ALLCASTLE PRINCETON + Physical Security Industry

Will Economic Setbacks Reduce Business Opportunities in the Security Industry?

This time last year economic indicators took a hit with major concerns about the need for countries within the Euro Zone to cut back on public expenditure; in order to repay their massive debts. Whilst this did have an effect on demand for security equipment it was marginal and the fragile recovery in the economy has limped on in the last 9 months. But recent events in Greece, Portugal and Ireland would suggest that that the bail outs have not worked and they are likely to default on the loan repayments. This has both extinguished any recovery in these markets and has taken its toll in other weak economies in Europe. It will have an adverse impact on world trade. Stock markets across the world have significantly marked down share prices and the buoyant forecasts of economic growth made some 5 months ago are being revised.

However the emerging markets of China, India and Brazil have so far not been affected. For some years financial markets have turned tail at the mere hint of bad news and have exaggerated the possible consequences; but by the same token the upswing also responds as rapidly. The facts and statistics shown in this month’s Executive Brief do not flag up any serious adverse trends that will reduce the opportunity to grow the security business in the near term of the next 6 months, but they do suggest that there is less confidence and a hint of caution in the air.

Our figures for the first quarter of this year showed that consolidation had slowed down significantly with the number of acquisitions down by 20% on the same period of 2017. The last 2 months have seen a significant recovery, Tyco claim they are about to close a $110m deal, there is serious talk about Securitas and Niscayah making a reunion and the possibility that Cisco will put Linksys on the block reach fruition, then we will be on track to beat the 2017 record for value of deals exceeding $7.98billion.

Investment for the first 5 months of the year is marginally up on the same period of 2017 but much of this is the result of arranging new lines of credit. There appears to be little change in the area of venture capital funding.

The most encouraging feature of the business is reflected in the financial performance of security players. The 4th Quarter 2017 and 1st Quarter 2018 financial announcements made recently show for the most part revenues and profitability well up on the same quarter of 2017; and the full year outperforming 2017. With almost all anticipating improved trading conditions in 2018, it looks as though revenues and profitability will improve on 2017.

The star performers in 2017 include Axis Communications, Mobotix, Basler, Authentec and Bio-Key, despite the fact that their 4th quarter was well down on 2017. These companies are very specialist and perform in the high growth areas of the business and / or strong in geographic markets that performed well in 2017. They are all companies that spend on product development in the high tech areas of IP Networking.

Similarly the world’s major security companies such as Tyco, Honeywell, Schneider and Siemens all increased both profitability and growth, they are bullish about 2018. Cooper Industries and Ingersoll Rand likewise also increased their growth and profitability, whist Bosch returned to profitability on increased sales.

With trading conditions looking buoyant in some geographic regions and the drivers that accelerated consolidation and investment in 2017 still well in place we expect that the slowdown of acquisitions and stagnation in funding in the first 5 months of 2018 does not indicate in anyway a correction but is just a short term deviation. 1 major acquisition would bring consolidation well back on track.

So despite economic setbacks we expect the market to continue to flourish in the high technology areas of the security business particularly where IT Convergence can deliver better returns on investment. Working the emerging markets and the US with emphasis on some vertical markets will produce the best results whilst mainstream and low tech business will continue to reduce its share of the business.

Authentec, Axis Communications, Basler, Bio-Key, Mobotix, and more:

Will Economic Setbacks Reduce Business Opportunities in the Security Industry? + Physical Security Industry