Geo Week News

May 9, 2011

A good week for FARO

I’m guessing the mood in the FARO corporate offices is pretty upbeat these days. Last week, the company not only announced a 24 percent 1Q increase in sales and a net income growth of 57 percent, but it also announced it had won a patent battle in Massachusetts. Nice week!

First, the operating results. In addition to those numbers above, this is the real nut graph:

New order bookings for the first quarter of 2011 were $55.9 million, an increase of $16.1 million, or 40.5%, compared to $39.8 million in the first quarter of 2010. 

That means the numbers ought to get even better, and, yes, much of that new order volume is the new(ish) Focus3D laser scanner. At least so says CEO Jay Freeland:

“The success of the Focus 3D Laser Scanner, which we released in the fourth quarter of 2010, continued in the first quarter of 2011. As a result, we once again received more orders for the Focus during the quarter than in any prior full year for the previous generation Laser Scanners.” 

Whenever you get more orders for a product in a single quarter than you ever had in a full year, that’s a good quarter. I’m pretty sure. However, they do have a fulfillment problem of some sort. The anecdotal stories going around are that more than one person has plunked down the $40k for a scanner, but have yet to actually get their hands on one. Is it possible demand is actually outstripping even FARO’s very positive expectations? Is the laser scanner becoming even more mainstream than they predicted? That may well be the case. 

Good problem to have, though: Dang it, we just can’t make enough scanners!

As for the patent win, these are the details (you can read the full decision here):

FARO Technologies, Inc. announced today that the District Court of Massachusetts has ruled in its favor in its on-going patent dispute with Nikon Metrology after trial, finding that Nikon’s asserted U.S. Patent No. 6,611,617 (the ‘617 patent) is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct before the Patent Office. 

Basically, this relates to FARO’s Arm business, but as these arms get more flexible and popular, and produce ever more detailed point clouds, there’s going to start being more and more overlap between the professionals that are using arms and laser scanners. 

For example, “This claim allows a laser scanner-arm combination to correlate the scanner’s image data with position and orientation data retrieved from the arm.” As you’re collecting geo-referenced data from stationary small objects, it would be pretty cool if you could automatically place those objects in the larger building/city that you’ve already scanned with a full-blown laser scanner, no?

It will be interesting to see how manufacturers like FARO and Hexagon coordinate their metrology and laser scanning departments going forward. 


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