Top Companies Report

19 Sensient Imaging Technologies


19 Sensient Imaging Technologies
2724 Loker Avenue West
Carlsbad, CA 92010
Phone: (760) 930-1600


Sales: $55 million in inkjet inks; $1.5 billion (overall).
Key Personnel: Kenneth Manning, chairman; Paul Manning, president and CEO; John Collopy, VP and treasurer; Christopher Daniels, VP, human resources; John Hammond, SVP, general counsel and secretary; Richard Hobbs, SVP and CFO; Michael Geraghty, Color Group president.

Major Products: Water-based pigmented and dye-based inkjet inks for desktop printers; water-based, solvent-based, oil-based and dye-based inkjet inks for wide format, textile and industrial applications.
Operating Facilities: St. Louis, MO, Tijuana, Mexico; Badalona, Spain; Norfolk, UK, Morges, Switzerland; Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany.
Comments: Sensient Technologies is a global leader in inkjet and colorant technology. The company also is a leading supplier of flavors, fragrances and colors for a wide variety of foods and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, home and personal care products, specialty printing and imaging products, computer imaging and industrial colors.

Sensient Technologies had a solid year in 2013, as the company’s sales remained stable at $1.5 billion. Gross margin was on the rise, improving 70 basis points in 2013 to 32.4%. Operating income was $172.4 million in 2013, including $31.7 million of restructuring costs.

Christophe Bulliard, commercial director for North America at Sensient, said that 2013 was a very strong year for Sensient as it was for the whole sublimation industry.

“We have seen growth as has the whole industry. Our customers’ base has been growing and is forecast to grow further,” Bulliard noted.

Bulliard noted that large OEMs are now interested in the sublimation field, which is leading to changes.

“Large OEMs (Epson, Mimaki) have now made this application a part of their focus, demonstrating that this application is not considered as a niche any more,” he noted. “As a result, they have launched new machines which are closed, and are offering their own inks. There are also more and more printer solutions offered to their market, in particular those based on Kyocera printheads, which are marking a further step in the productivity of the industry. Sensient has been one of the pioneers also on these printers and offers very high performance products, and our sublimation inks for Kyocera heads clearly showed the strongest growth. Many new entrants are seen, often with low price offers.”

In an important move, Paul Manning became Sensient’s president and CEO, effective Feb. 2, 2014. Paul Manning was previously Sensient’s president and COO., and succeeded Kenneth P. Manning, who will serve as Sensient’s non-employee chairman of the board and advisor until Dec. 31, 2015, in order to ensure a successful transition. Kenneth Manning served as Sensient’s CEO since 1996, transforming the company from a commodity producer of food products into a global leader in advanced food and beverage colors and flavors, inkjet inks, pharmaceutical excipients and cosmetic ingredients.

“Sensient had an exceptional year in 2013, and we delivered strong results in the fourth quarter,” said Paul Manning. “The Color Group performed very well throughout the year, and I was encouraged by the Flavors & Fragrances Group’s performance in the fourth quarter. I am confident in our ability to grow both businesses and I am optimistic about 2014 and beyond.”

Sensient’s largest division is Flavors & Fragrances Group, which reported revenue of $881.3 million in 2013, up slightly from $875.3 million last year. Operating income was $122.4 million in 2013 and $123.0 million in 2012. The Flavors & Fragrances Group’s operating margins were 13.9% in 2013 and 14.1% in 2012.

The Color Group, including Sensient’s inkjet inks, reported revenue of $494.0 million in 2013, compared to $499.2 million in 2012. Operating income was up 7.5% to $103.6 million in 2013 from $96.4 million in 2012. The Color Group’s operating margin was 21.0% in 2013, a 170 basis point increase from the 19.3% reported in 2012.

Sensient’s Formulabs and SensiJet desktop inkjet ink sales remained strong, as the company supplies inks to the leading OEM desktop printers, as well as inks for wide format and textile markets, including its ElvaJet pigmented inks for polyester.

To meet the needs of sublimation printers, Sensient launched ElvaJet Alpha, a new water-based platform dedicated to sustainable textile printing. The first application for ElvaJet Alpha is direct-to-polyester printing, with demonstrated savings of up to 90% water and energy. ElvaJet Alpha inks can be applied directly onto virtually any polyester textile, being fixed only with dry heat, and there is no washing or other finishing step needed.

“The launch of ElvaJet Alpha has definitely been a major highlight in 2013,” Bulliard said. “It also marks further our strategy to develop and offer solutions that offers competitive advantages to end users in terms of efficiency, productivity and sustainability.”
Raw materials remain a concern. Bulliard reported that the raw material situation is “very concerning,” as colorants from China are under pressure.

“Chinese producers of colorants are under strong pressure to improve their operations in the respect of the environment, which is a positive way towards sustainability of the industry,” Bulliard said. “However, several of them have chosen to cease operations rather than investing, which is putting a lot of pressure on the price of raw materials.”

Bulliard said that with the addition of ElvaJet Alpha as well as new products for industrial printing, 2014 looks to be a good year for Sensient’s ink division.

“We expect 2014 to be strong,” Bulliard concluded. “We expect to launch new solutions for industrial printing.”