Cognex Reports Best First-Quarter Results Ever

The company's first-quarter revenue increased by 43% - the highest in its 40-year history.

By Joel Davies -

Cognex Corporation today reported financial results for the first quarter of 2021. The company announced new records for first-quarter revenue, net income, and net income per diluted share. The company stake its claim as the world leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped more than 3 million image-based products, representing over $8 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company’s founding in 1981.

Cognex reported a record first-quarter revenue of $239 million, which represents an increase of 43% from Q1-20 and 7% from Q4-20. A notable contribution to growth, both year-on-year and sequentially, came from continued strong performance in the e-commerce sector of logistics. Outside of logistics, revenue from each geographic region (the Americas, Asia, and Europe) increased over Q1-20 due to improved business activity in a variety of industries.

Cognex’s financial position as of April 4, 2021, continued to be strong, with $876 million in cash and investments and no debt. In Q1-21, Cognex generated $99 million in cash from operations and $35 million in net proceeds from the exercise of stock options. In addition, during Q1-21, the company paid $11 million in dividends to shareholders and spent $6 million to repurchase its common stock. Cognex intends to continue to repurchase shares of its common stock pursuant to its existing stock repurchase program, subject to market conditions and other relevant factors.

“Cognex started 2021 on a strong note”, said Robert J. Willett, Chief Executive Officer of Cognex. “We reported the highest first-quarter revenue, net income, and earnings per share in our company’s 40-year history. We were highly profitable—reporting an operating margin of 33% in Q1-21 compared to 13% a year ago—demonstrating the leverage we have in our high-growth, high gross margin business model”.

Cognex First-Quarter Results
Cognex President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Willett. Image: Cognex.

Mr Willett continued, “We are pleased with our achievements in the first quarter. Our strong momentum continued in the e-commerce sector of logistics. Business activity has been recovering in other end markets that have struggled over the past year. Most importantly, we introduced several innovative products in the areas of 3D vision, edge intelligence, and handheld barcode reading that we believe will contribute to revenue growth in years to come”.

Looking ahead, Cognex believes revenue in Q2-21 will be between $250 million and $270 million. This range represents anticipated substantial growth over Q2-20, which was marked by significant economic disruption following the COVID-19 outbreak. Its gross margin for Q2-21 is expected to be in the mid-70% range, and lower than the gross margin reported in recent quarters. Operating expenses are expected to be flat to slightly up from Q1-21.

In light of the first-quarter results, Cognex will host a conference call today (May 7 2021) at 5 pm EDT (11 pm CEST). A real-time audio broadcast of the conference call or an archived recording will be accessible on the Events & Presentations page of the Cognex Investor website.

Cognex Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets a wide range of image-based products, all of which use artificial intelligence (AI) techniques that give them the human-like ability to make decisions on what they see. Cognex products include machine vision systems, machine vision sensors, and barcode readers that are used in factories and distribution centres around the world where they eliminate production and shipping errors.

You can find more information about Cognex and its first-quarter results on its website.

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