ParkerVision 2010Q3 Conf Call
November 9, 2010
Bob (Robert) Cohen with Western International
Peter Massaniso of Ponte Verde Partners
Robert Cannon from Cannon Capital
Ira Nathan from Nathan Financial
Robert Brown of Brill Securities
Operator: Good day, everyone. Welcome to the ParkerVision Inc.'s third quarter 2010 conference call and webcast. Today's conference is being recorded and all listeners are in a listener‑only mode. Following the presentation, we will open up the conference call for questions and answers. The company has requested that questions and answers be limited to one question and one follow‑up per caller. As is it now time for opening remarks and introductions, I would now like to turn the conference to Ron Stabiner, the Wall Street Group. Please go ahead, sir.
Ron Stabiner: Thank you, Mimi. Good afternoon and thank you for joining us. Before we get started, I would like to remind listeners that this conference call will contain forward‑looking statements which involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties about our business and the economy and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from our expected achievements and anticipated results. Included in these factors is the ability to maintain technological advantages in the marketplace, the ability to increase manufacturing capacity to meet demands, achieving timely market introduction and acceptance of product, maintaining our patent protections, and the availability of capital, among others.
Given these uncertainties and other factors for our business, listeners are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward‑looking statement contained within this conference call. Additional materials concerning these and other risks can be found in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
On today's call, we will hear first from Cindy Poelhman, chief financial officer of ParkerVision, who will provide a view of the company's third quarter and nine‑month results. She will be followed by Jeffery Parker, chief executive officer of the company, who will provide an update on the business of the company.
With that, I will now turn the call over to Cindy. Please go ahead.
Cindy Poelhman: Thank you, Ron. Welcome to those of you joining us today for ParkerVision's third quarter conference call. Today we reported a $4 million, or 10 cent per share, net loss for the third quarter of 2010. This compares to a $5.8 million, or seven cent per share, net loss for the same quarter last year.
Operating expenses for the third quarter this year were approximately 30%, or $1.7 million less, than the same quarter last year.
The nine‑month period ended September 30, 2010. We reported a net loss of $11.7 million, or 28 cents per share, compared to $16.6 million, or 53 cents per share, for the same period last year.
Our year‑to‑date operating expenses were nearly $5 million, or 29% less, than the same period last year.
Our internal decision earlier this year to focus our efforts on the completely and delivery of an additional product with our baseband partner enabled us to reduce operating expenses and cash usage company‑wide.
We ended September with approximately $5 million in cash and short‑term investments. We used an average of $2.6 million in cash per quarter for operations so far in 2010. This represents a 26% reduction for cash used for operations during the same period of 2009.
Last week we closed the register of direct offering of common stock and warrants that resulted in net proceeds for the company of approximately $3.9 million after the deduction of placement agencies and other operating expenses.
We believe that this is absolutely the appropriate time to bolster our balance sheet as we prepare for the receipt and fulfillment of orders for our RF chipsets. We're also in discussion with commercial banks on obtaining more traditional forms of working capital financing to bridge any gaps between the production of components for an order and the collection of the related receivables.
I think now would be a good time to turn things over to our CEO Jeff Parker for a business update. Jeff?
Jeffrey Parker: Thank you, Cindy. Thanks for joining us today for our third quarter conference call update. Our last update was held shortly after we announced our first mobile handset design win. In that update we outlined the key steps that we expected would occur in order to move our design win into an initial order and the start of a production ramp. Our belief was that those steps would be completed by the end of this year, and that belief remains unchanged. As Cindy has just updated you, we've very carefully managed our dollars this year. While we've been able to reduce our use of cash from last year by 26%, our product development team's focus has enabled us to achieve great progress in readying our D2P 3G product for mass production handsets.
We are currently in the testing process and we're on target to soon deliver our product to the handset OEM, which will enable them to verify that our D2P product delivers in their handset design the performance that we promised.
We then expect that they will move forward and release an initial order to our baseband partner, who has committed to place a 1‑million‑unit blanket purchase order with us. We expect this milestone to be achieved yet this year, and with this order will come the start of our volume production ramp and the shipment of D2P cell phone components.
As you've seen, we recently completed an equity offering resulting in approximately $4 million of additional cash to the company's balance sheet. Our cash, along with credit that we believe could be obtained from traditional debt financing, will give us sufficient working capital to support the transition of this first design win into a product order and an initial production ramp.
While I am not enthusiastic about the dilution from this latest financing, I am even less enthusiastic about the opportunity cost of not being able to properly support our first design win, and all of the efforts that have gone into getting us this far. And so I am hopeful the rapid revenue growth will ultimately overcome dilution.
In terms of the financial opportunities based on our target market, the revenue and the unit volume growth from these markets continues to verify that the market we have targeted remains healthy and full of opportunities.
3G handset growth remains strong, and it appears that this will continue into the foreseeable future. Our baseband partner has been enjoying very good growth this year, and their 3G baseband product line that our component interfaces to has had a significant number of design wins for phone models in Asia and North America.
Our baseband partner continues to counsel us that a successful execution of our first design win paves the way for the rapid adoption by their broader customer base.
I think this might be a good time to review briefly just how far we've progressed over the last year. At this time last year, we completed handsets that were based on a reference design supplied by our baseband partner. Those handsets were used to verify that our d2p technology installed in the small form factor of the phone would still provide the power and efficiency and the performance that is required to make our product an attractive offering.
It was a step that was necessary in order to be taken seriously by significant handset OEMs that our baseband partner thought would be good candidates for a new offering. It was their belief that the successful results from the sample phone would enable our first design win, which it did. And the success in the first design win will enable multiple design wins thereafter.
This process has been a typical continuum of preparing a new and compelling cell phone component for introduction to the market, and each step is leading to a production launch and revenue growth in the world's fastest‑growing, largest‑volume consumer product market.
Some have asked me if this progress or this process over the past couple of years is exactly as I would have expected. I'm reminded of a sailor's adage: when you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.
Our mission is to get the boat we call ParkerVision launched in a way that will ultimately provide an outsized return on both our investment in time and dollars. We have developed a compelling technology and an exciting initial 3G cell phone component. We own all of our technology. And I still don't see a viable competitive offering on the horizon that converges the benefits that we deliver.
Additionally, we have great partners that are working closely with us on our product launch. So I look forward to the successful completion of our first design win, turning into the release of an order. This would be a nice holiday present for both those of us inside the company that have been working so hard to launch our technology in cell phones, as well as our many investor supporters.
So now, I think I'd like to open this call for your questions, please.
Operator: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question as this time, please press star then one on your touchtone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue, please press the pound key. Again, if you have a question at this time, please press star then one. We'll wait a few seconds.
I'm showing our first question comes from Robert Cohen of Western International. Your line is open.
Robert Cohen: Yeah, Jeff. I've got a question.
Jeff Parker: Hi, Rob.
Robert Cohen: Hi. You're in the hottest sector of the stock market technology that we probably have ever seen in many, many years, with smartphones, the whole nine yards. There's no secret that people want more battery life. You just said that you're the only company to date that can deliver this kind of technology and there's no one else out there even remotely close. The question is, why is it, it still has to be this huge secret where the only one we can ask about it is you. Your stock is at 50 cents, 47 cents, it's an absolute disaster, and we think it's time that you be able to show us, the shareholders, without the secrecy, what it is you've really got. Other than just hearing it from you, we want to hear it from this great baseband partner that keeps designs wins. But you're not getting these design wins and we don't know who your baseband partner is.
You know? You can't keep running this company based off what the shorts are doing to you. It's time to show the shorts that they're wrong. I want to know what you can do show us that what you have is real and take that part of the equation off it so that all we are concerned about is waiting for this order to come through.
Jeff Parker: OK, so let's take your question. You question, I think, Bob, is what can I do, what can the company do to show you guys that the technology is real or is ‑ give me just a little bit more visibility on the question.
Robert Cohen: No, we think we believe the technology is real, but we only know that from you. We can't just read the whitepapers, we want to be able to talk to people. You now have something that supposedly no one else has in RF. We need to be able to start talking about.
Jeff Parker: OK. Look, I believe that once we get our order up and this product starts to ‑ I can't tell you whether it's going to be the order itself that will trigger the point where we'll be able to start talking about one or both of these confidential relationships. Or if will be the shipment of the first handsets, or something between those two points. But I do believe that somewhere in that range there will come the opportunity and the likelihood that we'll be able to start talking about one or more of these relationships.
We have, you know, over the last couple of years done some financings with several different banking firms, each of whom has spoken with the baseband partner. Usually our IP counsel reviewed our contracts. So while they certainly can't reveal confidential information, they can certainly verify and have verified that the public statements we've made are accurate and represented correctly.
So, look, I look forward to that day when I can be more free in talking about who our partners are. One last comment. Unfortunately I don't think you'll find in this particular market space ‑ which is, as you pointed out, a very valuable sector. I don't think you'll find lots and lots of enthusiasm for people who are developing new relationships with new technologies and new products putting out public information regarding who they're working with, what they're doing, and what competitive advantages they're trying to create for themselves.
Robert Cohen: What would you say ‑ this is my last point. What would say, Jeff, that you just raised $4 million, you were attempting to raise $7 million, is what the statement said in the filing, I guess. And the fact that you had to use a third‑tier firm - why couldn't you have went back to some of these better firms, at least, to raise the money? Why would have had to go to a third tier if you're that close and you're ex‑partners or the people you raised money with talked to the companies you've been dealing with. I would imagine they would imagine they would have been jumping on the bandwagon to do another deal with you. Why did you have to a go to a third tier?
Cindy: Rob, this is Cindy. Let me answer the first part of your question about the amounts, and then I'll let Jeff chime in as far as the firm that we used. The $7 million that you're referring to, I'm assuming it's coming from our filing, which was our initial limit that was set in terms of ourengagement. Any time you enter into an engagement to sell securities under a shelf, you have to establish a limit for FINRA purposes.
Certainly our tendency in this case was to set that limit higher than we anticipated, because you can always decide to go lower. The amount that we ultimately raised was the amount that management and our board thought was appropriate given the market conditions, given our desire to maintain a certain quality of investors, and given our near‑term capital needs.
So that $7 million really doesn't have any particular meaning. And maybe, Jeff, you want to address the firm that we selected and why worked with those guys?
Jeff Parker: Sure. Look, the firm that we selected was really chosen based on ‑ if I've got any experience in selecting firms that help us, if I could look back on that, I would say the single most important thing that I look for in partnering up with a banking firm, it isn't what tier they are, it isn't what they've done for other companies, it's how closely are they aligned with the needs that you have at the time. And I know some of the folks at Hudson, I think they're stand‑up folks. I've seen them do some very good things in their career. And the thing that I asked them for was could they make introductions ‑ this goes back several months ago - could they make introductions to a number of quality funds that were completely new to the ParkerVision story. And I tasked them with showing me that they had the reach to be able to take us to quality, long‑term oriented funds that invest in this type of opportunity.
And then the several months that I worked with them, I think they did a very good job of that, and they started to gain some investor interest. I was very pleased with the caliber that they put us in front off.
So when we decided that we had a need to raise some additional capital, and we already had that foundation in place with Hudson, they were able to go off, do the traditional due diligence that bankers need to do, verify what they need to verify. And quite frankly, I was very pleased with the results of what they helped us with.
It's unfortunate ‑ look, the stock price and where we're at is as painful to me as to anybody. Do I like the dilution? I hated the dilution. But as I said in my comments earlier, I hate the opportunity cost even more of having come all this way and finally being on the doorstep of launching and not having a balance sheet that I think is what's going to be required to support the order and move on.
So, if you look at the lead investor that they brought in ‑ and they did that. Special Situations. I think they did a very good job for us, and I think that the other investors who aren't named, but I can tell you are very long‑term oriented, solid-type investors. So I think they did a good job for us.
Robert Cohen: So the lead investor was Special Situations?
Jeff Parker: That's correct.
Robert Cohen: All right. OK.
Jeff Parker: Rob, thanks for you questions. Those were good questions.
Robert Cohen: Sure.
Jeff Parker: Next question, please.
Operator: Thank you. The next question comes from Peter Massaniso of Ponte Verde Partners. Your line is open.
Peter Massaniso: Hi, Jeff, how are you?
Jeff Parker: Hi, Peter. Fine, thank you.
Peter Massaniso: I'm wondering a couple things. One, with this technology that you've had really, I guess, for a good year and half or so ‑ whether you can talk about this. Whether you've been approached by potential strategic partners who, with stronger marketing and lots of capital, could make your life easier, even though you might have... You just had to give up basically 25% or 30% of the company for $4 million. So we're reaching that point where that might be a viable choice if it's available. Can you talk about that at all?
Jeff Parker: Yeah, I can. I think that ‑‑ investors have asked me recently, and even over the previous period of time of a year or two years, can we expect to see a strategic investor or investors at some point in this company. And from my perspective, I think it will become much more realistic and a good fit with what I think investors are hoping to see and what I think a strategic investor is willing to do once ParkerVision has a little bit more of a wind at its back.
The wind at its back in my definition is when we've converted the technology into product that's then accepted by a handset firm and it's really a product story now, and not a technology and development story.
That will enable strategic people to take a look at what we have in a very different way. They'll be able to look at it in a business perspective that's more centric than a technology and analysis perspective. Which is fine, it's a very lengthy process. It involves lots and lots of time.
I think it's a good question, Peter, but I think our time is coming in the near future for that, versus kind of where we've been.
Peter Massaniso: OK. My follow‑up has to do with, I would like you to comment on a thought I've had over the last couple of weeks. And that is, with the passage of time, I just want to be assured that the technology that you have is still as fabulous as you thought it was when you developed it. With the passage of time, it would seem to me that manufacturing techniques have probably improved so that your edge on cost of manufacturing might have narrowed. And also battery technology has improved, so you're getting more talk time. I know I am on my new devices.
So I just wonder if you could comment on that?
Jeff Parker: Sure. So let's kind of work on the questions you asked from the last one back. From what we've seen in the handset space, especially in the smartphone part of the space, is that the way OEMs have tried to lengthen the talk time is by including much larger batteries. I mean, significantly bigger batteries.
Peter Massaniso: True.
Jeff Parker: And while batteries might have been 800 or 900 or 1,000 milliamp batteries in phones several years ago, we see batteries up to 1,500 milliamp hours, which is a pretty big battery. However if you look at the extension of the battery life that we provide, OK, maybe a 1,500 milliamp battery has extended a 3G talk time on a cell phone from the smaller battery, which was maybe 2.5 to three hours, maybe it's extended it now to four hours or 4.5 hours.
Now we would take that talk time up to like six hours. So we still see that what we bring to the end result is very desirable. And in fact had a conversation with our handset OEM as recent as less than two weeks ago, and one of the questions they were asked was, hey, have you guys seen anything else new on the market coming? No.
"Can you quantify for us where your battery life issues reside in your mind in terms of importance?" And they said to us that battery life in 3G handsets is still if not the top, one of the top problems we're struggling with.
So the handset OEM themselves have, as recent as a couple of weeks ago, this is a still a very, very big issue. And, Peter, you're going to see over the coming year or two or three years, as these networks start to incorporate 4G applications, which are even more power consumptive. Or some phones are going to incorporate multiple 3G transmitters.
This battery life problem, without advances in the radio technology, isn't going to be going away.
Peter Massaniso: Good.
Jeff Parker: As far as does our technology live up to my hope from when we started talking about it earlier, it absolutely does. And the reason is what we've been able to do with our technology has move from the laboratory prototypes now to volume silicon in the form factor that's required to go into small handsets. And when we did that, we preserved all of the value that we were bringing - meaning the performance of the product coincident, at the same time, with the efficiency increases.
What I have not seen in the marketplace is I have not seen quantum leaps in traditional components in improving efficiency. I've seen small little incremental improvements, a few percent here and a few percent there.
So when you look at the kind of saving we bring ‑ I'm talking 50 milliamps, 100 milliamps, 150 milliamps of battery power saving, depending on how close you are to the base station ‑ these are, compared to other power savings devices that OEMS that companies are looking at that are five milliamps of saving, 10 milliamps of savings, you're talking about bringing 10, 15, 20 times that with your technology.
So from my perspective and what I know out there and I see ‑ and I can't represent that I know everything that's going on out there and I see everything. But I do think that we're plugged into this industry, well‑plugged‑in, and we have a good visibility. I don't see anything that's close to delivering the kinds of savings that we deliver.
And so I think, yes, our competitive advantage is still there, and we're anxious to get into shipping handsets.
Peter Massaniso: Thank you.
Jeff Parker: Thank you, Peter.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Robert Cannon from Cannon Capital. Your line is open.
Robert Cannon: Hey, Jeff, how are you?
Jeff Parker: Hi, Rob. Fine, thank you.
Robert Cannon: As opposed to talking about the past and even the present, can we focus a little bit on what 2011 is going to look like, assuming we get the design, the order. Not the design win, the order. What follows up as far as orders going forward with our baseband partner? How many phones are we going to approach? And what are our funding issues going forward as far as do we become self‑funding at some point off of this order or off another? You know?
Jeff Parker: Sure.
Robert Cannon: I don't know if I made myself clear.
Jeff Parker: No, I got that. There's two or three parts to that. Let's start with, I think based on achieving our first order what I think will occur, we've asked this handset OEM how many units they think they'll use in the first year, assuming we meet the expectations that we set for them. And from what I see, that's exactly what we're doing. So they're guidance to us was in the first year they could see us providing them two or three million units. That would certainly be a nice customer to start with when you look at revenue per unit around, let's say, $3 a phone.
The design win opportunities beyond this first handset OEM we think is significant. Our baseband partner has told us that as soon as this first design win is has been turned into an order, then they are fully ready to take us to additional handset OEMs who are their customers, who they think will move as quick or quicker than this first one.
And if you look at how quick this first one has moved ‑ I know it seems like it's been a long time because we're all watching this on a day‑to‑day trading basis on this stock. But let's look at it. By the time we announced our design win, which I believe was some time in July, to let's assume we get an order by the end of this year, that's less than six months for the entire process.
So we'll be starting with other handset OEMs already with components that are in the production ramp and shipping. So I would certainly hope that next year we would expect to see some additional handset OEMs coming on as customers.
And I can't tell you, Rob, that that's one more customer or two more customers or six more customers, but I'm guessing it's probably at least couple more and maybe some multiple of that.
The one thing that the baseband company has cautioned us on is to be careful on taking customer relationships in a way we can properly support, because each good design win experience will generate more design win experiences, and you don't want to get trapped where you've taken on more than you can handle. You can't move forward until you address those issues.
So I think you can see next year, in addition to 2‑3 million units with the first customer, some additional handset OEMs come on board and provide additional design wins. I would say of the same scope of the first customer and potentially significantly larger.
In terms of capital, the investors who came in on this last fundraising, we were very clear, we said this amount of capital is to get us to our production launch, and to be able to support this design win to convert it into an order, and we will need additional capital some time next year.
It's our view that at this point, we really shouldn't focus or obsess on that right now. We should focus and obsess on getting this design win turned into that order. And see where that takes us and how the market responds to that.
We believe and we hope that we've delivered on that commitment, that there will be a number of ways that we can finance this company that hopefully will be much more pleasant than this last financing for all of us. Did that answer your question?
Robert Cannon: You did answer my question. Just one follow‑up. As far as the OEM we're working with now, obviously they have a platform of many phones.
Jeff Parker: Yes.
Robert Cannon: Would be that the first line of business? Would we be going after other lines with that? Would that be faster for us, would that be less money for us? The fact that they know us well now and our product works well in their first order, hopefully?
Jeff Parker: Well, yes. I think that ‑ what they've told us is that their intent is to standardize on our RF for all of the 3G phones that use this baseband partner's 3G baseband. The first year they told us that was 2‑3 million units to get started. Because recognize, they have to design us in and let other things they're currently using kind of run through the inventory. They also told about the second year, that was probably two or three times the first year's amount. So I think this first handset OEM, there's a lot of significant volume that we can do with them.
Where we go from there, I think the quickest additional revenue beyond that opportunity is with other OEMs who are using this baseband partner's exact same baseband, whose phones internally are very similar in terms of how the baseband and the RF are configured. Because it'll be relatively, I think, straightforward for them to design us in, just as we've shown this handset OEM that it's a relatively straightforward process as well.
Robert Cannon: Thanks, Jeff, I appreciate your time.
Jeff Parker: Thank you.
Operator: Again, ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press star then one on your touchtone telephone. Our next question comes from Ira Nathan from Nathan Financial. Your line is open.
Ira Nathan: Hello, Jeff, how are you?
Jeff Parker: Hi, Ira. I'm fine. How are you?
Ira Nathan: Good, thank you. I guess I'm wondering, and I'm making an assumption here, and then I'll follow it up with a question. I assume whoever gave the money in this financing would want to know who the OEM is and who their customers are. Is that a misstatement on my part?
Jeff Parker: I would say that everybody who's invested in ParkerVision wants to know who the OEM and their customers are. But I can tell you that I believe what they relied upon was the due diligence of the banker who spoke with the baseband partner in several conversations and the IP counselor for the intellectual property, and reviewed the contracts. Now, when a banker does that, they are under a confidentiality. They cannot disclose confidential information, but they can certainly verify public statements that the company has made based on that due diligence that they've conducted.
So I believe what the investors relied upon was that the due diligence verified public statements that the company has made.
Ira Nathan: Then wouldn't it be possible for the bank or bankers to verify in a public statement for the rest of the investors in the company to hear?
Jeff Parker: You know, honestly, Ira, I don't know what the ground rules are around that.
Ira Nathan: I'm saying if they can make it the one group, they can make the statement to other shareholders.
Jeff Parker: Honestly, I don't know. But I can tell you this: I would be happy offline to provide you with contact information. You certainly should feel to perhaps contact them directly and ask them yourself that question.
Ira Nathan: OK, thank you.
Jeff Parker: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Robert Brown of Brill Securities. Your line is open.
Robert Brown: Thank you. Jeff, have you delivered your samples to the baseband partner for their tests? And if so, how many samples have you sent over?
Jeff Parker: We're finishing up testing now. We actually won't deliver those to the baseband company. Those actually get delivered directly to the handset firm, the cell phone firm. And it's from that that they will look at our test results, they will do some of their own testing, and they will then see that we've delivered on what we said the product and technology would do. Our expectation is that will then turn into the release of an order.
Robert Brown: When do you think you'll be concluding your own tests?
Jeff Parker: Soon. Look, Bob, the only reason I don't want to give a specific date is I really want to keep this at the level of we see that the track we're on is to get the order before the year is over. We're down to like six or seven weeks in the year. By the time you take holidays out, it's not even that. It's not like we're talking about this in February and there's three and half quarters of possibility here.
Robert Brown: Can you give me the amount of samples you're working with? Or is that confidential too?
Jeff Parker: I'd rather not go into that level of detail, just because it gets into more detail – they’ve told us that they want to move this as quickly as possible. They're going to look at enough samples that they're going to come to the conclusion they need to come to. But hopefully no more than that. They provided us with boards. We've got components. They're being tested. So far I can tell you the testing looks extremely good. I'm very happy with that. My top leaders in terms of the engineering team are very excited about this. This the realization of a long development work for them, and their reputation is going to be attached to this.
So it's going well, Bob. We just need to finish.
Robert Brown: Let me ask you this one question along these lines. When you deliver your samples, are they going to look at every sample or are they going to spot‑check it?
Jeff Parker: That's up to them. I don't know. I can tell you that we're going to provide them with very lengthy test reports, which is what takes us a long time to pull together, that’s what we've been doing. What I'm hoping they'll do ‑ but this is up to them, and that's their call. What I'm hoping they'll do is they'll take these lengthy test reports, they'll go through them, and they'll start selectively checking different areas of these tests and see if the report and the products line up.
And if they do line up, and they will, then I'm hoping that will help them move their process along quickly.
Robert Brown: OK, thank.
Jeff Parker: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Again, ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press start then one on your touchtone telephone.
Jeff Parker: Well, folks...
Operator: OK, I'm showing no further questions at this time. I'll turn the call back to Mr. Parker for any closing remarks.
Jeff Parker: OK. Thank you very much, folks, for listening in. I think we've been pretty clear today on what the goal is before the end of year. That's what we're focused on, and I look forward to bringing you news of that as soon as possible. Thank you and have a good evening.
Operator: That does conclude today's conference. If you with to access archived audio broadcast replay of this call, you can do that by visiting the company's website at www.parkervision.com. Thank you.
Transcription by CastingWords