Leica Camera’s board proposes dividend of €1.83 per share

The Leica Camera AG Board presented the Leica Camera AG annual report today. At the same time, it adopted a resolution containing a proposal on the appropriation of profits. On the corporate level, the established manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products achieved a 19.3 per cent increase in turnover against the previous fiscal year (01/04/2011 - 31/03/2012) to arrive at €296.8 m (previous year: €248.8 m). The operating results (EBIT) were €58.7 m (previous year: €41.5 m), which represents a significant increase (41.5 per cent).

The Board proposes the payment of a dividend in the amount of €1.83 gross per share for fiscal year 2011/2012, which ended on 31 March 2012. For fiscal year 2010/2011, the corporation paid a dividend in the amount of €0.30 gross per share.

Alfred Schopf, chairman of the Executive Board at Leica Camera AG: 'We are delighted by the excellent results, which are primarily based on the demand for our camera systems. Our sport optics products have also recorded double digit growth rates. These results show that our product and innovation strategy is delivering the sustainable growth we aimed for in setting out on this path. And we will not deviate from this path in the future.' The Supervisory Board has not checked the annual accounts and consolidated accounts yet. The accounts will not be made public until the Supervisory Board has appraised and approved them.

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  • Harold Ellis

    lol so i get few free burgers cool. and i always thought it was bad investment i made, turned my last corp sallary to leica stocks ahahhahaha

    • regular

      Really? Because as far as I can tell, you can not be owning Leica stocks.

      Lisa Germany Holding Gmbh squeezed the latest minor shareholders out of the capital last January :

      Lisa Germany is owned by ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH (private holding of Dr. Kaufmann, located in Austria for some reason) and a Blackstone fund, from what I understand from the press releases.

      Basically, Kaufmann and Blackstone are getting 100% of the distributed dividend.

      Blackstone is awarded about 5% of their invested capital. 5% per year, that was a great deal for Blackstone, IMHO.

      Now I understand where the streetprice increase is going.

  • Nobody Special

    Okay, so this what constitutes ‘Leica news’ – fine. I may be wrong, but the only ‘share-holders’ are Blackstone and Kaufmann, so they are going to benefit. Good for Leica making a profit, but when I read things like;

    “Alfred Schopf, chairman of the Executive Board at Leica Camera AG: ‘We are delighted by the excellent results, which are primarily based on the demand for our camera systems. Our sport optics products have also recorded double digit growth rates. These results show that our product and innovation strategy is delivering the sustainable growth we aimed for in setting out on this path. And we will not deviate from this path in the future.’…”

    ‘…And we will not deviate from this path in the future”……. By that comment, it doesn’t sound very likely that there will be any ‘progressive designs’ from Leica any time soon. Why argue with success???? Maybe in the interest of ‘new’ imaginative product it never hurts to show something forward of where you are, maybe Photokina they’ll do that but the pattern seems to be clear at this point.

  • MarkHG

    This will be “Leica news” once the average Leica fan wakes up and does the math.

    Blackstone wants its money and has clearly begun paying money out rather than retaining cash for investment.

    We need to know what Blackstone has invested beyond the purchase price it paid to the main shareholder in order to buy into Leica.

    Ebitda may be up 41% but the dividend payout has increased many multiples more.

    This is no surprise to anyone who knows the history of companies in which Blackstone has invested.

    It is likely to be a shock for Leica fans one day.

  • I said it before and I’ll say it again, Leica is all about luxury, all these theories stating otherwise is false. If you look at the article above, they have no intention of making this product for the masses, it’s all about prestige. Leica is pricing their cameras for collectors rather than for photographers who actually can use the camera.

    • Banksie

      A Porsche is also expensive and is not made for the masses, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t performance sports cars that are purchased by a lot of people for serious driving. Sure there are the wealthy buyers who know nothing about cars and want the ‘prestige’ as you call it, but there are many ‘regular’ people who own them. Some folks truly understand the performance and the history. They save up and eventually get one. It’s not about ‘prestige’ and there is no ‘theory.’ Go attend a PCA driving event at the race track and meet some normal people who are simply enthusiasts.

      Leica cameras and lenses are also expensive, but in addition to wealthy owners there is a large contingent of everyday people who use and own Leica products. And they are quite serious about photography. They often tend to have a knowledge of the history of photography more than any other demographic and are sincerely invested in and serious about photography. And many are working photographers and photographic educators.

      Generalizations are quite easy to make, but they are often false. Next time talk to a Leica owner (or Porsche owner) and ask them why they use the product. You might be surprised. And you might have a constructive and pleasant conversation. Just like a Porsche owner who understands the challenge and the unique sport of driving a performance car with a flat six motor in the rear, a Leica owner also understands that the camera and lens are tools that provide a specific and different experience in making images.

      How the company is run today with Blackstone in the mix is another story altogether.

      • J Shin

        +1 to Banksie

      • Difference is, the Porsche has all the extras you expect in a modern sports car… It can still compete with other sports cars.

        The M system is hasn’t had a an update (apart from going digital) in decades. At least offer a hybrid ttl view for times when you need it, or maybe even AF in the future.

  • Nobody Special

    I understand your point Banksie, but I have to admit as a long-time Leica owner and user, the M, does some things really well but it is limited. As they no longer have a versatile SLR body like the R (the S really is not a complete system camera to me) which is quite useable for a multitude of tasks that many pros encounter, the M is really more of a luxury brand now more than ever.

    I still find in the comment by Schopf that reflects what has always plagued the company; the inability to build relevant camera systems in the face of market pressure to do so. The history of optic quality, not camera useability has kept it alive, and now – the M is only a mildly accessible camera for anything close to a mass-market. Yes, they’ve made money by digitizing the M. But interestingly, today is what(?) the 4th or 5th anniversary of the I-phone and has been called amongst other things the most used or popular ‘snap-shot’ camera.

    Kaufmann said within the last couple years that cell phone camera(s) is not a serious picture making tool, or something to that affect; the fact is, any image recording tool can be used ‘seriously’. I think that statement along with Schopf’s shows a Board of directors that do not truly understand photography or ‘image making’ of today. Staying the present product course is a tricky manuever for decision makers that are not photographers. Blackstone will likely want something sooner than later for a deeper return.

    • Banksie

      In respect to the M system, I think it’s always been like this. I’ve been in the M system for decades (I still use a couple of film M bodies) and I remember when the talk was about Leica going under if they didn’t build less expensive cameras and cameras that weren’t so limited. The prices were always high (check out the original selling price of the M3 in today’s dollars.) In addition, they have always built boutique models and special editions. Remember that Hermes had a big ownership stake in the company a while back.

      They did experiment with a camera for the ‘masses’ with the CL. And then of course they had the R system to compete with the much larger SLR market. I think we’re going to see a whole new mirrorless camera with lots of electronics that will be offered along side the M pretty soon. And unfortunately the DMR is no doubt dead in the water which is a shame (at least many R lenses can be Leitax’d for Nikon/Canon if that’s any consolation.)

      But overall, I don’t see a lot of difference from say, the 1970’s to today. Leica M has always been an expensive premium brand and as a rangefinder it’s never been hugely popular and always limited. In fact, I think that it’s become a lot more popular and more known now (with the M9) since photography in general has witnessed a huge growth during the digital era.

      So yes, the M9 is limited in the context of what is on the market today, but the Leica M has always been this way. It never could do everything well (as could say, the Nikon F) but what it could do, it did very well. The same goes with the M9. It’s limited (just like the M film cameras were) but it’s the only full frame optical rangefinder digital camera that can readily use pretty much any Leica lens of any vintage.

      I think just because of the nature of the design, it will always be seen as limited. Just like a lot of people think the Porsche 911 is limited because the design has changed little and the engine still sits in the rear. Porsche knows this and came out with their own ‘CL’ versions: the Boxster and the Cayman. But they also did this in the past too with the 914 and the 924, etc.. The 911 remains as Porsche’s icon and halo car just like the M will be with Leica. But I fully believe they will be developing other products alongside the digital M that compete more readily with Fuji and Sony’s offerings.

      • Nobody Special

        Exactly. They have an old design in the M that will always work and (likely) continue to support legacy lenses. The R was dead by the early 90’s when they kept it manaul focus and the DMR never had the long-term viability or company support to keep the idea viable – poor product strategy. Yes indeed, very little has changed except to say they have less useable product now than they had available through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, even w/o AF.

        The fact that the M IS limited makes it ‘unique’. In May, they said that the additional product announcement may not happen – that they aren’t in a hurry – okay. Then Schopf’s comment of staying the existing course seems to harden the drying of the lack-of-need-or-imagination-cement a little further still; I have pretty much lost any confidence that Leica will be competing with the companies you mention – or others for that matter. It seems Steven Lee was leaning that way and he is l o n g gone.

        Recently, I had been wondering how frustrating it may have been and perhaps still is to be a tech innovator at Leica only to repeatedly see the idea(s) shot down.

        Below, ‘Artichoke’ says it more directly.

      • Didn’t Leica stop making the CL because they started to become so popular they took away the sales from the M system?

        So basically Leica stopped selling the CL to keep the M system limited and prestigious… Leica are selling products for collectors they have no interest in actual photographers.

  • Perhaps the Leica Board should FOCUS on photographic INVENTIONS…, of which there have been precious few, for example, note that SONY has just announced the RX 100 which will effectively KILL THE D-LUX 5 with virtually the same attributes (save hot show and a very expensive but mediocre EVF) but with a sensor 2,5X the size…, using Zeiss fixed zoom lens…, at about $250US less cost.

    Any plans beyond chest thumping about an all BW M9. Interesting novelty, but, so what!!!, in the run of important things.

  • Daryl

    Enjoyed reading your discussion NS and Banksie and others.

    My Calculator says this is a dividend payout of over 5%, and I noticed the stock jumped recently. The dividend alone is an excellent investment, Leica profits are expected to rise, and the stock price might also. For those that own Leica lenses purchased in years past there has been a significant rise in value. So now we have two avenues of investment, lenses and stock. My preference is to buy the lenses, use them and enjoy the images and sell them in the future as there is certainly going to be price increases, dragging the whole used market upward with it.

    My 2 cents on using Leica M. I use mine almost exclusively for practically everything. Sure, it’s not the fastest camera but it is quick with practice, and sure the specs might be slightly outdated but the camera seems to forget this and produce beautiful pictures, and sure…..viewfinder, battery, card issues, etc…well you get the point. The big plus with Leica are several but the overwhelming appeal is that technology doesn’t get in the way, aperture/shutter speed and focus can be set/reset very quickly without menus/buttons (oh the buttons!!). The other big plus is the ability to use lenses that can be tack sharp or portrait friendly (dreamy), and many lenses are both, Zeiss makes a 50mm f1.5 Sonnar that is the latter and sharpness guys can not understand why Ziess would make such a underachieving optic, the Leica shooters and portrait guys know and this lens is in short supply. Ditto the Leica 75mm f1.4 Summilux. Just to illustrate my prior point, I was shooting a Dslr with AF at a parade, the AF on these cameras will think for you or the photographer can select the focus point for more control. I selected the center focus point and when looking at my shots they were subject center as I was held captive by the AF. Camera technology is wonderful but it gets in the way, often resulting in nothing more than technically perfect snapshots.

    • Nobody Special

      I agree. The best investment is in the lenses, including the R line. I really prefer the M4 (oringinal), M5, and any of the previous models. I find the ‘feel’ quality and the finders are better. While I don’t prefer the do everything modern DSLR design and features, I do understand that there are those that enjoy the features, or at least have a use for them. I just use the ones I want, which are very few.

      The ergonomics – meaning control layout of the M is cumbersome to me – but then, I’m coparing the layout to the SL series, the later R8-9, and what I feel is the best M control design; the M5. That was a progressive design and of course it’s downfall was it’s bigger size, a shame really, because in every other way it’s an excellent camera. So there was a period that Leica was progressing with it’s camera designs.

      I believe with just a bit more ‘dipping’ of the toes into the progressive design ocean they can come up with some winners. That’s really my main complaint (well, the further upmarket push is another) as there is little reason not to. Look at the Sport Optic lines, they have consistently changed and upgraded the designs and the sales have shown increases. There is room for them to do the same in the M line – I’ve said it to nauseum, that they could simply have a modern M with an ergonomic body that would allow them to move forward a bit and use legacy glass, etc.

      Do that while still keeping a TRADITIONAL design, and I think the owners
      would be very pleasantly surprised by the sales numbers. Oh, remember, the ‘stock’ is owned by Kaufmann and Blackstone now – there are no outside dividend/share holders.

      • Daryl

        NS – re: I just use the ones I want, which are very few.

        Very well stated, and I believe this is the great difficulty the manufacturers and we face as photographers, the menus are involved and buttons so numerous. No one needs them all and each camera can not be customized for the purchaser. The end result is complexity. Somehow Leica has simplified this very well in their S and M line digitals:-)

        From the interviews of Leica people and the rumors there might just be some progress in diversity of product. Traditional (simple, less tech), Progressive (higher tech, less traditional) similar to what Fuji has done with their line and possibly Tech-Lower-Price similar to a Leica X2 but with R, M or Micro 4/3. Digital is an odd product for Leica, it is impatient, now, the future is fuzzy. Leica as were many camera companies were not oriented for this quick paced progress, even Nikon traditionally brought out new system cameras in the F line only once every 6-10 years, the Nikon F 13 years and the F3 was manufactured for 20+ years.

        Re: Stock share ownership – someday when Leica is the new Apple, sales soaring with their new products, people lining up outside the over 20,000 stores to get the first new M15 maybe there will be an IPO.

        • Nobody Special

          Re: Stock share ownership – someday when Leica is the new Apple, sales soaring with their new products, people lining up outside the over 20,000 stores to get the first new M15 maybe there will be an IPO.

          Well; You are MUCH more confident in the future of Leica than I – of course – you say that in jest? Well, if it came from me that would be the case!!!

          From the outside looking in – as we all are – we can only go by interviews (and the interviewer questions) and finished product. I have a sense that Leica at the 2008 Photokina did have a prototype R10 to show, as the display cabinet had a preprared but empty space for the R10.

          The decision/product team was left to answer ‘where’s the R10 questions’ while the attention was pushed towards the S2. Steven Lee, the marketing/product boss Kaufmann hired earlier, IS/WAS an R user – for some time – by his words. I think he was ‘let-go’ by Kaufmanns’ decision to move differently. Of course, we’ll never really know, but putting together the pieces that are there, Leica is what is now because Kaufmann (a non-businessman) and Lee is long gone. Digital is a mine-field of dead tech designs as you say, Leica’ design strength is simplicity and has done it very well.

  • regular

    additional figures (from businessweek.com ) :
    number of shares : 16.5 Millions
    distributed dividend : 1.83 x 16.5 = 30.2 M euros
    2011 net benefit : 36 M euros

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