News Release Details

Wi-LAN ANNOUNCES 2003 FIRST QUARTER AND ANNUAL CONSOLIDATED RESULTS

03/05/2003

Product Gross Margin Improves from 26% to 46%

CALGARY, Canada - March 5, 2003 - Wi-LAN Inc. (TSE:WIN), a global provider of broadband wireless communications products and technologies, today announced financial results for the three months ended January 31, 2003. All financial amounts are expressed in thousands of Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.

Financial Highlights:

Revenue:
Revenue for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was $5,456, which is $678 or 14% more than the $4,778 reported for the same period in 2002, and $774 or 12% less than the $6,230 revenue for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. Revenue for the three months ended January 31, 2003 is in line with the Company's revenue guidance for fiscal year 2003 of $25 million to $30 million, which requires an annual revenue growth rate of at least 8%.

Segmented Revenue:
o Revenue from the Company's broadband fixed wireless access products was $4,686, which is $1,273 or 37% more than the $3,413 for the same period in 2002 and $491 or 9% less than the $5,177 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. Over the past twelve months, competitors in the fixed wireless access sector have typically seen declining revenues. As a result Wi-LAN believes it has increased its market share in this sector. This positions the Company well for future growth as telecom carriers begin to divert spending from wireline applications to broadband fixed wireless access.
o Revenue from the Company's antenna products was $770, which is $595 less than the $1,365 for the same period in 2002 and $283 less than the $1,053 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. There are early indications are that the antenna market may be improving. The situation is being closely monitored and changes will be made to control costs of the antenna division as required.

Revenue Guidance:
Wi-LAN expects revenue for the twelve months ended October 31, 2003 to be in the range of $25 million to $30 million. Achieving or exceeding the upper end of this range depends largely on the timing of events such as the award of additional contracts for 3.5 GHz broadband wireless equipment in various global markets and the signing of revenue generating technology licensing agreements.

Product Gross Margin:
Product gross margin improved significantly as Wi-LAN's new cost-reduced feature-rich broadband fixed wireless access products dominated the sales mix. Product gross margin for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was 46% compared with 26% before inventory writedowns for the same quarter in 2002, and compared with 32% before inventory writedowns for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. There were no inventory writedowns in the three months ended January 31, 2003.

Operating Expense:
Wi-LAN has taken action to further reduce quarterly expenses and improve operational efficiency by transferring its California operations into its lower cost Calgary head office. This action is expected to reduce the Company's quarterly expenses by approximately $0.6 million, effective in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, and resulted in one-time operations consolidation costs of $934 in the three months ended January 31, 2003. Expenses at Wi-LAN's remaining operations will continue to be tightly controlled and monitored. Immediate steps to reduce costs further will be taken as necessary to size expenses with expected revenues, while ensuring that the technical and administrative competencies required to grow the business are retained. Operating expense for the three months ended January 31, 2003, excluding one-time operations consolidation costs of $934, was $4,286, a reduction of $422 or 9% compared with $4,708 for the same quarter in 2002, and a reduction of $1,402 or 25% compared with $5,688 for the prior quarter ended October 31, 2002. Operating expense for the three months ended January 31, 2003, after one-time operations consolidation costs of $934, was $5,220, an increase of $512 or 11% compared with $4,708 for the same quarter in 2002, and a reduction of $468 or 8% compared with $5,688 for the prior quarter ended October 31, 2002.

Cash:
Net cash used in operations for the quarter was $2,049, an increase of $1,025 compared with $1,024 for the same quarter in 2002, and an increase of $1,338 compared with $711 for the prior quarter ended October 31, 2002. A lengthening sales cycle and a significant proportion of the quarterly sales in the last month in the quarter (the proceeds of which will not be collected until the second quarter) contributed to the increased cash usage in the three months ended January 31, 2003. Wi-LAN's cash balance was $3,489 on January 31, 2003 and this amount is expected to be adequate to sustain the Company's current operations until cash flow positive operations are achieved. Ongoing improvements in revenue, gross margin and working capital are expected to generate positive cash flow from operations in the third quarter of fiscal 2003. This expectation is supported by the following factors:
* Product revenue growth: Sales prospects for fiscal 2003 are positive and Wi-LAN's fiscal year 2003 revenue guidance of $25 to $30 million is achievable:
o In January, the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) initiated the process to issue licenses for the 3.5 GHz frequencies in an additional 32 major Chinese cities, and Wi-LAN is well placed to participate in LIBRA 3000 series equipment sales to many of the companies that are bidding on the licenses. These sales may begin as early as the third quarter, but are more likely in the fourth quarter.
o Other national regulators are also moving to license 3.5 GHz spectrum, further improving sales prospects for Wi-LAN's W-OFDM (Wide-band Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) based LIBRA 3000 series. These sales prospects are typically relatively large telecom service providers with relatively long sales cycles, such as Cameroon Telecommunications B.P. (Camtel), the national telecommunications carrier for the Republic of Cameroon. Wi-LAN announced a sales agreement with Camtel in January 2003.
o Equipment sales for the license-exempt 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequencies are gaining momentum worldwide, and management expects to launch new, high-margin license-exempt products over the next six months.
o New broadband wireless global sales prospects are growing both in size and quality, and existing distributor, value-added reseller (VAR) and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) relationships are gaining traction.
o Sales visibility is showing signs of improvement in Wi-LAN's TIL-TEK Antennas Division.
* Standards and licensing progress: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "WirelessMAN" Standard 802.16a was announced on January 30, 2003. This standard incorporates Wi-LAN's patented W-OFDM technology. Wi-LAN is first to market with Standard 802.16a-like products and is dedicated to advancing the implementation of this standard. Wi-LAN has a non-exclusive agreement with Fujitsu Microelectronics America (FMA) to develop, market and license Standard 802.16a System-on-Chip solutions, and has offered to assist all interested parties, including semiconductor companies, intellectual property providers and other broadband wireless equipment providers, in the implementation of IEEE Standard 802.16a. This issue is generating growing interest from the broadband wireless industry. It is expected to stimulate product revenue beginning in the second half of fiscal year 2003, and licensing and technology revenue in fiscal year 2004.
* Product gross margin improvements: Wi-LAN product gross margins reached 46% in the three months ended January 31, 2003, up from 26% before inventory writedowns for the same quarter in 2002, and compared with 32% before inventory writedowns in the prior quarter. Wi-LAN expects gross margins to continue to improve as its broadband wireless product mix continues to shift more toward its new, cost-reduced, second and third generation products, and as sales visibility improves for its TIL-TEK antenna products.
* Operating expense reductions: Wi-LAN has taken action to further improve cash flow from operations and operational efficiency by transferring its California operations into its lower cost Calgary head office. Further details are set out in the "operating expense" section above.
* Improved cash contribution from TIL-TEK Antennas Division: Wi-LAN's TIL-TEK Antennas division, which has been cash flow neutral over the past several quarters, has committed to contributing at least $0.3 million cash flow from operations per quarter, effective immediately. Revenue and expenses of the division will be closely monitored and steps will be taken as necessary to ensure the achievement of this goal.
* Working capital management: The cash balance as of January 31, 2003 was reduced due to growth in receivables as a significant proportion of the Company's sales occurred in January, and cash collections on these sales are expected in the second quarter. Expected revenue growth in the second quarter should generate larger cash collections in the third quarter. As well, inventory of legacy 2.4 GHz products will continue to be reduced and converted to cash.

Financial Summary:

(In thousands of Canadian dollars)

3 months ended

Statement of Operations Information

January 31, 2003

October 31, 2002

January 31, 2002

Product revenue

North America

$     2,079

$      2,976

$      2,464

Europe

881

464

861

Asia and other international

2,496

2,790

1,453

Subtotal

5,456

6,230

4,778

Licensing and technology revenue

0

0

0

Total revenue

5,456

6,230

4,778

EBITDA (1)

    (1,392)

(3,945)

(5,294)

Operating loss

(2,684)

(4,305)

(5,632)

Net income (loss)

(2,788)

(14,116)

18,141

Product gross margin (% of revenue)

 Before write-downs (2)

46%

32%

26%

After write-downs

46%

22%

-19%

Cash Flow Information

Cash used in operations

$     (2,049)

$        (711)

$      (1,024)

Financing

(51)

(79)

57

Investments

3

(36)

78

Discontinued operations

0

0

166

Change in cash

(2,097)

(826)

(723)

Cash, beginning of period

5,586

6,412

5,533

Cash, end of period

3,489

5,586

4,810

Balance Sheet Information

Working capital

$      4,845

$      7,303

$     10,669

Long term debt

0

0

267

Shareholders’ equity

11,887

14,640

33,924

Total assets

21,700

25,119

43,240


(1) Before consolidation costs, special charges, goodwill writedowns and foreign exchange.
(2) Before adjusting for non-cash inventory writedowns.

Financial Details:
Product Revenue:
Wi-LAN's product revenue for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was $5,456, which is $678 or 14% more than the $4,778 reported for the same period in 2002, and $774 or 12% less than $6,230 revenue for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. Revenue for the three months ended January 31, 2003 is in line with the Company's revenue guidance for fiscal year 2003 of $25 million to $30 million.
* Geographic revenue: European sales increased by $20 or 2%, and North American sales were down by $385 or 16%, compared with the same three months in fiscal 2002. Asia and other sales were up by $1,043 or 72% compared with the first quarter of fiscal 2002 partly due to sales to Cameroon Telecommunications B.P. (Camtel), the national telecommunications carrier for the Republic of Cameroon, announced in January 2003.
* Segmented revenue:
o Revenue from the Company's broadband fixed wireless access products was $4,686, which is $1,273 or 37% more than the $3,413 for the same period in 2002 and $491 or 9% less than the $5,177 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. Over the past twelve months, competitors in the fixed wireless access sector have typically seen declining revenues. As a result Wi-LAN believes it has increased its market share in this sector. This positions the Company well for future growth as telecom carriers begin to divert spending from wireline applications to broadband fixed wireless access.
o Revenue from the Company's antenna products was $770, which is $595 less than the $1,365 for the same period in 2002 and $283 less than the $1,053 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. There are early indications are that the antenna market may be improving. The situation is being closely monitored and changes will be made to control costs of the antenna division as required.

License and Technology Revenue:
* Licensing strategy: Wi-LAN's technology licensing strategy is to focus on licensing its technology and patents to major semiconductor companies, because a small number of major semiconductor companies account for most of the market. Also, this strategy ensures Wi-LAN's intellectual property will not act as a deterrent against market acceptance of W-OFDM technology, since device
* manufacturers can develop applications with the licensed semiconductor components without having to negotiate a license agreement with Wi-LAN.
* License and technology revenue: License and technology revenue for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was $nil because the Company's non-exclusive licensing agreements with Philips Semiconductor (Philips) and Fujitsu Microelectronics America (FMA) did not generate any royalties in the quarter. Wi-LAN signed an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) development and technology licensing agreement with Philips in 1999. The Philips agreement obligates Philips to pay Wi-LAN royalties for any ASICs that Philips develops and markets based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Local Area Network (LAN) Standard 802.11a, which uses Wi-LAN's patented W-OFDM technology. This agreement generated initial fees of $1.4 million over the 2000 to 2001 period, but has not generated any royalties to date because Philips has not yet produced any 802.11a ASICs. Wi-LAN signed an agreement with FMA in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2002. The FMA agreement is to develop, market and license IEEE "WirelessMAN" Standard 802.16a System-on-Chip solutions. It is expected to generate royalty revenues in fiscal year 2004.
* New W-OFDM standard: The IEEE WirelessMAN (Wireless Municipal Area Networks) Standard 802.16a was announced on January 30, 2003. This is yet another broadband wireless standard that incorporates Wi-LAN's patented W-OFDM technology. Wi-LAN is first to market with Standard 802.16a-like products and is dedicated to advancing the implementation of this standard. , Wi-LAN has offered to assist all interested parties, including semiconductor companies, intellectual property providers and other broadband wireless equipment providers, in the implementation of IEEE Standard 802.16a. This issue is generating growing interest from the broadband wireless industry and is expected to stimulate product revenue beginning in the second half of fiscal year 2003, and licensing and technology revenue in fiscal year 2004.

Product Gross Margin:
Product gross margin improved significantly as Wi-LAN's new cost-reduced feature-rich broadband fixed wireless access products dominated the sales mix. Product gross margin for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was $2,536 or 46% compared with $1,226 or 26% before inventory writedowns for the same quarter in 2002, and compared with $1,977 or 32% before inventory writedowns for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. There were no inventory writedowns in the three months ended January 31, 2003, but non-cash writedowns of inventory reduced Wi-LAN's product gross margin by $2,150 for the same quarter in 2002 and by $594 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. The inventory writedowns in the prior quarters resulted from application of the Company's accounting policy that provides for an inventory valuation allowance based on a continual review of the composition, quantity, and expected future usage or sales of inventory. After the inventory writedowns, Wi-LAN's product gross margin was negative 19% for the same quarter in 2002, and 22% for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002.

Operating Loss:
The Company's operating loss for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was $2,684 compared with $5,632 for the same quarter in 2002, an improvement of $2,948 or 52%. Improved gross margin before inventory writedowns reduced the quarterly operating loss by $1,310 as the Company's new high margin broadband fixed wireless access products dominated the sales mix. The absence of inventory writedowns in the first quarter of 2003 improved the operating loss by $2,150, and this was partly offset by a year-over-year first quarter increase of $512 in quarterly operating expense. The Company's operating loss decreased by $1,621 when compared with $4,305 for the prior three months ended October 31, 2002. This improvement was due to a reduction of $1,153 at the gross margin level, including $594 of inventory writedowns in the prior quarter, and a reduction of $468 in quarterly operating expense.

Cash Used in Operations:
During the three months ended January 31, 2003 the Company used cash in operations in the amount of $2,049, compared with $1,024 for the same quarter in 2002, a an increase of $1,025. The increase in cash used in operations for the three months ended January 31, 2003 was largely due to negative changes in non-cash operating working capital balances. The major items were changes in accounts receivable, which contributed $963 less cash, changes in inventories, which contributed $691 less cash, and changes in accounts payable and accrued liabilities, which contributed $397 less cash. Changes in trade notes receivable, prepaid expenses and deposits, deferred revenue, and warranty liabilities contributed $18 less cash than in the same quarter of 2002. The working capital changes were partly offset by a decrease in the Company's cash net loss from continuing operations of $1,044. Wi-LAN has taken action to further improve quarterly cash flow from operations and operational efficiency by transferring its California operations into its lower cost Calgary head office. This action is expected to improve the Company's quarterly cash flow by approximately $0.6 million, effective in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, and resulted in one-time operations consolidation costs of $934 in the three months ended January 31, 2003. Expenses at Wi-LAN's remaining operations will continue to be tightly controlled and monitored. Immediate steps to reduce costs further will be taken as necessary to size expenses with expected revenues, while ensuring that the technical and administrative competencies required to grow the business are retained.

First Quarter Operations Highlights
Major sales agreement:
Wi-LAN announced it has sold $1.1 million (US$745,000) of Wi-LAN's W-OFDM based LIBRA fixed wireless access products and accessories to Cameroon Telecommunications B.P. (Camtel), the national telecommunications carrier for the Republic of Cameroon. The contract is for Wi-LAN to provide and install its industry-leading non-line-of-sight LIBRA products and accessories for Camtel's wireless telecommunications networks in the Cameroon cities of Douala and Yaounde. Additional sales of Wi-LAN products are expected to follow as Camtel moves into further phases of its network buildout.

New product launch:
Wi-LAN launched LIBRA, the latest in its series of Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Fixed Wireless Access products. The LIBRA product series is the third generation of Wi-LAN's highly reliable, field-proven, commercial W-OFDM products, which have been deployed in networks in more than 20 countries. LIBRA provides NLOS capability that increases fixed wireless access subscriber coverage, from conventional levels of 50% or less, to levels that can exceed 90%. LIBRA's flexible architecture supports full or half duplex operation, is fully redundant, supports T1 and E1 voice networks, and has tiered service management and user-friendly network management, all in an easy to install, weatherproof, single unit design.

Executive and board changes:

  • Dr. Sayed-Amr (Sisso) El-Hamamsy, Chief Operating Officer of the Company, accepted the additional position of President.
  • Dr. Hatim Zaghloul, formerly Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, passed the role of President to Dr. El-Hamamsy, but retained the responsibilities of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
  • Steven Bellamy resigned his position of Chief Financial Officer to pursue other opportunities.
  • Keith Bittner, CMA, formerly Vice President, Finance of the Company, assumed the responsibilities of Acting Chief Financial Officer.
  • Frank King, a member of the Board of Directors, was appointed Lead Director.

Product awards:
  • Wi-LAN's Ultima3 RD product outperformed competing products in various categories of a 5 GHz product comparison conducted by Network Computing magazine. The Ultima3 RD (Rapid Deployment) was ranked first for range, advanced features and functionality, and monitoring and management capabilities were the best of any system tested.
  • Wi-LAN received a Wireless Communications Association (WCA) International "Wemmie" Award. The award is for the Banco Del Pichincha non-line-of-sight network in Ecuador. This is Wi-LAN's second Wemmie Award.

    TIL-TEK ISO 9001 QMS upgrade:
    Wi-LAN's TIL-TEK Antennas Division met the requirements for upgrading its Quality Management System (QMS) from the ISO (International Standards Organization) 9001:1994 standard to the ISO 9001:2000 standard. The new ISO 9001:2000 standard creates a basis for a higher level of senior management involvement in an organization's QMS. It ensures that TIL-TEK's QMS is aligned around its business objectives and is designed to ensure that improved customer satisfaction and ultimately increased profitability is achieved.

    Subsequent Events
    The following events were announced after the January 31 end of the first quarter:
    Wireless standards and technology licensing progress
    On February 4, 2003, Wi-LAN announced that the recently finalized Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) "WirelessMAN" Standard 802.16a incorporates Wi-LAN's patented W-OFDM technology. Wi-LAN is first to market with Standard 802.16a-like products and is dedicated to advancing the implementation of this standard. Wi-LAN has a non-exclusive agreement with Fujitsu Microelectronics America (FMA) to develop Standard 802.16a System-on-Chip solutions, and the experience Wi-LAN has gained in implementing W-OFDM based LIBRA products makes Wi-LAN the leader in Standard 802.16a implementation. Wi-LAN's proprietary LIBRA Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) products provide a working commercial model of the W-OFDM based physical layer of Standard 802.16a. LIBRA has been deployed in networks in almost 30 countries and is designed for a seamless transition to Standard 802.16a. Wi-LAN encouraged all interested parties, including semiconductor companies, intellectual property providers and other broadband wireless equipment providers, to join Wi-LAN in the implementation of IEEE Standard 802.16a.

    Consolidation of operations and expense reductions:
    On February 11, 2003, Wi-LAN announced the closing of its office in California and consolidation of the California operations into its lower cost Calgary head office to improve operational efficiency and reduce the Company's quarterly expenses by approximately $0.6 million. Wi-LAN is managing a seamless transfer of sales channels and technology to the Calgary head office and no adverse effects are anticipated from the office closure.
    Major sales agreement:
    On March 5, 2003, Wi-LAN and Swift Networks Limited of Nigeria, (Swift) a multi-service telecommunications service provider in the licensed 3.5 Ghz spectrum, announced Wi-LAN's W-OFDM based LIBRA fixed wireless access products and accessories will be deployed in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous state and biggest telecommunications services market. Wi-LAN has agreed to provide and install its industry-leading non-line-of-sight LIBRA products and accessories for Swift's wireless network. Swift's initial purchase order is currently being filled and Swift expects to order $1.5 million (US$1 million) of LIBRA products by the end of 2003. Additional sales of Wi-LAN products are expected to follow as Swift moves into further phases of its network buildout.

    About Wi-LAN Inc.
    Wi-LAN is a global provider of broadband wireless communications products and technologies, specializing in high-speed Internet access, LAN/WAN extension and broadband wireless access. Wi-LAN's broadband wireless access products are known worldwide for their high quality and industry-leading technology. Wi-LAN believes its W-OFDM patent is necessary for the implementation of devices using the IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11g or ETSI BRAN HiperLAN/2 standards as well as the current drafts of the IEEE802.16a and ETSI BRAN HiperMAN proposed standards. Wi-LAN licenses its W-OFDM technology and has executed non-exclusive W-OFDM license agreements with semiconductor companies. Wi-LAN is the Chair Company of the OFDM Forum (www.ofdm-forum.com). Wi-LAN's common shares trade on The Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "WIN." Detailed information on Wi-LAN can be found at www.wilan.com.

    Forward Looking Information
    Certain statements in this release, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking information that involves various risks and uncertainties. These can include, without limitation, statements based on current expectations involving a number of risks and uncertainties related to all aspects of the wireless data communications industry. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not restricted to, continued increased demand for the Company's products, the Company's ability to maintain its technological leadership in the field of high-speed data communications, the Company's ability to attract and maintain key employees, the enforceability of the Company's patents, and the availability of key components.

    These uncertainties may cause actual results to differ from information contained herein. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate. Actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. These and all subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements are based on the estimates and opinions of management on the dates they are made and expressly qualified in their entirety by this notice. The Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements should circumstances or management's estimates or opinions change.
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