SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
⌧ Accelerated filer ◻Smaller reporting company ◻
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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ⌧
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The aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on October 26, 2019 was approximately $
As of June 17, 2020, the issuer had
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A not later than 120 days after the conclusion of the registrant’s fiscal year ended April 30, 2020, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.
INDEX TO FORM 10-K
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”), contains forward-looking statements, which reflect our current views about future events and financial results. We have made these statements in reliance on the safe harbor created by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (set forth in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”)). Forward-looking statements include our views on future financial results, financing sources, product development, capital requirements, market growth and the like, and are generally identified by terms such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “targets,” “projects,” “predicts,” “contemplates,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans” and similar words. Forward-looking statements are merely predictions and therefore inherently subject to uncertainties and other factors which could cause the actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statement. These uncertainties and other factors include, among other things:
|●||unexpected technical and marketing difficulties inherent in major research and product development efforts;|
|●||availability of U.S. government and allied government funding for defense procurement and research and development programs;|
|●||our reliance on certain customers, including the U.S. government and HAPSMobile, Inc., for a significant portion of our revenues;|
|●||the extensive regulatory requirements governing our contracts with the U.S. government and the results of any audit or investigation of our compliance therewith;|
|●||our ability to remain a market innovator and to create new market opportunities;|
|●||the potential need for changes in our long-term strategy in response to future developments;|
|●||unexpected changes in significant operating expenses, including components and raw materials;|
|●||changes in the supply, demand and/or prices for our products and services;|
|●||increased competition, including from firms that have substantially greater resources than we have and in the UAS business from lower-cost consumer drone manufacturers who may seek to enhance their systems’ capabilities over time;|
|●||the complexities and uncertainty of obtaining and conducting international business, including export compliance and other reporting requirements;|
|●||the impact of potential security and cyber threats;|
|●||uncertainty in the customer adoption rate of commercial use unmanned aircraft systems;|
|●||changes in the regulatory environment;|
|●||our ability to successfully integrate businesses we acquire;|
|●||our ability to respond and adapt to unexpected legal, regulatory and government budgetary changes resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, such as shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions, social distancing and quarantine policies, boycotts, curtailment of trade, diversion of government|
|resources to non-defense priorities, and other business restrictions affecting our ability to manufacture and sell our products and provide our services;|
|●||unfavorable results in legal proceedings; and|
|●||general economic and business conditions in the United States and elsewhere in the world.|
Set forth below in Item 1A, “Risk Factors” are additional significant uncertainties and other factors affecting forward-looking statements. The reader should understand that the uncertainties and other factors identified in this Annual Report are not a comprehensive list of all the uncertainties and other factors that may affect forward-looking statements. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements or the list of uncertainties and other factors that could affect those statements.
Item 1. Business.
Sale of EES Business Segment
On June 29, 2018, we completed the sale of substantially all of the assets and related liabilities of its efficient energy systems business segment (“the EES Business”) to Webasto Charging Systems, Inc. (“Webasto”) pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) between Webasto and AeroVironment. As of April 30, 2018, we determined that the EES Business met the criterion for classification as an asset held for sale and represented a strategic shift in our operations. Therefore, the assets and liabilities and the results of operations of the EES Business are reported in this Annual Report as discontinued operations for all periods presented.
The disclosures and references in this Annual Report, including financial data, the description of our business operations in this Item 1, and risk factors related to our operations included in Item 1A relate to our continuing operations, unless otherwise specifically noted.
We design, develop, produce and support a technologically-advanced portfolio of products and services for government agencies and businesses. We supply unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) and related services primarily to organizations within the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) and to international allied governments, and tactical missile systems and related services to organizations within the U.S. government. We derive the majority of our revenue from these business areas and we believe that the markets for these solutions have significant growth potential. Additionally, we believe that some of the innovative potential products and services in our research and development pipeline will emerge as new growth platforms in the future, creating additional market opportunities.
Our success with current products and services stems from our investment in research and development and our ability to invent and deliver advanced solutions, utilizing proprietary and commercially available technologies, to help our government and commercial customers operate more effectively and efficiently. We develop these highly innovative solutions by working very closely with our key customers to solve their most important challenges related to our areas of expertise. Our core technological capabilities, developed through more than 45 years of innovation, include robotics and robotics systems autonomy; sensor design, development, miniaturization and integration; embedded software and firmware; miniature, low power wireless digital communications; lightweight aerostructures; high-altitude systems design, integration and operations; machine vision, machine learning and autonomy; low SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) system design and integration; manned-unmanned teaming and unmanned-unmanned teaming; power electronics and electric propulsion systems; efficient electric power conversion, storage systems and high density energy packaging; controls and systems integration; vertical takeoff and landing flight, fixed wing flight and hybrid aircraft flight; image stabilization and target tracking; advanced flight control systems; fluid dynamics; human-machine interface development; and integrated mission solutions for austere environments.
Our business focuses primarily on the design, development, production, marketing, support and operation of innovative UAS and tactical missile systems that provide situational awareness, remote sensing, multi-band
communications, force protection and other information and mission effects to increase the safety and effectiveness of our customers’ operations.
As a technology solutions provider, our strategy is to grow our business by developing and acquiring innovative, safe and reliable new solutions that provide customers with valuable capabilities. Delivering these capabilities will enable us to create new markets or market segments, gain market share and grow as market adoption increases. We believe that by introducing new solutions that provide customers with compelling value we are able to create new markets or market segments and then grow our positions within those markets or market segments profitably, instead of entering established, existing markets and competing directly against large, incumbent competitors that may possess advantages in scope, scale, resources and relationships.
We intend to grow our business by preserving a leadership position in our core UAS and tactical missile systems markets, and by creating new solutions that enable us to create and establish leadership positions in new markets. Key components of this strategy include the following:
Expand the market penetration of existing products and services. Our small UAS and tactical missile systems enjoy leading positions in their respective markets. We intend to increase the penetration of our small UAS products and services within the U.S. military, the military forces of allied nations, other government agencies and non-government organizations, including commercial entities, and to increase the penetration of our tactical missile systems within the U.S. military and within the military forces of allied nations. We believe that the broad adoption of our small UAS by the U.S. military will continue to spur demand by allied nations, and that our efforts to pursue new applications are creating opportunities beyond the early adopter military market.
Deliver innovative new solutions into existing and new markets. Customer-focused innovation is the primary driver of our growth. We plan to continue pursuing internal and customer-funded research and development to develop better, more capable products, services and business models, both in response to and in anticipation of emerging customer needs. In some cases, these innovations result in upgrades to existing offerings, expanding their value among existing customers and markets. In other cases, these innovations become entirely new solutions that position us to address new markets, customers and business opportunities. We believe focused research and development investments will allow us to deliver innovative new products and services that address market needs within and outside of our current target markets, and enable us to create new opportunities for growth. We view strategic partnerships as a means by which to further the reach of our innovative solutions through access to new markets, customers and complementary capabilities. We also consider the acquisition of third-party assets as a potential method to obtain valuable products or technologies that can enable our growth strategy.
Foster our entrepreneurial culture and continue to attract, develop and retain highly-skilled personnel. Our company culture encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism, which helps to attract and retain highly-skilled professionals. We intend to preserve this culture to encourage the development of the innovative, highly technical system solutions and business models that give us our competitive advantage. Our values of “customer commitment,” “trust and teamwork,” “innovate and simplify,” and “ownership and results” serve as the foundation of our culture. We believe that our values help to guide the behavior of our people and serve to maintain a positive work environment that inspires loyalty among our employees and customers.
Preserve our agility and flexibility. We respond rapidly to evolving markets, solve complicated customer problems, and strive to deliver new products, services and capabilities quickly, efficiently and affordably relative to available alternatives. We believe our agility and flexibility help us to strengthen our relationships with customers and partners. We intend to maintain our agility and flexibility, which we believe to be important sources of differentiation when we compete against organizations with more extensive resources.
Effectively manage our growth portfolio for long-term value creation. Our production and development programs and services present numerous investment opportunities that we believe will deliver long-term growth by providing our customers with valuable new capabilities. We evaluate each opportunity independently and within the
context of other investment opportunities to determine its relative timing and potential, and thereby its priority. This process helps us to make informed decisions regarding potential growth capital requirements and supports our allocation of resources based on relative risks and returns to maximize long-term value creation, which is a key element of our growth strategy. We also review our portfolio on a regular basis to determine if and when to narrow our focus on the highest potential growth opportunities.
We sell the majority of our UAS and services to organizations within the DoD, including the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Special Operations Command, Air Force and Navy, and to allied governments. We sell our tactical missile systems to organizations within the U.S. government. We also develop High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (“HAPS”) systems for HAPSMobile Inc., a commercial joint venture of which we own approximately 7%.
During our fiscal year ended April 30, 2020, we generated approximately 32% of our revenue from the U.S. Army pursuant to orders placed under contract by the U.S. Army on behalf of itself as well as for several other organizations within the DoD. Other U.S. government agencies and government subcontractors accounted for 22% of our sales revenue, and HAPSMobile Inc. accounted for 17% of our sales revenue. Sales revenue to other foreign customers, inclusive of foreign military sales made through the DoD, commercial and consumer customers accounted for the remaining 29% of sales revenue during our fiscal year ended April 30, 2020.
Technology, Research and Development
Technological Competence and Intellectual Property
Our company was founded by the late Dr. Paul B. MacCready, the former Chairman of our board of directors and an internationally renowned innovator who was instrumental in establishing our entrepreneurial and creative culture. This culture has consistently enabled us to attract and retain highly-motivated, talented employees and has established our reputation as an innovative leader in the industries in which we compete.
The innovations developed by our company and our founder include, among others: the world’s first effective human-powered and manned solar-powered airplanes; the first modern passenger electric car, the EV1 prototype for General Motors; the world’s highest flying airplane in level flight, Helios™, a solar-powered unmanned aircraft system that reached over 96,000 feet above sea level in 2001; Global Observer, the world’s first liquid hydrogen-fueled unmanned aircraft system; the Nano Hummingbird™, the world’s first flapping wing unmanned aircraft system capable of precise hover and omni-directional flight; and Blackwing™, the first submarine-launched unmanned aircraft system deployed by the U.S. Navy. The Smithsonian Institution possesses seven vehicles developed by our company or our founder in its permanent collection. Our history of innovation excellence is the result of our talented, creative and skilled employees whom we encourage to invent and develop innovative new solutions.
A component of our ongoing innovation is a screening process that helps our business managers identify early market needs, which assists us in making timely investments into critical technologies necessary to develop solutions to address these needs. Similarly, we manage new product and business concepts through a commercialization process that balances spending, resources, time and intellectual property considerations against market requirements and potential returns on investment. Strongly linking our technology and business development activities to customer needs in attractive growth markets constitutes an important element of this process. Through the process we revisit our customer requirement assumptions to evaluate continued investment and to help ensure that our products and services deliver high value.
As of April 30, 2020, we had issued and retained 202 U.S. patents, as well as 104 pending U.S. patent applications; 26 active Patent Cooperation Treaty applications; and numerous foreign patents and pending applications. In many cases, when appropriate and to preserve confidentiality, we opt to protect our intellectual property through trade secrets as opposed to filing for patent protection.
The U.S. government has licenses to some of our intellectual property that was specifically developed in performance of government contracts, and may use or authorize others to use this intellectual property. In some cases we
fund the development of certain intellectual property to maximize its value and limit its use by potential competitors. While we consider the development and protection of our intellectual property to be integral to the future success of our business, at this time we do not believe that a loss or limitation of rights to any particular piece of our intellectual property would have a material adverse effect on our overall business.
Research, Development and Commercialization Projects
A core component of our business strategy is the focused development and commercialization of innovative solutions that we believe can become new products or services that enable us to create large new markets or accelerate the growth of our current products and services. We invest in an active pipeline of these commercialization projects that range in maturity from technology validation to early market adoption. We cannot predict when, if ever, we will successfully commercialize these projects, or the exact level of capital expenditures they could require, which could be substantial.
Sales and Marketing
Our marketing strategy is based on developing leadership positions in new markets that we create through the introduction of innovation solutions that improve customer operational effectiveness and efficiency. Our ability to operate in an agile, flexible manner helps us achieve first mover advantage and work closely with early customers to achieve the successful adoption of our solutions. Once we establish a market position we work to maintain our leadership while seeking to grow our revenue by expanding sales and through continuous innovation and customer support. Our reputation for innovation is a key component of our brand and has been acknowledged through a variety of awards and recognized in numerous articles in domestic and international publications. We have many U.S. registered trademarks including those for AeroVironment, AV, Switchblade, Raven, Wasp, Quantix, and VAPOR, and have several pending applications for trademark registration.
We contract with international sales representatives and team with domestic organizations in a number of foreign markets and believe that these markets represent growth opportunities for our business. Our international sales, inclusive of foreign military sales, accounted for approximately 45%, 52% and 47%, of our revenue for the fiscal years ended April 30, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
We believe that the principal competitive factors in the markets for our products and services include product performance; safety; features; acquisition cost; lifetime operating cost, including maintenance and support; ease of use; rapid integration with existing equipment and processes; quality; reliability; customer support; and brand and reputation.
Manufacturing and Operations
We pursue a lean and efficient production strategy across our business, focusing on rapid prototyping, supply chain management, final assembly, integration, quality and final acceptance testing. Using concurrent engineering techniques within an integrated product team structure, we rapidly prototype design concepts and products, while working to optimize our designs to meet manufacturing requirements, mission capabilities and customer specifications. Within this framework we develop our products with feedback and input from manufacturing, quality, supply chain management, key suppliers, logistics personnel and customers. We incorporate this input into product designs in an effort to maximize the efficiency and quality of our products while minimizing time to market. As a result, we believe that we significantly reduce the time required to move a product from its design phase to full rate production, while achieving high reliability, quality and yields.
We outsource certain production activities, such as the fabrication of certain aerostructures, the manufacture and assembly of electronic printed circuit boards, and payload components to qualified suppliers, with many of whom we have long-term relationships. This outsourcing enables us to focus on our core expertise of final assembly, system
integration and test processes for our products, ensuring high levels of quality and reliability. We forge strong relationships with key suppliers based on their ability to grow with our production needs and support our growth plans. We continue to expand upon our suppliers’ expertise to improve our existing products and develop new solutions. We rely on both single and multiple suppliers for certain components and subassemblies. (See “Risk Factors—If critical components or raw materials used to manufacture our products become scarce or unavailable, then we may incur delays in manufacturing and delivery of our products, which could damage our business” for more information.) All of our production systems operate in accordance with our AS9100D registered Quality Management System, which is focused on continuous improvement in order to increase acceptance rates, reduce lead times and lower cost.
Customer Funded Research and Development
We actively pursue externally funded projects that help us to strengthen our technological capabilities. We submit bids to large research customers, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Special Operations Command, for projects that we believe have the potential for future procurement. In some cases commercial enterprises may fund our research and development activities, as with our HAPSMobile Inc. development program. Providing these services contributes to the development and enhancement of our technical competencies. In an effort to manage the ability of our key technical personnel to support multiple, high-value research and development initiatives, we attempt to limit the volume of customer funded research and development projects that we accept. This process enables us to focus these personnel on projects we believe offer the greatest current and future value to our business.
Historically our revenue in the second half of our fiscal years has exceeded our revenue in the first half of our fiscal years. The factors that affect our revenue recognition between accounting periods include the timing of new contract awards, the availability of U.S. government and international government funding, lead time to manufacture our family of systems to customer specification, customer acceptance and other regulatory requirements.
Raw Materials and Suppliers
Historically, we have not experienced significant delays in the supply or availability of our key raw materials or components provided by our suppliers, nor have we experienced a significant price increase for raw materials or components. We do not presently anticipate any such delays or significant price increases in our fiscal year 2021.
The table below shows our revenue for the periods indicated by major product line:
Fiscal Year Ended
The table below shows our revenue for the periods indicated by contract type, including both government and commercial sales:
Fiscal Year Ended
As of April 30, 2020, we had 823 full time employees and 5 part time employees, of whom 343 were in research and development and engineering, 50 were in sales and marketing, 266 were in operations and 169 were general and administrative personnel. We believe that we have a good relationship with our employees.
Consistent with ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (“ASC 606”), we define backlog as remaining unsatisfied performance obligations under firm orders for which work has not been performed. As of April 30, 2020 and 2019, our backlog was approximately $208.1 million and $164.3 million, respectively. We expect that approximately 96% of our backlog will be recognized as revenue during our fiscal year ending April 30, 2021.
In addition to our backlog, we had unfunded backlog of $122.0 million and $45.2 million as of April 30, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We define unfunded backlog as the total remaining potential order amounts under cost reimbursable and fixed price contracts with (i) multiple one-year options, and indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (“IDIQ contracts”), or (ii) incremental funding. Unfunded backlog does not obligate the customer to purchase goods or services. There can be no assurance that unfunded backlog will result in any orders in any particular period, if at all. Management believes that unfunded backlog does not provide a reliable measure of future estimated revenue under our contracts. Unfunded backlog, with the exception of the remaining potential value of the FCS domain, does not include the remaining potential value associated with a U.S. Army IDIQ-type contract for small UAS because values for each of the other domains within the contract have not been disclosed by the customer, and we cannot be certain that we will secure all task orders issued against the contract.
Because of possible future changes in delivery schedules and/or cancellations of orders, backlog at any particular date is not necessarily representative of actual sales to be expected for any succeeding period, and actual sales for the year may not meet or exceed the backlog represented. Our backlog is typically subject to large variations from quarter to quarter as existing contracts expire, are renewed, or new contracts are awarded. A portion of our contracts, specifically our IDIQ contracts, do not obligate the U.S. government to purchase any goods or services. Additionally, all U.S. government contracts included in backlog, whether or not they are funded, may be terminated at the convenience of the U.S. government.
AeroVironment, Inc. was originally incorporated in California in July 1971 and reincorporated in Delaware in 2006.
Our principal executive offices are located at 900 Innovators Way, Simi Valley, California 93065. Our telephone number is (805) 520-8350. Our website home page is http://www.avinc.com. We make our website content
available for information purposes only. It should not be relied upon for investment purposes, nor is it incorporated by reference into this Annual Report.
We make our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and proxy statements for our annual stockholders’ meetings, as well as any amendments to those reports, available free of charge through our website as soon as reasonably practical after we electronically file that material with, or furnish it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). You can learn more about us by reviewing our SEC filings. Our SEC reports can be accessed through the investor relations page of our web site at http://investor.avinc.com. The SEC also maintains a web site at www.sec.gov that contains our reports, proxy statements and other information regarding us.
Our business addresses the increasing economic and security value of distributed, network-centric intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (“ISR”), communications, remote sensing and effects delivery with innovative UAS and tactical missile system solutions.
The defense market for small UAS has grown significantly since the early 2000s, driven largely by the demands associated with the global threat environment and resulting procurement by military customers, the early adopters for this technology. Small UAS now represent an accepted and enduring capability for the military. The U.S. military’s transformation into a smaller, more agile force that operates via a network of observation, communication and precision targeting technologies accelerated following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as it required improved, distributed observation and targeting of enemy combatants who operate in small groups, often embedded in dense population centers or dispersed in remote locations, to operate effectively in a counterinsurgency threat environment. We believe that UAS, which range from large systems, such as Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk and General Atomics’ Predator, Sky Warrior, Reaper and Gray Eagle, to small systems, such as our Raven, Wasp AE, Puma AE, and VAPOR serve as integral components of today’s military force. These systems provide critical observation and communications capabilities serving the increasing demand for actionable intelligence, while reducing risk to individual “warfighters.” Small UAS can provide real-time observation and communication capabilities to the small units who control them. As airspace regulations in the U.S. and other nations evolve to accommodate the commercial use of small UAS, significant growth in the number of entities developing small UAS solutions is taking place.
Tactical Missile Systems
The development of weapons capable of rapid deployment and precision strike that also minimize the risk to surrounding civilians, property and operators has accelerated due to advances in enabling technologies. Weapons such as laser-guided missiles, “smart” bombs and GPS-guided artillery shells have dramatically improved the accuracy of strikes against hostile targets. When ground forces find themselves engaged in a firefight or near a hostile target, their ability to employ a precision weapon system quickly and easily can mean the difference between mission success and failure. A rapidly deployable solution could address emerging requirements beyond ground engagements for use in other types of missions and from a variety of sea, air and land platforms. We believe that embedding a precision lethal payload into a remotely controlled, man-portable delivery system provides warfighters with a valuable and more cost-effective alternative to existing munition and missile systems.
High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (“HAPS”) UAS
We believe a market opportunity exists for HAPS UAS that can fly for months at a time to provide continuous remote sensing and communications in an affordable manner over great distances. Existing solutions such as terrestrial cellular towers, communications satellites and manned and unmanned aircraft address some of the emerging demand for this capability, but do so at relatively high financial and resource costs. Next generation mobile telephony, referred to as 5G, can use higher frequencies than those currently employed by 4G and LTE networks. These higher frequencies are
not capable of traveling long distances as compared to the frequencies associated with existing networks. As a result, 5G deployment requires the installation of a large number of base stations and cellular towers to complement existing infrastructure, resulting in a significant investment of time, resources and capital. Geosynchronous satellites provide fixed, continuous communications capabilities to large portions of the globe, but they operate more than 20,000 miles from the surface of the earth, therefore limiting the bandwidth they can provide, introducing latency in communications signals and requiring relatively larger, higher power ground stations. Remote sensing satellites typically operate at lower altitudes, but are unable to maintain geosynchronous positions, meaning they are moving with respect to the surface of the earth, resulting in a limited presence over specific areas of interest and significant periods of time during which they are not present over those areas. A new category of constellations consisting of a large number of very small and low earth orbiting satellites is proposed to provide a lower cost alternative with more ubiquitous coverage for reconnaissance and communication, but is only beginning to be deployed in meaningful quantities and may not be capable of providing the uninterrupted service and quality required by commercial mobile carriers. High-altitude balloons carrying communication payloads are subject to wind direction and speed and, therefore, may not be able to deliver the continuous, uninterrupted service and connection quality required by commercial mobile carriers but may be suitable for other applications. UAS that are capable of operating in an affordable manner for extended periods of time over an area of interest without gaps in availability while carrying a communications or observation payload could help to satisfy this need.
We supply our UAS products and services to multiple customers within and outside of the United States and our tactical missile systems products and services to organizations within the U.S. government.
Small UAS Products
Our small UAS, including Raven, Wasp AE, Puma AE, Puma LE, VAPOR and Quantix Recon are designed to operate reliably at very low altitudes in a wide range of environmental conditions, providing a vantage point from which to collect and deliver valuable information. Military forces employ our small UAS to deliver ISR and communications, including real-time tactical reconnaissance, tracking, combat assessment and geographic data, directly to the small tactical unit or individual operator, thereby increasing flexibility in mission planning and execution. Our small UAS wirelessly transmit critical live video and other information generated by their payload of electro-optical, infrared or other sensors directly to a hand-held ground control unit, enabling the operator to view and capture images, during the day or at night, on the control unit. Our Quantix Recon mapping drone generates a volume of high-resolution data significantly larger than wireless bandwidth can accommodate, requiring the onboard storage and subsequent transfer of data once the air vehicle has landed. With the exception of Quantix Recon, our ground control systems allow the operator to control the aircraft by programming it for GPS-based autonomous navigation using operator-designated way-points, or by manual flight operation. The ground control systems are designed for durability and ease of use in harsh environments and incorporate a user-friendly, intuitive user interface. All of our fixed wing small UAS currently in production for military customers operate from our common ground control system. Our Quantix Recon system plots its own flight path and launches, flies and lands autonomously to complete its mission. Our VAPOR helicopter UAS currently employs a distinct portable ground control system.
We designed our small UAS to be transportable by as few as a single person, assembled in minutes and launched and operated by one or two people, with limited training required. The efficient and reliable electric motors used in all of our small UAS are powered by modular battery packs that can be replaced quickly, enabling rapid return to flight. We designed all of our small UAS to be reusable for hundreds of flights under normal operating circumstances and to be recovered through an autonomous landing feature that enables a controlled descent to a designated location.
In military applications, our small UAS provide forward aerial observation capabilities that enable tactical commanders to observe, for example, around the next corner, to the next intersection or past a ridgeline in real-time. This information facilitates faster, safer movement through urban, rural, riverine and mountainous environments and can enable troops to be proactive based on field intelligence rather than reactive to attack. Moreover, by providing this information, our systems reduce the risk to warfighters and to the surrounding population by providing the ability to tailor the military response to the threat. U.S. military personnel regularly use our small UAS, such as Raven, for
missions such as force protection, combat observation and damage assessment. These reusable systems are easy to transport, assemble and operate and are relatively quiet when flying at typical altitudes of 300 to 500 feet above ground level, as a result of our efficient electric propulsion systems. Furthermore, their small size makes them difficult to see from the ground. In addition, the low cost of our small UAS relative to larger systems and alternatives makes it practical for customers to deploy these assets in large quantities, directly to warfighters.
In emerging commercial applications, our small UAS enable enterprises to manage valuable assets such as crops, powerlines and railroad infrastructure, more effectively and safely than previously possible. Our Quantix Mapper and VAPOR helicopter systems are designed to provide more accurate and timely information to individuals or organizations for more informed decision-making. Better and more timely information can translate into more efficient activities that facilitate more efficient use of resources such as maintenance operations.
Our small UAS offering also includes spare equipment, alternative payload modules, batteries, chargers, repair services and customer support. We provide training by our highly-skilled instructors, who typically possess extensive military experience, and continuous refurbishment and repair services for our products. By maintaining close contact with our customers and users in the field, we gather critical feedback on our products and incorporate that information into ongoing product development and research and development efforts. This approach enables us to improve our solutions in response to, and in anticipation of, evolving customer needs.
Certain systems within our small UAS portfolio include multiple aircraft, our common and interoperable hand-held ground control system and an array of spare parts and accessories. Other systems, namely, Puma LE, VAPOR and Quantix Recon, consist of a single air vehicle, as well as a ground control system, spare parts and accessories. Our current small UAS portfolio for defense applications consists of the following aircraft:
Launch and Recovery
Hand or bungee launch and autonomous/manual skid landing (ground or water)
Mechanical pan, tilt, zoom and digital zoom electro-optical and infrared
Hand, bungee, or mechanical launch and vertical autonomous landing capable (ground or water)
Mechanical pan, tilt, zoom and digital zoom electro-optical and infrared
Hand launch and vertical autonomous landing capable
Mechanical pan, tilt, zoom and digital zoom electro-optical and infrared
Hand launch and vertical autonomous landing capable (ground or water)
Mechanical pan, tilt, zoom and digital zoom electro-optical and infrared
Vertical take-off and landing
Ability to integrate multiple third party payloads
Vertical take-off and landing
Ability to integrate multiple third party payloads
Vertical take-off and landing
Dual 18 megapixel high-resolution RGB and multispectral
|(1)||Represents point-to-point minimum customer-mandated specifications for all operating conditions. In optimal conditions, the performance of our products may significantly exceed these specifications. Our digital data links (“DDL”) relay can enable operational modes that can extend range significantly.|
The ground control system serves as the primary interface between the operator and our small UAS and allows the operator of each system, with the exception of Quantix Recon, to control the direction, speed and altitude of the aircraft as well as the orientation of the sensors to view the visual information they produce through real-time, streaming video and metadata. Our common ground control system interfaces with each of our fixed wing air vehicles, providing a common user experience. In addition to the thousands of air vehicles delivered to our customers, thousands of ground control systems are also in our customers’ hands.
Our line of miniature gimbaled sensor payloads provides small UAS operators with enhanced observation and target tracking functionality. Our DDL is integrated into Puma LE, Puma AE, Raven and Wasp AE systems, enhancing their capabilities, and ultimately, the utility of our small UAS by enabling more efficient radio spectrum utilization and communications security. Small UAS incorporating our DDL are optimized for the low-power, low-latency, and
streaming bandwidth efficiency required for UAS. Additionally, our DDL enables each air vehicle to operate as an Internet-Protocol addressable hub capable of routing and relaying video, voice and data to and from multiple other nodes on this ad hoc network. This capability enables beyond line-of-sight operation of our small UAS, further enhancing their value proposition to our customers.
Tactical Missile Systems Products
Our tactical missile systems consist of tube-launched aircraft that deploy with the push of a button, fly at higher speeds than our small UAS, and perform either effects delivery or reconnaissance missions. Switchblade, the first of our tactical missile systems products, can be transported in its launch tube, within a backpack, and deployed within minutes to defend against lethal threats such as snipers and mortar launchers. With a high level of precision, including a customized warhead, patented wave-off, loiter and re-engagement capabilities, Switchblade can neutralize a target rapidly and accurately without causing collateral damage. Furthermore, because it streams live electro-optical and thermal video to its operator, Switchblade can be called off in the final moments prior to a strike should the situation require, potentially eliminating damage to non-combatants. Blackwing, a variant of Switchblade, launches from a submerged submarine and carries extra batteries instead of a warhead, providing longer flight time for reconnaissance operations.
In support of our small UAS for defense applications we offer a suite of services that help to ensure the successful operation of our products by our customers. These services generate incremental revenue for us and provide us with continuous feedback to understand the performance of our systems, anticipate our customers’ needs and develop additional customer insights. We believe that this ongoing feedback loop enables us to continue to provide our customers with innovative solutions that help them succeed. We provide spare parts as well as repair, refurbishment and replacement services in a manner that seeks to minimize supply chain delays and support our customers whenever and wherever needed. Our facilities in Simi Valley, CA also serve as primary depots for repairs and spare parts.
We provide comprehensive training services to support all of our small UAS and tactical missile systems for defense applications. Our highly-skilled instructors typically have extensive military experience. We deploy training teams throughout the continental United States and overseas to support our customers’ training needs on both production and development-stage systems.
Customer Funded Research and Development
We provide specialized services in support of customer-funded research and development projects, delivering new value-added technology solutions to our customers. These types of projects typically involve developing new system solutions and technology or new capabilities for existing solutions that we introduce as retrofits or upgrades. We recognize the majority of customer-funded research and development projects as revenue.
Technology, Research and Development
Our primary areas of technological competence represent the sum of numerous technical skills and capabilities that help to differentiate our approach and product offerings. The following list highlights a number of our key technological capabilities:
|●||robotics and robotics systems autonomy technologies;|
|●||sensor design, development, miniaturization and integration;|
|●||embedded software and firmware, analytics processing, database systems, web, desktop and mobile applications, standards-based interfaces;|
|●||miniature, low power wireless digital communications;|
|●||lightweight, low speed aerostructures and aerodynamic design;|
|●||high-altitude long-endurance systems design, integration and flight operations|
|●||machine vision, machine learning, advanced auto flight control, auto target recognition, autonomous mission planning and teaming|
|●||low SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) system design and integration|
|●||manned-unmanned teaming, unmanned-unmanned teaming;|
|●||power electronics and electric propulsion systems;|
|●||efficient electric power conversion, storage systems and high-density energy packaging;|
|●||controls and systems integration;|
|●||vertical takeoff and landing flight, fixed-wing flight and hybrid flight unmanned aircraft systems;|
|●||image stabilization and target tracking;|
|●||advanced flight control systems;|
|●||human-machine interface development; and|
|●||integrated mission solutions for austere environments.|
Two of our UAS and tactical missile systems development initiatives are described below:
Tactical Missile System Variants. We pioneered our first rapidly deployable, high-precision tactical missile system, named Switchblade, for use by defense ground forces. Switchblade is now deployed by the U.S. military to provide force protection to its troops overseas in combat operations. During numerous demonstrations over the course of several years, multiple potential customers requested modifications to Switchblade to accommodate their specific mission requirements. We performed a number of successful demonstrations and are now developing several variants of Switchblade for new customers and applications, including deployment from sea and air vehicles. Blackwing, a submarine-launched reconnaissance system, represents one of the variants. Another variant is a larger version of Switchblade that delivers longer endurance, greater range, a larger payload and more significant mission effects. We believe these new variants have the potential to expand our tactical missile systems opportunities significantly.
HAPS Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Building on our decades of groundbreaking development and demonstration of high altitude solar-powered UAS, in fiscal year 2018 we established a joint venture with SoftBank Corp. to create a global broadband and telecommunications company to demonstrate and deploy HAPS UAS around the world. As of April 30, 2020, AeroVironment owned a 7% share of HAPSMobile Inc., while SoftBank Corp. owned a majority 93% share. The joint venture is funding AeroVironment’s development and demonstration of solar-powered HAPS UAS. AeroVironment possesses exclusive rights to manufacture and supply the solar HAPS UAS developed by the joint venture to HAPSMobile Inc., subject to meeting contractual performance criteria. HAPSMobile Inc. possesses exclusive rights to market the solar HAPS UAS for commercial
markets globally, while AeroVironment possesses exclusive rights to market the solar HAPS UAS for non-commercial markets globally, with the exception of Japan.
Sales and Marketing
Our Product Line Management organization translates customer and market requirements into multi-year product roadmaps that guide our development, engineering and manufacturing plans. We organize our U.S. business development team members by target market and customer, and we locate team members in close proximity to the customers they support, where possible. We organize our program managers by product and focus on designing optimal solutions and contract fulfillment, as well as internalizing feedback from customers and users. By maintaining assigned points of contact with our customers, we believe that we are able to maintain our relationships, service existing contracts effectively and gain vital feedback to improve our responsiveness and product offerings.
Manufacturing and Operations
Continued investment in infrastructure has established our manufacturing capability to meet demand with scalable capacity. We have the manufacturing infrastructure to produce products at rates higher than our historical volumes, support initial low rate production for new UAS development programs and tactical missile systems and execute initial low-rate production of large UAS. By drawing upon experienced personnel across various manufacturing industries including aerospace, automotive and volume commodities, we have instituted lean production systems and leverage our International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”) certification for Quality Management, integrated supply chain strategy, document control systems and process control methodologies for production. Presently, we perform small UAS manufacturing at the 85,000 square foot manufacturing facility we established in 2005. Our ISO 9001:2015 + AS9100D certified manufacturing facilities are designed to accommodate demand of up to 1,000 aircraft per month. ISO 9001:2015 + AS9100D refers to a set of voluntary standards for quality management systems. The 9001:2015 standards are established by the ISO to govern quality management systems used worldwide. We are regularly audited and certified to be compliant by a third party, accredited registrar. Accreditation of SAI Global, our third party registrar, is by the ANSI National Accreditation Board. These audits performed as part of certification evaluate the effectiveness of companies’ quality management systems and their compliance with ISO standards. Some companies and government agencies view ISO certification as a positive factor in supplier assessments.
The market for defense small UAS continues to evolve in response to changing technologies, shifting customer needs and expectations and the potential introduction of new products. We believe that a number of established domestic and international defense contractors have developed or are developing small UAS that continue to compete, or will compete, directly with our products. Some of these contractors have significantly greater financial and other resources than we possess. Our current principal small UAS competitors include Elbit Systems Ltd., FLIR Systems, Inc., L3 Technologies, Inc., and Lockheed Martin Corporation. We do not view large UAS such as Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Global Hawk, General Atomics, Inc.’s Predator and its derivatives, The Boeing Company’s ScanEagle and Textron Inc.’s Shadow as direct competitors to our small UAS because they perform different missions, do not typically deliver their information directly to front-line ground forces and are not hand-launched and controlled. However, we cannot be certain that these platforms will not become direct competitors in the future. Potential competition from consumer-focused drone manufacturers is emerging as their capabilities increase and their prices remain low relative to existing defense solutions, which is resulting in some level of military consideration even if such drones do not meet traditional military performance or security specifications.
The market for HAPS UAS is in an early stage of development. As a result, this category is not well defined and is characterized by multiple potential solutions. An existing contractor that claims to provide high altitude long endurance UAS is Northrop Grumman Corporation with its Global Hawk. Several aerospace and defense contractors have pursued this market opportunity with proposed very long duration UAS, including The Boeing Company, Airbus, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Companies pursuing airships (high altitude aircraft that are kept buoyant by a body of gas that is lighter than air) as a solution for this market include Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Loon LLC is pursuing the deployment of lighter-than-air high-altitude
balloons without propulsion to create networks that can provide connectivity. A number of telecommunications, aerospace and technology companies, including AeroVironment, HAPSMobile Inc. and Loon LLC launched the HAPS Alliance to promote the benefits of HAPS to the global population. Companies pursuing conventional satellites as a solution for this market include The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, EADS N.V., Ball Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Companies pursuing Low Earth Orbit (“LEO”), micro or cubesat satellite constellations for global communication and remote sensing include Amazon, OneWeb, SpaceX and The Boeing Company. Companies owning and operating terrestrial cellular tower networks include American Tower Corporation, Crown Castle International Corp. and SBA Communications Corporation.
The market for tactical missile systems is in an early stage of development, but it is evolving rapidly. Competitors in this market include Textron Inc., Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The market for commercial UAS products and services is in an early stage of development, but is evolving rapidly, generating a great deal of interest as government regulations evolve to accommodate commercial UAS operations in the National Airspace System and in the airspace systems of other countries. Given the breadth of applications and the diversity of industries that could benefit from UAS technology, a growing number of potential competitors in this market include consumer drone manufacturers such as Dà-Jiāng Innovation, who seek to enhance their systems’ capabilities over time; other small UAS manufacturers, including large aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, and drone and aerial surveying and mapping service providers such as PrecisionHawk, Sentera and SlantRange; ground-based surveying and mapping service providers; satellite imagery providers; and specialty system manufacturers, software as a service and other service providers aiming to address specific market segments. The emerging non-military market is attracting numerous additional competitors and significant venture capital funding given perceived lower barriers to entry and a much more fragmented marketplace as compared to the military market. Potential additional competitors include start-up companies providing low cost solutions.
We believe that the principal competitive factors in the markets for our UAS products and services include product performance, features, acquisition cost, lifetime operating cost, including maintenance and support, ease of use, integration with existing equipment and processes, quality, reliability, customer support, brand and reputation.
Due to the fact that we contract with the DoD and other agencies of the U.S. government, we are subject to extensive federal regulations, including the Federal Acquisition Regulations, Defense Federal Acquisitions Regulations, Truth in Negotiations Act, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, False Claims Act and the regulations promulgated under the DoD Industrial Security Manual, which establishes the security guidelines for classified programs and facilities as well as individual security clearances. The federal government audits and reviews our performance on contracts, pricing practices, cost structure, and compliance with applicable laws, regulations and standards. Like most government contractors, our contracts are audited and reviewed on a continual basis by federal agencies, including the Defense Contract Management Agency (“DCMA”) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”).
Certain of these regulations impose substantial penalties for violations, including suspension or debarment from government contracting or subcontracting for a period of time. We monitor all of our contracts and contractual efforts to minimize the possibility of any violation of these regulations.
In addition, we are subject to industry-specific regulations due to the nature of the products and services we provide. For example, certain aspects of our business are subject to further regulation by additional U.S. government authorities, including (i) the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), which regulates airspace for all air vehicles in the U.S. National Airspace System, (ii) the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, which regulate the wireless communications upon which our UAS depend in the United States and (iii) the Defense Trade Controls of the U.S. Department of State that administers the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which regulate the export of controlled technical data, defense articles and defense services.
On June 21, 2016 the FAA released its final rules that allow routine use of certain small UAS in the U.S. National Airspace System. The FAA rules, which went into effect in August 2016, provide safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rules limit flights to visual-line-of-sight daylight operation, unless the UAS has anti-collision lights in which case twilight operation is permitted. The final rule also addresses height and speed restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking and operational limits, including prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS. Current FAA regulations require drone operators to register their systems with the FAA and secure operating licenses for their drones as per the Part 107 specifications. These regulations continue to evolve to accommodate the integration of UAS into the national airspace system for commercial applications, including HAPS UAS.
In December 2019, the FAA proposed rules requiring the remote identification of UAS. Remote identification, which provides for a UAS in flight to provide identification that can be received by other parties, is designed to enhance safety and security by allowing the FAA and other agencies to identify a UAS that appears to be flying unsafely or in an area in which flight is not permitted. The public comment period for the proposed rules expired on March 2, 2020. Additionally, in February 2020, the FAA issued a public request for comment on its proposed policy for the creation of a new type certification of certain UAS as a special class of aircraft under FAA regulations. Currently the Part 107 Rules allow for the operation of small UAS without the need for FAA airworthiness certification as long as the UAS meets certain specified criteria and certain flight rules are followed; larger UAS and operations of small UAS outside the scope of the Part 107 Rules require a waiver from the FAA. The FAA’s proposed policy proposes a new special class of UAS for which airworthiness certification can be obtained, however, the proposed policy only applies to the procedures for the type certification of the new class of UAS, not the criteria that will be needed for the UAS or the flight operations to be followed to operate. Further rulemaking by the FAA is anticipated regarding the particular criteria for the airworthiness certification standards under the new special class proposed by the new policy. The comment period for the FAA’s proposed policy expired on March 4, 2020.
While it is currently anticipated that the enactment of remote identification and a new airworthiness certification process for a newly created special class of UAS will help formalize the process for manufacturing and obtaining airworthiness certification for UAS within the newly created class and accelerate the development of commercial UAS in the U.S., it is uncertain whether the FAA’s actions, if any, will have such effects. Additionally, it is unclear when, if ever, the FAA will implement final rules regarding remote UAS identification and whether they will differ from the proposed rules. It is also unclear when, if at all, the FAA will create a new class of UAS and what the final rules regarding the certification of such UAS will look like. We cannot be certain as to how our business will be affected by the FAA’s proposals until the final rules for such matters are issued by the FAA.
Furthermore, our non-U.S. operations are subject to the laws and regulations of foreign jurisdictions, which may include regulations that are more stringent than those imposed by the U.S. government on our U.S. operations.
Government Contracting Process
We sell the significant majority of our small UAS and tactical missile system products and services as the prime contractor under contracts with the U.S. government. Certain important aspects of our government contracts are described below.
Most of our current government contracts were awarded through a competitive bidding process. The U.S. government awards competitive-bid contracts based on proposal evaluation criteria established by the procuring agency. Competitive-bid contracts are awarded after a formal bid and proposal competition among providers. Interested contractors prepare a bid and proposal in response to the agency’s request for proposal or request for information. A bid and proposal is usually prepared in a short time period in response to a deadline and requires the extensive involvement of numerous technical and administrative personnel. Following award, competitive-bid contracts may be challenged by unsuccessful bidders.
The funding of U.S. government programs is subject to congressional appropriations. Although multi-year contracts may be authorized in connection with major procurements, Congress generally appropriates funds on a fiscal year basis, even though a program may continue for many years. Consequently, programs are often only partially funded initially, and additional funds are committed only as Congress makes further appropriations.
The U.S. military funds its contracts for our full-rate production UAS either through operational need statements or as programs of record. Operational need statements require allocations of discretionary spending or reallocations of funding from other government programs. Funding for our production of initial Raven system deliveries, for example, was provided through operational need statements. We define a program of record as a program which, after undergoing extensive DoD review and product testing, is included in the five-year government budget cycle, meaning that funding is allocated for purchases under these contracts during the five-year cycle, absent affirmative action by the customer or Congress to change the budgeted amount. Despite being included in the five-year budget cycle, funding for these programs is subject to annual approval.
Material Government Contract Provisions
All contracts with the U.S. government contain provisions, and are subject to laws and regulations, that give the government rights and remedies not typically found in commercial contracts, including rights that allow the government to:
|●||terminate existing contracts for convenience, in whole or in part, when it is in the interest of the government to do so;|
|●||terminate contracts for default upon the occurrence of certain enumerated events;|
|●||unilaterally modify contracts with regard to certain performance requirements;|
|●||cancel multi-year contracts and related orders, if funds for contract performance for any subsequent year become unavailable;|
|●||potentially obtain rights in, or ownership to, intellectual property associated with products and systems developed or delivered by a contractor as a result of its performance of the contract;|
|●||adjust contract costs and fees on the basis of audits completed by its agencies;|
|●||suspend or debar a contractor from doing business with the U.S. government; and|
|●||control or prohibit the export of certain items.|
Generally, government contracts are subject to oversight audits by government representatives. Compensation, if any, in the event of a termination for default is limited to payment for work completed at the time of termination. In the event of a termination for convenience, the contractor may receive the contract price for completed work, as well as its costs of performance of terminated work including an allowance for profit and reasonable termination settlement costs.
Government Contract Categories
There are three primary types of government contracts in our industry, each of which involves a different payment methodology and level of risk related to the cost of performance. These basic types of contracts are typically referred to as fixed-price contracts, cost reimbursable contracts, including cost-plus-fixed fee, cost-plus-award fee, and cost-plus-incentive fee, and time-and-materials contracts.
In some cases, depending on the urgency of the project and the complexity of the contract negotiation, we will enter into a Letter Contract prior to finalizing the terms of a definitive fixed-price, cost reimbursable or time-and-materials definitive contract. A Letter Contract is a written preliminary contractual instrument that provides limited initial funding and authorizes us to begin immediately manufacturing supplies or performing services while negotiating the definitive terms of the procurement.
Fixed-Price. These contracts are not subject to adjustment by reason of costs incurred in the performance of the contract. With this type of contract, we assume the risk that we will not be able to perform at a cost below the fixed-price, except for costs incurred because of contract changes ordered by the customer. Upon the U.S. government’s termination of a fixed-price contract, generally we would be entitled to payment for items delivered to and accepted by the U.S. government and, if the termination is at the U.S. government’s convenience, for payment of fair compensation for work performed plus the costs of settling and paying claims by any terminated subcontractors, other settlement expenses and a reasonable allowance for profit on the costs incurred.
Cost Reimbursable. Cost reimbursable contracts include cost-plus-fixed fee contracts, cost-plus-award fee contracts and cost-plus-incentive fee contracts, each of which are described below. Under each type of contract, we assume the risk that we may not be able to recover costs if they are not allowable under the contract terms or applicable regulations, or if the costs exceed the contract funding.
|●||Cost-plus-fixed fee contracts are cost reimbursable contracts that provide for payment of a negotiated fee that is fixed at the inception of the contract. This fixed fee does not vary with actual cost of the contract, but may be adjusted as a result of changes in the work to be performed under the contract. This contract type poses less risk of loss than a fixed-price contract, but our ability to win future contracts from the procuring agency may be adversely affected if we fail to perform within the maximum cost set forth in the contract.|
|●||A cost-plus-award fee contract is a cost reimbursable contract that provides for a fee consisting of a base amount, which may be zero, fixed at inception of the contract and an award amount, based upon the government’s satisfaction with the performance under the contract. With this type of contract, we assume the risk that we may not receive the award fee, or only a portion of it, if we do not perform satisfactorily.|
|●||A cost-plus-incentive fee contract is a cost reimbursable contract that provides for an initially negotiated fee to be adjusted later by a formula based on the relationship of total allowable costs to total target costs.|
We typically experience lower profit margins and lower risk under cost reimbursable contracts than under fixed-price contracts. Upon the termination of a cost reimbursable contract, generally we would be entitled to reimbursement of our allowable costs and, if the termination is at the U.S. government’s convenience, a total fee proportionate to the percentage of work completed under the contract.
Time-and-Materials. Under a time-and-materials contract, our compensation is based on a fixed hourly rate established for specified labor or skill categories. We are paid at the established hourly rates for the hours we expend performing the work specified in the contract. Labor costs, overhead, general and administrative costs and profit are included in the fixed hourly rate. Materials, subcontractors, travel and other direct costs are reimbursed at actual costs plus an amount for material handling. We make critical pricing assumptions and decisions when developing and proposing time-and-materials labor rates. We risk reduced profitability if our actual costs exceed the costs incorporated into the fixed hourly labor rate. One variation of a standard time-and-materials contract is
a time-and-materials, award fee contract. Under this type of contract, a positive or negative incentive can be earned based on achievement against specific performance metrics.
Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Contract Form
The U.S. government frequently uses IDIQ contracts and IDIQ-type contract forms, such as cost reimbursable and fixed price contracts with multiple one-year options, to obtain fixed-price, cost reimbursable and time-and-materials contractual commitments to provide products or services over a period of time pursuant to established general terms and conditions. At the time of the award of an IDIQ contract or IDIQ-type contract, the U.S. government generally commits to purchase only a minimal amount of products or services from the contractor to whom such contract is awarded.
After award of an IDIQ contract the U.S. government may issue task or delivery orders for specific services or products it needs. The competitive process to obtain task orders under an award contract is limited to the pre-selected contractors. If an IDIQ contract has a single prime contractor, then the award of task orders is limited to that contractor. If the contract has multiple prime contractors, then the award of the task order is competitively determined among only those prime contractors.
IDIQ and IDIQ-type contracts typically have multi-year terms and unfunded ceiling amounts that enable, but do not commit, the U.S. government to purchase substantial amounts of products and services from one or more contractors.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
General Business Risks
We rely heavily on sales to certain customers, including the U.S. government, particularly to agencies of the Department of Defense, and HAPSMobile, Inc.
Historically, we have derived a significant portion of our total sales and our small UAS and tactical missile systems sales from the U.S. government and its agencies. Additionally, more recently, we have derived a significant portion of our revenue from contracts with HAPSMobile, Inc. Sales to the U.S. government, either as a prime contractor or subcontractor and inclusive of foreign military sales, represented approximately 61% of our revenue for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020. The DoD, our principal U.S. government customer, accounted for approximately 51% of our revenue for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020. We believe that the success and growth of our business for the foreseeable future will continue to depend to a significant degree on our ability to win government contracts, in particular from the DoD. Many of our government customers are subject to budgetary constraints and our continued performance under these contracts, or award of additional contracts from these agencies, could be jeopardized by spending reductions, including constraints on government spending imposed by the Balanced Budget Act of 2019 and its subsequent amendments, or budget cutbacks at these agencies. The funding of U.S. government programs is uncertain and dependent on continued congressional appropriations and administrative allotment of funds based on an annual budgeting process. We cannot assure you that current levels of congressional funding for our products and services will continue and that our business will not decline. Additionally, if annual budget appropriations or continuing resolutions are not enacted timely, we could face U.S. government shutdowns, which could adversely impact our programs and contracts with the U.S. government, our ability to receive timely payment from U.S. government entities and our ability to timely obtain export licenses for our products to fulfill contracts with our international customers.
The U.S. military funds our contracts primarily through operational needs statements, and to a lesser extent, through programs of record, which provides us with less visibility and certainty on future funding allocations for our contracts. Furthermore, all of our contracts with the U.S. government are terminable by the U.S. government at will. A significant decline in government expenditures generally, or with respect to programs for which we provide products, could adversely affect our business and prospects. Our operating results may also be negatively impacted by other developments that affect these government programs generally, including the following:
|●||changes in government programs that are related to our products and services;|
|●||adoption of new laws or regulations relating to government contracting or changes to existing laws or regulations;|
|●||changes in political or public support for security and defense programs;|
|●||delays or changes in the government appropriations and budget process;|
|●||uncertainties associated with the current global threat environment and other geo-political matters; and|
|●||delays in the payment of our invoices by government payment offices.|
These developments and other factors could cause governmental agencies to reduce their purchases under existing contracts, to exercise their rights to terminate contracts at-will or to abstain from renewing contracts, any of which would cause our revenue to decline and could otherwise harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In fiscal year 2020, HAPSMobile accounted for 17% of our total revenue. Our Design and Development Agreement with HAPSMobile allows HAPSMobile to terminate the contract at its convenience for any reason. The termination of this contract or the loss of revenues from programs with HAPSMobile, could cause our revenue to decline and materially adversely affect our results of operations.
Military transformation and changes in overseas operational levels may affect future procurement priorities and existing programs, which could limit demand for our UAS.
Over the last decade, operational activity in Afghanistan and Iraq led to adoption and an increase in demand for our small UAS. More recently, the U.S. military has reduced its presence and operational activity in Afghanistan and Iraq, reducing demand for certain of our small UAS products from prior levels. We cannot predict whether the reduction in overseas operational levels will continue, how future procurement priorities related to defense transformation will be impacted or how changes in the threat environment will impact opportunities for our small UAS business in terms of existing, additional or replacement programs. If defense transformation or overseas operations cease or slow down, then our business, financial condition and results of operations could be impacted negatively.
We operate in evolving markets, which makes it difficult to evaluate our business and future prospects.
Our UAS are sold in new and rapidly evolving markets. The commercial UAS market is in the early stages of customer adoption. The market for HAPS UAS is also in an early stage of development. Accordingly, our business and future prospects may be difficult to evaluate. We cannot accurately predict the extent to which demand for our products will increase, if at all. The challenges, risks and uncertainties frequently encountered by companies in rapidly evolving markets could impact our ability to do the following:
|●||generate sufficient revenue to maintain profitability;|
|●||acquire and maintain market share;|
|●||achieve or manage growth in our operations;|
|●||develop and renew contracts;|
|●||attract and retain additional engineers and other highly-qualified personnel;|
|●||successfully develop and commercially market new products;|
|●||adapt to new or changing policies and spending priorities of governments and government agencies; and|
|●||access additional capital when required and on reasonable terms.|
If we fail to address these and other challenges, risks and uncertainties successfully, our business, results of operations and financial condition would be materially harmed.
We face competition from other firms, many of which have substantially greater resources.
The defense industry is highly competitive and generally characterized by intense competition to win contracts. Our current principal small UAS competitors include Elbit Systems Ltd., FLIR Systems, Inc., L3 Technologies, Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corporation. We do not view large UAS such as Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Global Hawk, General Atomics, Inc.’s Predator and related products, The Boeing Company’s ScanEagle and Textron Inc.’s Shadow as direct competitors because they perform different missions, do not typically deliver their information directly to front-line ground forces, and are not hand launched and controlled. However, we cannot be certain that these platforms will not become direct competitors in the future. Potential competition from consumer-focused drone manufacturers is emerging as their capabilities increase and their prices remain low relative to existing defense solutions, which is resulting in some level of military consideration even if such drones do not meet traditional military performance or security specifications. The HAPS UAS market is in an early stage of development and our HAPS UAS faces competition from several aerospace and defense contractors and internet technology companies pursuing the high altitude long endurance UAS market for global communication and remote sensing, including The Boeing Company, Airbus, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation, and competition from companies pursuing alternative solutions for this market such as Lockheed Martin Corporation and Northrop Grumman Corporation with airships (high altitude aircraft that are kept buoyant by a body of gas that is lighter than air) and companies pursuing conventional satellites and LEO micro or cubesat satellite constellations. Our tactical missile systems business faces competition from competitors including Textron Inc., Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Some of these firms have substantially greater financial, management, research and marketing resources than we have. Our UAS services business also faces competition from smaller businesses that can provide training and logistics services for multiple UAS platforms, including our small UAS.
Our competitors may be able to provide customers with different or greater capabilities or benefits than we can provide in areas such as technical qualifications, past contract performance, geographic presence, price and the availability of key professional personnel, including those with security clearances. Furthermore, many of our competitors may be able to utilize their substantially greater resources and economies of scale to develop competing products and technologies, manufacture in high volumes more efficiently, divert sales away from us by winning broader contracts or hire away our employees by offering more lucrative compensation packages. Small business competitors may be able to offer more cost competitive solutions, due to their lower overhead costs, and take advantage of small business incentive and set-aside programs for which we are ineligible. The market for small UAS and services is expanding, and competition intensifying as additional competitors enter the market and current competitors expand their product lines. In order to secure contracts successfully when competing with larger, well-financed companies, we may be forced to agree to contractual terms that provide for lower aggregate payments to us over the life of the contract, which could adversely affect our margins. In addition, larger diversified competitors serving as prime contractors may be able to supply underlying products and services from affiliated entities, which would prevent us from competing for subcontracting opportunities on these contracts. Our failure to compete effectively with respect to any of these or other factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition or operating results.
If the UAS, tactical missile systems, and commercial UAS markets do not experience significant growth, if we cannot expand our customer base or if our products do not achieve broad acceptance, then we may not be able to achieve our anticipated level of growth.
We cannot accurately predict the future growth rates or sizes of the markets for our products. Demand for our products may not increase, or may decrease, either generally or in specific markets, for particular types of products or during particular time periods. We believe the market for commercial UAS is nascent. Moreover, there are only a limited number of major programs under which the U.S. military, our primary customer, is currently funding the development or
purchase of our UAS and tactical missile systems. Although we have expanded our UAS customer base to include foreign governments, and domestic non-military agencies, we cannot assure you that our continued efforts to further increase our sales to these customers will be successful. The expansion of the UAS, tactical missile systems, and commercial UAS markets in general, and the market for our products in particular, depends on a number of factors, including the following:
|●||customer satisfaction with these types of systems as solutions;|
|●||the cost, performance and reliability of our products and products offered by our competitors;|
|●||customer perceptions regarding the effectiveness and value of these types of systems;|
|●||limitations on our ability to market our UAS and tactical missile systems products and services outside the United States due to U.S. government regulations;|
|●||obtaining timely regulatory approvals, including, with respect to our small UAS business, access to airspace and wireless spectrum; and|
|●||marketing efforts and publicity regarding these types of systems.|
Even if UAS, tactical missile systems, and commercial UAS gain wide market acceptance, our products may not adequately address market requirements and may not continue to gain market acceptance. If these types of systems generally, or our products specifically, do not gain wide market acceptance, then we may not be able to achieve our anticipated level of growth and our revenue and results of operations would decline.
Our international business poses potentially greater risks than our domestic business.
We derived approximately 45% of our revenue from international sales, including U.S. government foreign military sales in which an end user is a foreign government, during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020 compared to 52% for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019. We expect to continue to derive a significant portion of our revenue from international sales. Our international revenue and operations are subject to a number of material risks, including the following:
|●||the unavailability of, or difficulties in obtaining any, necessary U.S. governmental authorizations for the export of our products to certain foreign jurisdictions;|
|●||regulatory requirements that may adversely affect our ability to operate in foreign jurisdictions, sell certain products or repatriate profits to the United States;|
|●||the complexity and necessity of using foreign representatives and consultants;|
|●||the complexities of operating a business in an international location through a subsidiary or joint venture structure that may include foreign business partners, subcontractors and suppliers;|
|●||the complexity of shipping our products internationally through multiple jurisdictions with varying legal requirements;|
|●||difficulties in enforcing agreements and collecting receivables through foreign legal systems and other relevant legal issues, including fewer legal protections for intellectual property;|
|●||potential fluctuations in foreign economies and in the value of foreign currencies and interest rates;|
|●||potential preferences by prospective customers to purchase from local (non-U.S.) sources;|
|●||general economic and political conditions in the markets in which we operate;|
|●||laws or regulations relating to non-U.S. military contracts that favor purchases from non-U.S. manufacturers over U.S. manufacturers;|
|●||the imposition of tariffs, embargoes, export controls and other trade restrictions; and|
|●||different and changing legal and regulatory requirements, including those pertaining to anti-corruption, anti-boycott, data protection and privacy, employment law, intellectual property and contracts in the jurisdictions in which we currently operate or may operate in the future.|
Negative developments in any of these areas in one or more countries could result in a reduction in demand for our products, the cancellation or delay of orders already placed, threats to our intellectual property, difficulty in collecting receivables and a higher cost of doing business, any of which could negatively impact our business, financial condition or results of operations. While we have adopted policies and procedures to facilitate compliance with laws and regulations applicable to our international sales, our failure, or the failure by our employees or others working on our behalf, to comply with such laws and regulations may result in administrative, civil or criminal liabilities, including fines, suspension or debarment from government contracts or suspension of our export privileges. Moreover, our sales, including sales to customers outside the United States, substantially all are denominated in U.S. dollars, and downward fluctuations in the value of foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar may make our products more expensive than other products, which could harm our business.
We could be prohibited from shipping our products to certain countries if we are unable to obtain U.S. government authorization regarding the export of our products, or if current or future export laws limit or otherwise restrict our business. In addition, failure to comply with export laws could result in fines, export restrictions and other sanctions and penalties.
We must comply with U.S. and other laws regulating the export of our products. In some cases, explicit authorization from the relevant U.S. government authorities is needed to export our products. The export regulations and the governing policies applicable to our business are subject to change. We cannot provide assurance that such export authorizations will be available for our products in the future. Compliance with these laws has not significantly limited our operations or our sales in the recent past, but could significantly limit them in the future. We maintain an export compliance program but there are risks that our compliance controls may be ineffective. In November 2019, we entered into a consent agreement (the “Consent Agreement”) with the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance to resolve various alleged violations of the Armed Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) that occurred between June 2014 and December 2016. The Consent Agreement has a two-year term and provides for, among other things: (i) a civil penalty of $1,000,000 payable in installments, $500,000 of which is suspended on the condition that such amount is used for future remedial compliance costs over the term of the Consent Agreement and/or credited against prior compliance enhancement costs already expended by us; (ii) the appointment of an external Special Compliance Officer for a minimum of one year to oversee our compliance with the Consent Agreement and ITAR; and (iii) one external audit of our compliance with the Consent Agreement and ITAR. We expect that the $500,000 suspension amount will be satisfied by our past and future compliance program remediation efforts. Our failure to comply with the terms of the Consent Agreement or export laws and regulations in general can subject us to additional fines, penalties and sanctions, including suspension of export privileges, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, operations and financial condition and limit or prevent us from being able to sell our products in certain international jurisdictions.
If we are unable to manage the increasing complexity of our business or achieve or manage our expected growth, our business could be adversely affected.
The complexity of our business has increased significantly over the last several years. We have expanded the number of product lines being pursued, shifting from primarily a U.S. government focused business to a business that includes substantial international product sales and added commercial services and formed a joint venture with SoftBank
Corp. to develop HAPS UAS. We also acquired Pulse Aerospace, LLC, a Kansas-based developer of UAS capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), in June 2019. These have increased complexity and our expected growth has placed, and will continue to place, a strain on our management and our administrative, operational and financial infrastructure. We anticipate further growth of headcount and facilities will be required to address expansion in our product offerings and the geographic scope of our customer base. However, if we are unsuccessful in our efforts, our business could decline. Our success will depend in part upon the ability of our senior management to manage our increased complexity and expected growth effectively. To do so, we must continue to hire, train, manage and integrate a significant number of qualified managers and engineers. If our new employees perform poorly, or if we are unsuccessful in hiring, training, managing and integrating these new employees, or retaining these or our existing employees, then our business may experience declines.
To support our expected growth, we must continue to improve our operational, financial and management information systems. If we are unable to manage our growth while maintaining our quality of service, or if new systems that we implement to assist in managing our growth do not produce the expected benefits, then our business, prospects, financial condition or operating results could be adversely affected.
Any efforts to expand our offerings beyond our current markets may not succeed, which could negatively impact our operating results.
Until recently, we have focused on selling our small UAS to the U.S. military. We have, however, expanded our small UAS sales into other government and commercial markets, including the launch of VAPOR helicopter unmanned aircraft system, and formed a joint venture with SoftBank Corp. to develop HAPS UAS for global communication and remote sensing applications. Our efforts to expand our product offerings beyond our traditional markets may divert management resources from existing operations and require us to commit significant financial resources to unproven businesses that may not generate additional sales, either of which could significantly impair our operating results.
The markets in which we compete are characterized by rapid technological change, which requires us to develop new products and product enhancements, and could render our existing products obsolete.
Continuing technological changes in the market for our products could make our products less competitive or obsolete, either generally or for particular applications. Our future success will depend upon our ability to develop and introduce a variety of new capabilities and enhancements to our existing product offerings, as well as introduce a variety of new product offerings, to address the changing needs of the markets in which we offer our products. Delays in introducing new products and enhancements, the failure to choose correctly among technical alternatives or the failure to offer innovative products or enhancements at competitive prices may cause existing and potential customers to purchase our competitors’ products.
If we are unable to devote adequate resources to develop new products or cannot otherwise successfully develop new products or enhancements that meet customer requirements on a timely basis, our products could lose market share, our revenue and profits could decline, and we could experience operating losses.
We expect to incur substantial research and development costs and devote significant resources to identifying and commercializing new products and services, which could significantly reduce our profitability and may never result in revenue to us.
Our future growth depends on penetrating new markets, adapting existing products to new applications, and introducing new products and services that achieve market acceptance. We plan to incur substantial research and development costs as part of our efforts to design, develop and commercialize new products and services and enhance existing products. We spent $46.5 million, or 13% of our revenue, in our fiscal year ended April 30, 2020 on internal research and development activities. We believe that there are significant investment opportunities in a number of business areas. Because we account for internal research and development as an operating expense, these expenditures will adversely affect our earnings in the future. Further, our research and development programs may not produce
successful results, and our new products and services may not achieve market acceptance, create additional revenue or become profitable, which could materially harm our business, prospects, financial results and liquidity.
Failure to obtain necessary regulatory approvals from the FAA or other governmental agencies, or limitations put on the use of small UAS in response to public privacy concerns, may prevent us from expanding the sales of our small UAS to non-military customers in the United States.
The regulation of small UAS for commercial use in the United States is undergoing substantial change and the ultimate treatment is uncertain. In 2006, the FAA issued a clarification of its existing policies stating that, in order to engage in commercial use of small UAS in the U.S. National Airspace System, a public operator must obtain a COA from the FAA, or fly in restricted airspace. The FAA’s COA approval process requires that the public operator certify the airworthiness of the aircraft for its intended purpose, that a collision with another aircraft or other airspace user is extremely improbable, that the small unmanned aircraft system complies with appropriate cloud and terrain clearances and that the operator or spotter of the small unmanned aircraft system is generally within one half-mile laterally and 400 feet vertically of the small unmanned aircraft system while in operation. Furthermore, the FAA’s clarification of existing policy stated that the rules for radio-controlled hobby aircraft do not apply to public or commercial use of small UAS.
On February 14, 2012, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was enacted, establishing various deadlines for the FAA to allow expanded use of small UAS for both public and commercial applications. On June 21, 2016, the FAA released its final rules regarding the routine use of certain small UAS (under 55 pounds) in the U.S. National Airspace System pursuant to the act (the “Part 107 Rules”). The Part 107 Rules, which became effective in August 2016, provided safety regulations for small UAS conducting non-recreational operations and contain various limitations and restrictions for such operations, including a requirement that operators keep UAS within visual-line-of-sight and prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly participating in the operation of the UAS. Additionally, in December 2019 and January 2020, the FAA proposed rules regarding remote UAS identification and a new policy regarding the airworthiness certification of a newly created special class of UAS. It is unclear when, if ever, the FAA will implement any final rules regarding remote UAS identification and whether such final rules will differ from the proposed rules or when, if ever, the FAA will create a new class of UAS and what the final rules regarding the certification of such new class of UAS will state. We cannot assure you that the Part 107 Rules, or any final rules enacted in furtherance on the FAA’s recently announced proposals, will result in the expanded use of our small UAS by law enforcement or other non-military government agencies or commercial entities and we may not be able to expand our sales of small UAS beyond our military customers, which could harm our business prospects.
In addition, there exists public concern regarding the privacy implications of U.S. commercial and law enforcement use of small UAS. This concern has included calls to develop explicit written policies and procedures establishing usage limitations. We cannot assure you that the response from regulatory agencies, customers and privacy advocates to these concerns will not delay or restrict the adoption of small UAS by non-military customers.
Our products and services are complex and could have unknown defects or errors, which may give rise to claims against us, diminish our brand or divert our resources from other purposes.
Our UAS rely on complex avionics, sensors, user-friendly interfaces and tightly-integrated, electromechanical designs to accomplish their missions. Despite testing, our products have contained defects and errors and may in the future contain defects, errors or performance problems when first introduced, when new versions or enhancements are released, or even after these products have been used by our customers for a period of time. These problems could result in expensive and time-consuming design modifications or warranty charges, delays in the introduction of new products or enhancements, significant increases in our service and maintenance costs, exposure to liability for damages, damaged customer relationships and harm to our reputation, any of which could materially harm our results of operations and ability to achieve market acceptance. In addition, increased development and warranty costs could be substantial and could reduce our operating margins.
The existence of any defects, errors, or failures in our products or the misuse of our products could also lead to product liability claims or lawsuits against us. A defect, error or failure in one of our UAS could result in injury, death or property damage and significantly damage our reputation and support for our UAS in general. We anticipate this risk
will grow as our UAS begin to be used in U.S. domestic airspace and urban areas. We also remain liable for warranty and product liability claims for our EV charging systems and power cycling and test systems sold by us prior to our sale of our efficient energy systems business segment (our “EES Business”) to Webasto Charging Systems, Inc. (“Webasto”) in June 2018 as contemplated by the purchase and sale agreement between the parties, which products have the potential to cause injury, death or property damage in the event that they are misused, malfunction or fail to operate properly due to unknown defects or errors.
Although we maintain insurance policies, we cannot provide assurance that this insurance will be adequate to protect us from all material judgments and expenses related to potential future claims or that these levels of insurance will be available in the future at economical prices or at all. A successful product liability claim could result in substantial cost to us. Even if we are fully insured as it relates to a claim, the claim could nevertheless diminish our brand and divert management’s attention and resources, which could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If critical components or raw materials used to manufacture our products or used in our development programs become scarce or unavailable, then we may incur delays in manufacturing and delivery of our products and in completing our development programs, which could damage our business.
We obtain hardware components, various subsystems and systems from a limited group of suppliers, some of which are sole source suppliers. We do not have long-term agreements with any of these suppliers that obligate them to continue to sell components, subsystems, systems or products to us. Our reliance on these suppliers involves significant risks and uncertainties, including whether our suppliers will provide an adequate supply of required components, subsystems, or systems of sufficient quality, will increase prices for the components, subsystems or systems and will perform their obligations on a timely basis.
In addition, certain raw materials and components used in the manufacture of our products and in our development programs are periodically subject to supply shortages, and our business is subject to the risk of price increases and periodic delays in delivery. Particularly, the market for electronic components is experiencing increased demand, creating substantial uncertainty regarding our suppliers’ continued production of key components for our products. If we are unable to obtain components from third party suppliers in the quantities and of the quality that we require, on a timely basis and at acceptable prices, then we may not be able to timely complete development programs or deliver our products on a timely or cost effective basis to our customers, which could cause customers to terminate their contracts with us, increase our costs and seriously harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. Moreover, if any of our suppliers become financially unstable, or otherwise unable or unwilling to provide us with raw materials or components, then we may have to find new suppliers. It may take several months to locate alternative suppliers, if required, or to redesign our products to accommodate components from different suppliers. We may experience significant delays in manufacturing and shipping our products to customers and incur additional development, manufacturing and other costs to establish alternative sources of supply if we lose any of these sources or are required to redesign our products. We cannot predict if we will be able to obtain replacement components within the time frames that we require at an affordable cost, if at all. In particular, governmental measures responsive to the global COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted manufacturing and some supply chains, including our supply chain, which has had, and is expected to continue to have, a significant impact, both direct and indirect, on businesses and commerce worldwide. Although we have not yet seen significant delays from our suppliers and we keep stock of all our raw materials and other product components with long lead times to assist in the event that our supply chain is disrupted, if the COVID-19 outbreak continues and results in a prolonged period of commercial and/or governmental restrictions, this may impact our ability to obtain certain raw materials and certain components used in the manufacture of our products and in our development programs.
Our earnings and profit margins may decrease based on the mix of our contracts and programs and other factors related to our contracts.
In general, we perform our production work under fixed-price contracts and our repair and customer-funded research and development work under cost-plus-fee contracts. Under fixed-price contracts, we perform services under a contract at a stipulated price. Under cost-plus-fee contracts, which are subject to a contract ceiling amount, we are
reimbursed for allowable costs and paid a fee, which may be fixed or performance based. We typically experience lower profit margins under cost-plus-fee contracts than under fixed-price contracts, though fixed-price contracts involve higher risks. In general, if the volume of services we perform under cost-plus-fee contracts increases relative to the volume of services we perform under fixed-price contracts, we expect that our operating margin will decline. In addition, our earnings and margins may decrease depending on the costs we incur in contract performance, our achievement of other contract performance objectives and the stage of our performance at which our right to receive fees, particularly under incentive and award fee contracts, is finally determined.
We use estimates in accounting for many of our programs and changes in our estimates could adversely affect our future financial results.
Contract accounting requires judgments relative to assessing risks, including risks associated with estimating contract transaction prices and costs, assumptions for schedule and technical issues, customer-directed delays and reductions in scheduled deliveries, and unfavorable resolutions of claims and contractual matters. Due to the size and nature of many of our contracts, the estimation of total costs at completion is complicated and subject to many variables. For example, we must make assumptions regarding the length of time to complete the contract because costs also include expected increases in wages and prices for materials; and consider incentives or penalties related to performance on contracts and include them in the variable consideration to the extent that it is probable that a significant reversal in the amount of cumulative revenue recognized will not occur when the related uncertainty is resolved. Because of the significance of the judgments and estimation processes described above, it is likely that materially different amounts could be recorded if we used different assumptions or if the underlying circumstances were to change. Changes in underlying assumptions, circumstances or estimates may adversely affect our future results of operations and financial condition.
Cost overruns on our contracts could subject us to losses, decrease our operating margins and adversely affect our future business.
Fixed-price contracts (including both government and commercial contracts) represented approximately 73% of our revenue for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020. If we fail to anticipate technical problems, estimate costs accurately or control costs during our performance of fixed-price contracts, then we may incur losses on these contracts because we absorb any costs in excess of the fixed price. Under cost-plus-fee contracts, if costs exceed the contract ceiling or are not allowable under the provisions of the contract or applicable regulations, then we may not be able to obtain reimbursement for all such costs. Under time and materials contracts, we are paid for labor at negotiated hourly billing rates and for certain expenses. Because many of our contracts involve advanced designs and innovative technologies, we may experience unforeseen technological difficulties and cost overruns. Under each type of contract, if we are unable to control the costs we incur in performing under the contract, then our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Cost overruns also may adversely affect our ability to sustain existing programs and obtain future contract awards.
Our senior management and key employees are important to our customer relationships and overall business.
We believe that our success depends in part on the continued contributions of our senior management and key employees. We rely on our executive officers, senior management and key employees to generate business and execute programs successfully. In addition, the relationships and reputation that members of our management team and key employees have established and maintain with government defense personnel contribute to our ability to maintain good customer relations and to identify new business opportunities. We do not have employment agreements with any of our executive officers or key employees, and these individuals could terminate their employment with us at any time. The loss of any of our executive officers, members of our senior management team or key employees could significantly delay or prevent the achievement of our business objectives and could materially harm our business and customer relationships and impair our ability to identify and secure new contracts and otherwise manage our business.
We must recruit and retain highly-skilled employees to succeed in our competitive business.
We depend on our ability to recruit and retain employees who have advanced engineering and technical services skills and who work well with our customers. These employees are in great demand and are likely to remain a limited resource in the foreseeable future. If we are unable to recruit and retain a sufficient number of these employees, then our ability to maintain our competitiveness and grow our business could be negatively affected. In addition, because of the highly technical nature of our products, the loss of any significant number of our existing engineering personnel could have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results. Moreover, some of our U.S. government contracts contain provisions requiring us to staff a program with certain personnel the customer considers key to our successful performance under the contract. In the event we are unable to provide these key personnel or acceptable substitutes, the customer may terminate the contract.
Our business may be dependent upon our employees obtaining and maintaining required security clearances, as well as our ability to obtain security clearances for the facilities in which we perform sensitive government work.
Certain of our U.S. government contracts require our employees to maintain various levels of security clearances, and we are required to maintain certain facility security clearances complying with DoD requirements. The DoD has strict security clearance requirements for personnel who work on classified programs. Obtaining and maintaining security clearances for employees involves a lengthy process, and it is difficult to identify, recruit and retain employees who already hold security clearances. If our employees are unable to obtain security clearances in a timely manner, or at all, or if our employees who hold security clearances are unable to maintain the clearances or terminate employment with us, then a customer requiring classified work could terminate the contract or decide not to renew it upon its expiration. In addition, we expect that many of the contracts on which we will bid will require us to demonstrate our ability to obtain facility security clearances and employ personnel with specified types of security clearances. To the extent we are not able to obtain facility security clearances or engage employees with the required security clearances for a particular contract, we may not be able to bid on or win new contracts, or effectively rebid on expiring contracts.
Our future profitability may be dependent upon achieving cost reductions and projected economies of scale from increasing manufacturing quantities of our products. Failing to achieve such reductions in manufacturing costs and projected economies of scale could materially adversely affect our business.
We have limited experience manufacturing small UAS and tactical missile systems in high volume. We do not know whether or when we will be able to develop efficient, low-cost manufacturing capabilities and processes that will enable us to manufacture (or contract for the manufacture of) these products in commercial quantities while meeting the volume, speed, quality, price, engineering, design and production standards required to successfully market our products. Our failure to develop such manufacturing processes and capabilities in locations that can efficiently service our markets could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. Our future profitability is, in part, dependent upon achieving increased savings from volume purchases of raw materials and component parts, achieving acceptable manufacturing yield and capitalizing on machinery efficiencies. We expect our suppliers to experience a sharp increase in demand for their products. As a result, we may not have reliable access to supplies that we require or be able to purchase such materials or components at cost effective prices. There is no assurance that we will ever be in a position to realize any material, labor and machinery cost reductions associated with higher purchasing power and higher production levels. Failure to achieve these cost reductions could adversely impact our business and financial results.
We face significant risks in the management of our inventory, and failure to effectively manage our inventory levels may result in product recalls or supply imbalances that could harm our business.
We maintain a variety of parts and components in inventory to allow us to customize our UAS products for specific customer requirements, which parts are subject to obsolescence and expiration. Due to the long-lead time for obtaining certain UAS product components and the manufacturing cycles, we need to make forecasts of demand and commit significant resources towards manufacturing our products. As such, we are subject to significant risks in managing the inventory needs of our business during the year, including estimating the appropriate demand for our products. Should orders and market conditions differ significantly from our estimates, our future results of operations
could be materially adversely affected. In the future, we may be required to record write-downs of finished products and materials on-hand and/or additional charges for excess purchase commitments as a result of future changes in our sales forecasts or customer orders.
Due to the volatile and flammable nature of certain components of our products and equipment, fires or explosions may disrupt our business or cause significant injuries, which could adversely affect our financial results.
The development and manufacture of certain of our products involves the handling of a variety of explosive and flammable materials as well as high power equipment. From time to time, these activities may result in incidents that could cause us to temporarily shut down or otherwise disrupt some manufacturing processes, causing production delays and resulting in liability for workplace injuries and/or fatalities. We have safety and loss prevention programs that require detailed reviews of process changes and new operations, along with routine safety audits of operations involving explosive materials, to mitigate such incidents, as well as a variety of insurance policies, however our insurance coverage may be inadequate to cover all claims and losses related to such incidents. We may experience such incidents in the future, which could result in production delays or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
The operation of UAS in urban environments may be subject to risks, such as accidental collisions and transmission interference, which may limit demand for our UAS in such environments and harm our business and operating results.
Urban environments may present certain challenges to the operators of UAS. UAS may accidentally collide with other aircraft, persons or property, which could result in injury, death or property damage and significantly damage the reputation of and support for UAS in general. As the usage of UAS has increased, particularly by military customers, the danger of such collisions has increased. Furthermore, the incorporation of our DDL technology into our small UAS has increased the number of vehicles which can operate simultaneously in a given area and with this increase has come an increase in the risk of accidental collision. In addition, obstructions to effective transmissions in urban environments, such as large buildings, may limit the ability of the operator to utilize the aircraft for its intended purpose. The risks or limitations of operating UAS in urban environments may limit their value in such environments, which may limit demand for our UAS and consequently materially harm our business and operating results.
As a manufacturer of commercial UAS, we are subject to various government regulations and may be subject to additional regulations in the future, violation of which could subject us to sanctions or otherwise harm our business.
As a manufacturer of consumer products, we are subject to significant government regulations, including, in the United States, those issued under the Consumer Products Safety Act, as well as those issued under product safety and consumer protection statutes in our international markets. Failure to comply with any applicable product safety or consumer protection regulation could result in sanctions that could have a negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Governments and regulatory agencies in the markets where we manufacture and sell products may enact additional regulations relating to product safety and consumer protection in the future, and may also increase the penalties for failure to comply with product safety and consumer protection regulations. In addition, one or more of our customers might require changes in our products, such as the non-use of certain materials, in the future. Complying with any such additional regulations or requirements could impose increased costs on our business. Similarly, increased penalties for non-compliance could subject us to greater expenses in the event any of our products were found to not comply with such regulations. Such increased costs or penalties could harm our business.
We could be the subject of future product liability suits or product recalls, which could harm our business.
We may be subject to involuntary product recalls or may voluntarily conduct a product recall. The costs associated with any future product recalls could be significant. In addition, any product recall, regardless of direct costs of the recall, may harm consumer perceptions of our products and have a negative impact on our future revenues and results of operations. Subject to a determination of the appropriateness of any recall, we remain responsible for the non-
warranty costs from the recall of completed products we manufactured, sold or serviced prior to closing of the sale of substantially all of the assets and related liabilities of our EES Business to Webasto, pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”). In particular, on August 24, 2018, Webasto filed a recall report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) that named us as a brand of the affected equipment. To the extent we are obligated under the terms of the Purchase Agreement with Webasto or as a result of the lawsuit filed by Webasto against us seeking costs related to the recall or pursuant to applicable law for all or any portion of the costs incurred in connection with such recall, or any other such recall, our results of operations may be negatively affected.
In addition to government regulation, products that have been or may be developed by us may expose us to potential liability from personal injury or property damage claims by the users of such products. There can be no assurance that a claim will not be brought against us in the future, regardless of merit. While we maintain insurance coverage for product liability claims, our insurance may be inadequate to cover any such claims. Any successful claim could significantly harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are subject to pending legal proceedings that may disrupt our business, cause us to incur substantial costs, expose us to significant legal liabilities and could have a material adverse impact on our financial performance.
We are subject to various legal proceedings and claims, including a lawsuit filed by Webasto alleging several claims against us arising out of or related to our sale of our EES Business to Webasto in June 2018 and the NHTSA recall. Additional lawsuits may arise in the future. Occasionally we are also involved in governmental inquiries and investigations and administrative and regulatory proceedings. Our activities relating to defending and responding to any such proceedings may result in substantial legal expenses, may disrupt our sales and marketing or other business activities, including our relationships with our customers, suppliers, employees and other third parties, and divert management’s and our employees’ attention from our day-to-day operations, which may have an adverse impact on our financial performance. The results of any such proceedings are unpredictable. We record accruals for liabilities where we believe a loss is probable and reasonably estimable, however, our actual losses may differ significantly from our estimates. An adverse or unfavorable resolution of any proceedings against us could have a material impact on our financial position, cash flows and results of operations.
Our quarterly operating results may vary widely.
Our quarterly revenue, cash flow and operating results have and may continue to fluctuate significantly in the future due to a number of factors, including the following:
|●||fluctuations in revenue derived from government contracts, including cost-plus-fee contracts and contracts with a performance-based fee structure;|
|●||the size and timing of orders from military and other governmental agencies, including increased purchase requests from government customers for equipment and materials in connection with the U.S. government’s fiscal year end, which may affect our quarterly operating results;|
|●||the mix of products that we sell in the period;|
|●||fluctuations in customer demand for some of our products or services;|
|●||unanticipated costs incurred in the introduction of new products;|
|●||fluctuations in the adoption of our products in new markets;|
|●||our ability to win additional contracts from existing customers or other contracts from new customers;|
|●||cancellations, delays or contract amendments by our U.S. governmental agency and foreign government customers;|
|●||changes in policy or budgetary measures that adversely affect our U.S. governmental agency and foreign government customers;|
|●||the cost of complying with various regulatory requirements applicable to our business and the potential penalties or sanctions that could be imposed for non-compliance; and|
|●||our ability to obtain the necessary export licenses for sales of our products and services to international customers.|
Changes in the volume of products and services provided under existing contracts and the number of contracts commenced, completed or terminated during any quarter may cause significant variations in our cash flow from operations because a relatively large amount of our expenses are fixed. We incur significant operating expenses during the start-up and early stages of large contracts and typically do not receive corresponding payments in that same quarter. We may also incur significant or unanticipated expenses when contracts expire or are terminated or are not renewed. In addition, payments due to us from government agencies may be delayed due to billing cycles or as a result of failures of governmental budgets to gain congressional and presidential approval in a timely manner.
Shortfalls in available external research and development funding could adversely affect us.
We depend on our research and development activities to develop the core technologies used in our UAS products and for the development of our future products. A portion of our research and development activities depends on funding by commercial companies and the U.S. government. U.S. government and commercial spending levels can be impacted by a number of variables, including general economic conditions, specific companies’ financial performance and competition for U.S. government funding with other U.S. government-sponsored programs in the budget formulation and appropriation processes. To the extent that these external sources of funding are reduced or eliminated, company funding for research and development could be reduced. Any reductions in available research and development funding could harm our business, financial condition and operating results.
Our work for the U.S. government and international governments may expose us to security risks.
As a U.S. government contractor, we face various security threats, including cyber security attacks on our information technology infrastructure, attempts to gain access to our proprietary, financial, banking or classified information as well as threats to the physical security of our facilities and employees. Although we utilize various procedures and controls to monitor and mitigate these threats, there can be no assurance that these procedures and controls will be sufficient to prevent disruptions, the unauthorized release of confidential technical, financial or banking information or corruption of data. Accordingly, any significant operational delays, or any destruction, manipulation or improper use of our data, information systems or networks could adversely affect our financial results and damage the reputation for our products and services. The occurrence of some of these risks may be increased due to the increase in remote working by our employees, suppliers, contractors and other third parties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the ever developing nature of such risks, the impact of any potential incident cannot be predicted. Previous cyber-attacks directed at us have not materially impacted our business or financial results, but the impact of future incidents cannot be predicted due to the evolving nature and complexity of cyber-attacks. If we or our partners are subject to data security breaches, we may have a loss in sales or increased costs arising from the restoration or implementation of additional security measures, either of which could materially and adversely affect our business and financial results. Additionally, expenses resulting from cyber security attacks and other security risks may not be fully insured or otherwise mitigated, which could harm our financial results.
In addition, we work in international locations where there are high security risks, which could result in harm to our employees and contractors or substantial costs. Some of our services are performed in or adjacent to high-risk locations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where the country or location is experiencing political, social or economic issues, or war or civil unrest. In those locations where we have employees or operations, we may incur substantial costs to maintain the safety of our personnel. Despite these precautions, the safety of our personnel in these locations may continue to be at risk, and we may in the future be negatively impacted by the loss of employees and contractors, which could harm our business and operating results.
We may not be able to obtain capital when desired on favorable terms, if at all, or without dilution to our stockholders.
We operate in emerging and rapidly evolving markets, which makes our prospects difficult to evaluate. It is possible that we may not generate sufficient cash flow from operations or otherwise have the capital resources to meet our future capital needs. If this occurs, then we may need additional financing to pursue our business strategies, including to:
|●||hire additional engineers and other personnel;|
|●||develop new or enhance existing products;|
|●||enhance our operating infrastructure;|
|●||fund working capital requirements;|
|●||acquire complementary businesses or technologies; or|
|●||otherwise respond to competitive pressures.|
If we raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or convertible debt securities, the percentage ownership of our stockholders could be significantly diluted, and these newly-issued securities may have rights, preferences or privileges senior to those of existing stockholders. We cannot assure you that additional financing will be available on terms favorable to us, or at all. Our former line of credit contained, and future debt financing may contain, covenants or other provisions that limit our operational or financial flexibility. In addition, certain of our customers require that we obtain letters of credit to support our obligations under some of our contracts.
Our cash may be subject to a risk of loss and we may be exposed to fluctuations in the market values of our portfolio investments and in interest rates.
Our assets include a significant amount of cash and investments. We adhere to an investment policy set by our Board of Directors which aims to preserve our financial assets, maintain adequate liquidity and maximize returns. We believe that our cash is held in institutions whose credit risk is minimal and that the value and liquidity of our deposits are accurately reflected in our consolidated financial statements as of April 30, 2020. We currently invest the majority of our cash in U.S. government securities, U.S. government agency securities, municipal bonds and high-grade corporate bonds, the performance of which are subject to additional market risks related to their respective issuers. Nearly all of our cash and bank deposits are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Therefore, our cash and any bank deposits that we now hold or may acquire in the future may be subject to risks, including the risk of loss or of reduced value or liquidity. In the future, should we determine that there is a decline in value of any of our portfolio securities which is not temporary in nature, this would result in a loss being recognized in our consolidated statements of income.
Unstable market and economic conditions may have serious adverse consequences on our business, financial condition and stock price.
Global credit and financial markets have experienced extreme disruptions in recent years, including severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, declines in consumer confidence, declines in economic growth, increases in unemployment rates and uncertainty about economic stability. There can be no assurance that renewed deterioration in credit and financial markets and confidence in economic conditions will not occur. Our general business strategy may be adversely affected by any economic downturn, volatile business environment or continued unpredictable and unstable market conditions. If the current equity and credit markets deteriorate, or do not improve, it may make any necessary debt or equity financing more difficult, more costly and more dilutive. Failure to secure any necessary financing in a timely manner and on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our growth strategy, financial
performance and stock price and could require us to delay or abandon implementing business initiatives. These events and the continuing market upheavals could adversely affect our business in a number of ways, including:
Potential Deferment of Purchases and Orders by Customers: Uncertainty about current and future global economic conditions may cause governments, including the U.S. government, which is our largest customer, consumers and businesses to modify, defer or cancel purchases in response to tighter credit, decreased cash availability and declining consumer confidence. Accordingly, future demand for our products could differ materially from our current expectations. Additionally, if customers are not successful in generating sufficient revenue or are precluded from securing financing, they may not be able to pay, or may delay payment of, accounts receivable that are owed to us. Any inability of current and/or potential customers to pay us for our products may adversely affect our earnings and cash flow.
Negative Impact from Increased Financial Pressures on Key Suppliers: Our ability to meet customers’ demands depends, in part, on our ability to obtain timely and adequate delivery of quality materials, parts and components from our suppliers. Certain of our hardware components and various subsystems are available only from a limited group of suppliers. If certain key suppliers were to become capacity constrained or insolvent as a result of a market downturn, then we may have to find new suppliers. We may experience significant delays in manufacturing and shipping our products to customers and incur additional development, manufacturing and other costs to establish alternative sources of supply if we lose any of these sources or are required to redesign our products. We cannot predict if we will be able to obtain replacement components within the time frames that we require at an affordable cost, if at all. In addition, credit constraints of key suppliers could result in accelerated payment of accounts payable by us, impacting our cash flow.
Customers’ Inability to Obtain Financing to Make Purchases from Us and/or Maintain Their Business: Some of our customers may require substantial financing in order to fund their operations and make purchases from us. The inability of these customers to obtain sufficient credit to finance purchases of our products, or otherwise meet their payment obligations to us could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if a market downturn results in insolvencies for our customers, it could adversely impact our financial condition and results of operations.
Acquisitions could be difficult to integrate, divert the attention of key personnel, disrupt our business, dilute stockholder value and impair our financial results.
In June 2019, we consummated the acquisition of Pulse Aerospace, LLC, a Kansas based developer of VTOL UAS. We intend to consider additional acquisitions that could add to our customer base, technological capabilities or system offerings. Acquisitions, including the acquisition of Pulse Aerospace, involve numerous risks, any of which could harm our business, including the following:
|●||difficulties in integrating the operations, technologies, products, existing contracts, accounting and personnel of the target company and realizing the anticipated synergies of the combined businesses;|
|●||difficulties in supporting and transitioning customers, if any, of the target company;|
|●||diversion of financial and management resources from existing operations;|
|●||the price we pay or other resources that we devote may exceed the value we realize, or the value we could have realized if we had allocated the purchase price or other resources to another opportunity;|
|●||risks of entering new markets in which we have limited or no experience;|
|●||potential loss of key employees, customers and strategic alliances from either our current business or the target company’s business;|
|●||assumption of unanticipated problems or latent liabilities, such as problems with the quality of the target company’s products or its regulatory compliance; and|
|●||inability to generate sufficient revenue to offset acquisition costs.|
Acquisitions also frequently result in the recording of goodwill and other intangible assets which are subject to potential impairments in the future that could harm our financial results. In addition, if we finance acquisitions by issuing equity, or securities convertible into equity, then our existing stockholders may be diluted, which could lower the market price of our common stock. If we finance acquisitions through debt, then such future debt financing may contain covenants or other provisions that limit our operational or financial flexibility.
If we fail to properly evaluate acquisitions or investments, then we may not achieve the anticipated benefits of any such acquisitions, and we may incur costs in excess of what we anticipate. The failure to successfully evaluate and execute acquisitions or investments or otherwise adequately address these risks could materially harm our business and financial results.
Environmental laws and regulations and unforeseen costs could impact our future earnings.
The manufacture and sale of our products in certain states and countries may subject us to environmental and other regulations. For example, we obtain a significant number of our electronics components from companies located in East Asia, where environmental rules may be less stringent than in the United States. Over time, the countries where these companies are located may adopt more stringent environmental regulations, resulting in an increase in our manufacturing costs. Given the increasing focus on environmental compliance by regulators and the general public, any incidence of non-compliance could result in damage to our reputation beyond the fines and other sanctions that could be imposed. Furthermore, certain environmental laws, including the U.S. Comprehensive, Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, impose strict, joint and several liability on current and previous owners or operators of real property for the cost of removal or remediation of hazardous substances and impose liability for damages to natural resources. These laws often impose liability even if the owner or operator did not know of, or was not responsible for, the release of such hazardous substances. These environmental laws also assess liability on persons who arrange for hazardous substances to be sent to disposal or treatment facilities when such facilities are later found to be contaminated. Such persons can be responsible for cleanup costs even if they never owned or operated the contaminated facility. Although we have never been named a responsible party at a contaminated site, we could be named a potentially responsible party in the future. We cannot assure you that such existing laws or future laws will not have a material adverse effect on our future earnings or results of operations.
Our business is subject to federal, state and international laws regarding data protection, privacy, and information security, as well as confidentiality obligations under various agreements, and our actual or perceived failure to comply with such obligations could damage our reputation, expose us to litigation risk and adversely affect our business and operating results.
In connection with our business, we receive, collect, process and retain certain sensitive and confidential customer information. As a result, we are subject to increasingly rigorous federal, state and international laws regarding privacy and data protection. Personal privacy, data protection and information security are significant issues in the United States and the other jurisdictions where we offer our products and services. The regulatory framework for privacy and security issues worldwide is rapidly evolving and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future. Our handling of data is subject to a variety of laws and regulations, including regulation by various government agencies, including the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and various state, local and foreign bodies and agencies. We also execute confidentiality agreements with various parties under which we are required to protect their confidential information.
The United States federal and various state and foreign governments have adopted or proposed limitations on the collection, distribution, use and storage of personal information of individuals, including end-customers and employees. In the United States, the FTC and many state attorneys general are applying federal and state consumer protection laws to the online collection, use and dissemination of data. Additionally, many foreign countries and
governmental bodies, and other jurisdictions in which we operate or conduct our business, have laws and regulations concerning the collection and use of personal information obtained from their residents or by businesses operating within their jurisdiction. These laws and regulations often are more restrictive than those in the United States. Such laws and regulations may require companies to implement new privacy and security policies, permit individuals to access, correct and delete personal information stored or maintained by such companies, inform individuals of security breaches that affect their personal information, and, in some cases, obtain individuals’ consent to use personal information for certain purposes.
We also expect that there will continue to be new proposed laws, regulations and industry standards concerning privacy, data protection and information security in the United States, the European Union and other jurisdictions, and we cannot yet determine the impact of such future laws, regulations and standards may have on our business. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, which became effective in 2020, provides new data privacy rights for consumers and new operational requirements for companies. Additionally, we expect that existing laws, regulations and standards may be interpreted differently in the future. There remains significant uncertainty surrounding the regulatory framework for the future of personal data transfers from the European Union to the United States with regulations such as the recently adopted General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which imposes more stringent E.U. data protection requirements, provides an enforcement authority, and imposes large penalties for noncompliance. Future laws, regulations, standards and other obligations, including the adoption of the GDPR, as well as changes in the interpretation of existing laws, regulations, standards and other obligations could impair our ability to collect, use or disclose information relating to individuals, which could decrease demand for our products, require us to restrict our business operations, increase our costs and impair our ability to maintain and grow our customer base and increase our revenue.
Although we are working to comply with those federal, state and foreign laws and regulations, industry standards, contractual obligations and other legal obligations that apply to us, such laws, regulations, standards and obligations are evolving and may be modified, interpreted and applied in an inconsistent manner from one jurisdiction to another, and may conflict with one another, other requirements or legal obligations, our practices or the features of our products. As such, we cannot assure ongoing compliance with all such laws or regulations, industry standards, contractual obligations and other legal obligations, and our efforts to do so may cause us to incur significant costs or require changes to our business practices, which could adversely affect our business and operating results. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with federal, state or foreign laws or regulations, industry standards, contractual obligations or other legal obligations, or any actual or suspected security incident, whether or not resulting in unauthorized access to, or acquisition, release or transfer of personal information or other data, may result in governmental enforcement actions and prosecutions, private litigation, fines and penalties or adverse publicity and could cause our customers to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business. Any inability to adequately address privacy and security concerns, even if unfounded, or comply with applicable laws, regulations, policies, industry standards, contractual obligations or other legal obligations could result in additional cost and liability to us, damage our reputation, inhibit sales, and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Compliance with the SEC’s conflict minerals regulations may increase our costs and adversely impact the supply-chain for our UAS products.
In August 2012, the SEC adopted disclosure rules regarding a company’s use of conflict minerals in its products with substantial supply chain verification requirements in the event that the conflict minerals come from, or could have come from, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or adjoining countries. These rules and verification requirements have imposed additional costs on us and on our suppliers, including costs related to determining the source of conflict minerals used in our products, which may adversely affect our results of operations. We are dependent on information supplied by our first tier suppliers in conducting due diligence into the origins of conflict minerals in our products and in complying with our SEC reporting obligations. To the extent that information we receive from our suppliers is inaccurate or inadequate, we may not be able to determine whether our products are conflict mineral-free. We may face challenges in satisfying our customers who may require that our products be certified as conflict mineral-free, which could place us at a competitive disadvantage and could harm our business. These regulations could also have the effect of limiting the pool of suppliers from which we source items containing conflict minerals, and we may be unable to obtain conflict-free minerals at competitive prices, if at all, which could increase our costs and adversely affect our results of operations.
Our business and operations are subject to the risks of earthquakes and other natural catastrophic events.
Our corporate headquarters, research and development and manufacturing operations are located in Southern California, a region known for seismic activity and wild fires. A significant natural disaster, such as an earthquake, fire or other catastrophic event, could severely affect our ability to conduct normal business operations, and as a result, our future operating results could be materially and adversely affected.
We face various risks related to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic and similar public health crises which may adversely impact our business.
In December 2019, a novel strain of a virus named SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), or coronavirus, which causes coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, was reported to have surfaced in Wuhan, China, and has reached multiple other regions and countries, including the United States and, more specifically, Southern California, where our primary operations are located. The coronavirus pandemic is evolving, and to date has led to the implementation of various responses, including government-imposed stay-at-home orders and quarantines, travel restrictions and other public health safety measures. Although our operations have mostly continued uninterrupted during the COVID-19 outbreak, adoption of work from home protocols, social distancing measures in the workplace and other responsive actions have required certain changes to our operations. If the current COVID-19 outbreak continues and results in a prolonged period of travel and other similar logistics restrictions, this may reduce our and our customers’ capabilities to travel, domestically and internationally, which may impact our ability to perform certain contracts, develop and renew contracts, or market our products, or could otherwise disrupt portions of our business and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
Global health concerns, such as coronavirus, could result in social, economic and labor instability in the countries in which we or the third parties with whom we engage operate. It is not currently possible to ascertain the overall impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, if any, on our business. The extent to which COVID-19 impacts on our business, financial condition and results of operations and those of our third party partners will depend on future developments as to the geographic presence of COVID-19 and government and healthcare responses to such spread including the duration of the outbreak, new information that may emerge concerning the severity of the coronavirus and the actions to contain the coronavirus or treat its impact, among others, which are presently highly uncertain. We cannot presently predict the scope and severity of any potential business disruptions, but if we or any of the third parties with whom we engage, including suppliers and other third parties with whom we conduct business, were to experience prolonged shutdowns or other business disruptions, including a slowdown in the effectiveness of our workforce due to illness or otherwise, our ability to conduct our business in the manner presently planned could be materially and negatively impacted. The COVID-19 outbreak could also cause delays or limits in the ability of our customers to make timely payments and contract awards to us. Additionally, our government customers may have more limited resources available to purchase our products due to deteriorating economic conditions or due to the diversion of resources to other budget priorities, including efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The future progression of the COVID-19 outbreak and its resulting effects on our business, financial condition and results of operations are uncertain and are continuing to be assessed.
We self-insure a portion of our health insurance program which may expose us to unexpected costs and negatively affect our results of operations.
We are self-insured for employee medical claims, subject to individual and aggregate stop loss insurance policies. We estimate a liability for claims filed and incurred but not reported based upon recent claims experience and an analysis of the average period of time between the occurrence of a claim and the time it is reported to and paid by us. However, unanticipated changes in assumptions and management estimates underlying our recorded liabilities for medical claims could result in materially different amounts of expense than expected under our health insurance program, which could have an adverse material impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Related to Our U.S. Government Contracts
We are subject to extensive government regulation, and our failure to comply with applicable regulations could subject us to penalties that may restrict our ability to conduct our business.
As a contractor to the U.S. government, we are subject to and must comply with various government regulations that impact our revenue, operating costs, profit margins and the internal organization and operation of our business. The most significant regulations and regulatory authorities affecting our business include the following:
|●||the Federal Acquisition Regulations and supplemental agency regulations, which comprehensively regulate the formation and administration of, and performance under, U.S. government contracts;|
|●||the Truth in Negotiations Act, which requires certification and disclosure of all factual cost and pricing data in connection with contract negotiations;|
|●||the False Claims Act and the False Statements Act, which impose penalties for payments made on the basis of false facts provided to the government and on the basis of false statements made to the government, respectively;|
|●||the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from providing anything of value to a foreign official to help obtain, retain or direct business, or obtain any unfair advantage;|
|●||the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, which regulate the wireless spectrum allocations upon which UAS depend for operation and data transmission in the United States;|
|●||the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the use of airspace for all aircraft, including UAS operation in the United States;|
|●||the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which regulate the export of controlled technical data, defense articles and defense services and restrict from which countries we may purchase materials and services used in the production of certain of our products; and|
|●||laws, regulations and executive orders restricting the use and dissemination of information classified for national security purposes or determined to be “controlled unclassified information” and the exportation of certain products and technical data.|
Also, we need special security clearances and regulatory approvals to continue working on certain of our projects with the U.S. government. Classified programs generally will require that we comply with various executive orders, federal laws and regulations and customer security requirements that may include restrictions on how we develop, store, protect and share information, and may require our employees and facilities to obtain government security clearances. Our failure to comply with applicable regulations, rules and approvals; changes in the government’s interpretation of such regulations, rules and approvals as have been and are applied to our contracts, proposals or business or misconduct by any of our employees could result in the imposition of fines and penalties, the loss of security clearances, a decrease in profitability, the loss of our government contracts or our suspension or debarment from contracting with the U.S. government generally, any of which could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. We are also subject to certain regulations of comparable government agencies in other countries, and our failure to comply with these non-U.S. regulations could also harm our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our business could be adversely affected by a negative audit or investigation by the U.S. government.
U.S. government agencies, primarily the DCAA and the DCMA, routinely audit and investigate government contractors. These agencies review a contractor’s performance under its contracts, cost structure and compliance with
applicable laws, regulations and standards. These agencies also may review the adequacy of, and a contractor’s compliance with, its internal control systems and policies, including the contractor’s purchasing, quality, accounting, property, estimating, compensation and management information systems.
Like most government contractors, our contracts are audited and reviewed on a continual basis by the DCMA and the DCAA. The indirect costs we incur in performing government contracts have been audited or have been subject to audit on an annual basis. The audit of our 2010 incurred cost claim was settled in April 2016 without payment of any consideration. Our incurred cost claims for fiscal years 2011 through 2014 were accepted as submitted during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2017. Our 2016 and 2017 rates claims were accepted without audit during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019 without payment of any consideration. During the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020, the Company settled rates for its incurred cost claims with the DCAA for fiscal year 2015 for an amount not significant. At April 30, 2020 we had no reserve for open incurred cost claim audits. In addition, non-audit reviews or investigations by the government may still be conducted on all of our government contracts.
Any costs found to be improperly allocated to a specific cost reimbursement contract will not be reimbursed, while such costs already reimbursed must be refunded. If an audit or investigation of our business were to uncover improper or illegal activities, then we could be subject to civil and criminal penalties and administrative sanctions, including termination of contracts, suspension of payments, fines and suspension or debarment from doing business with the U.S. government. We could experience serious harm to our reputation if allegations of impropriety or illegal acts were made against us, even if the allegations were inaccurate. In addition, responding to governmental audits or investigations may involve significant expense and divert management attention. If any of the foregoing were to occur, our financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.
Moreover, if any of our administrative processes and business systems are found not to comply with the applicable requirements, we may be subjected to increased government scrutiny or required to obtain additional governmental approvals that could delay or otherwise adversely affect our ability to compete for or perform contracts. In December 2015, DCMA concluded that our purchasing system was not approved. In an April 2016 follow-up review the DCMA approved our purchasing system. The purchasing systems was reviewed and approved again in January 2019. An unfavorable outcome to such an audit or investigation by the DCAA, U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), or other government agency, could materially adversely affect our competitive position, affect our ability to obtain new government business, and obtain the maximum price for our products and services, and result in a substantial reduction of our revenues.
If we were suspended or debarred from contracting with the federal government generally, or any specific agency, if our reputation or relationship with government agencies were impaired, or if the government otherwise ceased doing business with us or significantly decreased the amount of business it does with us, our revenue and operating results could be materially harmed. For example, in February 2010, we were notified by the DOJ that it had initiated a civil investigation into our cost charging practices with respect to government contracts. We resolved these claims with the DOJ in October 2013. Under the settlement agreement, we reimbursed the government for an amount erroneously charged to the government in our fiscal 2006 incurred cost claim submittal.
Some of our contracts with the U.S. government allow it to use inventions developed under the contracts and to disclose technical data to third parties, which could harm our ability to compete.
Some of our contracts allow the U.S. government to use, royalty-free, or have others use, inventions developed under those contracts on behalf of the government. Some of the contracts allow the federal government to disclose technical data without constraining the recipient on how that data is used. The ability of third parties to use patents and technical data for government purposes creates the possibility that the government could attempt to establish alternative suppliers or to negotiate with us to reduce our prices. The potential that the government may release some of the technical data without constraint creates the possibility that third parties may be able to use this data to compete with us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
U.S. government contracts are generally not fully funded at inception and contain certain provisions that may be unfavorable to us, which could prevent us from realizing our contract backlog and materially harm our business and results of operations.
U.S. government contracts typically involve long lead times for design and development, and are subject to significant changes in contract scheduling. Congress generally appropriates funds on a fiscal year basis even though a program may continue for several years. Consequently, programs are often only partially funded initially, and additional funds are committed only as Congress makes further appropriations. The termination or reduction of funding for a government program would result in a loss of anticipated future revenue attributable to that program.
The actual receipt of revenue on awards included in backlog may never occur or may change because a program schedule could change or the program could be canceled, or a contract could be reduced, modified or terminated early.
In addition, U.S. government contracts generally contain provisions permitting termination, in whole or in part, at the government’s convenience or for contractor default. Since a substantial majority of our revenue is dependent on the procurement, performance and payment under our U.S. government contracts, the termination of one or more critical government contracts could have a negative impact on our results of operations and financial condition. Termination arising out of our default could result in damage to our reputation, expose us to liability and have a material adverse effect on our ability to re-compete for future contracts and orders. Moreover, several of our contracts with the U.S. government do not contain a limitation of liability provision, creating a risk of responsibility for indirect, incidental damages and consequential damages. These provisions could cause substantial liability for us, especially given the use to which our products may be put.
U.S. government contracts are subject to a competitive bidding process that can consume significant resources without generating any revenue.
U.S. government contracts are frequently awarded only after formal, protracted competitive bidding processes and, in many cases, unsuccessful bidders for U.S. government contracts are provided the opportunity to protest contract awards through various agency, administrative and judicial channels. We derive significant revenue from U.S. government contracts that were awarded through a competitive bidding process. Much of the UAS business that we expect to seek in the foreseeable future likely will be awarded through competitive bidding. Competitive bidding presents a number of risks, including the following:
|●||the need to bid on programs in advance of the completion of their design, which may result in unforeseen technological difficulties and cost overruns;|
|●||the substantial cost and managerial time and effort that must be spent to prepare bids and proposals for contracts that may not be awarded to us;|
|●||the need to estimate accurately the resources and cost structure that will be required to service any contract we are awarded; and|
|●||the expense and delay that may arise if our competitors protest or challenge contract awards made to us pursuant to competitive bidding, and the risk that any such protest or challenge could result in the delay of our contract performance, the distraction of management, the resubmission of bids on modified specifications, or in termination, reduction or modification of the awarded contract.|
We may not be provided the opportunity to bid on contracts that are held by other companies and are scheduled to expire if the government extends the existing contract. If we are unable to win particular contracts that are awarded through a competitive bidding process, then we may not be able to operate for a number of years in the market for goods and services that are provided under those contracts. If we are unable to win new contract awards over any extended period consistently, then our business and prospects will be adversely affected.
We are subject to procurement rules and regulations, which increase our performance and compliance costs under our U.S. government contracts.
We must comply with, and are affected by, laws and regulations relating to the formation, administration and performance of U.S. government contracts. These laws and regulations, among other things, require certification and disclosure of all cost and pricing data in connection with contract negotiation, define allowable and unallowable costs and otherwise govern our right to reimbursement under certain cost-based U.S. government contracts, and restrict the use and dissemination of classified information and the exportation of certain products and technical data. These requirements, although customary in U.S. government contracts, increase our performance and compliance costs. These costs might increase in the future, reducing our margins, which could have a negative effect on our financial condition. Although we believe we have procedures in place to comply with these regulations and requirements, the regulations and requirements are complex and change frequently. Our or our agents’ failure to comply with these regulations and requirements under certain circumstances could lead to suspension or debarment from U.S. government contracting or subcontracting for a period of time and could have a negative effect on our reputation and ability to receive other U.S. government contract awards in the future.
Risks Related to Our Intellectual Property
If we fail to protect, or incur significant costs in defending or enforcing our intellectual property and other proprietary rights, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially harmed.
Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights. We rely primarily on patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and unfair competition laws, as well as license agreements and other contractual provisions, to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights. However, a significant portion of our technology is not patented, and we may be unable or may not seek to obtain patent protection for this technology. In addition, the U.S. government has licenses under certain of our patents and certain other intellectual property that are developed or used in performance of government contracts, and it may use or authorize others to use such patents and intellectual property for government and other purposes. Moreover, existing U.S. legal standards relating to the validity, enforceability and scope of protection of intellectual property rights offer only limited protection, may not provide us with any competitive advantages, and our rights may be challenged by third parties. The laws of countries other than the United States may be even less protective of our intellectual property rights. Accordingly, despite our efforts, we may be unable to prevent third parties from infringing upon or misappropriating our intellectual property or otherwise gaining access to our technology. Unauthorized third parties may try to copy or reverse engineer our products or portions of our products or otherwise obtain and use our intellectual property. Moreover, many of our employees have access to our trade secrets and other intellectual property. If one or more of these employees leave our employment to work for one of our competitors, then they may disseminate this proprietary information, which may as a result damage our competitive position. If we fail to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights, then our business, results of operations or financial condition could be materially harmed. From time to time, we have initiated lawsuits to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights. Pursuing these claims is time consuming and expensive and could adversely impact our results of operations.
In addition, affirmatively defending our intellectual property rights and investigating whether any of our products or services violate the rights of others may entail significant expense. Our intellectual property rights may be challenged by others or invalidated through administrative processes or litigation. If we resort to legal proceedings to enforce our intellectual property rights or to determine the validity and scope of the intellectual property or other proprietary rights of others, then the proceedings could result in significant expense to us and divert the attention and efforts of our management and technical employees, even if we prevail.
We may be sued by third parties for alleged infringement of their proprietary rights, which could be costly, time-consuming and limit our ability to use certain technologies in the future.
We may become subject to claims that our technologies infringe upon the intellectual property or other proprietary rights of third parties. Defending against, or otherwise addressing, any such claims, whether they are with or without merit, could be time-consuming and expensive, and could divert our management’s attention away from the
execution of our business plan. Moreover, any settlement or adverse judgment resulting from these claims could require us to pay substantial amounts or obtain a license to continue to use the disputed technology, or otherwise restrict or prohibit our use of the technology. We cannot assure you that we would be able to: obtain from the third party asserting the claim a license on commercially reasonable terms, if at all; develop alternative technology on a timely basis, if at all; or obtain a license to use a suitable alternative technology to permit us to continue offering, and our customers to continue using, our affected product. An adverse determination also could prevent us from offering our products to others. Infringement claims asserted against us may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.
Risks Relating to Securities Markets and Investment in Our Stock
The price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly.
The market prices for securities of emerging technology companies have historically been highly volatile, and the market has from time to time experienced significant price and volume fluctuations that are unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. The market price of our common stock may fluctuate significantly in response to a number of factors, most of which we cannot control, including the following:
|●||U.S. government spending levels, both generally and by our particular customers;|
|●||the volume of operational activity by the U.S. military;|
|●||delays in the payment of our invoices by government payment offices, resulting in potentially reduced earnings during a particular fiscal quarter;|
|●||announcements of new products or technologies, commercial relationships or other events relating to us or our industry or our competitors;|
|●||failure of any of our key products to gain market acceptance;|
|●||variations in our quarterly operating results;|
|●||perceptions of the prospects for the markets in which we compete;|
|●||changes in general economic conditions;|
|●||changes in securities analysts’ estimates of our financial performance;|
|●||regulatory developments in the United States and foreign countries;|
|●||fluctuations in stock market prices and trading volumes of similar companies;|
|●||news about the markets in which we compete or regarding our competitors;|
|●||terrorist acts or military action related to international conflicts, wars or otherwise;|
|●||sales of large blocks of our common stock, including sales by our executive officers, directors and significant stockholders; and|
|●||additions or departures of key personnel.|
In addition, the equity markets in general, and NASDAQ in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of companies.
Further, the market prices of securities of emerging technology companies have been particularly volatile. These broad market and industry factors may affect the market price of our common stock adversely, regardless of our operating performance. In the past, following periods of volatility in the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation often has been instituted against that company. This type of litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources.
Our management, whose interests may not be aligned with yours, is able to exert significant influence over all matters requiring stockholder approval.
As of June 17, 2020, our directors, executive officers and their affiliates collectively beneficially owned 2,315,570 shares, or approximately 10%, of our total outstanding shares of common stock. Accordingly, our directors and executive officers as a group may be able to exert significant influence over matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors. The interests of our directors and executive officers may not be fully aligned with yours. Although there is no agreement among our directors and executive officers with respect to the voting of their shares, this concentration of ownership may delay, defer or even prevent a change in control of our company, and make transactions more difficult or impossible without the support of all or some of our directors and executive officers. These transactions might include proxy contests, tender offers, mergers or other purchases of common stock that could give you the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price for shares of our common stock.
Delaware law and anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents may discourage our acquisition by a third party, which could make it more difficult to acquire us and limit your ability to sell your shares at a premium.
Our certificate of incorporation and bylaws contain certain provisions that reduce the probability of a change of control or acquisition of our company, even if such a transaction would be beneficial to our stockholders. These provisions include, but are not limited to:
|●||the ability of our board of directors to issue preferred stock in one or more series of with such rights, obligations and preferences as the board may determine, without further vote or action by our stockholders;|
|●||advanced notice procedures for stockholders to nominate candidates for election to the board of directors and for stockholders to submit proposals for consideration at a meeting of stockholders;|
|●||the absence of cumulative voting rights for our stockholders;|
|●||the classification of our board of directors, which effectively prevents stockholders from electing a majority of the directors at any one annual meeting of stockholders;|
|●||the limitation that directors may be removed only for cause by the affirmative vote of the holders of 662/3% of the total voting power of all of our outstanding securities entitled to vote in the election of directors, voting together as a single class; and|
|●||restrictions on the ability of our stockholders to call a special meeting of stockholders.|
We are also subject to Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law which, subject to certain exceptions, prohibits “business combinations” between a publicly-held Delaware corporation and an “interested stockholder,” which is generally defined as a stockholder who becomes a beneficial owner of 15% or more of a Delaware corporation’s voting stock for a three-year period following the date that such stockholder became an interested stockholder. This statute, as well as the provisions in our organizational documents, could have the effect of delaying, deterring or preventing certain potential acquisitions or a change in control of us.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties.
All of our facilities are leased. Our corporate headquarters are located in Simi Valley, California where we lease approximately 85,000 square feet under an agreement expiring in May 2025. We also lease a total of 194,000 square feet of space in Simi Valley, California, which lease expires in 2022, and approximately 150,000 square feet of space in Moorpark, California, which lease expires in 2023, used to design, engineer, test and manufacture UAS. We also lease other facilities in Alabama, Kansas, Massachusetts and Virginia that are used for administration, research and development, logistics, testing and manufacturing. We believe that our facilities are in good condition and are adequate and suitable to meet our needs for the foreseeable future.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
On February 22, 2019, Webasto filed a lawsuit, which was subsequently amended on April 5, 2019, against us in Delaware Superior Court, arising from the sale of the EES Business to Webasto in June 2018. The lawsuit generally alleges several claims against us for breach of contract, indemnity, declaratory judgment, and fraud and misrepresentation, including allegations regarding inaccuracy of certain diligence disclosures, failure to provide certain consents to contract assignments and related to the previously announced recall. Webasto seeks to recover the costs of the recall and other damages totaling over $100 million in addition to attorneys’ fees, costs, and punitive damages. Additionally, Webasto is seeking a declaratory judgment that we did not meet the requirements to receive the additional $6.5 million of the purchase price which was held back at the closing of the transaction (the “Holdback Amount”). On August 16, 2019, we filed our answer to Webasto’s complaint and a counterclaim against Webasto seeking payment of the Holdback Amount and declaratory relief regarding Webasto’s cancellation of an assigned contract. As to the Webasto lawsuit, our initial evaluation is that many of the allegations are meritless and that we lack sufficient information to fully analyze other allegations at this time. Discovery in this lawsuit has begun and is ongoing and, as of June 17, 2020, a trial has been set for July 14, 2021. At present, the parties remain in the written phase of discovery. Due to nationwide court closures and restrictions resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic, however, we expect to seek and obtain a trial continuance to account for pandemic-related delays, and therefore anticipate a new trial date in 2022. We continue to mount a vigorous defense.
On August 14, 2019, Benchmark Electronics, Inc. (“Benchmark”), the company that assembled the products subject to the recall, served a demand for arbitration to AeroVironment and Webasto pursuant to its contracts with AeroVironment and Webasto, respectively. In December 2019, Benchmark dismissed, without prejudice, all claims against us in the demand for arbitration. The recall remains a significant part of our pending litigation with Webasto.
We are subject to lawsuits, government investigations, audits and other legal proceedings from time to time in the ordinary course of our business. It is not possible to predict the outcome of any legal proceeding with any certainty. The outcome or costs we incur in connection with a legal proceeding could adversely impact our operating results and financial position.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosure.
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
On June 17, 2020, the closing sales price of our common stock as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market where it trades under the symbol AVAV was $69.42 per share. As of June 17, 2020, there were 68 holders of record of our common stock.
To date we have retained all earnings for use in the operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Any future determination related to dividend policy will be made at the discretion of our board of directors and will depend upon, among other factors, our results of operations, financial condition, capital requirements, capital allocation policy, expected return on invested capital, contractual restrictions and such other factors as our board of directors deems relevant.
Stock Price Performance Graph
The following graph shows a comparison of cumulative returns on our common stock, based on the market price of the common stock, with the cumulative total returns of companies in the Russell 2000 Index and the SPADE Defense Index.
The following table shows the value of $100 invested on April 30, 2015 in AeroVironment, Inc., the Russell 2000 Index and the SPADE Defense Index.
Performance Graph Table ($)
AeroVironment, Inc. Stock
Russell 2000 Index
SPADE Defense Index
The stock price performance shown on the graph above is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. Factual material was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but we are not responsible for any errors or omissions contained therein. No portions of this graph shall be deemed incorporated by reference into any filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act through any general statement incorporating by reference in its entirety the report in which this graph appears, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate this graph or a portion of it by reference. In addition, this graph shall not be deemed filed under either the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On September 24, 2015, we announced that on September 23, 2015 our Board of Directors authorized a share repurchase program (the “Share Repurchase Program”), pursuant to which we may repurchase up to $25 million of our common stock from time to time, in amounts and at prices we deem appropriate, subject to market conditions and other considerations. Share repurchases may be executed through open market transactions or negotiated purchases and may be made under a Rule 10b5-1 plan. There is no expiration date for the program. The Share Repurchase Program does not obligate us to acquire any particular amount of common stock and may be suspended at any time by our Board of Directors. We did not repurchase any shares during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2020. As of April 30, 2020, approximately $21.2 million remained authorized for future repurchases under this program.
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data.
The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements. The information set forth below is not necessarily indicative of results of future operations, and should be read in conjunction with Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in Item 8, “Financial Statements and Supplementary
Data” of this Annual Report in order to understand fully factors that may affect the comparability of the financial data presented below.
Year Ended April 30,
(In thousands, except per share data)
Consolidated Income Statement Data:
Net income from continuing operations attributable to AeroVironment, Inc.
Earnings per common share from continuing operations attributable to AeroVironment, Inc.:
Weighted average common shares outstanding (basic):
Weighted average common shares outstanding (diluted):
Balance Sheet Data
Capital lease obligations, current portion
Capital lease obligations, net of current portion
Other long-term obligations
|(1)||Amounts prior to 2020 do not reflect impact of our prospective adoption of ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842)|
|(2)||Amounts prior to 2017 do not reflect impact of the adoption of ASU No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606)|
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our “Selected Consolidated Financial Data” and our consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included herein as Item 8. This discussion contains forward-looking statements. Refer to “Forward-Looking Statements” on page 2 and “Risk Factors” beginning on page 19, for a discussion of the uncertainties, risks and assumptions associated with these statements.
On June 29, 2018, we completed the sale of substantially all of the assets and related liabilities of our former EES Business to Webasto pursuant to the Purchase Agreement between Webasto and us. We determined that the EES Business met the criteria for classification as an asset held for sale at April 30, 2018 and represented a strategic shift in our operations. Therefore, the assets and liabilities and the results of operations of the EES Business are reported in this Annual Report as discontinued operations for all periods presented.
We design, develop, produce, and support a technologically-advanced portfolio of products and services for government agencies and businesses. We supply unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) and related services primarily to organizations within the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) and to international allied governments, and tactical
missile systems and related services to organizations within the U.S. government. We derive the majority of our revenue from these business areas and we believe that the markets for these solutions have significant growth potential. Additionally, we believe that some of the innovative potential products and services in our research and development pipeline will emerge as new growth platforms in the future, creating additional market opportunities.
The success we have achieved with our current products and services stems from our investment in research and development and our ability to invent and deliver advanced solutions, utilizing our proprietary technologies, to help our government and commercial customers operate more effectively and efficiently. We develop these highly innovative solutions by working very closely with our key customers and solving their most important challenges related to our areas of expertise. Our core technological capabilities, developed through nearly 50 years of innovation, include robotics and robotics systems autonomy; sensor design, development, miniaturization and integration; embedded software and firmware; miniature, low power wireless digital communications; lightweight aerostructures; high-altitude systems design, integration and operations; machine vision, machine learning and autonomy; low SWaP (Size, Weight and Power) system design and integration; manned-unmanned teaming, unmanned-unmanned teaming; power electronics and electric propulsion systems; efficient electric power conversion, storage systems and high density energy packaging; controls and systems integration; vertical takeoff and landing flight, fixed wing flight and hybrid aircraft flight; image stabilization and target tracking; advanced flight control systems; fluid dynamics; human-machine interface development; and integrated mission solutions for austere environments.
Our business focuses primarily on the design, development, production, marketing, support and operation of innovative UAS and tactical missile systems and the delivery of UAS-related services that provide situational awareness, remote sensing, multi-band communications, force protection and other information and mission effects to increase the safety and effectiveness of our customers’ operations.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently limitations on international travel which may limit our ability to obtain international orders and perform training and other services for our customers. If these travel limitations continue for an extended period of time, we may experience delays in obtaining additional international orders.
We generate our revenue primarily from the sale, support and operation of our small UAS and tactical missile systems. Support for our small UAS and tactical missile systems customers includes training, spare parts, product repair, product replacement, and the customer-contracted operation of our small UAS by our personnel. We refer to these support activities, in conjunction with customer-funded research and development (“R&D”), as our services operation. We derive most of our small UAS revenue from fixed-price and cost-plus-fee contracts with the U.S. government and allied foreign governments.
Cost of Sales
Cost of sales consists of direct costs and allocated indirect costs. Direct costs include labor, materials, travel, subcontracts and other costs directly related to the execution of a specific contract. Indirect costs include overhead expenses, fringe benefits, amortization of intangibles and other costs that are not directly charged to a specific contract.
Gross margin is equal to revenue minus cost of sales. We use gross margin as a financial metric to help us understand trends in our direct costs and allocated indirect costs when compared to the revenue we generate.
Selling, General and Administrative
Our selling, general and administrative expenses (“SG&A”), include salaries and other expenses related to selling, marketing and proposal activities, and other administrative costs. Some SG&A expenses relate to marketing and business development activities that support both ongoing business areas as well as new and emerging market areas. These activities can be directly associated with developing requirements for and applications of capabilities created in
our R&D activities. SG&A is an important financial metric that we analyze to help us evaluate the contribution of our selling, marketing and proposal activities to revenue generation.
Research and Development Expense
R&D is an integral part of our business model. We normally conduct significant internally funded R&D. Our R&D activities focus specifically on creating capabilities that support our existing product portfolio as well as new solutions.
Other Income and Expenses
Other income and expenses includes a one-time gain from a litigation settlement, income from transition services performed on behalf of the buyer of the discontinued EES Business, interest income, interest expense, and amortization of capital lease payments.
Income Tax Expense
Our effective tax rates are lower than the statutory rates primarily due to R&D tax credits and the foreign derived intangible income tax deduction (“FDII”). Our effective tax rate for the fiscal year ended April 30, 2018 was also impacted by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.
Equity Method Investment Loss, Net of Tax
Equity method investment loss, net of tax, includes equity method gain or loss related to the HAPSMobile Inc. joint venture we formed in December 2017 with SoftBank Corp and our investment in a limited partnership fund for which we have concluded we have influence for holding more than a minor interest.
Loss from Discontinued Operations, Net of Tax
On June 29, 2018, we completed the sale of substantially all of the assets and related liabilities of our former EES Business to Webasto pursuant to the Purchase Agreement between Webasto and us. We determined that the EES Business met the criteria for classification as an asset held for sale at April 30, 2018 and represented a strategic shift in our operations. Therefore, the assets and liabilities and the results of operations of the EES Business are reported in this Annual Report as discontinued operations for all periods presented.
Net Loss Attributable to Noncontrolling Interests
Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests includes the 15% interest in the income or losses of our Turkish joint venture, Altoy.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations discusses our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States. When we prepare these consolidated financial statements, we are required to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Some of our accounting policies require that we make subjective judgments, including estimates that involve matters that are inherently uncertain. Our most critical estimates include those related to revenue recognition, inventory reserves for excess and obsolescence, intangible assets acquired in a business combination, goodwill, and income taxes. We base our estimates and judgments on historical experience and on various other factors that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for our judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Our actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
We believe the following critical accounting estimates affect our more significant judgments and estimates used in preparing our consolidated financial statements. Please see Note 1 to our consolidated financial statements, which are included in Item 8 “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report, for our Organization and Significant Accounting Policies. There have been no material changes made to the critical accounting estimates during the periods presented in the consolidated financial statements.
Significant management judgments and estimates must be made and used in connection with the recognition of revenue in any accounting period. Material differences in the amount of revenue in any given period may result if these judgments or estimates prove to be incorrect or if management’s estimates change on the basis of development of the business or market conditions. Management judgments and estimates have been applied consistently and have been reliable historically. We believe that there are two key factors which impact the reliability of management’s estimates. The first of those key factors is that the terms of our contracts are typically less than six months. The short-term nature of such contracts reduces the risk that material changes in accounting estimates will occur on the basis of market conditions or other factors. The second key factor is that we have hundreds of contracts in any given accounting period, which reduces the risk that any one change in an accounting estimate on one or several contracts would have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
The substantial majority of our revenue is generated pursuant to written contractual arrangements to design, develop, manufacture and/or modify complex products, and to provide related engineering, technical and other services according to customer specifications. These contracts may be fixed price, cost-reimbursable, or time and materials. We account for all revenue contracts in accordance with ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (“ASC 606”). A performance obligation is a promise in a contract to transfer distinct goods or services to a customer, and it is the unit of account in ASC 606. A contract’s transaction price is allocated to each distinct performance obligation and revenue is recognized when each performance obligation under the terms of a contract is satisfied. For contracts with multiple performance obligations, we allocate the contract’s transaction price to each performance obligation using observable standalone selling prices for similar products and services. When the standalone selling price is not directly observable, we use our best estimate of the standalone selling price of each distinct good or service in the contract using the cost plus reasonable margin approach.
Our performance obligations are satisfied over time or at a point in time. Revenue for tactical missile systems product deliveries and Customer-Funded R&D contracts is recognized over time as costs are incurred. Contract services revenue is composed of revenue recognized on contracts for the provision of services, including repairs and maintenance, training, engineering design, development and prototyping activities, and technical support services. Contract services revenue is recognized over time as services are rendered. Typically, revenue is recognized over time using an input measure (e.g., costs incurred to date relative to total estimated costs at completion) to measure progress. Training services are recognized over time using an output method based on days of training completed. For performance obligations satisfied over time, revenue is generally recognized using costs incurred to date relative to total estimated costs at completion to measure progress. Incurred costs represent work performed, which correspond with, and thereby best depict, transfer of control to the customer. Contract costs include labor, materials, subcontractors’ costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs applicable on government and commercial contracts.
For performance obligations which are not satisfied over time per the aforementioned criteria above, revenue is recognized at the point in time in which each performance obligation is fully satisfied. Our small UAS product sales revenue is composed of revenue recognized on contracts for the delivery of small UAS systems and spare parts. Revenue is recognized at the point in time when control transfers to the customer, which generally occurs when title and risk of loss have passed to the customer.
We review cost performance and estimates to complete at least quarterly and in many cases more frequently. Adjustments to original estimates for a contract’s revenue, estimated costs at completion and estimated profit or loss are often required as work progresses under a contract, as experience is gained and as more information is obtained, even though the scope of work required under the contract may not change, or if contract modifications occur. The impact of
revisions in the estimated costs to complete for contracts using the over time method are recognized on a cumulative catch-up basis in the period in which the revisions are made. During the fiscal years ended April 30, 2020, 2019 and 2018, changes in accounting estimates on contracts recognized using the over time method are presented below. Amounts representing contract change orders or claims are included in revenue if the order or claim meets the criteria of a contract or contract modification in accordance with ASC 606. Incentives or penalties and awards applicable to performance on contracts are considered in estimating revenue and profit rates, and are recorded when there is sufficient information to assess anticipated contract performance.
For the years ended April 30, 2020, 2019 and 2018, favorable and unfavorable cumulative catch-up adjustments included in revenue were as follows (in thousands):
Year Ended April 30,
Gross favorable adjustments
Gross unfavorable adjustments
For the year ended April 30, 2020, favorable cumulative catch-up adjustments of $2.2 million were primarily due to final cost adjustments on 13 contracts. During the year ended April 30, 2020, we revised our estimates of the total expected costs to complete a design and development agreement. The aggregate impact of these adjustments in contract estimates on revenue related to performance obligations satisfied or partially satisfied in previous periods was an increase to revenue of approximately $1.1 million. For the same period, unfavorable cumulative catch-up adjustments of $2.0 million were primarily related to higher than expected costs on seven contracts. During the year ended April 30, 2020, we revised our estimates of the total expected costs to complete a tactical missile systems contract. The aggregate impact of these adjustments in contract estimates on revenue related to performance obligations satisfied or partially satisfied in previous periods was a decrease to revenue of approximately $1.4 million.
For the year ended April 30, 2019, favorable cumulative catch up adjustments of $1.2 million were primarily due to final cost adjustments on nine contracts, which individually were not material. For the same period, unfavorable cumulative catch up adjustments of $1.3 million were primarily related to higher than expected costs on 14 contracts, which individually were not material.
For the year ended April 30, 2018, favorable cumulative catch up adjustments of $1.6 million were primarily due to final cost adjustments on nine contracts, which individually were not material. For the same period, unfavorable cumulative catch up adjustments of $2.3 million were primarily related to higher than expected costs on six contracts. During the year ended April 30, 2018, we revised our estimates of the total expected costs to complete a tactical missile systems variant contract. The aggregate impact of these adjustments in contract estimates on revenue related to performance obligations satisfied or partially satisfied in previous periods was a decrease to revenue of approximately $1.3 million.
Inventories Reserves for Excess and Obsolescence
Our policy for valuation of inventory, including the determination of obsolete or excess inventory, requires us to perform a detailed assessment of inventory at each balance sheet date, which includes a review of, among other factors, an estimate of future demand for products within specific time horizons, valuation of existing inventory, as well as product lifecycle and product development plans. Inventory reserves are also provided to cover risks arising from slow-moving items. We write down our inventory for estimated obsolescence or unmarketable inventory equal to the difference between the cost of inventory and the estimated net realizable value based on assumptions about future demand and market conditions and record to cost of sales. We may be required to record additional inventory write-downs if actual market conditions are less favorable than those projected by our management.
Intangible Assets – Acquired in Business Combinations
We perform valuations of assets acquired and liabilities assumed on each acquisition accounted for as a business combination and allocate the purchase price of each acquired business to our respective net tangible and intangible assets. Acquired intangible assets include: technology, in-process research and development, customer relationships, trademarks and tradenames, and non-compete agreements. We use valuation techniques to value these intangibles assets, with the primary technique being a discounted cash flow analysis. A discounted cash flow analysis requires us to make various assumptions and estimates including projected revenue, gross margins, operating costs, growth rates, useful lives and discount rates. Intangible assets are amortized over their estimated useful lives using the straight-line method which approximates the pattern in which the economic benefits are consumed.
Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of an acquired entity over the fair value of the acquired net assets. We test goodwill for impairment annually during the fourth quarter of the Company’s fiscal year or when events or circumstances change in a manner that indicates goodwill might be impaired. Events or circumstances that could trigger an impairment review include, but are not limited to, a significant adverse change in legal factors or in the business or political climate, an adverse action or assessment by a regulator, unanticipated competition, a loss of key personnel, significant changes in the manner of the Company’s use of the acquired assets or the strategy for the Company’s overall business, significant negative industry or ec