Tuesday, September 11, 2012
CONTENTS: 1On the Mercurial Nature of the Venture Capital Market
2Crowdfunding and Community Solar
3Solar Financing (Tax Issues): Primer
4Innovation, Medical Technology Commercialization and the NIH
5Novel 3D Solar Cell Prototype
The Narrowing Ambitions of Venture Capital
Venture capital was supposed to be the financial engine of American innovation.
Instead, it’s become a reflection of its own limitations.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
This election year, Republicans and Democrats will agree on little, including how to get the U.S. economy growing. Higher taxes or smaller government? One path to growth that is widely agreed upon is technological innovation, which has historically been closely associated with the American venture-capital-backed startup company.
A single dollar of venture capital, one study suggests, is as effective at boosting new ideas as three dollars of corporate investment in R&D. If we listened to trade bodies such as the National Venture Capital Association, we might conclude that to get more innovation, all we need is more venture capital.
But claims that venture capital is a driver of true innovation, or even of positive financial returns to investors, face some hard questions. With the industry facing a hangover from its recent flurry of social-media investing and the disappointing stock-market performance of firms such as Groupon, Zynga, and Facebook, the skeptics have been rarely been as loud as they are today.
I believe several essential constraints limit venture capitalists’ ability to promote true innovation. The first is that venture investors have financed a progressively narrower range of technologies. Recently, a few hot areas—most notably Web and social media—have dominated an increasingly large share of the venture landscape. While another smartphone app to identify the drinking establishment where your buddies are currently carousing may benefit fraternity and sorority members, it is hard to feel that such ventures address fundamental challenges facing mankind today. Investor Peter Thiel has aptly expressed the core anxiety: “We wanted flying cars. Instead, we got 140 characters.”
A Limited Scope
Historical data bear out the trend. In 1974, the fraction of venture capital investments primarily involving computers and telecommunications was only 35 percent, a share that climbed to 62 percent in 1982 (as excitement grew around computer peripherals) and finally reached 79 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000 before subsiding temporarily. The figure has rapidly climbed again, reaching 56 percent in 2011. And that may yet mask the rise of social-media investing, which fits poorly into traditional classification schemes. Even within other categories, venture funding is highly concentrated. In the energy sector, venture funds have overwhelmingly gone to renewable and “smart grid” technologies rather than those related to conventional power generation.
What explains this dramatic concentration? One answer is that venture funds have done much better in categories where the innovation cycle is short, such as media and software, than in areas like advanced materials and biotechnology, where the time frame for success is longer than the eight-to-10-year life of the typical fund.
Estimates assembled by the consulting firm Sand Hill Econometrics, which examined the relative performance of all venture investments, show that a dollar invested in 1991 in venture-backed software firms would have turned into more than $23 by the end of 2011 (before the venture funds took their fees and cut of the proceeds), for an annual return of close to 19 percent. Venture investments in health care and retail had an annual return of 10 percent over this period (again, before the fees), while a similar investment in the bedraggled “other” category—which includes energy, transportation, and many other areas—returned only 6 percent. Once the venture capitalists’ annual fees (which typically run about 2 percent of the capital under management) and profit share (20 percent or more of the capital gains) are factored in, the performance difference would be even bigger.
This seeming limitation of the venture capitalists’ “pixie dust” only serves to concentrate their efforts further. Groups specializing in computers and telecommunications have had superior returns, which has allowed them to garner more money. Others struggle, disappear, or reinvent themselves as mainstream investors in popular categories.
The Boom and Bust Cycle
A second critical limitation is that the venture market is extraordinarily uneven, moving from feast to famine and back again. Consider the tremendous surge in funding for biofuels, peaking in 2006, and again in social-media companies during the last two years. During booms, unjustified exuberance rules. A common phenomenon is known as “money chasing deals.” As more money flows into funds from institutional and individual investors, venture capitalists are willing to invest in ever riskier deals (and often on worse terms): the share of first-round venture dollars going to seed-stage companies—those whose prospects are least certain—has varied from a low of 24 percent in 1995 to a high of 58 percent in 2000–01. What about today? The percentage has climbed again, reaching 61 percent in 2011. Moreover, this risk-taking is not rewarded: returns in boom years such as 2000 are among the lowest seen in any period.
Cycles in the venture industry stem largely from the behavior of funds themselves. During hot markets, inexperienced groups raise capital, often from unseasoned investors who are attracted by the excitement—not appreciating that first-time funds often show weaker performance, particularly in hot markets.
Name-brand groups, too, often take advantage of exuberant markets to raise money aggressively, perhaps because partners’ compensation is driven by fees on capital under management. As venture groups grow, they increase the capital that each partner is responsible for and broaden the range of industries in which each invests. In other words, what starts as a trickle ends as a torrent. Ultimately the expansion proves unsustainable as investment returns fall. Then the cycle repeats itself all over again.
Whatever the precise mechanisms behind the boom-and-bust cycle, its impact on innovation is worrisome. For instance, during the deep venture trough of the 1970s—no venture capital funds at all were raised in the United States in 1975—many companies that sought to pioneer personal computing languished unfunded. Ultimately, these technologies surfaced with revolutionary impact in the 1980s, but their emergence might have been accelerated had the venture market not been in such a deep funk. It is hard not to feel that many long-term, expensive investment areas, such as clean tech, manufacturing, and biotech, are in exactly such a trough today.
The overfunding of startup firms during booms carries its own negatives. Examples include the frenzy surrounding B2B and B2C Internet companies in the late 1990s. The result is waste: multiple companies pursue the same opportunity, each often more marginal than the last. The initial market leader’s staff is poached by the me-too followers, disrupting the progress of the firm with the best chance of success. Moreover, once the overfunding subsides, the firms that still survive struggle to attract funding in an atmosphere that is now often poisonous.
Mercurial Public Markets
So when do booms turn to busts? Venture capitalists depend critically on acquisitions and the public stock markets to help them exit their investments and return capital to their investors. But the public markets are fickle. During the past decade, soaring enthusiasm—for clean tech in 2006–07 and social media in 2010-12—each time abruptly subsided, leaving the portfolios of venture capitalists, and stock investors, in shambles.
Ironically, busts may promote innovation precisely because they frustrate venture capitalists’ efforts to exit their investments. A myriad of accounts and studies have suggested that public listing may act as a powerful deterrent to innovation. In recent years, firms from Pfizer to Yahoo have slashed their R&D budgets in hopes of pleasing stock investors. More generally, the latest academic research suggests, venture-backed companies that consider going public but abandon the efforts in the face of unfavorable market conditions are actually more innovative.
Senior partners at an established venture firm are likely to have a pretty sanguine view of their own (and their partners’) ability to effect positive change in the firms they fund and in society at large. This is understandable: one is unlikely to be successful at committing skittish institutions’ money to nascent startups without a considerable degree of self-confidence.
But the venture capital model is no panacea for innovation. The boom-and-bust cycle, the mercurial effects of public markets, and the narrowing of its objectives have made it something far less substantial.
Josh Lerner is the Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School and the author of The Architecture of Innovation (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012).
Crowdfunding for Community Power?
By John Farrell
September 5, 2012 | Renewable Energy World
Back in April, President Obama signed the JOBS Act and one of the most-heralded elements was so-called crowdfunding. The law sought to solve a major problem: it’s hard to finance small-scale business ventures. Wall Street only cares about multi-million dollar plays and securities regulations make small-dollar projects rather difficult (and costly) to jointly fund.
The Act could have big implications for community-based renewable energy projects.
Right now, there are two kinds of community-based renewable energy projects, the charitable or the persistent. Solar Mosaic, for example, was founded and funded on the concept that many environmentally-motivated people would help finance local solar projects with 0% interest loans. They succeeded in building several projects, but the model is constrained by the limited universe of people who have money at hand and are willing to let it be used for no reward.
The other kind of renewable energy project allows participants to get some kind of financial reward through sheer persistence, overcoming enormous regulatory and legal barriers to success (some of which I covered in this 2007 report). It means finding a complex legal structure to capture federal tax credits despite needing investors with “passive tax liability” or sacrificing federal incentives for simple ownership structures like cooperatives or municipal utilities. It means having “accredited” (rich) investors or only soliciting investors through personal relationships. This community wind project is an illustration, as are several solar projects in this report.
The JOBS Act may finally allow thousands of regular folks to make a modest return (5-10%) by investing in local renewable energy projects. The Act allows for crowdfunding under the following circumstances:
The $1 million limit is the approximate cost of a 200-kW solar project, so crowdfunding could mean a significant boost for community-based solar arrays, especially in states with virtual net metering (allowing those potential investors to share the electricity output).
Crowdfunding won’t mean much for wind projects, where a single turbine costs well over the dollar limit, but the JOBS Act also opened the door for more community-based wind with changes to SEC exemption Regulation A. (For more on this, read my 2007 report on wind energy ownership and then this article on the changes to Regulation A).
It’s not all roses and unicorns. There are still several potential hangups for the crowdfunding model:
I’ll be interested to see how it develops.
This post originally appeared on ILSR’s Energy Self-Reliant States blog.
Guest Post: SEIA Sheds Light on Tax Treatment of Solar Financing
A brief primer on solar tax issues and compliance
ERIC WESOFF: SEPTEMBER 4, 2012/Greentech Media/http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-post-seia-sheds-light-on-tax-treatment-of-solar-financing/
There has been a lot of dialogue on this site about the future of solar financing and the tax treatment of various solar financing scenarios, and we at the Solar Energy Industries Association hope to contribute additional clarity to that discussion.
As an industry, we must remain mindful of the applicable tax laws, statutory and regulatory requirements that govern key solar incentive programs such as the Section 48 commercial solar investment tax credit (“ITC”) and the Section 1603 Treasury Program (“1603”). SEIA is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, at 1:00 p.m. ET during which leading tax experts will provide an overview of the compliance rules that govern these key programs.Registration is free for any company in the solar industry.
The tax rules that govern equipment financing are not new, but they may not be familiar to everyone in the solar industry. Equipment leases and similar instruments account forapproximately $628 billion of business each year -- more than half of all U.S. business investment in capital goods and software -- but they are still relatively new to the solar rooftop market.
Most solar developers can’t fully use the tax benefits provided to solar projects, and often barter them to institutional buyers in return for capital investment -- called “tax equity” -- which they can then use to cover the capital cost of their projects. The tax equity investor can claim a tax credit for 30 percent of the purchase price it pays for the system. In many instances, basis for the ITC or 1603 award is calculated on what the IRS terms the fair market value of the project. Tax equity investors usually insist that the fair market value be confirmed by an independent appraisal, and an appraisal is required under 1603.
Fair Market Value
The IRS recognizes three approaches for determining the fair market value of an asset regardless of asset type: income, market, and cost. The IRS applies these approaches across a broad set of property categories.
The income approach assigns a value to a project based on the income generated by the asset. (In the case of a solar project that has been leased to a customer or is subject to a PPA to sell the electricity to a customer, the value would take into account the total lease or PPA payments provided per the contract, along with any other tax and cash incentives that will be received by the owner, each discounted to reflect the net present value of such items.) The income approach is commonly used in valuing rental properties.
The market approach analyzes recent sales of comparable projects -- like Kelley Blue Book, to borrow an example -- and analyzes their differences to arrive at an adjusted value.
The cost approach would normally be used for new assets that someone has built himself or herself and for which there is no comparable sales data. It basically looks at the costs of building the project and adds a profit margin. The underlying assumption is that a buyer would pay no more for the property than the cost of producing another identical property.
In the context of the 1603 program, the Treasury Department has indicated in public guidance that it favors a cost approach to determining fair market value, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule. The Treasury Department provided its only public guidance on solar fair market values in July 2011, indicating that $7/ DC watt for residential projects under 10 kW, and $4/DC watt for systems larger than one megawatt should be used as the benchmarks at that time. According to SEIA’s Solar Market Insight, system costs have decreased significantly in the last year, so companies should check with Treasury officials to get their latest guidance.
Regardless of the financial structure used, studies have suggested that the government gets back more than the amount of the tax credit or Treasury cash grant in cases where solar systems are leased or the electricity is sold under a PPA. The government collects income taxes on the rents or electricity payments, unlike where systems are owned by customers directly.
The ITC is the most significant financial incentive available to the industry to continue to work toward parity with polluting power sources. Equipment financing has leveraged the ITC to bring billions of dollars in private investment to solar, and to make it accessible to more types of customers. The tax rules that govern equipment financing have been in place for decades, and it’s absolutely crucial that we continue to comply with them as an industry. We’ll explore these rules in much greater detail in Wednesday’s webinar, and we hope you can join us.
Looking for Cures Lost in Translation
New NIH Center Will Peer Into the Commercialization Valley of Death
By Sam Finegold | Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Science Progress/ http://scienceprogress.org/2012/09/looking-for-cures-lost-in-translation/
In a recent article in Slate magazine’s Future Tense project, Pascal Zachary made a key observation about the strange estrangement of science from technology in U.S. policy when he wrote:
Neither candidate will ask, for instance, why taxpayers spend some $30 billion annually to try to understand the basic causes of diseases but virtually nothing on delivering effective new medical therapies to the ill.
Indeed, over the past 10 years, $340 billion in federal funds have been allocated for basic medical research to improve and lengthen the lives of Americans. But how much money does the government spend actually translating medical science discoveries into workable therapies? Surprisingly little.
While it is unlikely that the top presidential contenders will agree to a prime time debate on the gaps in our national investments in translating research into useful products and technologies, there have been some encouraging developments happening backstage. One key example is the brand new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, or NCATS.
A new center for translational science
While the NIH—through programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research Program, or SBIR, and the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, or CTSA—has apportioned money for translational medicine, most of the funding for the translational side has been supplied by the private sector. Pharmaceutical firms have invested $460 billion in R&D to invent drugs in the last decade, and have still struggled to convert basic advances or their own basic research and drug development into approved drugs.
According to the think tank Faster Cures, “The medical research enterprise is facing a serious productivity gap. The amount of money invested by all sources—government, industry, philanthropy—has been increasing while the number of new products approved is decreasing or stagnant.” In a glass-half-full statement, the NIH stated, “The process for translating scientific discoveries into new tools and treatments is ripe for innovation.”
President Barack Obama and NIH director Francis Collins have sought to make delivering research to the public a central priority and to tackle the productivity gap by establishing the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, or NCATS. Congress approved the center in the beginning of fiscal year 2012.
Some have expressed reservations about NCATS narrow focus on translational medicine (that is, the process of transferring discoveries from the lab to the marketplace). Mark O. Lively, a professor of biochemistry at Wake Forest University and a member of an advisory council to the research resources center, said, “NIH is not likely to be very good at drug discovery, so why are they doing this?”
However, NCATS hopes that by focusing research on translational technologies and high-margin research projects, the new agency can help attract industry and private investment to new areas of drug development. NCATS may also make progress by taking a second look atregulatory and other barriers that lead to long approval processes.
Drug development 101
Understanding the complexity of the new drug-creation innovation process allows better comprehension of the challenges facing NCATS and better comprehension of problems in the academic publishing incentive structure.
Innovation in therapeutics can be described in three stages: basic, translational, and clinical. Basic research is entirely focused on advancing science for science’s sake. Translational begins to apply basic advances to how to solve human diseases. And clinical begins the stage of testing and refining drugs.
Discovering a compound through basic research and then putting that drug through trials is a complicated process. Of 5,000 compounds discovered and screened, five might make it to clinical trials and one might then make it all the way through to the market. Drugs must go through three phases of clinical trials before they are approved. The process is enormously expensive. “As ideas survive the steps in the process, they become relatively less risky, but the research involved in moving them forward becomes exponentially more expensive, especially in later-stage trials in humans.”
In total, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America estimate the cost to be about $1.2 billion per drug. Matthew Herper of Forbes reveals that, when one accounts for failed attempts to develop a drug, the cost to develop a single drug is staggering. Incorporating the cost of failure (total R&D divided by number of drugs), the cost per drug is over $4 billion.
The private sector
The high expense of developing new drugs discourages most private-sector actors from investing directly in R&D of new therapies. And private R&D may be slowing down. Private pharmaceutical companies reduced their R&D budgets by $2 billion from 2009 to 2010, and Reuters argued this trend will continue.
Part of the problem is that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are staying in business through mergers and buying up smaller companies that have taken on risky drug development rather than investing in research directly. To quote The Atlantic:
The industry is fleeing its R&D roots and focusing more and more on mergers, and on flogging drugs and devices that have already been approved. By some estimates, current pharma sales and marketing budgets are already twice those of R&D.
What’s more, the private sector is neglecting major areas of medicine. For instance, the entire field of mental health has only seen two major drugs in the past century—nearly every other drug has been a variation.
NCATS to the rescue?
NCATS is a reorganized, beefed-up version of the NIH’s previous avenues for funding translational medicine. In the words of former acting director of NCATS, Thomas Insel, “The most striking thing is how little is going to change. It’s essentially reorganization.”
Previously, the NIH spent $487 million to fund 60 research centers through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, which was housed under the National Center for Research Resources, or NCRR. NCRR had a FY 2011 budget of $1.27 billion, but as of FY 2012 it has been dissolved, with the remaining budget parceled out to other agencies. NCATS will assume control of the 60 centers and this funding authority.
The two main focuses of the Center will be to centralize and advance translational medicine and to streamline the drug approval process. NIH Director Francis Collins hopes that NCATS will organize the translational research work of the NIH such that it is more productive and that it is easier for the private sector to pick up high-potential translational advances and move them into clinical stages.
Examples of NCATS programs:
Tissue chip for drug screening: NCATS will help the NIH partner with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to develop “tissue chip” technology. Tissue chips use real human cells combined with a transparent microchip to simulate organ responses to drug candidates. The hope is that this technology streamlines the screening process by eliminating toxic chemicals before getting to human trials. This groundbreaking effort is also notable because it unites three different agencies with the common goal of developing a technology that will reduce barriers for the whole drug development process. The project has been allotted $70 million over the next five years.
Discovering new therapeutic uses for existing molecules: This program partners industry and NIH researchers to reexamine molecules that have already shown promise, but were not advanced because they were “unsuccessful in their original therapeutic indication” or did not make economic sense to continue with. So far, eight companies have volunteered 60 compounds. Each stands to profit if a method of bringing compounds to clinical studies is discovered. This program also includes an innovative bureaucratic shortcut called the Template Agreement.
The Cures Acceleration Network or CAN, is one way NCATS is reorganizing translational research at the NIH. Through CAN, NCATS will have the ability tomake grants of up to $15 million per fiscal year to fund partnerships with the private sector, following a 1:3 funding ratio requirement. Partnerships will focus on“improving the process by which diagnostics and therapeutics are developed.” For example, funding could be allotted for the rescue and repurposing of drugs that failed during clinical trials.
Comparing commercialization investments
NCATS represents a sizeable commitment to translational research and symbolizes the NIH’s renewed commitment to translational advances. The new agency controls $88 million in addition to the CTSA’s funding of $488 million. What’s more, even though NCATS accounts for just 2 percent of the NIH budget, it compares to other large investments made by government agencies to convert basic research into applications.
For instance, NCATS is twice as large as the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, the DOE’s newest translational research program, which received$275 million for FY 2012. The Technology Innovation Program operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology was appropriated just $65.2 million in FY 2011, but will shut down next year. NCATS is small only in comparison to the Small Business Innovation Research grant program, which spans multiple government agencies, and has a combined budget of over $2.2 billion. Thus, within the scheme of federal funding of commercialization activity, NCATS represents substantial and renewed investment in translation of medical cures to the market.
But although NCATS has a budget of hundreds of millions, this sum of money is still small compared to the amount necessary to produce a single drug.
NCATS’s best vantage point may come from being a center with immense insight into the translational process itself. Through its funding of 60 research institutes and its attempts to woo private-sector investment, NCATS could help fund the development of new processes and platforms that accelerate the innovation process itself–and that’s the goal. As former acting director Insel said:
We need a place to actually look at the whole process of translation in a way that can consider how it might be reengineered, consider how we can make a difference by partnering with both advocacy groups and with industry. Consider where the opportunities are for great innovation that are not just related to schizophrenia or autism or bipolar illness but that are really generic. They go across all of medicine.
For instance, in one suggestion provided by Faster Cures, NCATS could use its flexible granting mechanisms to evaluate reforming the academic grant system to shift its focus away from research on incremental advances to rewarding risk taking and divergent experimentation.
NCATS’ first steps are encouraging. By researching more efficient technologies to test basic advances and by critically reexamining downstream components of the drug-development process, NCATS has a chance to chip away at the bottlenecks and help find cures lost in translation.
Solar3D Unveils First Working Prototype
Company’s 3D light trapping prototype exceeds expectations by producing at least 250% of the power of a basic silicon solar cell
SANTA BARBARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Solar3D, Inc. (OTCBB: SLTD), the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, today announced the successful fabrication and operation of a working 3-dimensional silicon solar cell that produces at least 250% of the power of a basic silicon solar cell.
Dr. Changwan Son, Solar3D’s Director of Technology, commented, “When measured relative to a conventional solar cell design, our working prototype produces electricity beyond our previous expectations. First, we fabricated our working prototype. Then we created a simple cell based on the conventional design, using the same fabrication environment, to serve as a control sample. By measuring the side-by-side power output of both cells, we were able to determine the relative performance under a number of conditions, ranging from bright sunlight to lower, diffuse light. In each test, our 3D Solar Cell consistently outperformed the control cell and produced at least 2½ times the amount of electricity under the same conditions.”
“This is a game-changing result,” said Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D. “Two powerful characteristics of our 3D Solar Cell make it superior to current technology. First, it is substantially more efficient in producing power. Second, is our wide-angle light collection feature, which allows our 3D Solar Cell to collect light at all times of the day, month and year, an attribute unique in the solar world. Our computer simulation analysis indicated that the combination of these two features would produce double the power of a conventional solar cell. Based on the performance of our first working prototype, it appears that our 3D Solar Cell will exceed even that ambitious expectation. This device could be a giant leap forward, allowing solar power to achieve grid parity.”
Dr. Son continued, “Our mandate was to create a solar cell that would produce substantially more power than the current technology at a low enough cost of production to deliver a considerably lower cost per watt of solar electricity. We spent the first half of the year completing our fabrication process methodology. In July, we announced the fabrication and showed pictures of the first cell. Now, we have an actual working cell that produces substantially more power than the control samples, which fulfills part one of our two-part goal. Now, our near term objective is to continue to improve the fabrication process and the power output, as we optimize the cost of manufacturing. We believe that the result will be a 50% reduction in the cost of solar electricity. Perhaps the installed system cost savings will be even greater.”
Mr. Nelson concluded, “We are focused on bringing this breakthrough technology to market. Our next major step will be to produce a manufacturing prototype, which is required to undertake a pilot production run in early 2013. The pilot run will prove the 3D Cell’s performance characteristics in a production environment and lead us to a manufacturing partner and entry into the marketplace by the end of 2013.”
To see a scanning electron microscope photo of the prototype nanostructures please visit - http://www.solar3d.com.
About Solar3D, Inc.
Solar3D, Inc. is developing a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Up to 30% of incident sunlight is currently reflected off the surface of conventional solar cells, and more is lost inside the solar cell materials. Inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices, our innovative solar cell technology utilizes a 3-dimensional design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. An innovative wide-angle light collection feature on the cell surface allows for the collection of sunlight over a range of angles during the day. This next generation solar cell will be dramatically more efficient, resulting in a lower cost per watt that will make solar power affordable for the world. To learn more about Solar3D, please visit our website at http://www.Solar3D.com.
Safe Harbor Statement
Matters discussed in this press release contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this press release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "may," "intend," "expect" and similar expressions identify such forward-looking statements. Actual results, performance or achievements could differ materially from those contemplated, expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein. These forward-looking statements are based largely on the expectations of the Company and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. These include, but are not limited to, risks and uncertainties associated with: the impact of economic, competitive and other factors affecting the Company and its operations, markets, product, and distributor performance, the impact on the national and local economies resulting from terrorist actions, and U.S. actions subsequently; and other factors detailed in reports filed by the Company.
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