Risk Factors Dashboard

Once a year, publicly traded companies issue a comprehensive report of their business, called a 10-K. A component mandated in the 10-K is the ‘Risk Factors’ section, where companies disclose any major potential risks that they may face. This dashboard highlights all major changes and additions in new 10K reports, allowing investors to quickly identify new potential risks and opportunities.

Risk Factors - CLFD

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Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

Company Overview

We design, manufacture, and distribute fiber protection, fiber management, and fiber delivery solutions to enable rapid and cost-effective fiber-fed deployment throughout the broadband service provider space primarily across North America. Our “fiber to anywhere” platform serves the unique requirements of Community Broadband customers (Tier 2 and 3 telco carriers, utilities, municipalities, and alternative carriers), Multiple System Operators (cable television), Large Regional Service Providers (ILEC operating a multi-state network with more than 500,000 subscribers), National Carriers (wireline/wireless national telco carriers (Tier 1)), and International customers (primarily Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean Markets).

Our mission is to enable the lifestyle that better broadband provides through innovative product design that accelerates fiber-based deployment, making communications simpler and more affordable for people everywhere. We believe our products offer broadband service providers a competitive advantage at a crucial time when demand for fiber-based services is increasing to historic levels as providers focus on passing and connecting more homes. We are driven to help broadband service providers reduce the cost - and increase the speed - of fiber deployment.

Strategy Overview

In 2022, we launched a transformative multi-year strategy plan called LEAP. To leap means jumping higher, further and with greater force. The LEAP plan is our roadmap to how we intend to scale as a company to seize the opportunity Clearfield was built to achieve. There are four tenets in our LEAP plan, one for each letter.

The L is to leverage our decade-long excellence in community broadband. We are a leader in community broadband fiber connectivity and have been focused on serving this market since we were founded. We make decisions by listening to our customers and understanding their evolving needs. Building on our decade plus of success in this market, we’ve demonstrated that we can nimbly adapt to a changing marketplace and grow with our customers as they grow.

The E is to execute capacity enhancement. This tenet is centered around aligning us closer to market demand by building production capacity that facilitates optimal time to market. We are structured to maintain our market leadership position and to gain market share from competitors and grow the business overall, by matching our capacity to address the significant market demand for fiber broadband.

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The A is to accelerate infrastructure investments. This tenet reflects our commitment to continue investing in our organizational infrastructure to support the growing business and effectively manage our expanded capacity. This includes attracting and retaining key personnel, optimizing internal processes, and adding information systems to take advantage of the opportunity to achieve scalable company growth.

Finally, the P in LEAP stands for position innovation at the forefront of our value proposition. Accelerating our customers’ time to revenue by designing craft-friendly products that require less skilled labor is the foundation of our value proposition. We intend to achieve this tenet by emphasizing innovation in our product designs and increasing the cadence of our product expansions with the goal of facilitating our customers’ fiber broadband deployments.

Segments

We are engaged in global operations. Our operations currently comprise of two reportable segments: the Clearfield Operating Segment (referred to herein as “Clearfield”), and the Nestor Cables Operating Segment (referred to herein as “Nestor Cables” or “Nestor”), which we established following our acquisition of Nestor Cables on July 26, 2022. Prior to July 26, 2022, we had a single reportable segment structure.

Clearfield Operating Segment

Clearfield is focused on providing fiber management, fiber protection, and fiber delivery products that accelerate the turn-up of fiber-based networks in residential homes, businesses, and network infrastructure in the wireline and wireless access network. We offer a broad portfolio of fiber products that allow service providers to build fiber networks faster, meet service delivery demands, and align build costs with take rates.

Clearfield’s products allow its customers to connect twice as many homes in their Fiber to the Home (“FTTH”) builds by using fewer resources in less time. Our products speed up the time to revenue for our service provider customers in Multiple Dwelling Units (“MDUs”) and Multiple Tenant Units (“MTUs”) by reducing the amount of labor and materials needed to provide gigabit service. Our products help make business services more profitable through faster building access, easier reconfiguration, and quicker services turn-up. Finally, Clearfield is removing barriers to wireless 4G/5G deployments in backhaul from the tower to the cloud and fiber fronthaul from the tower to the antenna at the cell site through better fiber management, test access, and fiber protection.

Substantially all of the final build and assembly is completed at Clearfield’s plants in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and Tijuana, Mexico, with manufacturing support from a network of domestic and global manufacturing partners. Clearfield specializes in producing these products on both a quick-turn and scheduled delivery basis.

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Nestor Cables Operating Segment

As of July 26, 2022, Clearfield, through its newly created Finnish subsidiary, Clearfield Finland Oy, acquired Nestor Cables. Nestor Cables is based in Oulu, Finland, with operations in Estonia through its wholly owned subsidiary, Nestor Cables Baltics OÜ. Nestor Cables is based in Oulu, Finland, with operations in Keila, Estonia through its wholly -owned subsidiary, Nestor Cables Baltics Ltd. Nestor Cables manufactures fiber optic and copper telecommunication cables and equipment which it distributes to telecommunication operators, network owners, electric companies, building contractors, and industrial companies. Prior to the acquisition, Nestor Cables had been a supplier to Clearfield for over a decade and that relationship continued following the closing of the acquisition. Prior to our acquisition, Nestor Cables had been a supplier to Clearfield for over a decade and that relationship continued following the closing of the acquisition. Nestor has two types of production processes, the process of making cable in its Finland facility and the finished assembly portion of its business performed in Estonia. Nestor Cables’ customer base includes telecom operators, network owners, contractors, industries and wholesalers. Products are sold via distributors and directly to end users. Nestor Cables is subject to Finnish government regulation and Nestor Cables Baltics is subject to Estonian government regulation. Nestor Cables is subject to Finnish government regulation; Nestor Cables Baltics is subject to Estonian government regulation.

Products

Our product strategy involves analyzing the broadband communications industry environment and technology, with a particular focus on simplifying our customers’ business, and developing innovative, high-quality products utilizing modular designs wherever possible. We are committed to make fiber deployment success easier by providing craft-friendly, pre-connectorized plug-and-play fiber assemblies, fiber management and pathway products to speed deployments and provide the lowest total cost of ownership for our customer’s networks. With the innovation of forward-thinking products, a 100 percent plug-and-play platform and creative deployment methods, we are fulfilling our mission to enable the lifestyle that better broadband provides.

Throughout the fiber deployment journey from the Inside Plant (ISP) to the Outside Plant (OSP), into the Access Network and all the way to the fiber connection at the home, our labor lite solutions solve service provider fiber network design and installation challenges. Our methodologies provide easy to engineer and easy to install solutions that take the mystery out of deploying fiber networks.

Leveraging factory terminated single-fiber and multi-fiber plug-and-play connectors, homes passed, and homes connected metrics can be greatly increased. The speed to turn up the entire network is maximized, while helping ensure superior optical performance achieved by using low-loss connectors, terminated in the factory.

Whether inside a cabinet or at the home, innovative slack storage spools and deploy reels reduce the dependence on making exact cable measurements. This enables the deployment of double-ended, standard cable lengths rather than relying on highly engineered, built to order cable assemblies or multiple field splicing events.

Product development for the Company’s product line program has mainly been conducted internally. We believe that the communication industry environment is constantly evolving, and our success depends on our ability to anticipate and respond to these changes. We believe that the communication industry environment is constantly evolving, and our success depends on our ability to anticipate and respond to these changes. Research and development are reflected in Selling, General, & Administrative expenses.

Some of our products currently offered are described below:

FieldSmart® is a series of panels, cabinets, wall boxes and other enclosures that provide a consistent design from the inside plant of the telco’s “central office” or cable television’s head-end, all the way through the outside plant to the access network to within the home or business. The Clearview® Cassette is the core building block of every product within the FieldSmart fiber management system. Clearview configuration options support tool-less installation, in-cassette buffer tube/ribbon slack storage as well as front access-only designs. The small footprint reduces real estate costs and improves density without compromising critical design elements of access, bend-radius protection, physical fiber protection and route path diversity. All types of fiber cable construction can be integrated within the cassette to support all patch only, patch and splice (in-cassette splicing), passive optical component hardware and plug-and-play scenarios.

WaveSmart® optical components are integrated for signal coupling, splitting, termination, multiplexing, demultiplexing and attenuation for a seamless integration within our fiber management platform. The products are built and tested for harsh environments to meet the strictest industry standards ensuring customers trouble-free performance in extreme outside plant conditions. The products are built and tested for harsh environments to meet the strictest industry standards ensuring customers trouble-free performance in extreme outside plant conditions.

Active Cabinets using our FiberFlex product lines feature either fully integrated, fully engineered cabinets equipped with specific active electronics configurations or universal cabinets ready for mounting other electronic equipment. This product line features Clearfield’s fiber management solutions housing the Clearview Cassette. This product line features Clearfield’s fiber management solutions housing the Clearview Cassette. The FieldSmart® FiberFlex product line of outdoor active cabinets feature multiple sizes for universal configurations of electronic equipment. The FieldSmart® FAC and FiberFlex product line of outdoor active cabinets feature multiple sizes for universal configurations of electronic equipment.

CraftSmart® FiberFirst™ pedestals are designed to support fiber-only networks. Purpose-built to support a wide variety of service network designs, the pedestal eliminates the need for multiple, specialty pedestals and can support a passive optical network (PON) option, a splice-only option, or an access terminal option. The FiberFirst Pedestal Access Terminal options provide a cable management and mounting bracket kit that supports the deployment of all Clearfield access terminals.

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Access Terminals from Clearfield are designed to ensure every service provider has the freedom of choice to match drop cable configuration and technology with the needs of their environment and first-cost priorities. The patented SeeChange® terminal and hardened connector system lets the operator push fiber deeper in the neighborhood using a completely plug-and-play approach. The YOURx® access terminals also offer flexibility with cable mid-span and internal splicing options. Clearfield access terminals can be deployed in a variety of locations including pedestal, vault, flowerpot, pole-mount, smart-pole, or strand mounted options.

FieldShield® platform is a patented fiber pathway and protection method aimed at reducing the cost of broadband deployment. Our FieldShield fiber drop cable assemblies are designed to connect the fiber access point (hand hole, pedestal or aerial) to the optical network terminal (ONT), on the home, in a fiber to the home (FTTH) network. FieldShield starts with a ruggedized microduct designed to support all aerial, direct bury, and inside plant “last mile” needs. FieldShield microduct is strong enough to be placed using traditional methods of boring and plowing, leveraging existing conduit placement equipment, as well as newer, less disruptive technologies such as micro trenching or saw cutting. FieldShield Microduct is strong enough to be placed using traditional methods of boring and plowing, leveraging existing conduit placement equipment, as well as newer, less disruptive technologies such as micro trenching or saw cutting.

Fiber Assemblies - Clearfield manufactures high quality fiber assemblies with an industry-standard or customer-specified configuration.  In addition, Clearfield’s engineering services team works alongside the engineering design departments of our original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) customers to design and manufacture custom solutions for both in-the-box as well as network connectivity assemblies specific to that customer’s product line. In addition, Clearfield’s engineering services team works alongside the engineering design departments of our original equipment manufacturer (“OEM”) customers to design and manufacture custom solutions for both in-the-box as well as network connectivity assemblies specific to that customer’s product line.

Fiber Optic Cables manufactured by Nestor Cables include a comprehensive range of optical fiber cables that offer dependable solutions for various installation conditions and special requirements, including direct buried cables, duct cables, microduct cables, indoor/outdoor cables, aerial cables and submarine cable.

Copper Cables manufactured by Nestor cables include copper conducted instrumentation and automation cables as well as central and signaling cables Nestor also manufactures copper cable for telecommunications networks.

Nestor Optimus product family is a complete solution which includes all needed products - cables, microducts, microduct accessories and tools - for construction of microduct networks which are easily expandable, suitable for changing and growing urban and suburban areas, and enables the use of lighter installation techniques, which reduces construction costs and interference during installation.

NesCon Connectivity Products is a product family by Nestor Cables that includes essential installation and connection accessories for fiber optic networks, all of which are compatible with Nestor Cable’s optical fiber cables.

Markets and Customers

The Company’s products are sold across broadband service providers, which we categorize as National Carrier (wireline/wireless national telco carriers (Tier 1)), Community Broadband (Tier 2 and 3 telco carriers, utilities, municipalities, and alternative carriers), Large Regional Service Providers (ILEC operating a multi-state network with more than 500,000 subscribers), Multiple System Operators (cable television), International (primarily Europe, Central/Latin America and Canada), and Legacy build-to-print copper and fiber assemblies (primarily contract manufacturing). Nestor’s products are sold to telecommunication wholesalers and telecommunication operators, primarily in Europe.

The Company’s products are sold direct to customers through the Company’s sales force as well as through authorized distributors. In addition, the Company uses manufacturing sales representatives and sales agents for customer and geography specific needs.

The Company considers the primary markets for its products to be as follows:

FTTP

Fiber to the Premise (also called Fiber to the Home) is a means of delivering the highest possible level of bandwidth directly to the user. The Company’s sales and marketing efforts have principally been focused on the U.S., with additional efforts in Canada and Central/Latin America. We intend to leverage our Nestor platform to cross sell connectivity products into Europe.

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FTTB

Fiber to the Business is principally for Multiple System Operators (cable television) and wireline/wireless national telco carriers (Tier 1) to penetrate the business marketplace.

FTT-Cell site

Fiber to the Cell site is the trend in which wireless service providers enhance their coverage for bandwidth. Currently, the majority of these cell sites are served by fiber backhaul and fronthaul. Currently, the majority of these cell sites are served by fiber.

Build to Print

In addition to a proprietary product line designed for the broadband service provider marketplace, Clearfield provides contract manufacturing services for original equipment manufacturers requiring copper and fiber cable assemblies built to their specification.

Competition

The market for the fiber management, fiber protection, and fiber delivery products provided by the Clearfield segment is highly competitive. Competition is largely based on any one or a combination of the following factors: functionality and features, price, product quality, product availability and lead times, cost and ease of installation, service and support, long-term returns to customers, scalability, product innovation, and manufacturing capability. Competition is largely based on any one or a combination of the following factors: functionality and features, price, product quality, cost and ease of installation, service and support, long-term returns to customers, scalability, product innovation and manufacturing capability.

Competitors to the FieldSmart product lines include, but are not limited to, products offered by Corning Cabling Systems, Inc., OFS (Furukawa Electric North America, Inc.), AFL Telecommunications (a subsidiary of Fujikura Ltd.), Fujikura Ltd., Nokia, Hextronics Group and CommScope, Inc. Competitors to the CraftSmart and FiberFlex active cabinet product lines include products offered by Emerson Network Power, a subsidiary of Vertiv Co. Competitors to the CraftSmart product line include products offered by Emerson Network Power, a subsidiary of Vertiv Co. , and Charles Industries, Ltd., a subsidiary of Amphenol. Competitors to FieldShield product lines include products offered by PPC Broadband, a subsidiary of Belden, Inc and Emtelle UK Limited. In various geographic or vertical markets, there are also several smaller companies with which we compete. Clearfield believes that it has a competitive advantage with customers who can leverage the cost savings the Clearview Cassette can provide and those who require quick-turn, high-performance customized products, and that it is at a competitive disadvantage with customers who principally seek large volume commodity products. Clearfield believes that it has a competitive advantage with customers who can leverage the cost savings the Clearview Cassette can provide and those who require quick-turn, high-performance customized products, and that it is at a competitive disadvantage with customers who principally seek large volume commodity products.

The Nestor Cables segment faces competition from numerous competitors within each of the markets it serves. The Nestor Cables segment competes primarily on the basis of its product performance and its ability to meet its customers’ highly specified design, engineering and delivery needs on a timely basis. The market demand and resulting build rates of fiber optic networks and capital expenditures by telecommunications wholesalers and telecommunications providers, has a large and direct influence on the demand for the Nestor Cables segment products.

Many of our competitors have greater resources than we do, including greater sales, product development, marketing, financial, technical, or engineering resources. As a result, our competitors may be able to procure necessary components and labor at much lower prices than we can or may offer competitive products at below market prices, which could prevent us from competing effectively.

Sources of Materials and Supply Chain

Numerous purchased materials and components and sources of labor are used in the manufacturing of the Company’s products. Most of these are available from multiple suppliers. However, some components and third-party contract manufacturing services are purchased from a single or a limited number of suppliers. The loss of access to some components and third-party contract manufacturing services could have an adverse effect on our ability to deliver products on a timely basis and on our financial performance.

Clearfield’s Mexico facility operates under a Maquiladora arrangement. Under this arrangement, we contract with a company to provide certain personnel and other services at the production facilities in Mexico that complete final build and assembly of a significant portion of Clearfield’s products. Maquiladora status also allows us to import certain items from the United States into Mexico duty-free, provided that such items, after processing, are exported from Mexico within a stipulated time frame.

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Our supply chain management team oversees our suppliers to source and procure materials, manufacture and deliver our products to customers from the site of manufacture, whether at Clearfield’s facility in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota or the facility in Tijuana, Mexico that operates as Maquiladoras. Our supply chain management team consists of planning, sourcing, and logistics personnel. We tightly integrate our supply chain management, our product innovation activities, and our manufacturing operations. Our supply chain team also manages the critical logistics and transport services for our materials, components and finished products in and out of Mexico to ensure sufficient materials to timely produce products and to ensure timely export of products in order to qualify as duty-free.

Over the last several years, we have taken steps to improve our supply chain operations, enhance resiliency and mitigate risk of disruption.

Major Customers and Financial Information about Geographic Areas

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2023, the Company had one customer that comprised 16% of net sales. This customer is a distributor. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2022, the Company had one customer that comprised 14% of net sales. For the fiscal years ended September 30, 2021, and 2020 the Company had two customers that comprised 28% and 30% of net sales, respectively. This customer was a distributor. This customer is a distributor. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2021, the Company had two customers that comprised a combined 28% of net sales. For the fiscal years ended September 30, 2021, and 2020 the Company had two customers that comprised 28% and 30% of net sales, respectively. Both of these customers were distributors. These major customers, like our other customers, purchase our products from time to time through purchase orders and we do not have any agreements that obligate these major customers to purchase products in the future from us.

As of September 30, 2023, three customers accounted for a combined 40% of accounts receivable. These customers are all distributors. As of September 30, 2022, one customer accounted for 20% of accounts receivable. This customer is a distributor.

The Company allocates sales from external customers to geographic areas based on the location to which the product is transported. Sales outside the United States are principally to customers in Canada as well as countries in the Caribbean, Europe and Central and South America. Sales outside the United States are principally to customers in countries in the Caribbean, Canada, Europe and Central and South America. Since our acquisition of Nestor Cables in July 2022, we experienced an increased concentration of customers based in Europe. Since our acquisition of Nestor Cables in July 2022, we have experienced an increased concentration of customers based in Europe.

Patents and Trademarks

As of September 30, 2023, Clearfield has 47 patents granted and multiple patent applications pending both inside and outside the United States. These patents begin to expire in 2028. We have also developed and are using multiple trademarks and logos to market and promote our products.

Seasonality

We are affected by the seasonal trends in the industries we serve. We typically experience sequentially lower sales in our first and second fiscal year quarters, primarily due to customer budget cycles, deployment schedules of outdoor products, some customer geographical concentrations, as well as standard vacation and holiday calendars. Sales have usually reached a seasonal peak in our third and fourth fiscal quarters. Sales have usually reach a seasonal peak in our third and fourth fiscal quarters.

Human Capital Resources

As of September 30, 2023, the Company had approximately 400 full-time employees, of which 65% were based in the United States (“U.S.”) and 35% were based outside of the U.S., primarily in Finland and Estonia due to our Nestor Cables operations. We also employ seasonal, part-time employees and independent contractors. Subject to customarily local collective bargaining arrangements for employees in Finland and Estonia, none of our employees are covered by any collective bargaining agreement.

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Our U.S. employees include approximately 165 office personnel and 100 manufacturing personnel as of September 30, 2023. The substantial majority of these employees work out of our Brooklyn Park, Minnesota headquarters. The Company’s office personnel are comprised of sales, marketing, engineering, and administrative personnel. The manufacturing personnel include both individuals directly involved in the manufacturing of our products, as well as warehouse and operations supervisory personnel. Certain positions within our organization require industry specific technical knowledge. Our manufacturing personnel currently work in one shift as needed at our Brooklyn Park facility.

We invest significant management attention, time, and resources to attract, engage, develop, and retain our employees, particularly for positions that require technical knowledge or expertise. For this reason, we offer rigorous training programs for manufacturing and other technical employees to allow them to develop the necessary skillset for their roles and promote career development. To date, our training programs and overall collaborative working environment have allowed us to be successful in attracting and retaining qualified technical personnel for these positions.

Nestor Cables has approximately 30 office personnel and 105 manufacturing personnel as of September 30, 2023.

As of September 30, 2023, we had contracted for approximately 600 personnel in the Mexico facility through a Maquiladora agreement.

In our manufacturing operations, we monitor key metrics and goals based on quality, productivity, and ability to meet shipping promise dates. As a measure of quality, we focus on First Pass Yield (“FPY”), which is calculated as the percentage of product that meets all performance criteria upon first completion from our manufacturing floor and requires no rework. The Company’s target for FPY ranges from 92-99%, depending on key manufacturing steps and the product line being produced. We also measure our On-Time Delivery (“OTD”) which is determined by the Company’s ability to ship product on the date necessary, accounting for standard shipping times, in order to meet the agreed upon delivery date with our customers. The Company’s OTD target is a minimum of 95%. This metric is important as the Company has taken a strategic approach to be able to offer low industry lead times for our customers. The Company incentivizes certain of its personnel based on these metrics.

Climate Change

Certain government and regulatory bodies have introduced or are contemplating regulatory changes relating to climate change. While we do not believe climate-related risks are reasonably likely to have a material impact on our business, results of operations, or financial condition at this time, we are continuing to assess the nature and extent of risk from a changing climate and the potential for increased regulation.

The majority of our manufacturing operations calls for compiling raw material and other purchased components from suppliers. As part of our operations, we focus on minimizing scrap and other waste and look to recycle and salvage this scrap wherever possible. Any new regulation of emissions may result in additional costs to our suppliers which may be passed on to us.

In addition, the physical impacts of climate change and other natural events, including adverse weather conditions such as heavy or sustained rainfall, flooding, cold weather and snow, can impact deployment schedules of outdoor products and potentially affect demand for our products. Additionally, we may need to take into account an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events in the development of our products. Additionally, we may need to take into account the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in the development of our products.

An increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, changes in weather patterns, drought, rising ocean and temperature levels, earthquakes and the like may impact our manufacturing operations or the manufacturing operations of suppliers of our critical raw materials or components. These types of impacts may also result in transportation-related supply chain challenges and negatively impact the delivery of raw materials, components, or products to or from our facilities. These types of impacts from climate change may also result in transportation-related supply chain challenges and negatively impact the delivery of raw materials, components or products to or from our facilities. These potential physical effects may increase costs, cause delays or shortages in components required to produce our products or cause delays in the shipment of our products to customers.

Changes in environmental and climate change laws or regulations, including laws relating to greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions, could lead to new or additional investment in the Company’s products or facilities and could increase environmental compliance expenditures. Changes in climate change concerns, or in the regulation of such concerns, including GHG emissions, could subject the Company to additional costs and restrictions, including increased energy and raw material costs and other compliance requirements which could negatively impact the Company’s reputation, business, capital expenditures, results of operations, and financial position.

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Corporate Information

Clearfield, Inc. was incorporated under the laws of Minnesota in 1979. Our corporate headquarters are located at 7050 Winnetka Avenue North, Suite 100, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, 55428, and our corporate website is www.seeclearfield.com. We do not incorporate the information on or accessible through our website into this annual report on Form 10-K, and you should not consider any information on, or that can be accessed through, our website as part of this annual report on Form 10-K.

Our annual report on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available free of charge at our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, like Clearfield, that file electronically with the SEC and that internet site is http://www.sec.gov.

We use various trademarks and trade names in our business, including without limitation our corporate name and logo. Solely for convenience, the trademarks and trade names in this annual report may be referred to without the ® and ™ symbols, but such references should not be construed as any indicator that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights thereto.

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

Risks Relating to Our Operations

Inflationary price pressures and uncertain availability of components, raw materials, labor and logistics used by us, and our suppliers could negatively impact our profitability.

Increases in the price of raw materials, labor and other components utilized in the production of our products, along with logistics and other related costs, may lead to higher production and shipping costs for our products. Additionally, increasing global demand for, and uncertain supply of, such materials could disrupt our ability to obtain such materials in a timely manner to meet our supply needs and could lead to increased costs. An increase in the cost of inputs needed to produce our products could lead to higher costs and could negatively impact our results of operation, future profitability, and ability to meet customer demand. Passing along these increased prices to our customers to offset the impact of higher costs may cause certain customers to cancel, push out, or refrain from purchasing our products, which could negatively impact demand for our products, and therefore also negatively impact our results of operations and future profitability. Passing along these increased prices to our customers to offset the impact of higher costs, may cause certain customers to cancel, push out, or refrain from purchasing our products, which could negatively impact demand for our products, and therefore also negatively impact our results of operations and future profitability.

We rely on single-source suppliers, which could cause delays, increases in costs, or prevent us from completing customer orders, all of which could materially harm our business.

We assemble our products using materials and components supplied by various subcontractors and suppliers. We purchase critical components for our products, including injected molded parts, various cabling, optical components, and connectors from third parties, some of whom are single- or limited-source suppliers. If any of our suppliers are unable to ship critical components, we may be unable to manufacture and ship products to our distributors or customers. If the price of these components increases for any reason, or if these suppliers are unable or unwilling to deliver, we may have to find another source, which could result in interruptions, increased costs, delays, lost sales, and quality control problems.

Further, the costs to obtain certain raw materials and supplies, such as fiber and copper cabling, are subject to price fluctuations, which may be substantial, because of global market demands. Many companies utilize the same raw materials and supplies in the production of their products as we use in our products. Many companies utilize the same raw materials and supplies in the production of their products as we use in our products. Companies with more resources than us may have a competitive advantage in obtaining raw materials and supplies due to greater purchasing power. Companies with more resources than us may have a competitive advantage in obtaining raw materials and supplies due to greater purchasing power. Some raw materials or supplies may be subject to regulatory actions, which may affect available supplies. Some raw materials or supplies may be subject to regulatory actions, which may affect available supplies. Further, tariffs may be imposed by the U.S. on imports from other countries that are the single- or limited-source of our materials and components. Tariffs increase the cost of the materials and components that go into making our products, but we are generally unable to pass most of these increased costs on to our customers. Accordingly, these increased costs adversely impact the gross margin that we earn on our products. Furthermore, due to general economic conditions in the U.S. and globally, our suppliers may experience financial difficulties, which could result in increased delays, additional costs, or loss of a supplier.

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The termination or interruption of any of these relationships, or the failure of these manufacturers or suppliers to supply components or raw materials to us on a timely basis or in sufficient quantities, likely would cause us to be unable to meet orders for our products and harm our reputation and our business. Identifying and qualifying alternative suppliers would take time, involve significant additional costs, and may delay the production of our products. If we fail to forecast our manufacturing requirements accurately or fail to properly manage our inventory with our contract manufacturers, we could incur additional costs, experience manufacturing delays, and lose sales. Further, if we obtain a new supplier or assemble our product using an alternative source of supply, we may need to conduct additional testing of our products to ensure they meet our quality and performance standards. Any delays in delivery of our product to distributors or customers could be extended, and our costs associated with the change in product manufacturing could increase.

The failure of our third-party manufacturers to manufacture the products for us or the failure of our suppliers of components and raw materials to supply us these items consistent with our requirements as to quality, quantity and timeliness could materially harm our business by causing delays, lost sales, increases in costs and lower gross profit margins.

An increasing number of products manufactured by the Company are produced outside the U.S., including in our Mexico facilities. The Company’s manufacturing facilities in Mexico are authorized to operate as Maquiladoras by the Ministry of Economy of Mexico. Maquiladora status allows the Company to import certain items from the U.S. into Mexico duty-free, provided that such items, after processing, are exported from Mexico within a stipulated time frame. Maquiladora status, which is renewed periodically, is subject to various restrictions and requirements, including compliance with the terms of the Maquiladora program and other local regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations or other disruptions within the program could adversely affect the Company’s financial position, results of operations, and cash flows.

We depend on the availability of sufficient supply of certain materials. Global disruptions in the supply chain for these materials could prevent us from meeting customer demand for our products.

We purchase critical components for our products, including injected molded parts, various cabling, optical components, components for active cabinets, and connectors from third parties, some of whom are single- or limited-source suppliers. We depend on the ability of these third-party suppliers to secure a sufficient supply of raw materials and maintain sufficient manufacturing and shipping capacity. We depend on the ability of these third-party suppliers to secure a sufficient supply of raw materials and maintain sufficient manufacturing and shipping capacity. The global supply chain for raw materials critical to our products has in the past, and may again in the future, suffer shortages, shipping delays and shipping shortages. The global supply chain for raw materials critical to our products, such as resin used to manufacture plastics and fiber optic cable, recently has suffered shortages, shipping delays and shipping shortages. This may lead some manufacturers who depend on these raw materials to experience shortages, delivery delays and price increases for both the raw materials and shipping, with the corresponding consequence that these manufacturers may be delayed in delivering products to us or may charge higher prices for these products, or there may be increased shipping costs associated with the products. This has led some manufacturers who depend on these raw materials to experience shortages, delivery delays and price increases for both the raw materials and shipping, with the corresponding consequence that these manufacturers may be delayed in delivering products to their customers or may charge higher prices for these products, or there may be increased shipping costs associated with the products. Some manufacturers may also allocate short supply of products among Clearfield and their other customers.

Increased demand for the Company’s products from its customers may put pressure on the Company’s supply chain, particularly during periods of disruption in the global supply chain and may lead to increases in costs or delays in obtaining the materials and components for our products from our suppliers. The Company’s ability to recognize revenue in the future for customer orders will depend on our ability to manufacture and deliver products to the customers and fulfill other contractual obligations. Our ability to meet future customer demand for our products will in turn depend upon our suppliers receiving timely and adequate supplies of raw materials to be able to produce the critical materials and components they supply to us. Our ability to meet expected future customer demand for our products will in turn depend upon our suppliers receiving timely and adequate supply of raw materials to be able to produce the critical materials and components they supply to us. Although we place a high value on long-term relationships with our suppliers, generally we do not have long-term supply contracts but instead conduct business on an order-by-order basis. Therefore, we also compete with other companies for the production capacity of manufacturers of the materials and components we need for our products. We also are exposed to potentially increasing costs associated with the materials and components we purchase from suppliers or increased costs associated with shipping generally. We also are exposed to potentially increasing costs associated with the materials and components we purchase from suppliers or increased costs associated with shipping generally. We may attempt to mitigate the effect of increases in our cost of goods sold through sourcing or stocking initiatives and by selectively increasing the prices of our products. However, we may be unable to fully pass on these costs to our customers. Long lead times for certain components and changes in demand for our products may impact our ability to accurately forecast our production requirements. Long lead times for certain components, as detailed above, along with increased demand for our products may impact our ability to accurately forecast our production requirements. As a result, certain component inventory purchases may become excess or obsolete, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

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The reduction of available production capacity among our suppliers, their failures to meet production deadlines or increases to us in their manufacturing or shipping costs may impact our ability to deliver quality products to our customers on a timely basis, make our products less competitive due to extended delivery times or increased price, negatively impact our customer or distributor relationships, and result in lower net sales and profit. Any delays or inabilities in meeting customer required shipping dates may also expose us to order cancellations in our sales order backlog by customers, which could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

A significant percentage of our sales in the last three fiscal years have been made to a small number of customers, and the loss of these major customers could adversely affect us.

Our customer base includes direct customers, OEMs, and distributors. For fiscal year 2023, the Company had one customer that comprised 16% of net sales. For fiscal year 2022, the Company had one customer that comprised 14% of net sales, and for fiscal year 2021 the Company had two customers that comprised a combined 28%, of net sales. For fiscal year 2022, the Company had one customer that comprised 14% of net sales. These customers are all distributors.

These customers, like our other customers, purchase our products from time to time through purchase orders. We do not have any agreements that obligate our customers to purchase products in the future from us. Our agreements with our distributor customers do not prohibit them from purchasing or offering products or services that compete with ours.

We believe that the loss of our major distributor customers would likely result in purchases being re-directed through other sales channels, for example our other distributors, independent sales representatives, or through direct sales by the Company to customers. However, there can be no assurance that the loss of a distributor customer would not have an adverse effect on our sales or gross margins in this event.

The loss of any one or more of our key customers, the substantial reduction, delay, or cancellation of orders received from any of our customers in our sales backlog or our inability to collect the accounts receivable from these customers, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.

Further consolidation among our customers may result in the loss of some customers and may reduce sales during the pendency of business combinations and related integration activities.

We believe consolidation among our customers in the future will continue in order for them to increase market share and achieve greater economies of scale. In connection with this merger and acquisition activity, our customers may postpone or cancel orders for our product based on revised plans for technology or network expansion pending consolidation activity. Customers integrating large-scale mergers or acquisitions may also reduce their purchases of equipment during the integration period or postpone or cancel orders. Customers integrating large-scale acquisitions may also reduce their purchases of equipment during the integration period, or postpone or cancel orders.

The impact of significant mergers and acquisitions among our customers on our business is likely to be unclear until sometime after such transactions are completed, which may take a year or more. After a consolidation occurs, a customer may choose to reduce the number of vendors from which it purchases equipment and may choose one of our competitors as its preferred vendor. There can be no assurance that we will continue to supply equipment to the surviving company after a business combination is completed. There can be no assurance that we will continue to supply equipment to the surviving communications service provider after a business combination is completed.

We may be subject to risks associated with acquisitions, and the risks could adversely affect future operating results.

We monitor our product portfolio and business and customer trends. In response, we have made and may continue to make acquisitions. The success of our acquisitions will depend on our ability to successfully identify and properly value suitable acquisition candidates, negotiate appropriate acquisition terms, obtain financing at a reasonable cost, prevail against competing acquirers, complete the acquisitions, and integrate the acquired businesses into our existing business. We cannot ensure that the expected benefits of any acquisition will be realized or will be realized within the time frames we expect. Costs could be incurred on pursuits or proposed acquisitions that have not yet or may not close which could impact our operating results, financial condition, or cash flows. Additionally, after the acquisition, unforeseen issues could arise which adversely affect the anticipated returns, or which are otherwise not recoverable as an adjustment to the purchase price. The price we pay for a business or product line may exceed the value we realize, and we cannot provide assurance that we will obtain the expected revenues, anticipated synergies, and strategic benefits of any acquisition within the time we expect or at all. Acquisitions may result in the recording of goodwill and other intangible assets which are subject to potential impairments in the future that could negatively impact our financial results.

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If we are unable to complete acquisitions or successfully integrate and develop acquired businesses, our financial results could be materially and adversely affected. The risks inherent in pursuing or completing an acquisition include:

diversion of management’s time and attention away from existing business activities;

difficulties or delays in integrating and assimilating information and financial systems, operations and products of an acquired business or other business venture or in realizing projected efficiencies, growth prospects, cost savings and synergies;

potential difficulties in managing our expanded operations and, in the case of international acquisitions, potential difficulties in managing non-U.S. subsidiaries, including the burden and cost of complying with a variety of international laws;

potential loss of key employees, customers and suppliers of the acquired businesses or adverse effects on relationships with existing customers and suppliers;

adverse impact on overall profitability if the acquired business does not achieve the return on investment projected at the time of acquisition;

currency translations and fluctuations may adversely affect the financial performance of our consolidated operations; and

with respect to the acquired assets and liabilities, inaccurate assessment of additional post-acquisition capital investments; undisclosed, contingent, or other liabilities; problems executing backlog of material supply or installation projects; unanticipated costs; and an inability to recover or manage such liabilities and costs.

These risks associated with acquisition, integration of acquired businesses and management of our expanded operations may have a material adverse effect on our sales, financial condition, and results of operations.

We have exposure to movements in foreign currency exchange rates.

Nestor Cables’ functional currency is the Euro, which is translated to the Company’s reporting currency of the U.S. dollar. Fluctuations in exchange rates between the Euro and U.S. dollar may impact our results of operations, financial position and cashflows. The Company expects to continue to experience fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar against the Euro and other currencies if it is not possible, cost-effective or should we not elect to hedge certain currency exposure. These factors, which are variable and generally outside of our control, could materially impact our results of operations, anticipated future results, financial position, and cash flows.

Adverse global economic conditions and geopolitical issues could have a negative effect on our business, and results of operations and financial condition.

Our business, including global supply chain, is affected by global economic conditions and geopolitical issues. Geopolitical issues, such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and related economic sanctions and tensions between Russia and NATO countries, has resulted in increasing global tensions, rising energy costs and creates uncertainty for our global supply chain. Geopolitical issues, such as the Russia invasion of Ukraine and related economic sanctions and tensions between Russia and NATO countries, has resulted in increasing global tensions, rising fuel costs and creates uncertainty for our global supply chain. Sustained or worsening global economic conditions and geopolitical issues may disrupt or increase our cost of doing business and otherwise disrupt and delay our supply chain operations. Sustained or worsening of global economic conditions and geopolitical issues may disrupt or increase our cost of doing business and otherwise disrupt and delay our supply chain operations. These factors could negatively affect the cost and supply of components needed for our products, our ability to ship products to customers and ultimately impact our business, financial condition, and result of operations.

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Growth may strain our business infrastructure, which could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.

As we grow, we will face the risk that our existing resources and systems, including management resources, enterprise technology and operating systems, may be inadequate to support our growth. There can be no assurance that we will be able to retain the personnel or make the changes in our systems that may be required to support our growth. We cannot assure you that we will be able to retain the personnel or make the changes in our systems that may be required to support our growth. Failure to secure these resources and implement these systems on a timely basis could have a material adverse effect on our operating results. In addition, hiring additional personnel and implementing changes and enhancements to our systems will require capital expenditures and other increased costs that could also have a material adverse impact on our operating results.

Product defects or the failure of our products to meet specifications or domestic content requirements could cause us to lose customers and sales or to incur unexpected expenses.

If our products do not meet our customers’ performance requirements, our customer relationships may suffer. Also, our products may contain defects or fail to meet product specifications. Any failure or poor performance of our products could result in:

lack of or delayed market acceptance of our products;

delayed product shipments;

unexpected expenses and diversion of resources to replace defective products or identify and correct the source of errors;

damage to our reputation and our customer relationships;

delayed recognition of sales or reduced sales;

increased product warranty claims; and

product liability claims or other claims for damages that may be caused by any product defects or performance failures.

In addition, certain of our products will be required to meet Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act domestic content requirements to enable certain customers to qualify for grant funding under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. Any failure of such products to meet BABA domestic content requirements would result in those products being ineligible for purchase and use by certain customers under the BEAD program, and could result in lost sales, lost business opportunity, breach of warranty claims, and damage to our reputation and customer relationships.

Our products are often critical to the performance of telecommunications systems. We offer customers limited warranty provisions. If the limitations on the product warranties are unenforceable in a particular jurisdiction or if we are exposed to product liability claims that are not covered by insurance, a claim could harm our business.

We are dependent on key personnel.

Our failure to attract, develop and retain skilled personnel could hinder the management and growth of our business, our research and development, our sales and marketing efforts and our manufacturing capabilities. Our future success depends to a significant degree upon the continued services of key senior management personnel, including Cheryl Beranek, our Chief Executive Officer, and John P. Hill, our Chief Operating Officer. We have employment agreements with Ms. Beranek and Mr. Hill that provide that if we terminate the employment of either executive without cause or if the executive terminates her or his employment for good reason, we would be required to make specified payments to them as described in their employment agreements. We have key person life insurance on Ms. Beranek and Mr. Hill. We also have employment agreements with other key management. Further, our future success also depends on our continuing ability to attract, develop, retain, and motivate highly qualified managerial, technical and sales personnel. Further, our future success also depends on our continuing ability to attract, retain, and motivate highly qualified managerial, technical and sales personnel. Our inability to attract, develop and retain qualified personnel could have a significant negative effect and thereby materially harm our business and financial condition. Our inability to retain or attract qualified personnel could have a significant negative effect and thereby materially harm our business and financial condition.

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Cyber-security incidents, including ransomware, data breaches or computer viruses, could disrupt our business operations, damage our reputation, result in increased expense and potentially lead to legal proceedings.

Cybersecurity threats continue to expand and evolve, making it difficult to detect and prevent such threats from impacting the Company. While we monitor our networks and continue to enhance our network security measures, cyber-attacks have increased in frequency and sophistication, and our efforts may not be adequate to prevent all cybersecurity incidents. While we monitor our networks and continue to enhance our network security measures, particularly as we transitioned to some remote work, cyber-attacks have increased in frequency and sophistication, and our efforts may not be adequate to prevent all cybersecurity incidents. Cybersecurity threats to the Company could lead to unauthorized access to the Company’s information technology systems, customers, suppliers, and third-party service providers. Cybersecurity incidents could potentially result in the disruption of our business operations and/or the theft, destruction, publication, or corruption of critical data and confidential or proprietary information. Cybersecurity events could also result in the Company being unable to access critical data in a timely manner, or at all. Cybersecurity incidents could also result from unauthorized parties gaining access to our systems or information through fraudulent or other means of deceiving our employees, suppliers, customers, or third-party service providers. Despite the Company’s implementation of preventative security measures and controls to prevent, detect, and mitigate these threats, our infrastructure may still be susceptible to disruptions from cybersecurity incidents including ransomware attacks, security breaches, computer viruses, outages, and systems failures, any of which could include the inability to access critical data, reputational damage, loss of our intellectual property, release of highly sensitive confidential information, litigation with third parties and/or governmental investigations and fines, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Despite the Company’s implementation of preventative security measures and controls to prevent, detect, and mitigate these threats, our infrastructure may still be susceptible to disruptions from cybersecurity incidents including ransomware attacks, security breaches, computer viruses, outages, systems failures, any of which could include the inability to access critical data, reputational damage, loss of our intellectual property, release of highly sensitive confidential information, litigation with third parties and/or governmental investigations and fines, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Additionally, as cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, we may be required to devote additional resources to continue to enhance our information security measures and controls to mitigate these new and emerging threats.

Our business is dependent on interdependent management information systems.

We rely on effective management information systems, including our enterprise resource planning (“ERP”) software, for critical business operations and to support strategic business decisions. We rely on our ERP system to support such important business operations as processing sales orders and invoicing, manufacturing, shipping, inventory control, purchasing and supply chain management, human resources, and financial reporting. Some of these systems are made up of multiple software and system providers. The interdependence of these solutions and systems is a risk, and the failure of any one system could have a material adverse effect on our overall information technology infrastructure. We are in the process of consolidating several of these solutions and systems into one integrated ERP system for our North American operations. Failure to successfully consolidate and integrate these solutions and systems could result in disruptions to our operations and adversely impact our business. Failure or abandonment of all or any part of the ERP system consolidation and integration project could result in a write-off of all or part of the costs that have been capitalized in connection with the project, which may negatively impact our financial results. We also rely on management information systems to produce information for business decision-making and planning. We also rely on management information systems to produce information for business decision-making and planning and to support e-commerce activities. If we are unable to maintain our management information systems, including our IT infrastructure, to support critical business operations and to produce information for business decision-making activities, we could experience a material adverse impact on our business or an inability to timely and accurately report our financial results.

Our IT systems may also be vulnerable to disruptions from human error, outdated applications, computer viruses, natural disasters, unauthorized access, cyber-attack, and other similar disruptions. Any system failure, accident or security breach could result in disruptions to our operations. To the extent that any disruptions, cyber-attack or other security breach results in a loss or damage to our data, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential information, it could harm our business. In addition, we may be required to incur significant costs to protect against damage caused by these disruptions or security breaches in the future.

Natural disasters, extreme weather conditions or other catastrophic events could negatively affect our business, financial condition, and operating results.

Natural disasters, extreme weather events and other catastrophic events such as flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, unusually heavy precipitation, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, explosions, acts of war, terrorism, civil unrest, or pandemics could increase the cost of doing business or otherwise harm our operations, our suppliers and our customers. Such events could reduce demand for our products or make it difficult or impossible for us to receive raw materials from suppliers and deliver products to our customers.

Pandemics and other health crises, including COVID-19, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and operating results.

Pandemics and other health crises, including COVID-19, and governmental, business, and societal responses to pandemics or other health crises, have had, and in the future may have, an adverse effect on our operations, work force, supply chains, distribution channels, and customers. Constraints and limits imposed on our operations due to pandemics or other health crises may slow or diminish our sales and marketing programs, product development activities and qualification activities with our customers. Restrictions on our manufacturing, support operations or workforce, or similar limitations for our suppliers, could limit our ability to meet customer demand. Restrictions on our manufacturing, support operations or workforce, or similar limitations for our suppliers, could limit our ability to meet customer demand and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Restrictions or disruptions of transportation, such as reduced availability of air transport, port closures and increased border controls or closures, resulting in higher costs and delays, could harm our profitability, make our products less competitive, or cause our customers to seek alternative suppliers. Furthermore, restrictions or disruptions of transportation, such as reduced availability of air transport, port closures and increased border controls or closures, resulting in higher costs and delays, which could harm our profitability, make our products less competitive, or cause our customers to seek alternative suppliers. Employee health, availability, productivity, and efficiency may be adversely impacted. The degree to which pandemics and other health crises impact our results will depend on numerous factors and future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including, but not limited to, the duration and spread of the outbreak, its severity, the actions to contain the pandemic and address its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. The degree to which COVID-19 impacts our results will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including, but not limited to, the duration and spread of the outbreak, its severity, the actions to contain the virus and address its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume.

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Risks Relating to Our Markets and Industry

To compete effectively, we must continually improve existing products and introduce new products that achieve market acceptance.

The telecommunications equipment industry is characterized by rapid technological changes, evolving industry standards, changing market conditions and frequent new product and service introductions and enhancements. The introduction of products using new technologies, or the adoption of new industry standards can make our existing products, or products under development, obsolete or unmarketable. The introduction of products using new technologies or the adoption of new industry standards can make our existing products, or products under development, obsolete or unmarketable. In order to remain competitive and increase sales, we will need to anticipate and adapt to these rapidly changing technologies, enhance our existing products and introduce new products to address the changing demands of our customers.

Many of our competitors have greater engineering and product development resources than we have. Although we expect to continue to invest resources in product development activities, our efforts to achieve and maintain profitability will require us to be selective and focused with our research and development expenditures. In addition, sales to certain broadband service providers may require third-party independent laboratory testing in order to obtain industry certifications to be able to sell to those customers. Further, our existing and development-stage products may become obsolete if our competitors introduce newer or more appealing technologies. If these technologies are patented or proprietary to our competitors, we may not be able to access these technologies.

If we fail to anticipate or respond in a cost-effective and timely manner to technological developments, changes in industry standards or customer requirements, or if we experience any significant delays in product development or introduction, our business, operating results, and financial condition could be affected adversely.

If the telecommunications market does not continue to expand, our business may not grow as fast as we expect, which could adversely impact our business, financial condition, and operating results.

Our future success as a provider of fiber management, fiber protection and fiber delivery products depends on the continued growth of demand for fiber broadband and, in particular, the continued expansion in the United States and in our other markets of information networks, particularly those directly or indirectly dependent upon a fiber optic infrastructure. As part of that growth, we anticipate that demand for voice, video, and other data services delivered over high-speed connections (both wired and wireless) will continue to increase. If this demand does not increase, the need for enhanced high-speed bandwidth using fiber connections may not increase. Currently, demand for high-speed broadband capabilities and access is increasing, but future growth may be limited by several factors, including, among others: (1) relative strength or weakness of the global economy or certain countries or regions, (2) an uncertain regulatory environment, (3) uncertainty regarding long-term sustainable business models as multiple industries, such as the cable, traditional telecommunications, wireless and satellite industries, offer competing content delivery solutions, (4) excess product inventory in the marketplace, (5) lack of available skilled labor to install product; and (6) delays in the permitting process for fiber optic network installations. Currently, demand for high-speed broadband capabilities and access is increasing rapidly due to the pandemic, but future growth may be limited by several factors, including, among others: (1) relative strength or weakness of the global economy or certain countries or regions, including the impact of the current global effects due to COVID-19, (2) an uncertain regulatory environment, and (3) uncertainty regarding long-term sustainable business models as multiple industries, such as the cable, traditional telecommunications, wireless and satellite industries, offer competing content delivery solutions. If the factors described above were to occur and cause the demand for fiber broadband capabilities or access to slow, stop or reverse, our business, financial condition and operating results would be negatively affected.

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Changes in U.S. government funding programs may cause our customers and prospective customers to delay, reduce, or accelerate purchases, leading to unpredictable and irregular purchase cycles.

The telecommunications and cable television industries are subject to significant and changing U.S. federal and state regulation, some of which subsidizes or encourages spending on initiatives that utilize our products.

For example, programs like the Connect America Fund (CAF), which provides a capital expenditure subsidy for the build-out of the country’s broadband network, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which will provide a capital expenditure subsidy for the support of high-speed broadband networks in rural America, and the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, among others, which wi