up nearly 17% to €8.3m, or 14.8% of revenue. Those extra heads probably went in to several areas, but I’m guessing the majority found their way into R&D.

What did they find to do there? Well German financial reports are models of transparency, so Basler tell us. The big development efforts in 2012 were: adding USB3 to the ace camera family, creating a high speed ace, and working on the racer linescan camera.

The ace is positioned at the intersection of what Basler consider the low-end and mainstream markets where the average selling prices are €250 and €500 respectively. It would seem then that the ace is expected to be their bread and butter for the next few years, contributing the lion’s share to revenue and income.

A couple of other points to share. First, the results for the “Solutions” business are no longer separated out. Instead, there are several comments about how Basler will be purely a camera-maker. So I guess if anyone was interested in their seal inspection business, this would be a good time to signal your interest.

Second, the year end market capitalization was around €45m. That strikes me as low for a profitable, cash-generating business with annual revenues of €55m. Maybe it’s because the Basler family still retains majority control, and maybe it’s also why there’s bullish talk of growing 10% in 2013, even though overall economic growth is pegged at a more modest 2 – 3%.

I’m no stock analyst, but I’m thinking Basler warrants a cautious “Buy”. How ‘bout you?

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