The ZEISS Group is continuing its growth trajectory. In fiscal year 2017/18 (ended on 30 September 2018), the company achieved record-breaking revenue and earnings: revenue increased by 9% to EUR 5.817 billion (previous year: EUR 5.348 billion). After currency adjustments, revenue rose by 12%. With earnings, it was possible to fully compensate for the unfavourable currency effects. Thus, at EUR 772 million, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were slightly higher than the previous year (EUR 770 million). The EBIT margin was 13%. Order intake increased by 7%, totalling EUR 6.046 billion.
“All ZEISS segments and regions contributed to this outstanding result. Our innovative products for the semiconductor industry and medical technology in particular ensured significantly greater, above-market growth dynamics,” says Prof. Dr. Michael Kaschke, President & CEO of ZEISS. “We have a strong, future-proof portfolio and impress our customers with leading high-tech solutions, a comprehensive service offering and a strong brand.”
All four segments made positive contributions to the ZEISS Group’s earnings, but the development dynamics varied: the Industrial Quality & Research segment, comprising metrology and microscopy solutions, continued to benefit from the stable demand for measuring technology in the automotive sector. This, in turn, compensated for the weaker development in the microscopy business. In spite of considerable negative currency effects, the Medical Technology segment proved the growth driver in the direct business and, thanks to product innovations, held its own against strong competition from the US and Japan. The Consumer Markets segment, comprising the Vision Care and Consumer Products strategic business units, grew at an above-market rate in nearly all markets with ZEISS brand eyeglass lenses – especially in China, Brazil and other emerging economies, but also in Europe. The camera lens business, however, did not meet expectations due to the broad negative market trends for photography. Significant investments in research and technology and increased capacities enabled the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment to realize very strong growth of over 25%.
In 2017/18, the ZEISS Group generated approximately 90% of its revenue outside Germany. Once again, the dynamically developing economies in the APAC region in particular contributed to this positive development. Direct business in China has grown by 21%, superseding Germany as the company’s second-largest sales market after the US. ZEISS was able to continue growing in the EMEA region with a 4% increase in revenue. Posting 5% growth, the optics company again enjoyed positive gains in the Americas region.
The 16% increase in expenditures for research and development is a particularly strong indicator of the company’s investment strategy: in fiscal year 2017/18, these totalled EUR 642 million (2016/17: EUR 552 million). During the reporting period, the investments in property, plant and equipment increased significantly to EUR 244 million (2016/17: EUR 183 million), as compared to depreciations totalling EUR 164 million (2016/17: EUR 160 million). “Our strategic investment strategy focused on continuity is the foundation for the ZEISS Group’s future growth,” says Dr. Christian Müller, who became Chief Financial Officer and Member of the Executive Board on 1 October 2018. “We are not only investing in technology and infrastructure at our existing sites worldwide, but are also progressively increasing our presence at new centres for high technology and digital innovation in Karlsruhe, Munich and Shanghai.”
The acquisitions completed during the previous fiscal year included Bosello High Technology, a solutions provider for industrial X-ray systems, and Guardus, a software provider for production analysis and control. In October 2018, ZEISS announced that it had purchased IanTECH, which specializes in micro-interventional cataract surgery. “We have made targeted acquisitions in highly innovative solutions and companies that will reach their full potential as part of our portfolio,” says Kaschke, explaining the M&A strategy.
On 30 September 2018, net liquidity totalled EUR 2,120 million, which was EUR 134 million higher than at the end of fiscal year 2016/17. This liquidity ensures sufficient flexibility for strategic acquisitions and investments.
Free cash flow amounted to EUR 752 million (2016/17: EUR 658 million). Equity rose by 10% to EUR 3,763 million (30 September 2017: EUR 3,429 million).
A proposal will be made at the Annual General Meeting of Carl Zeiss AG to pay a dividend of EUR 54.3 million to the Carl Zeiss Foundation, the sole stockholder of the foundation company Carl Zeiss AG. Established in 1889, it is not only one of the oldest private foundations in Germany, but also one of the largest foundations committed to the promotion of science.
The number of employees worldwide increased by 9%. Due to the personnel requirements at Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology, the headcount increase occurred primarily in Germany, with over 700 new employees hired. On 30 September 2018, ZEISS had a global workforce of around 30,000 employees. As in previous years, employees shared in the company’s success.
“The positive development in fiscal year 2017/18 confirms that we are on the right track with our corporate strategy, the ZEISS Agenda 2020. This agenda focuses on our customers’ success as well as on market-shaping innovations, investments and improving our competitiveness,” says Kaschke, summing up the fiscal year.
Currently, economic growth is slowing in developed and emerging economies, while additional trade barriers increase the risks of global trade. With its corporate strategy, the ZEISS Agenda 2020, ZEISS is well-equipped to respond to these events and continue the company’s dynamic growth trajectory: “Even if, in light of the economic forecast, momentum in the segments and regions will vary, we anticipate continued organic growth overall with a stable EBIT margin. With our consistent focus on innovations, investments and expansion, we have our sights set squarely on our goal of achieving six billion in revenue,” says Kaschke, looking ahead to fiscal year 2018/19. “The growth drivers are the company’s high-tech solutions, which will play an important role in all key future trends – from digitalization and Smart Production to health care in an aging society.”
With innovations like ZEISS VISUFIT 1000, a platform launched in 2018 for the digital capture of centration data, the company is focusing on future trends – from digitalization and Smart Production to health care in an aging society. Good vision requires more than just the right prescription eyeglass lenses. These must also be properly centred in the frames. ZEISS VISUFIT 1000 helps ZEISS eye care professionals provide glasses precisely matched to the wearer’s needs.