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Drone Volt

Bloomberg   ALDRV FP
Aerosp. & Defence Equipt.  /  France  Web Site   |   Investors Relation
From distributor to service provider.
Upside 173%
Price (€) 0.01
Market Cap (€M) 12.1
Money Making

Changing of “Distribution”

Drone Volt quickly saw that there was little it could add to the sophisticated, ready to fly Chinese offering so abandoned any customisation efforts. It has kept the buy to sell line however, with lower (5%-10%) but good-to-have operating margins.
This segment offers a way for cross-selling, penetrating markets thanks to it allowing Drone Volt to propose its services and training as well as to introduce its own offers.

Regaining control of the value added

Thanks to the combined set-up of a dedicated R&D team for the assembly line in 2016, and the acquisition of Aerialtronics, Drone Volt created its own capabilities to sell in-house designed drones as well as cameras embedding artificial intelligence solutions, which can be customised to suit customer needs. Instead of building manufacturing chains, Drone Volt focuses on the sole design and assembly of the parts, the manufacturing itself being subcontracted. Although transferring part of the added value to an external partner, this allows greater flexibility and better overall margins due to the relatively small volumes expected compared to those necessary to amortise fully a factory, as the planned in-house production of the internally-designed machines is likely to remain limited in volumes. Drone Volt, however, keeps full control of the flight management systems, as well as artificial intelligence software. This allows the company to control both pricing and profitability. We estimate the gross margin of its drone and intelligent cameras at c. 50%.

The power of turnkey solutions

Addressing professional customers has permitted the development of an integrated offer, which binds the machine to services such as training and administrative registration, thus leveraging margins. The training of the operator is required by the DGAC, and Drone Volt has thus set up an Academy to provide the teaching of the theoretical and practical requirements for pilots, with the advantage of using the same machine that will be used during commercial operations. Moreover, thanks to its proven relation with the DGAC and its full knowledge of regulations, the company can ease the heavy administrative process necessary for commercial drone operations. With the growing complexity of regulations, these services are bound to represent a growing contribution to earnings (carrying an estimated gross margin c. 70%), as the end customers generally want a platform operational as soon as possible. The services are mostly bundled in the purchase price of the machines, as this integration allows for a substantial commercial leverage.

Optionality to diversify further away from hardware

On top of this, an additional part could be added to the current business model but is currently more at the consideration stage and has yet to prove its viability. This is related to computer vision capabilities developed in-house by Aerialtronics, which could, at some point, become a fully-fledged business. Indeed, the software could be implemented on other platforms (not only its Pensar camera) and be customised for a wide range of uses. However, due to the great uncertainty in terms of commercial development of this business, we have based our estimates solely on the prospects of the first three businesses described above.

Projection for 2023
2022 was dominated by the Aquiline failure which wiped out a good chunk of the hoped-for factory business. By contrast, 2023 should see a rebound in the distribution business with a big €20m order being processed at the time of writing. Margins are obviously thin (less than 10%) but do not tie up any capital. Thus some two years later than forecast, Drone Volt can now hope to break even.

Change 23E/22 Change 24E/23E
  12/22A 12/23E 12/24E 12/25E €th of % total €th of % total
Total 2,903 3,446 5,509 8,571 543 100% 2,063 100%
Drone Volt Factory 1,242 747 2,646 5,535 -495 -91% 1,899 92%
Distribution 1,661 2,274 2,227 2,271 613 113% -47 -2%
Drone as a Service 425 637 765 425 78% 212 10%
14.4% 19.0% 24.0%  
Drone Volt Factory
55.0% 65.0% 68.0%  
10.4% 10.0% 10.0%  
Drone as a Service
62.7% 23.5% 15.7%  
Changes to Story : 29/01/2024, Changes to Forecasts : 29/01/2024.