Schneider talks up SFC’s sterling customer list, including Volkswagen, Siemens, Schlumberger, Shell Oil, Arch Coal, Conoco-Phillips, and other industrial users. Then there are government agencies such as NATO, the FBI in the U.S. and the Israeli military as well as SFC’s home country of Germany. It appears customers have been doing more than just sampling. Over the last five years sales have increased four times, reaching Euro53.6 in fiscal year 2014. That translated to about US$75.0 million at currency rates at the end of the year.
Besides its product technology SFC has been shrewd about its competitive positioning, using acquisitions to bolt on complementary technologies to further distinguish its power solutions. In 2013, SFC acquired Simark Controls Ltd., a provider of instrumentation, automation power solutions for the oil and gas industry. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Simark is well entrenched in Canada’s oil and gas industry. Its rich experience in custom engineering is now giving SFC an edge in pitching customers in the oil and gas industry. In 2011, the PBF Group B.V. was acquired for its electronics technology that has been critical in helping SFC properly integrate its fuel cells into established conventional electronics infrastructure and devices.
SFC has not been as successful in building profits as it has sales. The gross profit margin has shrunk to 29.2% in 2014 from 39.1% just two years earlier. Unfortunately, the trend has continued in the first half of 2015. The company has yet to achieve profitability, but generated positive cash earnings in 2014, as measured by EBITDA. The company had US$4.3 million in cash on its balance sheet at the end of June 2015, and US$11.6 million in working capital to support operations.