The ZEISS Group had a successful end to the first six months of fiscal year 2018/19 (ended 31 March 2019) and saw its revenue rise by 9 percent to EUR 3.019 billion (1st six months of 2017/18: EUR 2.773 billion). 90 percent of this sum was generated by markets outside Germany. At EUR 443 million, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were significantly higher than the previous year (EUR 380 million). The EBIT margin rose to 14.7 percent and incoming orders hit EUR 3.161 billion (1st six months of 2017/18: EUR 2.839 billion).
“We believe the positive development during the first six months of the year can be attributed to our successful innovation activities, the consistent alignment of our portfolio with global megatrends and our focus on the most attractive and most dynamic future markets,” says Prof. Dr. Michael Kaschke, ZEISS President and CEO, adding: “This has allowed us to achieve stronger growth than our relevant markets in almost all areas.”
The Industrial Quality & Research (IQR) segment held its own thanks to its innovations and the integration of acquisitions – both in industrial quality inspection and microscopy solutions for research. As part of its growth strategy, ZEISS is acquiring highly innovative solutions, technologies and companies, which can unlock their full potential as part of the ZEISS Group. One example is the recent acquisition of GOM (Germany), a leading provider of hardware and software for automated 3D coordinate measuring technology. Furthermore, the majority stake in Bosello High Technology (Italy) concluded in the previous year nicely supplements the industrial X-ray systems portfolio.
Thanks to a host of product innovations, the Medical Technology (MED) segment was able to expand its market position in the highly competitive healthcare markets, especially Europe and Asia. ZEISS’ acquisition of IanTECH (USA) in October 2018 saw the addition of a new specialist for micro-interventional cataract surgery that enhances the ZEISS portfolio with its systems and consumables.
In the Consumer Markets (COM) segment, the Vision Care strategic business unit in particular utilized the growth opportunities offered by dynamic economies like China and Brazil and successfully expanded its market position. Business with professional movie and camera lenses is also showing an upward trend.
Despite a generally more cautious and less consistent development in the semiconductor industry, the SMT segment achieved healthy growth, due in particular to the latest generation of EUV lithography optics, whose revenue has now grown to a rather considerable size.
Free cash flow amounted to EUR 341 million (1st half of 2017/18: EUR 349 million). With a total of EUR 3.879 billion, the company’s equity rose by 3 percent over the end-of-year figure for fiscal year 2017/18 (30 September 2018: EUR 3.763 billion).
ZEISS stepped up its investments in research and development in the first half of fiscal year 2018/19 by around 8 percent to EUR 322 million (1st half of 2017/18: EUR 298 million).
Investments in property, plant and equipment amounted to EUR 133 million in the reporting period (1st half of 2017/18: EUR 115 million) as compared to depreciations totaling EUR 105 million (1st half of 2017/18: EUR 77 million).
Net liquidity totaled EUR 2,071 million on 31 March 2019.
Particularly strong business development in Asia and in our key European markets contributed to positive regional growth.
“Considerable investments in research and development, the modernization and expansion of our company and, of course, in our workforce, have strengthened our innovative power and thus made us more successful,” says Dr. Christian Müller, Chief Financial Officer of Carl Zeiss AG. “Today, we generate almost half of our revenue with products that are less than three years old,” says Müller, commenting on the 42 percent increase in the new product rate.
At the end of the first six months of the year (31 March 2019), ZEISS had a global workforce of 30,475 employees. Its headcount thus increased by 8 percent as compared to 31 March 2018. 708 new employees were hired in Germany alone. Further recruitment is planned particularly in Research and Development, and in Sales and Service in Germany and in Asia.
Outlook: Strengthening resilience to achieve lasting, additional growth
The majority of forecasts indicate that economic growth is weakening globally. At the same time, ZEISS is experiencing considerably greater competitive pressure in many relevant markets. Nevertheless, it is well-equipped for the future thanks to its strong market position and many strategic investments in innovations: “We are using the ZEISS Agenda 2020 to further enhance our competitiveness and resilience in order to generate solid and profitable growth in a potentially fraught economic climate,” says Kaschke. “We are delighted with the successful developments of recent years and with the results of the first half of 2018/19. We will certainly not rest on our laurels but continue to press ahead.” For this fiscal year, ZEISS predicts revenue of over EUR 6 billion and a similar EBIT margin to the previous year.