Zebra Technologies hits stride in Q1 as portfolio well timed for post pandemic, digitization

Zebra's enterprise visibility and mobility unit showed strong sales as did its asset intelligence and tracking business.

Zebra Technologies' first quarter highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent rebound is driving demand for omnichannel retail, asset tracking and workforce analytics.

The company, which is expanding to more SMB markets as well as large enterprises, reported first quarter sales of $1.35 billion, up 28% from a year ago. First quarter earnings checked in at $228 million, or $4.22 a share.

For context, Zebra hasn't shown revenue growth of more than 10% for the last two years. In the third quarter of 2018, Zebra delivered revenue growth of nearly 17%.

Zebra's enterprise visibility and mobility unit showed strong sales as did its asset intelligence and tracking business. Zebra also saw strong growth across its international markets.

Add it up and Zebra's mission to optimize workflows with its devices, automation and IoT and cloud platforms is resonating as retail, transportation and logistics, manufacturing and healthcare rebound.

The first quarter growth will carry into the second quarter. Zebra said it expects second quarter sales to jump 38% to 42%. Zebra has been gaining traction as its Reflexis acquisition is driving demand for its portfolio.

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For 2021, Zebra expects 2021 sales of to jump 18% to 22%. Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Zebra, said:

The pandemic has accelerated trends that have been driving our business. Consumers have been raising their service level expectations in this on-demand economy. Enterprises are investing in Zebra solutions with an increased sense of urgency due to a significant increase in omnichannel shopping. Forecast for global e-commerce sales and parcel shipping volumes to double over the next several years.

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Zebra ZSB Printer

Track and trace is becoming increasingly important for a wide range of use cases and health care patients seeking a more digital experience. Automating strained workflows with proven technology provides an attractive return on investment. The benefits to the enterprise also include increased productivity and efficiency as well as higher customer and patient satisfaction. These opportunities are not exclusive to large enterprise customers, as we are seeing similar trends with small and medium-sized businesses.

For future growth, Zebra is looking to target more SMBs with its connected platform. Zebra launched its new ZSB Series printer, a wireless label printer for the small office home office market.

The printer is designed to enable entrepreneurs and small business owners to design, create and print labels for multiple products. The labels are compatible with all shipping carriers and services and e-commerce platforms.

Zebra's ZSB Printer will start at $129.99.

"With the launch of the ZSB Series printer, we enter an approximately $400 million market with an attractive recurring supplies revenue stream," said Gustafsson.