Monday, November 11, 2013

Are good results from Basler bad news?

Camera-maker Basler is having a good year. With nine months gone revenue is running 17% above the same period in 2012, at €49.1m. Much of the growth is coming from Asia, which now accounts for over 40% of sales, although the quarterly report also speaks of market share gains in Europe and North America.

One of the numbers I like to watch is R&D spend, and that grew 8% to €6.7m. That’s a healthy number, although it represents a cut of 1% as a percentage of sales. Of course it takes time to ramp up R&D effort, so maybe we’ll see that change in 2014.

The problem is certainly not that management is recruitment-averse. Headcount is up 14% to 330, so they’ve certainly been bringing in more people. I suspect though that these are sales, production and distribution folks rather than the harder-to-find camera development boffins.

And that raises my final point for today. Is the machine vision industry going to reach a point where lack of skilled people constrains growth? The Basler numbers suggest to me that might be on the horizon.

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