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LTBR > SEC Filings for LTBR > Form 10-Q on 9-Nov-2012All Recent SEC Filings

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Quarterly Report


The following Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, or MD&A, is intended to help the reader understand Lightbridge Corporation, our operations and our present business environment. MD&A is provided as a supplement to, and should be read in conjunction with, our consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes thereto contained in "Item 1. Financial Statements" of this report. This overview summarizes the MD&A, which includes the following sections:

Our Business - a general overview of our two business segments, the material opportunities and challenges of our business;

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates - a discussion of accounting policies that require critical judgments and estimates;

Operations Review - an analysis of our Company's consolidated results of operations for the two periods presented in our consolidated financial statements. Except to the extent that differences among our operating segments are material to an understanding of our business as a whole, we present the discussion in the MD&A on a consolidated basis; and

Liquidity, Capital Resources and Financial Position - an analysis of cash flows; an overview of financial position.

The following discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties, and assumptions such as statements of our plans, objectives, expectations, and intentions. Our actual results may differ materially from those discussed in these forward-looking statements because of the risks and uncertainties inherent in future events.

Our Business

We are a leading nuclear fuel technology company, and participate in the nuclear power industry in the U.S. and internationally. Our business operations can be categorized into two segments: (i) we are a developer of next generation nuclear fuel technology that has the potential to extend the length of the fuel cycle and significantly uprate the power output of reactors, reducing the per-megawatt-hourly cost of generating nuclear energy, and reducing nuclear waste and proliferation, and (ii) we are a provider of nuclear power consulting and strategic advisory services to commercial and governmental entities worldwide.

Our Nuclear Fuel Technology Business Segment

We are developing innovative, proprietary nuclear fuel designs that can significantly enhance the nuclear power industry's economics and increase power output by: 1) Extending the fuel cycle to 24 months while simultaneously providing an increase in power output of up to 17% in existing pressurized water reactors (including Westinghouse 4-loop reactors, which are currently limited to an 18-month fuel cycle); 2) Enabling increased reactor power output (up to 30% increase) without changing the core size in new build PWRs; and 3) Improving the back-end of the fuel cycle related to the volume of used fuel per kilowatt-hour as well as proliferation of weapons-usable materials.

For uprates up to 10%, only relatively minor reactor system modifications would be required. Accordingly, we believe that nuclear utilities with existing reactor fleets may find it economically attractive to initially start with a 10% power uprate fuel variant and switch to a 17% power uprate fuel variant at the time when steam generators and other expensive plant equipment reach their lifetime limit and have to be replaced. In that case, nuclear utilities would only have to incur the incremental capital cost beyond and above the cost of standard plant equipment being replaced to accommodate a 17% power uprate in their existing PWR plants.

We believe that a major opportunity for us is the possibility that our advanced nuclear fuel designs, which are currently in the research and development stage, will be used in many existing and new light water nuclear reactors. Light water reactors are the dominant reactor type currently used in the world, and fuels for such reactors constitute the majority of the commercial market for nuclear fuel.

Consulting Business Segment

Through our consulting and strategic advisory business, we are engaged in the business of assisting commercial and governmental entities with developing and expanding their nuclear industry capabilities and infrastructure. We provide integrated strategic advice across a range of expertise areas including, for example, regulatory development, nuclear reactor site selection, procurement and deployment, reactor and fuel technology, international relations and regulatory affairs. Our consulting services are expert and relationship based, with particular emphasis on key decision makers in senior positions within governments or companies, as well as focus on overall management of nuclear energy programs. To date, substantially all of our revenues are derived from our consulting and strategic advisory services business segment, which primarily provides nuclear consulting services to entities within the United Arab Emirates, our first significant consulting and strategic advisory client. In April 2010 we began to provide consulting services to Kuwait. In December 2010, we expanded services to the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (The GCC, a political and economic union that comprises the Gulf States of the Kingdom of Bahrain, State of Kuwait, Sultanate of Oman, State of Qatar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates). We have also provided nuclear safety consulting advice to U.S. nuclear utilities.

Factors Affecting Our Financial Performance

Economics of Nuclear Power

In certain markets with a diversified energy base, decisions on new build power plants are largely affected by the economics of various energy sources. If prices of non-nuclear energy sources fall, it could limit the deployment of new build nuclear power plants in such markets. This could reduce the size of the potential markets for our fuel technology. If prices or production costs of non-nuclear energy increase, there may be increased demand for the deployment of new build nuclear power plants.

Consulting and Strategic Advisory Services

Our primary challenge in pursuing our business is that the decision making process for nuclear power programs typically involves careful consideration by many parties and therefore requires significant time. Many of the potential clients that could benefit from our services are in regions of the world where tensions surrounding nuclear energy are high, or in countries where public opinion plays an important role. Domestic and international political pressure may hinder our efforts to provide nuclear energy services, regardless of our focus on non-proliferative nuclear power.


Key Fuel Developments over the Past Quarter

The Company has made progress against its technology development roadmap in the 3rd quarter of 2012, including the following developments:

Lightbridge was notified by the US Department of Energy (DOE) that Rosatom had provided non-proliferation assurances to DOE that will become effective upon entry into an agreement between Lightbridge and Rosatom entities. We understand this is the last key step of the Part 810 export authorization review process prior to approval by DOE.

Secured final approval from the Russian fuel fabricator TVEL relating to fabrication of Lightbridge-designed metallic fuel samples for irradiation testing in the MIR research reactor in Dimitrovgrad, Russia, and the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory in the United States. As part of this process, TVEL has finalized the composition of the Russian team designating the Joint Stock Company "A.A. Bochvar High-technology Research Institute of Inorganic Materials" (Bochvar Institute) as the project integrator and MSZ Electrostal fabrication plant as the fabrication facility where our fuel samples will be fabricated. Lightbridge is currently in advanced stages of contract negotiations with Bochvar Institute that are expected to be completed in the next few months;

Continued discussions with Dimitrovgrad test facility for preliminary planning of loop irradiations of Lightbridge- designed metallic fuel samples in the MIR research reactor. These irradiations will be performed under prototypic PWR operating conditions and will provide data necessary for regulatory licensing of the Lightbridge-designed lead test assemblies for demonstration in a commercial PWR. Irradiated samples from this loop irradiation program at MIR will also be used for additional out-of-reactor tests to demonstrate the metallic fuel's behavior during severe accident scenarios and provide quantitative verification of the safety benefits of the Lightbridge- designed fuel. The loop irradiation program is expected to begin in 2013;

Continued experiment planning and design for irradiation testing of our metallic fuel samples in the ATR at Idaho National Laboratory. The team agreed to a single fuel rod design that is compatible with both a capsule irradiation rig and a loop irradiation rig design in order to accommodate uncertainty in reactor availability between now and when the fuel samples are delivered to Idaho National Laboratory;

Continued negotiations with a U.S. fuel fabrication partner relating to metal fuel fabrication process development and demonstration work in the United States. We are hopeful for negotiations to conclude in late 2012-early 2013.

Research and Development Project Schedule

We currently anticipate that we, working in collaboration with our development partners/vendors and contingent upon execution of collaborative research and development agreements with them, will be able to:

demonstrate the full-scale fabrication process for our metallic fuel rods in 2013-2014;

perform in-reactor and out-of-reactor experiments in 2013-2016;

develop analytical models in 2012-2016 for our metallic fuel technology that can be used for regulatory licensing; and

begin lead test assembly (LTA) operation in a full-size commercial light water reactor in 2017-2018, which involves testing a limited number of our full-scale fuel assemblies in the core of a commercial nuclear power plant over three 18-month cycles.

Accordingly, based on our current estimated schedule, final qualification of our fuel for 10%-17% power uprates in a commercial reactor is expected in 2021-2022 (at the end of three 18-month cycles of LTA operation). We expect final demonstration of the all-metal fuel design for power uprates of up to 30% in new-build plants and thorium-based seed and blanket fuel assembly design to occur approximately 2-3 years thereafter.


Collaboration with a fuel fabricator that can fabricate the LTAs and a nuclear utility that is willing to accept the LTAs is required for LTA demonstration in a commercial reactor. In the U.S., the fabricator and the utility will be primarily responsible for securing necessary regulatory licensing approvals for the LTA operation. To this end, in November 2011, we established a Nuclear Utility Fuel Advisory Board (NUFAB) to further strengthen dialogue with global nuclear utilities. Separately, we are also pursuing discussions with major fuel fabricators relating to collaboration on our nuclear fuel designs.

There is a lack of publicly available experimental data on our metallic fuel. As a result, we will need to conduct various irradiation experiments to confirm fuel performance under normal and off-normal events. Loop irradiation in a test reactor environment prototypic of PWR operating conditions and other experiments on unirradiated and irradiated metallic fuel samples will be essential to demonstrate the performance and advantages of our metallic fuel. We are currently planning a loop irradiation experiment in the MIR research reactor as part of this effort.

Existing analytical models may be inadequate. New analytical models, capable of accurately predicting the behavior of our metallic fuel during normal operation and off-normal events may be required. Experimental data measured from our planned irradiation demonstrations will help to identify areas where new analytical models may be required.

Demonstration of a fabrication process for full-length (12-14 feet) metallic fuel rods is required. Past operating experience with similar metallic fuel composition involved fabrication of metallic fuel rods up to 3 feet in length. We are in discussions with potential fuel fabrication partners relating to this demonstration effort.

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

The SEC issued Financial Reporting Release No. 60, "Cautionary Advice Regarding Disclosure About Critical Accounting Policies " suggesting that companies provide additional disclosure and commentary on their most critical accounting policies. In Financial Reporting Release No. 60, the SEC has defined the most critical accounting policies as the ones that are most important to the portrayal of a company's financial condition and operating results, and require management 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, we have identified the following significant policies as critical to the understanding of our financial statements.

The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make a variety of estimates and assumptions that affect (i) the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities as of the date of the financial statements and (ii) the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting periods covered by the financial statements.

Our management expects to make judgments and estimates about the effect of matters that are inherently uncertain. As the number of variables and assumptions affecting the future resolution of the uncertainties increase, these judgments become even more subjective and complex. Although we believe that our estimates and assumptions are reasonable, actual results may differ significantly from these estimates. Changes in estimates and assumptions based upon actual results may have a material impact on our results of operation and/or financial condition. We have identified certain accounting policies that we believe are most important to the portrayal of our current financial condition and results of operations.

Accounting for Stock Based Compensation, Stock Options and Stock Granted to Employees and Non-employees

We adopted the requirements for stock-based compensation, where all forms of share-based payments to employees or non-employees, including stock options and stock purchase plans, are treated the same as any other form of compensation by recognizing the related cost in the statement of income.

Under these requirements, stock-based compensation expense for employees is measured at the grant date based on the fair value of the award, and the expense is recognized ratably over the award's vesting period.

The stock-based compensation expense incurred by Lightbridge in connection with its employees is based on the employee model of ASC 718. Under ASC 718 employee is defined as "an individual over whom the grantor of a share-based compensation award exercises or has the right to exercise sufficient control to establish an employer-employee relationship based on common law as illustrated in case law and currently under U.S. tax regulations." Our advisory board members and consultants do not meet the employer-employee relationship as defined by the IRS and therefore are accounted for under ASC 505-50. Under these requirements, stock-based compensation expense for non-employees is based on the fair value of the award on the measurement date which is the earlier of the date at which a commitment for performance by the counterparty to earn the equity instruments is reached (a performance commitment), or the date at which the counterparty's performance is complete. For all grants made, we recognize compensation cost under the straight-line method.

We measure the fair value of stock options on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes option-pricing model which requires the use of several estimates, including:

the volatility of our stock price;
the expected life of the option;
risk free interest rates; and
expected dividend yield.

Prior to the completion of our merger in October 2006, we had limited historical information on the price of our stock as well as employees' stock option exercise behavior for stock options issued prior to the merger. We could not rely on historical experience alone to develop assumptions for stock price volatility and the expected life of options. As such, our stock price volatility was estimated with reference to our historical stock price for the time period before the merger, from the date the announcement of the merger was made. We utilized the closing prices of our publicly-traded stock from the announcement date in January 2006 to determine our volatility and we have continued to use our historical stock price closing prices to determine our volatility.

The expected life of options is based on internal studies of historical experience and projected exercise behavior. We estimate expected forfeitures of stock-based awards at the grant date and recognize compensation cost only for those awards expected to vest. The forfeiture assumption is ultimately adjusted to the actual forfeiture rate. Estimated forfeitures are reassessed in subsequent periods and may change based on new facts and circumstances. We utilize a risk-free interest rate, which is based on the yield of U.S. treasury securities with a maturity equal to the expected life of the options. We have not and do not expect to pay dividends on our common shares.

Income Taxes

We account for income taxes using the liability method in accordance with the accounting pronouncement "Accounting for Income Taxes", which requires the recognition of deferred tax assets or liabilities for the tax-effected temporary differences between the financial reporting and tax bases of our assets and liabilities, and for net operating loss and tax credit carry forwards. The tax expense or benefit for unusual items, prior year tax exposure items, or certain adjustments to valuation allowances are treated as discrete items in the interim period in which the events occur.

On January 1, 2007, we adopted Accounting Interpretation "Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes", which addresses the determination of whether tax benefits claimed or expected to be claimed on a tax return should be recorded in the financial statements. Under this requirement, we may recognize the tax benefit from an uncertain tax position only if it is more likely than not that the tax position will be sustained on examination by the taxing authorities, based on the technical merits of the position. As a result of the implementation of this standard, we did not recognize any current tax liability for unrecognized tax benefits. We do not believe that there are any unrecognized tax positions that would have a material effect on the net operating losses disclosed.

Revenue Recognition from Consulting Contracts

We believe one of our critical accounting policies is revenue recognition from our consulting contracts. We are currently primarily deriving our revenue from fees by offering consulting and strategic advisory services to commercial and government owned entities outside the U.S. planning to create or expand electricity generation capabilities, using nuclear power plants. Our fee type and structure for each client engagement depend on a number of variables, including the size of the client, the complexity, the level of the opportunity for us to improve the client's electricity generation capabilities using nuclear power plants, and other factors.

The two consulting agreements that we entered into in August 2008 with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) were fixed-fee service contracts, but were subsequently changed to time and expense contracts. We recognize revenue associated with these contracts in accordance with the time and expense billed to our customer, which is subject to their review and approval. When a loss is anticipated on a contract, the full amount of the anticipated loss is recognized immediately. Our management uses its judgment concerning the chargeable number of hours to bill under each contract considering a number of factors, including the experience of the personnel that are performing the services, the value of the services provided and the overall complexity of the project. Should changes in management's estimates be required, due to business conditions that cause the actual financial results to differ significantly from management's present estimates, revenue recognized in future periods could be adversely affected.

The revenue recognition from two other government contracts entered into April 2010 and December 2010, were based on the completion and acceptance of contractual milestones. All contractual milestones were completed in 2011.

We recognize revenue in accordance with SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin or SAB, No. 104, "Revenue Recognition". We recognize revenue when all of the following conditions are met:

(1) There is persuasive evidence of an arrangement;
(2) The service has been provided to the customer;
(3) The collection of the fees is reasonably assured; and
(4) The amount of fees to be paid by the customer is fixed or determinable.

In situations where contracts include client acceptance provisions, we do not recognize revenue until such time as the client has confirmed its acceptance.


As presented on the accompanying balance sheet, we had patents with a net book value of approximately $581,000 and $537,000 as of September 30, 2012 and December 31, 2011, respectively. There are many assumptions and estimates that may directly impact the results of impairment testing, including an estimate of future expected revenues, earnings and cash flows, and discount rates applied to such expected cash flows in order to estimate fair value. We have the ability to influence the outcome and ultimate results based on the assumptions and estimates we choose for testing. To mitigate undue influence, we set criteria that are reviewed and approved by various levels of management. The determination of whether or not intangible assets have become impaired involves a significant level of judgment in the assumptions. Changes in our strategy or market conditions could significantly impact these judgments and require adjustments to recorded amounts of intangible assets.


Management assesses the probability of loss for certain contingencies and accrues a liability and/or discloses the relevant circumstances, as appropriate. Management discloses any liability which, taken as a whole, may have a material adverse effect on the financial condition of the Company. Refer to Note 6 to the Notes to the Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements.

Recent Accounting Standards and Pronouncements

Refer to Note 1 of Notes to the Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of recent accounting standards and pronouncements.

Operations Review

Business Segments and Periods Presented

We have provided a discussion of our results of operations on a consolidated basis and have also provided certain detailed segment information for each of our business segments below for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2012 and 2011, in order to provide a meaningful discussion of our business segments. We have organized our operations into two principal segments:
Consulting and Technology. We present our segment information along the same lines that our chief executives review our operating results in assessing performance and allocating resources.


                                                                        Corporate and
                    Consulting                Technology                 Eliminations                     Total
                2012         2011          2012         2011         2012           2011           2012           2011
Revenue        591,355     1,652,538            0            0             0              0        591,355      1,652,538
Profit - Pre
Tax              5,532       530,949     (542,664 )   (591,089 )    (710,516 )   (1,108,645 )   (1,247,648 )   (1,168,785 )
Total Assets   420,540       837,496      580,577      482,936     6,405,271     10,406,994      7,406,388     11,727,426
Additions            0             0            0            0             0          1,228              0          1,228
Expense              0             0            0            0             0            112              0            112
Depreciation         0             0            0            0         7,068          5,601          7,068          5,601


                                                                                   Corporate and
                      Consulting                     Technology                     Eliminations                       Total
                 2012           2011            2012            2011            2012            2011            2012            2011
Revenue        2,829,893      5,523,181               0               0               0               0       2,829,893       5,523,181
Profit - Pre
Tax              387,192      1,414,515      (1,557,732 )    (1,716,884 )    (2,188,581 )    (3,667,087 )    (3,359,117 )    (3,969,456 )
Total Assets     420,540        837,496         580,577         482,936       6,405,271      10,406,994       7,406,388      11,727,426
Additions              0              0               0               0          18,100           1,228          18,100           1,228
Expense                0              0               0               0               0           1,350               0           1,350
Depreciation           0              0               0               0          21,584          19,515          21,584          19,515

Technology Business

Over the next 12 to 15 months, we expect to incur approximately $3-4 million in research and development expenses related to the development of our proprietary nuclear fuel designs, contingent upon execution of collaborative research and development agreements with Rosatom's subsidiary companies and a U.S. fuel fabrication partner. We spent approximately $0.6 million for research and development during the three months ended September 30, 2012 and 2011, and $1.6 million and $1.7 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Over the next 2-3 years, we expect that our research and development activities will increase and will be primarily focused on testing and demonstration of our metallic fuel technology for Western-type pressurized water reactors. The main objective of this research and development phase is to prepare for full-scale demonstration of our fuel technology in an operating commercial PWR. As discussed above, we believe the testing and demonstration work on our . . .

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