Commentary: ANSYS Announces Strong First Quarter, New Product Development Initiatives

by Ira Breskin


Ansys, Inc., a leading supplier of finite element analysis software, is reaching out beyond engineering ranks, its core market, to lay the seeds for future growth. However, the company also continues to enhance its product line to bolster its standing with seminal engineering-intensive users.

That’s why Ansys plans to introduce a concept modeler this month that’s optimally used early on to test a number of product features, including linear statics or vibration, said Michael Wheeler, vice president of the company’s mechanical business unit. Several medical device makers, whose products have relatively short lifecycles, have strongly endorsed the beta version of the modeler, he said.

Separately, Ansys executives hope to determine shortly how they will market and bundle the company’s engineering notebook, or enotebook, which is also in beta testing. That determination will take into account Microsoft’s imminent introduction of a competing product, Wheeler said Wednesday during a telephone interview.

Apparently, such Ansys development efforts are paying off. On Wednesday, the company reported first quarter sales and profit gains in the face of the continuing soft market for enterprise software.

Despite its assuming certain adjustment costs, including those associated with the company's February 2003 acquisition of CFX, Ansys earned $4.3 million, or 27 cents, on sales of $24.6 million, up from $3.9 million, or 25 cents, on sales of $21.3 million for the year earlier period.

Included in the first quarter results were sales of DesignSpace 7.0, updated software introduced last November. DesignSpace provides FEA expertise to product designers. These users, traditionally outside the engineering loop, generally have greater authority to approve software purchases than the more typical Ansys technical customer.

Also included are initial sales of AI Nastran, a solver that Ansys introduced last November to compete head-to-head with one from MSC Software.

Ansys relies on DesignSpace, introduced in 1996, to better address smaller, sometimes ignored customers. DesignSpace features Xplorer software that helps users understand the analysis of how parts and assemblies react to various structural and thermal stresses.

DesignSpace, built specifically for the design engineer, is an easy-to-use simulation software package configured so designers can quickly conceptualize and validate models on a desktop computer. Moreover, its GUI and workflow features should help design engineers address problems early on.

DesignSpace is compatible with the latest versions of several major CAD packages: Autodesk Inventor and Mechanical Desktop, EDS’ SolidEdge and Unigraphics; Dassault’s SolidWorks and PTC’s Pro/Engineer. It also reads data from Dassault’s Catia and common file geometry file formats such as Parasolid.

Separately, Ansys recently broadened its product line. In February, the company signed a reciprocal cross-licensing deal with LMS International of Belgium. Ansys plans to develop and distribute a state-art-of-the-art motion simulator using LMS multiple body dynamics technology.

In turn, LMS will develop and distribute a non-linear flexible body simulation using Ansys’ structural analysis capability.

This announcement expands on an earlier arrangement announced by the companies in November to interface their respective flagship products, LMS Virtual Lab and Ansys Workbench 7.0. It also makes it easier for customers to access complementary tools.

Moreover, Ansys in February completed the purchase of CFX from AEA Technology PLC for about $21 million in cash.

CFX brings state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics simulation software (that’s used by more than 4,000 of its customers), as well as sales, support and consulting expertise.

CFD, or computational fluid dynamics, is the second largest CAE segment behind solid mechanics, where Ansys is a big player. CFD market share leaders are Fluent, CD Adapco and CFX.

The CFD software market grew by 14% in 2002 to $235 million, quite impressive given the more modest gains registered by most software segments, estimates Daratech Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., a leading industry consultancy.

“That segment is hot. It is coming of age. It’s starting to deliver results on a number of fronts,” said Thomas Greaves, Daratech’s vice president of marketing.

For additional information about Ansys, see www.ansys.com.

Ira Breskin, a freelance editor/writer specializing in business and technology issues, is a frequent contributor to Business Week, Newsday, and the New York Times. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism, Columbia University Business School. He may be reached at Email Contact.

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See also:

ANSYS Announces Solid First Quarter 2003 Results [30 Apr 2003] available at: http://www10.mcadcafe.com/nbc/articles/view_article.php?section=CorpNews&articleid=73334

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