Camera manufacturer Basler has reported 2017 sales of €150.2 million, up 54 per cent on 2016 sales.
It sold 430,000 camera units in 2017, up 66 per cent on the previous year, and saw growth in orders of 46 per cent to €153.6 million.
The Asia business generated the largest sales growth of 60 per cent. Within Asia, the regional markets in China and South Korea contributed most to the sales increase.
Incoming orders reached a record level of €60 million in the first quarter of 2017, representing an increase of approximately 260 per cent compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Measured in units, incoming orders rose almost three-fold.
Basler put the increase down to: a positive market development of the global capital goods industry in factory automation; a strong investment cycle of the Chinese and South Korean consumer goods industries in machinery and equipment for manufacturing mobile devices; and early order placements of around €10 million as an answer to the increased delivery times.
Basler said the large number of incoming orders in the first months of the financial year was a challenge for the company. Monthly production doubled during this period to almost maximum machine capacity.
However, the delivery situation was stabilised over the course of the second quarter of 2017, while during the third quarter, delivery times and order backlog returned to normal.
In order to prevent a bottleneck situation in the future, the production capacity in the camera assembly was expanded by almost 50 per cent and the personnel in the production area was increased and qualified in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Basler hired 68 new employees in the 2017 fiscal year. For 2018, the company plans to hire more than 100 new employees, mainly at the Ahrensburg location, as well as in Asia in order to lay the foundation for further growth in the upcoming years.
The sales revenues in Germany increased by 29 per cent; sales in the remaining EMEA region – Europe, Middle East and Africa – grew by 74 per cent, driven by business with major customers whose business benefited from the investment cycle in the Asian consumer electronic industry.
Sales revenues in America increased by 28 per cent.
As in 2016, the main driver of growth was the Ace camera family that showed an increase in sales by more than 71 per cent. In particular, the Ace models with Gigabit Ethernet and USB 3.0 interface largely contributed to the sales growth.
In order to support Basler’s growth strategy, Basler acquired embedded computing consultancy firm Mycable in June 2017. Basler said in its annual report that it relies on the embedded vision trend and assumes in the long run that the PC architecture in current vision systems will be substituted by embedded processor architectures. Its cameras are also now distributed by electronics giant Arrow Electronics
Basler’s pre-tax result was €29.8 million, up 161 per cent; the pre-tax rate of return was 19.8 per cent (previous year: 11.7 per cent). The net result per share increased from €2.45 to €6.74.
The cash flow from operational activity amounted to €28.4 million, up 76 per cent. The free cash flow, calculated as the difference between the cash flows from operational activity and investments, reached a value of €18.6 million (previous year: €8.1 million).
For the 2018 fiscal year the management board currently expects a slight one-digit market growth and sales revenues for the Basler group within a corridor of €145 million to €160 million.