Ispire Technology Inc.

Q4 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk00: Hello everyone and welcome to participating in iSPIRE's Fiscal Year 2023 earnings conference call. At this time, I would like to inform you that this conference is being recorded and that all participants are in listen only mode. Joining us today are Mr. Michael Wong, the company's co-CFO, and Mr. Daniel J. Machock, the company's CFO. Freshman Mr. Wong will brief you on the company's key highlights and Mr. Machock will review the company's financial results. Before we begin, I'd like to remind you this conference call contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Audit and Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical fact in this announcement are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by the company in terms of experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions, and expected future developments, as well as other factors the company believes are relevant. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, and many factors could cause the company's actual results or performance to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Further information regarding this and other risk factors are included in the company's filings with the SEC. The company here takes no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent or current events or circumstances or the changes in its expectations, except those may be required by law. I now just want to call over to Mr. Wong. Mr. Wong, please go ahead.
spk05: Thank you, Qi. And
spk03: thank you all for joining us this early morning. Just one clarification. The operator just mentioned that I was a co-CFO, just to clarify, co-CEO. And then our CFO is on call with me. So before I start, I would like to first express that I'm very excited to partner with our chairman, Mr. Tang Fang Liu, as the two co-CEOs of the company going forward. Our combined experience and leadership, obviously, are aimed to elevate ISPR's growth and further expansion to New Heights. Exciting times have. I'm also pleased to welcome Daniel as our new CFO. His over 20 years of experience in finance, accounting, and M&A will be absolutely invaluable to our team. Together with other key leaders, we are able to capitalize on our combined expertise for ISPR's long-term success. So a major addition to the team. So now back to fiscal year 2023. First of all, we hit a significant milestone. We achieved a 100% increase in cannabis vaping product revenue. We doubled our revenue there and we achieved 11% increase in tobacco vaping product revenue. And in all, our overall revenue increased by 31% over the previous fiscal year. However, the spotlight of our growth really is on our cannabis product related revenue from the United States, which really saw an impressive jump from $20 million the prior fiscal year to $40 million just recent fiscal year. While the US has been our primary market for cannabis vaping products, our horizon is actually expanding now to new markets in Canada and Europe. We are also excited to share with you all for the fourth quarter of 2023, our non-GAAP net profit is $0.5 million as compared to $1.9 million net loss in fourth quarter of last fiscal year. So just on an apple to apple basis, from non-GAAP point of view, we turned a profit for the first time. So for the fiscal year 2024, we are projecting our revenue for cannabis vaping products to be at somewhere between $80 million and $90 million, representing another 100% to 125% growth rate over just recent fiscal year. On the other hand, the revenue for tobacco vaping products for the fiscal year 2024 is projected at $95 million to $105 million, representing a growth rate of 25% to 40%. So now building on our obviously our growth narratives, this July, as you saw in the press release earlier, we unveiled the innovative iSPIRE-1 technology and the corresponding products. This technology and this solution really address many, many challenges facing the vaping industry, such as from operational point of view, capping issues. When I say capping, it's really how the mouthpiece and the body of the devices go together. Capping issues, leaking issues, spitting issues, and overheating issues are very commonly associated with vaping cartridges, disposable and part systems. So beyond fixing those industry challenges, the iSPIRE-1 technology also elevates device quality, consistency, and most importantly, consumer safety, because it's a pre-sealed device. They are pre-sealed devices that are assembled in clean room settings in the factory and are pressure tested. So there is no chance for contaminant during the transient process and in the customer's warehouse. So we are very excited about this transformative potential in the cannabis vaping sector, which of course will give us a remarkable competitive edge, advantage over our competitors. So we have actively showcased our technology at important events and conferences, and we have received very positive feedback from the industry experts and also brands and market stakeholders. So we believe the prospects of this iSPIRE-1 technology for our company and the broader market are very promising in at least the next year, two years to come. By nature, it's very transformative and fundamentally change how the industry, how the brands, how the manufacturers operate with efficiency and safety in mind.
spk02: Our
spk03: drive, of course, doesn't just stop at innovation and keeping coming out with new products. We're also diligently enhancing our manufacturing operations. As we stated in the prospectus, enhancing our manufacturing operations will not only give us an opportunity to expand our gross margin, but also it will afford us the ability to, I would say, de-risk from any geopolitical situations in the world. So our California facility recently welcomed our first fully automated assembly system. We are trying it out and getting the systems set up. We'll commence before the end of 2023. So at the end of this year or very early part of next year, we will be able to start full-scale assembly operation. We are also currently scouting out solutions in Southeast Asia for potential locations for manufacturing as well, with the goal of further optimizing our production capabilities positioned for future margin expansion. Now also throughout the fiscal year 2023, we have redoubled efforts to refine our technology, amplify brand visibility, not only in the US market, but in Europe and Canada as well, and deliver unparalleled products. We believe our agility in adopting to recent policies and the regulatory changes, combined with our diversified revenue strategy, spanning from medical and recreational avenues, will certainly fortify our future prospects. So
spk02: all
spk03: in all, we can have our ongoing dedication to our product quality and innovation have solidified our reputation, and we are hopeful that the iSpar 1 product, family, and technology will further solidify our market position. So that's the important point I want to make.
spk05: Now at
spk03: this point, I would also like to share some other updates with everybody on the call. Last week, we filed an 8K with SCC. So I would like to just take this opportunity to explain the 8K file. As I believe many of you have noticed that and have probably have questions about the adjustments that we made to intangible assets. So intangible assets really include over 200 core technology patents and trademarks.
spk05: First of all,
spk03: I want to highlight what core technology patents mean. Core technology, as you all know, in any industry, there are some fundamental transformative new technologies that move the industry forward. And then there are more design form factor related patents. So we don't consider those core technology. So our company over the last 14 years accumulated over 200 core technology patents, along with some trademarks. So all those have been valued at approximately $74 million by a third party evaluation firm last year. These patents and the technologies are all related to vaporization technology, atomization technology. And they can be widely applied not only to e-cigarettes, cannabis vaping, CBD vaping, but also in medical and health care as well. So such IT or intangible asset is a crucial foundation for keeping our company on the cutting edge of innovation. And obviously, it's also built over 15 years of accumulation of expertise and know-how from our founder, Mr. Li. So we initially, last year, we put the intangible assets of $74 million on our balance sheet. However, under US GAAP regulation, if these patents and trademarks are booked as intangible assets, the company would be required to pay the $74 million in cash. To our founder, Mr. Li, in exchange. So that is by US GAAP requirement. In the absence of a cash payment, obviously, the company would need to account for it at its book value. Again, this is by US GAAP standard as well. So again, in the absence of cash payments to Mr. Li, the company would need to account for it only at book value. So given that our company is currently in a very important world phase, Mr. Li has decided to generously contribute all these intangible assets to the company without any considerations. So given that position, our auditors recommended a revised accounting treatment to such intangible assets, valuing such assets at their book value. So to clarify, this changes, of course, the balance sheet, but it has absolutely no impact on our cash balance or cash flow. In fact, by removing the intangible assets off the balance sheet and eliminating the amortization, this change will result in a positive adjustment to our bottom line by about $2.3 million. So that means going forward, we are not going to be hit on annual basis by that amortization expenses. So obviously, from that front, it's a positive impact on P&L and cash going forward. So I want to take a moment to explain that important 8K value from last week to everybody. So that's that. So with that, now we'll turn over the call to our CFO, Daniel, who will review and comment on financial results. Dan?
spk01: Thanks, Michael. And thanks, everyone, for being on the call. I'm truly honored to be a part of this dynamic team at I-SPIRE, and I'm keen to contribute to our ongoing journey. I will summarize some of our key financial results for fiscal year 2023. In my comments on the annual results, I will refer to the fiscal year 2023 as the year ended June 30, 2023. All comparisons to the prior years, 12 months ended June 30, 2022, unless otherwise stated. As Michael outlined, fiscal year 2023 saw revenue soar 31% to a record 115.6 million. This increase combined result of the 100% -over-year growth in cannabis vaping products, the 40 million in the United States, and the 13% -over-year growth in sales of tobacco vaping products in Europe and the UK, to 58.8 million. Our gross profit saw a commendable 58% rise to 21.1 million, with a 3% improvement in gross margin to 18.2%. The improvement was primarily due to discontinued discounts on cannabis vaping products, which were offered during fiscal year 2022 to capture market share, the change of higher-margin products sold in our product mix, and the increase in volume leading to economies of scale as we've grown. Our total operating expenses increased 79% to 25.6 million compared to 14.3 million for the same period last year. This increase was primarily due to the 138% increase in our G&A expense, encompassing additional payroll and contractor expenses related to the expansion of our cannabis vaporizing business in the United States, the planning of a new manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, as Michael discussed, and other related expenses to support our growth. As a result of the foregoing, our net loss was 6.1 million for the fiscal year 2023, as compared to 1.9 million for the fiscal year 2022. Now let's look at the balance sheet and liquidity. As of June 30, 2023, and June 30, 2022, we had working capital of 28.8 million and 10.5 million respectively. We believe that our current cash and cash flow generated from our operations will be sufficient to meet our working capital needs for the next 12 months. We plan to expand our business to implement our growth strategies by broadening our service and strengthening our position in the marketplace. Net cash used in operating expenses was 7.6 million for the fiscal year 2023 compared to 7.6 million for the same period last year. Net cash used in investment activities was 10.2 million compared to 0.1 million for the same period last year. Net cash used in finance activities was 16.4 million compared to 3.1 million for the same period last year. This concludes our fiscal year 2023 financial results review. Now I will share some exciting long-term prospects regarding our business outlook. Looking ahead, we're committed to staying on the forefront of technology advancements, as Michael discussed. We anticipate continued double-digit growth in our cannabis vaping segment. The imminent launch of our automated manufacturing facility and our strategic emphasis on the iSPIRE 1 technology position us to realize promising growth in the coming year. If you have any questions, please contact us through email at IR at Operator, this completes our prepared remarks and we are now open to questions. Please go ahead.
spk00: Thank you. At this time, we will begin the question and answer session. To ask a question, you may press star, then 1 on your touchtone phone. If you are using a speaker phone, please pick up your hands up before pressing the keys. To withdraw your question, please press star, then 2. We ask that in consideration for the others, you limit yourself to two questions. At this time, we will pause momentarily to assemble the roster. Our first question comes from Bo Pei with US Tiger Securities. Please go ahead.
spk04: Hi, Michael. Hi, Daniel. Thanks for taking my question. I have two questions. The first one is we have noticed recent news regarding US government departments such as the Departments of Health and Senate Banking Committee urging cannabis legalization. So what are the key milestones and events to consider from the company's point of view in the coming years? And the second question is could you also share the growth status of the cannabis market in the US in 2023 and specifically the expansion of the vaping cannabis products? Thank you. Excuse me. Can you hear me?
spk03: Bo, thank you for joining us and thank you for the question. The first question of yours is really
spk02: a
spk03: larger question, a policy that really affects the whole industry.
spk02: As
spk03: most of us know, the Health and Human Services Department asked the EA to consider rescheduling cannabis into a lower scheduled drug. It sounds like that on that front is moving along quite well. But I think for this industry, more importantly, is the upcoming Senate Banking Committee meeting next week. I think it's next Wednesday. For the first time, basically, there is a bipartisan vote on the cannabis banking bill. So everybody is really keeping their eyes on what's going on next week. But regardless, on one hand, there are promising signs of potentially federal legalization to cannabis. So as far as your question, what are the key milestones and events to consider from our point of view? I would say in looking at this legislation or rescheduling, either way, this will play out to I-SPIRES' advantage. Obviously, we are hoping for federal legalization so the industry could grow faster than before. However, on the other side, as seen right now, we are the only and the first publicly traded vaporizer technology company in the US. So we do have a unique advantage here. That is a unique advantage in access to capital. So whether the legalization process moves along fast or slow, it will benefit I-SPIRES. If the legalization happens fast, obviously, the addressable market would double overnight in the United States. And if not, we still have the unique situation that we are in and we can take advantage of this opportunity and really capitalize on it and become the number one player in this space before legalization happens. So to answer your question, either way, we are going to keep our heads down and do a great job in innovation and customer support to drive our own growth. So that's my answer to your first question. Second question, you are talking about the growth status of the US cannabis market this year. And you are talking specifically about the expansion of vaping products for the cannabis space. I think on this topic, most of you on the call are very much plugged into what's going on in the US market. One thing, obviously, the truth is, by all indications, I'll just quote a couple of data points from Grandview Research that monitors the cannabis industry closely. So for the cannabis industry, according to Grandview Research, CAGR for the industry overall, even if there is no federal legalization for the next seven years, would it be over 14% CAGR? Now, according to them, which I think the industry players all agree, the vaping segment of the cannabis industry will experience CAGR for well over 21%. So obviously, it will grow 50% faster than the overall cannabis industry.
spk02: So at
spk03: this rate, essentially, I'll just share one key data point
spk02: with everybody.
spk03: During 2022, vaping products as a percentage of total retail cannabis sales was at almost 30%. That was already significant enough because in comparison to just a short seven, eight years ago where vaping for cannabis was a small, single digit percentage of market share moving to 30%. That's huge and significant because vaping products are just so easy to carry, to use, and because oil can be processed in such a way you can eliminate the strong odor for public consumption. So it's much a preferred method of consuming cannabis than smoking flowers in a traditional way. So at 21% CAGR, basically, we are expecting by 2027, just about half of all cannabis vaping, half of the cannabis consumption will come through the vaping forum. So that's really, really important. I think from that point of view, I hope I answered your questions.
spk04: Yes, that's quite helpful. Thank you.
spk00: Thank you. And the next question comes from David Wu with ACA.
spk05: Hey, good morning, guys. Thanks for the update. Just quickly, what's the current progress right now for the company's capacity relocation? And could you maybe provide an update on the construction and production progress of the factories in the US and Southeast Asia?
spk02: Okay, David, thank
spk03: you. So we talked about this to many investors before, and we also talked about this in the prospectus as well as other findings. The key reason for us to build out certain production capacity is really to address two issues. Number one, the import tariff for finished products from China to the US is at 25% for our products. So 25% tariff is not insignificant. Obviously, it adds up, inflates the price of products the brand receives. However, there is another challenge as well. Given the uncertain geopolitical situation between the US and China, we do want to also make sure our business is not disrupted for any political strikes. So what we are doing is
spk02: we are building out two manufacturing operations.
spk03: One is in our Southern California, Los Angeles area where we have our warehouse and operations. We are building out a section for manufacturing. The other location is Southeast Asia. We
spk02: shared with everybody about this
spk03: for the last year. Obviously, Southeast Asia still has relatively low labor costs. Also, for the countries we studied, they would experience zero tariff for products exported to the US. So US customers charge them zero tariff. So there is a tariff advantage there.
spk02: Specifically,
spk03: where we are with those in the US, previously we planned on actually going live with our manufacturing in September, meaning this month. However, right before we launched our iSpar1 technology and products, the game plan changed a little bit.
spk02: We
spk03: realized that the market has a very strong and positive reaction to our iSpar1 products. So we decided we were going to wait for further market feedback on which products the market could potentially purchase the most. This way, our manufacturing operations in the US will be geared towards such high volume products because, as we all know, labor costs are high in the US relative to Asian locations. So we want to make sure the US operation is always run at the highest efficiency level possible. Efficiency, of course, is largely driven by making the same thing again and again and again, day in, day out. So the US operation is really designed for those high volume products. So as a result of that consideration, we decided to delay the go live of the manufacturing facility here until we figure out which top selling products for the iSpar1 line would be. And then we will put in the assembly lines accordingly. The lines are already tested in China. We are just waiting to decide on the product so that we can use the right chip for each machine. So that's why the US manufacturing will likely happen at the end of this year. Even with small delay, by very early next year, we will be live with that. Southeast Asia factory, we are in the process of negotiating for location as well as for facilities. So I shall have more to update. But as far as timing, it looks as if we would be able to start pilot production by December this year as well.
spk05: David? Understood. That's very helpful. Thank you. If I could just ask one more question. Could you maybe just share a little bit of information of the company's maybe top three customers right now in the vaping cannabis products? And additionally, what are the primary competitive advantages you guys offer compared to the other big players?
spk03: That's a great question. Thank you. So as far as our core competitive advantages, first let's talk about the top three customers. Unfortunately, we are under NDA with two of the top three customers. So I cannot share info right at this moment about those two customers. But one that I am afraid to share, obviously, is cookies, because we already made it public earlier. We were working with cookies. So cookies is indeed among one for top three customers for the vaping cannabis vaping products. So that's one. But on top of those three, I would mention a couple more names as well. Eureka is one important brand to us. Very important customer that we have worked with for well over a year. They are one of the significant customers to us and very much valued by us. So along with a couple other fast growing brands, one is called Ghosts, one is called Cali Hypes. Very, very fast growing brands that we were lucky to be part of their journey with. So that's on the customer side. So your second half of questions, competitive advantages versus other players in the space. I would sum it up with three key advantages. Advantage number one really is our technology. As the very core of our company is our technology.
spk02: Because really,
spk03: let's think about the timeline. Just two and a half years ago, in December 2020, we launched our
spk02: first and only
spk03: product with our new technology. And on the other hand, our technology was so much embraced by the industry. Very quickly, we went from doing no business in cannabis vaping hardware to doing $40 million within literally
spk02: a
spk03: year, just two year timeframe. So our technology is a key differentiator and a key advantage. Now, the second key advantage I have to say, thanks to everybody on the call, is our, like I said earlier, is our access to capital market. By being the only publicly traded such company in the industry, it does give us a strong advantage. Not only from a working capital point of view, but from a name recognition penetration point of view. So it makes it easier for us to be credible in our branded customers and the consumer's life. So that's number two. Number three, in fact, sometimes I view number three as our most important differentiator.
spk02: But that is our
spk03: US team. In this whole industry, David, no one, no other competitor has our type of team or level of expertise. You talk to any players in this space, they know I aspire. Even though our revenue hasn't quite caught up yet, our reputation, our credibility is absolutely among the top two, top three. So depending on who you ask. So I think that's a leading indicator. The team really
spk02: separated us from everybody else by a yard. So once
spk03: again, technology, capital market, and a great team that knows everything about this industry, that has connections out there that nobody can match, and that has the credibility that nobody else has. So David,
spk05: back to you. Great. Thank you. That's all for me. And thank you again for today for updating us.
spk00: Thank you. At this time, we'll reach the end of the question and answer session. Thank you for attending DicePyres' Huronians Conference call. This concludes our call today, and we thank you for all listening in. Goodbye.

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