The occurrence of any of the following risks could affect the Trend Micro group's business, financial condition, and operating results. If this should happen, the trading price of shares of Trend Micro Incorporated, Trend Micro group's parent company, could decline and its investors/shareholders could lose all or part of their investment. Other risks and uncertainties unknown to us, the Trend Micro group, or that we, the Trend Micro Group, think are immaterial may also impair our business.
There is a possibility of facing significant changes in the competitive environment, if major vendors of operating system software and other software such as firewall, e-mail software, and major computer hardware or various platform business providers, decide to enhance or bundle their products to include antivirus and other cyber security functions. These companies may offer antivirus protection as a standard feature in their products, at minimal or no additional cost to customers, which could render our wide range of products and services obsolete or unmarketable, particularly if antivirus products offered by these vendors were comparable or superior to our wide range of products and services. In addition, even if these vendors’ antivirus products offered fewer functions than our wide range of products and services, or were less effective in detecting and cleaning virus-infected files, customers could still choose them over our wide range of products and services due to lower cost or for any other reasons.
Currently, major software, hardware, or service vendors have acquired several security vendors. If antivirus and other cyber security functions were to be included in those competitors’ products and services, our group’s business competitiveness could be inevitably weak, and it also has an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Our main businesses focuses are our net sales from licensing and selling antivirus and other security products and services. Although we have begun to offer more comprehensive network and internet security and management software and services, we expect antivirus and other security products and services to continue to account for the largest portion of our net sales in the foreseeable future. If the demand for, or the prices of, antivirus and other security products and services drop as a result of competition, technological changes or other factors such as lower growth or a contraction in the worldwide computer security market, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The computer security market is characterized by:
These characteristics of our market create significant risks and uncertainties for our business success. For example, our competitors might introduce computer security products and services that are technologically superior to our wide range of products and services. Additionally, new software operating systems, network systems or new antivirus measurements or technologies could emerge. Emerging trends in these systems and standards currently include applications distributed over the Internet and the use of a web browser to access client-server systems. Our existing products and services might be incompatible with some or all of such standards. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could materially suffer unless we are able to respond quickly and effectively to these developments.
We rely on a small number of third parties to manufacture some of our hardware-based products. We expect our reliance on third-party manufacturers to become more important as the number of our hardware-based products increases. Reliance on third-party manufacturers involves a number of risks, including a lack of control over the manufacturing process and the potential absence or unavailability of adequate capacity. If any of our third-party manufacturers cannot or will not manufacture our products in required quantities in compliance with environmental and other regulations in the markets we serve, on a cost-effective basis, in a timely manner, or at all, we will have to secure additional manufacturing capacity. The unexpected loss of any of our manufacturers could disrupt our business. Furthermore, our hardware-based products contain critical components supplied by a single or a limited number of third parties. Any significant shortage of components or the failure of the third-party supplier to maintain or enhance these products could lead to cancellation of customer orders or delays in the placement of orders and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation.
We are mainly focusing our business in the field of computer security business based on antivirus software. Therefore, we actively pursue strategic alliances with other companies that allow us to provide customers with integrated or other new products and services derived from the alliances. To launch and provide such products and services, we may invest substantial cash and other resources in product development, marketing promotions and support and maintenance activities. But we may not earn revenue successfully from alliances despite our efforts, and such alliance may be terminated or dissolved due to various causes before generating revenue.
Our major competitors are active in the Japanese antivirus software market and have allocated significant resources to achieve success in the Japanese computer security market. Additionally, there have been not only existed security venders as our direct competitors, but also new vendors joining by recent M&A or acquisition from other industries and new entries, etc. Such a competition in our core Japanese market could intensify in the future if other competitors emerge. As a result of our competitors’ efforts, we may not be able to maintain our current leading market position in Japan in the future. Also, in order to respond effectively to increased competition, we may be required to devote more of our product development, marketing and other resources to the Japanese market, which could limit our ability to grow in other markets. A material loss of sales and market share in Japan as a result of our competitors’ success could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In a rapidly changing industry, we occasionally review acquisition opportunities. Accordingly, we may seek to expand our business through acquisitions. Unlike some of our major competitors, we have limited experience in acquiring existing businesses. Future acquisitions could result in numerous risks and uncertainties, including:
If we make such an acquisition using our stock, our current shareholders’ ownership interests will be diluted. Any of these factors could materially hurt our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our reputation may be more susceptible to problems than other software companies caused by hackers / crackers trying to break into or attack our networks, steal secrets, and deface our site. As a computer security company that delivers virus protection and other security products and services over the Internet, hackers / crackers specifically target us in order to cause us to transmit computer viruses and malware programs, loss or theft of technical information including the source codes etc., or vital information of customers or employees, and our groups’ website defacement over the internet. If these incidents occur, our group’s business could suffer. We could also incur costs to fix technical problems or fix problems created by hackers gaining access to our proprietary information. In addition, we could suffer substantial disruptions in our business and damage to our reputation which could result in a significant loss of customers and other important business relationships until recovery of confidence.
Our group has made contracts with subcontractors and employees with the purpose of preservation of confidentiality. In the case of loss or theft of technical or private information for taking out and unfair use by our group insiders despite taking legislative actions, etc., we could significantly discredit us. Additionally, there is also a possibility to be brought an action for a large amount of damages. In such a case, we could suffer substantial disruptions in our business and also incur costs to fix technical problems etc. and any of these factors could materially hurt our business, financial condition and results of operations.
A broad range of our security products may falsely identify emails, URLs, or programs as unwanted spam, malicious web sites, and potentially dangerous programs. Our group’s security products and services may also fail to properly identify and prevent unwanted emails, URLs, programs, malicious websites, or spyware that are often designed to circumvent anti-virus, anti-spam, web filtering, or spyware products. Parties whose emails, URLs, or programs are blocked by these our security products and services may seek redress against us for labeling them as “spammers,” “malicious websites,” spyware, or for interfering with their business. In addition, false identification of emails, URLs, or programs as unwanted “spam,” “malicious web sites” or “potentially unwanted programs” may reduce the adoption of these products.
In addition, should we fail to properly test these products, solutions, or protection files and distribution a defective file, vulnerabilities, etc., these could cause damage to customers. In such a case, it would adversely impact our operating results and financial condition.
Our business field has been expanding. This expansion has placed, and any future business expansion or growth would continue to place, a significant strain on our limited personnel, management and other resources. Our ability to manage any future expansion or growth in our business will require us to:
If we continue to expand or grow, our group’s management systems in place may be inadequate or we may not be able to effectively manage our growth. In particular, we may be unable to:
We market substantially all of our products and services to end users through intermediaries, including distributors, resellers and value-added resellers. Our distributors sell other products that are complementary to, or compete with, our products and services. While we encourage our distributors to focus on our wide range of products and services, these distributors may give greater priority to products of other suppliers, including competitors'. They may also return the products to us under certain circumstances.
Some of our distributors are experiencing financial difficulties worldwide, which may adversely impact our collection of accounts receivable. We regularly review the collectability and creditworthiness of our distributors to determine an appropriate allowance for doubtful receivables. Our uncollectible accounts could exceed our current or future allowance for doubtful receivables, which would be adversely significant impact our operating results.
Our wide range of products and services may be considered to be capital purchases by certain enterprise customers. Capital purchases are often uncertain and, therefore, are canceled or delayed if the customer experiences a downturn in its business prospects or as a result of unfavorable economic conditions. Any cancellation or delay could adversely affect our results of operations.
We rely, and will continue to rely, on a number of key technical and management employees, including our Chief Executive Officer, Eva Yi-Fen Chen. While we require our employees to sign employment agreements, our employees are generally not otherwise subject to non-competition covenants. If any of our key employees leave, our business, results of operations and financial condition could suffer.
The computer security industry which our group belongs to, has grown increasingly competitive. In this competitive environment, recruiting top-class human resources has been the most important challenges to support innovative technology for all the companies. Today, the majority of Trend Micro staff is based in Asia, as well as in the emerging countries. Due to this region's rising inflation and costs of living, salaries will also have to increase. Any increase in costs caused by the above could cause our group’s business, results of operations and financial condition could suffer. Also the talent war with competitors could adversely affect to our group's labor cost. Moreover, unexpected high turnover and recruitment which does not work out as planned, may hurt our group's business performance. If any of cost increase caused by those above, our group’s business, results of operations and financial condition could suffer.
The computer security industry which our group belongs to, has grown increasingly competitive. In this competitive atmosphere, there is a possibility of human resources flow including major technical specialist personnel. Our group has made contracts with all employees for the purpose of preservation of confidentiality and obligation not to compete. Despite taking such legislative actions, we could suffer substantial disruptions in our business to our reputation due to outflow of technical and strategic vital information, and other companies developing similar technology with ours. In addition, our group’s business, operations and financial condition could suffer as a result of the above.
We believe that our quarterly financial results may fluctuate in ways that do not reflect the long-term trend of our future financial performance. It is likely that in some future quarterly periods, our operating results may be below the expectations of public market analysts and investors. In this event, the share price of Trend Micro Incorporated, Trend Micro group’s parent company, could fall.
Factors which could cause our quarterly financial results to fluctuate include:
Our reporting currency is the Japanese yen and the functional currency of each of our subsidiaries is the currency of the country in which the subsidiary is domiciled. However, a significant portion of our revenues and operating expenses is denominated in currencies other than the Japanese yen, primarily the US dollar, Euro, and Asian currencies. As a result, appreciation or depreciation in the value of other currencies as compared to the Japanese yen could result in material transaction or translation gains or losses which could reduce our operating results. These negative effects from currency fluctuations could become more significant if we are successful in increasing our sales in markets outside of Japan.
Also, we have a portion of marketable securities for fund management. Those values will be affected by the ups and downs of exchange rate denominated in foreign currencies and significant currency fluctuations could hurt our corporate earnings significantly.
We have marketable securities and security investments for efficient fund management. Those values of the capital holdings will be affected by fluctuations in the financial market and exchange rates. In the future, if financial market fluctuates widely, this could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations proportionate devaluation loss on investment in securities.
Our success depends on the development of proprietary software technology. We rely on a combination of contractual rights and patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws. Also, we made and entered Non-Disclosure Agreement is into by and between employees and subcontractors to establish and protect proprietary rights in our software. If we are unable to establish and protect these rights, our competitors may be able to use our intellectual property to compete against us. This could limit our growth and hurt our business. It is possible that no additional patents will be issued to us or any of our subsidiaries. In addition, our issued patents may not prevent other companies from competing with us. On the other hand, there is the possibility of the suspension of our products and services sales, compensation, and royalty payment of licensee because of our patent infringement upon another company. Additionally, there is also a possibility that a case brought against a service invention and suit filed by employee. In the case of losing such a lawsuit, payment to compensate the employee may be incurred.
Our group’s products and services are designed to protect customers’ network systems and personal computers from damage caused by computer viruses, web threats and data stealing malware. As a result, if a customer suffers damage from any of these threats or if the actual functions of our group's products and services differ from the stated, the customers may return those products and also demanded refunds for services and the customer could sue us on product liability or related grounds, claim damages for data loss or make other claims.
Additionally, as threats are constantly evolving, purchasers of our software products must regularly update the software they have purchased from us with signature protection files that we make available for download from our website. Should we fail to properly test these protection files and distribute a defective file including vulnerabilities, these files could cause damage to the personal computers, network environment, and various devices of our customers who have downloaded a defective file. In addition, our hardware products as a defective appliance could cause damage to human lives, health, and the personal property of our customers who have used a defective appliance. As a result, if a customer suffers damage from our products, the customer could sue us on product liability or related grounds, claim damages for data loss or make other claims. Otherwise, we could order a recall of products at the discretion of company.
Our license agreements typically contain provisions, such as disclaimers of warranty and limitations of liability, which seek to limit our exposure to certain types of product liability claims. However, in some jurisdictions or products recall cases these provisions may not be enforceable on statutory, public policy or other grounds. In the case of losing such a law suit, there is a possibility that the case filed by our service and product users for damages and recovery of pain and suffering damages could have a material adverse effect on our business.
All our business would be under various laws and regulations in each country and each region. If we would fail to comply with those laws and regulations, it would provide more severe administrative guidance and penal regulations. If officers and employees who are in our group violates the constitution or other laws or regulations, our group’s business could suffer substantial disruptions in our business and to our reputation which could result in a loss of customers and other important business relationships until recovery of confidence.
In such cases, there is the possibility to have a material adverse effect on our operating results. Also, in the case of the laws and regulations legal amendments, there are the possibilities to be tightening regulations and restrictions on our products and services and carry a cost in terms of relevant issues. In such a case, our business may have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
Trend Micro group face a number of potential business interruption risks that are beyond our control. The State of California experienced intermittent power shortages in 2000, sharp increases in the cost of energy and even interruptions of service to some business customers. If power shortages continue to be a problem, our business may be materially adversely affected. Or, in the outbreak of severe acute virus, influenza, or SARS, there is the possibility that we should stop all our business operations.
Additionally, we may experience natural and biological disasters as like above that could interrupt our business. The impact of nature disasters as a future major earthquake on our facilities, infrastructure and overall operations is not known. There is no guarantee that nature disasters would not seriously disturb our entire business operations. In addition, many of the key countries and regions in which we operate have sustained negative economic impact from events such as the continued fear of future the outbreak of severe virus / acute respiratory syndrome, etc., terrorist attacks and other geopolitical risks prolonged continuation of these adverse factors may hurt our results of operations and financial condition.
Shares of the common stock of Trend Micro Incorporated, Trend Micro group’s parent company, are traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Recently, the Japanese securities markets have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations. The market prices of securities of high-tech companies, and internet companies in particular, have been especially volatile. Since trading in shares of Trend Micro Incorporated commenced on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on August 17, 2000, stock price of Trend Micro Incorporated has fluctuated between a low of (Yen) 1,440 and a high of (Yen) 9,005. The closing price on the Tokyo Stock Exchange for our stock on December 30, 2019 was (Yen) 5,600. The market price of our shares is likely to fluctuate in the future.
Stock prices on Japanese stock exchanges are determined on a real-time basis by the equilibrium between bids and offers. These exchanges are order-driven markets without specialists or market makers to guide price formation. To prevent excessive volatility, these exchange set daily upward and downward price fluctuation limits for each stock, based on the previous day’s closing price. Although transactions may continue at the upward or downward limit price if the limit price is reached on a particular trading day, no transactions may take place outside these limits. Consequently, an investor wishing to sell at a price above or below the relevant daily limit may not be able to sell his or her shares at such price on a particular trading day, or at all.