Echelon 10-Q 2012
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
For the quarterly period ended March 31, 2012
For the transition period from to
(Commission file number)
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
550 Meridian Avenue
San Jose, CA 95126
(Address of principal executive office and zip code)
(Registrants telephone number, including area code)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No x
As of April 30, 2012, 42,620,489 shares of the registrants common stock were outstanding.
FOR THE QUARTER ENDED MARCH 31, 2012
This report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws that involve risks and uncertainties. Certain statements contained in this report are not purely historical including, without limitation, statements regarding our expectations, beliefs, intentions, anticipations, commitments or strategies regarding the future that are forward-looking. These statements include those discussed in Item 2, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, including Critical Accounting Estimates, Results of Operations, Off-Balance-Sheet Arrangements and Other Critical Contractual Obligations, Liquidity and Capital Resources, and Recently Issued Accounting Standards, and elsewhere in this report.
In this report, the words may, could, would, might, will, should, plan, forecast, anticipate, believe, expect, intend, estimate, predict, potential, continue, future, moving toward or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions also identify forward-looking statements. Our actual results could differ materially from those forward-looking statements contained in this report as a result of a number of risk factors including, but not limited to, those set forth in the section entitled Factors That May Affect Future Results of Operations and elsewhere in this report. You should carefully consider these risks, in addition to the other information in this report and in our other filings with the SEC. All forward-looking statements and reasons why results may differ included in this report are made as of the date of this report, and we assume no obligation to update any such forward-looking statement or reason why such results might differ.
PART I. FINANCIAL INFORMATION
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(In thousands, except per share amounts)
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE LOSS
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
See accompanying notes to condensed consolidated financial statements.
NOTES TO CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Basis of Presentation
The condensed consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Echelon Corporation (the Company), a Delaware corporation, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated.
While the financial information furnished is unaudited, the condensed consolidated financial statements included in this report reflect all adjustments (consisting only of normal recurring adjustments) which the Company considers necessary for the fair presentation of the results of operations for the interim periods covered and of the financial condition of the Company at the date of the interim balance sheet. The results for interim periods are not necessarily indicative of the results for the entire year. The condensed consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the Companys consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2011 included in its Annual Report on Form 10-K.
There have been no material changes to the Companys significant accounting policies as compared to the significant accounting policies described in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011.
Risks and Uncertainties
The Companys operations and performance depend significantly on worldwide economic conditions and their impact on purchases of the Companys products, as well as the ability of suppliers to provide the Company with products and services in a timely manner. The impact of any of the matters described below could have an adverse effect on the Companys business, results of operations and financial condition.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements and related disclosures in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America requires management to make judgments, assumptions, and estimates that affect amounts reported in the Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes. Significant estimates and judgments are used for revenue recognition, performance-based equity compensation, inventory valuation, allowance for warranty costs, and other loss contingencies. In order to determine the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources, the Company bases its estimates and assumptions on current facts, historical experience, and various other factors that it believes to be reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results experienced by the Company may differ materially from managements estimates.
Recently Issued Accounting Standards
In June 2011, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2011-05, Comprehensive Income (ASC Topic 220) Presentation of Comprehensive Income. The amendments from this update will result in more converged guidance on how comprehensive income is presented under U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). With this update to ASC 220, an entity has the option to present the total of comprehensive income, the components of net income, and the components of other comprehensive income either in a single continuous statement of comprehensive income or in two separate but consecutive statements. In either option, an entity is required to present each component of net income along with total net income, each component of other comprehensive income along with a total for other comprehensive income, and a total amount for comprehensive income. The amendments in this update do not change the items that must be reported in other comprehensive income or when an item of other comprehensive income must be reclassified to net income, nor does it affect how earnings per share is calculated or presented. Previously, U.S. GAAP allowed reporting entities three alternatives for presenting other comprehensive income and its components in financial statements. One such alternative was to present the components of other comprehensive income as part of the statement of changes in stockholders equity. This ASU eliminates that option. The amended guidance also requires presentation of adjustments for items that are reclassified from other comprehensive income to net income in the statement where the components of net income and the components of other comprehensive income are presented. The amendments in this ASU should be applied retrospectively. For public entities, the amendments are effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning after December 15, 2011. In December 2011 the FASB decided to defer the requirement to present reclassifications of other comprehensive income on the face of the income statement. The Companys adoption of this guidance as of January 1, 2012 did not have a material impact on its condensed consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
The Companys revenues are derived from the sale and license of its products and to a lesser extent, from fees associated with training, technical support, and custom software design services offered to its customers. Product revenues consist of revenues from hardware sales and software licensing arrangements. Service revenues consist of product technical support (including software post-contract support services), training, and custom software development services.
The Company recognizes revenue when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, delivery to the customers carrier (and acceptance, as applicable) has occurred, the sales price is fixed or determinable, collectability is probable, and there are no post-delivery obligations. For non-distributor hardware sales, including sales to third party manufacturers, these criteria are generally met at the time of delivery to the customers carrier. However, for arrangements that contain contractual acceptance provisions, revenue recognition may be delayed until acceptance by the customer or the acceptance provisions lapse unless the Company can objectively demonstrate that the contractual acceptance criteria have been satisfied, which is generally accomplished by establishing a history of acceptance for the same or similar products. For sales made to the Companys distributor partners, revenue recognition criteria are generally met at the time the distributor sells the products through to its end-use customer. Service revenue is recognized as the training services are performed, or ratably over the term of the support period.
The Company accounts for the rights of return, price protection, rebates, and other sales incentives offered to distributors of its products as a reduction in revenue. With the exception of sales to distributors, the Companys customers are generally not entitled to return products for a refund. For sales to distributors, due to contractual rights of return and other factors that impact our ability to make a reasonable estimate of future returns and other sales incentives, revenues are not recognized until the distributor has shipped its products to the end customer.
The Companys multiple deliverable revenue arrangements are primarily related to sales of its Systems products, which may include, within a single arrangement, electricity meters and data concentrators (collectively, the Hardware); NES system software; Element Manager software; post-contract customer support (PCS) for the NES system and Element Manager software; extended warranties for the Hardware; and, occasionally, specified enhancements or upgrades to software used in the NES system. For arrangements originating or materially modified after December 31, 2009, with the exception of the NES system software, each of these deliverables is considered a separate unit of accounting. The NES system software functions together with an electricity meter to deliver its essential functionality and any related software license fee is charged for on a per meter basis. Therefore, the NES system software and an electricity meter are combined and considered a single unit of accounting. The Element Manager software is not considered to be part of an electricity meters essential functionality and, therefore, Element Manager software and any related PCS continues to be accounted for under industry specific software revenue recognition guidance. However, all other NES system deliverables are no longer within the scope of industry specific software revenue recognition guidance.
The Company allocates revenue to each element in a multiple-element arrangement based upon their relative selling price. The Company determines the selling price for each deliverable using vendor specific objective evidence (VSOE) of selling price or third party evidence (TPE) of selling price, if it exists. If neither VSOE nor TPE of selling price exists for a deliverable, the Company uses its best estimated selling price (BESP) for that deliverable. Since the use of the residual method is eliminated under the new accounting standards, any discounts offered by the Company are allocated to each of the deliverables. Revenue allocated to each element is then recognized when the basic revenue recognition criteria is met for the respective element.
Consistent with its methodology under previous accounting guidance, if available, the Company determines VSOE of fair value for each element based on historical stand-alone sales to third parties or from the stated renewal rate for the elements contained in the initial contractual arrangement. The Company currently estimates selling prices for its PCS and extended warranties based on VSOE of fair value.
In many instances, the Company is not currently able to obtain VSOE of fair value for all deliverables in an arrangement with multiple elements. This may be due to the Company infrequently selling each element separately or not pricing products within a narrow range. When VSOE cannot be established, the Company attempts to estimate the selling price of each element based on TPE. TPE would consist of competitor prices for similar deliverables when sold separately. Generally, the Companys offerings contain significant differentiation such that the comparable pricing of products with similar functionality cannot be obtained. Furthermore, the Company is unable to reliably determine the stand-alone selling prices for similar products of its competitors. Therefore, the Company is typically not able to obtain TPE of selling price.
When the Company is unable to establish a selling price using VSOE or TPE, which is generally the case for the Hardware and certain specified enhancements or upgrades to the Companys NES software, the Company uses its BESP in determining the allocation of arrangement consideration. The objective of BESP is to determine the price at which the Company would transact a sale if the product or service were sold on a stand-alone basis. BESP is generally used for offerings that are not typically sold on a stand-alone basis or for new or highly customized offerings.
The Company establishes pricing for its products and services by considering multiple factors including, but not limited to, geographies, market conditions, competitive landscape, internal costs, gross margin objectives, and industry pricing practices. The determination of pricing also includes consultation with and formal approval by the Companys management, taking into consideration the Companys go-to-market strategy. These pricing practices apply to both the Companys Hardware and software products.
Based on an analysis of pricing stated in contractual arrangements for its Hardware products in historical multiple-element transactions and, to a lesser extent, historical standalone transactions, the Company has concluded that it typically prices its Hardware within a narrow range of discounts when compared to the price listed on the Companys standard pricing grid for similar deliverables (i.e., similar configuration, volume, geography, etc.). Therefore, the Company has determined that, for its current Hardware for which VSOE or TPE is not available, the Companys BESP is generally comprised of prices based on a narrow range of discounts from pricing stated in its pricing grid.
When establishing BESP for the Companys specified software enhancements or upgrades, the Company considers multiple factors including, but not limited to, the relative value of the features and functionality being delivered by the enhancement or upgrade as compared to the value of the software product to which the enhancement or upgrade relates, as well as the Companys pricing practices for NES system software PCS packages, which may include rights to the specified enhancements or upgrades.
The Company regularly reviews VSOE and has established a review process for TPE and BESP. The Company maintains internal controls over the establishment and updates of these estimates. There were no material impacts during the three months ended March 31, 2012, resulting from changes in VSOE, TPE, or BESP, nor does the Company expect a material impact from such changes in the near term.
For multiple element arrangements that were entered into prior to January 1, 2010 and that included NES system and/or Element Manager software, the Company deferred the recognition of all revenue until all software required under the arrangement had been delivered to the customer. Once the software was delivered, the Company recognized revenues for the Hardware and software royalties upon customer acceptance of the Hardware based on a constant ratio of meters to data concentrators, which is determined on a contract-by-contract basis. To the extent actual deliveries of either meters or data concentrators was disproportionate to the expected overall ratio for any given arrangement, revenue for the excess meters or data concentrators was deferred until such time as additional deliveries of meters or data concentrators had occurred. Revenues for PCS on the NES system and Element Manager software, as well as for extended warranties on Systems Hardware products, were recognized ratably over the associated service period, which generally commenced upon the later of the delivery of all software, or the customers acceptance of any given Hardware shipment.
As of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011, approximately $2.9 million and $9.4 million, respectively, of the Companys Systems revenue was deferred. This decrease in deferred revenues was primarily due to a change in the timing of revenue recognition for certain of the Companys Systems products, which resulted from the Companys ability to objectively demonstrate that the contractual acceptance criteria for these products was met at the time of delivery. All of the deferred revenue at March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011 relates to revenue that is being accounted for under the revenue recognition guidance applicable to transactions entered into after December 31, 2009.
Deferred Revenue and Deferred Cost of Goods Sold
Deferred revenue consists substantially of amounts billed or payments received in advance of revenue recognition. Deferred cost of goods sold related to deferred product revenues includes direct product costs and applied overhead. Deferred cost of goods sold related to deferred service revenues includes direct labor costs and applied overhead. Once all revenue recognition criteria have been met, the deferred revenues and associated cost of goods sold are recognized.
The Companys financial instruments consist of cash equivalents, short-term investments, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and lease financing obligations. The carrying value of the Companys financial instruments approximates fair value. Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to concentrations of credit risk consist principally of investments, which are classified as either cash equivalents or short-term, and trade receivables. With respect to its investments, the Company has an investment policy that limits the amount of credit exposure to any one financial institution and restricts placement of the Companys investments to financial institutions independently evaluated as highly creditworthy. With respect to its trade receivables, the Company performs ongoing credit evaluations of each of its customers financial condition. For a customer whose credit worthiness does not meet the Companys minimum criteria, the Company may require partial or full payment prior to shipment. Alternatively, prior to shipment, customers may be required to provide the Company with an irrevocable letter of credit or arrange for some other form of coverage to mitigate the risk of uncollectibility, such as a bank guarantee. Additionally, the Company establishes an allowance for doubtful accounts and sales return allowances based upon factors surrounding the credit risk of specific customers, historical trends, and other available information.
On a recurring basis, the Company measures certain of its financial assets, namely its cash equivalents and available-for-sale investments, at fair value. The Company does not have any financial liabilities measured at fair value on a recurring basis. The fair value of the Companys financial assets measured at fair value on a recurring basis was determined using the following inputs at March 31, 2012 (in thousands):
The fair value of the Companys financial assets measured at fair value on a recurring basis was determined using the following inputs at December 31, 2011 (in thousands):
Cash equivalents consist of either investments with remaining maturities of three months or less at the date of purchase, or money market funds for which the carrying amount is a reasonable estimate of fair value.
The Companys fixed income available-for-sale securities consist of U.S. government securities with a minimum and weighted average credit rating of A-1+. The Company values these securities based on pricing from pricing vendors, who may use quoted prices in active markets for identical assets (Level 1 inputs) or inputs other than quoted prices that are observable either directly or indirectly (Level 2 inputs) in determining fair value. However, the Company classifies all of its fixed income available-for-sale securities as having Level 2 inputs. The valuation techniques used to measure the fair value of the Companys financial instruments having Level 2 inputs were derived from non-binding market consensus prices that are corroborated by observable market data, quoted market prices for similar instruments, or pricing models, such as discounted cash flow techniques. Our procedures include controls to ensure that appropriate fair values are recorded such as comparing prices obtained from multiple independent sources.
As of March 31, 2012, the Companys available-for-sale securities had contractual maturities from three to seven months and an average remaining term to maturity of three months. As of March 31, 2012, the amortized cost basis, aggregate fair value, and gross unrealized holding gains and losses of the Companys short-term investments by major security type were as follows (in thousands):
Market values were determined for each individual security in the investment portfolio. Any decline in value of these investments is primarily related to changes in interest rates and is considered to be temporary in nature. The Company reviews its investments on a regular basis to evaluate whether or not any have experienced an other-than-temporary decline in fair value.
The following is a reconciliation of the numerators and denominators of the basic and diluted net loss per share computations for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 (in thousands, except per share amounts):
For the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, the diluted net loss per share calculation is equivalent to the basic net loss per share calculation as there were no potentially dilutive stock options due to the Companys net loss position. The number of stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock units (RSUs), and restricted stock awards (RSAs) excluded from this calculation for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 was 5,274,279, and 6,080,834, respectively.
In April 2008, the Companys board of directors approved a stock repurchase program, which authorized the Company to repurchase up to 3.0 million shares of the Companys common stock. Since inception, the Company repurchased a total of 750,000 shares under the program at a cost of $8.9 million. The stock repurchase program expired in April 2011.
Stock-based Compensation Expense
The following table summarizes stock-based compensation expense for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 and its allocation within the condensed consolidated statements of operations (in thousands):
Stock Award Activity
The total intrinsic value of options exercised during the three months ended March 31, 2012 was $0 as there were no options exercised during this period. The total intrinsic value of options exercised during the three months ended March 31, 2011 was approximately $349,000. The intrinsic value is calculated as the difference between the market value on the date of exercise and the exercise price of the shares.
The total fair value of RSUs vested and released during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 was approximately $676,000. The total fair value of RSUs vested and released during the quarter ended March 31, 2011 was approximately $848,000. The fair value is calculated by multiplying the fair market value of the Companys stock on the vesting date by the number of shares vested.
Equity Compensation Expense for Awards with Financial-Based Performance Vesting Requirements
As of March 31, 2012, there were 252,500 non-vested RSUs and RSAs that were subject to service-based vesting conditions as well as certain financial or other performance-based vesting requirements that must be achieved before vesting can occur. The following table contains pertinent information regarding these outstanding awards as of March 31, 2012 (in thousands except for number of awards granted):
Through March 31, 2012, cumulative compensation expense of $761,000 associated with these 252,500 unvested RSUs and RSAs has been recognized because the Company believes it is probable that the associated performance requirements will be achieved. If such requirements are not met, no compensation cost will be recognized and any previously recognized compensation cost will be reversed. For these 252,500 awards that are considered probable of achievement, the unearned compensation expense of $1.1 million is expected to be recognized over estimated service and performance periods ranging from 7.5 months to 3.7 years. To the extent the Companys estimate of the timing of achievement of the performance requirements changes in the future, the timing of recognition of the related compensation expense may change.
The Company markets its products and services throughout the world to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and systems integrators in the building, industrial, transportation, utility/home, and other automation markets. During the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, the Company had four customers that accounted for a significant portion of its revenues: EBV Electronik GmbH and Avnet Europe Comm VA (EBV/Avnet), the Companys primary distributors of its Sub-systems products in Europe, Duke Energy Corporation (Duke), a U.S. utility company; and Eltel Networks A/S (Eltel) and Telvent Energia y Medioambiente SA (Telvent), value added resellers of the Companys Systems products. For the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, the percentage of the Companys revenues attributable to sales made to these customers was as follows:
In April 2011, the Companys distributor agreement with EBV was assigned from EBV to Avnet Europe Comm VA, a limited partnership organized under the laws of Belgium (Avnet). Each of EBV and Avnet are indirect subsidiaries of Avnet, Inc., a New York corporation, which is a distributor of electronic parts, enterprise computing and storage products and embedded subsystems. At the time of the assignment, the term of the distributor agreement was extended and will now expire in June 2014.
In April 2009, the Company received notice that the receiver for two companies that filed for the Italian law equivalent of bankruptcy protection in May 2004, Finmek Manufacturing SpA and Finmek Access SpA (collectively, the Finmek Companies), had filed a lawsuit under an Italian claw back law in Padua, Italy against the Company, seeking the return of approximately $16.7 million in payments received by the Company in the ordinary course of business for components sold by the Company to the Finmek Companies prior to the bankruptcy filing. The Finmek Companies were among Enels third party meters manufacturers, and from time to time through January 2004, the Company sold components to the Finmek Companies that were incorporated into the electricity meters that were manufactured by the Finmek Companies and sold to Enel SpA for the Enel Project. The Company believes that the Italian claw back law is not applicable to its transactions with the Finmek Companies, and the claims of the Finmek Companies receiver are without merit, and it is defending the lawsuit. As such, no loss associated with this action is considered probable or reasonably possible at this time.
From time to time, in the ordinary course of business, the Company may be subject to other legal proceedings, claims, investigations, and other proceedings, including claims of alleged infringement of third-party patents and other intellectual property rights, and commercial, employment, and other matters. In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, the Company makes a provision for a liability when it is both probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. These provisions are reviewed at least quarterly and adjusted to reflect the impacts of negotiations, settlements, rulings, advice of legal counsel, and other information and events pertaining to a particular case. While the Company believes it has adequately provided for such contingencies as of March 31, 2012, the amounts of which were immaterial, it is possible that the Companys results of operations, cash flows, and financial position could be harmed by the resolution of any such outstanding claims.
Line of Credit
The Company maintains a $10.0 million line of credit with its primary bank, which expires on July 1, 2012. The letter of credit contains certain financial covenants requiring the Company to maintain an overall minimum tangible net worth level and to maintain a minimum level of liquid assets. As of March 31, 2012, the Company was in compliance with these covenants. As of March 31, 2012, the Companys primary bank has issued, against the line of credit, one standby letter of credit totaling $113,000. Other than issuing standby letters of credit, the Company has never drawn against the line of credit, nor have amounts ever been drawn against the standby letters of credit issued by the bank.
Inventories are stated at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out) or market and include material, labor and manufacturing overhead. When required, provisions are made to reduce excess and obsolete inventories to their estimated net realizable value. Inventories consist of the following (in thousands):
Accrued liabilities consist of the following (in thousands):
Operating segments are defined as components of an enterprise about which separate financial information is available that is evaluated regularly by the chief operating decision maker in deciding how to allocate resources and in assessing business performance. The Companys chief operating decision-making group is the Executive Staff, which is comprised of the Chief Executive Officer and his direct reports.
The Company operates in one principal industry segment, its reportable segment: the design, manufacture and sale of products for the controls network industry, and markets its products primarily to the building automation, industrial automation, transportation, and utility/home automation markets. The Companys products provide the infrastructure and support required to implement and deploy open, interoperable, control network solutions. All of the Companys products either incorporate or operate with the Neuron® Chip and/or the LonWorks protocol. The Company also provides a range of services to its customers that consist of technical support, training courses covering its LonWorks network technology and products, and custom software development. In total, the Company offers a wide ranging set of products and services that together constitute the LonWorks system. Any given customer purchases a small subset of such products and services that are appropriate for that customers application.
The Company operates in three main geographic areas: the Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific / Japan (APJ). Each geographic area provides products and services to the Companys customers located in the respective region. The Companys long-lived assets include property and equipment, goodwill, purchased technology, and deposits on its leased facilities. Long-lived assets are attributed to geographic areas based on the country where the assets are located. As of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011, long-lived assets of approximately $32.2 million and $33.2 million, respectively, were domiciled in the United States. Long-lived assets for all other locations are not material to the consolidated financial statements.
The Company has two primary product lines: Systems and Sub-systems. Systems revenue is primarily composed of sales of meters and data concentrators to system integrators or utilities. The Company previously referred to this as Utility revenue. Sub-systems revenue is principally composed of sales of components, software, and sub-system modules to utilities, building energy, or street lighting customers. This was previously reported as Commercial and Enel Project revenues. Summary revenue information by product line for the three months ended
March 31, 2012 and 2011 is as follows (in thousands):
In North America, the Company sells its products primarily through a direct sales organization and select third-party electronics representatives. Outside North America, the Company sells its products through direct sales organizations in EMEA and APJ, value-added resellers, and local distributors. Revenues are attributed to geographic areas based on the country where the products are shipped to or the services are delivered. Summary revenue information by geography for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 is as follows (in thousands):
For information regarding the Companys major customers, please refer to Note 5, Significant Customers.
The income tax benefit for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 was $53,000 and $5,000, respectively. The difference between the statutory rate and the Companys effective tax rate is primarily due to the impact of foreign taxes, changes in the valuation allowance on deferred tax assets, and changes in the accruals related to unrecognized tax benefits.
As of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011, the Company had gross unrecognized tax benefits of approximately $3.7 million and $4.4 million, respectively, of which $712,000 and $755,000, respectively, if recognized, would impact the effective tax rate on income from continuing operations. The Companys policy is to recognize interest and/or penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits in income tax expense. As of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011, the Company had accrued $226,000 and $201,000, respectively, for interest and penalties. The $623,000 reduction in gross unrecognized tax benefits during the three months ended March 31, 2012 was primarily attributable to the expiration of the statute of limitations in certain foreign jurisdictions.
The law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. acts as principal outside counsel to the Company. Mr. Sonsini, a director of the Company, is a member of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C.
In June 2000, the Company entered into a stock purchase agreement with Enel pursuant to which Enel purchased 3.0 million newly issued shares of its common stock for $130.7 million. The closing of this stock purchase occurred on September 11, 2000. At the closing, Enel had agreed that it would not, except under limited circumstances, sell or otherwise transfer any of those shares for a specified time period. That time period expired September 11, 2003. To the Companys knowledge, Enel has not disposed of any of its 3.0 million shares. Under the terms of the stock purchase agreement, Enel has the right to nominate a member of the Companys board of directors. A representative of Enel served on the board until March 14, 2012; no Enel representative is presently on the board.
At the time the Company entered into the stock purchase agreement with Enel, it also entered into a research and development agreement with an affiliate of Enel (the R&D Agreement). Under the terms of the R&D Agreement, the Company cooperated with Enel to integrate its LONWORKS technology into Enels remote metering management project in Italy, the Contatore Elettronico. The Company completed the sale of its components and products for the deployment phase of the Contatore Elettronico project during 2005. During 2006, the Company supplied Enel and its designated manufacturers with limited spare parts for the Contatore Elettronico system. In October 2006, the Company entered into a new development and supply agreement and a software enhancement agreement with Enel. Under the development and supply agreement, Enel and its contract manufacturers purchase additional electronic components and finished goods from the Company. Under the software enhancement agreement, the Company provides software enhancements to Enel for use in its Contatore Elettronico system. The software enhancement agreement expires in December 2012 and the development and supply agreement expires in December 2013, although delivery of products and services can extend beyond those dates and the agreements may be extended under certain circumstances.
For the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, the Company recognized revenue from products and services sold to Enel and its designated manufacturers of approximately $227,000 and $1.2 million, respectively. As of March 31, 2012, and December 31, 2011, none of the Companys total accounts receivable balance related to amounts owed by Enel and its designated manufacturers.
In December 2010, in order to adjust the Companys operating cost structure to more closely align with its 2011 operating plan, the Company initiated a restructuring program consisting of a headcount reduction of 31 full-time employees worldwide. In connection with this restructuring plan, in the fourth quarter of 2010, the Company recorded restructuring charges of approximately $1.2 million related to termination benefits for these personnel.
The following table sets forth a summary of restructuring activities related to our restructuring program (in thousands):
Accrued restructuring charges of approximately $49,000 as of March 31, 2012 comprise the remaining liability balance and are reflected in accrued liabilities on our Consolidated Balance Sheets. The Company expect to pay these accrued termination benefits prior to June 30, 2012.
On March 23, 2012, the Company entered into an agreement with Holley Metering Limited (Holley), a designer and manufacturer of energy meters in China, to create a joint venture, Zhejiang Echelon-Holley Technology Co., Ltd. (Echelon-Holley). Echelon and Holley are expected to own 51% and 49%, respectively, of the equity interest of Echelon-Holley. The joint venture will focus on the development and sales of smart energy products for China and rest-of-world markets.
It is anticipated that Echelon-Holley will become operational during the second or third quarter of 2012. As of March 31, 2012, there were no active operations within Echelon-Holley and neither Echelon nor Holley had contributed any capital to the new entity.
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this Quarterly Report. The following discussion contains predictions, estimates, and other forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties about our business. These statements may be identified by the use of words such as we believe, expect, anticipate, intend, plan, goal, continues, may and similar expressions. In addition, forward-looking statements include statements that refer to projections of our future financial performance, our anticipated growth and trends in our businesses, and other characterizations of future events or circumstances. Such statements are based on our current expectations and could be affected by the uncertainties and risk factors described throughout this filing and particularly in the Factors That May Affect Future Results of Operations section. Therefore, our actual results may differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to review or update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason.
Echelon Corporation was incorporated in California in February 1988 and reincorporated in Delaware in January 1989. We are based in San Jose, California, and maintain offices in eleven foreign countries throughout Europe and Asia. We develop, market, and sell energy control networking solutions, a critical element of incorporating action-oriented intelligence into the utility grid, buildings, streetlights, and other energy devices all components of the evolving smart grid, which encompasses everything from the power plant to the plug. Echelons products can be used to make the management of electricity over the smart grid cost effective, reliable, survivable and instantaneous. Our products enable everyday devices such as air conditioners, appliances, electricity meters, light switches, thermostats, and valves to be made smart and inter-connected.
Our proven, open standard, multi-application energy control networking platform powers energy-savings applications for smart grid, smart cities and smart buildings that help customers save on their energy usage, reduce outage duration or prevent them from happening entirely, reduce carbon footprint and more. Today, we offer, directly and through our partners worldwide, a wide range of innovative, fully integrated products and services. We classify these products and services into two primary categories: Systems, such as our smart metering solutions, which are targeted for use by utilities and that we previously referred to as our Utility products and services; and Sub-systems that include our components, control nodes and development software, which are sold typically to OEMs who build them into their smart grid, smart cities and smart buildings solutions. Revenues from our Sub-systems products and services were previously referred to as Commercial and Enel Project revenues.
Our total revenues increased significantly during the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011, driven principally by increased sales of our Systems products. Gross margins declined by 3.4 percentage points between the two periods, while overall operating expenses declined by 11.1%. The net effect was a first quarter loss in 2012 that decreased by $6.8 million, or 72.4% as compared to the first quarter of 2011.
The following tables provide an overview of key financial metrics for the quarters ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 that our management team focuses on in evaluating our financial condition and operating performance (in thousands, except percentages).
As we look forward to the remainder of 2012, the smart energy market is in the midst of a challenging time. Macro conditions remain tentative amidst the European financial crisis, and competition is heightened as the industry faces slow growth and ongoing consolidation. New tender activity for smartmetering deployments is down and pricing pressures are increasing. In this challenging environment, we remain committed to our goal of reducing our operating losses. However, this will require continued effective execution and near-term payoff from our sales and marketing activities.
CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND ESTIMATES
Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Note 1, Significant Accounting Policies of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, which we filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March 2012, describes the significant accounting policies and methods used in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements. The preparation of these consolidated financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. On an on-going basis, we evaluate our estimates, including those related to our revenues, stock-based compensation, allowance for doubtful accounts, inventories, and commitments and contingencies. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
During the three months ended March 31, 2012, there were no material changes to our critical accounting policies or in the matters for which we make critical accounting estimates in the preparation of our condensed consolidated financial statements as compared to those disclosed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011.
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following table reflects the percentage of total revenues represented by each item in our Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011:
The $12.0 million increase in total revenues for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was primarily the result of a $14.1 million increase in Systems revenues, which was partially offset by a $2.1 million decrease in Sub-systems revenues.
During the quarters ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, our Systems revenues were derived primarily from a relatively small number of customers who have undertaken large-scale deployments of our NES System products. These deployments generally come to fruition after an extended and complex sales process, and each is relatively substantial in terms of its revenue potential. They vary significantly from one another in terms of, among other things, the overall size of the deployment, the duration of time over which the products will be sold, the mix of products being sold, the timing of delivery of those products, and the ability to modify the timing or size of those projects. This relative uniqueness among each deployment results in significant variability and unpredictability in our Systems revenues.
The $14.1 million increase in our Systems revenues during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was due primarily to an overall increase in the level of large-scale deployments of our NES System products. In particular, the increase was attributable to increased shipments of our Systems products for projects in Finland and at Duke Energy. These increases were partially offset by a reduction in products shipped for our projects in Denmark. In addition, during the first quarter of 2012, we delivered to a customer a promised firmware update associated with a component within our meters that we had been shipping to them since the middle of 2011. During 2011, we did not recognize the revenue associated with this component since the firmware had not yet been delivered. Upon delivery in the first quarter of 2012, we were able to recognize approximately $1.5 million of revenue associated with firmware and associated components that were shipped to and accepted by the customer in 2011. Lastly, during the first quarter of 2012, we completed an evaluation of historical acceptance rates for certain of our newer generation Systems products and concluded that the contractual acceptance criteria for these products are met at the time of delivery. Thus, for these products that shipped during the first quarter, we were able to record revenue several weeks earlier than we historically would have. This had the effect of increasing our Systems revenues by approximately $4.8 million.
Our ability to recognize revenue for our Systems products depends on several factors, including, but not limited to, the impact on delivery dates of any modifications to existing shipment schedules included in the contracts that have been awarded to us thus far, and in some cases, certain contractual provisions, such as customer acceptance. For arrangements that contain contractual acceptance provisions, revenue recognition may be delayed until acceptance by the customer or the acceptance provisions lapse unless we can objectively demonstrate that the contractual acceptance criteria have been satisfied, which is generally accomplished by establishing a history of acceptance for the same or similar products. In the future, we will continue to evaluate historical acceptance rates for our Systems products and, when the data supports it, will recognize revenue at the point of delivery to the customers carrier for those particular products (once all other revenue recognition criteria have been met), which could increase our Systems revenue in the period in which this determination is made. In addition, the revenue recognition rules relating to products such as our NES System may require us to defer some or all of the revenue associated with NES product shipments until certain conditions are met in a future period.
Our Systems revenues have historically been concentrated with a relatively few customers. During the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010, and 2009, approximately 94.2%, 85.4%, and 82.5%, respectively, of our Systems revenues were attributable to four customers. While our Systems customers will change over time, given the nature of the Systems market, we expect our future Systems revenues will continue to be concentrated among a limited number of customers.
Our Sub-systems revenues are primarily comprised of sales of our hardware products, and to a lesser extent, revenues we generate from sales of our software products and from our customer support and training offerings. Included in these totals are products and services sold to Enel.
Excluding sales of products and services sold to Enel, which are discussed more fully below, our Sub-systems revenues decreased by $1.2 million, or 9.3% during the three months ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011. This decrease was primarily due to an 18% decrease in revenues in the EMEA region and was attributable, we believe, to generally poor macroeconomic conditions in Europe during the first quarter of 2012. Within the Sub-systems family of products, the year-over-year decrease was driven primarily from decreased sales of our control and connectivity products, partially offset by an increase in sales of our SmartServer products.
Our future Sub-systems revenues will also be subject to further fluctuations in the exchange rates between the United States dollar and the foreign currencies in which we sell these products and services. In general, if the dollar were to weaken against these currencies, our revenues from those foreign currency sales, when translated into United States dollars, would increase. Conversely, if the dollar were to strengthen against these currencies, our revenues from those foreign currency sales, when translated into United States dollars, would decrease. The extent of this exchange rate fluctuation increase or decrease will depend on the amount of sales conducted in these currencies and the magnitude of the exchange rate fluctuation from year to year. The portion of our Sub-systems revenues conducted in currencies other than the United States dollar, principally the Japanese Yen, was about 7.7% for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 and 7.1% for the same period in 2011. To date, we have not hedged any of these foreign currency risks. We do not currently expect that, during 2012, the amount of our Sub-systems revenues conducted in these foreign currencies will fluctuate significantly from prior year levels. Given the historical and expected future level of sales made in foreign currencies, we do not currently plan to hedge against these currency rate fluctuations. However, if the portion of our revenues conducted in foreign currencies were to grow significantly, we would re-evaluate these exposures and, if necessary, enter into hedging arrangements to help minimize these risks.
Enel project revenues (included in Sub-systems)
In October 2006, we entered into two agreements with Enel, a development and supply agreement and a software enhancement agreement. Under the development and supply agreement, Enel is purchasing additional metering kit and data concentrator products from us. Under the software enhancement agreement, we are providing software enhancements to Enel for use in its Contatore Elettronico system. The $227,000 and $1.2 million of Enel project revenue recognized during the quarters ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, respectively, related primarily to shipments under the 2006 development and supply agreement, and to a lesser extent, from revenues attributable to the software enhancement agreement. The software enhancement agreement expires in December 2012 and the development and supply agreement expires in December 2013.
We sell our products to Enel and its designated manufacturers in U.S. dollars. Therefore, the associated revenues are not subject to foreign currency risks.
Gross Profit and Gross Margin
Gross profit is equal to revenues less cost of goods sold. Cost of goods sold for product revenues includes direct costs associated with the purchase of components, subassemblies, and finished goods, as well as indirect costs such as allocated labor and overhead; costs associated with the packaging, preparation, and shipment of products; and charges related to warranty and excess and obsolete inventory reserves. Cost of goods sold for service revenues consists of employee-related costs such as salaries and fringe benefits as well as other direct and indirect costs incurred in providing training, customer support, and custom software development services. Gross margin is equal to gross profit divided by revenues.
Gross margin declined by approximately 3.4 percentage points during the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011. This reduction was primarily due to the mix of revenues reported. During the first quarter of 2012, approximately 71% of our revenues were attributable to sales of our Systems products and services, while the remaining 29% came from sales of our Sub-systems products and services. In the first quarter of 2011, approximately 52% of our revenues were attributable to sales of our Systems products and services, while the remaining 48% were attributable to sales of our Sub-systems products and services. In general, revenues from sales of our Systems products generate lower gross margins than do sales of our Sub-systems products. In addition, in June 2011, Jabil, one of our primary CEMs, notified us that they intended to increase the prices they charge us for manufacturing our Systems products. The new pricing became effective July 1, 2011, and was based on increased fees for Jabils overhead and profit, cost increases for commodities contained in our products, and higher labor rates for Jabils production personnel. The impact of these cost increases began to phase in during the third quarter of 2011 and became fully effective at the beginning of the fourth quarter. This negative impact is in addition to other cost increases weve observed recently. In an effort to mitigate the effects of these price increases and thus improve our gross margins within the foreseeable future, we have commenced work on certain design modifications for these products intended to reduce their cost to manufacture. We are also working closely with Jabil to identify other opportunities to reduce their manufacturing costs associated with our products.
Partially offsetting the negative 2012 gross margin trend was the accounting treatment effect for a firmware deliverable we had previously committed to a customer and that was delivered during the first quarter of 2012. In this case, we agreed to provide a particular customer with firmware for a certain hardware component that was included within some of the meters we began delivering to them during the third quarter of 2011 and have continued since. This firmware enables the hardware component to become fully functional. Because this incremental hardware is not separable from the meters, we expensed its cost once the customer accepted the corresponding meter. However, we deferred the associated revenue for this additional hardware functionality until such time as we delivered the promised firmware. At the time the firmware was delivered, we recognized the deferred revenue for which the cost has already been recognized, which improved our first quarter 2012 gross margins by approximately 2.2 percentage points. Also partially offsetting the negative 2012 gross margin trends was the impact of indirect costs, which decreased in dollar terms during the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011. When expressed as a percentage of revenues, these costs decreased substantially due to higher overall revenue levels, which improved gross margins between the two periods.
In addition to the impact of the Jabil cost increases, our future gross margins will continue to be affected by several factors, including, but not limited to: overall revenue levels, changes in the mix of products sold, periodic charges related to excess and obsolete inventories, warranty expenses, introductions of cost reduced versions of our Systems and Sub-systems products, changes in the average selling prices of the products we sell, purchase price variances, and fluctuations in the level of indirect overhead spending that is capitalized in inventory. In addition, the impact of foreign exchange rate fluctuations and labor rates may affect our gross margins in the future. We currently outsource the manufacturing of most of our products requiring assembly to CEMs located primarily in China. To the extent labor rates were to rise further, or to the extent the U.S. dollar were to weaken against the Chinese currency, or other currencies used by our CEMs, our costs for the products they manufacture could rise, which would negatively affect our gross margins. Lastly, many of our products, particularly our Systems products, contain significant amounts of certain commodities, such as silver, copper, and cobalt. Prices for these commodities have been volatile, which in turn have caused fluctuations in the prices we pay for the products in which they are incorporated.
Product development expenses consist primarily of payroll and related expenses for development personnel, facility costs, expensed material, fees paid to third party service providers, depreciation and amortization, and other costs associated with the development of new technologies and products.
The $797,000 decrease in product development expenses during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was due primarily to a reduction in expenses associated with a specific development project. These design and development activities were being conducted in accordance with an arrangement we entered into with a third party in June 2010. This effort was completed in the fourth quarter of 2011. Also contributing to the reduction were reduced compensation costs, which were down primarily due to lower headcount in our product development organization during the first quarter of 2012.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing expenses consist primarily of payroll, commissions, and related expenses for sales and marketing personnel, travel and entertainment, facilities costs, advertising and product promotion, and other costs associated with our sales and marketing activities.
The $1.1 million decrease in sales and marketing expenses for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was comprised of the following: a $284,000 decrease in facilities and related expenses due principally to a charge taken in the first quarter of 2011 for the early termination of a lease for one of our sales offices; a $250,000 decrease in fees paid to consultants and other third party service providers; a $232,000 decrease in compensation and related expenses (primarily attributable to reduced bonuses and commissions as well as reduced equity compensation charges); a $109,000 reduction in travel and entertainment costs; a $103,000 reduction in dues paid for memberships in certain trade organizations, and $107,000 of reductions in other miscellaneous spending categories. Also contributing to the decrease was the impact of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations between the U.S. dollar and the local currencies in several of the foreign countries in which we operate, including the Euro, the British Pound Sterling, and the Japanese Yen. Approximately $40,000, or 3.7% of the $1.1 million quarter-over-quarter decrease was the result of these foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. Excluding the impact of these exchange rate fluctuations, sales and marketing expenses decreased by approximately 14.4% between the two periods.
We currently expect that we will continue investing in our sales and marketing efforts during 2012, and therefore anticipate that our sales and marketing expenses will increase in 2012 as compared to 2011. In addition, our future sales and marketing expenses will continue to be affected by fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the foreign currencies where we operate. If the United States dollar were to weaken against these currencies, our sales and marketing expenses could increase. Conversely, if the dollar were to strengthen against these currencies, it would have a favorable impact on our sales and marketing expenses.
General and Administrative
General and administrative expenses consist primarily of payroll and related expenses for executive, finance, and administrative personnel, professional fees for legal and accounting services rendered to the company, facility costs, insurance, and other general corporate expenses.
The $544,000 decrease in general and administrative expenses during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was primarily attributable to a $396,000 decrease in compensation expense, which was principally comprised of a $230,000 decrease in non-cash equity compensation charges and a $152,000 reduction in bonus expenses associated with our 2012 management bonus plan. Also contributing to the $544,000 decrease between the two periods was a decrease of $187,000 in fees paid to third party service providers.
Interest and Other Income (Expense), Net
Interest and other income (expense), net primarily reflects interest earned by our company on cash and short-term investment balances as well as foreign exchange translation gains and losses related to short-term intercompany balances.
The $96,000 decrease in interest and other expense, net during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was primarily attributable to the fact that, during the first quarter of 2012, we recognized approximately $263,000 of foreign currency translation losses, whereas in the first quarter of 2011, we recognized foreign currency translation losses of approximately $386,000. These fluctuations are attributable to our foreign currency denominated short-term intercompany balances. We account for translation gains and losses associated with these balances by reflecting these amounts as either other income or loss in our consolidated statements of operations. During periods when the U.S. dollar weakens in value against these foreign currencies, as it did during the first quarter of 2012, the associated translation losses negatively impact other income. Conversely, when the U.S. dollar strengthens, the resulting translation gains favorably impact other income.
We do not currently anticipate interest income on our investment portfolio will improve during 2012 as we expect interest rates to remain historically low. Future gains or losses associated with translating our foreign currency denominated short-term intercompany balances will depend on exchange rates in effect at the time of translation.
Interest Expense on Lease Financing Obligations
The monthly rent payments we make to our lessor under the lease agreements for our San Jose headquarters site are recorded in our financial statements partially as land lease expense, with the remainder being allocated to principal and interest on the financing liability. Interest expense on lease financing obligations reflects the portion of our monthly lease payments that is allocated to interest expense.
The $26,000 decrease in interest expense on lease financing obligations during the quarter ended March 31, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011 was a result of the nature of this expense. As with any amortizing fixed rate loan, payments made earlier in the term of the loan are comprised primarily of interest expense with little being allocated to principal repayment. Payments made later in the term of the loan, however, have an increasing proportion of principal repayment, with less being attributable to interest expense. Accordingly, as we continue to make payments in accordance with our lease obligation, we expect a higher proportion of the payments we make in the future will be allocated to principal repayment and less will be allocated to interest expense.
Income Tax Benefit
The income tax benefit for the quarters ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 was $53,000 and $5,000, respectively. The difference between the statutory rate and our effective tax rate is primarily due to the impact of foreign taxes, changes in the valuation allowance on deferred tax assets, and changes in the accruals related to unrecognized tax benefits. The income tax benefits recorded during the quarters ended March 31, 2012 and 2011 were primarily due to the expiration of the statute of limitations in certain foreign jurisdictions.
OFF-BALANCE-SHEET ARRANGEMENTS AND OTHER CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS
Off-Balance-Sheet Arrangements. We have not entered into any transactions with unconsolidated entities whereby we have financial guarantees, subordinated retained interests, derivative instruments, or other contingent arrangements that expose our company to material continuing risks, contingent liabilities, or any other obligation under a variable interest in an unconsolidated entity that provides financing, liquidity, market risk, or credit risk support to us.
Lease Commitments. In December 1999, we entered into a lease agreement with a real estate developer for our existing corporate headquarters in San Jose, California. In October 2000, we entered into a second lease agreement with the same real estate developer for an additional building at our headquarters site. These leases were scheduled to expire in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
Effective June 2008, the building leases were amended resulting in an extension of the lease term for both buildings through March 2020. The extended leases require minimum lease payments through March 2020 totaling approximately $48.9 million. Both leases permit us to exercise an option to extend the respective lease for two sequential five-year terms.
In addition, we lease facilities under operating leases for our sales, marketing, and product development personnel located elsewhere within the United States and in eleven foreign countries throughout Europe and Asia, including a land lease for accounting purposes associated with our corporate headquarters facilities. These operating leases expire on various dates through 2020, and in some instances are cancelable with advance notice. Lastly, we also lease certain equipment and, for some of our sales personnel, automobiles. These operating leases are generally less than five years in duration.
Purchase Commitments. We utilize several contract manufacturers who manufacture and test our products requiring assembly. These contract manufacturers acquire components and build product based on demand information supplied by us in the form of purchase orders and demand forecasts. These purchase orders and demand forecasts generally cover periods up to twelve months, and in rare cases, up to eighteen months. We also obtain individual components for our products from a wide variety of individual suppliers. We generally acquire these components through the issuance of purchase orders, and in some cases through demand forecasts, both of which cover periods up to twelve months.
We also utilize purchase orders when procuring capital equipment, supplies, and services necessary for our day-to-day operations. These purchase orders generally cover periods ranging up to twelve months, but in some instances cover a longer duration.
In March 2012, we announced the formation of a joint venture in Hangzhou, China with Holley Metering, a Chinese company with which we have been developing smart energy products for the Chinese and rest-of-world markets. The joint venture will require us to provide capital contributions of approximately $2.0 million.
Indemnifications. In the normal course of business, we provide indemnifications of varying scope to customers against claims of intellectual property infringement made by third parties arising from the use of our products. Historically, costs related to these indemnification provisions have not been significant. However, we are unable to estimate the maximum potential impact of these indemnification provisions on our future results of operations.
As permitted under Delaware law, we have agreements whereby we indemnify our officers and directors for certain events or occurrences while the officer or director is, or was serving, at our request in such capacity. The indemnification period covers all pertinent events and occurrences during the officers or directors lifetime. The maximum potential amount of future payments we could be required to make under these indemnification agreements is unlimited; however, we have director and officer insurance coverage that would enable us to recover a portion of any future amounts paid. We believe the estimated fair value of these indemnification agreements in excess of the applicable insurance coverage is minimal.
Royalties. We have certain royalty commitments associated with the shipment and licensing of certain products. Royalty expense is generally based on a U.S. dollar amount per unit shipped or a percentage of the underlying revenue. Royalty expense, which was recorded as cost of products revenue in our consolidated statements of income, was approximately $152,000 during the quarter ended March 31, 2012, and $146,000 for the same period in 2011.
We will continue to be obligated for royalty payments in the future associated with the shipment and licensing of certain of our products. While we are currently unable to estimate the maximum amount of these future royalties, such amounts will continue to be dependent on the number of units shipped or the amount of revenue generated from these products.
Taxes. We conduct our operations in many tax jurisdictions throughout the world. In many of these jurisdictions, non-income based taxes such as property taxes, sales and use taxes, and value-added taxes are assessed on Echelons operations in that particular location. While we strive to ensure compliance with these various non-income based tax filing requirements, there have been instances where potential non-compliance exposures have been identified. In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, we make a provision for these exposures when it is both probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the exposure can be reasonably estimated. To date, such provisions have been immaterial, and we believe that, as of March 31, 2012, we have adequately provided for such contingencies. However, it is possible that our results of operations, cash flows, and financial position could be harmed if one or more non-compliance tax exposures are asserted by any of the jurisdictions where we conduct our operations.
Legal Actions. In April 2009, the Company received notice that the receiver for two companies that filed for the Italian law equivalent of bankruptcy protection in May 2004, Finmek Manufacturing SpA and Finmek Access SpA (collectively, the Finmek Companies), had filed a lawsuit under an Italian claw back law in Padua, Italy against Echelon, seeking the return of approximately $16.7 million in payments received by Echelon in the ordinary course of business for components we sold to the Finmek Companies prior to the bankruptcy filing. The Finmek Companies were among Enels third party meters manufacturers, and from time to time through January 2004, we sold components to the Finmek Companies that were incorporated into the electricity meters that were manufactured by the Finmek Companies and sold to Enel SpA for the Enel Project. We believe that the Italian claw back law is not applicable to our transactions with the Finmek Companies, and the claims of the Finmek Companies receiver are without merit and we are defending the lawsuit. As such, no loss associated with this action is considered probable or reasonably possible at this time.
From time to time, in the ordinary course of business, we are subject to legal proceedings, claims, investigations, and other proceedings, including claims of alleged infringement of third-party patents and other intellectual property rights, and commercial, employment, and other matters. In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, we make a provision for a liability when it is both probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. These provisions are reviewed at least quarterly and adjusted to reflect the impacts of negotiations, settlements, rulings, advice of legal counsel, and other information and events pertaining to a particular case. While we believe we have adequately provided for such contingencies as of March 31, 2012, it is possible that our results of operations, cash flows, and financial position could be harmed by the resolution of any such outstanding claims.
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES
Since our inception, we have financed our operations and met our capital expenditure requirements primarily from the sale of preferred stock and common stock, although during the years 2002 through 2004, we were also able to finance our operations through operating cash flow. From inception through March 31, 2012, we raised $295.0 million from the sale of preferred stock and common stock, including the exercise of stock options and warrants from our employees and directors.
The following table presents selected financial information as of March 31, 2012, and for each of the last three fiscal years (dollars in thousands):
As of March 31, 2012, we had $58.4 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments, a decrease of $220,000 as compared to December 31, 2011. Historically, our primary source of cash, other than stock sales, has been receipts from revenue, and to a lesser extent, proceeds from the exercise of stock options and warrants by our employees and directors. Our primary uses of cash have been cost of product revenue, payroll (salaries, commissions, bonuses, and benefits), general operating expenses (costs associated with our offices such as rent, utilities, and maintenance; fees paid to third party service providers such as consultants, accountants, and attorneys; travel and entertainment; equipment and supplies; advertising; and other miscellaneous expenses), acquisitions, capital expenditures, and purchases under our stock repurchase programs.
Cash flows from operating activities. Cash flows from operating activities have historically been driven by net income (loss) levels; adjustments for non-cash charges such as stock-based compensation; depreciation and amortization; changes in accrued investment income; and fluctuations in operating asset and liability balances. Net cash provided by operating activities was $709,000 for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, an increase in cash inflows of approximately $3.3 million as compared to the same period in 2011. During the quarter ended March 31, 2012, net cash provided by operating activities was primarily the result of stock-based compensation expenses of $2.8 million and depreciation and amortization expense of $1.4 million, partially offset by our net loss of $2.6 million and changes in our operating assets and liabilities of $845,000. The primary components of the $845,000 net change in our operating assets and liabilities were a $7.3 million increase in inventories, a $5.6 million decrease in deferred revenues, a $2.6 million reduction in accrued liabilities, and a $1.9 million reduction in accounts payable, all of which was partially offset by a $9.6 million decrease in accounts receivable, a $5.4 million decrease in deferred cost of goods sold, and a $1.5 million decrease in other current assets. Inventories increased primarily due to the timing of anticipated shipments early in the second quarter of 2012. Deferred revenues decreased due primarily to our ability to objectively demonstrate that the contractual acceptance criteria for much of the Systems products we shipped during the first quarter was satisfied at the time of delivery. Accrued liabilities decreased primarily due to the payment of bonuses and commissions during the first quarter of 2012 that were accrued as of December 31, 2011 in accordance with our 2011 compensation arrangements. Accounts payable decreased due to an overall reduction in the level of purchasing activity and timing of expenditures during the first quarter of 2012. Accounts receivable decreased primarily as a result of the timing of revenues in the first quarter of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011. During 2012, a higher percentage of our revenues were generated earlier in the quarter than was the case in 2011. Also contributing to the reduction in accounts receivable was a general improvement in the days sales outstanding for our Systems related receivables. Deferred cost of goods sold decreased in conjunction with a decrease in deferred revenues. Other current assets decreased primarily due to a reduction in unbilled receivables.
During the quarter ended March 31, 2011, net cash used in operating activities was primarily the result of our net loss of $9.3 million, partially offset by stock-based compensation expenses of $3.2 million, changes in our operating assets and liabilities of $2.0 million, and depreciation and amortization expense of $1.5 million. The primary components of the $2.0 million net change in our operating assets and liabilities were a $3.1 million increase in deferred revenues, a $2.7 million decrease in accounts receivable, and an $850,000 decrease in other current assets, the benefits of which were partially offset by $1.4 million increase in deferred cost of goods sold, a $1.2 million increase in inventories, a $1.0 million reduction in accounts payable, and a $926,000 reduction in accrued liabilities. Deferred revenues increased due primarily to the timing of products shipped in the latter part of the first quarter of 2011 for which customer acceptance had not yet been received. Accounts receivable decreased primarily as a result of reduced revenues during the first quarter of 2011 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. During the quarter ended March 31, 2011, total revenues were $28.4 million compared to $38.8 million during the quarter ended December 31, 2010. Other current assets decreased primarily due to a reduction in unbilled receivables. Deferred cost of goods sold increased in conjunction with an increase in deferred revenues. Inventories increased in part due to the timing of customer shipments during the latter part of the first quarter that had not yet reached their destination as well as in preparation for an anticipated increase in shipments during the second quarter of 2011. Accounts payable decreased due to an overall reduction in the level of purchasing activity due to lower revenues in the first quarter of 2011 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2010, as well as the timing of expenditures during the first quarter of 2011. Accrued liabilities decreased primarily due to the payment of termination benefits that were accrued as part of our restructuring program in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Cash flows from investing activities. Cash flows from investing activities have historically been driven by transactions involving our short-term investment portfolio, capital expenditures, changes in our long-term assets, and acquisitions. Net cash provided by investing activities was $2.6 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, a decrease in cash inflows of $1.7 million from the same period in 2011. During the quarter ended March 31, 2012, net cash provided by investing activities was primarily the result of proceeds from maturities and sales of available-for-sale short-term investments of $28.0 million, partially offset by purchases of available-for-sale short-term investments of $25.0 million and capital expenditures of $360,000. During the quarter ended March 31, 2011, net cash provided by investing activities was primarily the result of proceeds from maturities and sales of available-for-sale short-term investments of $19.9 million, partially offset by purchases of available-for-sale short-term investments of $15.0 million and capital expenditures of $594,000.
Cash flows from financing activities. Cash flows from financing activities have historically been driven by the proceeds from issuance of common and preferred stock offset by transactions under our stock repurchase programs and principal payments on our lease financing obligations. Net cash used in financing activities was $715,000 for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, a $92,000 decrease in cash outflows as compared to the same period in 2011. During the quarter ended March 31, 2012, net cash used in financing activities was primarily the result of $469,000 in principal payments on our building lease financing obligations and $246,000 worth of shares repurchased from employees for payment of employee taxes on vesting of performance shares and upon exercise of stock options. During the quarter ended March 31, 2011, net cash used in financing activities was primarily the result of $508,000 worth of shares repurchased from employees for payment of employee taxes on vesting of performance shares and upon exercise of stock options and $417,000 in principal payments on our building lease financing obligations, partially offset by proceeds of $118,000 from the exercise of stock options by our employees.
As noted above, our cash and investments totaled $58.4 million as of March 31, 2012. Of this amount, approximately 1% was held by our foreign subsidiaries. Our intent is to permanently reinvest a significant portion of our earnings from foreign operations, and current plans do not anticipate that we will need funds generated from foreign operations to fund our domestic operations. In the event funds from foreign operations are needed to fund operations in the United States and if U.S. tax has not already been previously provided, we would provide for and pay any additional U.S. taxes due in connection with repatriating these funds.
We use well-regarded investment managers to manage our invested cash. Our portfolio of investments managed by these investment managers is primarily composed of highly rated U.S. government securities, and to a lesser extent, money market funds. All investments are made according to guidelines and within compliance of policies approved by the Audit Committee of our Board of Directors.
We maintain a $10.0 million line of credit with our primary bank, which expires on July 1, 2012. The letter of credit contains certain financial covenants requiring us to maintain an overall minimum tangible net worth level and to maintain a minimum level of liquid assets. As of March 31, 2012, we were in compliance with these covenants. As of March 31, 2012, our primary bank has issued, against the line of credit, one standby letter of credit totaling $113,000. Other than issuing standby letters of credit, we have never drawn against the line of credit, nor have amounts ever been drawn against the standby letters of credit issued by the bank.
In the future, our cash reserves may be used to strategically acquire other companies, products, or technologies that are complementary to our business. In addition, our combined cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments balances could be negatively affected by various risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, the risks detailed in this Quarterly Report in the section titled Factors That May Affect Future Results of Operations. For example, any continued weakening of economic conditions or changes in our planned cash outlay could negatively affect our existing cash reserves.
Based on our current business plan and revenue prospects, we believe that our existing cash reserves will be sufficient to meet our projected working capital and other cash requirements for at least the next twelve months. However, we currently expect that our combined cash, cash equivalent, and short-term investment balance will decline during 2012. We expect that cash requirements for our payroll and other operating costs will continue at about existing levels. We also expect that we will continue to acquire capital assets such as computer systems and related software, office and manufacturing equipment, furniture and fixtures, and leasehold improvements, as the need for these items arises. In the event that we require additional financing, such financing may not be available to us in the amounts or at the times that we require, or on acceptable terms. If we fail to obtain additional financing, when and if necessary, our business would be harmed.
RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
The law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. acts as principal outside counsel to our company. Mr. Sonsini, a director of our company, is a member of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C.
In June 2000, we entered into a stock purchase agreement with Enel pursuant to which Enel purchased 3.0 million newly issued shares of our common stock for $130.7 million. The closing of this stock purchase occurred on September 11, 2000. At the closing, Enel had agreed that it would not, except under limited circumstances, sell or otherwise transfer any of those shares for a specified time period. That time period expired September 11, 2003. To our knowledge, Enel has not disposed of any of its 3.0 million shares. Under the terms of the stock purchase agreement, Enel has the right to nominate a member of our board of directors. A representative of Enel served on our board until March 14, 2012; no Enel representative is presently serving on our board.
At the time we entered into the stock purchase agreement with Enel, we also entered into a research and development agreement with an affiliate of Enel (the R&D Agreement). Under the terms of the R&D Agreement, we cooperated with Enel to integrate our LONWORKS technology into Enels remote metering management project in Italy, the Contatore Elettronico. We completed the sale of our components and products for the deployment phase of the Contatore Elettronico project during 2005. During 2006, we supplied Enel and its designated manufacturers with limited spare parts for the Contatore Elettronico system. In October 2006, we entered into a new development and supply agreement and a software enhancement agreement with Enel. Under the development and supply agreement, Enel and its contract manufacturers purchase additional electronic components and finished goods from us. Under the software enhancement agreement, we provide software enhancements to Enel for use in its Contatore Elettronico system. The software enhancement agreement expires in December 2012 and the development and supply agreement expires in December 2013, although delivery of products and services can extend beyond those dates and the agreements may be extended under certain circumstances.
For the three months ended March 31, 2012 and 2011, we recognized revenue from products and services sold to Enel and its designated manufacturers of approximately $227,000 and $1.2 million, respectively. As of March 31, 2012, and December 31, 2011, none of our total accounts receivable balance related to amounts owed by Enel and its designated manufacturers.
RECENTLY ISSUED ACCOUNTING STANDARDS
There have been no new recent accounting pronouncements or changes in accounting pronouncements during the three months ended March 31, 2012, that are of significance, or potential significance, to our company.
FACTORS THAT MAY AFFECT FUTURE RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Interested persons should carefully consider the risks described below in evaluating our company. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us, or that we currently consider immaterial, may also impair our business operations. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected. In that case, the trading price of our common stock would likely decline. Before deciding to purchase, hold or sell our common stock, you should carefully consider the risks described in this section. This section should be read in conjunction with the condensed consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes thereto, and Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations included in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q.
Our Systems revenues may not meet expectations, which could cause volatility in the price of our stock.
We and our partners sell our smart metering and distribution automation products to utilities. For several reasons, sales cycles with utility companies can be extended and unpredictable. Utilities generally have complex budgeting, purchasing, and regulatory processes that govern their capital spending. In addition, in many instances, a utility may require one or more field trials of a smart grid system (such as one based on our NES Smart Grid System or our smart grid subsystem products) before moving to a volume deployment. There is also generally an extended development and integration effort required in order to incorporate a new technology into a utilitys existing infrastructure. A number of other factors may also need to be addressed before the utility decides to engage in a full-scale deployment of our NES Smart Grid System, including:
As a result, we can often spend up to two years working either directly or through a reseller to make a sale to a utility. At the end of that lengthy sales process, particularly in view of increasing competition in the Smart Grid market and continuing economic challenges, there is no guarantee that we will be selected by the utility.
In addition, shipment of Systems products to a particular jurisdiction or customer is generally dependent on either obtaining regulatory approval for the NES meter or other products, including modifications to those products, from a third party for the relevant jurisdiction, or satisfying the customers internal testing requirements, or both. This certification approval process is often referred to as homologation. Further, shipment of Systems products into some jurisdictions requires our contract manufacturers to pass certain tests and meet various standards related to the production of our NES meters. Failure to receive any such approval on a timely basis or at all, or failure to maintain any such approval, would have a material adverse impact on our ability to ship our Systems products, and would therefore have an adverse affect on our results of operations and our financial condition.
Once a utility decides to move forward with a large-scale deployment of a smart grid project that is based on our NES Smart Grid System, the timing of and our ability to recognize revenue on our Systems product shipments will depend on several factors. These factors, some of which may not be under our control, include shipment schedules that may be delayed or subject to modification, other contractual provisions, such as customer acceptance of all or any part of the NES Smart Grid System, our ability to manufacture and deliver quality products according to expected schedules, and customer cancellation rights. For example, in October 2011, Duke Energy cancelled certain orders for our products that we anticipated would have been delivered in late 2012 and beyond.
In addition, the revenue recognition rules relating to products such as our NES Smart Grid System may also require us to defer some of our Systems revenues until certain conditions are met in a future period. For example, beginning in the third quarter of 2011, we began shipping hardware products to a customer for which we had not yet delivered a final version of the related firmware. As a result, we were not able to recognize the revenue associated with that hardware until the first quarter of 2012, when the firmware was delivered because payment for the hardware was contingent upon delivery of the firmware.
As a consequence of these long sales cycles, unpredictable delay factors, and revenue recognition policies, our ability to predict the amount of Systems revenues that we may expect to recognize in any given fiscal quarter is likely to be limited. As Systems revenues account for an increasing percentage of our overall revenues, we are likely to have increasing difficulty in projecting our overall financial results. Our inability to accurately forecast future revenues is likely to cause our stock price to be volatile.
Sales of our products may fail to meet our financial targets, which would harm our results of operations.
If we are unable to receive orders for, ship, and recognize revenue for our products in a timely manner and in line with our targets (and often in the same year), our financial results will be harmed. We have invested and intend to continue to invest significant resources in the development and sales of our products, particularly our Systems products, such as our Smart Grid portfolio of products, the Echelon Control Operating System, or COS, and the Edge Control Node. Our long-term financial goals include expectations for a reasonable return on these investments, particularly for our Systems products. To date the revenues generated from sales of these Systems products have not yielded gross margins in line with our long term goals for this product line, although our operating expenses have increased significantly. Our Systems products are also experiencing continuing downward pricing pressures due to intense competition. In addition, as we sell more Sub-systems products for the Smart Grid, we may also experience downward pricing pressures that would reduce our gross margins for those products.
In order to achieve our financial targets, we must meet the following objectives:
Because a significant portion of our operating expenses are fixed, if we cannot achieve our revenue targets, our use of cash balances would increase, our losses would increase, and/or we would be required to take additional actions necessary to reduce expenses. We cannot assure you that we will meet any or all of these objectives to the extent necessary to achieve our financial goals and, if we fail to achieve our goals, our results of operations are likely to be harmed.
The loss of or significant curtailment of purchases by any of our key customers could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
While we generate revenue from numerous customers worldwide, our sales are currently concentrated within a relatively small group of customers. During the quarter ended March 31, 2012, a large percentage of our revenue, approximately 68%, came from sales to our top four customers. These customers have a variety of suppliers to choose from and therefore can make substantial demands on us, including demands on product pricing and on contractual terms, which often results in the allocation of risk to us as the supplier. In addition, if upon its expiration, a large customer contract is not replaced with new business of similar magnitude, our revenue and gross margin would be adversely affected. Our ability to maintain strong, long-term relationships with our key customers is essential to our future performance.
Customers in any of our target market sectors could also experience unexpected reductions in demand for their products and consequently reduce their purchases of our product, resulting in either the loss of a significant customer or a notable decrease in the level of sales to a significant customer. If any of our key customers are unable to obtain the necessary capital to operate their business, they may be unable to satisfy their payment obligations to us. The loss of or significant curtailment of purchases by any one or more of our key customers would adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We face operational and other risks associated with our international operations.
Risks inherent in our international business activities include the following:
Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our revenues, results of operations, and our financial condition.
Our joint venture in China may not meet investment, product development, sales and other expectations.
We recently announced the formation of a joint venture in Hangzhou, China with Holley Metering, a Chinese company with which we have been developing smart energy products for the Chinese market. Operations at the joint venture could expose us to risks inherent in such activities, such as protection of our intellectual property, economic and political stability, labor matters, language and cultural differences and the need to manage product development, operations and sales activities that are located a long distance from our headquarters. The management of new product development activities, and/or the sharing or transfer of technological capabilities to the joint venture, in particular, will expose us to risks. For example, it is possible that the product offerings from the joint venture will not be completed on time, will not perform as planned, will not meet sales targets or otherwise will not meet market demands. In addition, from time to time in the future, our joint venture partner may have economic or business interests or goals that are different from ours. Although our company currently has a 51% interest in the joint venture, the ventures governing documents call for our partners approval on certain key matters, so we cannot provide assurance that the joint venture will be able to satisfy our corporate objectives. In addition, the joint venture documents will require us to make equity contributions from time to time up to specified amounts. If the joint venture business does not progress according to our plans and anticipated timing, our investment in the joint venture may not be considered successful.
Adverse changes in general economic or political conditions in any of the major countries in which we do business could adversely affect our business or operating results.
Our business can be affected by a number of factors that are beyond our control, such as general geopolitical, economic, and business conditions. The ongoing economic slowdown, particularly in Europe, where we have sold many NES Smart Grid products, and the uncertainty over its breadth, depth and duration continue to have a negative effect on our business. Further, the recent worldwide financial and credit crisis has hampered the availability of liquidity and credit to fund the continuation and expansion of business operations worldwide. The shortage of liquidity and credit, combined with losses in worldwide equity markets, has continued to contribute to the recent world-wide economic recession.
In addition, there could be a number of follow-on effects from the credit crisis on our business, such as the insolvency of certain of our key customers, which could impair our distribution channels or result in the inability of our customers to obtain credit to finance purchases of our products.
This uncertainty about future economic and political conditions continues to make it difficult for us to forecast operating results and to make decisions about future investments. We continue to see the effects of the economic slowdown on both our Systems and Sub-systems revenues, particularly in locations where government support for energy-related projects has ended or will end in the near future. If economic activity in the U.S. and other countries economies remains weak, many customers may continue to delay, reduce, or even eliminate their purchases of networking technology products. This could result in reductions in sales of our products, longer sales cycles, slower adoption of our technologies, increased price competition, and increased exposure to excess and obsolete inventory. For example, distributors could decide to reduce inventories of our products. Also, the inability to obtain credit could cause a utility to postpone its decision to move forward with a large scale deployment of our Systems products. If conditions in the global economy, U.S. economy or other key vertical or geographic markets we serve remain uncertain or continue to be weak, we would experience material negative impacts on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flow, capital resources, and liquidity.
Because the markets for our products are highly competitive, we may lose sales to our competitors, which would harm our revenues and results of operations.
Competition in our markets is intense and involves rapidly changing technologies, evolving industry standards, frequent new product introductions, rapid changes in customer or regulatory requirements, and localized market requirements. Competition in the Systems and Sub-systems business for the Smart Grid has increased as the smart metering industry faces slow growth and ongoing consolidation, particularly in Europe where the financial crisis has continued. In each of our existing and new target markets, we compete with a wide array of manufacturers, vendors, strategic alliances, systems developers and other businesses.
The principal competitive factors that affect the markets for our products include the following:
Competitors for our Systems products include ESCO, Elster, Enel, GE, IBM, Iskraemeco, Itron, Kamstrup, Landis+Gyr (a subsidiary of Toshiba), Siemens, and Silver Spring Networks, which directly or through IT integrators such as IBM or telecommunications companies such as Telenor, offer metering systems that compete with our Systems offerings.
For our Sub-systems products, our competitors include some of the largest companies in the electronics industry, operating either alone or together with trade associations and partners. Key company competitors include companies such as Digi, STMicroelectronics, Maxim, Texas Instruments, and Siemens. Key industry standard and trade group competitors include BACnet, DALI, and Konnex in the buildings industry; DeviceNet, HART, and Profibus in the industrial control market; DLMS in the utility industry; Echonet, ZigBee and the Z-Wave alliance in the home control market; and the Train Control Network (TCN) in the rail transportation market. Each of these standards and/or alliances is backed by one or more competitors. For example, the ZigBee alliance includes over 300 member companies with promoter members such as Ember, Emerson, Freescale, Itron, Kroger, Landis+Gyr (a subsidiary of Toshiba), Philips, Reliant Energy, Schneider Electric, STMicroelectronics, Tendril, and Texas Instruments.
Many of our competitors, alone or together with their trade associations and partners, have significantly greater financial, technical, marketing, service and other resources, significantly greater name recognition, and broader product offerings. In addition, the utility metering market is experiencing a trend towards consolidation. As a result, these competitors may be able to devote greater resources to the development, marketing, and sale of their products, and may be able to respond more quickly to changes in customer requirements or product technology. Some of our competitors may also be eligible for stimulus money, which could give them an additional financial advantage. If we are unable to compete effectively in any of the markets we serve, our revenues, results of operations, and financial position would be harmed.
A limited number of utilities are currently responsible for a significant portion of our revenues.
A significant portion of our sales were made to a limited number of customers in the first quarter of 2012. As a particular utilitys smart grid project nears completion, or if the utility experiences changes in business requirements or implements changes in purchase plans, our revenues could decrease significantly. We expect that a limited number of customers will continue to account for a substantial portion of our revenue in future periods.
If we are not able to develop or enhance our products in a timely manner, our revenues will suffer.
Due to the nature of development efforts in general, we often experience delays in the introduction of new or improved products beyond our original projected shipping date for such products. Historically, when these delays have occurred, we experienced an increase in our development costs and a delay in our ability to generate revenues from these new products. In addition, such delays could impair our relationship with any of our customers that were relying on the timely delivery of our products in order to complete their own products or projects, or could cause them to cancel orders or to seek alternate sources of supply or other remedies. We believe that similar new product introduction delays in the future could also increase our costs and delay our revenues.
For System products we are sometimes required to modify products to meet local rules and regulations. We may not be able to increase the price of such products to reflect the costs of such modifications, given competitive markets. In addition, given the long term nature of development activities, we may be required to undertake such modifications prior to receiving firm commitments or orders from our customers.
We are continuing to collaborate with our Chinese partner, Holley Metering, to develop smart metering products for the Chinese market and will also move or undertake new development projects at our Chinese joint venture with Holley Metering. To the extent we expand our development activities in China or elsewhere, our development activities will be exposed to risks, such as protection of intellectual property, investment risk, and labor costs and other matters. We could also be adversely affected by delays or cost increases experienced by third parties that are developing products on our behalf.
Because we depend on a limited number of key suppliers and in certain cases, a sole supplier, the failure of any key supplier to produce timely and compliant products could result in a failure to ship products, or could subject us to higher prices, which would harm our results of operations and financial position.
Our future success will depend significantly on our ability to timely manufacture our products cost effectively, in sufficient volumes, and in accordance with quality standards. For most of our products requiring assembly, we rely on a limited number of contract electronic manufacturers (CEMs), principally Jabil and TYCO. These CEMs procure material and assemble, test, and inspect the final products to our specifications. This strategy involves certain risks, including reduced control over quality, costs, delivery schedules, availability of materials, components, finished products, and manufacturing yields. As a result of these and other risks, our CEMs could demand price increases for manufacturing our products. The Jabil and TYCO factories where our products are manufactured are located in China. Recently, the Chinese government announced a program whereby labor rates for the manufacture of our products will increase over time. In addition, our agreements with our CEMs make us responsible for components and subassemblies purchased by the CEMs when based on our forecasts or purchase orders. Accordingly, we will be at risk for any excess and obsolete inventory purchased by our CEMs. Lastly, CEMs can experience turnover, instability, and lapses in manufacturing or component quality, exposing us to additional risks as well as missed commitments to our customers.
We also maintain manufacturing agreements with a limited number of semiconductor manufacturers for the production of key products. The Neuron Chip is an important component that we and our customers use in control network devices. In addition to those sold by Echelon, the Neuron Chip is currently manufactured and distributed only by Cypress Semiconductor. The other former producer of the Neuron Chip, Toshiba, ceased production due to earthquake damage at its factory in Japan in March 2011. As a result, we or our customers may experience longer lead times and higher pricing for these parts, which could result in reduced orders for our products from these same customers.
We also have sole source relationships with third party foundries for the production of certain other key products, including STMicroelectronics, who produces our power line smart transceivers, and Open-Silicon, which is the foundry for our new Neuron 5000 processor. In addition, we currently purchase several key products and components from sole or limited source suppliers with which we do not maintain signed agreements that would obligate them to supply to us on negotiated terms. Any sole source relationship could make us vulnerable to price increases, particularly where we do not maintain long-term supply agreements with the supplier, or to supply disruptions that would result if the supplier issued an end of life notice with respect to a key product.
We are continuing to review the impact that the ongoing worldwide financial crisis is having on our suppliers. Some of these suppliers are large, well capitalized companies, while others are smaller and more highly leveraged. In order to mitigate these risks, we may take actions such as increasing our inventory levels and/or adding additional sources of supply. Such actions may increase our costs and increase the risk of excess and obsolete inventories. Even if we undertake such actions, there can be no assurance that we will be able to prevent any disruption in the supply of goods and services we receive from these suppliers.
We may also elect to change any of these key suppliers. As part of such a transition, we may be required to purchase certain raw material and in-process inventory from the existing supplier and resell it to the new source. In addition, if any of our key suppliers were to stop manufacturing our products or supplying us with our key components, it could be expensive and time consuming to find a replacement. Also, as our Systems business grows, we will be required to expand our business with our key suppliers or find additional sources of supply. There is no guarantee that we would be able to find acceptable alternative or additional sources. Additional risks that we face if we must transition between CEMs include:
The failure of any key manufacturer to produce a sufficient number of products on time, at agreed quality levels, and fully compliant with our product, assembly and test specifications could result in our failure to ship products, which would adversely affect our revenues and gross profit, and could result in claims against us by our customers, which could harm our results of operations and financial position.
Because our products use components or materials that may be subject to price fluctuations, shortages, interruptions of supply, or discontinuation, we may be unable to ship our products in a timely fashion, which would adversely affect our revenues, harm our reputation and negatively impact our results of operations.
We may be vulnerable to price increases for products, components, or materials, such as silver, copper, and cobalt. We generally do not enter into forward contracts or other methods of hedging against supply risk for these items. In addition, we have in the past and may in the future occasionally experience shortages or interruptions in supply for certain of these items, including products or components that have been or will be discontinued, which can cause us to delay shipments beyond targeted or announced dates. Such shortages or interruptions could result from events outside our control, as was the case with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011. To help address these issues, we may decide from time to time to purchase quantities of these items that are in excess of our estimated requirements. As a result, we could be forced to increase our excess and obsolete inventory reserves to provide for these excess quantities, which could harm our operating results. In addition, if a component or other product goes out of production, we may be required to requalify substitute components or products, or even redesign our products to incorporate an alternative component or product.
If we experience any shortage of products or components of acceptable quality, or any interruption in the supply of these products or components, or if we are not able to procure them from alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable period of time, our revenues, gross profits or both could decrease. In addition, under the terms of some of our contracts with our customers, we may also be subject to penalties if we fail to deliver our products on time.
We are subject to numerous governmental regulations concerning the manufacturing and use of our products. We must stay in compliance with all such regulations and any future regulations. Any failure to comply with such regulations, and the unanticipated costs of complying with future regulations, may adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We manufacture and sell products that contain electronic components that may contain materials that are subject to government regulation in the locations in which our products are manufactured and assembled, as well as the locations where we sell our products. Since we operate on a global basis, maintaining compliance with regulations concerning the materials used in our products is a complex process that requires continual monitoring of regulations and ongoing compliance procedures. For example, in 2011 the European Union issued recast regulations regarding the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment: (RoHS). The adoption of any unanticipated new regulations that significantly impact the various components we use or require that we use more expensive components would have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our manufacturing processes, including the processes used by our suppliers, are also subject to numerous governmental regulations that cover both the use of various materials as well as environmental concerns. Since we and our suppliers operate on a global basis, maintaining compliance with regulations concerning our production processes is also a complex process that requires continual monitoring of regulations and ongoing compliance procedures. For example, environmental issues such as pollution and climate change have seen significant legislative and regulatory interest on a global basis. Changes in these areas could directly increase the cost of energy, which may have an impact on the way we or our suppliers manufacture products or use energy to produce our products. In addition, any new regulations or laws in the environmental area might increase the cost of raw materials we use in our products. We are currently unable to predict how any such changes will impact us and if any such impact could be material to our business. Any new law or regulation that significantly increases our costs of manufacturing or causes us or our suppliers to significantly alter the way that our products are manufactured would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Liabilities resulting from defects in or misuse of our products, whether or not covered by insurance, may delay our revenues and increase our liabilities and expenses.
Our products may contain or may be alleged to contain undetected errors or failures, including relating to actual or potential security breaches. In addition, our customers or their installation partners may improperly install or implement our products, which could delay completion of a deployment or hinder our ability to win a subsequent award. Furthermore, because of the low cost and interoperable nature of our Sub-systems products, LONWORKS technology could be used in a manner for which it was not intended.
Even if we determine that an alleged error or failure in our products does not exist, we may incur significant expense and shipments and revenue may be delayed while we analyze the alleged error or failure. If errors or failures are found in our products, we may not be able to successfully correct them in a timely manner, or at all, and our reputation may suffer. Such errors or failures could delay our product shipments and divert our engineering resources while we attempt to correct them. In addition, we could decide to extend the warranty period, or incur other costs outside of our normal warranty coverage, to help address any known errors or failures in our products and mitigate the impact on our customers. This could delay our revenues and increase our expenses.
To address these issues, the agreements we maintain with our customers may contain provisions intended to limit our exposure to potential errors and omissions claims as well as any liabilities arising from them. However, our customer contracts may not effectively protect us against the liabilities and expenses associated with errors or failures attributable to our products.
Defects in our products may also cause us to be liable for losses in the event of property damage, harm or death to persons, claims against our directors or officers, and the like. Such liabilities could harm our reputation, expose our company to liability, and adversely affect our operating results and financial position.
To help reduce our exposure to these types of liabilities, we currently maintain property, general commercial liability, errors and omissions, directors and officers, and other lines of insurance. However, it is possible that such insurance may not be available in the future or, if available, may be insufficient in amount to cover any particular claim, or we might not carry insurance that covers a specific claim. In addition, we believe that the premiums for the types of insurance we carry will continue to fluctuate from period to period. Significant cost increases could also result in increased premiums or reduced coverage limits. Consequently, if we elect to reduce our coverage, or if we do not carry insurance for a particular type of claim, we will face increased exposure to these types of claims.
If we are unable to obtain additional funds when needed, our business could suffer.
We currently expect that our combined cash, cash equivalent, and short-term investment balance will decline during 2012. We expect that cash requirements for our payroll and other operating costs will continue at near existing levels. We also expect that we will continue to acquire capital assets such as computer systems and related software, office and manufacturing equipment, furniture and fixtures, and leasehold improvements, as the need for these items arises.
In the future, to the extent that our revenues grow, we may experience higher levels of inventory and accounts receivable, which will also use our cash balances. In addition, our cash reserves may be used to strategically acquire or invest in other companies, products, or technologies that are complementary to our business. Lastly, our combined cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investment balances could be negatively affected by the various risks and uncertainties that we face. For example, any continued weakening of economic conditions or changes in our planned cash outlay could negatively affect our existing cash reserves.
While we do not currently depend on access to the credit markets to finance our operations, there can be no assurance that the current state of the financial markets would not impair our ability to obtain financing in the future, including, but not limited to, our ability to draw on funds under our existing credit facilities or our ability to incur indebtedness or sell equity if that became necessary or desirable. In addition, if we do not meet our revenue targets, our use of our cash balances would increase due to the fact that a significant portion of our operating expenses are fixed. If we were not able to obtain additional financing when needed, or on acceptable terms, our ability to invest in additional research and development resources and sales and marketing resources could be adversely affected, which could hinder our ability to sell competitive products into our markets on a timely basis and harm our business.
We have limited ability to protect our intellectual property rights.
Our success depends significantly upon our intellectual property rights, which can vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws, non-disclosure agreements and other contractual provisions to establish, maintain and protect these intellectual property rights, all of which afford only limited protection, particularly in those countries that lack robust or accessible enforcement mechanisms. For example, we have formed a joint venture with Holley Metering to develop and sell certain products in China and rest-of-world markets and the intellectual property mechanisms available in China are generally less stringent than those found in the U.S. If any of our patents fail to protect our technology, or if we do not obtain patents in certain countries, our competitors may find it easier to offer equivalent or superior technology. In addition, our trade secrets or other intellectual property that we license to third parties could be used improperly or otherwise in violation of the license terms.
We have also registered or applied for registration for certain trademarks, and will continue to evaluate the registration of additional trademarks as appropriate. If we fail to properly register or maintain our trademarks, or to otherwise take all necessary steps to protect our trademarks, the value associated with the trademarks may diminish. In addition, if we fail to protect our trade secrets or other intellectual property rights, we may not be able to compete as effectively in our markets.
Despite our efforts to protect our proprietary rights, unauthorized parties may attempt to copy aspects of our products or services or use information that we regard as proprietary, or it may not be economically feasible to enforce them. Any of our patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, or intellectual property rights could be challenged, invalidated or circumvented. In addition, we cannot assure you that we have taken or will take all necessary steps to protect our intellectual property rights. Third parties may also independently develop similar technology without breach of our trade secrets or other proprietary rights. In addition, the laws of some foreign countries, including several in which we operate or sell our products, do not protect proprietary rights to as great an extent as do the laws of the United States, and it may take longer to receive a remedy from a court outside of the United States. Also, some of our products are licensed under shrink-wrap license agreements that are not signed by licensees and therefore may not be binding under the laws of certain jurisdictions.
From time to time, litigation may be necessary to defend and enforce our proprietary rights. As a result, we could incur substantial costs and divert management resources, which could harm our business, regardless of the final outcome. Despite our efforts to safeguard and maintain our proprietary rights both in the United States and abroad, we may be unsuccessful in doing so. Also, the steps that we take to safeguard and maintain our proprietary rights may be inadequate to deter third parties from infringing, misusing, misappropriating, or independently developing our technology or intellectual property rights, or to prevent an unauthorized third party from misappropriating our products or technology.
We are exposed to credit risk and payment delinquencies on our accounts receivable, and this risk has been heightened during the ongoing decline in economic conditions.
We only recognize revenue when we believe collectability is reasonably assured. However, only a relatively small percentage of our outstanding accounts receivables are covered by collateral, credit insurance, or acceptable third-party guarantees. In addition, our standard terms and conditions require payment within a specified number of days following shipment of product, or in some cases, after the customers acceptance of our products. While we have procedures to monitor and limit exposure to credit risk on our receivables, there can be no assurance such procedures will effectively limit our credit risk and avoid losses. Additionally, when one of our resellers makes a sale to a utility, we face further credit risk, and we may defer revenue, due to the fact that the reseller may not be able to pay us until it receives payment from the utility. This risk could become more magnified during a particular fiscal period if the resellers facing credit issues represent a significant portion of our accounts receivable during that period. As economic conditions change and worsen, certain of our direct or indirect customers may face liquidity concerns and may be unable to satisfy their payment obligations to us or our resellers on a timely basis or at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Our revenues are highly concentrated with 68.2% of our first quarter 2012 revenues being attributable to four customers and 75.2% of our March 31, 2012 accounts receivable balance being attributable to these same customers. This concentration risk further increases our credit exposure.
Our executive officers and technical personnel are critical to our business.
Our success depends substantially on the performance of our executive officers and key employees. Due to the specialized technical nature of our business, we are particularly dependent on our Chief Executive Officer and other executive officers, as well as our technical personnel. Our future success will depend on our ability to attract, integrate, motivate and retain qualified executive, managerial, technical, sales, and operations personnel.
Competition for qualified personnel in our business areas is intense, and we may not be able to continue to retain qualified executive officers and key personnel and attract new officers and personnel when necessary. Our product development and marketing functions are largely based in Silicon Valley, which is a highly competitive marketplace. It may be particularly difficult to recruit, relocate and retain qualified personnel in this geographic area. Moreover, the cost of living, including the cost of housing, in Silicon Valley is known to be high. Because we are legally prohibited from making loans to executive officers, we will not be able to assist potential key personnel as they acquire housing or incur other costs that might be associated with joining our company. In addition, if we lose the services of any of our key personnel and are not able to find suitable replacements in a timely manner, our business could be disrupted, other key personnel may decide to leave, and we may incur increased operating expenses in finding and compensating their replacements.
If we do not maintain adequate distribution channels, our revenues will be harmed.
We market our Systems products directly, as well as through selected VARs and integration partners. We believe that a significant portion of our Systems sales will be made through our VARs and integration partners, rather than directly by us. To date, our VARs and integration partners have greater experience in overseeing projects for utilities. As a result, if our relationships with our VARs and integration partners are not successful, or if we are not able to create similar distribution channels for our Systems products with other companies in other geographic areas, revenues from sales of our Systems products may not meet our financial targets, which will harm our operating results and financial condition.
Historically, significant portions of our Sub-systems revenues have been derived from sales to distributors, including EBV, the primary independent distributor of our products to OEMs in Europe. In April 2011, our distributor agreement with EBV was assigned from EBV to Avnet Europe Comm VA, a limited partnership organized under the laws of Belgium (Avnet). Both EBV and Avnet are indirect subsidiaries of Avnet, Inc., a New York corporation, which is a distributor of electronic parts, enterprise computing and storage products and embedded subsystems. At the time of the assignment, the term of our distributor agreement with Avnet was extended and will now expire in June 2014. If our distributor relationship with Avnet is not successful, our business, revenues, and financial results will suffer.
Agreements with our other distributor partners are generally renewed on an annual basis. If any of these agreements are not renewed, we would be required to locate another distributor or add our own distribution capability to meet the needs of our end-use customers. Any replacement distribution channel could prove less effective than our current arrangements. In addition, if any of our distributor partners fail to dedicate sufficient resources to market and sell our products, our revenues would suffer. Furthermore, if our distributor partners were to significantly reduce their inventory levels for our products, we could expect a decrease in service levels to our end-use customers.
Voluntary and/or industry standards and governmental regulatory actions in our markets could limit our ability to sell our products.
Standards bodies, which are formal and informal associations that attempt to set voluntary, non-governmental product standards, are influential in many of our target markets. We participate in many voluntary and/or industry standards organizations around the world in order to help prevent the adoption of exclusionary standards as well as to promote standards for our products. However, we do not have the resources to participate in all standards processes that may affect our markets and our efforts to influence the direction of those standards bodies in which we do participate may not be successful. Many of our competitors have significantly more resources focused on standards activities and may influence those standards in a way that would be disadvantageous to our products.
Many of our products and the industries in which they are used are subject to U.S. and foreign regulation. For example, the power line medium, which is the communications medium used by some of our products, is subject to special regulations in North America, Europe and Japan. In general, these regulations limit the ability of companies to use power lines as a communication medium. In addition, some of our competitors have attempted to use regulatory actions to reduce the market opportunity for our products or to increase the market opportunity for their own products.
In addition, the markets for our Systems and Sub-systems products may experience a movement towards standards based protocols driven by governmental action, such as those being considered in the U.S. by NIST and in Europe by those related to the EU 441 mandate. We are also attempting to gain widespread adoption for our Open Smart Grid Protocol, which is used by smart meters and other devices within our NES Smart Grid System. To the extent that we do not adopt such protocols or do not succeed in achieving adoption of our own protocols as standards or de facto standards, sales of our Systems and Sub-systems products may be adversely affected. Moreover, if our own protocols are adopted as standards, we run the risk that we could lose business to competing implementations.
The adoption of voluntary and/or industry standards or the passage of governmental regulations, for example by state utility commissions or national regulatory bodies such as FERC in the United States and PTB or BSI in Germany, that are incompatible with our products or technology could limit the market opportunity for our products, which could harm our revenues, results of operations, and financial condition.
We may be unable to promote and expand acceptance of our open, interoperable control systems over competing protocols, standards, or technologies.
LONWORKS technology is open, meaning that many of our technology patents are broadly licensed without royalties or license fees. As a result, our Sub-systems customers are able to develop hardware and software solutions that compete with some of our products. Because some of our customers are OEMs that develop and market their own control systems, these customers in particular could develop competing products based on our open technology. For instance, we have published all of the network management commands required to develop software that competes with our LNS software.
In addition, many of our Sub-systems competitors are dedicated to promoting closed or proprietary systems, technologies, software and network protocols or product standards that differ from or are incompatible with ours. We also face strong competition from large trade associations that promote alternative technologies and standards for particular vertical applications or for use in specific countries. These include BACnet, DALI, and KNX in the buildings market; DeviceNet, HART, and ProfiBus in the industrial controls market; TCN in the rail transportation market; DLMS in the electric metering market; and Echonet, ZigBee, and Z-Wave in the home control market.
Our technologies, protocols, or standards may not be successful or we may not be able to compete with new or enhanced products or standards introduced by our Sub-systems product line competitors, which would have a material adverse effect on our revenues, results of operations, and financial condition.
Because we may incur penalties, be liable for damages, or otherwise subject to adverse contractual provisions with respect to sales of our Systems products, we could incur unanticipated liabilities or suffer other negative impacts to our business or operating results.
The agreements governing the sales of our NES Smart Grid System products may expose us to penalties, damages, order cancellations, and other liabilities in the event of, among other things, late deliveries, late or improper installations or operations, failure to meet product specifications or other product failures, failure to achieve performance specifications, indemnities, or other compliance issues. Even in the absence of such contractual provisions, we may agree, or may be required by law, to assume certain liabilities for the benefit of our customers. In addition, the contractual provisions governing sales of our Systems or other products could give our customers cancellation rights, even in the absence of a material failure by our company, such as upon the failure of conditions that are outside of our control. Such liabilities or rights could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.
We face currency risks associated with our international operations.
We have operations located in eleven countries and our products are sold in many more countries around the world. Revenues from international sales, which include both export sales and sales by international subsidiaries, accounted for about 62.8%, 78.1%, and 74.9% of our total revenues for the years ended December 31, 2011, 2010, and 2009, respectively. We expect that international sales will continue to constitute a significant portion of our total net revenues. Given our high dependency on sales of our products into Europe, the recent escalation in the financial crisis in that region could adversely affect our financial results significantly.
Changes in the value of currencies in which we conduct our business relative to the U.S. dollar have caused and could continue to cause fluctuations in our reported financial results. The three primary areas where we are exposed to foreign currency fluctuations are revenues, cost of goods sold, and operating expenses.
In general, we sell our products to foreign customers primarily in U.S. dollars. As such, fluctuations in exchange rates have had, and could continue to have, an impact on revenues. If the value of the dollar rises, our products will become more expensive to our foreign customers, which could result in their decision to postpone or cancel a planned purchase.
With respect to the relatively minimal amount of our revenues generated in foreign currencies, our historical foreign currency exposure has been related primarily to the Japanese Yen and has not been material to our consolidated results of operations. However, in the future, we expect that some foreign utilities may require us to price our Systems products in the utilitys local currency, which will increase our exposure to foreign currency risk.
In addition, for our cost of goods sold, our products are generally assembled by CEMs in China. Although our transactions with these companies are presently denominated in U.S. dollars, in the future they may require us to pay in their local currency, or demand a U.S. dollar price adjustment or other payment to address a change in exchange rates, which would increase our cost to procure our products. This is particularly a risk in China, where any future revaluations of the Chinese currency against the U.S. dollar could result in significant cost increases. In addition, increases in labor costs in the markets where our products are manufactured could also result in higher costs to procure our products. For example, China has recently experienced overall wage increases, which our CEMs have generally passed along to us.
We use the local currency to pay for our operating expenses in the various countries where we have operations. If the value of the U.S. dollar declines as compared to the local currency where the expenses are incurred, our expenses, when translated back into U.S. dollars, will increase. This risk will be heightened as we invest in our newly-formed joint venture in China.
To date, we have not hedged any of our foreign currency exposures and currently do not maintain any hedges to mitigate our foreign currency risks. Consequently, any resulting adverse foreign currency fluctuations could significantly harm our revenues, cost of goods sold, or operating expenses.
The sales cycle for our Sub-systems products is lengthy and unpredictable.
The sales cycle between initial Sub-systems customer contact and execution of a contract or license agreement with a customer or purchaser of our products, can vary widely. Initially, we must educate our customers about the potential applications of and cost savings associated with our products. If we are successful in this effort, OEMs typically conduct extensive and lengthy product evaluations before making a decision to design our products into their offerings. Once the OEM decides to incorporate our products, volume purchases of our products are generally delayed until the OEMs product development, system integration, and product introduction periods have been completed. In addition, changes in our customers budgets, or the priority they assign to control network development, could also affect the sales cycle.
We generally have little or no control over these factors, any of which could prevent or substantially delay our ability to complete a transaction and could adversely affect the timing of our revenues and results of operations.
Our business may suffer if it is alleged or found that our products infringe the intellectual property rights of others, or if we are unable to secure rights to use the intellectual property rights of others on reasonable terms.
We may be contractually obligated to indemnify our customers or other third parties that use our products in the event our products are alleged to infringe a third partys intellectual property rights. From time to time, we may also receive notice that a third party believes that our products may be infringing patents or other intellectual property rights of that third party. Responding to those claims, regardless of their merit, can be time consuming, result in costly litigation, divert managements attention and resources, and cause us to incur significant expenses. We do not insure against infringement of a third partys intellectual property rights.
As the result of such a claim, we may elect or be required to redesign our products that are alleged to infringe the third partys patents or other intellectual property rights, which could cause those product offerings to be delayed. Or we could be required to cease distributing those products altogether. In the alternative, we could seek a license to the third partys intellectual property. Even if our products do not infringe, we may elect to take a license or settle to avoid incurring litigation costs. However, it is possible that we would not be able to obtain such a license or settle on reasonable terms, or at all.
In some cases, even though no infringement has been alleged, we may attempt to secure rights to use the intellectual property rights of others that would be useful to us. We cannot guarantee that we would be able to secure such rights on reasonable terms, or at all.
Lastly, our customers may not purchase our products if they are concerned our products may infringe third party intellectual property rights. This could reduce the market opportunity for the sale of our products and services.
Any of the foregoing risks could have a material adverse effect on our revenues, results of operations, and financial condition.
If we sell our NES Smart Grid System products directly to a utility, we may face additional risks.
When we sell our NES Smart Grid System products to a utility directly, we may be required to assume responsibility for installing the NES Smart Grid System in the utilitys territory, integrating the NES Smart Grid System into the utilitys operating and billing system, overseeing management of the combined system, working with other of the utilitys contractors, and undertaking other activities. To date, we do not have any significant experience with providing these types of services. As a result, when we sell directly to a utility, it may be necessary for us to contract with third parties to satisfy these obligations. We cannot assure you that we would find appropriate third parties to provide these services on reasonable terms, or at all. Assuming responsibility for these or other services would add to the costs and risks associated with NES Smart Grid System installations, and could also negatively affect the timing of our revenues and cash flows related to these transactions.
Fluctuations in our operating results may cause our stock price to decline.
Our quarterly and annual results have varied significantly from period to period, and we have sometimes failed to meet securities analysts expectations. Moreover, we have a history of losses and cannot assure you that we will achieve sustained profitability in the future. Our future operating results will depend on many factors, many of which are outside of our control, including the following:
Any of the above factors could, individually or in the aggregate, have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and our financial condition, which could cause our stock price to decline.
If our Systems solutions become subject to cyber-attacks, or if public perception is that they are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, our reputation and business would suffer.
We have integrated security technologies into our Systems solutions that are designed to prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification or other activity. However, we could be subject to liability or our reputation could be harmed if those technologies fail to prevent cyber-attacks, or if our partners or utility customers fail to safeguard the systems with security policies that conform to industry best practices. In addition, because some of the information collected by our Systems solutions is or could be considered confidential consumer information in some jurisdictions, a cyber-attack could cause a violation of applicable privacy, consumer or security laws, which could cause our company to face financial or legal liability. In addition, any cyber-attack or security breach that affects a competitors products could lead to the negative perception that our solutions are or could be subject to similar attacks or breaches.
Natural disasters, power outages, and other factors outside of our control such as widespread pandemics could disrupt our business.
We must protect our business and our network infrastructure against damage from earthquake, flood, hurricane and similar events, as well as from power outages. A natural disaster, power outage, or other unanticipated problem could also adversely affect our business by, among other things, harming our primary data center or other internal operations, limiting our ability to communicate with our customers, limiting our ability or our partners or customers ability to sell or use our products, affecting our third party developers ability to complete developments on schedule or at all, or affecting our suppliers ability to provide us with components or products. For example, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan may adversely impact our revenues from customers located in Japan and/or our ability to source parts from companies located in Japan. Shortly after the earthquake, we received notice from Toshiba (one of two manufacturers of the Neuron Chipan important component that we and our customers use in control network devices), that they would no longer be able to manufacture Neuron Chips due to earthquake damage suffered at the semiconductor manufacturing facility that produced the Neuron Chips. However, the abrupt termination of Toshibas Neuron Chip manufacturing capability caused a disruption in supply and an increase in prices from the remaining supplier, Cypress Semiconductor. Consequently, there is a risk that the events in Japan could ultimately reduce demand for certain of our transceiver products, which are used in conjunction with Neuron Chips in developing control network devices by our customers. Such a reduction in demand could negatively impact our results of operations and financial condition. We do not insure against several natural disasters, including earthquakes.
Any outbreak of a widespread communicable disease pandemic, such as the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus in 2009, could similarly impact our operations. Such impact could include, among other things, the inability for our sales and operations personnel located in affected regions to travel and conduct business freely, the impact any such disease may have on one or more of the distributors for our products in those regions, and increased supply chain costs. Additionally, any future health-related disruptions at our third-party contract manufacturers or other key suppliers could affect our ability to supply our customers with products in a timely manner, which would harm our results of operations.
We have not experienced any material change in our exposure to interest rate and foreign currency risks since the date of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011.
Market Risk Disclosures. The following discussion about our market risk disclosures involves forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. We are exposed to market risk related to changes in interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. We do not use derivative financial instruments to hedge these exposures.
Interest Rate Sensitivity. We maintain a short-term investment portfolio consisting mainly of fixed income securities with a weighted average maturity of less than one year. These available-for-sale securities are subject to interest rate risk and will fall in value if market interest rates increase. If market rates were to increase immediately and uniformly by 10% from levels at March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011, the fair value of the portfolio would decline by an immaterial amount. We currently intend to hold our fixed income investments until maturity, and therefore we would not expect our operating results or cash flows to be affected to any significant degree by a sudden change in market interest rates. However, if necessary, we may sell short-term investments prior to maturity to meet the liquidity needs of the company.
Foreign Currency Exchange Risk. We have international subsidiaries and operations and are, therefore, subject to foreign currency rate exposure. To date, our exposure to exchange rate volatility has not been significant. If foreign exchange rates were to fluctuate by 10% from rates at March 31, 2012, and December 31, 2011, our financial position and results of operations would not be materially affected. However, we could experience a material impact in the future.
In addition, for our cost of goods sold, our products are generally assembled by CEMs in China, although our transactions with these vendors have historically been denominated in U.S. dollars. These vendors may require us to pay in their local currency, or demand a U.S. dollar price adjustment or other payment to address a change in exchange rates, which would increase our cost to procure our products. This is particularly a risk in China, where any future revaluations of the Chinese currency against the U.S. dollar could result in significant cost increases.
Evaluation of Effectiveness of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
We have designed our disclosure controls and procedures to ensure that information we are required to disclose in reports that we file or submit under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 is accumulated and communicated to our management, including our principal executive and principal financial officers, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure, and that such information is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in SEC rules and forms. As of the end of the period covered by this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, under the supervision of our Chief Executive Officer and our Chief Financial Officer, we evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures, as such terms are defined in Rule 13a-15(e) and Rule 15d-15(e) under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Based on this evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and our Chief Financial Officer have concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures were effective as of March 31, 2012.
Changes in Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
There were no changes in our internal controls over financial reporting (as defined in Rule 13a-15(e) of the Exchange Act) that occurred during the quarter ended March 31, 2012, that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
PART II. OTHER INFORMATION
For a discussion regarding our legal proceedings and matters, please refer to the Legal Actions section of Note 6, Commitments and Contingencies, to our condensed consolidated financial statements included under Item 1 of Part I, Financial Information, which information is incorporated herein by reference.
A restated description of the risk factors associated with our business is included under Factors That May Affect Future Results of Operations in Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, contained in Item 2 of Part I of this report. This description includes any material changes to and supersedes the description of the risk factors associated with our business previously disclosed in Item 1A of our 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and is incorporated herein by reference.
The following table provides information about the repurchase of our common stock during the quarter ended March 31, 2012:
Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned thereunto duly authorized.