We have a clear strategy to generate sustained organic growth, actively manage our portfolio and deliver growing dividends. The medium-term rate of organic growth determines the rate at which we can acquire businesses and increase dividends. Our management reward structures are clearly aligned with our objectives of delivering sustained growth and high returns. We actively manage our business portfolio through acquiring in (or adjacent to) our existing markets, merging as market needs change and selling businesses where we do not see the medium-term prospects for sustaining high returns or growth.
We drive organic growth through a focus on investing in the three areas of: Innovation, People Development and International Expansion.
Our businesses build market leadership,gain market share or create new market opportunities through innovation in products and processes. Within Halma, companies have great opportunities to collaborate and share know-how with their sister companies. We are creating a culture and environment to encourage this behaviour in a variety of ways including ensuring a diverse mix of representation at Halma training programmes and holding a biennial Halma Innovation and Technology Exposition. Network groups and forums focused on specific functional areas such as manufacturing and IT have also been established to foster regular benchmarking and continuous improvement.
Innovation by individual employees is formally recognised in Halma through a monthly Eureka award (top prize £1,000) and the Halma Annual Innovation Awards (top prize £20,000).
In 2012, the Halma Innovation Award was won by a team from Oseco in Oklahoma, USA, who designed a new Bursting Disk product which improves safety in Oil and Gas exploration. The runners-up were a team from HWM-Water in Cwmbran, UK, who developed a software platform which gives customers a ‘data-gateway’ to easily integrate their control systems with HWM’s water monitoring technology. In third place was a team from Ocean Thin Films in Colorado, USA, who created a spectral imaging camera which enables scientists to analyse target objects in real-time video through a range of discrete specialist optical filters simultaneously (see page 28).
R&D expenditure increased by 7% to £27.4m (2011: £25.7m) representing 4.7% of Group revenue (2011: 5.0%), well above our 4% KPI target. Underlying growth in R&D spend was in line with revenue growth so the slight decline in spend as a percentage of revenue was due to the lower rate of R&D investment of companies recently acquired. One of the ways we aim to add value to newly acquired businesses is by increasing their rate of innovation through investment in new products.
Halma’s decentralised operating structure relies upon having capable local managers empowered to make timely decisions in the best interests of their business. R&D, manufacturing, sales and administrative resources are controlled by local subsidiary boards who have an intimate knowledge of market dynamics and customer needs. Strategic objectives, annual performance goals and management incentives are aligned with a strong commitment to attract and develop high quality talent at all levels.
Halma offers a range of training programmes for employees including the Halma Executive Development Programmes (HEDP and HEDP+), Halma Management Development Programmes (HMDP and HMDP+) and Halma Certificate in Applied Technology (HCAT) programmes. During 2011/12, 166 employees attended these Halma-run programmes and many more benefited from training provided by their subsidiary company. The value of this investment is shown both in our excellent financial performance and succession planning. In April 2012, Philippe Felten the CEO of BEA, our Automatic Door Safety business, was promoted to the Halma Executive Board and took on the additional responsibility of our Security Sensors sub-sector.
In 2012, we launched the Halma Graduate Development Programme (HGDP) with the first group of UK and US graduates due to start in early Autumn 2012. Through HGDP, we aim to increase the depth of talent coming through our management ranks and also expect it to increase management diversity in the longer term. Graduates will work at Group companies in different global regions and attend residential training modules. Halma is an attractive employer for new graduates offering the chance to work in diverse markets, gaining international experience and providing a genuine opportunity for significant early career progression.
We have made great strides in recent years growing our business in developing markets. In the process, we have learned a lot about these markets and have improved our understanding of the growth opportunities, both organic and through acquisitions. In the future, we expect to find a greater number of acquisition opportunities in developing markets and we are building the resources to support this objective.
Our strategic objective is for at least 30% of revenue to come from outside the UK, USA and Mainland Europe by 2015 and we maintained that metric at 24% this year even with the acquisition of two US-focused businesses in the year (2011: 24%). By 2015 China is targeted to be 10% of the Group total.
This year, good momentum was maintained in China with revenue increasing by 25% to £29.5m (2011: £23.6m) which is slightly over 5% of total revenue. This compares with £6.6m in 2006 when we set up our first hubs in Shanghai and Beijing. In 2012, the number of employees based in China represents 10% of the total Halma workforce.
A number of Halma businesses are investing in building stronger channels to market in South America either directly or by developing trading relationships with local businesses. Revenue from South America increased by 23% to £11.2m (2011: £9.1m).
In India, there was slower progress, with revenue increasing by 8% to £7.0m (2011: £6.4m). We are adding both sales and technical resource in Mumbai and during the year moved to larger premises. However, it is clear that India is not currently offering us the same rate of revenue growth as China, South-East Asia and South America.
Acquisitions and disposals
During the year, we completed two acquisitions and one disposal. Following the year end, we acquired a further three businesses. For these five acquisitions we paid £80m, including £3m of debt acquired, (plus potential for £14m of earn-outs) and received an initial payment of £4.4m for the disposal. All transactions, except the Kirk Key acquisition, were within our Health and Analysis sector.
In May 2011, we acquired Kirk Key Interlocks, based in Ohio, USA for US$14.5m (£8.8m), including US$1.9m of debt. Kirk Key was our most significant competitor for Safety Interlocks in the US market and is a strong addition to our group of market leading interlock businesses within the Industrial Safety sector.
In July 2011, we bought Avo Photonics, based in Pennsylvania, USA for US$9.1m (£5.7m) plus a one-year earn-out of up to US$11.0m dependent on profit growth. Avo adds significant new technology and manufacturing know-how to our Photonics businesses. Their expertise in miniature electro-optic design and manufacturing has potential applications across many other Halma sub-sectors.
In March 2012, we sold Volumatic, based in Coventry, UK to a private equity fund, for £4.4m plus performance based earn-outs of up to £3.9m. The end-markets for their cash counting products are retail and banking which do not have the long-term growth drivers we seek. This disposal is a further example of our ability to divest businesses for sensible prices where the longer-term returns and growth prospects do not meet our objectives. Volumatic was the only Halma business whose products and activities were not related to any of our 12 sub-sectors.
In April 2012, we paid US$37.5m (£23.4m) to acquire Sensorex, a manufacturer of water quality test sensors based in California, USA. Sensorex is very complementary to our existing water test business, Palintest, and joins the Water sub-sector.
In April 2012, we acquired Accutome for US$20m (£12.6m), including US$2.3m of debt, plus an earn-out of up to US$5m based on future profit growth. Accutome adds new products and greater sales and distribution strength in the USA for our Health Optics businesses. Based in Pennsylvania, USA, it already trades with our ophthalmic instrument businesses Keeler and Volk.
In May 2012, we acquired SunTech for US$46m (£29.6m) plus US$5m for cash retained in the business with a potential earn-out of US$6m. Their blood pressure monitoring technology is a perfect complement to Riester’s own clinical grade blood pressure monitoring devices.
Our current acquisition prospect pipeline is strong. We are looking for successful businesses in, or closely related to, our existing sub-sectors. Although most of our transactions in recent years have been in the Health and Analysis sector, we continue to look for opportunities in our safety-related sectors too. This combination gives Halma a great balance between sustainable growth and strong returns.