AeroVironment, Inc. revenue down 23%

Revenues tumble 23% declines in unmanned aircraft systems sales, and efficient energy systems. Net loss widened to $11.6M from a year-ago loss of $7M.

Does AeroVirnonment have an answer for the new drone age?

As the sun rises on a brave new commercial drone world in the USA one of the incumbents is struggling.

AeroVironment founded in 1971 by the late Dr Paul MacCready pushed unmanned development. They created Gossamer Condor – the first successful human-powered aircraft. Dr MacCready was a champion model aircraft flyer as a teenager. If you are in the unmanned world and don’t know about Dr MacCready then you should get onto Google. A true pioneer in this field.

Sandy wars in far away place fueled expansion with the US Army buying thousands of Ravens, Wasps and Pumas.

Those wars are going away. You only need so many sUAS.

The enemy is buying platforms off the shelf now, from China.

AeroVironment needs to look long and hard at the civil market. In that arena, they are playing catch up.

“During the quarter we focused on executing our strategy and generated results in line with guidance and historical seasonality for our business,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment (AVAV) chief executive officer speaking about the fiscal 2017 first quarter result.

“International demand for our small UAS remains strong, and we are confident in our ability to build on significant opportunities with existing and new customers, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. Domestically, we remain poised to capitalise on revenue opportunities for small UAS with the U.S. Department of Defense, and are on track with the development of our integrated commercial information solution.”

AeroVironment was absent from Farnborough 2016, in itself a bit of a clue. In 2014 I speculated if display airframes in a jaunty shade of white did not point to civilian sales.

Would a comparison with Apple be in order? After Steve Jobs passed away Apple seems to have lost their spark. Is AeroVironment without Dr MacCready in the same place.

Let’s hope the environmental vision exposed in the TED talk above can drive a company I have a great deal of time for to a better place.