Abstract This article is a contribution to the discussion on innovation activity and its influence on financial performance of companies. The authors employ a simple measure of innovativeness, which was also used in other studies, and the division of companies into two groups (innovative and non-innovative) was based on the fact whether they obtained a patent (patents) or not. In this paper, we compare the rates of return and revenue growth achieved by innovative versus non-innovative companies operating in the manufacturing industry in Poland, in the years 2006 to 2012. Financial and qualitative data for testing the hypotheses were taken from the Amadeus database provided by Bureau van Dijk. The sample consisted of 4004 enterprises, of which 681 were owners of at least one patent. T-Student test, ANOVA and OSL models were used to verify the working assumptions. The study tests the following three research hypotheses. H1: “Innovative companies achieve higher rates of return than the non- innovative ones.” That hypothesis was confirmed in relation to the EBITDA margin and ROS (return on sale), but not to ROA (return on assets) and ROE (return on equity). The fact of belonging to a group of innovative companies had an impact on an average EBITDA margin increase by 0.83 p.p. in 2007, 0.78 p.p. in 2009 and 0.73 p.p. in 2012, ceteris paribus. The difference between ROE was found statistically insignificant in most analysed periods (except 2007 and 2009), however, non-innovative companies have achieved a higher return on equity than innovative companies. It can be associated with higher operational risk in innovative companies which restrict access to external capital, leading such companies to expand their businesses through their own equity. The second tested hypothesis is: “An innovative activity has higher impact on financial performance in medium-sized companies than in large and very large ones.” During the research, it was found out that having obtained a patent is important determinant of EBITDA margin for medium-sized companies, increasing it by 0.76 p.p., ceteris paribus. In large companies, it contributed to an increase of 0.71 p.p., and for very large ones – by only 0.19 p.p., with the slope for the latter group at a number other than zero found to be statistically insignificant. In relation to third tested hypothesis:” Innovative companies are more sensitive in terms of revenue dynamics to economic slowdown than the non-innovative ones.” it was found out that in the period of time from 2006 to 2012 the dynamics of revenue growth in innovative companies was generally higher than in the non-innovative ones, except in the year 2009, when all companies showed a significant decline in revenues, but for innovative companies, the decline amounted to 6.39%, and for the remaining ones it was found at 4.98%. Based on those findings it was confirmed that innovative companies are characterized by a greater sensitivity to economic slowdown.
Keywords: innovation, financial performance, economic slowdown, patents.