14. Commitments and Contingencies
The Company leases offices and manufacturing facilities under various non-cancelable operating leases expiring at various times through the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015. All of the leases require the Company to pay maintenance, insurance and property taxes. The lease agreements for primary office and manufacturing facilities provide for rent escalation over the lease term and renewal options for five-year periods. Rent expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease. The difference between rent expense recorded and the amount paid is credited or charged to deferred rent, which is included in other long-term liabilities in the accompanying balance sheets. The balance of deferred rent was approximately $0.3 million as of December 31, 2011 and March 31, 2011, respectively. Rent expense was approximately $0.5 million and $0.6 million during the three months ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively. Rent expense was approximately $1.6 million and $1.9 million during the nine months ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
As of December 31, 2011, the Company had firm commitments to purchase inventories of approximately $29.7 million through Fiscal 2012. Certain inventory delivery dates and related payments are not firmly scheduled; therefore, amounts under these firm purchase commitments will be payable upon the receipt of the related inventories.
On April 28, 2011, the Company purchased from CPS for $2.3 million the remaining TA100 microturbine inventory that was not consumed as part of the TA100 manufacturing process and obtained title to certain TA100 manufacturing equipment. See Note 16—Acquisition, for discussion of commitments associated with the TA100 microturbine generator product line (“MPL”) acquired from CPS.
In September 2010, the Company was awarded a grant from the DOE for the research, development and testing of a more efficient microturbine Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system. Part of the improved efficiency is expected to come from an improved microturbine design, with a projected electrical efficiency of 42% (compared to 33% for the C200) and power output of 370 kW. The project was estimated to last 24 months and cost approximately $17.4 million. During the three months ended December 31, 2011 this project was extended until September 2013. The DOE will contribute $5.0 million toward the project, and the Company will incur approximately $12.4 million in research and development expense. The Company billed the DOE under the contract for this project a cumulative amount of $0.5 million through December 31, 2011.
In November 2009, the Company was awarded a grant from the DOE for the research, development and testing of a more fuel flexible microturbine capable of operating on a wider variety of biofuels. The project is estimated to last 24 months and cost approximately $3.8 million. During the three months ended December 31, 2011 this project was extended until September 2013. The DOE will contribute $2.5 million under the program, and the Company will incur approximately $1.3 million in research and development expense. The Company billed the DOE under this contract a cumulative amount of $1.2 million through December 31, 2011.
The Company has agreements with some of its distributors requiring it to replace stocked parts if the Company renders parts obsolete in inventories the distributors own and hold in support of their obligations to serve fielded microturbines without charge to the distributors. While the Company has never incurred costs or obligations for these types of replacements, it is possible that future changes in the Company’s product technology could result and yield costs to the Company if significant amounts of inventory are held at distributors. As of December 31, 2011 and March 31, 2011, no significant inventories were held at distributors.
In December 2001, a purported stockholder class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (the “District Court”) against the Company, two of its then officers, and the underwriters of the Company’s initial public offering. The suit purports to be a class action filed on behalf of purchasers of the Company’s common stock during the period from June 28, 2000 to December 6, 2000. An amended complaint was filed on April 19, 2002. The plaintiffs allege that the prospectuses for the Company’s June 28, 2000 initial public offering and November 16, 2000 secondary offering were false and misleading in violation of the applicable securities laws because the prospectuses failed to disclose the underwriter defendants’ alleged agreement to allocate stock in these offerings to certain investors in exchange for excessive and undisclosed commissions and agreements to make additional purchases of stock in the aftermarket at pre-determined prices. Similar complaints have been filed against hundreds of other issuers that have had initial public offerings since 1998; the complaints have been consolidated into an action captioned In re Initial Public Offering Securities Litigation, No. 21 MC 92. On October 9, 2002, the plaintiffs dismissed, without prejudice, the claims against the named officers and directors in the action against the Company, pursuant to the terms of Reservation of Rights and Tolling Agreements entered into with the plaintiffs (the “Tolling Agreements”). Subsequent addenda to the Tolling Agreements extended the tolling period through August 27, 2010. The District Court directed that the litigation proceed within a number of “focus cases” and on October 13, 2004, the District Court certified the focus cases as class actions. The Company’s case is not one of these focus cases. The underwriter defendants appealed that ruling, and on December 5, 2006, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court’s class certification decision. On August 14, 2007, the plaintiffs filed their second consolidated amended complaints against the six focus cases and on September 27, 2007, again moved for class certification. On November 12, 2007, certain of the defendants in the focus cases moved to dismiss the second consolidated amended class action complaints. On March 26, 2008, the District Court denied the motions to dismiss except as to Section 11 claims raised by those plaintiffs who sold their securities for a price in excess of the initial offering price and those who purchased outside the previously certified class period. The motion for class certification was withdrawn without prejudice on October 10, 2008. On April 2, 2009, a stipulation and agreement of settlement between the plaintiffs, issuer defendants and underwriter defendants was submitted to the District Court for preliminary approval. The District Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval and preliminarily certified the settlement classes on June 10, 2009. The settlement “fairness” hearing was held on September 10, 2009. On October 6, 2009, the District Court entered an opinion granting final approval to the settlement and directing that the Clerk of the District Court close these actions. On August 26, 2010, based on the expiration of the tolling period stated in the Tolling Agreements, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Termination of Tolling Agreement and Recommencement of Litigation against the named officers and directors. The plaintiffs stated to the District Court that they do not intend to take any further action against the named officers and directors at this time. Appeals of the opinion granting final approval were filed, all of which have been dismissed or settled. Management believes that the outcome of this litigation will not have a material impact on the Company’s business, operating results, cash flows, financial position or results of operations.
On October 9, 2007, Vanessa Simmonds, a purported stockholder of the Company, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (the “Washington District Court”) against The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriters of the Company’s initial public offering in June 1999, and the Company’s secondary offering of common stock in November 2000, alleging violations of Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78p(b). The complaint sought to recover from the lead underwriters any “short swing profits” obtained by them in violation of Section 16(b). The suit names the Company as a nominal defendant, contained no claims against the Company, and sought no relief from the Company. Simmonds filed an Amended Complaint on February 27, 2008 (the “Amended Complaint”), naming as defendants Goldman Sachs & Co. and Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. and again naming Morgan Stanley. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. were no longer named as defendants. The Amended Complaint asserted substantially similar claims as those set forth in the initial complaint. On July 25, 2008, the Company joined with 29 other issuers to file the Issuer Defendants’ Joint Motion to Dismiss. On March 12, 2009, the Washington District Court granted the Issuer Defendants’ Joint Motion to Dismiss, dismissing the complaint without prejudice on the grounds that Simmonds had failed to make an adequate demand on the Company prior to filing her complaint. In its order, the Washington District Court stated that it would not permit Simmonds to amend her demand letters while pursuing her claims in the litigation. Because the Washington District Court dismissed the case on the grounds that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction, it did not specifically reach the issue of whether Simmonds’ claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. However, the Washington District Court also granted the Underwriters’ Joint Motion to Dismiss with respect to cases involving non-moving issuers, holding that the cases were barred by the applicable statute of limitations because the issuers’ stockholders had notice of the potential claims more than five years prior to filing suit. Simmonds filed a Notice of Appeal on April 10, 2009. The underwriters subsequently filed a Notice of Cross-Appeal, arguing that the dismissal of the claims involving the moving issuers should have been with prejudice because the claims were untimely under the applicable statute of limitations. On December 2, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Ninth Circuit”) affirmed the Washington District Court’s decision to dismiss the moving issuers’ cases (including the Company’s) on the grounds that plaintiff’s demand letters were insufficient to put the issuers on notice of the claims asserted against them and further ordered that the dismissals be made with prejudice. The Ninth Circuit, however, reversed and remanded the Washington District Court’s decision on the underwriters’ motion to dismiss as to the claims arising from the non-moving issuers’ initial public offerings, finding plaintiff’s claims were not time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations. In remanding, the Ninth Circuit advised the non-moving issuers and underwriters to file in the Washington District Court the same challenges to plaintiff’s demand letters that moving issuers had filed. On December 16, 2010, the underwriters filed a petition for panel rehearing and petition for rehearing en banc. Appellant Vanessa Simmonds also filed a petition for rehearing en banc. On January 18, 2011, the Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing and petitions for rehearing en banc. It further ordered that no further petitions for rehearing may be filed. On January 26, 2011, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the mandate in all cases (including the Company’s and other moving issuers) is stayed for ninety days pending Simmonds’ filing of a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. On April 5, 2011, Simmonds filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking reversal of the Ninth Circuit’s December 2, 2010 decision relating to the adequacy of the pre-suit demand. On April 15, 2011, underwriter defendants filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking reversal of the Ninth Circuit’s December 2, 2010 decision relating to the statute of limitations issue. On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court denied Simmonds’ petition regarding the demand issue and granted the underwriters’ petition relating to the statute of limitations issue. The Ninth Circuit mandate for all cases continues to be stayed pending final disposition of the underwriters’ Petition. Underwriters’ brief on the merits was submitted on August 18, 2011, and Simmonds’ brief was submitted on September 26, 2011. Oral arguments on underwriters’ petition were heard on November 29, 2011, although no decision has yet been issued by the Court. The Ninth Circuit mandate for all cases continues to be stayed pending final disposition of the underwriter’s Petition. Management believes that the outcome of this litigation will not have a material impact on the Company’s business, operating results, cash flows, financial position or results of operations.
From time to time, the Company may become subject to additional legal proceedings, claims and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business. Other than the matters discussed above, the Company is not a party to any other material legal proceedings, nor is the Company aware of any other pending or threatened litigation that would have a material effect on the Company’s business, operating results, cash flows, financial position or results of operations should such litigation be resolved unfavorably.