Thursday, August 8, 2013

Good results from Basler

It’s good to see German camera-maker Basler doing well. There was a period when their results were kind of flat, but that’s certainly not been the case in 2013. In fact, with sales up 28% to €32.2m at the half and earnings up 77% you could say business is booming. The only fly in the ointment would seem to be the cash flow, down 30%. But as that probably stems from the sales growth I doubt it’s really a problem (in my unqualified opinion anyway.)

As for why business is so good, well Basler management points to three factors: strong demand for GigE cameras, growth in Asia, and a pruning of end-of-life models. I’d suggest there’s a fourth factor at work too. Now they’ve got out of the “Solutions” business they’re able to focus just on making cameras.

There were a couple of other points in the reports that I’d like to share. R&D spend was up 7%, but actually fell as a percentage of sales. I can understand a reluctance to twist the R&D tap based on just six months of sales, but assuming the volume of business remains stable, or even continues to grow, I would hope to see more R&D investment in 2014.

And second, a comment I found interesting was, “… we see our expectations confirmed predicting that GigE Vision and USB3 Vision will be the dominant interface technologies for industrial cameras in the years to come.”

I would agree that GigE has clearly become the default choice and has left FireWire for dead, but USB3? Personally, I think the jury is still out. I’m not even sure if there’s room for two “mainstream” interfaces. Isn’t that just going to create additional complexity and cost?

But leaving that debate for another time, it’s good to see Basler looking healthy. It bodes well for our industry.

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