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Companies

Keyence wins Chinese automation demand amid slowdown

Sensor maker captures clients' need for small- to medium-scale factory upgrades

Sensors from Keyence. The Osaka-based company boasts 250,000-plus clients in 100 countries. (Photo courtesy of Keyence)

OSAKA -- Keyence's net profit grew 11% to 169.7 billion yen ($1.56 billion) for the three quarters ended Dec. 20, the Japanese industrial and positioning sensor manufacturer reported Friday, separating itself from rivals struggling in China by delivering strong performance yet again.

This marked a seventh straight year of record profit for the nine-month period. But a direct comparison cannot be made, because the company changed its accounting periods during that time.

The Osaka-based company, which boasts more than 250,000 customers in 100 countries, enjoyed steady demand for its devices and sensors in such industries as automobiles, metals, food and pharmaceuticals.

Sales grew 15% to 440.5 billion yen, while operating profit rose 14% to 240.3 billion yen, for a 54.6% operating margin. The strongest growth came from the "Europe and others" region, at 21.5%.

Sales increased 12.5% in Asia, where China accounts for around half of the total. The Chinese economy is losing steam. "It is true that companies are cautious about large capital expenditures, but we managed to capture small- to medium-scale investments for factory improvements" there, a Keyence spokesperson said.

The company has not disclosed forecasts for the full year ending March. "While it is difficult to foresee the effect of the U.S.-China trade tensions, we would like to sustain the current pace of growth," the spokesperson said.

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