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Drone Volt

CR
Bloomberg   ALDRV FP
Aerosp. & Defence Equipt.  /  France  Web Site   |   Investors Relation
From distributor to service provider.
Target
Upside 150%
Price (€) 0.01
Market Cap (€M) 13.7
Perf. 1W: 4.00%
Perf. 1M: -7.14%
Perf. 3M: -35.0%
Perf Ytd: -22.0%
10 day relative perf. to stoxx600: 8.12%
20 day relative perf. to stoxx600: -6.73%
Earnings/sales releases11/04/2023

FY22: Take-off to double turnover

The 2022 earnings were hurt by Drone Volt’s troubled US partner, Aquiline. This led Drone Volt to write down of the related activities and its shareholding for a combined €16m and book a whopping €26m loss. The balance sheet nonetheless remains healthy and the outlook for 2023 is encouraging, with a trading type order of €20m with decent margins. Opportunistic 2022 acquisitions and the launch of new products also bode well.


Fact

  • FY22 sales stood at €13.7m, a 59% increase yoy and 93% increase vs the pre-COVID-19 levels
  • The FY22 gross result stood at €2.9m (21% of sales), 5% above the preliminary release in January 23 and a 3% erosion yoy
  • FY22 EBIT collapsed to €-22m, vs €-2.7m a year earlier
  • The FY22 net result plunged to €-26.3m (mainly due to the 100% provisioning of the various exposures to Aquiline Drones) vs €-1.2m in FY21
  • Shareholders’ equity stood at €15.8m
  • SKYTOOLS, acquired in early 2022 and more focused on training, contributed c.€1.1m to total sales

Analysis

The final 2022 results published on 15 March posted a disappointing net result at €-26.3m owing to the provisioning of doubtful receivables on royalty income (€15.1m) and 2/3rd of the c.15% of AQUILINE DRONE (€1.7m). AQUILINE DRONE, a US partner seen, back in 2020, as an ambitious start up in the US drone market failed to deliver on its promises. Drone Volt suspended the billing of production licenses to ACQUILINE DRONE and focused instead on the distribution of its HERCULES 20 in the USA, which seems to be more successful with 4 HERCULES 20 having been sold (invoiced and paid in full before delivery). The ambitious partnership mixing IP access and cross shareholding has now been unravelled and transformed, at a limited cash cost, into a de facto commercial agreement.
This aside and despite the Aquiline opportunity cost to the the top line, Drone Volt’s revenue growth of 59% nevertheless came in above expectations.
Opex significantly increased to -€5.7m versus last year’s -€3.8m, due to a rising wage bill (investment in development). However, Opex as a % of sales dropped to 42% from 44% in FY21. We expect costs to rise further, due to the acceleration in future investment, including increased participation to major international trade exhibitions (€400k already in 2022).

With postponed profit expectations, DRONE VOLT wisely wrote off a large part of the tax loss carry-forwards, generating a one-off tax charge of €4.2m.

Balance Sheet situation

Despite the negative net income in FY22, Drone Volt’s balance sheet remained healthy enough with €15.8m of shareholders equity and net debt of €3.9m vs a net cash position of c. €3.5m in FY21. In early 2023, through to its equity line contract with Atlas Special Opportunities (which ended in March 2023), Drone Volt raised a further €3m. As 2023 looks to be on a good footing, the group expects to access more traditional (and much less expensive) funding and improve its financial situation.

FY23 dominated by a large order.

2023 has started well with an order worth over €20m that could be raised to €25m if the first legs are well deployed which seems to be the case. This low-margin (distribution) order will enable Drone Volt to double its revenues and strengthen its financial position. This news has been echoed in the industry which is good to have on the marketing front. Details about the deal include the fact that a 10% deposit was paid and no penalties for delays. DroneVolt foresees no supply bottlenecks, with the parts coming from both China and Europe, and a smooth execution. While the margins are presumably modest (less than 10%), it nonetheless adds to the nominal weight of the group.

In December 2022, Hydro-Québec at last gave the thumbs up for the Linedrone deliveries (3 units) after concluding tests in real-life conditions. This is good news, although a year later than the initial planning. The Linedrone will allow the anticipation of power line disruptions (savings on otherwise missed power sales), cut human exposure to risk and reduce ecological costs (normally a helicopter is needed for this mission).
While Linedrone is a Hydro Quebec specific product, Drone Volt has also deployed a new line of wing-based drones (Heliplane) with long distance surveillance capabilities that may gain traction. Government agency orders are a possibility (not military) but this is unlikely to tip the balance in the near term.
Among the new products expected to attract interest in 2023 is a hydrogen fuel cell-powered drone with a charging station for long flights. This project is the result of the collaboration with Roth2. This drone will be used for agricultural spraying, which is energy hungry and requires several recharges. An H2 recharge only takes a few minutes and flight time will be twice as long. Still H2 driven drones are work in progress as hydrogen tanks are heavy at the expense of the payload.
Drone Volt guides for the following revenues: €500k for Drone as a Service, between €4m-€5m for the Drone Volt Factory and €23m for distribution type sales. Positive surprises on the order front cannot be ruled out.


Impact

The unexpected €20m+ order is most welcome as it may generate an Ebit of €1m to €1.5m. The guidance from the manufacturing side with margins at c. 62% also gives hope that breakeven is not too far away. Having Drone Volt on a firm footing after so many years of strenuous efforts would open a new era, including on the funding side. We have adjusted our sales expectations and now expect 2023 turnover of €29m, vs c.€13m previously. Regarding net profit in 2023, our forecast remains unchanged at -€2.5m however, in 2024, we expect an improvement and have therefore adjusted our estimate from -€1.9m to -€0.7m.


Updates

11 Apr 23 Earnings/sales releases
FY22: Take-off to double turnover

24 Oct 22 Earnings/sales releases
Q3-22: massive momentum in distribution

12 Oct 22 Target Change
H1-22 Model Update

27 Sep 22 Earnings/sales releases
From product manufacturer to service provider

26 Jul 22 Earnings/sales releases
H1 22: SKYTOOLS, another successful bet

18 May 22 Other news/comments
Could the French government be a new major ...

26 Apr 22 Earnings/sales releases
Q1 22: integration of the acquisitions is progres...

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