Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Economic indicators for the machine vision world

It’s third quarter reporting time here in the US, which means I like to see how the leading machine vision companies are faring. Sadly, Cognex is the only publicly-quoted pure vision company: for the others we have to extract what little is made known in their reports and investor conferences.

Two companies with a foot in the machine vision world reported recently: Teledyne and FLIR Systems.

On Teledyne Dalsa…

Using the “Seeking Alpha” financial blog, I learnt that Teledyne are pleased with how “Sales of sensors and cameras for machine vision and medical application increased nicely compared to last year as did sales of infrared sensors and cameras for commercial and scientific applications.”

Answering questions from the investor community, Chair, President and CEO Robert Mehrabian also said, “We think Digital Imaging will grow maybe 3% to 5% in Q4 versus the prior year and Q3. Most of that should come in our DALSA visible camera businesses. We have -- we're doing reasonably well in flat-panel display inspections. As you may know, we make somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 cameras in DALSA annually, and that business has picked up, especially in Asia Pacific.”

So that sounds pretty positive.

FLIR Systems

This is the other company I’ve started watching. Though not strictly in the machine vision world, they do make and sell sophisticated imaging equipment that gets used in industrial inspection applications.

They’re pretty down about reduced government spending, but CEO Andy Teich did say, “The Commercial Systems division increased revenue 17% versus the third quarter of 2012, with all 3 geographic regions posting positive growth for the first time in 2 years.”

Commercial Systems Division President Tom Surran added, “The thermography line of business grew revenue for the first time since Q1 2012 with all 3 geographic regions posting positive growth.” He went on to comment, “Excluding orders received from government-funded OEM customers, Commercial Systems bookings increased 8% organically year-over-year.”

Looking to the fourth quarter, Tom also said regarding their thermography business, “We will have a strong fourth quarter relative to the quarters so far this year.”

So what’s Brian’s take on all this? Basically, the machine vision business is healthy and growing at a steady click. It’s a good time to be in machine vision.

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