Like its namesake, Zebra Technologies may be best known for its black and white lines. The company designs and sells printing devices that print labels, plastic cards, tickets, and receipts. The company also offers related labeling supplies, thermal ink ribbons, and software for label design and printer network management. 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. With offices around the world, 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.
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.
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 2012 it sold 1.26 million printers (up 6% from 1.18 million in 2011) with an average selling price of $485.
Sales remained relatively flat in 2012, clocking in at just under $1 billion. Profits fell 30% to $123 million due to charges incurred from discontinued operations, after it divested two subsidiaries in 2011.
Zebra Technologies is looking to expand into new markets and extend its reach in existing markets with future growth prospects, both through internal product development and via acquisitions.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In April 2014 Zebra announced its biggest deal ever, agreeing to acquire the enterprise business of Motorola Solutions for nearly $3.5 billion. The business -- which makes rugged mobile computers, tablets, and barcode scanners -- generated about $2.7 billion in sales for Motorola in 2013. The deal will significantly strengthen Zebra's portfolio of offerings and expand 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 expands 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.
In order to focus on its core products, Zebra sold its Navis business (acquired in 2007) to Cargotec in 2011 for about $190 million in cash. The divestiture included Navis' worldwide terminal operating system business and WhereNet Marine Terminal Solution product line. Those assets were considered too specific to the marine industry to be extended to other markets. Also in 2011 Zebra sold its Zebra Enterprise Solutions GmbH (formerly proveo AG) business to Belgium-based F Two NV.