Geo Week News

March 2, 2011

The 4Q financials are in, and they look pretty good

While public companies aren’t always the best bellwethers for an emerging industry, as they’re pressured to perform to margins that start-ups aren’t worried about, it can at least be interesting to watch financial results and see if they jibe with an impression of the market and look for signs that good or bad times will continue. 

In the 3D imaging space, the signs are looking good, if results from Autodesk, FARO, Creaform, Trimble and others are to be believed. 

First up, Autodesk, our software big daddy. They had what they’re terming a “strong fourth quarter.” The specifics? A 16 percent growth in revenue year-over-year, and an 11 percent revenue growth over 3Q 2011. Even better, cash flow was up 40 percent over last year, and 54 percent over last quarter. 

Here’s what the CEO had to say:

“We closed the year with solid momentum and double-digit quarterly revenue growth in all of our geographies and all of our business segments,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO. “We’re seeing a global increase in demand for 3D design, engineering, and entertainment tools. Demand for our Inventor software helped deliver record quarterly revenue in our Manufacturing segment, and record quarterly sales of our Revit family of products led to strong growth in our Architecture, Engineering and Construction segment.” 

Am I the only one liking that he singled out manufacturing and AEC? Hopefully that’s not all greenfield design and there’s an element of capture in there, whether it’s reverse-engineering or scan-to-BIM or scanning for better understanding of space as you’re bringing in new machines and materials for that manufacturing. Hard to know. But certainly a good sign. 

Next up is FARO. They’re pretty happy with their fourth quarter and 2010 as a whole, as well. Sales in the fourth quarter grew 27 percent year-over-year, up to $58.5 million, and sales for the year were up even more: 29.9 percent (let’s just call that up 30 percent, shall we?). 

Oh, and the company turned a net profit of $11.1 million vs. losing $10.6 million last year. 

Vacations in Tahiti for everyone!

But let’s see what president and CEO Jay Freeland had to say about it:

“The fourth quarter was extremely strong for us, a significant accomplishment compared to the fourth quarter of 2009 when sales started to improve,” stated Jay Freeland, FARO’s President and CEO. “Asia continued its rapid expansion, growing sales 43% in the fourth quarter and more than 50% for the year. We finished 2010 with approximately $23 million in backlog, our highest level ever, providing a solid foundation for the first quarter of 2011. Finally, the launch of the new Focus 3D Laser Scanner exceeded our expectations. Orders for the Focus in the fourth quarter of 2010 were substantially higher than any total year for the previous laser scanner models. We believe this reflects the disruptive nature of this product, with its cutting edge performance and market-leading size, weight, ease of use and price.” 

Sales of the new Focus 3D “exceeded our expectations.” And they were pretty high to start with. Orders for the Focus were “substantially higher” than for any of the company’s previous scanners. Now that may be because the previous scanners didn’t sell all that well, and there’s no doubt the exceeding of expectations could just be spin-babble for the press release, but that can’t exactly be seen as a BAD sign for the market, no can it?

Then there is Creaform, a 3D engineering services and scanner manufacturing firm that has been acquisitive this year. They’re still small, reporting $27.3 million in sales for 2011, but they’re growing pretty fast – up 25 percent over 2010, with a 4Q that’s 49 percent up year-over-year. They make hand-held scanners – they scan the small stuff, mostly – but I’d argue that hand-held scanners are great forerunners for long-range scanners. If people get the concept in a small package, they’ll be able to extrapolate out to how the long-range scanning of the big stuff might be helpful. It’s about mainstreaming the idea of 3D data acquisition, more than it is about evangelizing the particular flavors of the technology. 

Finally, there’s Trimble, which doesn’t break out its laser-scanning piece very clearly that I can find, but which also is rebounding nicely from the recession. Its fourth quarter revenue was up 17 percent year-over-year, with operating income up 52 percent, and operating margin up to 6 percent, from 4.6 last year. 

For 2010 as a whole, Trimble logged $1.3 billion in revenue, up 15 percent over 2009. And net income was $199.5 million, up 63 percent. Like I said, nice recovery. 

The geospatial products (mobile scanning and aerial lidar, plus scanning software) and Power, Process, and Plant products (laser scanners) are housed in the Engineering and Construction division, as far as I can tell, and that portion of the company was up 19 percent year-over-year, and up 24 percent for the year. How much of that revenue was made up by the 3D data acquisition? It’s hard to say, but it’s at least not dragging the division down in the dumps. The segment as a whole grabbed $719.1 million in revenue, more than half the company’s total. 

Unfortunately, I can’t find a quote from the CEO talking about how the laser scanning portion of the company is kicking ass, but if I find one, I’ll let you know. 

All of this might have you interested, actually, in the SPAR 3D Index that we’re still in the testing stages of. Check it out here (and on our home page, kind of). We’ve picked 20 companies in the 3D scanning biz (plus a couple end users who are 3D imaging disciples (which kind of skews the results) and are tracking their performance on the stock markets. Thus far, it’s up, up, up since December. Hopefully, that trend continues.

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