By Terje Solsvik
OSLO -Norwegian robotics firm AutoStore on Thursday posted a 58% year-on-year jump in revenue for the fourth quarter and said 2022 revenue was set to grow more than previously expected, even as it hikes prices, sending its shares sharply higher.
The maker of automated warehouses last year became Norway’s most valuable stock market entrant in two decades, but its shares have since tumbled amid a tight supply of components and patent litigation that hit margins and worried investors.
Revenue for the October-December quarter rose to $93.2 million from $58.9 million in the same period of 2020, while the operating result before interest and tax (EBIT) fell to $5.0 million from $11.3 million.
In 2021, revenue grew 80% to $328 million, exceeding the company’s goal of around $300 million.
To help mitigate rising input costs, the company said it had increased prices for new orders by 7.5% from Dec. 1.
Shares in AutoStore were up 17% at 0851 GMT, outperforming a flat Oslo benchmark index. They are still down 11% year-to-date due to investor concerns about margin pressure.
“We are confident in our ability to deliver solutions to sustain the revenue growth, despite the current tight market situation for certain parts and materials,” Chief Executive Officer Karl Johan Lier said in a statement.
“This situation will have some short-term impact on margins,” he said.
Stripping out legal costs and items considered temporary, the company’s adjusted margin for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined to 44.1% in the fourth quarter from 53.9% a year before.
AutoStore raised its 2022 revenue outlook to between $550 million and $600 million from a previous goal to exceed $500 million. The company maintained its medium-term target of around 40% annual growth.
The results “blow past expectations”, Jefferies said in a note to clients, while JP Morgan described them as “a solid set of results” although added that higher input costs would likely continue to impact margins in the first half of 2022.
Litigation costs during the fourth quarter amounted to $7.7 million, AutoStore said, down from $11 million in the third.
AutoStore and Britain’s Ocado, both of which provide labour-saving storage technology to the fast-growing online shopping industry, are locked in a series of intellectual property disputes in Europe and the United States.
Ocado last week warned core earnings in 2022 would undershoot market expectations as it steps up investments, hammering the London-listed company’s shares which are now down 20% year-to-date.