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Zeiss bounces back with record sales and profits

15 Dec 2021

Optics giant posts best-ever annual financial figures as investment in R&D effort continues to pay dividends.

Zeiss, the German company synonymous with quality optics, has posted sales revenues of €7.53 billion for the year ending September 30 - the highest total in its 175-year history, and a 20 per cent increase on the Covid-impacted prior year.

That boom in sales was reflected on the bottom line, with the Oberkochen-headquartered company delivering earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of €1.48 billion - up 60 per cent year-on-year.

CEO Karl Lamprecht, who took on the lead executive role just as the Covid-19 pandemic began, said of the record-breaking figures:

“While there is certainly room to improve in a number of areas, double-digit growth across all four Zeiss segments demonstrates that we are on the right path thanks to our balanced portfolio and our Zeiss Agenda.”

With the company now employing more than 35,000 people, and continuing to invest heavily in research and development activity, Zeiss also looks well set for the forthcoming year, with incoming orders totalling nearly €9 billion.

Innovation leap
Of those four business segments, semiconductor manufacturing technology (SMT) - including the giant reflective optics that are critical for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment - continues to lead the way.

The SMT division posted sales of €2.3 billion in the latest year, up 25 per cent on what was already a booming sector, and added 800 new employees to its staff roster.

Zeiss’ three other business units all posted strong year-on-year growth, with the consumer markets division rising fastest, up 27 per cent at €1.4 billion.

Writing in Zeiss’ annual report, Lamprecht noted: “The SMT segment that has enabled an innovation leap in the industry through its EUV technology is working at full speed, with orders simply streaming in."

“The Zeiss segments Industrial Quality & Research, Medical Technology and Consumer Markets are also reaping the benefits of increased demand, buoyed by the positive mood created by key customers.”

As the CEO points out, each of those business segments has now seen sales rebound to levels higher than pre-crisis figures.

“So, not only have we successfully navigated through the pandemic, we've actually emerged from it stronger than ever,” he wrote. “Another key growth driver has been our business in China, which has developed extremely well once again.”

While acknowledging uncertainty surrounding the latest phase of the pandemic amid the emergence of the Omicron variant, and the ongoing supply chain bottlenecks affecting global trade, Zeiss is expecting to post another rise in sales for the year ending September 2022.

That would partly result from new collaborations and acquisitions completed over the past year, for example the partnership focused on mobile imaging with Chinese smart phone maker Vivo.

The past 12 months has also seen Zeiss acquire a majority stake in scientific software firm Arivis, while more recently the deal to buy US-based Capture 3D will bolster the firm’s optical 3D metrology offering via its Industrial Quality & Research business unit.

“The Zeiss strategy is aligned with long-term megatrends such as digitalization, demographic change, and new mobility trends,” concluded the firm in its results announcement.

“The very good results achieved in the fiscal year show that all Zeiss segments are able to sustainably maintain their successful growth trajectories.”

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