It's a black and white world for Zebra Technologies, which makes devices for printing and reading the barcodes affixed to just about anything for sale. The company designs and sells printing devices that print labels, plastic cards, tickets, and receipts. The company also makes equipment to read barcodes with its acquisition of Motorola Solutions in 2014. Its Zebra Location Solutions unit provides asset tags, call tags, sensors, exciters, and software -- all of which use passive radio-frequency identification (RFID) to help companies track and manage assets. Zebra Technologies serves government customers and many corporate clients in industries ranging from health care to manufacturing to retail.
Zebra Technologies is an industry leader in bar code, card, kiosk, and RFID printers. They are used to make custom bar-code labels, RFID smart labels, driver's licenses, national ID cards, employee ID badges, ATM and credit cards, and gift cards. With the Motorola acquisition, Zebra Technologies also makes makes rugged mobile computers, tablets, and, of course, barcode scanners. The Zebra Technologies products accounted for 71% of revenue in 2014 with the new Enterprise segment (the former Motorola operations) accounting for 29%.
The company's hardware products generate three-quarters of Zebra's sales, with 16% coming from supplies, 10% from service and software.
The company outsources its manufacturing capabilities to a contract manufacturer, Jabil Circuit, and its plants in China.
Zebra Technologies maintains offices in almost 20 countries, with primary manufacturing, warehousing, and administrative facilities located in China, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, the UK, and the US. In addition, it provides depot repair services from facilities located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UK, and the US. The mobile computing and data capture products are made in facilities Brazil, Israel, Mexico, and China.
Sales and Marketing
With products used in more than 100 countries, Zebra Technologies generates about 55% of sales from customers outside the US.
Its printer products are sold through distributors, value-added resellers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The company sells more than 50 different types of thermal printer models with numerous variations, including desktop printers, mobile printers, kiosk and ticket printers, and card printers.
In 2014, the company's sales zoomed 60% higher to $1.6 billion from $1.04 billion in 2013. Profits, however, tumbled 75% for the year to $32 million. The Motorola assets and those of Hart Systems, acquired in 2013, helped top line growth. Healthy sales of printers and supplies also contributed. Profit took a hit from higher operating costs associated with the acquisitions. Cash flow from operations were $248 million in 2014, up from $197 million in 2013.
The acquisition of Motorola Solutions is a big part of Zebra Technologies' strategy. It adds technologies, products, and customers that should strengthen Zebra Technologies.
The company seeks to deliver new processes and products for mobile and cloud computing as well as the Internet of Things, the connection of devices relaying information about a range of activities. The company released several new products in early 2015 for improved security in mobile applications, help medical manufacturers better track their products, and a new line of rugged mobile printers.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The acquisition of the enterprise business of Motorola Solutions for nearly $3.5 billion was the biggest for Zebra Technologies. The business -- which makes rugged mobile computers, tablets, and barcode scanners -- generated about $2.7 billion in sales for Motorola in 2013. The deal significantly strengthened Zebra's portfolio of offerings and expanded its geographic reach.
In late 2013 Zebra paid $94 million for Hart Systems, which makes software and hardware (mobile devices) that allow retailers to perform self-directed in-store inventory. The acquisition expanded Zebra's product offerings to the retail industry. The year before, it bought LaserBand, a provider of patient identification wristbands and related products used in hospitals worldwide, boosting the company's profile in the health care market.