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DigitalGlobe promises double-digit growth

Paris, France: DigitalGlobe’s (DG) global business is growing faster than the company’s ability to keep up and that double-digit growth in annual revenue is all but guaranteed, according to Jill D. Smith, Chief Executive, DigitalGlobe. She said the only limits for growth are whether the company, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, is willing to accept reduced profitability in the short term to pluck new business opportunities just waiting to be harvested.

She said DigitalGlobe, which will be hiring up to 150 people in 2011, would temper its growth to maintain profit margins.

DigitalGlobe is building seven new image-reception stations at different locales near the equator. Once in operation by late 2011, these ground stations will give DigitalGlobe the equivalent of a new WorldView satellite in terms of the company’s ability to respond quickly to imagery orders, said, Walter S. Scott, Chief Technology Officer, DigitalGlobe.

Scott said WorldView-2, in addition to its 8-band imager, has a control moment gyro that permits it to manoeuvre more quickly than it could with the previous generation of momentum wheels. That makes the satellite more efficient on each orbit, further increasing its per-orbit harvest.

In addition, WorldView-3, scheduled for launch in 2014 or 2015. Yancey L. Spruill, DigitalGlobe’s Chief Financial Officer, said WorldView-3 will cost about USD 650 million over the next four years, with two-thirds of that investment to be made by the end of 2012.

With the NGA contract permitting DigitalGlobe to invest in new satellite and ground-station capacity, the company will be leveraging this investment to expand its commercial business in the United States and worldwide.

A recent contract with the Chinese Ministry of Land Resources is an example of growth prospects, company officials said. China wants all its territory mapped digitally and will need regular mapping updates. DigitalGlobe was able to raise prices on its Chinese contract this year after demonstrating its satellites’ performance in the previous years, according to Rafay Kahn, the company’s senior vice president for commercial sales.

Between 2007 and 2010, NGA and other capacity-related contracts grew annually at a combined 37 percent per year, according to DigitalGlobe. However, in the coming years, the growth trends will reverse. The NGA-dominated capacity contracts will grow by 14 percent annually, while the product contracts will grow by 20 percent a year.

DigitalGlobe expects to report revenue of between USD 317 million and USD 320 million for 2010.

Source: Space News