ITEM 1. BUSINESS
nLIGHT, Inc., is a leading provider of high‑power semiconductor and fiber lasers for industrial, microfabrication, and aerospace and defense applications. Headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, we design, develop and manufacture the critical elements of our lasers, and believe our vertically integrated business model enables us to rapidly introduce innovative products, control our costs and protect our intellectual property.
We operate in two segments, consisting of the Laser Products segment and the Advanced Development segment, and three primary end markets: Industrial, Microfabrication, and Aerospace and Defense. Until the acquisition of Nutronics, Inc. (Nutronics) in November 2019, we operated as a single operating segment. The operating results of Nutronics have been included in the Advanced Development segment and Aerospace and Defense end market since the date of acquisition.
We design, manufacture, and sell a range of high-power semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers that are typically integrated into laser systems or manufacturing tools built by our customers. We also make fiber amplifiers and beam combination and control systems for use in high-energy laser (HEL) systems in directed energy applications. Our vertical integration enables us to develop products that leverage the same underlying technology, thereby enabling us to offer innovative and reliable products to customers in each of our end markets.
We sell high-power semiconductor lasers with a broad range of power levels, wavelengths, and output fiber sizes primarily for use in Industrial, Microfabrication, and Aerospace and Defense applications. The core building block of our products is a compound semiconductor laser chip manufactured from a gallium arsenide wafer. We use our patented multiplexed single-chip architecture to combine and package multiple semiconductor laser chips into what we believe are the most brilliant semiconductor lasers commercially available. Our semiconductor lasers are typically used as an integrated energy source for our OEM customers’ solid-state lasers, which are used primarily in a wide range of Microfabrication, and Aerospace and Defense applications.
We offer programmable and serviceable high-power fiber lasers primarily for use in Industrial and Aerospace and Defense applications. Our fiber lasers use a proprietary active fiber that is doped with a rare-earth element to amplify the light from multiple semiconductor lasers into a brighter, more powerful laser beam. Our single- and multi-mode fiber lasers enable fast, high-quality, and efficient processing of materials. Our fiber lasers offer many features, including all-fiber programmable beam sizes and shapes, programmable waveforms, high-speed waveform modulation capabilities, hardware back-reflection suppression, operability in harsh environments, quick and easy serviceability, and exceptional power stability. The programmability and wide operating range of our fiber lasers makes them easy for our customers to use and expands their applicability. For example, in some cases, a single programmable fiber laser with the ability to program the size and shape of its output beam can take the place of several less flexible lasers. We have also designed our fiber lasers to be easily field serviceable, which results in higher machine uptime, lower cost of ownership and an improved customer experience.
Directed Energy Products
We sell standalone fiber amplifiers and we are developing beam combination and control products for directed energy applications within the Aerospace and Defense end-market. We believe that our proprietary fiber amplifiers and beam combination and control technology will enable the development of scalable, high performance and cost-effective HEL systems.
We sell our products into three primary end markets: Industrial, Microfabrication, and Aerospace and Defense.
The productivity, efficiency and versatility offered by high-power fiber lasers have been critical in making them a key part of the evolution of the industrial ecosystem. Material processing applications, the largest of which is cutting, and others such as welding, cladding, heat treating, and additive manufacturing, comprise most of the industrial laser market. High-power fiber
lasers are rapidly replacing gas and other legacy lasers for cutting, due to their significantly faster speed, higher quality and lower cost when used across a wide range of metals. High-power fiber lasers also continue to take market share from non-laser cutting techniques and are expanding into other applications such as cutting metal tubes and other three-dimensional parts.
The factors driving the utilization of high-power fiber lasers in metal welding applications, including increased speed, quality, and cost, are like those that have fueled their adoption for metal cutting. Fiber laser welding can be done faster, with deeper penetration, less distortion and lower heat input than traditional methods like arc welding. These advantages have fueled adoption of high-power fiber lasers across the automotive industry where system productivity and versatility are critical. Other metal fabrication industries, such as aerospace, energy, and light manufacturing, are also embracing the unique capabilities offered by high-power fiber lasers for welding applications as they seek improved production efficiencies, including energy efficiency, and higher levels of industrial automation.
In addition to improving traditional manufacturing processes, fiber lasers are also enabling new applications such as metal additive manufacturing. High-power fiber lasers provide the precise power needed to fuse metal powders into intricate three-dimensional metal structures. Advancements in laser technology are also enabling manufacturers to produce ever-larger parts with more complex geometries at faster speeds and lower costs.
Microfabrication refers to the process of creating three-dimensional microscale structures, typically by ablating, annealing, etching, and drilling. Many of the microscale features incorporated into products in the automotive, electronics, medical, semiconductor and other markets are made commercially viable by the precise power delivery of lasers. Preferences for brighter, more vibrant displays in mobile phones, tablets and televisions, and the desire for thinner products with improved battery life and energy efficiency are placing greater importance on the need for components that are smaller, more robust and less expensive, which we believe will drive demand for lasers.
Aerospace and Defense
Lasers are used today in a variety of aerospace and defense applications, such as range finding, imaging and directed energy defense systems. Directed energy defense systems utilize concentrated electrical or optical energy rather than chemical or kinetic force to incapacitate, damage, disable or destroy. Compared to conventional weapons, directed energy weapons using high-power fiber lasers offer ultra-precise targeting, low cost per use and a nearly unlimited magazine. Over the past decade, directed energy technologies have improved steadily, culminating in a series of successful demonstrations of significantly higher power, multi-kilowatt systems. Systems using high-power fiber lasers have shown the highest degree of operational viability.
Semiconductor and fiber lasers are displacing legacy lasers and non-laser energy sources across a wide range of applications in the Industrial, Microfabrication, and Aerospace and Defense markets. In the Industrial market, high-power semiconductor and fiber lasers have enabled the creation of next-generation industrial systems to perform manufacturing processes such as cutting, welding, and drilling, as well as advanced manufacturing techniques such as additive manufacturing. In the Microfabrication market, many of the critical microscale features incorporated into products in the automotive, electronics, medical, semiconductor and other markets are made commercially viable by the precise power delivery of lasers. In the Aerospace and Defense market, high-power semiconductor and fiber lasers are currently used across a wide range of mission critical applications, such as defending aircraft against missiles, and are enabling next-generation defense systems.
Research and Development
Our research and development activities include innovation of existing products that enhance performance at reduced cost, and the design of new products that address select market opportunities. While we seek to improve our products on all operating characteristics, we believe we lead the market in terms of semiconductor laser chip brilliance. We work closely with customers to develop products to meet customer application and performance needs, making our research and development efforts more efficient. We also benefit from our vertically integrated business model, as we can conduct design cycles more rapidly through control of the full production process.
We intend to continue our commitment to research and development and to introduce new products, solutions, and complementary products to maintain and strengthen our competitive position.
As of December 31, 2020, we had over 500 worldwide issued and pending patents. Our success depends in part upon our ability to continue to innovate and invest in research and development to meet the needs of our customers, and to maintain and protect our proprietary technology. To accomplish this, we rely on a combination of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade
secrets and trademarks, as well as customary contractual protections with our customers, suppliers, employees, and consultants that access our material intellectual property.
We have generated, and continue to generate and maintain, patents and other intellectual property rights covering innovations that are intended to create a competitive advantage, and to support the protection of our investments in research and development. Although we believe that our patents and other intellectual property rights have significant value, we do not believe that maintaining or growing our business is materially dependent on any single patent. Due to the rapid pace of innovation within the markets that we serve, it is possible that our protection through patents may be less important than factors such as our technological expertise, continuing development of new products and technologies, protection of trade secrets, market penetration, customer relationships, and our ability to provide support and service to customers worldwide.
No assurance can be given that any patents will not be challenged, invalidated, or circumvented, or that the rights granted thereunder will provide us with a sustained competitive advantage. In addition, there can be no assurance that we will be able to protect our technology, or that competitors will not be able to independently develop similar or functionally competitive technologies, design around our patents, or attempt to manufacture and sell infringing products in countries that do not strongly enforce intellectual property rights.
Sales and Marketing
In the Industrial and Microfabrication markets, we sell our products through our direct sales force located in the United States, China, South Korea and various European countries. To supplement our direct sales team, we also sell through independent sales representatives and distributors in Asia, Europe and South America. We selected these independent representatives and distributors based on their ability to provide effective field sales, marketing communications and technical support for select products and markets in target geographies. Our sales and marketing efforts are conducted through an integrated process that involves our direct sales and marketing teams, engineering teams, customer service representatives and our senior management team.
We maintain customer support and field service staff in our major markets around the world. Additionally, many of our independent representatives and distributors have service teams who have been certified by nLIGHT to provide regional field service and support. We work closely with customers to service equipment and train customers to use and repair our products and explore additional applications for our technologies. We plan to expand our support and field service footprint, particularly in locations where business volume requires local service capabilities.
In the Aerospace and Defense market, we sell our products and services directly to end customers, including the U.S. Government, prime defense contractors, and defense subcontractors, through our dedicated sales, marketing and engineering teams located in the United States. Due to the stringent demands of our Aerospace and Defense customers, our sales and marketing organization includes engineering, manufacturing, service and support professionals who engage with our customers throughout their products' lifecycles.
We sell to and support over 400 customers worldwide. A few customers drive a significant portion of our revenues. In the aggregate, our top ten customers accounted for approximately 60%, 53% and 56% of our revenues in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Our global customers include the U.S. Government, Raytheon Technologies, Suzhou Quick Laser Technology, and Northrop Grumman.
Information concerning revenue by end-market, geographic region based upon ship-to location, and segment appears under Item 7: Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition, and Notes 3 and 19 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part II, Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Backlog represents orders that have been received for products, contract research and development, or other services for which a contractual agreement is in place and delivery or performance is expected to occur. Backlog totaled $135.8 million and $112.1 million as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Approximately 20% of the backlog as of December 31, 2020 is not expected to be filled within the next 12 months. Our backlog is not necessarily indicative of revenues for any specific future period due to possible order cancellations or deferrals, and shipping or acceptance delays. Delays in delivery schedules or a reduction in backlog during any period could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
Our quarterly revenues can fluctuate with general economic trends, holidays in foreign countries such as Chinese New Year in the first quarter of our fiscal year, the timing of capital expenditures by our customers, and general economic trends. In addition, as is typical in our industry, we tend to recognize a larger percentage of our quarterly revenues in the last month of the quarter, which may impact our working capital trends.
We operate in highly competitive markets. We believe that our vertically-integrated business model, technology innovation, engineering capabilities, functionality, quality and customer service enable us to compete successfully in the markets we serve. We compete with companies that offer semiconductor lasers, fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers and other laser products such as IPG Photonics Corporation, Coherent, BWT Ltd., II-VI Incorporated, Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies, and Trumpf GmbH + Co. KG. We also compete with prime defense contractors and subcontractors in the Aerospace and Defense market, and with companies in the Industrial market that offer widely used non-laser production methods, such as plasma cutting, water-jet cutting and resistance welding. Some of our competitors are larger and have substantially greater financial, research and development, managerial, sales, service and marketing resources than we do.
We manufacture, package, and test the critical elements of our high-power semiconductor and fiber lasers, including semiconductor laser chips and optical fiber in-house. Our vertically integrated business model enables us to control and protect our proprietary technologies and process knowledge. We outsource components and materials when we feel that a specific component, by itself, does not provide enough competitive advantage to warrant investment in the capital and human resources necessary for its manufacture. We work with our suppliers in these situations to ensure consistent quality and delivery performance. In many cases, components are custom manufactured for us based on our proprietary specifications.
We purchase raw materials used to manufacture our products and other components, such as semiconductor wafer substrates, fiber laser chip packages, optics, and other materials, from single or limited-source suppliers. We typically purchase our materials through purchase orders or agreed-upon terms and conditions, and we do not have guaranteed supply arrangements with many of these suppliers. To mitigate raw material supply risks, we take a variety of actions such as second source qualification, accumulation of safety stock and vendor surveillance.
Our primary manufacturing facilities are in Vancouver, Washington; Camas, Washington; Hillsboro, Oregon; Lohja, Finland and Shanghai, China. We manufacture certain electrical-optical components in our Vancouver, Washington; Camas, Washington; Shanghai, China and Hillsboro, Oregon facilities. We maintain our fiber operations and manufacture fiber in Finland.
We completed the purchase of our Camas, Washington facility in the first quarter of 2020. This facility provides additional manufacturing, research and development, and office space to support current business needs and future growth. We believe our existing manufacturing facilities are adequate to meet current anticipated demand. If additional capacity is needed, we believe that such capacity will be available on commercially reasonable terms.
We are subject to significant regulation by local, state, federal and international laws in all jurisdictions in which we operate. Compliance with these requirements can be costly and time consuming. We believe that our operations, products, services, and actions substantially comply with applicable regulations in all jurisdictions. However, the risk of non-compliance cannot be eliminated and therefore there is no assurance that future costs related to these regulations will not be incurred. There is also the possibility that regulations will be retroactively applied, interpreted, or applied differently to our operations, products, services, and actions which will require significant time and resources.
Human Capital Management
At nLIGHT, we fulfill our mission by fostering innovation, attracting talented people, and managing aspects of our business in an ethical manner that benefits our stakeholders, including the communities in which we operate. Our product innovation, community involvement and the overall success of our business are driven by continued engagement and motivation of our employees. Over the past twenty years we have developed and refined our core values that underpin our corporate culture. At nLIGHT we both recruit and review people based on three criteria we categorize in terms of Skill, Will, and Fit. We encourage collaboration, critical thinking, and respect and foster a workplace where each employee is contributing to the long-term
success of the company. During the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our employee base has been our top priority, in addition to the safety of the broader communities in which we operate and our dedication to our customers. While we continue to follow the guidelines from health officials, employee input has been critical to establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy global workplace.
As of December 31, 2020 we had over 1,275 full-time employees worldwide. Of our total full-time employees at our facilities, approximately 610 were in the United States, approximately 595 were based in China, and the remaining in the rest of the world. In Finland, certain employees belong to labor unions for their specialty. There are no labor unions to which our employees belong in any other location. We have not experienced any employee-led work stoppages at any of our facilities. We consider our relationship with our employees to be good.
We maintain a website at https://www.nlight.net. We make available free of charge through our investor relations website, https://investors.nlight.net, our annual reports, quarterly reports, current reports, proxy statements and all amendments to those reports as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed or furnished with the United State Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. The reference to our website does not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained at the site.
The SEC also maintains an Internet website that contains reports and other information regarding issuers, such as nLIGHT, Inc., that file electronically with the SEC. The SEC's Internet website is located at https://www.sec.gov.
We were incorporated under the name nLight Corporation in Washington in June 2000. We reincorporated in Delaware under the name nLight Photonics Corporation in August 2000 and changed our name to nLIGHT, Inc. in January 2016.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
You should carefully consider the following risk factors, in addition to the other information contained in this report, including the section captioned “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes. This report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements due to factors that are described below and elsewhere in this report.
Risks Related to Our Industry and the Markets We Serve
The markets for our products are highly competitive. If we fail to compete successfully, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects will be materially adversely affected.
The industries in which we operate have significant price and technological competition. We compete with companies providing semiconductor and fiber lasers, and with companies offering conventional laser or non-laser solutions for the applications we target. Some of our competitors are larger and have substantially greater manufacturing, financial and research and development resources and larger installed customer bases than we do. Some of these competitors may be state-owned or otherwise receive substantial government subsidies allowing them to compete more aggressively. Certain of these competitors also have higher sales volume than we do, which can enable them to lower the prices of their products. Moreover, our OEM customers' internal production of laser technologies presents additional competitive pressure. To compete, we have reduced prices of some of our products in the past and we may be forced to lower our prices further in the future, which could negatively impact our revenues and gross margins. To remain competitive, we believe that we will be required to continue to invest significantly in research and development and manufacturing facilities. We may not have sufficient resources to continue to make these investments and we may not be able to make the technological advances or price adjustments necessary to compete successfully. Any failure to compete successfully will materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Changes in the markets we serve could materially adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
Our results of operations may vary based on the impact of changes in the industries we serve or in the global economy. For our products sold to the Industrial market, we believe demand is largely based on general economic conditions and we cannot predict the timing, strength or duration of any economic slowdown or recovery, whether global, regional or within specific markets. For the Microfabrication market, a portion of our revenues depends on the demand for our products from semiconductor equipment companies. The semiconductor equipment market has historically been characterized by sudden and severe cyclical variations in product supply and demand, which have often severely affected the demand for manufacturing
equipment, including laser-based tools and systems, and which limits our ability to predict our business prospects and financial results in this market. The Aerospace and Defense market is largely dependent on government budgets, in particular defense budgets, which are driven by numerous factors, including geopolitical events, macroeconomic conditions and the ability of the U.S. government to enact relevant legislation. As a result, our future revenues are subject in part to the uncertainties of governmental budgeting and appropriations and national defense policies and priorities, constraints of the budgetary process and timing and potential changes to these policies and priorities, all of which are beyond our control. Many of our customers in the defense industry are subcontractors that must negotiate our proposals with the U.S. government. Our continuing relationship with these customers and the ability of these customers to pay for our products dependent on the U.S. government's decision to accept or reject our customers' terms, which can be delayed for a substantial period of time and is largely outside of our control. Such delays could result in decreased revenues and could materially adversely harm our results of operations in any given period.
Products in the laser industry are experiencing declining average selling prices, and any future success depends in part on our ability to increase our volumes and decrease our costs to offset potential declines in the average selling prices of our products.
Products in the laser industries generally, and our products specifically, have experienced and may in the future experience a significant decline in average selling prices (ASPs), on maturing products due to increased competition and price pressures from customers. As competing products become more widely available, the ASPs of our products may decrease, and such decreases may vary by product and market. Due to the fixed cost of production, the average cost per unit of our products typically declines as our production volumes rise. For this reason, we may decide to offer products at ASPs that result in low initial gross margins to us with an intention to drive sales and production volumes higher, in turn lowering our average cost per unit. In addition, we have discontinued and may continue to discontinue certain products if the ASPs for certain products do not generate sufficient gross margin. Because of these factors, we have experienced, and we may continue to experience, fluctuations in our results of operations on a quarterly or annual basis. If the ASPs of our products decline and we are unable to increase our unit volumes, introduce new or enhanced products with higher ASPs or reduce manufacturing costs to offset anticipated decreases in the prices of our existing products, our gross margins could decline, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We participate in markets that are subject to rapid technological change and require significant research and development expenses to develop and maintain products that can achieve market acceptance.
The markets for our products are characterized by rapid technological change, frequent product introductions, substantial capital investment, volatility of product supply and demand, changing customer requirements and evolving industry standards. Our future performance depends in part on our successful development, introduction and market acceptance of new and enhanced products that address these changes and current and potential customer requirements. To the extent customers defer or cancel orders for existing products due to a slowdown in demand or in the expectation of a new product release, or if there is any delay in development or introduction of our new products or enhancements of our products, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects would be materially adversely affected. We also may not be able to develop the underlying core technologies necessary to create new products and enhancements, or to license these technologies from third parties. Product development delays may result from numerous factors, including:
• changing product specifications and customer requirements;
• unanticipated engineering complexities;
• expense reduction measures we have implemented, and others we may implement, to conserve our cash and attempt to sustain profitability;
• difficulties in hiring and retaining necessary technical personnel;
• difficulties in reallocating engineering resources and overcoming resource limitations; and
• changing market or competitive product requirements.
Further, the development of new, technologically advanced products is a complex and uncertain process requiring high levels of innovation and highly skilled engineering and development personnel, as well as the accurate anticipation of technological and market trends. We typically invest substantial resources in advance of material sales of our products to our customers. We cannot assure you that our expenditures for research and development will result in the introduction of new products or, if such products are introduced, that those products will achieve sufficient market acceptance or generate revenues to offset the costs of development. Ramping of production capacity also entails risks of delays which can limit our ability to realize the full benefit of the new product introduction. We cannot assure you that we will be able to identify, develop, manufacture, market or support new or enhanced products successfully. Additionally, our product offerings may become obsolete given the frequent introduction of alternative technologies. If our products fail to gain and maintain market acceptance, it could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Risks Related to Our Business and Operations
We have a history of losses, and as our operating costs increase we may not be able to generate sufficient revenues to achieve or maintain profitability in the future.
We have incurred recurring net losses since our inception in 2000 and expect our operating costs to continue to increase in future periods as we expend substantial financial and other resources on, among other things, business and headcount expansion in operations, sales and marketing, research and development, and administration as a public company. These expenditures may not result in additional revenues or the growth of our business. If we fail to grow revenues or to sustain profitability while our operating costs increase, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects will be materially adversely affected.
Our revenue growth rate in prior periods may not be indicative of our future performance.
Our historical revenue growth rate may not be indicative of future growth and we may not achieve similar revenue growth rates in future periods. You should not rely on our revenues for any prior quarterly or annual periods as an indication of our future revenues or revenue growth. Our results of operations may vary as a result of a number of factors, including our ability to execute on our business strategy and expand our manufacturing capacity, the general economic conditions and the legal and regulatory environment in the United States, China and globally, as well as other factors that are outside of our control.
We have high levels of fixed costs and inventory levels that may materially adversely affect our gross profits and results of operations if demand for our products declines or we maintain excess inventory levels.
We conduct our own manufacturing operations and have a high fixed cost base, including significant costs for the employees in our manufacturing operations. We may not be able to adjust our production levels or fixed costs quickly enough or sufficiently to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. Gross profit, in absolute dollars and as a percentage of revenues, is impacted by our volumes, product sales mix, the corresponding absorption of fixed manufacturing overhead expenses, production costs and manufacturing yields. In addition, because we design and manufacture our key components, insufficient demand for our products will subject us to the risks of high inventory carrying costs and increased inventory obsolescence. If our capacity and production levels are not properly sized in relation to expected demand, or if anticipated sales do not occur, we may need to record write-downs for excess or obsolete inventory.
Our operations are vulnerable to disruptions including pandemics, such as COVID-19, which have disrupted and likely will continue to disrupt our manufacturing and supply chain and adversely affect our business and operating results.
We are vulnerable to the economic effects of public health crises and other disruptions, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on our end-market demand, including delays in new capital expenditure decisions and implementations, restrictions on individual and business activities, and global liquidity concerns, has created significant volatility in the macro-economic environment and led to reduced economic activity. In response to government restrictions around the world, some of our non-manufacturing and technical service personnel outside of China have been primarily working from home since March 2020. Our global manufacturing operations, including our U.S. facilities located in Vancouver and Camas, Washington, Hillsboro, Oregon, and Longmont, Colorado are considered essential businesses and therefore continue to operate. Our facility in Lohja, Finland also continues to operate. Our Shanghai manufacturing facility was temporarily closed in the first quarter of 2020.
The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our financial condition and results of operations will depend on future events and developments, such as the duration and magnitude of the pandemic and the conditions and timing under which restrictions will be lifted or re-imposed, impacts on our supply and distribution chains as well as our customers, the demand for our products, and whether the pandemic leads to recessionary conditions in any of our key markets. As such, the ultimate impact on our financial condition and results of operations cannot be determined at this time. We expect our business, financial condition, and results of operations may continue to be adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic may also intensify the risks described in the other risk factors disclosed in this report.
Our manufacturing capacity and operations may not be appropriate for future levels of demand and may materially adversely affect our gross margins.
When market demand increases, we must be able to rapidly and effectively increase our manufacturing capacity to meet increases in customer demand, and if we fail to do so we may lose business to our competitors and our relationships with our customers may be harmed. To maintain our competitive position and to meet anticipated demand for our products, we have invested significantly in the expansion and automation of our manufacturing and operations throughout the world and may continue to do so in the future. If the demand for our products does not increase or if our revenues decrease from current levels,
we may have significant excess manufacturing capacity and under-absorption of our fixed costs, which could in turn materially adversely affect our gross margins and profitability. In connection with any expansion, we may incur cost overruns, construction delays, labor difficulties or regulatory issues which could cause our capital expenditures to be higher than what we currently anticipate, possibly by a material amount, which would in turn adversely impact our results of operations. Expansion activities can also cause disruptions to existing manufacturing capabilities. Moreover, we may experience higher costs due to yield loss, production inefficiencies and equipment problems until any operational issues associated with the addition of new equipment or opening of new manufacturing facilities are resolved.
We rely on a small number of customers for a significant portion of our revenues, and if we lose any of these customers or they significantly curtail their purchases of our products, our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We rely on a few customers for a significant portion of our revenues. We generally do not enter into long-term purchase agreements with our customers that obligate them to purchase our products. Our business is characterized by short-term purchase orders issued by our customers, which are likely to be favorable to those customers. If any of our principal customers discontinues its relationship with us, develops its own products instead of using ours, replaces us as a vendor for certain products or suffers downturns in its business resulting in a cancellation of orders or an inability to place new orders, then our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected.
If we are unable to develop new products, applications and end markets for our high-performance lasers and increase our market share in existing applications, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects will be materially adversely affected.
Our future success will depend in part on our ability to continue to generate sales of semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers in applications where legacy lasers have been used, or in new and developing markets and applications for lasers where they have not been used previously. As semiconductor and fiber lasers reach higher levels of penetration in core materials processing applications, the development of new applications, end markets and products outside our core applications becomes more important to our growth. Our current and potential customers may have substantial investment in, and know-how related to, their existing laser and non-laser technologies. Customers may be reluctant to change from incumbent suppliers or cease using their own solutions, or we may miss the design and procurement cycles of our customers. Many of our target markets, such as Industrial and Aerospace and Defense, have historically been slow to adopt new technologies. These markets often require long testing and qualification periods or lengthy government approval processes before admitting new suppliers or adopting new technologies.
Introduction of new products and product enhancements will require that we effectively transfer production processes from research and development to manufacturing and coordinate our efforts with those of our suppliers to achieve increased production volume rapidly. If we are unable to implement our strategy to develop new applications and end markets for our products or develop new products, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected. In addition, any newly developed or enhanced products may not achieve market acceptance or may be rendered obsolete or less competitive by the introduction of new products by other companies.
The long sales cycles for our products may cause us to incur significant expenses without offsetting revenues.
Our products represent a large investment for our customers and they typically expend significant effort in evaluating, testing and qualifying our products before making a decision to purchase them, resulting in a lengthy initial sales cycle. While our customers are evaluating our products and before they place an order with us, we may incur substantial sales and marketing and research and development expenses to customize our products to the customers’ needs. We may also expend significant management efforts, increase manufacturing capacity and order long lead-time components or materials prior to receiving an order. Even after this evaluation process, a potential customer may decide not to purchase our products. As a result, these long sales cycles may cause us to incur significant expenses without receiving revenues to offset such expenses soon thereafter or at all. This, in turn, can materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, our results of operations and growth prospects.
Because we lack long-term purchase commitments from our customers, our revenues can be difficult to predict, which could lead to excess or obsolete inventory and materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Our business is characterized by short-term purchase orders and shipment schedules and, in some cases, orders may be canceled or delayed without penalty. As a result, it is difficult to forecast our revenues and to determine the appropriate levels of inventory required to meet future demand. This could lead to increased inventory levels and increased carrying costs and risk of excess or obsolete inventory due to unanticipated reductions in purchases by our customers. If we are unable to accurately forecast the demand for our products, fail to accurately forecast the timing of such demand, or are unable to consistently
negotiate acceptable purchase order terms with customers, we could incur significant expenses, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects may be materially adversely affected.
If we fail to effectively manage our growth or, alternatively, our spending during downturns, our business could be disrupted, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Growth in revenues, combined with the challenges of managing geographically dispersed operations, can place a significant strain on our management systems and resources, and our anticipated growth in future operations could continue to place such a strain. The failure to effectively manage our growth could disrupt our business and materially adversely affect our results of operations. Our ability to successfully offer our products and implement our business plan in evolving markets requires an effective planning and management process. Even if executed successfully, our expansion may not deliver the anticipated increase in revenues and other benefits to compensate for the expenses incurred. This could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. In economic downturns, we must effectively manage our spending and operations to ensure that our competitive position during the downturn, as well as our future opportunities when the economy improves, remains intact. The failure to effectively manage our spending and operations could disrupt our business and materially adversely affect our results of operations.
We depend on internal production and outside single or limited-source suppliers for many of our key components and raw materials, and any interruption in the supply of these key components and raw materials could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We rely exclusively on our own production capabilities to manufacture certain of our key components, such as semiconductor lasers, specialty optical fibers and optical components. Certain of our components, such as our semiconductor lasers, which are manufactured at our Vancouver, Washington facility, and our active fibers, which are manufactured at our Lohja, Finland facility, rely on processes and equipment that cannot be easily moved or replaced. If our manufacturing activities were obstructed or hampered significantly at these, or our other facilities, it could take a considerable length of time, at an increased cost, for us to resume manufacturing, which could materially harm our business and results of operations.
Also, we purchase certain raw materials and components, which are key elements to manufacture our products, from single- or limited-source suppliers. We generally do not have guaranteed supply arrangements with our suppliers. Some of our suppliers are relatively small private companies that may discontinue their operations at any time and may be particularly susceptible to prevailing economic conditions. Some of our suppliers are also our competitors. Our key suppliers may not have the ability to increase their production in line with our customers' demands. This can become acute during times of high growth in our customers' businesses. As a result, we experienced, and may in the future experience, longer lead times or delays in fulfillment of our orders. Furthermore, other than our current suppliers, there may be a limited number of entities from which we could obtain these supplies. We do not anticipate that we would be able to purchase these materials that we require in a short period of time or at the same cost from other sources in commercial quantities or that have our required performance specifications. In addition, if quality issues arise with these outsourced materials and go undetected by us, the use of such defective materials in our products could compromise their quality and harm our reputation.
For certain long lead-time supplies or in order to lock in pricing, we may be obligated to place purchase orders which are not cancelable or otherwise assume liability for a large amount of the ordered supplies, which limits our ability to adjust down our inventory liability in the event of market downturns or other customer cancellations or rescheduling of their purchase orders for our products. Some of our products require designs and specifications which are at the cutting-edge of available technologies. Our and our customers' designs and specifications frequently change to meet rapidly evolving market demands. Accordingly, certain of our products require components and supplies which may be technologically difficult and unpredictable to manufacture. These types of components may only be available by a single supplier. These characteristics place further pressure on the timely delivery of such components. Any interruption or delay in the supply of any of these components or materials, or the inability to obtain these components and materials from alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable amount of time, could materially adversely affect our ability to meet customer orders. If our suppliers face financial or other difficulties, do not maintain sufficient inventory on hand or if there are significant changes in demand for the components and materials we obtain from them, they could limit the availability of these components and materials to us. Any of the foregoing could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We depend on our OEM customers and system integrators to incorporate our products into their systems.
Our revenues depend in part on our ability to maintain existing and secure new OEM customers. Our revenues also depend in part upon the ability of our current and potential OEM customers and system integrators to incorporate our products into their systems, and to sell such systems successfully. The commercial success of these systems depends to a substantial degree on the efforts of these OEM customers and system integrators to develop and market products that incorporate our technologies. Relationships and experience with traditional laser makers, limited marketing resources, reluctance to invest in research and
development and other factors affecting these OEM customers and third-party system integrators could have a substantial impact upon demand for our products, and in turn upon our revenues and financial results. If OEM customers or integrators are not able to adapt existing tools or develop new systems to take advantage of the features and benefits of lasers, or if they perceive us to be an actual or potential competitor, then the opportunities to expand our revenues and increase our margins may be severely limited or delayed. In addition, some of our OEM customers are developing their own laser sources. If they are successful, this may reduce our revenues from these customers.
Our products could contain defects, which may reduce sales of those products, harm market acceptance of our high-performance laser products or result in claims against us.
The manufacture of our high-performance lasers involves highly complex and precise processes. Despite testing by us and our customers, errors have been found in our products and may be found in the future. In addition, some of our products are combined with products from other vendors, which may contain defects. As a result, should problems occur, it may be difficult to identify the source of the problem. Our products are typically sold with warranty provisions that require us to remedy deficiencies in quality or performance over a specified period of time at no cost to our customers. Reserves for estimated warranty claims are recorded during the period of sale. The determination of such reserves requires us to make estimates of failure rates and expected costs to repair or replace the products under warranty. We typically establish warranty reserves based on historical warranty costs for each product line. If actual return rates and/or repair and replacement costs differ significantly from our estimates, adjustments to cost of revenues may be required in future periods, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations. These defects may cause us to incur significant warranty, support and repair costs, incur additional costs related to a recall, divert the attention of our engineering personnel from our product development efforts and harm our relationships with our customers. These problems could result in, among other things, loss of revenues or a delay in revenue recognition, loss of market share, harm to our reputation or a delay or loss of market acceptance of our laser products. Defects, integration issues or other performance problems in our products could also result in personal injury or financial or other damages to our customers, which in turn could damage market acceptance of our products. Our customers could also seek damages from us for their losses. A product liability claim brought against us, even if unsuccessful, could be time-consuming and costly to defend, and could harm our reputation. We cannot assure investors that our product liability insurance would adequately protect our assets from the financial impact of defending a product liability claim. Any product liability claim brought against us, with or without merit, could increase our product liability insurance rates or prevent us from securing insurance coverage in the future.
A breach of our information technology and security systems could materially adversely affect our business.
We use information technology and security systems to maintain our facility's physical security and to protect proprietary and confidential information, including that of our customers, suppliers and employees. Denial of service or other attacks on, or accidental or willful security breaches or other unauthorized access to our facilities or information systems, unauthorized access to or acquisition of personal information, confidential information or other data we process or maintain, or viruses, loggers, or other malfeasant code, including ransomware, in our data or software, could compromise this information and otherwise disrupt our operations. The consequences of such loss, possible misuse of our proprietary and confidential information, or operational disruptions could include, among other things, unfavorable publicity, damage to our reputation, difficulty marketing our products, customer allegations of breach-of-contract, claims and litigation by affected parties, investigations by and other proceedings involving governmental authorities and possible financial liabilities for damages, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, reputation and relationships with customers and partners. We also rely on a number of third-party service providers to host, store or otherwise process information for us, or to provide other facilities or infrastructure that we make use of, including "cloud-based" providers of corporate infrastructure services relating to, among other things, human resources, electronic communication services and some financial functions, and we are therefore dependent on the security systems of these providers. Any security breaches or other unauthorized access to, or disruptions of, our service-providers' systems or viruses, loggers or other malfeasant code in their data or software, or unauthorized access to or acquisition of any data they process or otherwise maintain for us could expose us to information loss, operational disruptions, and misappropriation of confidential information, and could have similar consequences to us as any incidents affecting our own systems or the data we process or maintain. We and our third parties face these threats from a variety of sources, including attacks from hackers, phishing and other forms of social engineering, and human error or employee or contractor malfeasance. Because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to or sabotage security systems change frequently and are often not recognized until after an attack, we and our third-party service providers may be unable to anticipate the techniques or implement adequate preventative measures, thereby exposing us to material adverse effects on our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects. A security breach or other security incident impacting us or our third-party service providers could require a substantial level of financial resources to rectify and otherwise respond to, may be difficult to identify or address in a timely manner, and could result in claims, investigations, and inquires by private parties or governmental entities that may divert management’s attention and require the expenditure of significant time and resources, and which may cause us to incur substantial fines, penalties, or other liability and related legal and other costs. Any actual or perceived security breach
or other security incident may also harm our reputation and market position. Any of the foregoing matters could harm our operating results and financial condition.
We may not be able to recruit or retain qualified personnel.
We believe our ability to manage successfully and grow our business and to develop new products depends, in large part, on our ability to recruit and retain qualified employees, particularly highly skilled technical, sales, service, management, and key staff personnel. Competition for qualified resources is intense and other companies may have greater resources available to provide substantial inducements to lure key personnel away from us or to offer more competitive compensation packages to individuals we are trying to hire.
Our growth is dependent, in part, on the successful integration of acquired businesses.
We acquired Nutronics in 2019 and may pursue other strategic transactions in the future. We have limited experience executing acquisitions. Integrating an acquired company, business or technology may create unforeseen operating difficulties and expenditures. If we fail to successfully integrate our acquisitions, or the people or technologies associated with those acquisitions, into our company, the results of operations of the combined company could be adversely affected. Any integration process will require significant time and resources, require significant attention from management, and disrupt the ordinary functioning of our business, and we may not be able to manage the process successfully, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition. We may have to pay cash, incur debt, or issue equity securities to pay for any such acquisition, each of which could affect our financial condition or the value of our capital stock. The sale of equity to finance any such acquisitions could result in dilution to our stockholders. If we incur more debt, it would result in increased fixed obligations and could also subject us to covenants or other restrictions that would impede our ability to flexibly operate our business.
Risks Related to Our International Sales and Operations
Our inability to manage risks associated with our international customers and operations could materially adversely affect our business.
Our foreign operations and revenues are subject to a number of risks, including the impact of recessions and other economic conditions in economies outside the United States, unexpected changes in regulatory requirements, certification requirements, environmental regulations, reduced protection for intellectual property rights in some countries, potentially adverse tax consequences, political and economic instability, import/export regulations, tariffs and trade barriers, compliance with applicable United States and foreign anti-corruption laws, cultural and management differences, pandemic illness, reliance in some jurisdictions on third-party revenues from channel partners, preference for locally produced products, shipping, or other logistics complications, and longer accounts receivable collection periods. In particular, the economic, political, legal, and regulatory climate in China, both nationally and regionally, is fluid and unpredictable, and operating in China exposes us to economic, political and legal risks.
Our business could also be impacted by international conflicts, terrorist and military activity, civil unrest and pandemic illness, including COVID-19, which could cause a slowdown in customer orders, cause customer order cancellations or negatively impact availability of supplies or limit our ability to produce or timely service our installed base of products. Political, economic and monetary instability and changes in governmental regulations or policies, including trade tariffs and protectionism, could materially adversely affect both our ability to effectively operate our foreign offices and the ability of our foreign suppliers to supply us with required materials or services. Any interruption or delay in the supply of our required components, products, materials or services, or our inability to obtain these components, materials, products or services from alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable amount of time, could impair our ability to meet scheduled product deliveries to our customers and could cause customers to cancel orders.
Our failure to manage the foregoing risks associated with our existing and potential future international business operations could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Tariffs and global trade policies could increase the cost of our products, which could adversely impact the competitiveness of our products and our financial results.
Tariffs may materially increase the cost of our raw materials and finished goods, and may negatively impact our margins as we may not be able to pass on the additional cost through increasing the prices of our products. Tariffs may cause a contraction of certain industries, including the Industrial market. As such, there may be potential decrease in the spending powers of our customers, which may lead to fewer business opportunities and our operation may be negatively impacted.
We are exposed to foreign currency risk, which may materially adversely affect our revenues, cost of revenues and operating margins and could result in exchange losses.
Our international operations are significant to our revenues and net income. While we report our financial results in U.S. dollars, we incur certain costs in other currencies, and have certain foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities. We, therefore, face exposure to fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Significant fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and foreign currencies may adversely affect our revenues and earnings.
Risks Related to Litigation, Taxation and Regulatory Compliance
Our agreements with the U.S. government and suppliers to the U.S. government subject us to unique risks.
We must comply with and are affected by laws and regulations relating to the award, administration, and performance of U.S. government contracts. Awards received from the U.S. government may be cancelled or lose funding. The U.S. government contracting party may require us to increase or decrease production of certain solutions sold to the U.S. government due to changes in U.S. national security strategy and/or priorities or other reasons, which could impact production of other products or sales to other customers to meet the requirements of the U.S. government. In addition, the U.S. government routinely retains rights to intellectual property developed in connection with a government contract. The U.S. government could exercise these rights in certain circumstances in the future, which could have the effect of decreasing the benefit we are able to realize commercially from such intellectual property.
U.S. government agencies routinely audit and investigate government contractors and can decrease or withhold certain payments when it deems systems subject to its review to be inadequate. Additionally, any costs found to be misclassified may be subject to repayment. We have unaudited and unsettled incurred cost claims related to past years, which places risk on our ability to issue final billings on contracts for which authorized and appropriated funds may be expiring. If an audit or investigation uncovers improper or illegal activities, we may be subject to civil or criminal penalties and administrative sanctions, including reductions of the value of contracts, contract modifications or terminations, forfeiture of profits, suspension of payments, penalties, fines and suspension, or prohibition from doing business with the U.S. government. In addition, we could suffer serious reputational harm if allegations of impropriety were made against us. Similar government oversight exists in most other countries where we conduct business. Any such imposition of penalties, or the loss of such government contracts, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are subject to governmental export and import controls that could subject us to liability or impair our ability to compete in international markets.
The U.S. and various foreign governments have imposed controls, export license requirements and restrictions on the import or export of certain products, technologies, and software. We must export our products in compliance with U.S. export controls and we may not always be successful in obtaining necessary export licenses. Our failure to obtain required import or export approval for our products or limitations on our ability to export or sell our products imposed by these laws may harm our international and domestic revenues. Noncompliance with these laws could have negative consequences, including government investigations, penalties and reputational harm. In addition, compliance with the directives of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, or DDTC, may result in substantial expenses and diversion of management attention. Any failure to adequately address the directives of DDTC could result in civil fines or suspension or loss of our export privileges, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Changes in our products or changes in export, import and economic sanctions laws and regulations may delay our introduction of new products in international markets, prevent our customers from deploying our products internationally or, in some cases, prevent the export or import of our products to or from certain countries altogether. In addition to the tariffs imposed by the U.S. Government on certain items imported from China, it is possible that additional sanctions or restrictions may be imposed by the United States on items imported into the United States from China. Similarly, in addition to the tariffs imposed by China on certain items imported from the United States, it is possible that additional sanctions or restrictions may be imposed by China on items imported into China from the United States. Any such measures could further adversely affect our ability to sell our products to existing or potential customers and harm our ability to compete internationally and grow our business. Any change in export or import regulations or legislation, shift or change in enforcement, or change in the countries, persons or technologies targeted by these regulations, could result in decreased use of our products by, or in our decreased ability to export or sell our products to, existing or potential customers with international operations. In such event, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected.
We are subject to anti-corruption, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering and similar laws, and non-compliance with such laws can subject us to criminal penalties or significant fines and harm our business and reputation.
We are subject to anti-corruption and anti-bribery and similar laws. Anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws have been enforced aggressively in recent years and are interpreted broadly and prohibit companies and their employees and agents from promising, authorizing, making, offering, soliciting or accepting improper payments or other benefits to or from government officials and others in the public and private sectors. We can be held liable for the corrupt or other illegal activities of our employees, representatives, contractors, business partners and agents, even if we do not explicitly authorize or have actual knowledge of such activities. Our operations and sales in China, India, Brazil, the Middle East, and other countries create the risk of unauthorized payments or offers of payments by our employees, consultants, sales agents or distributors, even though they may not always be subject to our control.
These laws also require that we keep accurate books and records and maintain internal controls and compliance procedures designed to prevent any such actions. While we have policies and procedures to address compliance with these laws, we cannot assure you that our employees, representatives, contractors, business partners and agents will not take actions that violate our policies or applicable law, for which we can be held liable.
Noncompliance with these laws could subject us to investigations, sanctions, settlements, prosecution, other enforcement actions, disgorgement of profits, significant fines, damages, other civil and criminal penalties or injunctions, suspension or debarment from contracting with certain persons, the loss of export privileges, whistleblower complaints, reputational harm, adverse media coverage and other collateral consequences. If any subpoenas or investigations are launched, or governmental or other sanctions are imposed, or if we do not prevail in any possible civil or criminal litigation, our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected. In addition, responding to any action will likely result in a materially significant diversion of management's attention and resources and significant defense and compliance costs and other professional fees.
We could be subject to additional income tax liabilities.
Our tax liability, after-tax profitability and effective tax rate in a given financial statement period may be materially impacted by changes in tax laws, including legislation implementing changes in taxation of international business activities, changes in the mix and level of earnings by taxing jurisdictions or changes to existing accounting rules or regulations. There are numerous other factors that could affect our tax rate, including, among others, intercompany transactions, losses incurred in jurisdictions for which we are not able to realize the related tax benefits, and entry into new businesses and geographies. Fluctuations in our tax obligations and effective tax rate could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
We are subject to income taxes in the United States and certain other foreign jurisdictions. Judgment is required in evaluating our worldwide provision for income taxes. During the ordinary course of business, there are many transactions for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. For example, our effective tax rates could be adversely affected by earnings being lower than anticipated in countries where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated in countries where we have higher statutory rates, by changes in foreign currency exchange rates, by changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, or by changes in the relevant tax, accounting and other laws, regulations, principles and interpretations. We are subject to audit in various jurisdictions, and such jurisdictions may assess additional income tax against us. The final determination of tax audits and any related litigation could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals. The results of an audit or litigation could have a material adverse effect on our operating results or cash flows in the period or periods for which that determination is made.
Our intercompany relationships are subject to complex transfer pricing regulations administered by taxing authorities in various jurisdictions. If relevant taxing authorities were to disagree with our determinations as to the income and expenses attributable to specific jurisdictions, and our position was not sustained, we could be required to pay additional taxes, interest and penalties, which could result in one-time tax charges, higher effective tax rates, reduced cash flows and lower overall profitability of our operations. There can be no assurances that our reserves would be adequate to cover such a contingency.
We are subject to various environmental laws and regulations that could impose substantial costs upon us and may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
We are subject to a variety of federal, state, local and foreign environmental regulations relating to the use, storage, discharge and disposal of hazardous chemicals used during our manufacturing process or requiring design changes or recycling of products we manufacture. We could incur costs, fines and civil or criminal sanctions, third-party property damage or personal injury claims, or could be required to incur substantial investigation or remediation costs, if we were to violate or become liable under environmental laws. Compliance with current or future environmental laws and regulations could restrict our ability to expand our facilities or require us to acquire additional expensive equipment, modify our manufacturing processes or incur other significant expenses in order to remain in compliance with such laws and regulations.
Privacy and data security concerns, and data collection and transfer restrictions and related domestic or foreign regulations may limit the use and adoption of our solutions and adversely affect our business.
Personal privacy, information security and data protection are significant issues in the United States, Europe and many other jurisdictions where we have operations or offer our products. The regulatory framework governing the collection, use, and other processing of personal data and other information is rapidly evolving. The United States federal and various state and foreign governments have adopted or proposed requirements regarding the collection, distribution, use, security and storage of personally identifiable information and other data relating to individuals, and federal and state consumer protection laws are being applied to enforce regulations related to the online collection, use and dissemination of data.
Further, many foreign countries and governmental bodies, including the European Union (EU) and China, have laws and regulations concerning the collection and use of personal data obtained from their residents or by businesses operating within their jurisdiction, or relating to cybersecurity. These laws and regulations often are more restrictive than those in the United States. We also expect that there will continue to be new proposed laws, regulations and industry standards concerning privacy, data protection and information security in the United States, the EU and other jurisdictions. We cannot yet fully determine the impact these or future laws, regulations and standards may have on our business, but these laws, regulations and standards often are subject to differing interpretations, may be inconsistent among jurisdictions, and may be alleged to be inconsistent with our current or future practices. We also may be bound by contractual or other obligations applicable to our collection, use, processing, security and disclosure of various types of data. These and other requirements could increase our costs, impair our ability to grow our business, or restrict our ability to store and process data, and may subject us to liability.
The costs of compliance with and other burdens imposed by laws, regulations, standards and other actual or asserted obligations relating to privacy, data protection and information security may be substantial, and they may require us to modify our data processing practices and policies. Any actual or alleged noncompliance with any of these laws, regulations, standards, and other actual or asserted obligations may lead to claims and proceedings by governmental actors and private parties, and significant fines, penalties or liabilities.
Results of future litigation could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
From time to time, we have been subject to litigation. The outcome of any litigation, regardless of its merits, is inherently uncertain. Future litigation could result in significant damages payable by us, and could harm our reputation. Even if we are successful in our defense, such litigation could still result in a diversion of management's attention and our resources and we may be required to incur significant expenses defending against these claims. We cannot predict our future commitments with respect to any matters encountered in the future, or their eventual outcome. Because of uncertainties relating to litigation, the amount of our liability estimates could be wrong. Any adverse determination related to litigation could require us to change our technology or our business practices, pay monetary damages or fines, or enter into royalty or licensing arrangements, which could materially adversely affect our cash flows, harm our reputation, or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
If we are unable to protect our proprietary technology and intellectual property rights, our competitive position could be harmed and our results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We rely on a variety of intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets, technical know-how and other unpatented proprietary information to protect our technologies, products, product development and manufacturing activities from unauthorized use by third parties. Our patents do not cover all of our technologies, systems, products and product components and our competitors or others may design around our patented technologies. We cannot guarantee we have entered into appropriate agreements with all parties that have had access to our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information to adequately protect all such information. We also cannot assure you that those agreements will provide meaningful protection for our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information in the event of any unauthorized use or disclosure. Our trade secrets, know-how or other proprietary information could be obtained by third parties as a result of breaches of our physical or electronic security systems or our suppliers, employees or consultants could assert rights to our intellectual property.
We have significant international operations and we are subject to foreign laws which differ in many respects from U.S. laws. Effective intellectual property protection may be unavailable or more limited in foreign jurisdictions in which we operate, such as China, relative to those protections available in the United States. Furthermore, any changes in, or unexpected interpretations of, the trade secret and other intellectual property laws in any country in which we operate may materially adversely affect our ability to enforce our trade secret and intellectual property positions. In the past, certain of our employees have been hired by
our competitors. While these former employees are contractually prohibited from misappropriating our proprietary rights, we cannot be certain that such contractual obligations will be honored. If we detect misappropriation and decide to enforce such contractual obligations and pursue litigation to assert our intellectual property rights, an adverse decision in any legal action could limit our ability to assert our intellectual property rights, limit the value of our technology or otherwise materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Monitoring unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly. Unauthorized use of our intellectual property may have already occurred or may occur in the future. Our failure to identify unauthorized use or otherwise adequately protect our intellectual property could jeopardize our competitive advantage and materially adversely affect our business. Moreover, any litigation in connection with unauthorized use of our intellectual property could be time consuming, and we could be forced to incur significant costs and divert our attention and the efforts of our employees, which could, in turn, result in lower revenues and higher expenses, and we may not be successful in enforcing our intellectual property rights.
Intellectual property claims could result in costly litigation and harm our business.
There has been significant litigation involving intellectual property rights in many technology-driven industries, including our own. We continue to face risks and uncertainties in connection with any patent litigation, including the risk that patents issued to others may restrict and harm our ability to do business; that there could be existing patents or pending applications of which we are unaware that may later result in issued patents upon which our product may infringe. Moreover, the frequency with which new patents are granted and the diversity of jurisdictions in which they are granted make it impractical and expensive for us to monitor all patents that may be relevant to our business. We may also become involved in the defense and prosecution of intellectual property suits, patent interferences, opposition proceedings and other administrative proceedings.
From time to time, we have been notified of allegations and claims that we may be infringing patents or otherwise violating intellectual property rights owned by third parties. In the future, we may be a party to litigation because of an alleged infringement, misappropriation, or other violation of others' intellectual property, whether through direct claims or by way of indemnification claims of our customers or suppliers. If any pending or future intellectual property-related litigation proceedings result in an adverse outcome, then we could be required to:
• cease the manufacture, use or sale of the infringing products, processes, or technology;
• pay substantial damages for infringement;
• expend significant resources to develop non-infringing products, processes, or technology;
• license technology from the party claiming infringement, which license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all;
• cross-license our technology to a competitor or commit to covenant-not-to-sue to resolve an infringement claim, which could weaken our ability to compete with that competitor; or
•pay substantial damages to our direct or indirect customers to cause our end users to discontinue their use of, or replace, infringing products with non-infringing products.
In addition, intellectual property lawsuits can be brought by third parties against our customers and end-users that incorporate our products into their systems or processes. Because we generally indemnify customers against third-party infringement claims relating to our products, we may incur liabilities in connection with lawsuits against our customers. Any such lawsuits could be time-and-resources-consuming to defend, damage our reputation and result in substantial and unanticipated costs. Having to defend any such lawsuits, and any adverse consequences that might arise, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects.
Our ability to use net operating loss carryforwards to offset future taxable income may be limited.
We have U.S. federal and state net operating loss carryforwards (NOLs) and research development credit carryforwards which we may use to reduce future taxable income or offset income taxes due. Some of the NOLs and credit carryforwards start expiring in 2021 and others will start expiring in 2023. Insufficient future taxable income will adversely affect our ability to deploy these NOLs and credit carryforwards. Our ability to utilize these NOLs and credit carryforwards may also be affected by recent tax legislation such as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which allows federal NOLs incurred in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 to be carried forward indefinitely, but limits use of such federal NOLs in tax years beginning after December 31, 2020 to 80% of taxable income. In addition, under Section 382 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or the Code, a corporation that experiences a more than 50% ownership change over a three-year testing period is limited in its ability to use its pre-change NOLs and other tax assets to offset future taxable income or income taxes due. Our existing NOLs and credit carryforwards are subject to limitations arising from previous ownership changes. Our ability to use our NOLs and credit carryforwards could be further limited by Section 382 of the Code if we undergo an ownership change. Future changes in our stock ownership, the causes of which may be outside our control, could result in an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code. Our NOLs may also be impaired under state
law. As a result of these limitations, we may not be able to utilize a material portion of, or possibly any of, the NOLs and credit carryforwards, which could materially adversely affect our cash flows.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
Fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations may increase the volatility of our stock price and may be difficult to predict.
We have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations. We believe that fluctuations in quarterly results may cause the market price of our common stock to increase or decrease, perhaps substantially. Factors which have had or may in the future have an influence on our results of operations in a particular quarter include:
• the increase, decrease, cancellation or rescheduling of significant customer orders;
• declines in selling prices for our products;
• the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health crises, including on macroeconomic conditions and our business, results of operations and financial condition;
• government-mandated quarantines or closures applicable to our facilities or the facilities of our customers or suppliers;
• delays in our product-shipment timing, obtaining licenses or other import/export approvals, customer or end-user sales or deployment cycles, or work performed under development contracts;
• seasonality attributable to different purchasing patterns and levels of activity throughout the year in the areas where we operate;
• the impact of new acquisitions and the success of our integration efforts;
• the timing of revenue recognition based on the installation or acceptance of certain products shipped to our customers;
• timing variability in product introductions, enhancements, services and technologies by us and our competitors and market acceptance of these new or enhanced products, services and technologies;
• different capital expenditure and budget cycles for our customers, which affect the timing of their spending;
• our ability to obtain export licenses for our products on a timely basis or at all;
• changes in tariffs imposed by the U.S., China and other foreign governments;
• the rate at which our present and future customers and end users adopt our technologies;
• the gain or loss of a key customer;
• product or customer mix;
• competitive pricing pressures and new market entrants;
• our ability to design, manufacture and introduce new products on a cost-effective and timely basis;
• our ability to manage our inventory levels and any write-downs for excess or obsolete inventory;
• our ability to collect outstanding accounts receivable balances;
• changes in the amount and timing of our operating costs, including those related to the expansion of our business, operations and infrastructure;
• impairment of values for goodwill, intangibles and other long-lived assets;
• foreign currency fluctuations;
• changes in jurisdictional income mix and tax rules and regulations in countries where we operate; and
• economic and market conditions in a particular geography or country.
A substantial portion of our operating expenses are fixed for the short-term, and as a result, fluctuations in revenues or unanticipated expenses can have a material and immediate impact on our profitability. In addition, we often recognize a substantial portion of our revenues in the last month of each fiscal quarter. Our expenses for any given quarter are typically based on expected revenues, and if revenues are below expectations in any given quarter, the adverse impact of the shortfall on our results of operations may be magnified by our inability to adjust spending quickly enough to compensate for the shortfall. We also base our manufacturing on our forecasted product mix for the quarter. If the actual product mix varies significantly from our forecast, we may not be able to fill some orders during that quarter, which would result in delays in the shipment of our products. Accordingly, variations in timing of sales, particularly for our higher priced, higher margin products, can cause significant fluctuations in quarterly results of operations.
Due to these and other factors, particularly varying product mix from quarter to quarter, we believe that quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year comparisons of our historical results of operations may not be meaningful. You should not rely on our results for any quarter or year as an indication of our future performance.
The market price of our common stock may be volatile, and the value of your investment could decline significantly.
Technology stocks have historically experienced high levels of volatility. The trading price of our common stock has been and is likely to continue to be volatile. Factors that could cause fluctuations in the trading price of our common stock include the following:
• the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health crises, including on macroeconomic conditions and our business, results of operations and financial condition;
• price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time;
• changes in operating performance, stock market valuations and volatility in the market prices of other technology companies generally, or those in our industry in particular;
• actual or anticipated quarterly variations in our results of operations or those of our competitors;
• actual or anticipated changes in our growth rate relative to our competitors;
• announcements by us or our competitors of acquisitions, new products, significant contracts, commercial relationships or capital commitments;
• manufacturing or supply interruptions;
• developments with respect to intellectual property rights;
• our ability to develop and market new and enhanced products on a timely basis;
• commencement of, or our involvement in, litigation;
• major changes in our Board of Directors or management;
• changes in governmental regulations or in the status of our regulatory approvals;
•actual or perceived privacy, data protection or cybersecurity breaches or incidents;
• the trading volume of our stock;
• any future sales or repurchases of our common stock or other securities;
• failure of financial analysts to maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by any analysts who follow our company or our failure to meet these estimates or the expectations of investors;
• fluctuations in the values of companies perceived by investors to be comparable to us;
• the financial projections we may provide to the public, any changes in these projections or our failure to meet these projections; and
• general economic conditions and slow or negative growth of related markets.
The stock market in general, and market prices for the securities of technology companies like ours in particular, have from time to time experienced volatility that often has been unrelated to the operating performance of the underlying companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance. In several recent situations when the market price of a stock has been volatile, holders of that stock have instituted securities class action litigation against the company that issued the stock. If any of our stockholders were to bring a lawsuit against us, the defense and disposition of the lawsuit could be costly and divert the time and attention of our management and materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Future sales of our common stock could cause our stock price to fall.
Our stock price could decline as a result of sales of a large number of shares of our common stock or the perception that these sales could occur. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate.
Delaware and Washington law and provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make a merger, tender offer or proxy contest difficult, thereby depressing the trading price of our common stock.
Provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws may delay or discourage transactions involving an actual or potential change in our control or change in our management, including transactions in which stockholders might otherwise receive a premium for their shares, or transactions that our stockholders might otherwise deem to be in their best interests. Therefore, these provisions could adversely affect the price of our stock. Among other things, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws:
• permit the Board of Directors to issue up to 5 million shares of preferred stock, with any rights, preferences and privileges as they may designate;
• provide that the authorized number of directors may be changed only by resolution of the Board of Directors;
• provide that all vacancies on our Board of Directors may only be filled by our Board of Directors and not by stockholders;
• divide the Board of Directors into three classes;
• provide that a director may only be removed from the Board of Directors by the stockholders for cause;
• require that any action to be taken by our stockholders must be effected at a duly called annual or special meeting of stockholders and may not be taken by written consent;
• provide that stockholders seeking to present proposals before a meeting of stockholders or to nominate candidates for election as directors at a meeting of stockholders must provide notice in writing in a timely manner and meet specific requirements as to the form and content of a stockholder's notice;
• prevent cumulative voting rights (therefore allowing the holders of a plurality of the shares of common stock entitled to vote in any election of directors to elect all of the directors standing for election, if they should so choose);
• provide that special meetings of our stockholders may be called only by the chairman of the board, our chief executive officer (or president, in the absence of a chief executive officer) or by the Board of Directors; and
• provide that stockholders will be permitted to amend our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and our amended and restated bylaws only upon receiving at least two-thirds of the total votes entitled to be cast by holders of all outstanding shares then entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class.
In addition, we are governed by the provisions of Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which generally prohibits a Delaware corporation from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any "interested" stockholder for a period of three years following the date on which the stockholder became an "interested" stockholder. Likewise, because our principal executive offices are located in Washington, the anti-takeover provisions of the Washington Business Corporation Act may apply to us under certain circumstances now or in the future. These provisions prohibit a "target corporation" from engaging in any of a broad range of business combinations with any stockholder constituting an "acquiring person" for a period of five years following the date on which the stockholder became an "acquiring person."
Our bylaws designate a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, and also provide that the federal district courts are the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act, each of which could limit our stockholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, stockholders or employees.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that, unless we consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers, or other employees to us or our stockholders, (iii) any action arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law, or our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or (iv) any other action asserting a claim that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine shall be a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware, in all cases subject to the court having jurisdiction over indispensable parties named as defendants. Our amended and restated bylaws also provide that the federal district courts of the United States of America are the exclusive forum for resolving any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. These exclusive-forum provisions may limit a stockholder's ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum of its choosing for disputes with us or our directors, officers, or other employees, which may discourage lawsuits against us and our directors, officers, and other employees. If a court were to find either exclusive-forum provision in our amended and restated bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving the dispute in other jurisdictions, which could harm our results of operations.