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For its second fiscal quarter, Valence reported revenue of $12.7 million, up 278% from the first quarter last year. What's more impressive is the 127% sequential growth from the previous quarter. As the battery business picks up, sequential growth will be more meaningful than year-over-year results going forward.
Valence still reported a loss of $3.6 million, or $0.03 per share, but that is down from a $6.2 million loss last year. Litigation costs of $1.5 million associated with pending patent disputes also hurt the company.
What impressed me most in the quarter were gross margins improving to 22%, up another 5 percentage points from last quarter. Margins have been an issue at battery makers like Ener1 (Nasdaq: HEV ) and A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE ) , which have low capacity utilization, so it's nice to see them improving to a comfortable level at Valence.
Throwing cash in the fire
Cash burn at Valence and other battery manufacturers is a major concern as revenue starts to pick up. Valence is walking a tightrope right now with cash on hand only at $4.2 million and accounts receivable and inventory increasing a combined $14.6 million since the March quarter.
I doubt Valence can generate enough cash to maintain operations, so more equity offerings may be made, diluting shareholders further. Over the last year, share count has increased 8.6%, but that's a risk battery investors are used to dealing with.
Overall, Valence had a great quarter and we're getting closer to breakeven, which management anticipates at around $80 million in annual sales. Valence has a ways to go to catch up with Advance Battery Technologies (Nasdaq: ABAT ) , which already has a history of profits, but now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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