Bittium has identified a number of business, market and finance related risk factors and uncertainties that can affect the level of sales and profits.
In the ongoing financial period, global economic uncertainty may affect the demand for Bittium´s services, solutions and products and provide pressure on e.g. pricing. In the short term such uncertainty may affect, in particular, the utilization and chargeability levels and average hourly prices of R&D services. Growing political uncertainty may also affect the demand for Bittium´s services, solutions and products and the price competitiveness in the different geographical areas.
Bittium's customer base includes, among others, companies operating in the field of telecommunication, defense and other authorities, as well as companies delivering products to them, the company is exposed to market changes in these industries.
In October 2016, Bittium has received information according to which significant customer cooperation with a global mobile network equipment manufacturer will reduce during the year 2017. A significant part of Bittium´s net sales has accumulated from selling R&D services to this mobile communications equipment manufacturer. The termination of customer cooperation will have a negative effect on Bittium´s net sales and operating result in 2017. A significant part of Bittium´s net sales still accumulates from selling products and R&D services to defense and other authorities, as well as companies delivering products to them. Deviation in anticipated business development with such customer concentrations may translate as a significant deviation in the Bittium's outlook, both in terms of net sales and operating result, during the ongoing financial period and thereafter.
Bittium seeks to expand its customer base on a longer term and reduce dependence on individual companies and hence the company would thereby be mainly affected by the general business climate in the industries of the companies belonging to Bittium´s customer base instead of the development of individual customer relationships. The more specific market outlook has been presented in the Half Year Financial Report in the "Market outlook" section.
Business related risks
Bittium's operative business risks are mainly related to following items: uncertainties and short visibility on customers' product program decisions, their make or buy decisions and on the other hand, their decisions to continue, downsize or terminate current product programs, execution and management of large customer projects, ramping up and down project resources, availability of personnel in labor markets, accessibility on commercially acceptable terms and on the other hand successful utilization of the most important technologies and components, competitive situation and potential delays in the markets, timely closing of customer and supplier contracts with reasonable commercial terms, delays in R&D projects, realization of expected return on capitalized R&D investments, obsolescence of inventories and technology risks in product development causing higher than planned R&D costs, and risks related to the ramp-up of product manufacturing. Revenues expected to come from either existing or new products and customers include normal timing risks. Bittium has certain significant customer projects and deviation in their expected continuation could result also significant deviations in the company's outlook. The information received by Bittium about the termination of significant customer cooperation with a global mobile network equipment manufacturer during 2017 will have a negative effect on Bittium´s net sales and operating result in 2017. In addition there are typical industry warranty and liability risks involved in selling Bittium´s services, solutions and products.
Bittium's product delivery business model faces such risks as high dependency on actual product volumes, timing risks and potential delays in the markets. The above-mentioned risks may manifest themselves as lower amounts of products delivered or higher costs of production, and ultimately, as lower profit. Bringing Bittium´s products to international defense and other authorities markets may take longer than anticipated because the projects are typically long and the purchasing programs are prepared in the lead of national governments and within the available financing. Once a supplier has been selected, product deliveries are typically executed over several years.
Some of Bittium's businesses operate in industries that are heavily reliant on patent protection and therefore face risks related to management of intellectual property rights, on the one hand related to accessibility on commercially acceptable terms of certain technologies in the Bittium´s products and services, and on the other hand related to an ability to protect technologies that Bittium develops or licenses from others from claims that third parties' intellectual property rights are infringed. Additionally, parties outside of the industries operate actively in order to protect and commercialize their patents and therefore in their part increase the risks related to the management of intellectual property rights. At worst, claims that third parties' intellectual property rights are infringed, could lead to substantial liabilities for damages. In addition, the progress of the customer projects and delivery capability may be also affected by potential challenges in global accessibility of key technologies and components on commercially acceptable terms, as well as by the acceptance of the necessary export licenses. The company changed its name to Bittium Corporation as of July 1, 2015 and started using the new trademark. The registration and the use of the new trademark can include customary risks involved in taking in use a new trademark.
Global economic uncertainty may lead to payment delays, increase the risk for credit losses and weaken the availability and terms of financing. To fund its operations, Bittium relies mainly on income from its operative business and may from time to time seek additional financing from selected financial institutions. Currently Bittium has a committed overdraft credit facility agreement of EUR 10.0 million with Nordea Bank Finland Plc and a committed overdraft credit facility agreement of EUR 10.0 million with Pohjola Bank Plc. From these agreements intended for general financing purposes, EUR 10.0 million are valid until December 31, 2018 and EUR 10.0 million until December 31, 2019. These agreements include customary covenants related to, among other things, equity ratio, transferring property and pledging. There is no assurance that additional financing will not be needed in case of clearly weaker than expected development of Bittium's businesses. Customer dependency in some parts of Bittium's business may translate as an accumulation of risk with respect to outstanding receivables and ultimately with respect to credit losses.