Northern Technologies International Corporation
NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORP (Form: 10-K, Received: 11/13/2015 17:05:42)

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

______________________________

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark one)

[X] ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2015

 

[_] TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from ________________ to __________________.

 

Commission file number 001-11038

____________________

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

41-0857886

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

4201 Woodland Road

P.O. Box 69

Circle Pines, Minnesota

(Address of principal executive offices)

55014

(Zip Code)

 

(763) 225-6600
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered under Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.02 per share

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

(NASDAQ Global Market)

 

Securities registered under Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. YES ☐ NO ☒

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. YES ☐ NO ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. YES ☒ NO ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). YES ☒ NO ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer ☐ Accelerated filer ☒

Non-accelerated filer ☐

(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

Smaller reporting company ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). YES ☐ NO ☒

 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock, excluding shares beneficially owned by affiliates, computed by reference to the closing sales price at which the common stock was last sold as of February 27, 2015 (the last business day of the registrant’s second fiscal quarter) as reported by the NASDAQ Global Market on that date was $77.1 million.

 

As of November 10, 2015, 4,538,317 shares of common stock of the registrant were outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference information (to the extent specific sections are referred to herein) from the registrant’s Proxy Statement for its 2016 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held January 15, 2016.

 

 

 
 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

 

ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
FISCAL YEAR ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015

 

table of contents

 

Page

 

PART I 1
   
Item 1. BUSINESS 1
   
Item 1A. RISK FACTORS 16
   
Item 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS 32
   
Item 2. PROPERTIES 33
   
Item 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS 33
   
Item 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES 33
   
Item 4A. EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT 34
   
PART II 36
   
Item 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES 36
   
Item 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA 39
   
Item 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS 40
   
Item 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK 60
   
Item 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA 61
   
Item 9. CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING  AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE 89
   
Item 9A. CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES 90
   
Item 9B. OTHER INFORMATION 90
   
PART III 91
   
Item 10. DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE 91
   
Item 11. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION 91
   
Item 12. SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND  MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS 92
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  Page
   
Item 13. CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE 93
   
Item 14. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES 93
   
PART IV 94
   
Item 15. EXHIBITS, FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES 94
   
SIGNATURES 95

 

____________________

 

This annual report on Form 10-K contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. For more information, see “Part I. Item 1. Business – Forward-Looking Statements.”

 

As used in this report, references to “NTIC,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” or “us,” unless the context otherwise requires, refer to Northern Technologies International Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., NTI Facilities, Inc. and Northern Technologies Holding Company, LLC, and its majority-owned subsidiaries, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A., NTI Asean LLC and Natur-Tec India Private Limited, all of which are consolidated on NTIC’s consolidated financial statements.

 

NTIC’s consolidated financial statements do not include the accounts of any of its joint ventures. Except as otherwise indicated, references in this report to NTIC’s joint ventures do not include: (1) NTIC’s majority-owned Brazilian subsidiary, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A.; (2) NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary, NTI Asean LLC, which is a holding company that holds investments in eight entities that operate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, including the following countries: China (although the joint venture agreements for the Chinese joint venture were terminated as of December 31, 2014 and liquidation of this joint venture is anticipated), Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand; or (3) NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary, Northern Technologies India Private Limited, in India.

 

As used in this report, references to “NTIC China” refer to NTIC’s wholly-owned subsidiary in China, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.

 

As used in this report, references to “Tianjin Zerust” refer to NTIC’s former joint venture in China, Tianjin-Zerust Anticorrosion Co., Ltd.

 

As used in this report, references to “Zerust Brazil” refer to NTIC’s majority-owned Brazilian subsidiary, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A.

 

As used in this report, references to “NTI Asean” refer to NTIC’s majority-owned holding company subsidiary, NTI Asean LLC.

 

As used in this report, references to “Natur-Tec India” refer to NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary in India, Natur-Tec India Private Limited.

 

As used in this report, references to “EXCOR” refer to NTIC’s joint venture in Germany, Excor Korrosionsschutz – Technologien und Produkte GmbH.

 

All trademarks, trade names or service marks referred to in this report are the property of their respective owners.

 

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PART I

 

Item 1. BUSINESS

 

Overview

 

Northern Technologies International Corporation (NTIC) develops and markets proprietary environmentally beneficial products and services in over 60 countries either directly or via a network of subsidiaries, joint ventures, independent distributors and agents. NTIC’s primary business is corrosion prevention marketed mainly under the ZERUST® brand. NTIC has been selling its proprietary ZERUST® products and services to the automotive, electronics, electrical, mechanical, military and retail consumer markets for over 40 years, and in recent years, has targeted and expanded into the oil and gas industry. NTIC also markets and sells a portfolio of biobased and compostable (fully biodegradable) polymer resins and finished products under the Natur-Tec® brand. These products are intended to reduce NTIC’s customers’ carbon footprint and provide environmentally sound waste disposal options.

 

NTIC’s ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products include plastic and paper packaging, liquids and coatings, rust removers and cleaners, diffusers and also engineered solutions designed specifically for the oil and gas industry. NTIC also offers worldwide on-site technical consulting for rust and corrosion prevention issues. NTIC’s technical service consultants work directly with the end users of NTIC’s ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products to analyze their specific needs and develop systems to meet their technical requirements. In North America, NTIC sells its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions through a direct sales force as well as a network of independent distributors and agents. Internationally, NTIC sells its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions through its wholly-owned subsidiary in China, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (NTIC China), its majority-owned joint venture holding company for NTIC’s joint venture investments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, its majority-owned subsidiary in Brazil, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A. (Zerust Brazil) and joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia.

 

One of NTIC’s strategic initiatives is to expand into and penetrate other markets for its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions. Consequently, for the past several years, NTIC has focused sales and marketing efforts on the oil and gas industry, as the infrastructure that supports that industry is typically constructed using metals that are highly susceptible to corrosion. NTIC believes that its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions will minimize maintenance downtime on critical oil and gas industry infrastructure, extend the life of such infrastructure and reduce the risk of environmental pollution due to corrosion leaks.

 

NTIC markets and sells its ZERUST® rust and corrosion prevention solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry across several countries either directly, through its subsidiaries or through its joint venture partners and other strategic partners. The sale of ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry typically involves a long sales cycle, often including a one- to multi-year trial period with each customer and a slow integration process thereafter.

 

Natur-Tec® biobased and compostable plastics are manufactured using NTIC’s patented and/or proprietary technologies and are intended to replace conventional petroleum-based plastics. The Natur-Tec® biopolymer resin compound portfolio includes formulations that have been optimized for a variety of applications including blown-film extrusion, extrusion coating, injection molding, and engineered plastics. These resins are fully biodegradable in a composting environment and are currently being used to produce finished products including can liners, shopping and grocery bags, lawn and leaf bags, pet waste collection bags, cutlery, packaging foam and coated paper products. In North America, NTIC markets its Natur-Tec® resins and finished products primarily through a network of regional and national distributors as well as independent agents. NTIC continues to see significant opportunities for finished bioplastic products and, therefore, continues to strengthen and expand its North American distribution network for finished Natur-Tec® bioplastic products. Internationally, NTIC sells its Natur-Tec® resins and finished products both directly and through its majority-owned subsidiary in India, Natur-Tec India Private Limited (Natur-Tec India), and through certain joint ventures. In November 2014, NTIC entered into an agreement with NatureWorks LLC for joint marketing and sales of Ingeo® based packaging solutions to customers in India. With recent Indian government mandates banning use of non-biodegradable plastics in certain types of food and consumer packaging, NTIC expects the market in India for bioplastic packaging solutions to grow substantially.

 

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Termination of Chinese Joint Venture

 

On January 2, 2015, NTIC announced that, effective as of December 31, 2014, it is selling its ZERUST® products and services in China through a wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (NTIC China), and has terminated its joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust Anticorrosion Co., Ltd. (Tianjin Zerust).  NTIC and NTI Asean LLC have filed a lawsuit against Mr. Tao Meng, a Chinese national and the former joint venture entity’s other shareholder, and his spouse in the Chinese court of Tianjin, seeking, among other things, an orderly liquidation of Tianjin Zerust.

 

NTIC indirectly has a 30% ownership interest in Tianjin Zerust through its 60% owned holding company subsidiary, NTI Asean LLC.  Commencing during the second quarter of fiscal 2015, NTIC’s consolidated financial statements include the financial results of NTIC China.  NTIC anticipates that it may take several quarters to transition many of the previous customers of Tianjin Zerust to NTIC China and no assurance can be provided that NTIC China will be able to achieve the net sales and income levels previously achieved by Tianjin Zerust.   For fiscal 2014, Tianjin Zerust had net sales of $15.9 million and net income of $1.3 million.  (The operating income of the joint venture before paying royalties in an aggregate amount of $4.2 million to all shareholders was over $5.5 million) NTIC’s indirect ownership of Tianjin Zerust is 30%.

 

During fiscal 2015, NTIC incurred approximately $1,640,000 in start-up expenses related either directly or indirectly to the establishment of NTIC China, the termination of the joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust, the pending litigation against Mr. Tao Meng and his spouse and Cortec Corporation, and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust. These expenses are recorded as selling, general and administrative expenses and expenses incurred in support of joint ventures on the consolidated statements of operations.

 

NTIC expects its operating results may be volatile over the next few quarters as a result of NTIC’s Chinese operations.  In particular, because of the lack of financial and other information received from Tianjin Zerust, it is possible that receipt of future financial and other information from Tianjin Zerust may impact the realization of NTIC’s investment in and realization of a receivable from Tianjin Zerust. The last time NTIC received financial information from Tianjin Zerust was through November 2014.  NTIC, as of August 31, 2015, does not believe there are any triggering events that would require an impairment test.  NTIC’s current net investment is approximately $1.1 million, which is 60% of its investment in Tianjin Zerust, which was $1,883,668 as of August 31, 2015.  NTIC will continue to evaluate the realization of this asset on an ongoing basis and adjust if necessary.

 

NTIC’s Joint Venture Network

 

NTIC participates in 19 active joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia. Each of these joint ventures generally manufactures and markets products in the geographic territory to which it is assigned. While most of NTIC’s joint ventures exclusively sell rust and corrosion inhibiting products, some of the joint ventures also sell NTIC’s Natur-Tec® resin compounds. NTIC has historically funded its investments in joint ventures with cash generated from operations.

 

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The following table sets forth a list of NTIC’s operating joint ventures as of November 10, 2015, the country in which the joint venture is organized and NTIC’s ownership percentage in each joint venture:

 

Joint Venture Name

Country

NTIC Percent (%) Ownership

TAIYONIC LTD. Japan 50%
ACOBAL SAS France 50%
ZERUST-NIC (TAIWAN) CORP. Taiwan (1) 30%

EXCOR KORROSIONSSCHUTZ – TECHNOLOGIEN UND PRODUKTE GMBH

Germany

50%

ZERUST SINGAPORE PTE. LTD Singapore (1) 60%
ZERUST AB Sweden 50%
MOSTNIC-ZERUST Russia 50%
KOREA ZERUST CO., LTD. South Korea (1) 30%
ZERUST OY Finland 50%
ZERUST (U.K.) LTD. United Kingdom 50%
EXCOR-ZERUST S.R.O. Czech Republic 50%
EXCOR SP. Z.O.O. Poland 50%
ZERUST SPECIALTY TECH CO. LTD. Thailand (1) 30%
CHONG WAH-NTIA SDN. BHD. Malaysia (1) 30%
NTIA ZERUST PHILIPPINES, INC. Philippines (1) 30%
ZERUST A.Ş. Turkey 50%
ZERUST CONSUMER PRODUCTS, LLC United States 50%
ZERUST – DNEPR Ukraine 50%
PT. CHEMINDO – NTIA Indonesia (1) 30%

____________________

 

(1) Indirect ownership interest through NTI Asean.

 

NTIC’s receipt of funds from its joint ventures is dependent upon fees for services that NTIC provides to its joint ventures, based primarily on the net sales of the individual joint ventures, and NTIC’s receipt of dividend distributions from the joint ventures. The fees for services provided to joint ventures are determined based on either a flat fee or a percentage of sales depending on local laws and tax regulations. With respect to NTIC’s joint venture in Germany (EXCOR), NTIC recognizes an agreed upon quarterly fee for such services. NTIC recognizes equity income from its joint ventures based on the overall profitability of its joint ventures. Such profitability is subject to variability from quarter to quarter which, in turn, subjects NTIC’s earnings to variability from quarter to quarter. The profits of NTIC’s joint ventures are shared by the respective joint venture owners in accordance with their respective ownership percentages. NTIC typically directly or indirectly owns 50% or less of each of its joint venture entities and thus does not control the decisions of these entities regarding whether to pay dividends and, if paid, how much they should be in a given year. The payment of a dividend by an entity is determined by a joint vote of the owners and is not at the sole discretion of NTIC.

 

NTIC accounts for the investments and financial results of its joint ventures in its financial statements utilizing the equity method of accounting.

 

The results of Zerust Brazil, NTI Asean and Natur-Tec India, and as of December 31, 2014, NTIC China, are fully consolidated in NTIC’s consolidated financial statements. NTIC holds 85% of the equity and 85% of the voting rights of Zerust Brazil. NTIC holds 60% of the equity and 60% of the voting rights of NTI Asean. NTI Asean holds investments in eight entities that operate in the following eight territories located in the ASEAN region: China (although liquidation was initiated December 31, 2014), Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. NTIC holds 90% of the equity and 90% of the voting rights of Natur-Tec India. NTIC China is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTIC.

 

Sales by NTIC’s joint ventures are not included in the net sales of NTIC.

 

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NTIC considers EXCOR, Natur-Tec India and its former joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust, to be individually significant to NTIC’s consolidated assets and income; and therefore, provides certain additional information regarding EXCOR, Natur-Tec India and Tianjin Zerust in the notes to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements and in this section of this report.

 

For more information regarding NTIC’s joint ventures and their effect on NTIC’s operating results, see NTIC’s consolidated financial statements in “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” and “Part II. Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this report.

 

Products

 

NTIC derives revenues directly and/or indirectly through its subsidiaries and joint ventures from the following two reportable business segments based on products sold, customer base and distribution center:

 

ZERUST ® Corrosion Prevention Solutions . In fiscal 2015, 85.9% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from developing, manufacturing and marketing ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services.  NTIC’s consolidated net sales in fiscal 2015 included $26,042,909 in sales of ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services, an increase of 9.2% over such sales in fiscal 2014. Corrosion not only damages the appearance of metal products and components but also negatively impacts their mechanical performance.  This applies to the rusting of ferrous metals (iron and steel) and the deterioration by oxidation of nonferrous metals (aluminum, copper, brass, etc.).  NTIC’s ZERUST ® corrosion prevention solutions include plastic and paper packaging, powders, liquids, coatings, rust removers, cleaners, diffusers and engineered solutions for the oil and gas industry, as well as technical corrosion management and consulting services.

 

Plastic and Paper Packaging .  NTIC’s ZERUST ® packaging products contain proprietary chemical formulations that continuously release an invisible and odorless, corrosion inhibiting vapor that passivates metal surfaces and thereby inhibits rust and corrosion.  The corrosion-inhibiting protection is maintained as long as the metal products to be protected remain enclosed within the ZERUST ® packaging.  Electron scanning shows that once the contents are removed from the ZERUST ® package, the ZERUST ® protection dissipates from the contents’ surfaces within two hours, leaving a clean, dry and corrosion-free metal component.  This mechanism of corrosion protection enables NTIC’s customers to easily package metal objects for rust-free shipment or long-term storage.  Furthermore, by eliminating costly greasing and degreasing processes and/or significantly reducing the use of certain coatings to inhibit corrosion, NTIC’s ZERUST ® corrosion prevention solutions provide customers significant savings in labor, material and capital expenditures for equipment to apply, remove and dispose of oils and greases, as well as the attendant environmental problems, as compared to traditional methods of corrosion prevention.

 

NTIC developed the first means of infusing volatile corrosion inhibiting chemical systems (VCIs) into polyethylene and polypropylene resins.  Combining ZERUST ® chemical systems with polyethylene and polypropylene resins permitted NTIC to introduce a line of plastic packaging products in the form of low and high density polyethylene bags and shroud film, including stretch, shrink, skin and bubble cushioning film, thereby giving packaging engineers an opportunity to ship and store ferrous, nonferrous and mixed-metal products in a clean, dry and corrosion-free condition, with an attendant overall savings in total process costs.  In addition to plastic packaging, NTIC has developed additives to imbue kraft paper, corrugated cardboard, solid fiber and chipboard packaging materials with corrosion protection properties.  NTIC’s ZERUST ® plastic and paper packaging products come in various thicknesses, strength enhancements, protection types, shapes and sizes. This product line also includes items such as ZERUST ® gun cases, car covers and tool-drawer liners, which are targeted at retail consumers.

 

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Liquids and Coatings .  NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions include a line of metal surface treatment liquids and coatings, which are oil, water and bio-solvent based, marketed under brand names including Axxatec , Axxanol and Z-Maxx .  These liquids and coatings provide powerful corrosion protection in aggressive environments, such as salt air and humidity at high temperatures.  Products are formulated for most metal types and protection levels. Customers use a combination of NTIC’s liquids and coatings with ZERUST ® plastic and paper products to achieve robust corrosion protection during manufacturing, shipping and warehousing stages.

 

Rust Removers and Cleaners .  NTIC also sells rust removal and cleaning products designed to restore rusty parts to a usable condition by replacing labor-intensive, abrasive cleaners that damage surfaces and commonly fail to remove rust from complex metal surfaces like the teeth of small gears under the Axxaclean brand name.

 

Diffusers .  NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions include a line of corrosion inhibiting vapor diffusers, such as ZERUST ® ActivPak ® , ZERUST ® ICT ® Vapor Capsules, ZERUST ® ICT ® Plastabs ® and ZERUST ® ICT ® Cor-Tabs ® , ZERUST ® ICT ® Pipe Strip and ZERUST ® ICT ® Tube Strip.  These diffusers are designed to protect metals within enclosures, like switch gearboxes and electronic cabinets, or can be used as added protection to ZERUST ® packaging products.  Diffusers work by permeating the interior air of an enclosure with an invisible and odorless corrosion inhibiting vapor that protects nearby metal surfaces that are within a specific “radius of protection” for a period of one or two years depending on the model.  This invisible and dry protective layer revaporizes upon removal of the capsule from the enclosure, leaving all surfaces clean, dry, residue-free and corrosion-free. 

 

Z-CIS ® Technical Services .  As an on-going effort to help NTIC’s customers improve and control their processes in terms of corrosion management, NTIC markets and offers unique corrosion management and consulting services to target customers.  This ZERUST ® corrosion inhibition system (known as Z-CIS ® ) utilizes NTIC’s global experience in successful corrosion management control.  Services and consulting are billed according to work done on the customer’s behalf to improve the customer’s internal and external corrosion control systems.  Several major automotive companies and their automotive parts suppliers have used NTIC’s Z-CIS ® system.

 

ZERUST ® Corrosion Prevention Solutions Designed Specifically for the Oil and Gas Industry .  NTIC has developed proprietary engineered corrosion inhibiting solutions specifically for the mitigation of corrosion of the types of capital assets used in the petroleum and chemical process industries and has targeted the sale of these ZERUST ® corrosion solutions to potential customers in the oil and gas industry.   NTIC’s consolidated net sales in fiscal 2015 included $1,886,814 in sales made to customers in the oil and gas industry, an increase of 10.9% over such sales in fiscal 2014. The infrastructure that supports the oil and gas industry is predominantly constructed using metals that are highly susceptible to corrosion.  The industrial environment at these facilities usually contains compounds, including sulfides and chlorides, which cause aggressive corrosion.  This problem affects pipelines, petroleum storage tanks, spare parts in long-term storage, processing and other critical equipment. In addition to the costs associated with the replacement of parts and structures, maintenance and repairs, and product loss, there are significant economic losses associated with critical infrastructure down for repair and maintenance.  Furthermore, there are also considerable health, safety and environmental risks caused by corrosion that can greatly increase economic losses.  NTIC believes that its ZERUST® oil and gas corrosion prevention solutions minimize maintenance downtime on critical oil and gas industry infrastructure, extend the life of such infrastructure and reduce the risk of environmental pollution due to leaks caused by corrosion. 

 

NTIC’s rust and corrosion inhibiting products for the oil and gas industry include ZERUST® Flange Savers,® ZERUST® ReCAST-R VCI Dispensers, Zerust ReCAST-SSB solutions and ZERUST® chemicals, including Zerion chemicals, in addition to many of the traditional ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products previously described. 

 

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ZERUST® Flange Savers® are specially designed covers that have been impregnated with a proprietary ZERUST® inhibitor formulation to provide corrosion protection for flanges, valves and welded joints.  Oil and gas pipeline segments are connected by flanges and welded joints of varying sizes, designs and materials.  These connection points often corrode under aggressive industrial environments and harsh operating conditions, thereby causing costly maintenance, operational and safety problems.  ZERUST® Flange Savers® are available in various sizes to accommodate different pipe diameters, pressure ratings and international standards for pipeline valves and flanges. 

 

ZERUST® ReCAST-R VCI Dispensers protect the interior surfaces of aboveground storage tank roofs by delivering proprietary inhibitor formulations into the vapor space between the surface of the product and the tank roof.  Certain grades of oil contain sulphur and emit corrosive acid gas vapors that destroy the internal surfaces of aboveground storage tank roofs and their support structures above the stored product.  Aggressive pitting and crevice corrosion create holes in tank roofs that cause unsafe operating conditions and environmental problems.  Internal tank coatings decrease surface corrosion but have proven to be ineffective in preventing dangerous pitting and crevice corrosion, especially in the interstitial spaces between the roof and support structures.  The ZERUST® ReCAST-R solution is designed to extend the service life of a single tank roof significantly by forming a protective inhibitor barrier which separates the corrosive environment from the metallic surface of the tank roof support structures and is designed to prevent corrosion in highly aggressive environments.  Each system is tailored to a customer’s requirements, depending upon specific environmental conditions, product stored, tank diameter and type of metal and can be applied on both new and existing tank roofs.

 

ZERUST® ReCAST-SSB solutions protect the Soil Side Bottoms (SSB) of aboveground storage tanks through a variety of unique and highly effective delivery systems designed by the Zerust Oil & Gas team to deliver proprietary Zerion FVS corrosion inhibitor to tank bottom spaces that are susceptible to significant corrosion. Tank bottoms are typically made of steel plates which are in direct contact with the foundation surface that could be concrete, sand/soil and asphalt/bitumen. It is typically not possible to protect this underside surface with traditional coatings. Cathodic protection (CP) systems can provide some protection, but these have significant limitations that cause failures well ahead of the expected service life of a tank. The ZERUST® solutions provide effective protection even to areas that cannot be addressed with CP. This is an engineered solution where each system is tailored to a customer’s requirements depending on the tank foundation design, specific environmental conditions, tank diameter, etc.

 

ZERUST® Zerion line of powder based inhibitor solutions include:

 

· Zerion FVS is a unique inhibitor blend that is used in the SSB Solutions. This “best-in-class” product has been successfully deployed at multiple client sites in the North and South American geographies.

 

· AutoFog is a revolutionary product that allows for the quick VCI saturation of large volume spaces without the need for mechanical “fogging” equipment. This rapid self-diffusing capability is good for sealed void spaces, protection of large/complex assets like Heat Exchangers and Heater-Treaters.

 

· Sol-V C-Series is designed to provide corrosion prevention in voids and enclosures especially when there is either stagnant water, or the potential for water seepages and/or accumulation of water over time.  ZERUST® Sol-V™ C-Series packaging allows VCIs to release while conserving a Sol-V proprietary blend of soluble corrosion inhibitors (SCIs) until water enters the system. Typical applications of ZERUST® Sol-V™ C-Series packaging include offshore platform leg voids, vessels and tanks mothballed in tropical environments, ship blocks being fabricated in areas of high humidity, piping systems and heat exchangers.

 

During fiscal 2012, two of NTIC’s ZERUST® products designed for the oil and gas industry, ZERUST ® Flange Savers ® and the ZERUST ® ReCAST-R system, received Materials Performance magazine’s “Readers’ Choice Corrosion Innovation of the Year” Awards. Materials Performance is published by NACE International, the world’s largest organization of professional engineers dedicated to the study, prevention and mitigation of corrosion.

 

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Natur-Tec ® Resin Compounds and Finished Products . NTIC manufactures and sells a range of biobased and compostable (fully biodegradable) polymer resins and finished products under the Natur-Tec ® brand. NTIC’s consolidated net sales in fiscal 2015 included $4,279,785 in sales of Natur-Tec ® resins and finished products, an increase of 43.6% over such sales in fiscal 2014.  Market drivers such as volatile petroleum prices, reduced dependence on foreign oil, reduced carbon footprints, and environmentally responsible end-of-life solutions increased interest in using sustainable, biobased and renewable plant-biomass resources for the manufacture of plastics and industrial products. Plastics that are fully biodegradable in composting or anaerobic digestor systems allow the safe and effective conversion of these plastics to carbon dioxide, water and fertilizer at the end of their service life. Increased environmental and sustainability awareness at the corporate and consumer level, improved technical properties and product functionality, as well as recent foreign, state and local governmental regulations banning the use of traditional, petroleum-based plastics or mandating the use of certain biodegradable or compostable products, have also fueled this interest in biobased and biodegradable-compostable plastics.  The term “bio-plastics” encompasses a broad category of plastics that are either bio-based, which means derived from renewable resources such as corn or cellulosic/plant material or blends thereof, or are engineered to be fully compostable, or both. 

 

Resins.   Natur-Tec ® resins are produced by blending commercially available base resins, such as Ecoflex ® from BASF, Ingeo ® PLA from NatureWorks LLC and/or Bionolle ® from Showa-Denko, with organic and inorganic fillers, and proprietary polymer modifiers and compatabilizers, using NTIC’s proprietary and patented ReX Process.  In this process, biodegradable polymers, natural polymers made from renewable, plant-biomass resources, and organic and inorganic materials are reactively blended in the presence of proprietary compatibilizers and polymer modifiers to produce biobased and/or compostable polymer resin formulations that exhibit unique and stable morphology.  Natur-Tec ® resin compounds are engineered for high performance, ease of processing and reduced cost compared to most other bio-plastic materials, and can be processed by converters using conventional plastic manufacturing processes and equipment. 

 

Natur-Tec ® resins are available in several grades tailored for a variety of applications, such as blown-film extrusion, extrusion coating and injection molding. 

 

Natur-Tec ® flexible film resins are fully compostable and meet requirements of international standards for compostable plastics such as ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D6400 (U.S.), EN 13432 (European standards for products and services by European Committee for Standardization) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 17088, and are certified as 100% compostable by organizations including the BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) in the United States and Vincotte in Europe.  Natur-Tec ® film resins can be used to produce film for applications, such as bags, including compost bags, lawn and leaf bags, pet waste bags and carry-out bags, agricultural film and consumer and industrial packaging. 

 

The Natur-Tec ® compostable extrusion coating resin compounds are biobased and biodegradable and are designed to replace conventional plastic materials for extrusion coating applications.  Natur-Tec ® extrusion coating resin compounds are manufactured using sustainable and renewable resources, per the ASTM D6866 standard, which allows industry and consumers the opportunity to reduce or neutralize their carbon footprint, and are designed to meet the requirements of international standards for compostable plastics, such as ASTM D6400.  Natur-Tec ® extrusion coating resins provide good adhesion to paper, an excellent print surface and good heat seal strength and the coating material is suitable for food contact applications including both hot and cold applications.  Natur-Tec ® extrusion coating resins can be used for coating paper and paperboards for the manufacture of disposable cups, plates and other food service ware items.

 

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The Natur-Tec ® compostable injection molding resin compounds are biobased and compostable and are designed to replace conventional plastic materials for injection molded plastic applications.  Natur-Tec ® compostable injection molding resin compounds are manufactured using sustainable and renewable resources, per the ASTM D6866 standard and are designed to meet the requirements of international standards for compostable plastics, such as ASTM D6400 and EN 13432.  Natur-Tec ® compostable injection molding resin compounds can be used for injection molded plastic applications, such as cutlery, pens, hangers, containers and packaging.  Natur-Tec ® biobased injection molding resin compounds are made with at least 50% of biobased/renewable resource-based materials per the ASTM D6866 standard and are meant to enhance sustainability by replacing petroleum-based plastics.  Natur-Tec ® also produces biobased injection molding resin compounds that are not designed or intended to biodegrade but rather aid in sustainability by requiring less energy for production and by reducing dependence on petroleum as a raw material.  Natur-Tec ® biobased injection molding resin compounds exhibit the same properties as conventional plastic materials and can be used in applications, such as automotive components, consumer goods, electronics, medical products, furniture and packaging.

 

Finished Products .  Natur-Tec ® finished products include totally biodegradable and compostable trash bags, agricultural film and other single-use disposable products, such as compostable cutlery, food and consumer goods packaging that are currently marketed under the Natur-Bag ® or Natur-Ware ® brands. 

 

The Natur-Bag ® product line offers 12 different compostable trash bag sizes, from 3-gallon to 96-gallon.  The bags are available in various SKU configurations from retail packs that are sold to the consumer either through retail outlets or through online stores, and industrial case packs that are sold to commercial and industrial customers primarily through wholesalers and distributors.  The Natur-Bag ® products are manufactured from the Natur-Tec ® flexible film resin compounds and thus are fully biodegradable and compostable.

 

The Natur-Ware ® product line consists of biobased and compostable cutlery made from the Natur-Tec ® compostable injection molding resin compounds.  Natur-Ware® cutlery can be composted along with food scraps in zero-waste programs. 

 

Both Natur-Bag® and Natur-Ware® products are fully certified compostable, and carry the BPI Compostable logo in the United States and the Vincotte OK Compost in Europe. Furthermore, these products were also independently tested and approved for use in organic waste diversion systems by Cedar Grove, one of the largest compost operators in the United States.

 

Sales, Marketing and Distribution

 

ZERUST ® Corrosion Prevention Solutions . In the United States, NTIC markets its ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services, including its products designed for the oil and gas industry, principally to industrial users in the automotive, electronics, electrical, mechanical, military, retail consumer and oil and gas markets by a direct sales force and through a network of independent distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and strategic partners. NTIC’s technical service consultants work directly with the end users of NTIC’s ZERUST ® products to analyze their specific corrosion prevention needs and develop systems to meet their technical requirements.

 

Internationally, NTIC has entered into a series of joint ventures with foreign partners (either directly or through a holding company). NTIC receives fees for providing technical support, marketing assistance and other services to its joint ventures based primarily on the net sales of the individual joint ventures in accordance with the terms of the joint venture arrangements. Such services include consulting, legal, insurance, technical and marketing services.

 

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With respect to the sales and marketing of ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services to the oil and gas industry, NTIC uses a combination of direct sales personnel, independent sales agents and its joint venture network.  In addition, in an attempt to penetrate the oil and gas industry within certain markets more quickly, NTIC has entered into certain sales and marketing agency agreements with specific organizations that have existing long term relationships with key oil and gas industry clients.  NTIC also engages in certain direct marketing activities to build its brand within the oil and gas industry, such as traditional advertising and direct mail campaigns and presence and participation at selected key trade shows and technical forums.  NTIC continues to believe the sale of its ZERUST ® corrosion prevention solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry will involve a long sales cycle, likely including a one- to multi-year trial period with each customer and a slow integration process thereafter. 

 

Natur-Tec ® Resin Compounds and Finished Products.  In the United States, NTIC markets its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products through a network of national and regional distributors and independent manufacturer’s sales representatives and three NTIC direct sales employees as of August 31, 2015.  Target customers for Natur-Tec® finished products include individual consumers and commercial and institutional organizations such as corporations and government agencies, and educational organizations such as universities and school districts. NTIC is also targeting key national and regional retailers utilizing independent sales agents.  Target customers for Natur-Tec ® resin compounds include film extruders and injection molders who would purchase Natur-Tec ® resin compounds to manufacture and sell their own finished biobased, and compostable end products, such as film, bags and cutlery.

 

Internationally, NTIC uses NTI India, and its joint ventures and a network of international distributors to market its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. 

 

Competition

 

ZERUST ® Corrosion Prevention Solutions . While NTIC is unaware of any third parties with which NTIC competes on a worldwide basis with respect to its corrosion prevention solutions, NTIC does compete with several third parties on a regional basis. NTIC evaluates competing rust and corrosion inhibiting products on an ongoing basis. Some of NTIC’s competitors are established companies that may have financial, marketing, distribution networks and other resources substantially greater than those of NTIC. As a result, they may be able to adapt more quickly to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements, or devote greater resources to the promotion and sale of their products than NTIC. With respect to its rust and corrosion inhibiting products, NTIC competes on the basis of product innovation, quality and reliability, product support, customer service, reputation as well as price. Some of NTIC’s competitors may have achieved significant market acceptance of their competing products and brand recognition. NTIC, however, believes it has an advantage over most of its competitors as a result of NTIC’s technical innovation and its value added service. NTIC attempts to provide its customers with the highest level of technical service and applications engineering in addition to ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products. Nonetheless, the commoditization of certain of NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products have led and may continue to lead to lower prices and lower margins on such products. In addition, because certain barriers to entry are low, additional competitors, including plastic extrusion companies, may emerge, which likely would lead to the further commoditization of NTIC’s rust and corrosion inhibiting products.

 

With respect to NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions for use in the oil and gas industry, NTIC’s primary barrier to entry is a combination of conservatism, complacency, confidence in old approaches as well as the complexity of the buying organizations. Some of NTIC’s competitors with respect to its traditional ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products also compete in the oil and gas industry. NTIC also faces competition from new suppliers who provide alternative approaches to corrosion prevention, some of which have a significant market presence and more years of experience and credibility in the oil and gas industry. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers to the oil and gas industry present a new market vertical for NTIC’s traditional industrial ZERUST ® products.

 

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Natur-Tec ® Resin Compounds and Finished Products. With respect to NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, NTIC competes with several established companies that have been producing and selling similar products for a significantly longer time period, and have significantly more sales, more extensive and effective distribution networks and better brand recognition than NTIC.  Most of these companies also have substantially more financial and other resources than NTIC.  NTIC competes on the basis of performance, brand awareness, distribution network, product availability, product offering, shelf life, place of manufacture and price.  Because of price competition, NTIC’s margins on its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products are lower than its margins on its ZERUST ® corrosion prevention solutions.  NTIC also could face supply constraints for the base resins used to manufacture NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products since there are a limited number of suppliers of such base resins and limited capacity for their production.

 

Research and Development

 

NTIC’s research and development activities are directed at improving existing products, developing new products, reducing costs and improving quality assurance through improved testing of NTIC’s products. NTIC’s internal research and development activities are conducted at its facilities located in Circle Pines, Minnesota; Beachwood, Ohio; and Dresden, Germany under the direction of internationally known scientists and research institutes under exclusive contract to NTIC with respect to the subject of their respective research efforts. EXCOR has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, Excor Korrosionsforschung GmbH, to conduct research into new fields of corrosion inhibiting packaging and the applications engineering of such products in conjunction with NTIC’s domestic research and development operations. With respect to NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, Ramani Narayan, Ph.D., a current director of NTIC and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at Michigan State University, provides his expertise and technical support to NTIC.

 

NTIC spent $4,047,279 in fiscal 2015 in connection with its research and development activities, compared to $4,368,752 in fiscal 2014 and $3,815,515 in fiscal 2013. NTIC anticipates that it will spend between $4,000,000 and $4,500,000 in fiscal 2016 on research and development activities. These amounts are net of reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts. Such reimbursements totaled $0, $45,788 and $274,728 in fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Most of NTIC’s research and development contracts under which NTIC received reimbursements during fiscal 2014 were in connection with developing corrosion prevention solutions for the U.S. government in connection with developing future potential Natur-Tec ® products.

 

NTIC was awarded three National Science Foundation (NSF) awards -- one in June 2009 as a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $150,000 on advanced polylactide materials for biobased and biodegradable products, the second in September 2009 as a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for an additional $150,000 on “Biobased coatings for corrosion protection” and a third in November 2011 as a Phase II SBIR grant of $500,000 for the development of advanced polylactide materials for biobased and biodegradable plastic products.  The Phase I projects were completed in June 2010 and have helped NTIC develop biobased technologies for new innovative applications in the ZERUST® and Natur-Tec® business areas. The Phase II project work was completed in fiscal 2015. The modified polylactic acid chemistries developed with this program helped NTIC to expand its product portfolio and commercialize novel bioplastics packaging solutions along with enhanced formulations for molded food service-ware.  The research and technology development was conducted in collaboration with Ramani Narayan, Ph.D., a current director of NTIC, and Michigan State University.

 

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During fiscal 2010, NTIC was awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research contract worth $70,000 to develop non-plastic marine biodegradable waste bags for the U.S. Navy.  NTIC collaborated with the U.S. Army Natick labs and Michigan State University (MSU) on this project.  In November 2011, NTIC was awarded a Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant of $500,000 for the ongoing development and commercialization of biobased and marine biodegradable non-plastic bags for the U.S. Navy.  The Phase II grant work continued during fiscal 2014 and was completed in April 2014 by supplying the NAVSUP office with marine biodegradable coated paper bags for evaluation. The NAVSUP office was unable to evaluate the bags due to lack of funding and later closed out the project due to cost and commercialization reasons. They identified this would currently be a niche product and would like to reevaluate once the technology was mature and commercialized in more markets. MSU is currently continuing research on the vegetable oil coating technology for usage in other applications.

 

Intellectual Property Rights

 

NTIC’s success depends and will continue to depend in part upon its ability to maintain patent and trademark protection for its products and processes, to preserve its proprietary information and trade secrets and to operate without infringing the proprietary rights of third parties.  NTIC’s policy is to attempt to protect its technology by, among other things, filing patent applications and trademark applications and vigorously preserving the trade secrets covering its technology and other intellectual property rights.

 

In 1979, NTIC developed and patented the first polyolefin (plastic) based industrial corrosion inhibiting packing material in the world.  The U.S. patent granted under this patent application became the most important intellectual property right in NTIC’s history. This patent expired in 2000. NTIC has since filed for 12 letters of patents in the United States covering various corrosion inhibiting technologies, systems and applications, and now owns several patents in these areas. These patents as well as patent applications have been extended to the countries of strategic relevance to NTIC including, but not limited to, the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In addition, EXCOR owns several patents in the area covering various corrosion inhibiting technologies and also applied for new patents on proprietary new corrosion inhibiting technologies. NTIC is also seeking additional patent protection covering various host materials into which its corrosion inhibiting additives and other protective features can be incorporated, proprietary new process technologies, and chemical formulations outside the area of corrosion protection. NTIC owns several patents outside the area of corrosion protection both in the United States and in countries of strategic relevance to NTIC including, but not limited to, the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

 

In addition to seeking patent protection, NTIC maintains an extensive portfolio of trademarks in countries where NTIC has a presence directly or through its subsidiaries and joint ventures. NTIC continuously pursues new trademark applications of strategic interest worldwide.  NTIC owns the following U.S. registered trademarks: NTI ® , NTI & Globe Design, ZERUST ® , EXCOR ® , ICT ® , Z-CIS ® , COR TAB ® , PLASTABS ® , NATUR-TEC ® , NATUR-TEC & Design ® , NATUR-BAG ® and NATUR-WARE ® . NTIC also has a registered trademark on the use of the Color Yellow with respect to corrosion inhibiting packaging.  Furthermore, NTI ® , ZERUST ® , The ZERUST People ® , EXCOR ® , the Color Yellow ® , NTI ASEAN ® and COR/SCI ® , as well as other marks have been registered in the European Union with several new applications pending.

 

NTIC requires its employees, consultants and advisors having access to its confidential information, including trade secrets, to execute confidentiality agreements upon commencement of their employment or consulting relationships with NTIC. These agreements generally provide that all confidential information NTIC develops or makes known to the individual during the course of the individual’s employment or consulting relationship with NTIC must be kept confidential by the individual and not disclosed to any third parties. NTIC also requires all of its employees and consultants who perform research and development for NTIC to execute agreements that generally provide that all inventions developed by these individuals during their employment by or service arrangement with NTIC will fall under NTIC’s proprietary intellectual property rights.

 

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Manufacturing

 

NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products are manufactured according to NTIC’s specifications primarily by selected independent sub-contractors under trade secrecy agreements and/or license agreements.  In addition, during fiscal 2015 and 2014, NTIC expanded its production capabilities and began to manufacture select ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products, consisting primarily of liquids and powders, in house at its corporate headquarters location in Circle Pines, Minnesota.   

 

NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products are produced at facilities in China and Malaysia.  Starting in fiscal 2014, NTIC made arrangements with a facility in California as an alternative production source.   NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds can be shipped to any manufacturing facility around the world where they then can be converted into finished products, such as a bag or piece of cutlery.  NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® finished products are manufactured using NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds by selected sub-contractors.   

 

NTIC is ISO 9001 certified with respect to the manufacturing of its products.  NTIC believes that the process of ISO 9001 certification serves as an excellent total quality management tool, enabling NTIC to ensure consistency in the performance of its products.  In addition, because potential customers may prefer or require manufacturers to have achieved ISO certification, such ISO certifications may provide NTIC with certain competitive advantages.

 

Availability of Raw Materials

 

NTIC does not typically carry excess quantities of raw materials because of widespread availability for such materials from various suppliers. However, with respect to its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, there are a limited number of suppliers of the base resins used to manufacture the resin compounds and finished products, and in the past NTIC has experienced some delay in obtaining such base resins. In addition, a few raw materials and purchased parts used in NTIC’s rust and corrosion inhibiting products and Natur-Tec ® finished products are sourced from suppliers who currently serve as NTIC’s sole source of supply for these materials and parts. Although NTIC believes it can obtain these raw materials and parts from other sources of supply, an unexpected loss of supply over a short period of time may not allow NTIC time to replace these sources in the ordinary course of business.

 

Backlog

 

NTIC had an order backlog of $667,000 as of August 31, 2015, compared to $995,000 as of August 31, 2014 and $641,000 as of August 31, 2013. These are orders that are held by NTIC pending release instructions from the customers to be used in just-in-time production. Customers generally place orders on an “as needed” basis and expect delivery within a relatively short period of time.

 

Governmental Regulation

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated to NTIC that it has no objection to the use of ZERUST ® ICT ® packaging products in protecting metal food containers and processing equipment. In addition, the manufacture, sale and use of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products are subject to regulation in the United States by the FDA. The FDA’s regulations are concerned with substances used in food packaging materials. Thus, food and beverage containers are in compliance with FDA regulations if the components used in the food and beverage containers are approved by the FDA as indirect food additives for their intended uses and comply with the applicable FDA indirect food additive regulations, or are generally recognized as safe for their intended uses and are of suitable purity for those intended uses. NTIC believes that its resins are in compliance with all FDA requirements and do not require further FDA approval prior to the sale of its products.

 

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Employees

 

As of August 31, 2015, NTIC had 75 full-time employees located in the United States, consisting of 17 in sales and marketing, 29 in research and development and lab, 16 in administration, 12 in production and one responsible for international coordination.  As of August 31, 2015, NTIC’s wholly-owned subsidiary in China had 22 full-time employees, its majority-owned subsidiary in Brazil had 20 full-time employees, its majority-owned subsidiary in India had 6 full-time employees and its holding company, NTI Asean, had no full-time employees.  There are no unions representing NTIC’s employees and NTIC believes that its relations with its employees are good.

 

Financial Information about Segments and Geographic Areas

 

Financial information regarding our segments and geographic information can be found in Note 13 to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements included in this report under “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

 

Available Information

 

NTIC is a Delaware corporation that was originally organized as a Minnesota corporation in 1970. NTIC’s principal executive office is located at 4201 Woodland Road, Circle Pines, Minnesota 55014, and its telephone number is (763) 225-6600. NTIC’s website is located at www.ntic.com. References to NTIC’s website addressed in this report are provided as a convenience and as an inactive textual reference only. The information on NTIC’s website or any other website is not incorporated by reference into, and not considered a part of, this report.

 

NTIC makes available, free of charge and through its Internet web site, its annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to any such reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as soon as reasonably practicable after NTIC electronically files such material with, or furnishes it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Reports filed with the SEC may be viewed at www.sec.gov or obtained at the SEC Public Reference Room in Washington, D.C. Information regarding the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330.

 

Forward-Looking Statements

 

This report on Form 10-K contains not only historical information, but also forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. In addition, NTIC or others on NTIC’s behalf may make forward-looking statements from time to time in oral presentations, including telephone conferences and/or web casts open to the public, in press releases or reports, on NTIC’s Internet web site or otherwise. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this report or expressed by NTIC orally from time to time that address activities, events or developments that NTIC expects, believes or anticipates will or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements including, in particular, the statements about NTIC’s plans, objectives, strategies and prospects regarding, among other things, NTIC’s financial condition, results of operations and business, the outcome of contingencies such as legal proceedings and the effect of the liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the establishment of NTIC China. NTIC has identified some of these forward-looking statements in this report with words like “believe,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “might,” “forecast,” “possible,” “potential,” “project,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “predict,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “approximate” “outlook” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other words and terms of similar meaning. The use of future dates is also an indication of a forward-looking statement. Forward-looking statements may be contained in the notes to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements and elsewhere in this report, including under the heading “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

 

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Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations about future events affecting NTIC and are subject to uncertainties and factors that affect all businesses operating in a global market as well as matters specific to NTIC. These uncertainties and factors are difficult to predict and many of them are beyond NTIC’s control. The following are some of the uncertainties and factors known to us that could cause NTIC’s actual results to differ materially from what NTIC has anticipated in its forward-looking statements:

 

· The establishment of NTIC China, the termination of the joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust, the pending litigation against Mr. Tao Meng and Cortec Corporation and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the effect on NTIC’s business and future operating results, including possible future impairment charges on NTIC’s investment in Tianjin Zerust and a receivable from Tianjin Zerust;

 

· The variability in NTIC’s sales of ZERUST® products and services into oil and gas industry and Natur-Tec ® products and NTIC’s equity income of joint ventures, which variability in sales and equity in income of joint venture in turn, subject NTIC’s earnings to quarterly fluctuations;

 

· Risks associated with NTIC’s international operations and exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates and import duties and taxes;

 

· The effect of current worldwide economic conditions, the European sovereign debt crisis and turmoil and disruption in the global credit and financial markets on NTIC’s business;

 

· The health of the U.S. automotive industry on NTIC’s business;

 

· NTIC’s dependence on the success of its joint ventures and fees and dividend distributions that NTIC receives from them;

 

· NTIC’s relationships with its joint ventures and its ability to maintain those relationships, especially in light of anticipated succession planning issues;

 

· NTIC’s dependence upon sales by Zerust Brazil to Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), an oil company located in Brazil, and the effect of such sales on NTIC’s quarterly operating results, including in particular its net sales and margins;

 

· Fluctuations in the cost and availability of raw materials, including resins and other commodities;

 

· The success of and risks associated with NTIC’s emerging new businesses and products and services, including in particular NTIC’s ability and the ability of NTIC’s joint ventures to sell ZERUST® products and services into oil and gas industry and Natur-Tec ® products and the often lengthy and extensive sales process involved in selling such products and services;

 

· NTIC’s ability to introduce new products and services that respond to changing market conditions and customer demand;

 

· Market acceptance of NTIC’s existing and new products, especially in light of existing and new competitive products;

 

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· Maturation of certain existing markets for NTIC’s ZERUST ® products and services and NTIC’s ability to grow market share and succeed in penetrating other existing and new markets;

 

· Increased competition, especially with respect to NTIC’s ZERUST ® products and services, and the effect of such competition on NTIC’s and its joint ventures’ pricing, net sales and margins;

 

· NTIC’s reliance upon and its relationships with its distributors, independent sales representatives and joint ventures;

 

· NTIC’s reliance upon suppliers;

 

· The costs and effects of complying with laws and regulations and changes in tax, fiscal, government and other regulatory policies, including rules relating to environmental, health and safety matters;

 

· Unforeseen product quality or other problems in the development, production and usage of new and existing products;

 

· Unforeseen production expenses incurred in connection with new customers and new products;

 

· Loss of or changes in executive management or key employees;

 

· Ability of management to manage around unplanned events;

 

· Pending and future litigation;

 

· NTIC’s reliance on its intellectual property rights and the absence of infringement of the intellectual property rights of others;

 

· NTIC’s ability to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, especially in light of its accelerated filer status and its joint venture arrangements;

 

· changes in applicable laws or regulations and NTIC’s failure to comply with applicable laws, rules and regulations;

 

· changes in generally accepted accounting principles and the effect of new accounting pronouncements;

 

· Fluctuations in NTIC’s effective tax rate; and

 

· NTIC’s reliance upon its management information systems.

 

For more information regarding these and other uncertainties and factors that could cause NTIC’s actual results to differ materially from what NTIC has anticipated in its forward-looking statements or otherwise could materially adversely affect its business, financial condition or operating results, see “Part I. Item 1A. Risk Factors.”

 

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All forward-looking statements included in this report are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. NTIC wishes to caution readers not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statement that speaks only as of the date made and to recognize that forward-looking statements are predictions of future results, which may not occur as anticipated. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements and from historical results, due to the uncertainties and factors described above, as well as others that NTIC may consider immaterial or does not anticipate at this time. Although NTIC believes that the expectations reflected in its forward-looking statements are reasonable, NTIC does not know whether its expectations will prove correct. NTIC’s expectations reflected in its forward-looking statements can be affected by inaccurate assumptions NTIC might make or by known or unknown uncertainties and factors, including those described above. The risks and uncertainties described above are not exclusive and further information concerning NTIC and its business, including factors that potentially could materially affect its financial results or condition, may emerge from time to time. NTIC assumes no obligation to update, amend or clarify forward-looking statements to reflect actual results or changes in factors or assumptions affecting such forward-looking statements. NTIC advises you, however, to consult any further disclosures NTIC makes on related subjects in its annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K NTIC files with or furnishes to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Item 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

The following are the most significant factors known to NTIC that could materially adversely affect its business, operating results or financial condition.

 

The termination of NTIC’s joint venture agreements with and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the formation and establishment of NTIC China have had and could continue to have a material adverse effect on NTIC’s operating results.

 

Effective as of December 31, 2014, NTIC terminated its joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust, initiated the process to liquidate the joint venture entity and established a wholly-owned subsidiary to conduct business in China. Commencing during the second quarter of fiscal 2015, NTIC’s consolidated financial statements include the financial results of NTIC China. Tianjin Zerust was individually significant to NTIC’s consolidated assets and income. Accordingly, the termination of NTIC’s joint venture agreements with and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust adversely affected NTIC’s operating results, including in particular, its equity in income, fee income for services provided to joint ventures and operating expenses, during fiscal 2015 since NTIC accounted for its investment in Tianjin Zerust in NTIC’s consolidated financial statements utilizing the equity method of accounting. Of the total equity in income from joint ventures of $5,936,565 during fiscal 2015 and $5,920,603 during fiscal 2014, NTIC had equity in income from joint ventures of $132,824 and $626,763 attributable to Tianjin Zerust, respectively. Of the total fee income for services provided to joint ventures of $5,715,491 during fiscal 2015 and $8,142,863 during fiscal 2014, $494,080 and $2,118,018 were attributable to Tianjin Zerust.

 

NTIC anticipates that it may take some time to transition the previous customers of Tianjin Zerust to NTIC China and no assurance can be provided that NTIC China will be able to achieve the net sales and income levels previously achieved by Tianjin Zerust. NTIC has incurred, and expects to continue to incur, significant operating expenses associated with NTIC China and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and expects that NTIC’s operating results may be volatile over the next several quarters. This is true especially since NTIC has commenced litigation against Mr. Tao Meng, Tianjin Zerust’s other shareholder, and his spouse in order to force the liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and has commenced litigation against Cortec Corporation alleging, among other things, that Cortec Corporation aided and abetted breaches of duties and contractual commitments owed to NTIC and NTI Asean related to Tianjin Zerust. During fiscal 2015, NTIC incurred approximately $1,642,258 in start-up expenses related either directly or indirectly to the establishment of NTIC China, the termination of the joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust, the pending litigation against Mr. Tao Meng and his spouse and Cortec Corporation, and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust. The start-up expenses are inclusive of the losses incurred by the subsidiary of $1,042,258 during the same period.

 

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NTIC expects its operating results may be volatile over the next few quarters as a result of NTIC’s Chinese operations.  In particular, because of the lack of financial and other information received from Tianjin Zerust, it is possible that receipt of future financial and other information from Tianjin Zerust may impact the realization of NTIC’s investment in and realization of a receivable from Tianjin Zerust. The last time NTIC received financial information from Tianjin Zerust was through November 2014.  NTIC, as of August 31, 2015, does not believe there are any triggering events that would require an impairment test.  NTIC’s current net investment is approximately $1.1 million, which is 60% of its investment in Tianjin Zerust, which was $1,883,668 as of August 31, 2015.  NTIC will continue to evaluate the realization of this asset on an ongoing basis and adjust if necessary.

 

NTIC’s pending litigation is expensive and may have an adverse effect on NTIC’s business and operating results.

 

During fiscal 2015, NTIC commenced litigation against Mr. Tao Meng, Tianjin Zerust’s other shareholder, and his spouse in order to force the liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and against Cortec Corporation alleging, among other things, that Cortec Corporation aided and abetted breaches of duties and contractual commitments owed to NTIC and NTI Asean related to Tianjin Zerust. Litigation is expensive and often uncertain. There is no assurance that NTIC will be successful in this litigation. In the meantime, it is likely that NTIC will incur significant expenses in pursuing the litigation. In addition, the pending litigation may have an adverse effect on NTIC’s business and operating results.

 

Any weakness in the global economy, and in particular in the United States, Europe and China, may negatively impact NTIC’s business, operating results and financial condition.

 

NTIC’s operating results are dependent upon the economic health of the global economy, including in particular the United States, Europe and China. Of NTIC’s net sales in fiscal 2015, approximately $19.3 million were to customers in the United States and $1.1 million were to customers in China. In addition, approximately 63.5% of the $99 million in net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures during fiscal 2015 were to customers based in Europe. Accordingly, any weakness in the global economy, and in particular in the United States, Europe and China, may negatively impact NTIC’s business, operating results and financial condition.

 

The possibility that Greece and other EU member states may default on their debt obligations, the uncertainty regarding international and the European Union’s financial support programs, the possibility that EU member states may experience similar financial troubles and the austerity measures that have been implemented by Greece and certain other EU member states could negatively impact NTIC’s business, operating results and financial condition. During fiscal 2014, total net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures were adversely affected in part by the European economic slowdown, which NTIC believes adversely affected the net sales of NTIC’s European joint ventures, as well as certain of NTIC’s other non-European joint ventures. Although NTIC believes its fiscal 2015 financial results were not similarly affected, there is no assurance that its fiscal 2016 or future financial results will not be adversely affected. In addition, if the European sovereign debt crisis worsens, the value of the Euro and other European currencies could deteriorate, which could negatively impact the business, operating results and financial condition of NTIC and its joint ventures in light of the substantial operations of its joint ventures and the revenues its joint ventures derive from customers in the European Union. Apart from the European sovereign debt crisis, other global economies have experienced adverse economic conditions either as a result of the European sovereign debt crisis or otherwise that have affected all sectors of the economy.

 

During fiscal 2009, NTIC’s operating results were significantly adversely affected by worldwide economic conditions, particularly adverse conditions affecting the worldwide automobile industry at that time. Since a significant portion of NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services are sold to customers in the automotive industry, adverse economic conditions affecting the automotive industry again in particular may result in another adverse effect on NTIC’s net sales and its other operating results.

 

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Global credit and financial markets in the past have experienced disruptions, including diminished liquidity and credit availability and rapid fluctuations in market valuations, which if they happen again, could negatively impact NTIC’s business, operating results and financial condition.

 

Any tightening of the credit and financial markets as a result of the European sovereign debt crisis or otherwise could negatively impact the ability of companies to borrow money from their existing lenders, obtain credit from other sources or raise financing to fund their operations. This could negatively impact the ability of NTIC’s customers and the customers of NTIC’s joint ventures to purchase NTIC’s products, suppliers’ ability to provide NTIC and its joint ventures with materials and components and the ability of NTIC and its joint ventures, distributors and sales representatives to finance operations, if needed, on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. Any or all of these events could negatively impact NTIC’s business, operating results and financial condition. Although NTIC maintains allowances for doubtful accounts for estimated losses resulting from the inability of its customers, distributors and joint ventures to make required payments and such losses historically have been within NTIC’s expectations and the provisions established, NTIC cannot guarantee that it will continue to experience the same loss rates that it has in the past, especially if there are weaknesses in the worldwide economy. A significant change in the liquidity or financial condition of NTIC’s customers, distributors or joint ventures could cause unfavorable trends in NTIC’s receivable collections and additional allowances may be required, which could adversely affect NTIC’s operating results. In addition, weaknesses in the worldwide economy may adversely impact the ability of suppliers to provide NTIC with materials and components, which could adversely affect NTIC’s business and operating results. NTIC is unable to predict the prospects for a global economic recovery, but the longer the duration of such adverse and uncertain economic conditions, the greater the risks NTIC faces in operating its business.

 

NTIC’s liquidity and financial position rely on the receipt of fees for services provided to its joint ventures and dividend distributions from its joint ventures. No assurance can be provided that NTIC will continue to receive such fees and dividend distributions in amounts NTIC historically has received or anticipates to receive.

 

NTIC conducts business, either directly or indirectly through several joint venture arrangements that operate in North America, Europe and Asia. Each of these joint ventures manufactures, markets and sells finished products in the geographic territory that it is assigned. NTIC’s receipt of funds as a result of sales by its joint ventures is dependent upon NTIC’s receipt of fees for services that NTIC provides to its joint ventures based primarily on the net sales of the individual joint ventures and NTIC’s receipt of dividend distributions from its joint ventures based on the profitability of its joint ventures. NTIC’s liquidity and financial position rely on NTIC’s receipt of fees for services that NTIC provides to its joint ventures and dividend distributions from its joint ventures. During fiscal 2015, NTIC recognized $5,715,491 in fees and $2,983,338 in dividend distributions from its joint ventures. Because NTIC owns 50% or less of each of its joint venture entities, NTIC does not control the decisions of these entities regarding whether to pay dividends and, if paid, how much they should be in any given year. Thus, NTIC cannot guarantee that any of its joint ventures will pay dividends in any given year. The failure of NTIC’s joint ventures to declare dividends or the failure of NTIC to receive fees for services provided to joint ventures in amounts typically expected by NTIC could adversely affect NTIC’s liquidity and financial position.

 

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Since a significant portion of NTIC’s earnings results from NTIC’s equity income from joint ventures and since NTIC’s equity income from joint ventures varies from quarter to quarter, NTIC’s earnings are subject to quarterly fluctuations.

 

A significant portion of NTIC’s earnings results from NTIC’s equity income from its joint ventures. NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures consists of NTIC’s share of equity in income from its joint ventures based on the overall profitability of the joint ventures. Such profitability varies from quarter to quarter. Since NTIC’s management typically receives quarterly joint venture financial information after the completion of each fiscal quarter, it is impossible for NTIC’s management to cut costs and expenses to make up for any unanticipated shortfall in NTIC’s equity income from joint ventures. Accordingly, the variability in NTIC’s equity income from joint ventures, in turn, subjects NTIC’s earnings to quarterly fluctuations.

 

Out of NTIC’s joint ventures, NTIC’s joint venture in Germany is the most significant in terms of assets and income to NTIC. If sales of NTIC’s products and services by this joint venture were to decline significantly or if NTIC’s relationships with this joint venture were to deteriorate significantly, NTIC’s operating results likely would be adversely affected.

 

NTIC considers its joint venture in Germany, EXCOR, to be individually significant to NTIC’s consolidated assets and income; and therefore, provides certain additional information regarding this joint venture entity in the notes to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements and in certain sections of this report. Of the total equity in income from joint ventures of $5,936,565 during fiscal 2015, NTIC had equity in income from joint ventures of $4,091,608 attributable to EXCOR. Of the total fee income for services provided to joint ventures of $5,715,491 during fiscal 2015, fees of $873,400 were attributable to EXCOR. Accordingly, if sales of NTIC’s products and services by this joint venture were to decline significantly or if NTIC’s relationships with this joint venture or joint venture partner were to deteriorate significantly such that the joint venture is terminated or not motivated to sell NTIC’s products and services, NTIC’s operating results likely would be adversely affected.

 

In addition, pursuant to Rule 3-09 of Regulation S-X, NTIC intends to file an amendment to this report to include the audited financial statements and related notes of EXCOR.

 

NTIC’s international business, which is conducted primarily through its subsidiaries and joint ventures, requires management attention and financial resources and exposes NTIC to difficulties and risks presented by international economic, political, legal, accounting and business factors.

 

NTIC sells products and services directly, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC China, its majority-owned subsidiaries, Zerust Brazil and Natur-Tec India, and its majority-owned holding company subsidiary, NTI Asean, and indirectly via a network of joint ventures, independent distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and agents in over 60 countries, including countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. One of NTIC’s strategic objectives is the continued expansion of its international operations. The expansion of NTIC’s existing international operations and entry into additional international markets require management attention and financial resources.

 

The sale and shipping of products and services across international borders subject NTIC to extensive U.S. and foreign governmental trade regulations. Compliance with such regulations is costly and exposes NTIC to penalties for non-compliance. Other laws and regulations that can significantly impact NTIC include various anti-bribery laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, laws restricting business with suspected terrorists and anti-boycott laws. Any failure to comply with applicable legal and regulatory obligations could impact NTIC in a variety of ways that include, but are not limited to, significant criminal, civil and administrative penalties, including imprisonment of individuals, fines and penalties, denial of export privileges, seizure of shipments and restrictions on certain business activities. Also, the failure to comply with applicable legal and regulatory obligations could result in the disruption of NTIC’s shipping and sales activities.

 

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Many of the countries in which NTIC sells its products directly or indirectly through NTIC China, Zerust Brazil, Natur-Tec India, NTI Asean, its joint ventures, distributors, representatives and agents are, to some degree, subject to political, economic and/or social instability. NTIC’s international operations expose NTIC and its joint venture partners, distributors, representatives and agents to risks inherent in operating in foreign jurisdictions. These risks include:

 

· difficulties in managing and staffing international operations and the required infrastructure costs including legal, tax, accounting and information technology;

 

· the imposition of additional U.S. and foreign governmental controls or regulations, new trade restrictions and restrictions on the activities of foreign agents, representatives and distributors, the imposition of costly and lengthy export licensing requirements and changes in duties and tariffs, license obligations and other non-tariff barriers to trade;

 

· the imposition of U.S. and/or international sanctions against a country, company, person or entity with whom NTIC does business that would restrict or prohibit continued business with the sanctioned country, company, person or entity;

 

· pricing pressure that NTIC or its joint ventures, distributors, representatives and agents may experience internationally;

 

· laws and business practices favoring local companies;

 

· currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

· longer payment cycles and difficulties in enforcing agreements and collecting receivables through certain foreign legal systems;

 

· difficulties in enforcing or defending intellectual property rights;

 

· multiple, changing and often inconsistent enforcement of laws and regulations; and

 

· the potential payment of U.S. income taxes on certain earnings of joint ventures upon repatriation.

 

Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could subject NTIC to, among other things, penalties and legal expenses that could harm its reputation and have a material adverse effect on its business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

NTIC is subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA, which generally prohibits covered entities and their intermediaries from engaging in bribery or making other prohibited payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or other benefits. In addition, the FCPA imposes accounting standards and requirements on U.S. publicly traded corporations and their foreign affiliates, which are intended to prevent the diversion of corporate funds to the payment of bribes and other improper payments, and to prevent the establishment of “off books” slush funds from which such improper payments can be made. NTIC also is subject to similar anticorruption legislation implemented in Europe under the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. NTIC and its joint ventures, distributors, independent representatives and agents operate in a number of jurisdictions that pose a high risk of potential violations of the FCPA and other anticorruption laws, based on measurements such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, and NTIC utilizes a number of joint ventures, distributors, independent representatives and agents for whose actions NTIC could be held liable under the FCPA. NTIC informs its personnel, joint ventures, distributors, independent representatives and agents of the requirements of the FCPA and other anticorruption laws, including, but not limited to their reporting requirements. NTIC also has developed and will continue to develop and implement systems for formalizing contracting processes, performing due diligence on agents and improving its recordkeeping and auditing practices regarding these regulations. However, there is no guarantee that NTIC’s employees, joint ventures, distributors, independent representatives or other agents have not or will not engage in conduct undetected by NTIC’s processes and for which NTIC might be held responsible under the FCPA or other anticorruption laws.

 

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If NTIC’s employees, joint ventures, distributors, third-party sales representatives or other agents are found to have engaged in such practices, NTIC could suffer severe penalties, including criminal and civil penalties, disgorgement and other remedial measures, including further changes or enhancements to its procedures, policies and controls, as well as potential personnel changes and disciplinary actions. The Securities and Exchange Commission has increased its enforcement of the FCPA during the past several years. Although NTIC does not believe it is currently a target in any such enforcement action, any investigation of any potential violations of the FCPA or other anticorruption laws by U.S. or foreign authorities also could have an adverse impact on NTIC’s business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Certain private and foreign companies, including some of NTIC’s competitors, are not subject to prohibitions as strict as those under the FCPA or, even if subjected to strict prohibitions, such prohibitions may be laxly enforced in practice. If NTIC’s competitors engage in corruption, extortion, bribery, pay-offs, theft or other fraudulent practices, they may receive preferential treatment from personnel of some companies or from government officials, giving NTIC’s competitors an advantage in securing business and which would put NTIC at a disadvantage.

 

Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could result in declines in NTIC’s earnings and changes in NTIC’s foreign currency translation adjustments.

 

Because the functional currency of NTIC’s foreign operations is the applicable local currency, NTIC is exposed to foreign currency exchange rate risk arising from transactions in the normal course of business. NTIC’s principal exchange rate exposure is with the Euro, the Japanese yen, Indian Rupee, Chinese Renminbi, Korean won and the English pound against the U.S. dollar. NTIC’s fees for services provided to its joint ventures and dividend distributions from these foreign entities are paid in foreign currencies; and thus, fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could result in declines in NTIC’s earnings. Any changes in foreign currency exchange rates would be reflected as a foreign currency translation adjustment and would not change NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures reflected in its consolidated statements of operations. NTIC does not hedge against its foreign currency exchange rate risk.

 

Economic uncertainty in developing markets could adversely affect our revenue and earnings.

 

NTIC conducts business, or is contemplating expansion, in developing markets with economies that tend to be more volatile than those in the United States and Western Europe. The risk of doing business in developing markets such as China, Brazil, India, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and other economically volatile areas could adversely affect NTIC’s operations and earnings. Such risks include the financial instability among customers in these regions, political instability, fraud or corruption and other non-economic factors such as irregular trade flows that need to be managed successfully with the help of the local governments. In addition, commercial laws in some developing countries can be vague, inconsistently administered and retroactively applied. If NTIC is deemed not to be in compliance with applicable laws in developing countries where NTIC conducts business, its prospects and business in those countries could be harmed, which could then have a material adverse impact on NTIC’s operating results and financial position. NTIC’s failure to successfully manage economic, political and other risks relating to doing business in developing countries and economically and politically volatile areas could adversely affect its business.

 

NTIC faces intense competition in almost all of its product lines, including from competitors that have substantially greater resources than NTIC does. No assurance can be provided that NTIC will be able to compete effectively, which would harm its business and operating results.

 

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NTIC’s products are sold in intense competitive markets throughout the world. This intense competition could result in pricing pressures, lower sales, reduced margins and lower market share. The principal competitive factors in NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions markets are pricing, product innovation, quality and reliability, product support, customer service and reputation. Additional competitive factors present in NTIC’s bioplastics business are brand awareness, distribution network, product availability, product offering, shelf life and place of manufacture. NTIC often competes with numerous manufacturers, many of which have substantially greater financial, marketing, and other resources than NTIC. As a result, they may be able to adapt more quickly than NTIC to new or emerging technologies, industry trends, and changes in customer requirements, or to devote greater resources to the promotion and sale of their products than NTIC. In addition, competition could increase if new companies enter the markets in which NTIC competes, especially when the barriers to entry are low, which may be true with respect to NTIC’s rust and corrosion prevention business, or if existing competitors expand their product lines or intensify efforts within existing product lines. NTIC’s current products, products under development and its ability to develop new and improved products may be insufficient to enable NTIC to compete effectively with its competitors. No assurance can be provided that NTIC will be able to compete effectively, which would harm its business and operating results. In particular, NTIC has experienced more intense competition with respect to many of its traditional ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services, which have led to decreased pricing and smaller margins for NTIC. NTIC anticipates that such intense competition likely will continue and that new competitors may emerge, including plastic extrusion companies, which would continue to adversely affect NTIC’s operating results.

 

NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services generate a significant portion of NTIC’s net sales and the net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures. Accordingly, if sales of these products and services were to decline, NTIC’s operating results would be adversely affected.

 

NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services generate a significant portion of NTIC’s net sales and the net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures. During fiscal 2015, 85.9% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services. While the net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures are not included in NTIC’s net sales on NTIC’s consolidated financial statements, NTIC’s receipt of fees for services that NTIC provides to its joint ventures and NTIC’s receipt of dividend distributions from its joint ventures is based primarily on the revenues and profitability of the joint ventures. Accordingly, if sales of these products and services were to decline due to increased competition, the introduction of a new disruptive technology or otherwise, NTIC’s operating results would be adversely affected.

 

If NTIC is unable to continue to enhance its existing products and develop and market new products that respond to customer needs and achieve market acceptance, NTIC may experience a decrease in demand for its products, and its business could suffer.

 

One of NTIC’s strategies is to enhance its existing products and develop and market new products that respond to customer needs. NTIC may not be able to compete effectively with its competitors unless NTIC can keep up with existing or new products or alternative technologies in the markets in which it competes. Product development requires significant research and development, financial and other resources. Although in the past NTIC has implemented lean manufacturing and other productivity improvement initiatives to provide investment funding for new products, no assurance can be provided that NTIC will be able to continue to do so in the future. Product improvements and new product introductions also require significant planning, design, development and testing at the technological, product, and manufacturing process levels and NTIC may not be able to timely develop product improvements or new products. NTIC’s competitors’ new products may beat NTIC’s products to market, may be more effective or less expensive than NTIC’s products or render NTIC’s products obsolete. Any new products that NTIC may develop may not receive market acceptance or otherwise generate any meaningful net sales or profits for NTIC relative to its expectations, based on, among other things, existing and anticipated investments in manufacturing capacity and commitments to fund advertising, marketing, promotional programs, and research and development.

 

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NTIC has invested and intends to continue to invest additional research and development and marketing efforts and resources into the application of its corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and the continued launch of its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. No assurance can be provided, however, that NTIC’s investments in these new markets and products will be successful and result in additional revenue to NTIC.

 

In an effort to increase net sales, NTIC has expanded the marketing of its corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. The majority of NTIC’s research and development expense in fiscal 2015 was spent in connection with research and development activities related to these two strategic initiatives. NTIC expects to continue to invest additional research and development and marketing efforts and resources into these strategic initiatives. No assurance can be provided, however, that such strategic initiatives will be successful or that NTIC will be successful in obtaining additional revenue as a result of them. The introduction of new products into new markets takes significant resources and there can be no assurance that NTIC is dedicating a sufficient amount of resources to ensure the success of these strategic initiatives. The sale of NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services into the oil and gas industry, in particular, typically involves a long sales cycle, often including a one- to multi-year trial period with each customer and a slow integration process thereafter. This long sales cycle may cause NTIC’s management, stockholders and investors to lose faith in the business opportunities for NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services in the oil and gas industry.

 

The expansion of NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and the continued launch of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products may require additional capital in the future, which may not be available or may be available only on unfavorable terms. In addition, any equity financings may be dilutive to NTIC’s stockholders.

 

The expansion of NTIC’s corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and the continued launch of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products will continue to require significant resources during fiscal 2016 and beyond. To the extent that NTIC’s existing capital, including amounts available under its revolving line of credit, is insufficient to meet these requirements, NTIC may raise additional capital through financings or additional borrowings. Any equity or debt financing, if available at all, may be on terms that are not favorable to NTIC and any equity financings could result in dilution to NTIC’s stockholders.

 

NTIC’s strategy of expanding its corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and continuing its launch of its Natur-Tec ® bioplastics resin compounds and finished products is risky and may not prove to be successful, which could harm NTIC’s operating results and financial condition.

 

NTIC’s strategy of expanding its corrosion prevention solutions into the oil and gas industry and continuing its launch of its Natur-Tec ® bioplastics resin compounds and finished products, either directly or indirectly through joint ventures and independent distributors and agents, is risky and subject to all of the risks inherent in the establishment of a new business enterprise, including:

 

· the absence of a significant operating history;

· the lack of commercialized products;

· the lack of market acceptance of new products;

· expected substantial and continual losses for such businesses for the foreseeable future;

· the lack of manufacturing experience and limited marketing experience;

 

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· an expected reliance on third parties for the manufacture and commercialization of some of the products;

· a competitive environment characterized by numerous, well-established and well-capitalized competitors;

· insufficient capital and other resources; and

· reliance on key personnel.

 

NTIC relies on others for its production and any interruptions of these arrangements could disrupt NTIC’s ability to fill its customers’ orders.

 

NTIC utilizes contract manufacturers for a significant portion of its production requirements. The majority of NTIC’s manufacturing is conducted in the United States by contract manufacturers that also perform services for numerous other companies. NTIC does not have a guaranteed level of production capacity with any of its contract manufacturers. Qualifying new contract manufacturers is time consuming and might result in unforeseen manufacturing and operations problems. The loss of NTIC’s relationships with its contract manufacturers or their inability to conduct their manufacturing and assembly services for NTIC as anticipated in terms of capacity, cost, quality and timeliness could adversely affect NTIC’s ability to fill customer orders in accordance with required delivery, quality, and performance requirements, and thus adversely affect NTIC’s net sales and other operating results.

 

NTIC’s dependence on key suppliers puts NTIC at risk of interruptions in the availability of its products, which could reduce its net sales and adversely affect its operating results and harm its reputation.

 

NTIC relies on suppliers for certain raw materials and components used in its products. For reasons of quality assurance, cost effectiveness or availability, NTIC procures certain raw materials and components from sole or limited source suppliers. NTIC generally acquires such raw materials and components through purchase orders placed in the ordinary course of business, and as a result, NTIC does not have a significant inventory of these materials and components and does not have any guaranteed or contractual supply arrangements with many of these suppliers for these materials and components. NTIC’s dependence on third-party suppliers involves several risks, including limited control over pricing, availability, quality and delivery schedules, as well as manufacturing yields and costs. Suppliers of such raw materials and components may decide, or be required, for reasons beyond NTIC’s control to cease supplying such raw materials and components to NTIC or to raise their prices. Shortages of raw materials, quality control problems, production capacity constraints or delays by suppliers could negatively affect NTIC’s ability to meet its production obligations and result in increased prices for affected parts. Any such shortage, constraint or delay may result in delays in shipments of products or components, which could adversely affect NTIC’s net sales and other operating results, and its reputation. From time to time, materials and components used in NTIC’s products are subject to allocation because of shortages of these materials and components. With respect to NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, there are a limited number of suppliers of the base resins used to manufacture NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, and in the past, NTIC has experienced some delay in obtaining such base resins. In addition, a number of raw materials and purchased parts used in NTIC’s rust and corrosion inhibiting products and Natur-Tec ® finished products are sourced from suppliers who currently serve as NTIC’s sole source of supply for these components. Future shortages of materials and components could cause delayed shipments and customer dissatisfaction and adversely affect net sales.

 

Increases in prices for raw materials and components used in NTIC’s products could adversely affect NTIC’s operating results.

 

NTIC uses certain raw materials and components in its products, including in particular plastic resins, which are subject to price increases. Increases in prices for raw materials and components used in NTIC’s products could adversely affect NTIC’s gross margins and other operating results.

 

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The commercial success of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products depends on the widespread market acceptance of products manufactured with biobased and biodegradable resins.

 

Although there is a developed market for petroleum-based plastics, the market for “bio-plastics” which are plastics produced with biobased resins, which are derived from renewable resources such as corn or cellulosic/plant material or blends thereof, or plastics that are engineered to be fully biodegradable or both, is still developing. The commercial success of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products depends on the widespread market acceptance of products manufactured with biobased and biodegradable resins. It is currently difficult to assess or predict with any assurance the potential size, timing and viability of market opportunities for NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. The traditional plastics market sector is well-established with entrenched competitors with whom NTIC competes. Pricing for traditional plastics has been highly volatile in recent years, which drive, to some extent, the commercial and other support for bioplastics. While NTIC expects to be able to command a premium price for its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, a widening gap in the pricing for bioplastics versus petroleum-based plastics may reduce the size of the addressable market for NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. In addition, the growth of the market will create some pressure on price for applications today considered commodities, including in particular NTIC’s current Natur-Tec ® finished products.

 

NTIC’s business, properties and products are subject to governmental regulation and taxes, compliance with which may require NTIC to incur expenses or modify its products or operations, and which may expose NTIC to penalties for non-compliance. Governmental regulation also may adversely affect the demand for some of NTIC’s products and its operating results.

 

NTIC’s business, properties and products are subject to a wide variety of international, federal, state and local laws, rules, taxes and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, natural resources, and worker health and safety and the use, management, storage, and disposal of hazardous substances, wastes and other regulated materials. These laws, rules and regulations may affect the way NTIC conducts its operations, and the failure to comply with these regulations could lead to fines and other penalties. Because NTIC owns and operates real property, various environmental laws also may impose liability on NTIC for the costs of cleaning up and responding to hazardous substances that may have been released on NTIC’s property, including releases unknown to NTIC. These environmental laws and regulations also could require NTIC to pay for environmental remediation and response costs at third-party locations where NTIC disposed of or recycled hazardous substances. NTIC’s future costs of complying with the various environmental requirements, as they now exist or may be altered in the future, could adversely affect NTIC’s financial condition and operating results. NTIC is also subject to other international, federal and state laws, rules and regulations, the future non-compliance with which may harm NTIC’s business or may adversely affect the demand for some of its products. Changes in laws and regulations, including changes in accounting standards and taxation changes, including tax rate changes, new tax laws, revised tax law interpretations, also may adversely affect NTIC’s operating results.

 

Fluctuations in NTIC’s effective tax rate could have a significant impact on NTIC’s financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

 

The mix of pre-tax income or loss among the tax jurisdictions in which NTIC operates that have varying tax rates could impact NTIC’s effective tax rate. NTIC is subject to income taxes as well as non-income based taxes, in both the United States and various foreign jurisdictions. Judgment is required in determining the worldwide provision for income taxes, other tax liabilities, interest and penalties. Future events could change management’s assessment. NTIC operates within multiple taxing jurisdictions and is subject to tax audits in these jurisdictions. These audits can involve complex issues, which may require an extended period of time to resolve. NTIC also has made assumptions about the realization of deferred tax assets. Changes in these assumptions could result in a valuation allowance for these assets. Final determination of tax audits or tax disputes may be different from what is currently reflected by NTIC’s income tax provisions and accruals.

 

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NTIC may grow its business through additional joint ventures, alliances and acquisitions, which could be risky and harm its business.

 

One of NTIC’s growth strategies may be to expand its business by entering into additional joint ventures and alliances and acquiring businesses, technologies and products that complement or augment NTIC’s existing products. The benefits of a joint venture, alliance or acquisition may take more time than expected to develop, and NTIC cannot guarantee that any future joint ventures, alliances or acquisitions will in fact produce the intended benefits. In addition, joint ventures, alliances and acquisitions involve a number of risks, including:

 

· diversion of management’s attention;

· difficulties in assimilating the operations and products of a new joint venture or acquired business or in realizing projected efficiencies, cost savings and revenue synergies;

· potential loss of key employees or customers of the new joint venture or acquired business or adverse effects on existing business relationships with suppliers and customers;

· adverse impact on overall profitability if the new joint venture or acquired business does not achieve the financial results projected in NTIC’s valuation models;

· reallocation of amounts of capital from other operating initiatives and/or an increase in NTIC’s leverage and debt service requirements to pay the joint venture capital contribution or the acquisition purchase price, which could in turn restrict NTIC’s ability to access additional capital when needed or to pursue other important elements of NTIC’s business strategy;

· inaccurate assessment of undisclosed, contingent or other liabilities or problems and unanticipated costs associated with the new joint venture or acquisition; and

· incorrect estimates made in the accounting for acquisitions, occurrence of non-recurring charges and write-off of significant amounts of goodwill that could adversely affect NTIC’s operating results.

 

NTIC’s ability to grow through joint ventures, alliances and acquisitions will depend, in part, on the availability of suitable opportunities at an acceptable cost, NTIC’s ability to compete effectively for these opportunities and the availability of capital to complete such transactions.

 

NTIC relies on its joint ventures, distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and other agents to market and sell its products.

 

In addition to its direct sales force, NTIC relies on its joint ventures, distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and other agents to market and sell its products in the United States and internationally. NTIC’s joint ventures, distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and other agents might terminate their relationship with NTIC, or devote insufficient sales efforts to NTIC’s products. NTIC does not control its joint ventures, distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and other agents and they may not be successful in implementing NTIC’s marketing plans. NTIC’s failure to maintain its existing relationships with these entities, or its failure to recruit and retain additional skilled joint venture partners, distributors, manufacturer’s sales representatives and other agents could have an adverse effect on NTIC’s operations. It is anticipated that several of NTIC’s joint venture partners will retire during the next several years which will require a transition on the part of the joint venture as well as NTIC and could harm NTIC’s relationship with the joint venture and NTIC’s business.

 

NTIC may be subject to product liability claims or other claims arising out of the activities of its joint ventures, which could adversely affect NTIC and its business.

 

While NTIC is not aware of any specific potential risk beyond its initial investment in and any undistributed earnings of each of its joint ventures, there can be no assurance that NTIC will not be subject to lawsuits based on product liability claims or other claims arising out of the activities of its joint ventures. To mitigate the ramifications of such an occurrence, NTIC maintains liability insurance specifically applicable to its ownership positions in its joint venture arrangements in excess of any insurance the joint ventures may maintain. No assurance can be provided, however, that such insurance will be available or adequate in the event of a claim.

 

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The sale of ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products into the oil and gas industry is especially risky in light of the hazards typically associated with such operations and the significant amount of potential liability involved, which could adversely affect NTIC’s business if ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products are involved, even if the cause of such events was not related to NTIC’s products.

 

Because NTIC sells its ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products into the oil and gas industry, NTIC is subject to some of the risks and hazards typically associated with such operations, including hazards such as fire, explosion, blowouts, cratering, unplanned gas releases and spills, each of which could be claimed to be attributed to the failure of NTIC’s products to perform as anticipated. If such events occur and NTIC’s products are involved, NTIC’s business and operating results may suffer even if the cause of such events was not related to NTIC’s products.

 

The sale of ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products into the oil and gas industry is somewhat seasonal and dependent upon oil prices.

 

During fiscal 2015, NTIC experienced seasonality with respect to the sale of its ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products into the oil and gas industry, with sales during parts of the second and third fiscal quarters being adversely affected by winter in the United States. In addition, although not anticipated, the sale of NTIC’s ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products into the oil and gas industry were hampered by low global crude oil prices, which NTIC believes constrained capital improvement budgets of its existing and prospective customers.

 

NTIC has limited staffing and will continue to be dependent upon key employees.

 

NTIC’s success is dependent upon the efforts of a small management team and group of employees. NTIC’s future success will depend in large part on its ability to retain its key employees and identify, attract and retain other highly qualified managerial, technical, research and development, sales and marketing and customer service personnel when needed. Competition for these individuals may be intense, especially in the markets in which NTIC operates. NTIC may not succeed in identifying, attracting and retaining these personnel. NTIC’s current management, other than its President and Chief Executive Officer, does not have any material stock ownership in NTIC. In addition, none of NTIC’s employees has any contractual obligation to maintain his or her employment with NTIC. The loss or interruption of services of any of NTIC’s key personnel, including in particular its technical personnel, the inability to identify, attract or retain qualified personnel in the future, delays in hiring qualified personnel, or any employee slowdowns, strikes or similar actions could make it difficult for NTIC to manage its business and meet key objectives, which could harm NTIC’s business, financial condition and operating results.

 

Given NTIC’s limited resources, it may not effectively manage its growth.

 

NTIC’s strategy to grow its business, including in particular its ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products for the oil and gas industry and its Natur-Tec ® bio-plastic resin compounds and finished products, requires significant management time and operational and financial resources. There is no assurance that NTIC has the necessary operational and financial resources to manage its growth. This is especially true as it expands facilities and manufactures its products on a larger commercial scale. In addition, rapid growth in NTIC’s headcount and operations may place a significant strain on its management, administrative, operational and financial infrastructure. Failure to adequately manage its growth could have a material and adverse effect on NTIC’s business, financial condition and operating results. For example, NTIC’s soil side bottom solutions for tanks require implementation teams comprised of both internal NTIC personnel and outside consulting firms. NTIC’s failure to expand these implementation teams to service additional customers may limit NTIC’s ability to grow this business. In addition, NTIC may not be successful in its strategy to grow its business.

 

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Certain of NTIC’s operations are subject to regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

 

The manufacture, sale and use of NTIC’s Natur-Tec ® bio-plastic resin compounds are subject to regulation by the U.S. FDA. The FDA’s regulations are concerned with substances used indirectly in food packaging materials, not with specific finished food packaging products. Thus, food and beverage containers are in compliance with FDA regulations if the components used in the food and beverage containers: (i) are approved by the FDA as indirect food additives for their intended uses and comply with the applicable FDA indirect food additive regulations; or (ii) are generally recognized as safe for their intended uses and are of suitable purity for those intended uses. NTIC believes that its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds are in compliance with all FDA requirements. However, failure to comply with FDA regulations could subject NTIC to administrative, civil or criminal penalties.

 

NTIC relies on its management information systems for inventory management, distribution and other functions. If these information systems fail to adequately perform these functions or if NTIC experiences an interruption in their operation, NTIC’s business and operating results could be adversely affected.

 

The efficient operation of NTIC’s business is dependent on its management information systems. NTIC relies on its management information systems to effectively manage accounting and financial functions; manage order entry, order fulfillment and inventory replenishment processes; and to maintain its research and development data. The failure of management information systems to perform as anticipated could disrupt NTIC’s business and product development and could result in decreased sales, causing NTIC’s business and operating results to suffer. In addition, NTIC’s management information systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural or man-made disasters, terrorist attacks and attacks by computer viruses or hackers, or power loss or computer systems, Internet, telecommunications or data network failure. Any such interruption could adversely affect NTIC’s business and operating results.

 

NTIC’s reliance upon patents, trademark laws, trade secrets and contractual provisions to protect its proprietary rights may not be sufficient to protect its intellectual property from others who may sell similar products.

 

NTIC holds patents relating to various aspects of its products and believes that proprietary technical know-how is critical to many of its products. Proprietary rights relating to NTIC’s products are protected from unauthorized use by third parties only to the extent that they are covered by valid and enforceable patents or are maintained in confidence as trade secrets. NTIC cannot be certain that it will be issued any patents from any pending or future patent applications owned by or licensed to NTIC or that the claims allowed under any issued patents will be sufficiently broad to protect its technology. In the absence of patent protection, NTIC may be vulnerable to competitors who attempt to copy NTIC’s products or gain access to its trade secrets and know-how. NTIC’s competitors may initiate litigation to challenge the validity of NTIC’s patents, or they may use their resources to design comparable products that do not infringe NTIC’s patents. NTIC may incur substantial costs if its competitors initiate litigation to challenge the validity of its patents or if it initiates any proceedings to protect its proprietary rights and if the outcome of any such litigation is unfavorable to NTIC, its business and operating results could be materially adversely affected.

 

In addition, NTIC relies substantially on trade secrets and proprietary know-how that it seeks to protect, in part, by confidentiality agreements with its employees, and consultants. These agreements may be breached and NTIC may not have adequate remedies for any such breach. Even if these confidentiality agreements are not breached, NTIC’s trade secrets may otherwise become known or be independently developed by competitors.

 

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NTIC may not achieve its annual financial guidance or projected goals and objectives in the time periods that NTIC anticipates or announces publicly, which could have an adverse effect on NTIC’s business and could cause its stock price to decline.

 

On a quarterly basis, NTIC typically provides projected annual financial information, including its anticipated annual net sales and net earnings. These financial projections are based on management’s then current expectations and typically do not contain any margin of error or cushion for any specific uncertainties, or for the uncertainties inherent in all financial forecasting. The failure to achieve such financial projections could have an adverse effect on NTIC’s business, disappoint investors and analysts and cause its stock price to decline.

 

NTIC also sets goals and objectives for, and makes public statements regarding, the timing of certain accomplishments and milestones regarding its business, such as its progress in selling its ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services to customers in the oil and gas industry, the progress and timing of its various field trials with prospective customers in the oil and gas industry, its ability to increase sales of its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products, and other developments and milestones. The actual timing of these events can vary dramatically due to a number of factors including without limitation the timing of the receipt of purchase orders, delays or failures in current field trials, the amount of time, effort and resources committed to the sales and marketing of NTIC’s products and services by NTIC and its current and potential future distributors and agents and the uncertainties inherent in introducing new products and services. As a result, there can be no assurance that NTIC will succeed in achieving its projected goals and objectives in the time periods that NTIC anticipates or announces publicly. The failure to achieve such projected goals and objectives in the time periods that NTIC anticipates or announces publicly could have an adverse effect on NTIC’s business, disappoint investors and analysts and cause its stock price to decline.

 

NTIC’s quarterly results are typically unpredictable and subject to variation.

 

NTIC’s quarterly operating results vary from quarter to quarter for a variety of reasons. For example, NTIC’s quarterly sales to joint ventures can be affected by individual orders to joint ventures. Because of the typical size of individual orders to joint ventures and overall size of NTIC’s net sales to joint ventures, the timing of one or more orders can affect materially NTIC’s quarterly sales to joint ventures and the comparisons to prior year quarters. In addition, because of the typical size of individual orders and overall size of NTIC’s net sales derived from sales of Natur-Tec ® products, the timing of one or more orders can affect materially NTIC’s quarterly sales of Natur-Tec ® products and the comparisons to prior year quarters. Furthermore, since ZERUST ® products for the oil and gas industry typically carry higher margins than other traditional ZERUST ® products, the amount of sales of ZERUST ® products for the oil and gas industry typically affects NTIC’s overall margins. Such variability in operating results makes the prediction of NTIC’s net sales, earnings and other operating results for each quarter difficult and increases the risk of unanticipated variations in quarterly operating results. NTIC’s quarterly results have been and in the future may be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors.

 

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As a result of NTIC’s status as an “accelerated filer” under SEC rules, NTIC is subject to additional SEC disclosure and other rules and regulations, which will cause NTIC to incur additional costs to comply with such rules and regulations and the non-compliance of which may have an adverse effect on NTIC’s operating results.

 

Beginning in fiscal 2015, NTIC became an “accelerated filer” under SEC rules and, as a result, is subject to additional SEC disclosure and other rules and regulations, such as additional financial statement requirements with respect to its joint ventures, the requirement of its independent registered public accounting firm to attest to NTIC’s management’s report on the effectiveness of NTIC’s internal control over financial reporting and the requirement of NTIC to comply with certain additional disclosures rules and regulations, including the requirement to include additional executive compensation disclosures in its proxy statement in connection with its annual meeting of stockholders. NTIC’s compliance with such additional rules and regulations may result in additional expense, which may adversely affect its operating results.

 

NTIC is exposed to risks relating to its evaluation of its internal control over financial reporting as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

 

Changing laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and related and other regulations implemented by the SEC and the NASDAQ Stock Market, are challenging for small publicly-held companies, including NTIC. NTIC’s efforts to comply with evolving laws, regulations and standards have resulted in, and are likely to continue to result in, significant general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities. In particular, NTIC’s efforts to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the related regulations regarding NTIC’s assessment of its internal control over financial reporting have required and will continue to require the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources, especially in light of NTIC’s new status as an “accelerated filer” under SEC rules. Although NTIC’s management has concluded that NTIC’s internal control over financial reporting was effective as of August 31, 2015 and NTIC’s independent registered public accounting firm agreed, no assurance can be provided that NTIC’s management or independent registered public accounting firm will reach a similar conclusion as of any later date. NTIC’s failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting may have an adverse effect on its stock price.

 

NTIC’s compliance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and any changes in such principles might adversely affect NTIC’s operating results and financial condition. Any requirement to consolidate NTIC’s joint ventures or subject them to compliance with the internal control provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 could adversely affect NTIC’s operating results and financial condition.

 

If there were a change in accounting rules and NTIC were required to fully consolidate its joint ventures or if NTIC’s joint ventures otherwise would be required to be consolidated with NTIC or be in compliance with the internal control provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, NTIC and the individual joint venture would incur significant additional costs. In addition, other accounting pronouncements issued in the future could have a material cost associated with NTIC’s implementation of such new accounting pronouncements.

 

NTIC’s business is subject to a number of other miscellaneous risks that may adversely affect NTIC’s operating results, financial condition or business.

 

NTIC’s business is subject to a number of other miscellaneous risks that may adversely affect NTIC’s operating results, financial condition or business, such as natural or man-made disasters or global pandemics that may result in shortages of raw materials, higher commodity costs, an increase in insurance premiums and other adverse effects on NTIC’s business; the continued threat of terrorist acts and war that may result in heightened security and higher costs for import and export shipments of components or finished goods; and the ability of NTIC’s management to adapt to unplanned events.

 

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Risks Related to NTIC’s Common Stock

 

The trading volume of NTIC’s common stock is typically very low, leaving NTIC’s common stock open to risk of high volatility.

 

The number of shares of NTIC’s common stock being traded on a daily basis is often very low and on some trading days, there is no trading volume at all. During fiscal 2015, the daily trading volume ranged from zero shares to 80,300 shares. Any NTIC stockholder wishing to sell his, her or its stock may cause a significant fluctuation in the trading price of NTIC’s common stock. In addition, low trading volume of a stock increases the possibility that, despite rules against such activity, the price of the stock may be manipulated by persons acting in their own self-interest. NTIC may not have adequate market makers and market making activity to prevent manipulation in its common stock.

 

The price and trading volume of NTIC’s common stock has been, and may continue to be, volatile.

 

The market price and trading volume of NTIC’s common stock price historically has fluctuated over a wide range. During fiscal 2015, the sale price of NTIC’s common stock ranged from a low of $14.98 per share to a high of $24.85 per share, and the daily trading volume ranged from zero shares to 80,300 shares. It is likely that the price and trading volume of NTIC’s common stock will continue to fluctuate in the future. The securities of small capitalization companies, including NTIC, from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations, often unrelated to the operating performance of these companies. Securities class action litigation is sometimes brought against a company following periods of volatility in the market price of its securities or for other reasons. NTIC may become the target of similar litigation, especially if we fail to meet our annual projected financial guidance or lower our annual projected financial guidance. Securities litigation, whether with or without merit, could result in substantial costs and divert management’s attention and resources, which could harm NTIC’s business, financial condition, and operating results, as well as the market price of its common stock.

 

A large percentage of NTIC’s outstanding common stock is held by insiders, and, as a result, the trading market for NTIC’s common stock is not as liquid as the stock of other public companies.

 

As of November 10, 2015, NTIC had 4,538,317 shares of common stock outstanding, of which 19.2% of these outstanding shares were beneficially owned by directors, executive officers, principal stockholders and their respective affiliates. The stock of companies with a substantial amount of stock held by insiders is usually not as liquid as the stock of other public companies where insider ownership is not as concentrated. Thus, the trading market for shares of NTIC’s common stock may not be as liquid as the stock of other public companies.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about NTIC’s business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding NTIC’s common stock, the market price for NTIC’s common stock and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for NTIC’s common stock has been influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about NTIC or its business. If one or more analysts who cover NTIC downgrade NTIC’s common stock, the market price for NTIC’s common stock would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of NTIC or fail to regularly publish reports on NTIC, NTIC could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for NTIC’s common stock to decline.

 

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NTIC does not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.

 

Although in the past NTIC has paid dividends on its common stock, NTIC has not done so since fiscal 2005. The payment of any future dividends will be determined by NTIC’s Board of Directors in light of conditions then existing, including NTIC’s earnings (if any), financial condition, cash requirements, restrictions in financing agreements, business conditions and other factors. NTIC’s Board of Directors currently does not anticipate paying a dividend on NTIC’s common stock in the near future, but rather intends to retain all of its earnings for the foreseeable future to finance the operation and expansion of its business. As a result, NTIC’s stockholders will only receive a return on their investment in NTIC’s common stock if the market price of NTIC’s common stock increases.

 

One of NTIC’s principal stockholders beneficially owns a significant percentage of NTIC’s outstanding common stock and is affiliated with NTIC’s President and Chief Executive Officer and thus may be able to influence matters requiring stockholder approval, including the election of directors, and could discourage or otherwise impede a transaction in which a third party wishes to purchase NTIC’s outstanding shares at a premium.

 

As of November 10, 2015, Inter Alia Holding Company, or Inter Alia, beneficially owned approximately 13.3% of NTIC’s outstanding common stock. Inter Alia is an entity partially owned by G. Patrick Lynch, NTIC’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, as well as three other members of the Lynch family. Mr. Lynch shares voting and dispositive power of shares of NTIC’s common stock held by Inter Alia with the other owners. As a result of his share ownership through Inter Alia and his position as President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of NTIC, Mr. Lynch may be able to influence the affairs and actions of NTIC, including matters requiring stockholder approval, such as the election of directors and approval of significant corporate transactions. The interests of Mr. Lynch and Inter Alia may differ from the interests of NTIC’s other stockholders. This concentration of ownership may have the effect of delaying, preventing or deterring a change in control of NTIC, could deprive NTIC’s stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common stock as part of a sale or merger of NTIC and may negatively affect the market price of NTIC’s common stock. Transactions that could be affected by this concentration of ownership include proxy contests, tender offers, mergers or other purchases of common stock that could give stockholders the opportunity to realize a premium over the then-prevailing market price for shares of NTIC’s common stock.

 

Future equity issuances by NTIC may have dilutive and other effects on NTIC’s existing stockholders.

 

As of November 10, 2015, there were 4,538,317 shares of NTIC’s common stock outstanding, and in addition, security holders held options, which, if vested and exercised, would obligate NTIC to issue up to 295,181 additional shares of common stock. It is expected that such shares, when NTIC issues them upon exercise, will be available for immediate resale in the public market. The market price of NTIC’s common stock could fall as a result of sales of these shares of common stock due to the increased number of shares available for sale in the market. Any issuances by NTIC of equity securities may be at or below the prevailing market price of NTIC’s common stock and may have a dilutive impact on NTIC’s existing stockholders. These issuances or other dilutive issuances also would cause NTIC’s net income per share, if any, to decrease in future periods. As a result, the market price of NTIC’s common stock could decrease.

 

Item 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

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Item 2. PROPERTIES

 

NTIC’s principal executive offices, production facilities and domestic research and development operations are located at 4201 Woodland Road, Circle Pines, Minnesota 55014. NTIC owns this real estate and building, which is no longer subject to any mortgage.

 

NTIC leased approximately 17,000 square feet of office, manufacturing, laboratory and warehouse space located in Beachwood, Ohio. NTIC had a number of research and development personnel at this location. This lease expired on December 31, 2014. At that time, such personnel then moved to a new facility that was purchased in July 2014. NTIC purchased certain real property and a building in Beachwood, Ohio, for the purchase price of $1,100,000 in cash. This purchase was completed on August 20, 2014. NTIC owns this real estate and building, which is not subject to any mortgage.

 

Additionally, NTIC has contract warehousing agreements in place in California and Indiana to hold and release stock products to customers.

 

NTIC’s management considers NTIC’s current properties suitable and adequate for its current and foreseeable needs.

 

Item 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

On March 23, 2015, NTIC and NTI Asean LLC, a majority-owned subsidiary of NTIC, filed a lawsuit in Tianjin No 1 Intermediate People’s Court against two individuals, Meng Tao and Xu Hui, related to breaches of duties and contractual commitments owed to NTI Asean under certain agreements related to NTIC’s former joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust Anti-Corrosion Technologies Ltd. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that Mr. Meng Tao and Xu Hui have engaged in self-dealing, usurped business opportunities, and received economic benefits that were required to go to Tianjin Zerust. At this point it is too early in the lawsuit to reasonably estimate the amount of any recovery to NTI Asean.

 

On April 21, 2015, NTIC and NTI Asean initiated a lawsuit in the District Court for the Second Judicial District, County of Ramsey, State of Minnesota against Cortec Corporation alleging, among other things, that Cortec Corporation aided and abetted breaches of duties and contractual commitments owed to NTIC and NTI Asean related to NTIC’s joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust.

 

From time to time, NTIC is subject to various other claims and legal actions in the ordinary course of its business. NTIC is not currently involved in any legal proceeding in which NTIC believes that there is a reasonable possibility of a material loss.

 

Item 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

 

Not applicable.

 

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Item 4A. EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF THE REGISTRANT

 

The two individuals named below have been designated by NTIC’s Board of Directors as “executive officers” of NTIC. Their ages and the offices held, as of November 10, 2015, are as follows:

 

Name

Age

Position with NTIC

G. Patrick Lynch 48 President and Chief Executive Officer
     
Matthew C. Wolsfeld 41 Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary

 

G. Patrick Lynch, an employee of NTIC since 1995, has been President since July 2005 and Chief Executive Officer since January 2006 and was appointed a director of NTIC in February 2004. From July 2005 to January 2006, Mr. Lynch served as Chief Operating Officer of NTIC.  Mr. Lynch served as President of North American Operations of NTIC from May 2004 to July 2005.  Prior to May 2004, Mr. Lynch held various positions with NTIC, including Vice President of Strategic Planning, Corporate Secretary and Project Manager. Mr. Lynch is also an officer and director of Inter Alia Holding Company, a holding company that is a significant stockholder of NTIC. Prior to joining NTIC, Mr. Lynch held positions in sales management for Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan and programming project management for BMW AG in Munich, Germany. Mr. Lynch received an M.B.A. degree from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

Matthew C. Wolsfeld, an employee of NTIC since February 2001, has been NTIC’s Chief Financial Officer since November 2001 and Corporate Secretary since November 2004. Mr. Wolsfeld was Controller of NTIC from May 2001 through November 2001. Prior to joining NTIC, Mr. Wolsfeld held an auditing position with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1997 to 2001. Mr. Wolsfeld received a B.A. degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame and received his M.B.A. degree at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Business. Mr. Wolsfeld is a Certified Public Accountant.

 

Other corporate officers of NTIC, their ages and the offices held, as of November 10, 2015, are as follows:

 

Name

Age

Position with NTIC

     
Vineet R. Dalal 45 Vice President and Director – Global Market Development – Natur-Tec ®
     
Gautam Ramdas 42

Vice President and Director – Global Market Development – Oil & Gas

 

Vineet R. Dalal, an employee of NTIC since 2004, has served as Vice President and Director – Global Market Development – Natur-Tec ® since November 2005. Prior to joining NTIC, Mr. Dalal was a Principal in the Worldwide Product Development Practice of PRTM, a management consultancy to technology based companies (now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Consulting). In this position, Mr. Dalal consulted to several Fortune 500 companies, in the areas of product strategy, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and technology management. Prior to that, Mr. Dalal held positions in program management and design engineering at National Semiconductor Corporation in Santa Clara, California. Mr. Dalal received an M.B.A. degree from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also holds an M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University, and a B.Eng. degree in Electronics Engineering from Karnatak University, India.

 

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Gautam Ramdas, an employee of NTIC since 2005, has served as Vice President and Director – Global Market Development – Oil & Gas since 2005. Prior to joining NTIC, Mr. Ramdas was a Manager in the Strategic Change group of IBM Business Consulting Services. In this position, Mr. Ramdas led consulting engagements at several Fortune 500 companies, in the areas of service strategy, global supplier relationship management and supply chain streamlining. Mr. Ramdas held positions in the E-Commerce and Supply Chain strategy groups at PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Consulting, again providing consulting services for Fortune 500 clients. Prior to management consulting, Mr. Ramdas worked as a program manager and design engineer with Kinhill Engineers in Australia. He has also been involved in the start-up stage of successful small businesses in the United States and in India. Mr. Ramdas received an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy (Chennai), India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PART II

 

Item 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

Market Information

 

NTIC’s common stock is listed for trading on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “NTIC.” The following table sets forth the high and low daily sales prices for NTIC’s common stock, as reported by the NASDAQ Global Market, for the fiscal quarter indicated:

 

    High   Low
Fiscal 2015                
Fourth Quarter   $ 18.48     $ 14.98  
Third Quarter     21.40       16.45  
Second Quarter     24.85       19.00  
First Quarter     23.89       17.75  
Fiscal 2014
               
Fourth Quarter   $ 22.20     $ 16.30  
Third Quarter     22.95       19.87  
Second Quarter     23.83       17.17  
First Quarter     19.00       14.55  

 

Dividends

 

Although NTIC’s Board of Directors has declared cash dividends to NTIC’s stockholders in the past, the payment of any future dividends will be determined by NTIC’s Board of Directors in light of conditions then existing, including NTIC’s earnings, financial condition, cash requirements, restrictions in financing agreements, business conditions and other factors. The Board of Directors currently does not anticipate paying a dividend on NTIC’s common stock in the near future, but rather intends to retain all of its earnings for the foreseeable future to finance the operation and expansion of its business.

 

Number of Record Holders

 

As of August 31, 2015, there were 183 record holders of NTIC’s common stock. This does not include shares held in “street name” or beneficially owned.

 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities

 

NTIC did not sell any shares of its common stock or any other equity securities of NTIC that were not registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015.

 

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Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

The following table shows NTIC’s fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 stock repurchase activity.

 

Period

Total Number of Shares

(or Units) Purchased

Average Price Paid Per Share (or Unit)

Total Number of Shares (or Units) Purchased As Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs Maximum Number of Shares (or Units) that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
June 1, 2015 through June 30, 2015 0 N/A 0 (1)
July 1, 2015 through July 31, 2015 0 N/A 0 (1)
August 1, 2015 through August 31, 2015 1,587 $15.34 1,587 (1)(2)
Total 1,587 $15.34 1,587 (1)(2)

 

(1) On January 15, 2015, NTIC’s Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $3,000,000 in shares of NTIC common stock through open market purchases or unsolicited or solicited privately negotiated transactions. This program has no expiration date but may be terminated by NTIC’s Board of Directors at any time.

 

(2) As of August 31, 2015, up to $2,975,654 in shares of NTIC common stock remained available for repurchase under NTIC’s stock repurchase program.

 

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NTIC Common Stock Comparative Performance Graph

 

The information contained in this section shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or “filed” or incorporated by reference in future filings with the SEC, or subject to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, except to the extent that NTIC specifically requests that it be treated as soliciting material or incorporate it by reference into a document filed under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.

 

The following graph and table depict the cumulative total shareholder return (assuming reinvestment of dividends) on $100 invested in each of NTIC common stock, Russell Microcap Index and Wilshire Microcap index for the five-year period from August 31, 2010 through August 31, 2015.

 

 

 

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Item 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

 

The following tables set forth certain of NTIC’s selected consolidated financial data as of the dates and for the years indicated. The selected consolidated financial data was derived from NTIC’s consolidated financial statements. The audited consolidated financial statements as of August 31, 2015 and 2014 and for the fiscal years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 are included elsewhere in this report. The audited consolidated financial statements as of August 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011 and for the fiscal years ended August 31, 2012 and 2011 are not included in this report. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for any future period.

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31,
    2015   2014   2013   2012   2011
Statements of Operations Data:                    
Net sales, excluding joint ventures   $ 27,491,392     $ 23,601,514     $ 19,724,205     $ 20,227,719     $ 16,594,004  
Net sales, to joint ventures     2,831,301       3,224,594       2,777,659       2,553,934       2,932,523  
Total net sales     30,322,693       26,826,108       22,501,864       22,781,653       19,526,527  
Cost of goods sold     20,555,932       17,803,153       15,473,212       14,528,785       12,768,640  
Gross profit     9,766,761       9,022,955       7,028,652       8,252,868       6,757,887  
Equity in income from joint ventures     5,936,565       5,920,603       5,237,711       5,519,795       5,536,243  
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     5,715,491       8,142,863       7,352,980       4,622,912       6,129,979  
Total joint venture operations     11,652,056       14,063,466       12,590,691       10,142,707       11,666,222  
Selling expenses     5,820,748       5,221,738       4,845,676       4,585,901       4,090,704  
General and administrative expenses     6,531,576       5,393,531       4,605,979       4,309,410       4,343,283  
Expenses incurred in support of joint ventures     1,867,570       1,408,014       1,387,197       1,054,914       1,000,576  
Research and development expenses     4,047,279       4,368,752       3,815,515       3,875,581       4,364,109  
Total operating expenses     18,267,173       16,392,035       14,654,367       13,825,806       13,798,672  
Operating income     3,151,644       6,694,386       4,964,976       4,569,769       4,625,437  
Interest income     34,835       11,617       34,614       54,652       108,692  
Interest expense     (20,960 )     (47,322 )     (52,215 )     (29,388 )     (59,541 )
Other income     515       4,393       670,126       21,613       27,300  
Income before income taxes     3,166,034       6,663,074       5,617,501       4,616,646       4,701,888  
Income tax expense (benefit)     648,674       1,124,662       864,000       1,041,000       706,000  
Net income     2,517,360       5,538,412       4,753,501       3,575,646       3,995,888  
Net income attributable to non-controlling interests     727,789       1,432,040       1,386,607       127,450       95,768  
Net income attributable to NTIC   $ 1,789,571     $ 4,106,372     $ 3,366,894     $ 3,448,196     $ 3,900,120  
Net income attributable to NTIC per common share:                                        
Basic   $ 0.40     $ 0.92     $ 0.76     $ 0.79     $ 0.90  
Diluted   $ 0.38     $ 0.90     $ 0.75     $ 0.78     $ 0.89  
Weighted-average common shares assumed outstanding:                                        
Basic     4,521,788       4,454,836       4,421,636       4,391,424       4,325,863  
Diluted     4,649,060       4,579,498       4,475,895       4,451,594       4,404,100  
Balance Sheet Data:                                        
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 2,623,981     $ 2,477,017     $ 4,314,258     $ 4,137,547     $ 3,266,362  
Available for sale securities     2,027,441       5,519,766                    
Total current assets     19,275,612       22,319,966       16,932,505       14,059,726       13,490,514  
Total assets     51,565,648       54,057,775       49,053,949       41,877,627       40,039,742  
Total current liabilities     3,671,841       4,466,655       3,662,053       3,999,645       4,404,766  
Note payable, net of current portion                 857,295       933,413       1,009,533  
Non-controlling interests     3,019,702       3,837,257       3,800,929       187,913       91,795  
Total stockholders’ equity     44,874,105       45,753,863       40,733,672       36,756,656       34,533,648  
Total equity     47,893,807       49,591,120       44,534,601       36,944,569       34,625,443  
Other Financial Data:                                        
Net cash used in operating activities   $ (755,545 )   $ 7,422,912     $ 1,910,702     $ 2,671,851     $ 1,702,214  
Net cash (used in) provided by investing activities     1,901,224       7,457,380       1,752,842       (1,709,077 )     (653,522 )
Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities     (874,652 )     (1,814,418 )     (1,563,867 )     13,822       408,719  
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash and cash equivalents     (124,064 )     11,646       (39,574 )     (105,411 )     32,789  

 

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Item 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

This Management’s Discussion and Analysis provides material historical and prospective disclosures intended to enable investors and other users to assess NTIC’s financial condition and results of operations. Statements that are not historical are forward-looking and involve risks and uncertainties discussed under the heading “Part I. Item 1. Business—Forward-Looking Statements” and under the heading “Part I. Item 1A. Risk Factors.” The following discussion of the results of the operations and financial condition of NTIC should be read in conjunction with NTIC’s consolidated financial statements and the related notes thereto included under “Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

 

This Management’s Discussion and Analysis is organized in the following major sections:

 

· Business Overview . This section provides a brief overview description of NTIC’s business, focusing in particular on developments during the most recent fiscal year.

 

· NTIC’s Joint Venture Network . This section provides a brief overview of NTIC’s joint venture network, the joint ventures which are considered individually significant to NTIC’s consolidated assets and income and how NTIC’s joint ventures are accounted for by NTIC.

 

· Financial Overview . This section provides a brief summary of NTIC’s financial results and financial condition for fiscal 2015.

 

· Sales and Expense Components . This section provides a brief description of the significant line items in NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations.

 

· Results of Operations . This section provides an analysis of the significant line items in NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations.

 

· Liquidity and Capital Resources . This section provides an analysis of NTIC’s liquidity and cash flows and a discussion of NTIC’s financial condition and financial commitments.

 

· Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements . This section describes NTIC’s material off-balance sheet arrangements.

 

· Inflation and Seasonality . This section describes the effects of inflation and seasonality, if any, on NTIC’s business and operating results.

 

· Market Risk . This section describes material market risks to which NTIC is subject.

 

· Related Party Transactions . This section describes any material related party transactions to which NTIC is a party.

 

· Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates . This section discusses NTIC’s critical accounting policies and estimates which require NTIC to exercise subjective or complex judgments in their application. All of NTIC’s significant accounting policies, including its critical accounting estimates, are summarized in Note 1 to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements.

 

· Recent Accounting Pronouncements . This section discusses recently issued accounting pronouncements that have had or may affect NTIC’s results of operations and financial condition and references Note 2 to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements, which summarizes such pronouncements.

 

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Business Overview

 

NTIC develops and markets proprietary environmentally beneficial products and services in over 60 countries either directly or via a network of subsidiaries, joint ventures, independent distributors and agents. NTIC’s primary business is corrosion prevention marketed mainly under the ZERUST® brand. NTIC has been selling its proprietary ZERUST® products and services to the automotive, electronics, electrical, mechanical, military and retail consumer markets for over 40 years, and in recent years, has targeted and expanded into the oil and gas industry. NTIC also markets and sells a portfolio of biobased and compostable (fully biodegradable) polymer resins and finished products under the Natur-Tec® brand. These products are intended to reduce NTIC’s customers’ carbon footprint and provide environmentally sound waste disposal options.

 

NTIC’s ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products include plastic and paper packaging, liquids and coatings, rust removers and cleaners, diffusers and engineered solutions designed specifically for the oil and gas industry. NTIC also offers worldwide on-site technical consulting for rust and corrosion prevention issues. NTIC’s technical service consultants work directly with the end users of NTIC’s ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products to analyze their specific needs and develop systems to meet their technical requirements. In North America, NTIC sells its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions through a direct sales force as well as a network of independent distributors and agents. Internationally, NTIC sells its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions through its wholly-owned subsidiary in China, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (NTIC China), its majority-owned subsidiary in Brazil, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A. (Zerust Brazil), its majority-owned joint venture holding company for NTIC’s joint venture investments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, and joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia.

 

One of NTIC’s strategic initiatives is to expand into and penetrate other markets for its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions. Consequently, for the past several years, NTIC has focused its sales and marketing efforts on the oil and gas industry, as the infrastructure that supports that industry is typically constructed using metals that are highly susceptible to corrosion. NTIC believes that its ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions will minimize maintenance downtime on critical oil and gas industry infrastructure, extend the life of such infrastructure and reduce the risk of environmental pollution due to corrosion leaks.

 

NTIC markets and sells its ZERUST® rust and corrosion prevention solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry across several countries either directly or through NTIC’s joint venture partners and other strategic partners. The sale of ZERUST® corrosion prevention solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry typically involves a long sales cycle, often including a one- to multi-year trial period with each customer and a slow integration process thereafter.

 

Natur-Tec® biobased and compostable plastics are manufactured using NTIC’s patented and/or proprietary technologies and are intended to replace conventional petroleum-based plastics. The Natur-Tec® biopolymer resin compound portfolio includes formulations that have been optimized for a variety of applications including blown-film extrusion, extrusion coating, injection molding, and engineered plastics. These resins are fully biodegradable in a composting environment and are currently being used to produce finished products including shopping and grocery bags, lawn and leaf bags, can liners, pet waste collection bags, cutlery, packaging foam and coated paper products. In North America, NTIC markets its Natur-Tec® resins and finished products primarily through a network of regional and national distributors as well as independent agents. NTIC continues to see significant opportunities for finished bioplastic products and, therefore, continues to strengthen and expand its North American distribution network for finished Natur-Tec® bioplastic products. Internationally, NTIC sells its Natur-Tec® resins and finished products both directly and through its majority-owned subsidiary in India, Natur-Tec India Private Limited (Natur-Tec India), and through certain joint ventures. In November 2014, NTIC entered into an agreement with NatureWorks LLC for joint marketing and sales of Ingeo® based packaging solutions to customers in India. With recent Indian government mandates banning use of non-biodegradable plastics in certain types of food and consumer packaging, NTIC expects the market in India for bioplastic packaging solutions to grow substantially.

 

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Termination of Chinese Joint Venture

 

On January 2, 2015, NTIC announced that, effective as of December 31, 2014, it is selling its ZERUST® products and services in China through a wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (NTIC China), and has terminated its joint venture agreements with Tianjin-Zerust Anticorrosion Co., Ltd. (Tianjin Zerust).  NTIC and NTI Asean have filed a lawsuit against Mr. Tao Meng, a Chinese national and the former joint venture entity’s other shareholder, and his spouse in the Chinese court of Tianjin, seeking, among other things, an orderly liquidation of Tianjin Zerust.

 

NTIC indirectly has a 30% ownership interest in Tianjin Zerust through its 60% owned holding company subsidiary, NTI Asean LLC.  Commencing during the second quarter of fiscal 2015, NTIC’s consolidated financial statements include the financial results of NTIC China.  NTIC anticipates that NTIC’s net sales, costs of goods sold and operating expenses will increase and its equity in income from joint ventures and fee income for services provided to its joint ventures will decrease in future periods compared to the comparable prior fiscal year periods as NTIC started recognizing Tianjin Zerust based on its carrying value instead of the equity method and will continue to do so until Tianjin Zerust is fully liquidated. 

 

NTIC anticipates that it may take several quarters to transition many of the previous customers of Tianjin Zerust to NTIC China and no assurance can be provided that NTIC China will be able to achieve the net sales and income levels previously achieved by Tianjin Zerust.   For fiscal 2014, Tianjin Zerust had net sales of $15.9 million and net income of $1.3 million.  The operating income of the joint venture before paying royalties in an aggregate amount of $4.2 million to all shareholders was over $5.5 million; NTIC’s indirect ownership of Tianjin Zerust is 30%. 

 

During fiscal 2015, NTIC incurred approximately $1,640,000 in start-up expenses related either directly or indirectly to the establishment of NTIC China, the termination of the joint venture agreements with Tianjin Zerust and its pending litigation against Mr. Tao Meng and his spouse, and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and against Cortec Corporation. These expenses are recorded as selling, general and administrative expenses and expenses incurred in support of joint ventures on the consolidated statements of operations.

 

NTIC expects that its operating results may be volatile over the next few quarters as a result of NTIC’s Chinese operations. 

 

NTIC’s Joint Venture Network

 

NTIC participates in 19 active joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia. Each of these joint ventures generally manufactures and markets products in the geographic territory to which it is assigned. While most of NTIC’s joint ventures exclusively sell rust and corrosion inhibiting products, some of the joint ventures also sell NTIC’s Natur-Tec® resin compounds. NTIC has historically funded its investments in joint ventures with cash generated from operations.

 

NTIC’s receipt of funds from its joint ventures is dependent upon fees for services that NTIC provides to its joint ventures, based primarily on the net sales of the individual joint ventures, and NTIC’s receipt of dividend distributions from the joint ventures. The fees for services provided to joint ventures are determined based on either a flat fee or a percentage of sales depending on local laws and tax regulations. With respect to NTIC’s joint venture in Germany (EXCOR), NTIC recognizes an agreed upon quarterly fee for such services. NTIC recognizes equity income from its joint ventures based on the overall profitability of its joint ventures. Such profitability is subject to variability from quarter to quarter which, in turn, subjects NTIC’s earnings to variability from quarter to quarter. The profits of NTIC’s joint ventures are shared by the respective joint venture owners in accordance with their respective ownership percentages. NTIC typically directly or indirectly owns 50% or less of each of its joint venture entities and thus does not control the decisions of these entities regarding whether to pay dividends and, if paid, how much they should be in a given year. The payment of a dividend by an entity is determined by a joint vote of the owners and is not at the sole discretion of NTIC.

 

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NTIC accounts for the investments and financial results of its joint ventures in its financial statements utilizing the equity method of accounting.

 

The results of Zerust Brazil, NTI Asean and Natur-Tec India, and as of December 31, 2014, NTIC China, are fully consolidated in NTIC’s consolidated financial statements. NTIC holds 85% of the equity and 85% of the voting rights of Zerust Brazil. NTIC holds 60% of the equity and 60% of the voting rights of NTI Asean. NTI Asean holds investments in eight entities that operate in the following eight territories located in the ASEAN region: China (although liquidation was initiated December 31, 2014), Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. NTIC holds 90% of the equity and 90% of the voting rights of Natur-Tec India. NTIC China is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTIC.

 

NTIC considers EXCOR and its former joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust, to be individually significant to NTIC’s consolidated assets and income; and therefore, provides certain additional information regarding EXCOR and Tianjin Zerust in the notes to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements and in this section of this report.

 

For fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, EXCOR met the conditions of a significant subsidiary of NTIC under Rule 1-02(w) of Regulation S-X. Pursuant to Rue 3-09 of Regulation S-X, NTIC intends to file an amendment to this report containing separate audited financial statements for EXCOR.

 

Financial Overview

 

NTIC’s management, including its chief executive officer who is NTIC’s chief operating decision maker, reports and manages NTIC’s operations in two reportable business segments based on products sold, customer base and distribution center: ZERUST® products and services and Natur-Tec® products.

 

NTIC’s consolidated net sales increased 13.0% during fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014. This increase was primarily a result of increased demand for ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting packaging products and services and Natur-Tec® products and, to some extent, sales at NTIC China, which subsidiary did not exist during fiscal 2014. During fiscal 2015, 85.9% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of ZERUST® products and services, which increased 9.2% to $26,042,909 during fiscal 2015 compared to $23,845,288 during fiscal 2014. This increase was due to increased demand from both new and existing customers for new and existing products. NTIC has focused its sales efforts of ZERUST® products and services by strategically targeting customers with specific corrosion issues in new market areas, including the oil and gas industry and other industrial sectors that offer sizable growth opportunities. NTIC’s consolidated net sales for fiscal 2015 included $1,886,814 of sales made to customers in the oil and gas industry compared to $1,702,130 for fiscal 2014. Overall demand for ZERUST® products and services depends heavily on the overall health of the markets in which NTIC sells its products, including the automotive market in particular.

 

During fiscal 2015, 14.1% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of Natur-Tec® products compared to 11.1% during fiscal 2014. Net sales of Natur-Tec® products increased 43.6% to $4,279,785 during fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 primarily due to finished product sales in North America and finished product sales at NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary in India, Natur-Tec India Private Limited (Natur-Tec India).

 

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Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales increased to 67.8% during fiscal 2015 compared to 66.4% during fiscal 2014 primarily as a result of increased sales during fiscal 2015 of Natur-Tec® products, which carry lower margins than ZERUST® products.

 

NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures increased 0.3% to $5,936,565 during fiscal 2015 compared to $5,920,603 during fiscal 2014. This increase was primarily due to increases in profitability at the joint ventures, partially offset by decreases associated with the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and adverse effects of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, including in particular the Euro compared to the U.S. dollar. NTIC recognized a 29.8% decrease in fees for services provided to joint ventures during fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 primarily due to the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust. Fees for services provided to Tianjin Zerust decreased $1,623,938 to $494,080 during fiscal 2015 compared to $2,118,018 during fiscal 2014. Additionally, there was a decrease in sales at the joint ventures, which were $99,026,251 during fiscal 2015, compared to $118,848,890 during fiscal 2014. This decrease resulted in a corresponding decrease in fees for services provided to joint ventures as such fees are a function of net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures. Net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures decreased also as a result of a significant weakening of the Euro compared to the U.S. dollar and, to a lesser extent, the sale in November 2013 of NTIC’s ownership interest in Mütec GmbH.

 

NTIC’s total operating expenses increased 11.4% to $18,267,173 during fiscal 2015 compared to $16,392,035 in fiscal 2014. This increase was primarily due to $1,642,258 in expenses related to the formation and establishment of NTIC China and the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust. Such expenses consisted primarily of legal and personnel expenses associated with the establishment of the subsidiary, the hiring of new personnel and initial operations.

 

NTIC expenses all costs related to product research and development as incurred. NTIC incurred $4,047,279 of research and development expense during fiscal 2015 compared to $4,368,752 during fiscal 2014. These represent net amounts after being reduced by reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts. Such reimbursements totaled $0 and $45,788 for fiscal 2015 and 2014, respectively. NTIC anticipates that it will spend between $4,000,000 and $4,400,000 in total during fiscal 2016 on research and development activities related to its new technologies. This estimate is a net range after being reduced by anticipated reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts.

 

Net income attributable to NTIC decreased 56.4%, to $1,789,571, or $0.39 per diluted common share, for fiscal 2015 compared to $4,106,372, or $0.90 per diluted common share, for fiscal 2014. This decrease was primarily the result of the decrease in income from NTIC’s joint venture operations as a result of the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the establishment of NTIC China.

 

NTIC anticipates that its quarterly net income or loss will continue to remain subject to significant volatility primarily due to the financial performance of its subsidiaries and joint ventures and sales of its ZERUST® products and services into the oil and gas industry and Natur-Tec® bioplastics products, which sales fluctuate more on a quarterly basis than the traditional ZERUST® business. NTIC also anticipates that its operating results during the next few quarters will remain volatile as a result of the changes in its Chinese operations.

 

NTIC’s working capital was $15,603,771 at August 31, 2015, including $2,623,981 in cash and cash equivalents and $2,027,441 in available for sale securities, compared to $17,853,311 at August 31, 2014, including $2,477,017 in cash and cash equivalents and $5,519,766 in available for sale securities.

 

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Sales and Expense Components

 

The following is a description of the primary components of net sales and expenses:

 

Net Sales, Excluding Joint Ventures . NTIC derives net sales from the sale of its ZERUST ® products and services and its Natur-Tec ® products. NTIC sells its ZERUST ® products and services and its Natur-Tec ® products either directly, through its subsidiaries or via a network of joint ventures, independent distributors and agents. Net sales, excluding joint ventures represents net sales by NTIC either directly to end users or to distributors worldwide, but not sales to NTIC’s joint ventures and not sales by NTIC’s joint ventures. NTIC recognizes revenue from the sale of its products when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, the product has been delivered, the fee is fixed and determinable and collection of the resulting receivable is reasonably assured, all of which criteria are generally met upon shipment when risk of loss and title passes to the customer or distributor. NTIC records all amounts billed to customers and distributors in a sales transaction related to shipping and handling as sales and records costs related to shipping and handling in cost of goods sold.

 

Net Sales, To Joint Ventures . Net sales, to joint ventures represents net sales by NTIC to NTIC’s joint ventures, but not sales by NTIC either directly to end users or to distributors or sales by NTIC’s joint ventures. NTIC’s revenue recognition policy for sales to its joint ventures is the same as NTIC’s policy for sales to unaffiliated customers. NTIC recognizes revenue from the sale of its products to joint ventures when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, the product has been delivered, the fee is fixed and determinable and collection of the resulting receivable is reasonably assured, all of which criteria are generally met upon shipment when risk of loss and title passes to the joint venture.

 

Cost of Goods Sold . Most of NTIC’s products are manufactured by third parties and its cost of goods sold for those products consists primarily of the price invoiced by its third-party vendors. For the portion of products that NTIC manufactures, NTIC’s cost of goods sold for those products consists primarily of direct labor, allocated manufacturing overhead, raw materials and components. NTIC’s margins on its Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products are generally smaller than its margins on its ZERUST ® products and services, and NTIC’s margins on its ZERUST ® products and services sold into the oil and gas industry are generally greater than its margins on its traditional ZERUST ® products and services.

 

Equity in Income from Joint Ventures . NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures consists of NTIC’s share of equity in income from its joint ventures based on the overall profitability of the joint ventures. Such profitability is subject to variability from quarter to quarter which, in turn, subjects NTIC’s earnings to variability from quarter to quarter. Traditionally, a portion of the equity income recorded in a given fiscal year is paid to the owners of the joint venture entity during the following fiscal year through a dividend. The payment of a dividend by a joint venture entity is determined by a vote of the joint venture owners and is not at the sole discretion of NTIC. NTIC typically owns only 50% or less of its joint venture entities and thus does not control the decisions of these entities regarding whether to pay dividends and, if paid, how much they should be in a given year.

 

Fees for Services Provided To Joint Ventures . NTIC provides certain services to its joint ventures including consulting, legal, travel, insurance, technical and marketing services. NTIC receives fees for these services it provides to its joint ventures based primarily on the net sales by NTIC’s joint ventures, the latter of which are not included in NTIC’s net sales reflected on NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations. The fees for services received by NTIC from its joint ventures are generally determined based on either a flat fee or a percentage of net sales by NTIC’s joint ventures depending on local laws and tax regulations. With respect to EXCOR, NTIC receives an agreed upon fixed quarterly fee for such services. NTIC records revenue related to fees for services provided to joint ventures when earned, amounts are determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. Under NTIC’s agreements with its joint ventures in which the fees for services is described, fees are earned when the joint venture recognizes the revenue.

 

45

 

NTIC sponsors a worldwide joint venture conference periodically in which all of NTIC’s joint ventures are invited to participate. It is anticipated that the next joint venture conference will be held next year or the year thereafter. NTIC defers a portion of its fees for services provided to joint ventures in each accounting period leading up to the next conference, reflecting that NTIC has not fully earned the payments received during that period. The amount deferred is based on the historical experience of NTIC, current conditions and the intentions of NTIC’s management. The costs associated with these joint venture conferences are offset against the deferral as incurred, generally in the period in which the conference is held and immediately before.

 

Selling Expenses . Selling expenses consist primarily of sales commissions and support costs for NTIC’s direct sale and distribution system, and marketing costs.

 

General and Administrative Expenses . General and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and benefits, and other costs for NTIC’s executives, accounting, stock-based compensation, finance, legal, information technology and human resources functions.

 

Expenses Incurred in Support of Joint Ventures . NTIC incurs direct expenses related to its joint ventures and in connection with NTIC’s provision of support and services to its joint ventures. Such expenses include items such as employee compensation and benefits, travel, consulting, legal and laboratory supplies and testing expenses.

 

Research and Development Expenses . Research and development expenses include costs associated with the design, development, market analysis, lab testing and field trials and enhancements of NTIC’s products and services. NTIC expenses all costs related to product research and development as incurred. Research and development expenses reflect the net amount after being reduced by reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts. With respect to such research and development contracts, NTIC accrues proceeds received under the contracts and offsets research and development expenses incurred in equal installments over the timelines associated with completion of the contracts’ specific objectives and milestones.

 

Interest Income . Interest income consists of interest earned on investments, which typically consist of investment-grade, interest-bearing securities and money market accounts.

 

Interest Expense . Interest expense results primarily from interest associated with NTIC’s former term loan with PNC Bank, National Association (PNC Bank) and any borrowings under NTIC’s line of credit with PNC Bank.

 

Other Income. Other income consists of income from activities other than normal business operations, such as foreign exchange gains, rent income, and profit from the sale of non-inventory assets.

 

Income Tax Expense . Income tax expense includes federal income taxes, income tax of consolidated entities in foreign jurisdictions, state income tax and changes to NTIC’s deferred tax valuation allowance. NTIC utilizes the liability method of accounting for income taxes which requires an asset and liability approach to financial accounting and reporting for income taxes. Deferred income tax assets and liabilities are computed annually for differences between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities that will result in taxable or deductible amounts in the future, based on enacted tax laws and rates applicable to the periods in which the differences are expected to affect taxable income. Valuation allowances are established when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized. NTIC records a tax valuation allowance when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of its deferred tax assets will not be realized. NTIC makes this determination based on all available evidence, including historical data and projections of future results. Income tax expense is the tax payable or refundable for the period plus or minus the change during the period in deferred tax assets and liabilities.

 

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Results of Operations

 

Fiscal Year 2015 Compared to Fiscal Year 2014

 

The following table sets forth NTIC’s results of operations for fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2014.

 

    Fiscal 2015   % of
Net Sales
  Fiscal 2014   % of
Net Sales
  $
Change
  %
Change
Net sales, excluding joint ventures   $ 27,491,392       90.7 %   $ 23,601,514       88.0 %   $ 3,889,878       16.5 %
Net sales, to joint ventures     2,831,301       9.3 %     3,224,594       12.0 %     (393,293 )     (12.2 %)
Cost of goods sold     20,555,932       67.8 %     17,803,153       66.4 %     2,752,779       15.5 %
Equity in income from joint ventures     5,936,565       19.6 %     5,920,603       22.1 %     15,962       .3 %
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     5,715,491       18.8 %     8,142,863       30.4 %     (2,427,372 )     (29.8 %)
Selling expenses     5,820,748       19.2 %     5,221,738       19.5 %     599,010       11.5 %
General and administrative expenses     6,531,576       21.5 %     5,393,531       20.1 %     1,138,045       21.1 %
Expenses incurred in support of joint ventures     1,867,570       6.2 %     1,408,014       5.2 %     459,556       32.6 %
Research and development expenses     4,047,279       13.3 %     4,368,752       16.3 %     (321,473 )     (7.4 %)

 

Net Sales . NTIC’s consolidated net sales increased 13.0% to $30,322,693 during fiscal 2015 compared to $26,826,108 during fiscal 2014. NTIC’s consolidated net sales to unaffiliated customers excluding NTIC’s joint ventures increased 16.5% to $27,491,392 during fiscal 2015 compared to $23,601,514 during fiscal 2014. These increases were primarily a result of increased demand and sales of ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting packaging products and services and Natur-Tec® products. Net sales to joint ventures decreased 12.2% to $2,831,301 in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014. This decrease was due primarily to the decrease in sales of the joint ventures.

 

The following table sets forth NTIC’s net sales by product segment for fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2014:

 

    Fiscal 2015   Fiscal 2014   $ Change   % Change
ZERUST ® net sales   $ 26,042,909     $ 23,845,288     $ 2,197,621       9.2 %
Natur-Tec ® net sales     4,279,784       2,980,820       1,298,965       43.6 %
Total net sales   $ 30,322,693     $ 26,826,108     $ 3,496,586       13.0 %

 

During fiscal 2015, 85.9% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of ZERUST ® products and services, which increased 9.2% to $26,042,909 compared to $23,845,288 during fiscal 2014. This increase was due to increased demand from existing customers and the addition of new customers. NTIC has strategically focused its sales efforts for ZERUST® products and services on customers with sizeable corrosion problems in industry sectors that offer sizable growth opportunities, including the oil and gas sector. The following table sets forth NTIC’s net sales of ZERUST ® products for fiscal 2015 and 2014:

 

    Fiscal 2015   Fiscal 2014   $ Change   % Change
ZERUST® industrial net sales   $ 21,324,793     $ 18,918,563     $ 2,406,230       12.7 %
ZERUST® joint venture net sales     2,831,302       3,224,594       (393,292 )     (12.2 %)
ZERUST® oil & gas net sales     1,886,814       1,702,131       184,683       10.9 %
Total ZERUST® net sales   $ 26,042,909     $ 23,845,288     $ 2,197,621       9.2 %

 

NTIC anticipates that its sales of ZERUST® products and services into the oil and gas industry will continue to remain subject to significant volatility from quarter to quarter as sales are recognized.

 

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During fiscal 2015, 14.1% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of Natur-Tec® products, compared to 11.1% during fiscal 2014. Sales of Natur-Tec® products increased 43.6% to $4,279,784 during fiscal 2015 compared to $2,980,820 during fiscal 2014. This increase was due primarily to finished product sales in North America and finished product sales through Natur-Tec India. Demand for Natur-Tec® products around the world depends primarily on market acceptance and the reach of NTIC’s distribution network. Because of the typical size of individual orders and overall size of NTIC’s net sales derived from sales of Natur-Tec® products, the timing of one or more orders can materially affect NTIC’s quarterly sales of Natur-Tec® products and the comparisons to prior fiscal year quarters.

 

Cost of Goods Sold . Cost of goods sold increased 15.5% in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 primarily as a result of the increase in net sales as described above. Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales increased to 67.8% during fiscal 2015 compared to 66.4% during fiscal 2014 primarily as a result of increased sales during fiscal 2015 of Natur-Tec® products, which carry lower margins than other traditional ZERUST® products. NTIC anticipates that due to the change in its China operations, NTIC’s costs of goods sold will increase in future periods compared to the prior fiscal year periods.

 

Equity in Income from Joint Ventures . NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures increased 0.3% to $5,936,565 compared to equity in income from joint ventures of $5,920,603 during fiscal 2014. This increase was primarily a result of increases in profitability at the joint ventures, partially offset by a decrease in profitability associated with the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and adverse effects of foreign exchange rate fluctuations, including in particular the Euro compared to the U.S. dollar. Of the total equity in income from joint ventures, NTIC had equity in income from joint ventures of $4,091,608 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2015 compared to $3,950,915 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2014. Of the total equity in income of joint ventures, NTIC had equity in income of joint ventures of $132,824 attributable to Tianjin Zerust during fiscal 2015 compared to $626,763 attributable to Tianjin Zerust during fiscal 2014. NTIC had equity in income of all other joint ventures of $1,712,133 during fiscal 2015 compared to $1,342,925 during fiscal 2014. NTIC expects its equity in income of joint ventures to be lower in future periods compared to prior fiscal year periods as a result of the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust.

 

Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures . NTIC recognized fee income for services provided to joint ventures of $5,715,491 during fiscal 2015 compared to $8,142,863 during fiscal 2014, representing a decrease of 29.8%. This decrease was primarily a result of the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust as fees for services provided to joint ventures from Tianjin Zerust decreased $1,623,938 to $494,080 during fiscal 2015 compared to $2,118,018 during fiscal 2014. Additionally, the decrease in fees for services provided to joint ventures was a result of a decrease in total sales at all joint ventures, which were $99,026,251 during fiscal 2015 compared to $118,848,890 during fiscal 2014, a decrease of 16.7%. Net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures decreased due to the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust, a significant weakening of the Euro compared to the U.S. dollar and, to a lesser extent, the sale of NTIC’s ownership interest in Mütec GmbH. Sales of NTIC’s joint ventures are not included in NTIC’s product sales and are not combined with NTIC’s sales in NTIC’s consolidated financial statements or in any description of NTIC’s sales.

 

Of the total fee income for services provided to its joint ventures, fees of $873,400 were attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2015 compared to $1,032,234 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2014. The decrease in fee income for services provided to joint ventures attributable to EXCOR was primarily the result of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. Of the total fee income for services provided to its joint ventures, fees of $494,080 were attributable to Tianjin Zerust during fiscal 2015 compared to $2,118,018 during fiscal 2014. NTIC received fee income for services provided to all of its other joint ventures of $4,348,010 during fiscal 2015 compared to $4,992,611 during fiscal 2014. NTIC anticipates that due to the consolidation of NTIC China, NTIC’s fee income for services provided to its joint ventures will decrease in future periods compared to the prior fiscal year periods.

 

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Selling Expenses . NTIC’s selling expenses increased 11.5% in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 due to increases in compensation and employee benefits, lab testing related expenses, commission expenses, travel and related expenses, and consulting expenses. Selling expenses as a percentage of net sales decreased to 19.2% in fiscal 2015 compared to 19.5% in fiscal 2014 primarily due to the increase in net sales as well as certain personnel expenses, partially offset by the increase in selling expenses, as previously described.

 

General and Administrative Expenses . NTIC’s general and administrative expenses increased by 21.1% in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 due primarily to expenses incurred to establish and operate NTIC China. As a percentage of net sales, general and administrative expenses increased to 21.5% for fiscal 2015 from 20.1% in fiscal 2014 due primarily to the increase in general and administrative expenses, as previously described, partially offset by the increase in net sales.

 

Expenses Incurred in Support of Joint Ventures . Expenses incurred in support of NTIC’s joint ventures were $1,867,570 during fiscal 2015 compared to $1,408,014 during fiscal 2014, representing an increase of 32.6%. This increase was due primarily to expenses related to the change in NTIC’s Chinese operations during fiscal 2015. NTIC incurred direct expenses during fiscal 2015 related to the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the formation and operation of NTIC China. Such expenses consisted primarily of legal expenses and personnel expenses associated with the establishment of the subsidiary, the hiring of new personnel and initial operations.

 

Research and Development Expenses . NTIC’s research and development expenses decreased 7.4% in fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014. This decrease was due primarily to decreases in personnel and consulting expenses.

 

Interest Income . NTIC’s interest income increased to $34,835 in fiscal 2015 compared to $11,617 in fiscal 2014.

 

Interest Expense . NTIC’s interest expense decreased to $20,960 in fiscal 2015 compared to $47,322 in fiscal 2014. This decrease was primarily due to higher average outstanding debt levels during fiscal 2014.

 

Income Before Income Tax Expense . Income before income tax expense decreased to $3,166,034 for fiscal 2015 compared to $6,663,074 for fiscal 2014.

 

Income Tax Expense . Income tax expense was $648,674 for fiscal 2015 compared to $1,124,662 during fiscal 2014 for an effective rate of 14.4% and 16.9%, respectively. NTIC’s annual effective income tax rate during fiscal 2015 and 2014 was lower than the statutory rate primarily due to NTIC’s equity in income of joint ventures being recognized based on after-tax earnings of these entities. To the extent undistributed earnings of NTIC’s joint ventures are distributed to NTIC, any material additional income tax liability after the application of foreign tax credits is not expected. NTIC records a tax valuation allowance when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of its deferred tax assets will not be realized to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized. NTIC determined based on all available evidence, including historical data and projections of future results, that it is more likely than not that all of its deferred tax assets, except for its foreign tax credit carryforwards and Minnesota state research and development credit carryforwards, will be fully realized. In addition, NTIC determined based upon all available evidence, including new IRS guidance, historical results, projected future taxable income and foreign tax credit utilization, that it was not more likely than not that the federal research and development credits would not be utilized during the carryforward period and as a result, a valuation allowance was recorded against all of NTIC’s federal research and development credits. In addition, NTIC continues to believe that its deferred tax asset related to foreign tax credit carryforwards will not be realized due to insufficient federal taxable income within the carryforward period and the fact that for ordering purposes the foreign tax credit carryforwards are not allowed to be used until after any current year foreign tax credits are utilized.

 

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NTIC considers the earnings of certain foreign joint ventures to be indefinitely invested outside the United States on the basis of estimates that future domestic cash generation will be sufficient to meet NTIC’s future domestic cash needs. As a result, U.S. income and foreign withholding taxes have not been recognized on the cumulative undistributed earnings of $18,483,377 and $20,540,523 at August 31, 2015 and August 31, 2014, respectively. To the extent undistributed earnings of NTIC’s joint ventures are distributed in the future, they are not expected to result in any material additional income tax liability after the application of foreign tax credits.

 

Other Comprehensive Income - Foreign Currency Translations Adjustment. The significant changes in the foreign currency translations adjustment was due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar compared to the Euro and other foreign currencies during fiscal 2015 compared to fiscal 2014 .

 

Fiscal Year 2014 Compared to Fiscal Year 2013

 

The following table sets forth NTIC’s results of operations for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2013.

 

    Fiscal 2014   % of Net Sales   Fiscal 2013   % of Net Sales   $ Change   % Change
Net sales, excluding joint ventures   $ 23,601,514       88.0 %   $ 19,724,205       87.7 %   $ 3,877,309       19.7 %
Net sales, to joint ventures     3,224,594       12.0 %     2,777,659       12.3 %     446,935       16.1 %
Cost of goods sold     17,803,153       66.4 %     15,473,212       68.8 %     2,329,941       15.1 %
Equity in income from joint ventures     5,920,603       22.1 %     5,237,711       23.3 %     682,892       13.0 %
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     8,142,863       30.4 %     7,352,980       32.7 %     789,883       10.7 %
Selling expenses     5,221,738       19.5 %     4,845,676       21.5 %     376,062       7.8 %
General and administrative expenses     5,393,531       20.1 %     4,605,979       20.5 %     787,552       17.1 %
Expenses incurred in support of joint ventures     1,408,014       5.2 %     1,387,197       6.2 %     20,817       1.5 %
Research and development expenses     4,368,752       16.3 %     3,815,515       17.0 %     553,237       14.5 %

 

Net Sales . NTIC’s consolidated net sales increased 19.2% to $26,826,108 during fiscal 2014 compared to $22,501,864 during fiscal 2013. NTIC’s consolidated net sales to unaffiliated customers excluding NTIC’s joint ventures increased 19.7% to $23,601,514 during fiscal 2014 compared to $19,724,205 during fiscal 2013. These increases were primarily a result of increased demand from existing customers and the addition of new customers. Net sales to joint ventures increased 16.1% to $3,224,594 in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013. This increase was due primarily to the increase in sales of the joint ventures.

 

The following table sets forth NTIC’s net sales by product segment for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2013:

 

    Fiscal 2014   Fiscal 2013   $ Change   % Change
ZERUST ® net sales   $ 23,845,288     $ 20,457,198     $ 3,388,090       16.6 %
Natur-Tec ® net sales     2,980,820       2,044,666       936,154       45.8 %
Total net sales   $ 26,826,108     $ 22,501,864     $ 4,324,244       19.2 %

 

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During fiscal 2014, 88.9% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of ZERUST ® products and services, which increased 16.6% to $23,845,288 compared to $20,457,198 during fiscal 2013 due to increased demand from existing customers and the addition of new customers. NTIC has strategically focused its sales efforts for ZERUST® products and services on customers with sizeable corrosion problems in industry sectors that offer sizable growth opportunities, including the oil and gas sector. The following table sets forth NTIC’s net sales of ZERUST ® products for fiscal 2014 and 2013:

 

    Fiscal 2014   Fiscal 2013   $ Change   % Change
ZERUST® industrial net sales   $ 18,918,563     $ 16,695,197     $ 2,223,366       13.3 %
ZERUST® joint venture net sales     3,224,594       2,767,103       457,491       16.5 %
ZERUST® oil & gas net sales     1,702,131       994,898       707,233       71.1 %
Total ZERUST® net sales   $ 23,845,288     $ 20,457,198     $ 3,388,090       16.6 %

 

During fiscal 2014, 11.1% of NTIC’s consolidated net sales were derived from sales of Natur-Tec® products, compared to 9.1% during fiscal 2013. Sales of Natur-Tec® products increased 45.8% to $2,980,820 during fiscal 2014 compared to $2,044,666 during fiscal 2013. This increase was due primarily to finished product sales both in North America and abroad through Natur-Tec India.

 

Cost of Goods Sold . Cost of goods sold increased 15.1% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 primarily as a result of the increase in net sales. Cost of goods sold as a percentage of net sales decreased to 66.4% during fiscal 2014 compared to 68.8% during fiscal 2013 primarily as a result of increased sales during fiscal 2014 of ZERUST ® products for the oil and gas industry which carry higher margins than other traditional ZERUST ® products and increased expenses during fiscal 2013 associated with the production and shipping of ZERUST ® products to a new customer.

 

Equity in Income from Joint Ventures . NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures increased 13.0% to $5,920,603 compared to equity in income from joint ventures of $5,237,711 during fiscal 2013. Of the total equity in income from joint ventures, NTIC had equity in income from joint ventures of $3,950,915 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2014 compared to $3,507,057 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2013. Of the total equity in income from joint ventures, NTIC had equity in income from joint ventures of $626,763 attributable to NTIC’s joint venture in China during fiscal 2014 compared to $579,376 attributable to NTIC’s joint venture in China during fiscal 2013. NTIC had equity in income from all other joint ventures of $1,342,924 during fiscal 2014 compared to $1,151,278 during fiscal 2013. These increases were primarily as a result of increases in sales at the joint ventures, which improved during fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 primarily as a result of improved economic conditions in Europe.

 

Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures . NTIC recognized fee income for services provided to joint ventures of $8,142,863 during fiscal 2014 compared to $7,352,980 during fiscal 2013, representing an increase of 10.7%. Fee income for services provided to joint ventures are a function of the sales made by NTIC’s joint ventures, which were $118,848,890 during fiscal 2014 compared to $113,189,068 during fiscal 2013, an increase of 5.0%. Sales made by NTIC’s joint ventures during fiscal 2014 improved compared to fiscal 2013 primarily as a result of improved economic conditions in Europe. Total net sales of NTIC’s joint ventures for fiscal 2013 were adversely affected in part by the European economic slowdown, which NTIC believes also adversely affected net sales of certain of NTIC’s other non-European joint ventures, as well as the weakening of the Euro and other currencies compared to the U.S. dollar. Sales of NTIC’s joint ventures are not included in NTIC’s product sales and are not combined with NTIC’s sales in NTIC’s consolidated financial statements or in any description of NTIC’s sales.

 

Of the total fee income for services provided to its joint ventures, fees of $1,032,234 were attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2014 compared to $1,004,958 attributable to EXCOR during fiscal 2013. Fees of $2,118,018 were attributable to NTIC’s joint venture in China during fiscal 2014 compared to $2,063,369 during fiscal 2013. NTIC received fee income for services provided to all of its other joint ventures of $4,992,611 during fiscal 2014 compared to $4,284,653 during fiscal 2013.

 

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Selling Expenses . NTIC’s selling expenses increased 7.8% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 due to increases in compensation and employee benefits, lab testing related expenses, commission expenses, travel and related expenses, and consulting expenses. Selling expenses as a percentage of net sales decreased to 19.5% in fiscal 2014 compared to 21.5% in fiscal 2013 primarily due to the increase in net sales as well as certain fixed costs, partially offset by the increase in selling expenses, as previously described.

 

General and Administrative Expenses . NTIC’s general and administrative expenses increased by 17.1% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 due to an increase in consulting expenses to support new business development. As a percentage of net sales, general and administrative expenses decreased to 20.1% for fiscal 2014 from 20.5% in fiscal 2013 due primarily to the increase in net sales as well as certain fixed costs, partially offset by the increase in general and administrative expenses, as previously described.

 

Expenses Incurred in Support of Joint Ventures . Expenses incurred in support of NTIC’s joint ventures were $1,408,014 during fiscal 2014 compared to $1,387,197 during fiscal 2013, representing an increase of 1.5%. This increase was due primarily to increased headcount to support anticipated expanding operations and anticipated sales growth.

 

Research and Development Expenses . NTIC’s research and development expenses increased 14.5% in fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013. This increase was primarily as a result of increased spending on headcount and field development associated with the new businesses.

 

Interest Income . NTIC’s interest income decreased to $11,617 in fiscal 2014 compared to $34,614 in fiscal 2013.

 

Interest Expense . NTIC’s interest expense decreased to $47,322 in fiscal 2014 compared to $52,215 in fiscal 2013.

 

Other Income . NTIC’s other income decreased to $4,393 in fiscal 2014 compared to $670,126 in fiscal 2013 primarily due to the receipt of life insurance proceeds during the prior fiscal year period.

 

Income Before Income Tax Expense . Income before income tax expense increased to $6,663,074 for fiscal 2014 compared to $5,617,501 for fiscal 2013.

 

Income Tax Expense . Income tax expense was $1,124,662 for fiscal 2014 compared to $864,000 during fiscal 2013 for an effective rate of 16.9% and 15.4%, respectively. Income tax expense was calculated based on management’s estimate of NTIC’s annual effective income tax rate. NTIC’s annual effective income tax rate during fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2013 was lower than the statutory rate primarily due to NTIC’s equity in income of joint ventures being recognized based on after-tax earnings of these entities. To the extent undistributed earnings of NTIC’s joint ventures are distributed to NTIC, any material additional income tax liability after the application of foreign tax credits is not expected. NTIC records a tax valuation allowance when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of its deferred tax assets will not be realized to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized. NTIC determined based on all available evidence, including historical data and projections of future results, that it is more likely than not that all of its deferred tax assets, except for its foreign tax credit carryforwards and Minnesota state research and development credit carryforwards, will be fully realized. In addition, NTIC determined based upon all available evidence, including new IRS guidance, historical results, projected future taxable income and foreign tax credit utilization, that it was not more likely than not that the federal research and development credits would be utilized during the carryforward period and as a result, a valuation allowance was recorded against all of NTIC’s federal research and development credits. In addition, NTIC continues to believe that its deferred tax asset related to foreign tax credit carryforwards will not be realized due to insufficient federal taxable income within the carryforward period and the fact that for ordering purposes the foreign tax credit carryforwards are not allowed to be used until after any current year foreign tax credits are utilized.

 

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Other Comprehensive Income - Foreign Currency Translations Adjustment. The volatility of the foreign currency translations adjustment was due to the strengthening of the U.S. Dollar compared to the Euro and other foreign currencies during fiscal 2014 compared to fiscal 2013 .

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Sources of Cash and Working Capital . As of August 31, 2015, NTIC’s working capital was $15,603,771, including $2,623,981 in cash and cash equivalents and $2,027,441 in available for sale securities, compared to working capital of $17,853,311, including $2,477,017 in cash and cash equivalents as of August 31, 2014 and $5,519,766 in available for sale securities.

 

As of August 31, 2015, NTIC had a revolving line of credit with PNC Bank of $3,000,000, with no amounts outstanding. The line of credit is evidenced by an amended and restated committed line of credit note in the principal amount of up to $3,000,000. The line of credit has a $1,200,000 standby letter of credit sub-facility, with any standby letters of credit issued thereunder being at the sole discretion of PNC Bank.

 

The line of credit is subject to standard covenants, including affirmative financial covenants, such as the maintenance of a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio, and negative covenants, which, among other things, limit the incurrence of additional indebtedness, loans and equity investments, disposition of assets, mergers and consolidations and other matters customarily restricted in such agreements. Under the loan agreement, NTIC is subject to a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio of 1.10:1.00. As of August 31, 2015, NTIC was in compliance with all debt covenants.

 

On January 5, 2015, PNC Bank extended the maturity date of the line of credit from January 7, 2015 to January 7, 2016 under substantially similar terms, and waived a technical covenant default by NTIC to deliver quarterly compliance certificates. It is anticipated that, as historically has been the practice, the line of credit will be renewed each year for one additional year for the immediate foreseeable future.

 

NTIC believes that a combination of its existing cash and cash equivalents, forecasted cash flows from future operations, anticipated distributions of earnings, anticipated fees to NTIC for services provided to its joint ventures, and funds available through existing or anticipated financing arrangements, will be adequate to fund its existing operations, investments in new or existing joint ventures or subsidiaries, capital expenditures, debt repayments and any stock repurchases for at least the next 12 months. During fiscal 2016, NTIC expects to continue to invest in NTIC China, research and development and in marketing efforts and resources into the application of its corrosion prevention technology into the oil and gas industry and its Natur-Tec® bio-plastics business, the amount of these various investments is not known at this time. In order to take advantage of such new product and market opportunities to expand its business and increase its revenues, NTIC may decide to finance such opportunities by borrowing under its revolving line of credit or raising additional financing through the issuance of debt or equity securities. There is no assurance that any financing transaction will be available on terms acceptable to NTIC or at all, or that any financing transaction will not be dilutive to NTIC’s current stockholders.

 

NTIC traditionally has used the cash generated from its operations, distributions of earnings and fees for services provided to its joint ventures to fund NTIC’s new technology investments and capital contributions to new and existing subsidiaries and joint ventures. NTIC’s joint ventures traditionally have operated with little or no debt and have been self-financed with minimal initial capital investment and minimal additional capital investment from their respective owners. Therefore, NTIC believes there is limited exposure by NTIC’s joint ventures that could materially impact their respective operations and/or liquidity.

 

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Uses of Cash and Cash Flow. Net cash used in operating activities during fiscal 2015 was $755,544, which resulted principally from NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures and increases in receivables, inventories and prepaid expenses and a decrease in accrued liabilities and income taxes payable, partially offset by NTIC’s net income, dividends received from joint ventures, expensing of fair value of stock options vested, depreciation and amortization. Net cash provided by operating activities during fiscal 2014 was $7,422,912, which resulted principally from NTIC’s net income, dividends received from joint ventures, expensing of fair value of stock options vested, depreciation and amortization, partially offset by NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures and increases in receivables, inventories and prepaid expenses and a decrease in accrued liabilities. Net cash provided by operating activities during fiscal 2013 was $1,910,702, which resulted principally from NTIC’s net income, dividends received from joint ventures, depreciation and amortization, partially offset by NTIC’s equity in income from joint ventures and increases in receivables and inventories and a decrease in accounts payables, accrued liabilities and income taxes payable.

 

NTIC’s cash flows from operations are impacted by significant changes in certain components of NTIC’s working capital, including inventory turnover and changes in receivables. NTIC considers internal and external factors when assessing the use of its available working capital, specifically when determining inventory levels and credit terms of customers. Key internal factors include existing inventory levels, stock reorder points, customer forecasts and customer requested payment terms, and key external factors include the availability of primary raw materials and sub-contractor production lead times. NTIC’s typical contractual terms for trade receivables excluding joint ventures are traditionally 30 days and for trade receivables from its joint ventures are 90 days. Before extending unsecured credit to customers, excluding NTIC’s joint ventures, NTIC reviews customers’ credit histories and will establish an allowance for uncollectible accounts based upon factors surrounding the credit risk of specific customers and other information. Accounts receivable over 30 days are considered past due for most customers. NTIC does not accrue interest on past due accounts receivable. If accounts receivables in excess of the provided allowance are determined uncollectible, they are charged to selling expense in the period that determination is made. Accounts receivable are deemed uncollectible based on NTIC exhausting reasonable efforts to collect. NTIC’s typical contractual terms for receivables for services provided to its joint ventures are 90 days. NTIC records receivables for services provided to its joint ventures on an accrual basis, unless circumstances exist that make the collection of the balance uncertain in which case the fee income will be recorded on a cash basis until there is consistency in payments. This determination is handled on a case by case basis.

 

NTIC experienced an increase in receivables and an increase in inventory as of August 31, 2015 compared to August 31, 2014 due to the increase in sales and a desire to stock more products to shorten lead times and anticipate customer demand. Trade receivables excluding joint ventures as of August 31, 2015 increased $699,088 compared to August 31, 2014, primarily related to miscellaneous differences in the timing of collections and the increase in sales.

 

Outstanding trade receivables excluding joint ventures balances as of August 31, 2015 decreased two days to an average of 50 days from balances outstanding from these customers as of August 31, 2014.

 

Outstanding trade receivables from joint ventures as of August 31, 2015 decreased $305,909 compared to August 31, 2014 primarily due to the decrease in sales to joint ventures due to the anticipated liquidation of Tianjin Zerust. There was an increase of outstanding balances from trade receivables from joint ventures as of August 31, 2015 of two days from an average of 91 days from balances outstanding from these customers compared to August 31, 2014. The significant average days outstanding of trade receivables from joint ventures as of August 31, 2015 were primarily due to the receivable balance at NTIC’s joint venture in South Korea and Tianjin Zerust. Because of the lack of financial and other information received from Tianjin Zerust, it is possible that if and when financial and other information is received from Tianjin Zerust that NTIC may need to recognize an impairment charge on its receivable from Tianjin Zerust. NTIC estimates that its maximum exposure in terms of an impairment charge on this receivable would be approximately $114,000.

 

54

 

Outstanding receivables for services provided to joint ventures as of August 31, 2015 decreased $1,163,737 compared to August 31, 2014, which resulted in a decrease of 18 days of fees receivable outstanding as of August 31, 2015 to an average of 104 days compared to August 31, 2014.

 

Net cash provided by investing activities during fiscal 2015 was $1,901,224, which was primarily the result of cash provided by the sale of available for sale securities, partially offset by additions to property and equipment and additions to patents. Net cash used in investing activities for fiscal 2014 was $7,457,380, which was primarily the result of cash used to purchase available for sale securities, additions to property and equipment and additions to patents. Net cash used in investing activities for fiscal 2013 was $3,025,187, which was comprised of the effect of the NTI Asean consolidation on cash, partially offset by additions to property and equipment and additions to patents.

 

Net cash used in financing activities for fiscal 2015 was $874,652, which resulted from a dividend paid to a non-controlling interest, partially offset by proceeds from stock option exercises and NTIC’s employee stock purchase plan. Net cash used in financing activities for fiscal 2014 was $1,814,418, which resulted from a dividend paid to a non-controlling interest and repayment of the bank loan for NTIC’s corporate headquarters building, and partially offset by proceeds from NTIC’s employee stock purchase plan and stock option exercises. Net cash used in financing activities for fiscal 2013 was $1,563,867, which resulted from a dividend received by non-controlling interest and principal payments on the bank loan for NTIC’s corporate headquarters building, partially offset by proceeds from option exercises and NTIC’s employee stock purchase plan.

 

Share Repurchase Plan . On January 15, 2015, NTIC’s Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $3,000,000 in shares of NTIC common stock through open market purchases or unsolicited or solicited privately negotiated transactions. This program has no expiration date but may be terminated by NTIC’s Board of Directors at any time. As of August 31, 2015, up to $2,975,654 in shares of NTIC common stock remained available for repurchase under NTIC’s stock repurchase program.

 

Capital Expenditures and Commitments . NTIC spent $1,438,919 on capital expenditures during fiscal 2015 which related primarily to the purchase of new equipment and the expansion of its lab capabilities. NTIC expects to spend an aggregate of approximately $200,000 to $400,000 on capital expenditures during fiscal 2016, which will relate primarily to the purchase of new equipment.

 

Contractual Obligations

 

Set forth below is information concerning NTIC’s known contractual obligations as of August 31, 2015 that are fixed and determinable by year starting with the twelve months ending August 31, 2016.

 

    Payments Due By Period
Contractual Obligations   Total   Less than
1 Year
  1-3 Years   3-5 Years   More than
5 Years
Short-term debt   $     $     $     $     $  
Long-term debt                              
Rent obligations     31,500       18,000       13,500              
Purchase obligations                              
Total   $ 31,500     $ 18,000     $ 13,500     $ -     $  

 

Inflation and Seasonality

 

Inflation in the United States and abroad historically has had little effect on NTIC. NTIC’s business has not historically been seasonal.

 

55

 

Market Risk

 

NTIC is exposed to some market risk stemming from changes in foreign currency exchange rates, commodity prices and interest rates.

 

Because the functional currency of NTIC’s foreign operations and investments in its foreign joint ventures is the applicable local currency, NTIC is exposed to foreign currency exchange rate risk arising from transactions in the normal course of business. NTIC’s principal exchange rate exposure is with the Euro, the Japanese yen, Indian Rupee, Chinese Renminbi, Korean won and the English pound against the U.S. dollar. NTIC’s fees for services provided to joint ventures and dividend distributions from these foreign entities are paid in foreign currencies and thus fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could result in declines in NTIC’s reported net income. Since NTIC’s investments in its joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method, any changes in foreign currency exchange rates would be reflected as a foreign currency translation adjustment and would not change NTIC’s equity in income of joint ventures reflected in its consolidated statements of income. NTIC does not hedge against its foreign currency exchange rate risk.

 

Some raw materials used in NTIC’s products are exposed to commodity price changes. The primary commodity price exposures are with a variety of plastic resins.

 

At the option of NTIC, outstanding advances under NTIC’s $3,000,000 revolving line of credit with PNC Bank bear interest at either (a) an annual rate based on LIBOR plus 2.15% for the applicable LIBOR interest period selected by NTIC or (b) at the rate publicly announced by PNC Bank from time to time as its prime rate, and thus may subject NTIC to some market risk on interest rates. As of August 31, 2015, NTIC had no borrowings under the line of credit.

 

Related Party Transactions

 

Since NTIC’s joint ventures are considered related parties, NTIC records sales to its joint ventures as a separate line item on the face of NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations and records fees for services provided to its joint ventures and expenses incurred in support of its joint ventures as separate line items on the face of NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations. NTIC also records as separate line items trade receivables from joint ventures, receivables for fees for services provided to joint ventures and NTIC’s investments in joint ventures on its consolidated balance sheets.

 

NTIC established its joint venture network approximately 25 years ago as a method to increase its worldwide distribution network for ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services. NTIC participates, either directly or indirectly, in 19 active joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia. Each of these joint ventures generally manufactures and markets finished products in the geographic territory to which it is assigned. NTIC’s joint venture partners are knowledgeable in the applicable environmental, labor, tax and other requisite regulations and laws of the respective foreign countries in which they operate, as well as the local customs and business practices. NTIC’s revenue recognition policy for sales to its joint ventures is the same as its policy for sales to unaffiliated customers.

 

The fees for services received by NTIC from its joint ventures are generally determined based on either a flat fee or a percentage of net sales by NTIC’s joint ventures depending on local laws and tax regulations. With respect to NTIC’s German joint venture, NTIC receives an agreed upon quarterly fee for such services. NTIC records revenue related to fees for services provided to joint ventures when earned, amounts are determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. Under NTIC’s agreements with its joint ventures, fee amounts are earned when product is shipped from joint venture facilities. NTIC reviews the financial situation of each joint venture to assist in the likelihood of collections on amounts earned. From time to time, NTIC elects to account for such fees on a cash basis for certain joint ventures when uncertainty exists surrounding the collections of such fees, there are no fees being accounted for in this manner at present. The expenses incurred in support of its joint ventures are direct expenses that NTIC incurs related to its joint ventures and include such items as employee compensation and benefit expenses, travel expense, insurance, consulting expense, legal expense and lab supplies and testing expense.

 

56

 

See Note 16 to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements for other related party transaction disclosures.

 

Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

 

NTIC does not have any relationships with unconsolidated entities or financial partnerships, such as entities often referred to as structured finance or special purpose entities, which would have been established for the purpose of facilitating off-balance sheet financial arrangements. As such, NTIC is not materially exposed to any financing, liquidity, market or credit risk that could arise if NTIC had engaged in such arrangements.

 

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

 

The preparation of NTIC’s consolidated financial statements requires management to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amount of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses, and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities. The Securities and Exchange Commission has defined a company’s most critical accounting policies as those that are most important to the portrayal of its financial condition and results of operations, and which require the company to make its most difficult and subjective judgments, often as a result of the need to make estimates of matters that are inherently uncertain. Based on this definition, NTIC has identified the following critical accounting policies. Although NTIC believes that its estimates and assumptions are reasonable, they are based upon information available when they are made. Actual results may differ significantly from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.

 

Principles of Consolidation

 

NTIC evaluates its voting and variable interests in entities on a qualitative and quantitative basis. NTIC consolidates entities in which it concludes it has the power to direct the activities that most significantly impact an entity’s economic success and has the obligation to absorb losses or the right to receive benefits that could be significant to the entity. All such relationships are evaluated on an ongoing basis. The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Northern Technologies International Corporation, its wholly-owned subsidiary, Northern Technologies Holding Company, LLC, its wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., and NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary in Brazil, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A., NTIC’s majority-owned holding company, NTI Asean LLC, and NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary in India, Northern Technologies India Private Limited. NTIC’s consolidated financial statements do not include the accounts of any of its joint ventures.

 

Investments in Joint Ventures and Recoverability of Investments in Joint Ventures

 

NTIC’s investments in its joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method. NTIC assesses its joint ventures for impairment on an annual basis as of August 31 of each year as part of its fiscal year end analysis. In addition to the annual review for impairment, NTIC reviews the operating results of each joint venture on a quarterly basis in comparison to its historical operating results and its accrual for fees for services provided to joint ventures. If the operating results of a joint venture do not meet NTIC’s financial performance expectations, an additional evaluation is performed on the joint venture. In addition to the annual assessments for impairment, non-periodic assessments for impairment may occur if cash remittances are less than accrued balances, a joint venture’s management requests capital or other events occur suggesting an other than temporary decline in value. If an investment were determined to be impaired, then a reserve would be created to reflect the impairment on the financial results of NTIC. NTIC’s evaluation of its investments in joint ventures requires NTIC to make assumptions about future cash flows of its joint ventures. These assumptions require significant judgment and actual results may differ from assumed or estimated amounts. NTIC’s investments in joint ventures were $20,544,238 as of August 31, 2015 and $22,961,989 as of August 31, 2014.

 

57

 

Revenue Recognition

 

NTIC recognizes revenue from the sale of its products when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, the product has been delivered, the price is fixed and determinable and collection of the resulting receivable is reasonably assured. These criteria are met at the time of shipment when risk of loss and title pass to the customer, distributor or joint venture entity.

 

With respect to recording revenue related to fees earned for services provided to NTIC’s joint ventures, NTIC recognizes revenue related to support of joint ventures when earned, amounts are determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. The support and services NTIC provides its joint ventures include consulting, travel, insurance, technical and marketing services to existing joint ventures, legal fees incurred in the establishment of new joint ventures, registration and promotion and legal defense of worldwide trademarks, and legal fees incurred in connection with the filing of patent applications. NTIC receives fees for these services it provides to its joint ventures based primarily on the net sales by NTIC’s joint ventures. The fees for support services received by NTIC from its joint ventures are generally determined based on either a flat fee or a percentage of net sales by NTIC’s joint ventures depending on local laws and tax regulations. Under NTIC’s agreements with its joint ventures, amounts are earned when product is shipped from joint venture facilities. NTIC reviews the financial situation of each of its joint ventures to assist in the likelihood of collections on amounts earned. NTIC elects to account for these fees on a cash basis for certain joint ventures when uncertainty exists surrounding the collections of such fees.

 

Accounts and Notes Receivable

 

Trade receivables arise from sales of NTIC’s products and services to NTIC’s joint ventures and to unaffiliated customers. Trade receivables from joint ventures arise from sales NTIC makes to its joint ventures of products and the essential additives required to make ZERUST ® industrial corrosion inhibiting products functional. Receivables for services to NTIC’s joint ventures are contractually based primarily on a percentage of the sales of the joint ventures and are intended to compensate NTIC for services NTIC provides to its joint ventures, including consulting, legal, travel, insurance, technical and marketing services.

 

Payment terms for NTIC’s unaffiliated customers are determined based on credit risk and vary by customer. NTIC typically offers standard payments terms to unaffiliated customers of net 30 days. Payment terms for NTIC’s joint ventures also are determined based on credit risk; however, additional consideration also is given to the individual joint venture due to the transportation time associated with ocean delivery of most products and certain other factors. NTIC typically offers payment terms to joint ventures of net 90 days. NTIC does not accrue interest on past due accounts receivable. NTIC reviews the credit histories of its customers, including its joint ventures, before extending unsecured credit. NTIC values accounts and notes receivable, net of an allowance for doubtful accounts. Each quarter, NTIC prepares an analysis of its ability to collect outstanding receivables that provides a basis for an allowance estimate for doubtful accounts. In doing so, NTIC evaluates the age of its receivables, past collection history, current financial conditions of key customers and its joint ventures, and economic conditions. Based on this evaluation, NTIC establishes a reserve for specific accounts and notes receivable that it believes are uncollectible, as well as an estimate of uncollectible receivables not specifically known. Deterioration in the financial condition of any key customer or joint venture or a significant slowdown in the economy could have a material negative impact on NTIC’s ability to collect a portion or all of the accounts and notes receivable. NTIC believes that an analysis of historical trends and its current knowledge of potential collection problems provide NTIC with sufficient information to establish a reasonable estimate for an allowance for doubtful accounts. However, since NTIC cannot predict with certainty future changes in the financial stability of its customers or joint ventures, NTIC’s actual future losses from uncollectible accounts may differ from its estimates. In the event NTIC determined that a smaller or larger uncollectible accounts reserve is appropriate, NTIC would record a credit or charge to selling expense in the period that it made such a determination. Accounts receivable have been reduced by an allowance for uncollectible accounts of $40,000 as of August 31, 2015 and August 31, 2014.

 

58

 

Recoverability of Long-Lived Assets

 

NTIC reviews its long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable and determines potential impairment by comparing the carrying value of the assets with expected net cash flows expected to be provided by operating activities of the business or related products. If the sum of the expected undiscounted future net cash flows were less than the carrying value, NTIC would determine whether an impairment loss should be recognized. An impairment loss would be measured by comparing the amount by which the carrying value exceeds the fair value of the asset.

 

Foreign Currency Translation (Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income)

 

The functional currency of each international joint venture is the applicable local currency. The translation of the applicable foreign currencies into U.S. dollars is performed for balance sheet accounts using exchange rates in effect at the balance sheet date and for revenue and expense accounts using an average monthly exchange rate. Translation gains or losses are reported as an element of accumulated other comprehensive income.

 

NTIC (excluding NTIC China, Zerust Brazil, Natur-Tec India, NTI Asean and its joint ventures) conducts all foreign transactions based on the U.S. dollar. Since NTIC’s investments in its joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method, any changes in foreign currency exchange rates would be reflected as a foreign currency translation adjustment and would not change the equity in income from joint ventures reflected in NTIC’s consolidated statements of operations.

 

Stock-Based Compensation

 

NTIC recognizes compensation cost relating to share-based payment transactions, including grants of employee stock options and transactions under NTIC’s employee stock purchase plan in its consolidated financial statements. That cost is measured based on the fair value of the equity or liability instruments issued. NTIC measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for stock options or other stock-based awards based on the grant-date fair value of the award, and recognizes the cost over the period the employee is required to provide services for the award.

 

Inventory Valuation

 

NTIC’s inventories consist primarily of production materials and finished goods. NTIC purchases production materials and finished goods based on forecasted demand and records inventory at the lower of cost or market. Cost is determined by the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method. Management regularly assesses inventory valuation based on current and forecasted usage, demand and pricing, shelf life, customer inventory-related contractual obligations and other considerations. If actual results differ from management estimates with respect to the actual or projected selling of inventories at amounts less than their carrying amounts, NTIC would adjust its inventory balances accordingly.

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

See Note 2 to NTIC’s consolidated financial statements for a discussion of recent accounting pronouncements.

 

59

 

Item 7A. QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK

 

NTIC is exposed to some market risk stemming from changes in foreign currency exchange rates, commodity prices and interest rates.

 

Because the functional currency of NTIC’s foreign operations and investments in its foreign joint ventures is the applicable local currency, NTIC is exposed to foreign currency exchange rate risk arising from transactions in the normal course of business. NTIC’s principal exchange rate exposure is with the Euro, the Japanese yen, Indian Rupee, Chinese Renminbi, Korean won and the English pound against the U.S. dollar. NTIC’s fees for services provided to joint ventures and dividend distributions from these foreign entities are paid in foreign currencies and thus fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates could result in declines in NTIC’s reported net income. Since NTIC’s investments in its joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method, any changes in foreign currency exchange rates would be reflected as a foreign currency translation adjustment and would not change NTIC’s equity in income of joint ventures reflected in its consolidated statements of income. NTIC does not hedge against its foreign currency exchange rate risk.

 

Some raw materials used in NTIC’s products are exposed to commodity price changes. The primary commodity price exposures are with a variety of plastic resins.

 

At the option of NTIC, outstanding advances under NTIC’s $3,000,000 revolving line of credit with PNC Bank bear interest at either (a) an annual rate based on LIBOR plus 2.15% for the applicable LIBOR interest period selected by NTIC or (b) at the rate publicly announced by PNC Bank from time to time as its prime rate, and thus may subject NTIC to some market risk on interest rates. As of August 31, 2015, NTIC had no borrowings under the line of credit.

 

60

 

Item 8. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

 

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

The following items are included herein:

 

  Page
   
Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm 62
Consolidated Balance Sheets as of August 31, 2015 and 2014 63
Consolidated Statements of Operations for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 64
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (Loss) for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013

65

Consolidated Statements of Equity for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 66
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 67
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements 68-89

 

61

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

To the Stockholders, Audit Committee and Board of Directors

 

Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries

 

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries as of August 31, 2015 and 2014, and the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income (loss), equity and cash flows for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013. We also have audited Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries’ internal control over financial reporting as of August 31, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) (2013 framework). These consolidated financial statements are the responsibility of the company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements and an opinion on the company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audits.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audits of the consolidated financial statements included examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements, assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management and evaluating the overall consolidated financial statement presentation. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of consolidated financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of consolidated financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the consolidated financial statements.

 

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.

 

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries as of August 31, 2015 and 2014 and the results of their operations and their cash flows for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. Also in our opinion, Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of August 31, 2015, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) (2013 framework).

 

/s/ Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP

Minneapolis, Minnesota

November 13, 2015

 

62

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS - AUGUST 31, 2015 AND 2014

 

 

    August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014
ASSETS                
CURRENT ASSETS:                
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 2,623,981     $ 2,477,017  
Available for sale securities     2,027,441       5,519,766  
Receivables:                
Trade excluding joint ventures, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $40,000 at both August 31, 2015 and 2014     4,027,167       3,596,247  
Trade joint ventures     645,377       951,286  
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     1,449,162       2,612,899  
Income taxes     198,462       762  
Inventories     7,468,441       5,961,399  
Prepaid expenses     411,473       411,226  
Deferred income taxes     424,108       789,364  
Total current assets     19,275,612       22,319,966  
                 
PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT, net     7,293,163       6,477,987  
                 
OTHER ASSETS:                
Investments in joint ventures     20,544,238       22,961,989  
Investments at carrying value (Note 8)     1,883,668        
Deferred income taxes     1,176,012       943,279  
Patents and trademarks, net     1,262,219       1,197,700  
Other     130,736       156,854  
Total other assets     24,996,873       25,259,822  
Total assets   $ 51,565,648     $ 54,057,775  
                 
LIABILITIES AND EQUITY                
CURRENT LIABILITIES:                
Accounts payable   $ 2,101,175     $ 2,225,029  
Accrued liabilities:                
Payroll and related benefits     1,056,257       1,847,246  
Other     514,409       394,380  
Total current liabilities     3,671,841       4,466,655  
                 
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES (Note 18)
               
                 
EQUITY:                
Preferred stock, no par value; authorized 10,000 shares; none issued and outstanding            
Common stock, $0.02 par value per share; authorized 10,000,000 shares; issued and outstanding 4,539,045 and 4,504,552, respectively     90,781       90,092  
Additional paid-in capital     13,441,264       12,676,546  
Retained earnings     34,522,871       32,733,300  
Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)     (3,180,811 )     253,925  
Stockholders’ equity     44,874,105       45,753,863  
Non-controlling interests     3,019,702       3,837,257  
Total equity     47,893,807       49,591,120  
Total liabilities and equity   $ 51,565,648     $ 54,057,775  

 

See notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

63

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013

 

 

    2015   2014   2013
NET SALES:                        
Net sales, excluding joint ventures   $ 27,491,392     $ 23,601,514     $ 19,724,205  
Net sales, to joint ventures     2,831,301       3,224,594       2,777,659  
Total net sales     30,322,693       26,826,108       22,501,864  
                         
Cost of goods sold     20,555,932       17,803,153       15,473,212  
Gross profit     9,766,761       9,022,955       7,028,652  
                         
JOINT VENTURE OPERATIONS:                        
Equity in income from joint ventures     5,936,565       5,920,603       5,237,711  
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     5,715,491       8,142,863       7,352,980  
Total joint venture operations     11,652,056       14,063,466       12,590,691  
                         
OPERATING EXPENSES:                        
Selling expenses     5,820,748       5,221,738       4,845,676  
General and administrative expenses     6,531,576       5,393,531       4,605,979  
Expenses incurred in support of joint ventures     1,867,570       1,408,014       1,387,197  
Research and development expenses     4,047,279       4,368,752       3,815,515  
Total operating expenses     18,267,173       16,392,035       14,654,367  
                         
OPERATING INCOME     3,151,644       6,694,386       4,964,976  
                         
INTEREST INCOME     34,835       11,617       34,614  
INTEREST EXPENSE     (20,960 )     (47,322 )     (52,215 )
OTHER INCOME     515       4,393       670,126  
                         
INCOME BEFORE INCOME TAX EXPENSE     3,166,034       6,663,074       5,617,501  
                         
INCOME TAX EXPENSE     648,674       1,124,662       864,000  
                         
NET INCOME     2,517,360       5,538,412       4,753,501  
                         
NET INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO NON-CONTROLLING INTERESTS     727,789       1,432,040       1,386,607  
                         
NET INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO NTIC   $ 1,789,571     $ 4,106,372     $ 3,366,894  
                         
NET INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO NTIC PER COMMON SHARE:                        
Basic   $ 0.40     $ 0.92     $ 0.76  
Diluted   $ 0.38     $ 0.90     $ 0.75  
                         
WEIGHTED AVERAGE COMMON SHARES ASSUMED OUTSTANDING:                        
Basic     4,521,788       4,454,836       4,421,636  
Diluted     4,649,060       4,579,498       4,475,895  

 

See notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

64

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME (LOSS)

YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015, 2014 AND 2013

 

 

    2015   2014   2013
NET INCOME   $ 2,517,360     $ 5,538,412     $ 4,753,501  
OTHER COMPREHENSIVE (LOSS) INCOME – FOREIGN CURRENCY TRANSLATION ADJUSTMENT     (3,835,705 )     (49,463 )     56,909  
                         
COMPREHENSIVE (LOSS) INCOME     (1,318,345 )     5,488,949       4,810,410  
                         
COMPREHENSIVE (LOSS) INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO NON-CONTROLLING INTERESTS     326,820       1,444,813       1,404,938  
                         
COMPREHENSIVE (LOSS) INCOME ATTRIBUTABLE TO NTIC   $ (1,645,165 )   $ 4,044,136     $ 3,405,472  

 

See notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

65

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF EQUITY – YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013

 

 

    STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY        
                    Accumulated        
            Additional       Other   Non-    
    Common Stock   Paid-in   Retained   Comprehensive   Controlling   Total
    Shares   Amount   Capital   Earnings   Income (Loss)   Interests   Equity
                                                         
BALANCE AT AUGUST 31, 2012     4,403,656     $ 88,073     $ 11,130,966     $ 25,260,034     $ 277,583     $ 187,913     $ 36,944,569  
                                                         
Exercise of stock options     22,171       444       207,910       -       -       -       208,354  
Stock issued for employee stock purchase plan     6,209       124       56,615       -       -       -       56,739  
Stock option expense     -       -       306,451       -       -       -       306,451  
Effect of subsidiary consolidation     -       -       -       -       -       3,960,920       3,960,920  
Dividend received by non-controlling interest     -       -       -       -       -       (1,752,842 )     (1,752,842 )
Comprehensive income     -       -       -       3,366,894       38,578       1,404,938       4,810,410  
BALANCE AT AUGUST 31, 2013
    4,432,036     $ 88,641     $ 11,701,942     $ 28,626,928     $ 316,161     $ 3,800,929     $ 44,534,601  
                                                         
Exercise of stock options     69,184       1,384       478,076       -       -       -       479,460  
Stock issued for employee stock purchase plan     3,332       67       42,513       -       -       -       42,580  
Stock option expense     -       -       454,015       -       -       -       454,015  
Dividend received by non-controlling interest     -       -       -       -       -       (1,440,000 )     (1,440,000 )
Investment by non-controlling interest     -       -       -       -       -       31,515       31,515  
Comprehensive income (loss)     -       -       -       4,106,372       (62,236 )     1,444,813       5,488,949  
                                                         
BALANCE AT AUGUST 31, 2014     4,504,552     $ 90,092     $ 12,676,546     $ 32,733,300     $ 253,925     $ 3,837,257     $ 49,591,120  
                                                         
Repurchase of common stock     (1,587 )     (32 )     (24,314 )     -       -       -       (24,346 )
Exercise of stock options     32,874       657       235,432       -       -       -       236,089  
Stock issued for employee stock purchase plan     3,206       64       57,917       -       -       -       57,981  
Stock option expense     -       -       495,683       -       -       -       495,683  
Dividend received by non-controlling interest     -       -       -       -       -       (1,160,000 )     (1,160,000 )
Investment by non-controlling interest     -       -       -       -       -       15,625       15,625  
Comprehensive income (loss)     -       -       -       1,789,571       (3,434,736 )     326,820       (1,318,345 )
                                                         
BALANCE AT AUGUST 31, 2015     4,539,045     $ 90,781     $ 13,441,264     $ 34,522,871     $ (3,180,811 )   $ 3,019,702     $ 47,893,807  

 

See notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

66

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

FOR THE YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013

 

 

    2015   2014   2013
CASH FLOWS FROM OPERATING ACTIVITIES:                        
Net income   $ 2,517,360     $ 5,538,412     $ 4,753,501  
Adjustments to reconcile net income to net cash (used in) provided by operating activities:                        
Stock-based compensation     495,683       454,015       306,451  
Depreciation expense     530,449       454,889       435,678  
Amortization expense     87,663       86,652       71,405  
Loss on disposal of assets     20,689       472       84,396  
Equity in income from joint ventures     (5,936,565 )     (5,920,603 )     (5,237,711 )
Dividends received from joint ventures     2,983,338       7,431,306       3,155,737  
Deferred income taxes     131,777       (230,883 )     124,935  
Increase in allowance on doubtful accounts           20,000        
Gain on sale of equipment     31,708              
Changes in current assets and liabilities:                        
Receivables:                        
Trade, excluding joint ventures     (699,088 )     (249,965 )     (894,888 )
Trade, joint ventures     305,909       (91,852 )     (124,891 )
Fees for services provided to joint ventures     1,163,737       (166,882 )     213,002  
Income taxes     (258,329 )     150,764       (98,427 )
Inventories     (1,679,654 )     (825,176 )     (1,017,188 )
Prepaid expenses and other     25,028       (62,969 )     363,337  
Accounts payable     127,907       365,797       78,623  
Income tax payable     31,667       (4,191 )     8,435  
Accrued liabilities     (634,823 )     473,126       (311,693 )
Net cash (used in) provided by operating activities     (755,544 )     7,422,912       1,910,702  
                         
CASH FLOWS FROM INVESTING ACTIVITIES:                        
Investment in joint venture           (110,988 )      
Additions to property and equipment     (1,438,919 )     (1,602,441 )     (1,488,059 )
Effect of subsidiary consolidation on cash                 1,612,768  
Purchase of available for sale securities           (6,019,766 )      
Proceeds from sale of available for sale securities     3,492,325       500,000        
Additions to patents     (152,182 )     (224,185 )     (255,259 )
Net cash provided by (used in) investing activities     1,901,224       (7,457,380 )     (130,550 )
                         
CASH FLOWS FROM FINANCING ACTIVITIES:                        
Repayment of note payable           (933,414 )     (76,119 )
Dividend received by non-controlling interest     (1,160,000 )     (1,440,000 )     (1,752,842 )
Investment by non-controlling interest     15,625       36,956        
Repurchase of common stock     (24,346 )            
Proceeds from employee stock purchase plan     57,981       42,580       56,739  
Proceeds from exercise of stock options     236,089       479,460       208,354  
Net cash used in financing activities     (874,651 )     (1,814,418 )     (1,563,867 )
                         
EFFECT OF EXCHANGE RATE CHANGES ON CASH:     (124,065 )     11,646       (39,574 )
                         
NET (DECREASE) INCREASE IN CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS     146,964       (1,837,239 )     176,711  
CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT BEGINNING OF YEAR     2,477,017       4,314,258       4,137,547  
                         
CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS AT END OF YEAR   $ 2,623,981     $ 2,477,017     $ 4,314,258  

 

See notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

67

 

NORTHERN TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION

AND SUBSIDIARIES

NOTES TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

YEARS ENDED AUGUST 31, 2015, 2014 AND 2013

 

 

1. NATURE OF BUSINESS AND SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES

 

Nature of Business – Northern Technologies International Corporation and Subsidiaries (the Company) develops and markets proprietary environmentally beneficial products and services in over 60 countries either directly or via a network of joint ventures, independent distributors and agents. The Company’s primary business is corrosion prevention marketed mainly under the ZERUST ® brand. The Company has been selling its proprietary ZERUST ® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services to the automotive, electronics, electrical, mechanical, military and retail consumer markets for over 35 years, and more recently, has targeted and expanded into the oil and gas industry. The Company also sells a portfolio of biobased and compostable (fully biodegradable) polymer resins and finished products under the Natur-Tec® brand. These products are intended to reduce the Company’s customers’ carbon footprint and provide environmentally sound disposal options. The Company’s two operating segments are ZERUST and Nature-Tec.

 

The Company participates, either directly or indirectly, in 19 active joint venture arrangements in North America, Europe and Asia. Each of these joint ventures generally manufactures and markets products in the geographic territory to which it is assigned. While most of the Company’s joint ventures exclusively sell rust and corrosion inhibiting products, some of the joint ventures also sell the Company’s Natur-Tec ® resin compounds and finished products. The profits of joint ventures are shared by the respective joint venture owners in accordance with their respective ownership percentages. The Company typically owns 50% or less of its joint venture entities and does not control the decisions of these entities, including dividend declaration or amount in any given year.

 

The Company has evaluated events occurring after the date of the consolidated financial statements for events requiring recording or disclosure in the financial statements.

 

Principles of Consolidation - NTIC evaluates its voting and variable interests in entities on a qualitative and quantitative basis. NTIC consolidates entities in which it concludes it has the power to direct the activities that most significantly impact an entity’s economic success and has the obligation to absorb losses or the right to receive benefits that could be significant to the entity. The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Northern Technologies International Corporation, its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Northern Technologies Holding Company, LLC, NTIC (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (NTIC China), Northern Technologies India Private Limited (Natur-Tec India), NTIC’s majority-owned subsidiary in Brazil, Zerust Prevenção de Corrosão S.A.(Zerust Brazil) and NTIC’s majority-owned holding company, NTI Asean LLC (NTI Asean). NTIC’s consolidated financial statements do not include the accounts of any of its joint ventures.

 

Non-Controlling Interests – The Company owns 85% of Zerust Brazil, 60% of NTI Asean, and 90% of Natur-Tec India.  The remaining ownership is accounted for as non-controlling interests and reported as part of equity in the consolidated financial statements. The Company allocates gains and losses to the non-controlling interest even when such allocation might result in a deficit balance, reducing the losses attributed to the controlling interest, changes in ownership interests are treated as equity transactions if the Company maintains control.

 

Reclassification - Certain amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements for the previous reporting periods have been reclassified to conform to the current period presentation. Beginning in the second quarter of fiscal 2015, the Company reclassified dividends received from equity method from investing cash flows to operating cash flows on the consolidated statements of cash flows for all periods presented. The classification reflects the continued profitability and returns of those profits to its owners, including the Company. The reclassification did not impact net income or equity.

 

68

 

Net Sales –The Company includes net sales to its joint ventures and net sales to unaffiliated customers as separate line items on its consolidated statements of operations. There are no sales originating from the Company’s joint ventures included in the amount, as the Company’s investments in its joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method.

 

Revenue Recognition – The Company recognizes revenue from the sale of its products when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, the product has been delivered, the price is fixed and determinable and collection of the resulting receivable is reasonably assured. These criteria are met when risk of loss and title pass to the customer, distributor or joint venture entity. Sales and use taxes charged to customers are reported on a net basis.

 

Trade Receivable – Payment terms for the Company’s unaffiliated customers are determined based on credit risk and vary by customer. The Company typically offers standard payment terms to unaffiliated customers of net 30 days. The Company does not accrue interest on past due accounts receivable. The Company reviews the credit histories of its customers before extending unsecured credit. The Company presents accounts and notes receivable, net of an allowance for doubtful accounts. Each quarter, the Company prepares an analysis of its ability to collect outstanding receivables that provides a basis for an allowance estimate for doubtful accounts. In doing so, the Company evaluates the age of its receivables, past collection history, current financial conditions of key customers and its joint ventures, and economic conditions. Based on this evaluation, the Company establishes a reserve for specific accounts and notes receivable that it believes are uncollectible, as well as an estimate of uncollectible receivables not specifically known. The Company believes that an analysis of historical trends and its current knowledge of potential collection problems provide the Company with sufficient information to establish a reasonable estimate for an allowance for doubtful accounts. In the event the Company determines that a smaller or larger uncollectible accounts reserve is appropriate, the Company records a credit or charge to selling expense in the period that it made such determination. Accounts receivable have been reduced by an allowance for uncollectible accounts of $40,000 at August 31, 2015 and 2014. Accounts are considered past due based on terms agreed upon between the Company and the customer. Accounts receivable are written-off only after all collection attempts have failed and are based on individual credit evaluation and specific circumstances of the customer.

 

The following table is a tabular rollforward for the allowance for doubtful accounts:

 

August 31, 2012   $ 20,000  
Bad debts     21,000  
Adjustment to provision     (21,000 )
August 31, 2013   $ 20,000  
Bad debts     107,000  
Adjustment to provision     (87,000 )
August 31, 2014     40,000  
Bad debts     6,000  
Adjustment to provision     (6,000 )
August 31, 2015   $ 40,000  

 

Trade Receivables from Joint Ventures – Trade receivables from joint ventures arise from sales of products the Company makes to its joint ventures. Payment terms for the Company’s joint ventures also are determined based on credit risk; however, additional consideration also is given to the individual joint venture due to the transportation time associated with ocean delivery of most products and certain other factors. Generally, accounts receivable from the Company’s joint ventures unpaid after 90 days are considered past due. The Company does not accrue interest on past due balances. The Company periodically reviews amounts due from its joint ventures for collectability, and based on past experience and continuous review of the balances due, determined an allowance for doubtful accounts related to its joint venture receivables is not necessary at August 31, 2015 or 2014.

 

69

 

Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures – The Company provides services to its joint ventures including consulting, legal, travel, insurance, technical and marketing services. The Company receives fees for the services it provides to its joint ventures. The fees for services received by the Company from its joint ventures are generally based on either a flat fee or a percentage of net sales by the Company’s joint ventures depending on local laws and tax regulations. The Company recognizes revenues related to fees for services provided to its joint ventures when earned, amounts are determinable and collectability is reasonably assured. Under the Company’s agreements with its joint ventures, amounts are earned when product is shipped from joint venture facilities. The Company reviews the financial situation of each of its joint ventures to assist in the likelihood of collections on amounts earned. The Company accounts for these fees on a cash basis if uncertainty exists surrounding the collection of such fees.

 

Cash and Cash Equivalents - The Company includes as cash and cash equivalents highly liquid, short-term investments with maturity of three months or less when purchased, which are readily convertible into known amounts of cash. The Company maintains its cash in high quality financial institutions. The balances, at times, may exceed federally insured limits.

 

Available for Sale Securities – Available for sale securities are recorded at fair value. Unrealized holding gains and losses on available for sale securities are excluded from earnings.

 

Inventories - Inventories are recorded at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out basis) or market.

 

Property and Depreciation - Property and equipment are stated at cost. Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method based on the estimated service lives of the various assets as follows:

 

Buildings and improvements (years)   5 - 30  
Machinery and equipment (years)   3 - 10  

 

Investments in Joint Ventures - Investments in the Company’s joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method. Under the equity method, investments are initially recorded at cost and are adjusted for dividends, distributed and undistributed earnings and losses, changes in foreign currency exchange rates and additional investments. In the event the Company’s share of joint venture’s cumulative losses exceed the Company’s investment balance, the balance is reported at zero value until proportionate income exceeds the losses. The Company assesses its joint ventures for impairment on an annual basis as of August 31 of each year as part of its fiscal year end analysis. In addition to the annual review for impairment, the Company reviews the operating results of each joint venture on a quarterly basis in comparison to its historical operating results and its accrual of fees for services provided to joint ventures. If the operating results of a joint venture do not meet financial performance expectations, an additional evaluation is performed on the joint venture. The Company’s evaluation of its investments in joint ventures requires the Company to make assumptions about future cash flows of its joint ventures. These assumptions require significant judgment and actual results may differ from assumed or estimated amounts. All investments in joint ventures have positive equity as of August 31, 2015 and 2014.

 

Recoverability of Long-Lived Assets - The Company reviews its long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable. The Company determines potential impairment by comparing the carrying value of the assets with expected net cash flows expected to be provided by operating activities of the business or related products. If the sum of the expected undiscounted future net cash flows is less than the carrying value, the Company evaluates if an impairment loss should be recognized. An impairment loss is measured by comparing the amount by which the carrying value exceeds the fair value of the asset.

 

70

 

Income Taxes - The Company utilizes the liability method of accounting for income taxes which requires an asset and liability approach to financial accounting and reporting for income taxes. Deferred income tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the differences between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. The effect of a change in tax rates on deferred tax assets and liabilities is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.

 

The Company records net deferred tax assets to the extent the Company believes these assets will more likely than not be realized. In making such a determination, the Company considers all available positive and negative evidence, including future reversals of existing taxable temporary differences, projected future taxable income, tax-planning strategies, and results of recent operations. In the event the Company determines that it would be able to realize its deferred income tax assets in the future in excess of their net recorded amount, the Company would make an adjustment to the deferred tax asset valuation allowance, which would reduce the provision for income taxes.

 

The Company records uncertain tax positions on the basis of a two-step process whereby the Company determines whether it is more likely than not that the tax positions will be sustained based on the technical merits of the position and those tax positions that meet the more-likely-than-not recognition threshold. The Company recognizes the largest amount of tax benefit that is greater than 50 percent likely to be realized upon ultimate settlement with the related tax authority.

 

Foreign Currency Translation (Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)) - The functional currency of NTIC China, Zerust Brazil, Natur-Tec India and each unconsolidated international joint venture is the applicable local currency. The translation of the applicable foreign currencies into U.S. dollars is performed for balance sheet accounts using exchange rates in effect at the balance sheet date and for revenue and expense accounts using an average monthly exchange rate. Translation gains or losses are reported as an element of other comprehensive income (loss).

 

The Company (excluding NTIC China, Zerust Brazil, Natur-Tec India, NTI Asean and its joint ventures) conducts all foreign transactions based on the U.S. dollar. Since investments in joint ventures are accounted for using the equity method, any changes in foreign currency exchange rates are reflected as a foreign currency translation adjustment and does not change the equity in income from joint ventures reflected in the Company’s consolidated statements of operations.

 

Fair Value of Financial Instruments – The carrying value of cash and cash equivalents, available for sale securities, short-term accounts and notes receivable, notes payable, trade accounts payables, and other accrued expenses approximate fair value because of the short maturity of those instruments. The fair value of the Company’s former long-term debt approximated the carrying values based upon current market rates of interest.

 

Shipping and Handling - The Company records all amounts billed to customers in a sales transaction related to shipping and handling as sales. The Company records costs related to shipping and handling in cost of goods sold.

 

Research and Development - The Company expenses all costs related to product research and development as incurred.   The costs related to product research and development are the net amount after being reduced by reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts. The Company accrues proceeds received under such contracts and offsets research and development expenses incurred in equal installments over the timelines associated with completion of the contracts’ specific objectives and milestones.

 

71

 

Common Stock – The Company issues new shares of common stock upon the exercise of stock options.

 

Stock-Based Compensation – The Company recognizes compensation cost relating to share-based payment transactions, including grants of employee stock options and transactions under the Company’s employee stock purchase plan, in its consolidated financial statements. That cost is measured based on the fair value of the equity or liability instruments issued. The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for stock options and other stock-based awards based on the grant-date fair value of the award, and recognizes the cost over the period the employee is required to provide services for the award (generally the vesting term).

 

Use of Estimates - The preparation of the financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.

 

2. RECENTLY ISSUED ACCOUNTING PRONOUNCEMENTS

 

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Revenue from Contracts with Customers, Topic 606 (Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-09), which provides a framework for the recognition of revenue, with the objective that recognized revenues properly reflect amounts an entity is entitled to receive in exchange for goods and services. This guidance, which includes additional disclosure requirements regarding revenue, cash flows and obligations related to contracts with customers, was originally to be effective for the Company beginning in fiscal year 2018. In July 2015, the FASB confirmed a one year deferral of the effective date of the new revenue standard which also allows early adoption as of the original effective date. The updated guidance will be effective for the Company’s first quarter of 2019. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of adopting ASU 2014-09 on its consolidated financial statements, but believes there will be no material impact, if any.

 

In July 2015, the FASB issued ASU No. 2015-11, “ Inventory ”, which modifies the subsequent measurement of inventories recorded under a first-in-first-out or average cost method. Under the new standard, such inventories are required to be measured at the lower of cost and net realizable value. The new standard is effective for the Company’s fiscal year 2018, with prospective application. The Company does not expect the adoption of the provisions of ASU 2015-11 to have a material impact on its consolidated financial statements.

 

Although there are several other new accounting pronouncements issued or proposed by the FASB, which the Company has adopted or will adopt, as applicable, the Company does not believe any of these accounting pronouncements has had or will have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position or operating results.

 

3. NTI ASEAN

 

NTI Asean is an entity that holds investments in eight entities operating in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, including the following countries: China (although the joint venture agreements for the Chinese joint venture were terminated as of December 31, 2014 and liquidation of this joint venture is anticipated), Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

 

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Prior to September 1, 2012, the Company owned 50% of the equity and voting rights of NTI Asean and accounted for its investment using the equity method, as its ownership was considered to be less than a majority. On September 1, 2012, the Company obtained an additional 10% ownership interest in NTI Asean in exchange for a license agreement, and thereafter holds 60% of the equity and voting rights of NTI Asean.

 

The Company accounted for the transaction resulting in the additional ownership as a business combination. Beginning in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, the Company consolidated the results of NTI Asean. Immediately prior to the transaction, the Company re-measured the fair value of NTI Asean and determined that there was no difference between the fair value and the book value of the entity. As a result, there was no accounting impact related to the business combination in the consolidated statements of operations.

 

The Company determined the fair value of NTI Asean using the capitalized income method, including a capitalization rate of 25%. The allocation of the total transaction amount was as follow:

 

Net assets acquired (liabilities assumed):        
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 1,613,000  
Accounts receivables     1,342,000  
Investments in joint ventures     4,967,000  
Value of assets   $ 7,922,000  
         
Purchase price:        
Fair value of non-controlling interest   $ 3,961,000  
Value of previously held interest     3,961,000  
Total consideration   $ 7,922,000  

 

4. INVENTORIES

 

Inventories consisted of the following:

 

    August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014
Production materials   $ 1,445,014     $ 1,242,649  
Finished goods     6,023,427       4,718,750  
    $ 7,468,441     $ 5,961,399  

 

5. PROPERTY AND EQUIPMENT, NET

 

Property and equipment, net consisted of the following:

 

    August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014
Land   $ 310,365     $ 310,365  
Buildings and improvements     6,180,089       5,695,268  
Machinery and equipment     4,090,619       3,713,145  
      10,581,073       9,718,778  
Less accumulated depreciation     (3,287,910 )     (3,240,791 )
    $ 7,293,163     $ 6,477,987  

 

6. PATENTS AND TRADEMARKS, NET

 

Patents and trademarks, net consisted of the following:

 

    August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014
Patents and trademarks   $ 2,440,022     $ 2,287,840  
Less accumulated amortization     (1,177,803 )     (1,090,140 )
    $ 1,262,219     $ 1,197,700  

 

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Patent and trademark costs are amortized over seven years. Costs incurred related to patents and trademarks are capitalized until filed and approved, at which time the amounts capitalized to date are amortized and any further costs, including maintenance costs, are expensed as incurred. Amortization expense was $87,663, $86,652 and

 

$71,405 for the years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Amortization expense is estimated to approximate $80,000 in each of the next five fiscal years.

 

7. INVESTMENTS IN JOINT VENTURES

 

The financial statements of the Company’s foreign joint ventures are initially prepared using the accounting principles accepted in the respective joint ventures’ countries of domicile. Amounts related to foreign joint ventures reported in the below tables and the accompanying financial statements have subsequently been adjusted to conform with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America in all material respects. All material profits recorded on sales from the Company to its joint ventures and from joint ventures to other joint ventures have been eliminated for financial reporting purposes.

 

Financial information of the Company’s joint venture in Germany, Excor Korrosionsschutz – Technologien und Produkte GmbH (EXCOR), China, Tianjin-Zerust Anticorrosion Co., Ltd. (Tianjin Zerust) (See Note 8), Finland and India for the periods for which it was accounted for under the equity method and all of the Company’s other joint ventures, are summarized as follows:

 

    August 31, 2015
    TOTAL   EXCOR   India   Finland   All Other
                     
Current assets   $ 49,295,116     $ 22,620,323     $ 4,035,396     $ 1,415,816     $ 21,223,581  
Total assets     52,853,938       24,606,880       4,328,196       2,197,047       21,721,815  
Current liabilities     12,288,383       3,360,142       1,030,718       178,961       7,718,562  
Noncurrent liabilities     1,215,139             155,168       433,624       626,347  
Joint ventures’ equity     39,350,417       21,246,738       3,142,310       1,584,461       13,376,908  
Northern Technologies International Corporation’s share of joint ventures’ equity     20,544,238       11,571,361       1,482,342       840,263       6,650,272  
Northern Technologies International Corporation's share of joint ventures’ undistributed earnings   $ 18,483,377     $ 11,540,456     $ 617,520     $ 820,263     $ 5,505,138  

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2015
    TOTAL   EXCOR   India   Finland   All Other
                     
Net sales   $ 99,026,251     $ 36,872,664     $ 7,000,715     $ 3,557,252     $ 51,595,620  
Gross profit     48,397,318       19,993,763       3,292,243       1,858,310       23,253,002  
Net income     11,849,107       8,201,659       983,179       518,900       2,145,369  
Northern Technologies International Corporation’s share of equity in income from joint ventures   $ 5,936,565     $ 4,091,608     $ 492,379     $ 263,749     $ 1,088,829  

 

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    August 31, 2014
    TOTAL   EXCOR   Tianjin
Zerust
  All Other
Current assets   $ 61,491,957     $ 24,361,157     $ 9,774,680     $ 27,356,120  
Total assets     65,466,964       26,652,165       9,793,803       29,020,996  
Current liabilities     17,542,634       3,512,143       4,438,380       9,592,111  
Noncurrent liabilities     1,929,488             868,377       1,061,111  
Joint ventures’ equity     45,994,842       23,140,022       4,487,046       18,367,775  
Northern Technologies International Corporation’s share of joint ventures’ equity     22,961,989       11,570,013       2,243,524       9,148,452  
Northern Technologies International Corporation's share of joint ventures’ undistributed earnings   $ 20,540,523     $ 11,539,108     $ 2,193,524     $ 6,807,891  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2014
    TOTAL   EXCOR   Tianjin
Zerust
  All Other
Net sales   $ 118,848,890     $ 39,944,812     $ 15,920,685     $ 62,983,393  
Gross profit     56,960,918       21,045,091       7,463,168       28,452,659  
Net income     11,842,338       7,906,693       1,274,487       2,661,158  
Northern Technologies International Corporation’s share of equity in income from joint ventures   $ 5,920,603     $ 3,950,915     $ 626,763     $ 1,342,925  

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2013
    TOTAL   EXCOR   Tianjin
Zerust
  All Other
Net sales   $ 113,189,068     $ 36,476,544     $ 15,161,289     $ 61,551,235  
Gross profit     52,058,609       19,470,322       7,153,395       25,434,891  
Net income     10,650,542       7,009,897       1,157,995       2,482,650  
Northern Technologies International Corporation’s share of equity in income from joint ventures   $ 5,237,711     $ 3,507,057     $ 579,376     $ 1,151,278  

 

 

On January 2, 2015, the Company announced that, effective as of December 31, 2014, the Company terminated its joint venture agreements with its previous joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust, and began the process of liquidating the joint venture entity. Since December 31, 2014, the Company has conducted business in China through a wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. As of December 31, 2014, the Company started recognizing Tianjin Zerust based on its carrying value instead of the equity method since the Company no longer expects to significantly affect the joint venture’s operations or decision making. See Note 8.

 

Because of the lack of financial and other information received from Tianjin Zerust, it is possible that receipt of future financial and other information from Tianjin Zerust may impact the realization of NTIC’s investment in and realization of a receivable from Tianjin Zerust. The last time the Company received financial information from Tianjin Zerust was through November 2014.  NTIC as of August 31, 2015, does not believe there are any triggering events that would require an impairment test.  NTIC’s current net investment is approximately $1.1 million, which is 60% of its investment in Tianjin Zerust, which was $1,883,668 as of August 31, 2015.  The Company will continue to evaluate the realization of this asset on an ongoing basis and adjust if necessary.

 

The Company records expenses that are directly attributable to the joint ventures on its consolidated statements of operations in the line item “Expenses incurred in support of joint ventures.” The expenses include items such as employee compensation and benefit expenses, travel expense and consulting expense.

 

The Company did not make any joint venture investments during fiscal 2015. On May 31, 2014, NTI Asean purchased the other 50% ownership interest in its joint venture in Singapore for $110,988. The Company did not make any other joint venture investments during fiscal 2014.

 

On November 30, 2013, the Company agreed to sell its indirect ownership interest in Mütec GmbH (Mütec), the Company’s former joint venture in Germany which manufactures proprietary electronic sensing instruments. In connection with the transaction, the owner of Mütec borrowed $168,000 from the Company to be repaid over four years with no interest. As of August 31, 2015 and August 31, 2014, $125,891 and $156,854 was due to the Company related to this transaction.

 

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8. CHINA OPERATIONS

 

Effective December 31, 2014, the Company terminated its joint venture agreements with its previous joint venture in China, Tianjin Zerust, began the process of liquidating the joint venture entity, and commenced operations in China through a wholly-owned subsidiary, NTIC (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. on January 1, 2015. Effective December 31, 2014, the Company’s investment in Tianjin Zerust is reported at carrying value based on the Company’s decreased level of influence over the entity, and the Company has reclassified previously unrecognized gains on foreign currency translation from accumulated other comprehensive income. Any declines in the fair value are reflected as adjustments to the carrying value. No such adjustments were recorded during fiscal 2015.

 

The investment in Tianjin Zerust is as follows:

 

    Investment
Equity method investment – August 31, 2014   $ 2,243,524  
Equity in earnings – fiscal year 2015     132,824  
Reclassification of translation gains on foreign currency translation     (492,680 )
Investment at carrying value – August 31, 2015   $ 1,883,668  

 

The Company incurred expenses of $1,642,258 during fiscal 2015 related to the termination of the joint venture agreement with Tianjin Zerust, the initiation of the liquidation of Tianjin Zerust and the formation and initial operation of NTIC China. Such expenses consisted primarily of legal expenses and personnel expenses associated with the establishment of the subsidiary and the hiring of new personnel. These expenses are recorded as operating expenses on the consolidated statements of operations and are partially off-set by the gross margin contribution from sales of NTIC China.

 

Because of the lack of financial and other information received from Tianjin Zerust, it is possible that if and when financial and other information is received from Tianjin Zerust that the Company may need to recognize an impairment charge on its investment in Tianjin Zerust. The Company estimates that its maximum exposure in terms of an impairment charge would be approximately $1,130,200 on its investment in Tianjin Zerust, or 60% of the entire investment at carrying value, which was $1,883,668 as of August 31, 2015.

 

9. CORPORATE DEBT

 

The Company has a revolving line of credit with PNC Bank of $3,000,000. No amounts were outstanding under the line of credit as of both August 31, 2015 and August 31, 2014. At the option of the Company, outstanding advances under the line of credit bear interest at either (a) an annual rate based on LIBOR plus 2.15% for the applicable LIBOR interest period selected by the Company or (b) at the rate publicly announced by PNC Bank from time to time as its prime rate. The line of credit matures on January 7, 2016

 

The line of credit is subject to standard covenants, including affirmative financial covenants, such as the maintenance of a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio, and negative covenants, which, among other things, limit the incurrence of additional indebtedness, loans and equity investments, disposition of assets, mergers and consolidations and other matters customarily restricted in such agreements. Under the loan agreement, the Company is subject to a minimum fixed charge coverage ratio of 1.10:1.00. As of August 31, 2015, the Company was in compliance with all debt covenants.

 

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10. STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY

 

On January 15, 2015, the Company’s Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $3,000,000 in shares of common stock through open market purchases or unsolicited or solicited privately negotiated transactions. This program has no expiration date but may be terminated by the Company’s Board of Directors at any time. As of August 31, 2015, up to $2,975,654 in shares of common stock remained available for repurchase under the stock repurchase program. During fiscal 2015, the Company repurchased and retired 1,587 shares of its common stock at a price of $15.34 per share.

 

The following stock options to purchase shares of common stock were exercised during fiscal 2015:

 

Options
Exercised
  Exercise
Price
  18,000     $ 9.76  
  18,000       7.65  
  2,333       10.20  

 

The total intrinsic value of the options exercised during fiscal 2015 was $297,696.

 

The Company granted stock options under the Northern Technologies International Corporation Amended and Restated 2007 Stock Incentive Plan (the 2007 Plan) to purchase an aggregate of 45,067 shares of its common stock to various employees and directors during fiscal 2015. The weighted average per share exercise price of the stock options is $20.10, which was equal to the fair market value of the Company’s common stock on the date of grant.

 

During fiscal 2014, the Company did not purchase or retire any shares of its common stock. The following stock options to purchase shares of common stock were exercised during fiscal 2014:

 

Options
Exercised
  Exercise
Price
  60,000     $ 7.65  
  14,000       8.57  

 

The total intrinsic value of the options exercised during fiscal 2014 was $890,955.

 

The Company granted stock options under the 2007 Plan to purchase an aggregate of 56,373 shares of its common stock to various employees and directors during fiscal 2014. The weighted average per share exercise price of the stock options is $14.83, which was equal to the fair market value of the Company’s common stock on the date of grant.

 

During fiscal 2013, the Company did not purchase or retire any shares of its common stock. The following stock options to purchase shares of common stock were exercised during fiscal 2013:

 

Options
Exercised
  Exercise
Price
  25,140     $ 9.95  
  4,000       12.84  
  4,000       8.57  
  1,734       7.65  
  1,500       9.76  
  666       7.75  

 

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The total intrinsic value of the options exercised during fiscal 2013 was $45,533.

 

11. NET INCOME PER COMMON SHARE

 

Basic net income per common share is computed by dividing net income by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding. Diluted net income per share assumes the exercise of stock options using the treasury stock method, if dilutive.

 

Options to purchase shares of common stock of 45,067 and 22,000 were excluded from the computation of common share equivalents for fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, as the exercise prices of such options were greater than market price of a share of common stock.

 

The following is a reconciliation of the earnings per share computation:

 

Numerator:   August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014   August 31, 2013
Net income attributable to NTIC   $ 1,789,571     $ 4,106,372     $ 3,366,894  
                         
Denominator:                        
Basic-weighted shares outstanding     4,521,788       4,454,836       4,421,636  
Weighted shares assumed upon exercise of stock options     127,272       124,662       54,259  
Diluted – weighted shares outstanding     4,649,060       4,579,498       4,475,895  
                         
Basic earnings per share:   $ 0.40     $ 0.92     $ 0.76  
Diluted earnings per share:   $ 0.38     $ 0.90     $ 0.75  

 

The dilutive impact summarized above relates to the periods when the average market price of Company stock exceeded the exercise price of the potentially dilutive option securities granted. Earnings per common share were based on the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the periods when computing the basic earnings per share. When dilutive, stock options are included as equivalents using the treasury stock market method when computing the diluted earnings per share.

 

12. STOCK-BASED COMPENSATION

 

The Company has two stock-based compensation plans under which stock options and other stock-based awards have been granted, the Northern Technologies International Corporation Amended and Restated 2007 Stock Incentive Plan (the 2007 Plan) and the Northern Technologies International Corporation Employee Stock Purchase Plan (the ESPP). The Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors and the Board of Directors administer these plans.

 

The 2007 Plan provides for the grant of incentive stock options, non-statutory stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock, stock unit awards, performance awards and stock bonuses to eligible recipients to enable the Company and its subsidiaries to attract and retain qualified individuals through opportunities for equity participation in the Company, and to reward those individuals who contribute to the achievement of the Company’s economic objectives. Subject to adjustment as provided in the 2007 Plan, up to a maximum of 800,000 shares of the Company’s common stock are issuable under the 2007 Plan. Options granted under the 2007 Plan generally have a term of ten years and become exercisable over a three- or four-year period beginning on the one-year anniversary of the date of grant. Options are granted at per share exercise prices equal to the market value of the Company’s common stock on the date of grant. The Company issues new shares upon the exercise of options. As of August 31, 2015, only stock options and stock bonuses had been granted under the 2007 Plan.

 

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The maximum number of shares of common stock of the Company available for issuance under the ESPP is 100,000 shares, subject to adjustment as provided in the ESPP. The ESPP provides for six-month offering periods beginning on September 1 and March 1 of each year. The purchase price of the shares is 90% of the lower of the fair market value of common stock at the beginning or end of the offering period. This discount may not exceed the maximum discount rate permitted for plans of this type under Section 423 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. The ESPP is compensatory for financial reporting purposes.

 

The fair value of option grants is determined at date of grant, using the Black-Scholes option pricing model with the assumptions listed below.  The volatility factor used in the Black-Scholes option pricing model is based on historical stock price fluctuations and the risk-free interest rate is based on U.S. treasury rates appropriate for the expected term. Dividend yield and expected volatility are estimated using historical amounts that are anticipated to be consistent with current values. Expected life of the option is based on the life of the option agreements. Based on these valuations, the Company recognized compensation expense of $495,683, $454,015 and $306,451 during fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, related to the options that vested during such time period. As of August 31, 2015, the total compensation cost for non-vested options not yet recognized in the Company’s consolidated statements of operations was $259,585. Stock-based compensation expense of $179,785 and $79,800 is expected to be recognized during fiscal 2016 and 2017, based on outstanding options as of August 31, 2015. Future option grants will impact the compensation expense recognized. Stock-based compensation expense is included in general and administrative expense on the consolidated statements of operations.

 

The Company currently estimates a ten percent forfeiture rate for stock options, and will continue to review this estimate in future periods.

 

The fair value of each option grant is estimated on the grant date using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model with the following assumptions and results for the grants:

 

    August 31, 2015   August 31, 2014   August 31, 2013
Dividend yield     0.00 %     0.00 %       0.00%    
Expected volatility     46.6 %     47.4 %       48.0%    
Expected life of option (years)     10       10       5 - 10  
Weighted average risk-free interest rate     1.63 %     1.39 %       0.71%    

 

Stock option activity during the periods indicated is as follows:

 

    Number of Shares (#)   Weighted Average Exercise Price   Aggregate
Intrinsic Value
Outstanding at August 31, 2012     203,873     $ 10.01          
Options granted     118,294       10.25          
Options exercised     (37,040 )     9.96          
Options exercised     (24,500 )     13.12          
                         
Outstanding at August 31, 2013     260,627     $ 9.84          
Options granted     56,373       14.83          
Options exercised     (74,000 )     7.82          
Options terminated     (4,000 )     8.57          
                         
Outstanding at August 31, 2014     239,000       11.66          
Options granted     45,067       20.10          
Options exercised     (38,333 )     9.00          
Options terminated     (4,000 )     10.20          
                         
Outstanding at August 31, 2015     241,734     $ 13.72     $ 677,475  
                         
Exercisable at August 31, 2015     160,453     $ 12.13     $ 577,528  

 

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The weighted average per share fair value of options granted during fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013 was $11.58, $8.57, and $5.53, respectively. The weighted average remaining contractual life of the options outstanding as of August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 was 6.60 years, 5.92 and 4.52 years, respectively.

 

13. GEOGRAPHIC AND SEGMENT INFORMATION

 

Segment Information

 

The Company’s chief operating decision maker ("CODM") is its Chief Executive Officer. The Company’s business is organized into two reportable segments: ZERUST® and Natur-Tec®. The Company has been selling its proprietary ZERUST® rust and corrosion inhibiting products and services to the automotive, electronics, electrical, mechanical, military and retail consumer markets for over 35 years, and more recently, has targeted and expanded into the oil and gas industry. The Company also sells a portfolio of bio-based and compostable (fully biodegradable) polymer resins and finished products under the Natur-Tec® brand.

 

The following tables present the Company’s business segment information in fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013:

 

    Fiscal 2015   Fiscal 2014   Fiscal 2013
ZERUST ® net sales   $ 26,042,909     $ 23,845,288     $ 20,457,198  
Natur-Tec ® net sales     4,279,784       2,980,820       2,044,666  
Total net sales   $ 30,322,693     $ 26,826,108     $ 22,501,864  

 

The following table sets forth the Company’s cost of goods sold for fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013 by segment:

 

    Fiscal 2015   Fiscal 2014   Fiscal 2013
Direct cost of goods sold                        
ZERUST ®   $ 14,399,456     $ 12,941,234     $ 11,408,604  
Natur-Tec ®     3,232,353       2,234,736       1,731,398  
Indirect cost of goods sold     2,924,124       2,627,183       2,333,210  
Total net cost of goods sold   $ 20,555,932     $ 17,803,153     $ 15,473,212  

 

* The percent of segment sales is calculated by dividing the direct cost of sales for each individual segment category by the net sales for each segment category.

 

The Company utilizes product net sales and direct and indirect cost of goods sold for each product in reviewing the financial performance of a product type. Further allocation of Company expenses or assets, aside from amounts presented in the tables above, is not utilized in evaluating product performance, nor does such allocation occur for internal financial reporting.

 

Sales to the Company’s joint ventures are included in the foregoing geographic and segment information, however, sales by the Company’s joint ventures to other parties are not included. The foregoing geographic and segment information represents only sales and cost of goods sold recognized directly by the Company.

 

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Geographic Information

 

Net sales by geographic location were as follows:

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31,
    2015   2014   2013
Inside the U.S.A. to unaffiliated customers   $ 19,329,979     $ 17,908,563     $ 16,027,619  
Outside the U.S.A. to:                        
Joint ventures in which the Company is a shareholder directly and indirectly     3,240,980       3,348,158       2,952,612  
Unaffiliated customers     7,751,734       5,569,387       3,521,633  
    $ 30,322,693     $ 26,826,108     $ 22,501,864  

 

Net sales by geographic location are based on the location of the customer.

 

Fees for services provided to joint ventures by geographic location as a percentage of total fees for services provided to joint ventures during fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, were as follows:

 

    Fiscal 2015   % of Total Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures in Fiscal 2015   Fiscal 2014   % of Total Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures in Fiscal 2014   Fiscal 2013   % of Total Fees for Services Provided to Joint Ventures in Fiscal 2013
Germany   $ 873,400       15.3 %   $ 1,032,234       12.7 %   $ 1,004,958       13.7 %
Poland     600,255       10.5 %     652,291       8.0 %     525,282       7.1 %
Japan     599,108       10.5 %     669,522       8.2 %     723,977       9.8 %
Thailand     554,881       9.7 %     604,316       7.4 %     621,807       8.4 %
China     494,080       8.6 %     2,118,018       26.0 %     2,063,369       28.1 %
France     412,608       7.2 %     508,705       6.2 %     496,897       6.8 %
United Kingdom     396,514       6.9 %     385,294       4.7 %     236,125       3.2 %
Sweden     323,610       5.7 %     440,117       5.4 %     415,547       5.7 %
India     277,548       4.9 %     364,918       4.5 %           0.0 %
Czech     229,185       4.0 %     288,367       3.6 %     210,827       2.9 %
Korea     192,539       3.4 %     315,916       3.9 %     393,307       5.3 %
Finland     281,620       4.9 %     355,391       4.4 %     321,256       4.4 %
Other     480,143       8.4 %     407,775       5.0 %     339,628       4.6 %
    $ 5,715,491       100.0 %   $ 8,142,863       100.0 %   $ 7,352,980       100.0 %

 

See note 7 for additional details  on geographical information regarding equity in income from joint ventures.

 

The geographical distribution of key financial statement data is as follows:

 

    At August 31, 2015   At August 31, 2014
Brazil   $ 46,918     $ 115,726  
India     16,402       24,766  
China     45,220        
North America     7,184,623       6,337,495  
Total long-lived assets   $ 7,293,163     $ 6,477,987  

 

82

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2015   Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2014   Fiscal Year Ended August 31, 2013
Brazil   $ 2,623,938     $ 3,079,695     $ 2,394,486  
India     967,241       581,535        
China     1,070,422              
North America     25,661,092       23,164,878       20,107,378  
Total net sales   $ 30,322,693     $ 26,826,108     $ 22,501,864  

 

14. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

 

The Company incurred $4,047,279, $4,368,752 and $3,815,515 of expense during fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively, in connection with its research and development activities. These amounts are net of reimbursements related to certain research and development contracts. Such reimbursements totaled $0, $45,788 and $274,728 for fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. The net fees are accounted for in the “Research and Development Expenses” section of the consolidated statements of operations.

 

15. RETIREMENT PLAN

 

The Company has a 401(k) employee savings plan. Employees who meet certain age and service requirements may elect to contribute up to 15% of their salaries. The Company typically contributes the lesser of 50% of the participant’s contributions or 3.5% of the employee’s salary. The Company recognized expense for the savings plan of $214,008, $188,207 and $175,016 for fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.

 

16. RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS

 

During fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, the Company made consulting payments of $100,000 per year to Bioplastic Polymers LLC, an entity owned by Ramani Narayan, Ph.D., a director of the Company, and paid royalties of $21,327, $14,388, and $10,244, respectively, based on net sales of the Company’s bioplastics products.

 

17. INCOME TAXES

 

The provision for income taxes for the fiscal years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 consists of the following:

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31,
    2015   2014   2013
Current:                        
Federal   $     $     $  
State     (37,000 )     19,000       8,000  
Foreign     542,000       1,200,000       731,000  
      505,000       1,219,000       739,000  
Deferred:                        
Federal     87,000       (89,000 )     118,000  
State     5,000       (6,000 )     7,000  
Foreign     52,000              
      144,000       (95,000 )     125,000  
    $ 649,000     $ 1,124,000     $ 864,000  

 

83

 

Reconciliations of the expected federal income tax at the statutory rate with the provisions for income taxes for the fiscal years ended August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013 are as follows:

 

    Fiscal Year Ended August 31,
    2015   2014   2013
Tax computed at statutory rates   $ 1,076,000     $ 2,265,000     $ 1,910,000  
State income tax, net of federal benefit     (32,000 )     13,000       15,000  
Tax effect on equity in (income) loss of international joint ventures     (1,986,000 )     (2,055,000 )     (1,781,000 )
Tax effect on dividends received from joint ventures     1,470,000       3,285,000       1,732,000  
Tax effect of foreign operations     996,000       1,131,000       807,000  
Foreign tax credit     (1,937,000 )     (3,710,000 )     (2,524,000 )
Research and development credit     (314,000 )     (88,000 )     (364,000 )
Valuation allowance     1,379,000       687,000       1,635,000  
Tax-exempt income     -       -       (230,000 )
Stock based compensation     99,000       -       -  
Non-controlling interest in partnership income     (204,000 )     (440,000 )     (425,000 )
Other     102,000       36,000       89,000  
    $ 649,000     $ 1,124,000     $ 864,000  

 

The Company has not provided U.S. income taxes or foreign withholding taxes with respect to its portion of the cumulative undistributed earnings of foreign joint ventures that are essentially permanent in duration. The Company’s portion of the cumulative undistributed earnings of foreign joint ventures that are essentially permanent in duration were $18,483,377, $20,540,523 and $22,281,510 at August 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.  During fiscal 2015, the Company recorded deferred income tax expense of $79,000 representing foreign withholding taxes to be paid with respect to the portion of the cumulative undistributed earnings of foreign joint ventures that it determined were not essentially permanent in duration. If some or all of the undistributed earnings of the joint ventures are remitted to the Company in the future, income taxes, if any, after the application of foreign tax credits will be provided at that time. To the extent undistributed earnings of the Company’s joint ventures are distributed in the future, it is not expected to result in any material additional U.S. income tax liability after the application of foreign tax credits.

 

The tax effect of the temporary differences and tax carryforwards comprising the net deferred taxes shown on the consolidated balance sheets at August 31, 2015 and 2014 are as follows:

 

    August 31,
    2015   2014
Current:                
Accrued bonus   $ 174,000     $ 524,000  
Allowance for doubtful accounts     14,500       14,500  
Inventory costs     81,200       100,800  
Prepaid expenses and other     (41,800 )     (40,600 )
Other accrued expenses     102,100       86,800  
Deferred joint venture expenses     93,200       104,100  
Total current   $ 424,100     $ 789,600  
                 
Noncurrent:                
Property and equipment   $ (204,000 )   $ (171,200 )
Goodwill     19,400       27,300  
Other intangible assets     1,103,800       825,200  
Nonqualified stock options     308,900       260,400  
Foreign net operating loss carryforward     26,800       -  
Capital loss carryforward     -       50,900  
Foreign tax credit carryforward     4,654,800       4,141,100  
Investment in foreign joint ventures     (79,000 )     -  
Research and development credit     2,224,600       1,910,800  
New hire retention credit     10,600       10,600  
      8,065,900       7,055,100  
Valuation allowance     (6,889,900 )     (6,113,400 )
Total noncurrent     1,176,000       941,700  

 

84

 

At August 31, 2015, the Company had foreign tax credit carryforwards of approximately $4,654,800, of which approximately $187,400 will expire if not utilized by August 31, 2016. In addition, the Company had federal and state tax credit carryforwards of $2,235,200 at August 31, 2015 which begin to expire in fiscal 2019.  These federal and state tax credit carryforwards consist primarily of federal and Minnesota research and development credit carryforwards. The Company also has foreign net operating loss carryforwards of $26,800 at August 31, 2015 which begin to expire in fiscal 2020.

 

As of August 31, 2015, the Company recorded a valuation allowance of $4,654,800 with respect to the foreign tax credit carryforwards.  In addition, the Company has recorded a valuation allowance of $2,335,100 with respect to federal and state tax credit carryforwards.

 

As of August 31, 2014, the Company recorded a valuation allowance of $4,141,100 with respect to the foreign tax credit carryforwards.  In addition, the Company has recorded a valuation allowance of $1,919,800 with respect to federal and state tax credit carryforwards.

 

The Company records a tax valuation allowance to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized when it is more likely than not that some portion or all of its deferred tax assets will not be realized.  The Company determined based on all available evidence, including historical data and projections of future results, that it is more likely than not that all of its deferred tax assets, except for its foreign tax credit carryforward, federal and Minnesota research and development credit carryforwards, and capital loss carryforwards will be fully realized.  The Company determined that its deferred tax asset related to foreign tax credit carryforwards will not be realized due to insufficient federal taxable income within the carryforward period and the fact that for ordering purposes the foreign tax credit carryforwards are not allowed to be used until after any current year foreign tax credits are utilized.  In addition, based on historical data and future projections, the Company determined that it is more likely than not that its deferred tax asset related to federal and Minnesota research and development credit carryforwards will not be realized due to insufficient federal and Minnesota taxable income within the carryforward period after considering the foreign tax credit usage.

 

85

 

The following table is a tabular rollforward for the valuation allowance:

 

August 31, 2012   $ 4,933,100  
Adjustment to valuation allowance     1,153,000  
August 31, 2013   $ 6,086,100  
Adjustment to valuation allowance     27,300  
August 31, 2014     6,113,400  
Adjustment to valuation allowance     776,500  
August 31, 2015   $ 6,889,900  

 

The following is a tabular reconciliation of the total amounts of unrecognized tax benefits: