EXFO Inc.
EXFO INC. (Form: 20-F, Received: 11/28/2016 10:00:22)
 

 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 20-F

  REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g)
OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934; or

  ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2016; or

  TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period ________ to ________; or

  SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Date of event requiring this shell company report

Commission File No. 0-30895

EXFO INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Not Applicable
(Translation of Registrant's name into English)

Canada
(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or organization)

400 Godin Avenue, Quebec, Quebec, G1M 2K2, Canada
(Address of principal executive offices)

Benoit Ringuette, (418) 683-0211, [email protected] , (418) 683-9839, 400 Godin Avenue, Quebec, Quebec, G1M 2K2, Canada
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Subordinate Voting Shares without par value
NASDAQ
Subordinate Voting Shares without par value
TSX

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None
 
 

 
 
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

None

As of August 31, 2016, the registrant had 21,917,942 Subordinate Voting Shares outstanding and 31,643,000 Multiple Voting Shares outstanding.

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes         No

If this report is an annual report or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15 (d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Yes         No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.

Yes         No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).

Yes         No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of "accelerated filer and large accelerated filer" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

Large accelerated filer     
Accelerated filer     
Non-accelerated filer     

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

U.S. GAAP     
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the     
International Accounting Standards Board
Other     

If "Other" has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17         Item 18

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b‑2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes         No
 
 

 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
PART I.
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
A. Selected Financial Data
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
Item 4. Information on the Company
A. History and Development of the Company
B. Business Overview
C. Organizational Structure
D. Property, Plants and Equipment
Item 4A.                  Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
A. Directors and Senior Management
B. Compensation
C. Board Practices
D. Employees
E. Share Ownership
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
A. Major Shareholders
B. Related Party Transactions
C. Interests of Experts and Counsel
Item 8. Financial Information
A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information
B. Significant Changes
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
A. Offer and Listing Details
C. Markets
 
 

 
 
Item 10. Additional Information
A. Share Capital
B. Memorandum and Articles of Association
C. Material Contracts
D. Exchange Controls
E. Taxation
F. Dividends and Paying Agents
G. Statement by Experts
H. Documents on Display
I. Subsidiary Information
Item 11. Qualitative and Quantitative Disclosures about Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities
PART II.
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16. [Reserved]
 
 
Item 16C.
 
 
 
Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant
 
 
Item 16H.
 
PART III .
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
 

 
 
DISCLOSURE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

This Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and we intend that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. Forward-looking statements are statements other than historical information or statements of current condition. Words such as may, expect, believe, plan, anticipate, intend, could, estimate, continue, or similar expressions or the negative of such expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, projections or other characterizations of future events and circumstances are considered forward-looking statements. They are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements due to various factors including, but not limited to, macroeconomic uncertainty as well as capital spending and network deployment levels in the telecommunications industry (including our ability to quickly adapt cost structures with anticipated levels of business and our ability to manage inventory levels with market demand); future economic, competitive, financial and market conditions; consolidation in the global telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics solutions markets and increased competition among vendors; capacity to adapt our future product offering to future technological changes; limited visibility with regards to the timing and nature of customer orders; delay in revenue recognition due to longer sales cycles for complex systems involving customers' acceptance; fluctuating exchange rates; concentration of sales; timely release and market acceptance of our new products and other upcoming products; our ability to successfully expand international operations; our ability to successfully integrate businesses that we acquire; and the retention of key technical and management personnel. Assumptions relating to the foregoing involve judgments and risks, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict and many of which are beyond our control. Other risk factors that may affect our future performance and operations are detailed in this Annual Report. We believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable based on information currently available to us, but we cannot assure that the expectations will prove to have been correct. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These statements speak only as of the date of this document. Unless required by law or applicable regulations, we undertake no obligation to revise or update any of them to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date of this document

All dollar amounts in this Annual Report are expressed in US dollars, except as otherwise noted.


PART I.  


Item 1.
Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

Not Applicable.


Item 2.
Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

Not Applicable.


Item 3.
Key Information

A.
Selected Financial Data

The consolidated statements of earnings data for the years ended August 31, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the consolidated balance sheets data as at August 31, 2015 and 2016 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements that are included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Consolidated statement of earnings data for the years ended August 31, 2012 and 2013 and consolidated balance sheets data as at August 31, 2012, 2013 and 2014 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report. Consolidated financial statements for the years ended August, 31, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, from which the selected financial data has been derived, have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
 
 
 
 
The selected financial data should be read in conjunction with our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report, and "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects" of this Annual Report.

   
Years ended August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
   
2013
   
2012
 
   
(in thousands of US dollars, except share
and per share data)
 
Consolidated Statements of Earnings Data:
                             
Sales
 
$
232,583
   
$
222,089
   
$
230,806
   
$
242,150
   
$
249,966
 
                                         
Cost of sales (1)
   
87,066
     
85,039
     
86,836
     
92,469
     
91,792
 
Selling and administrative
   
82,169
     
82,200
     
86,429
     
88,756
     
94,139
 
Net research and development
   
42,687
     
44,003
     
44,846
     
45,444
     
49,854
 
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment
   
3,814
     
4,835
     
4,995
     
6,028
     
6,169
 
Amortization of intangible assets
   
1,172
     
2,883
     
4,398
     
6,643
     
7,819
 
Changes in fair value of cash contingent consideration
 
   
   
   
     
(311
)
Interest and other income
   
(828
)
   
(155
)
   
(326
)
   
(113
)
   
(131
)
Foreign exchange (gain) loss
   
(161
)
   
(7,212
)
   
(1,634
)
   
(4,082
)
   
657
 
Earnings (loss) before income taxes
   
16,664
     
10,496
     
5,262
     
7,005
     
(22
)
Income taxes
   
7,764
     
5,198
     
4,479
     
5,664
     
3,571
 
Net earnings (loss) for the year
 
$
8,900
   
$
5,298
   
$
783
   
$
1,341
   
$
(3,593
)
Basic net earnings (loss) per share
 
$
0.17
   
$
0.09
   
$
0.01
   
$
0.02
   
$
(0.06
)
Diluted net earnings (loss) per share
 
$
0.16
   
$
0.09
   
$
0.01
   
$
0.02
   
$
(0.06
)
Basic weighted average number of shares used in per share calculations (000's)
   
53,863
     
56,804
     
60,329
     
60,323
     
60,453
 
Diluted weighted average number of shares used in per share calculations (000's)
   
54,669
     
57,457
     
61,015
     
61,110
     
60,453
 
Other Consolidated Statements of Earnings Data:
                                       
Gross research and development
 
$
47,875
   
$
50,148
   
$
52,423
   
$
54,334
   
$
59,282
 
Net research and development
 
$
42,687
   
$
44,003
   
$
44,846
   
$
45,444
   
$
49,854
 
 

 
   
As at August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
   
2013
   
2012
 
   
(in thousands of US dollars)
 
Consolidated Balance Sheets Data:
                             
Cash
 
$
43,208
   
$
25,864
   
$
54,121
   
$
45,386
   
$
58,868
 
Short-term investments
   
4,087
     
1,487
     
5,726
     
4,868
     
8,236
 
Total assets
   
239,317
     
219,002
     
278,031
     
281,538
     
306,683
 
Long-term debt (excluding current portion)
 
   
   
   
     
282
 
Share capital
   
85,516
     
86,045
     
111,491
     
109,837
     
110,965
 
Shareholders' equity
 
$
182,925
   
$
170,751
   
$
231,370
   
$
236,452
   
$
253,281
 

(1)
The cost of sales is exclusive of depreciation and amortization, shown separately.


B.
Capitalization and Indebtedness

Not Applicable.


C.
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

Not Applicable.
 
 
 
 
D.
Risk Factors
 
Our business may be adversely affected by unfavorable general economic and market conditions.
 
Our business is subject to the effects of general global and regional economic conditions, particularly conditions in the telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics markets. In the past, our operating results were adversely affected by unfavorable economic conditions and reduced or delayed capital spending in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) as well as Asia-Pacific regions.

Global and regional economic conditions continue to be volatile and uncertain as reflected by Britain's decision to exit the European Union. If global and/or regional economic and market conditions, or economic conditions in key markets, remain uncertain or deteriorate, we may experience material adverse impacts on our business. Unfavorable and/or uncertain economic and market conditions may result in lower capital spending or delayed spending by our customers on network test, service assurance and analytics solutions and, therefore, demand for our products could decline and adversely impact our revenue. Adverse economic and/or market conditions could also result in, among other things:

·
difficulty in forecasting, budgeting and planning due to the uncertain spending plans of current or prospective customers;
·
increased competition for fewer network projects and sales opportunities;
·
increased pricing pressure that may adversely affect revenue and gross margin;
·
higher cost structure compared to revenue level;
·
increased risk of charges related to excess and obsolete inventories, write-offs of deferred tax assets and tax credits, and impairment of intangible assets and goodwill;
·
customers' financial difficulties and increased difficulty in collecting accounts receivable; and
·
additional restructuring costs.

These effects, as well as any other currently unforeseeable effects, are difficult to forecast and mitigate. As a result, we may experience material adverse impacts on our business, operating results, financial condition, and stock price.

Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the Canadian dollar, US dollar, euro, British Pound and other currencies may adversely affect our revenues and operating results.

Our functional currency is the Canadian dollar, but we report our results in US dollars. As a result, any increase in the value of the US dollar versus the Canadian dollar, euro and British Pound could adversely affect our revenues because we generate a certain percentage of our sales in Canadian dollars, euros and British Pounds but we report them in US dollars in our financial statements. For example, the increase in the value of the US dollar relative to the Canadian dollar, euro and British Pound negatively affected our revenues in fiscal 2016.

We are also exposed to a currency risk in terms of operating results for any fluctuation in the exchange rate between the Canadian dollar, on one hand, and the US dollar, euro, British Pound and other currencies on the other. In fact, the majority of our revenues are denominated in US dollars, euros and British Pounds, but a significant portion of our cost of sales, operating expenses and capital expenditures are denominated in Canadian dollars, US dollars and other currencies such as euros, British Pounds, Rupees (India) and Renminbis (China). Even though we partially manage our exposure to currency risks with forward exchange contracts (by selling US dollars for Canadian dollars and US dollars for Indian Rupees) and even though certain operating expenses denominated in currencies other than the Canadian dollar, namely the US dollar, euro and British Pound, we remain exposed to fluctuations in the exchange rates between the Canadian dollar, on one hand, and the US dollar, euro and other currencies on the other. Any increase in the value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar and other currencies, or any unfavorable variance between the value of the Canadian dollar and the contractual rates of our US-Canadian dollar forward exchange contracts, could result in increased expenses reported in US dollars or foreign exchange losses and have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
 
 

 
Foreign exchange rate fluctuations also flow through statement of earnings line items, since a significant portion of our cost of sales and operating expenses are denominated in Canadian dollars, euros, British Pounds and Indian rupees, and we report our results in US dollars. Any decrease in the value of the US dollar relative to the Canadian dollar and other currencies, could have a material adverse effect on our operating results and provide competitive advantages to our competitors.

We must continue to overcome significant competition in our targeted industries in order to keep or gain market share and achieve our growth strategy.

The market for our business activity ─ namely designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling test, service assurance and analytics solutions for communications service providers, data center, cloud and web-scale operators as well as network equipment manufacturers ─ is rapidly evolving and is marked by intense competition, consolidation and technical innovation. We anticipate the pace of change to remain high or even accelerate for our targeted industries in the future. We might see the emergence of new competitors or the consolidation of current competitors, as the markets for telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics solutions evolve in response to technical innovations and economic conditions.

Main competitors in the test equipment environment include global suppliers like Anritsu Corporation, Danaher Corporation (namely a subsidiary of Danaher: Fluke Networks), and Viavi Solutions (formerly a division of JDS Uniphase Corporation), as well as other players such as AFL Noyse, IXIA, Kingfisher International, ShinewayTech, Spirent Communications plc, VeEX Inc., and Yokogawa Electric Corporation. On the service assurance and analytics side, we mainly compete against Accedian Networks, Anritsu Corporation, Empirix, IXIA, NetScout Systems, Inc. (including the 2015 merger of Netscout Systems and Tektronix Communications), Radcom, Spirent Communications plc and Viavi Solutions (formerly a division of JDS Uniphase Corporation).

Some competitors have greater financial, technical and/or marketing resources than us. Consequently, they may be able to devote greater resources to the development, marketing, manufacturing, selling and support of their products in order to capture market share.

Competitors also may be better positioned than us to capture market share or to acquire companies and new technologies that would potentially displace our products or render them obsolete. We cannot predict whether current or future competitors will develop or market products that offer higher performance, more features, or are more cost-effective than our current or future products. To remain competitive and achieve our growth strategy, we must increase our sales and develop cost-effective products and product enhancements that offer higher performance and more functionality, in current and new sectors, so that we can increase our market share. Our failure to do so may harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We have faced pricing pressure on our existing products and expect this pressure will continue. If we do not continue to lower our manufacturing costs or introduce new products with higher margins, our gross margin may decrease and our operating results may be adversely affected.

Increased competition in the telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics markets, along with consolidation among competitors and customers, will likely result in ongoing downward pressure on average selling prices. For example, some of our customers have been subject to consolidation and could obtain products from a vendor other than us, or demand more favorable terms and conditions from us, which would harm our sales and operating results. In addition, some customers may merge with or acquire our competitors and discontinue their relationships with us. This, in turn, may negatively affect our gross margin. Pricing pressure can result from a number of factors such as, among other things:

·
increased competition for business;
·
reduced demand;
·
limited number of potential customers;
·
competition from companies with lower production costs, including companies operating in lower-cost environments;
 
 
 
 
·
introduction of new products by competitors;
·
greater economies of scale for higher-volume competitors;
·
large customers, who buy in high volumes, can exert substantial negotiating leverage over us; and
·
resale of used equipment.

As pricing pressure will likely continue to affect our existing products, we may have to increase the number of units sold to maintain our existing sales levels. If we are unable to increase our sales levels, lower our manufacturing costs, or introduce new products with higher margins, our gross margin may decline and our operating results may suffer.

We may not be able to make the acquisitions or strategic alliances needed for the development of our business and, if we do make such acquisitions or strategic alliances, we may not be able to successfully integrate the acquired businesses, products, technologies and personnel or realize the expected benefits of strategic alliances.

We intend to carefully seek businesses through acquisitions and alliances, whose products and technologies are complementary to ours, or which will enable us to expand our markets and/or our market share. However, we may not be able to make any such beneficial transactions or a sufficient number of such transactions to meet our strategic goals. Our competitors may be in a better position to acquire the same businesses, products and technologies that we wish to acquire. Our fluctuating stock price, cash position, or ability to raise capital or issue debt on favorable terms at the time of an acquisition may also affect our ability to complete such an acquisition. Acquisitions or alliances could also distract management's attention from our day-to-day business and operations. In the event of any future acquisition or strategic alliance, we could, among other things:

·
issue shares that would dilute individual shareholder percentage ownership;
·
incur debt;
·
assume liabilities and commitments;
·
incur significant expenses related to acquisition costs;
·
incur significant expenses related to amortization of additional intangible assets;
·
incur significant impairment losses of goodwill and intangible assets related to such acquisitions; and
·
incur losses from operations.

In the event we complete acquisitions or sign strategic alliances, we may be unable to successfully integrate acquired companies or realize the expected benefits of alliances. Integration risks include, among other things:

·
the risk of not realizing the expected benefits or synergies from such acquisitions or alliances;
·
problems integrating the acquired operations, technologies, products and personnel;
·
risks associated with the transfer of acquired know-how and technology;
·
unanticipated costs or liabilities;
·
diversion of management's attention from our core business;
·
adverse effects on existing business relationships with suppliers and customers;
·
risks associated with entering markets in which we have no or limited prior experience; and
·
potential loss of key employees, particularly those of acquired organizations.

Ultimately, the failure to make acquisitions or strategic alliances, or the inability to effectively integrate acquisitions and realize the expected benefits of alliances, could disrupt our overall business and harm our financial condition.
 
 
 
 
If we fail to adapt appropriately to the challenges associated with operating internationally, the expected growth of our business may be impeded and our operating results may be affected.

For the fiscal year ended August 31, 2016, customers outside of the United States and Canada accounted for 51.2% of our sales. Our international sales will be limited if we cannot establish and maintain relationships with international distributors, set up additional foreign operations, expand international sales channel management, hire additional personnel, develop relationships with international communications service providers, web-scale operators and network equipment manufacturers, and operate adequate after-sales support internationally.

Even if we are able to successfully operate and expand our international operations, we may not be able to maintain or increase international market demand for our products. Our international operations are subject to a number of risks, including, among other things:

·
challenges in staffing and managing foreign operations due to the limited number of qualified candidates, employment laws and business practices in foreign countries, any of which could increase the cost and reduce the efficiency of operating in foreign countries;
·
fluctuations among currencies;
·
our inability to comply with import/export, environmental and other trade compliance regulations of the countries in which we do business, together with unexpected changes in such regulations;
·
measures to ensure that we design, implement and maintain adequate and effective controls over our financial processes and reporting in the future;
·
failure to adhere to laws, regulations and contractual obligations relating to customer contracts in various countries;
·
difficulties in establishing and enforcing our intellectual property rights;
·
inability to maintain a competitive list of distributors for indirect sales;
·
tariffs and other trade barriers;
·
economic instability in foreign markets, including Britain's decision to exit the European Union and the impact this choice may have on doing business in Europe;
·
wars, acts of terrorism and political unrest;
·
language and cultural barriers;
·
lack of integration of foreign operations;
·
potential foreign and domestic tax consequences;
·
technology standards that differ from those on which our products are based, which could require expensive redesign and retention of personnel familiar with those standards;
·
longer accounts receivable payment cycles and possible difficulties in collecting payments which may increase our operating costs and hurt our financial performance; and
·
failure to meet certification requirements.

Any of these factors could harm our international operations and negatively affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The recurrence of weakness in these economies or of weakness in other foreign economies could also have a significant negative effect on our future operating results.

Our reliance on software development resources in India and manufacturing personnel in China may expose us to unanticipated costs or liabilities.

In addition to research and development centers in Quebec City, Canada, Montreal, Canada, Concord, Canada, Boston, United States, and Oulu, Finland, we maintain a software development center in Pune, India. We also manufacture products at our wholly-owned production facility in Shenzhen, China.
 
 
 
 
Over the years, we have significantly increased our software development and manufacturing activities in India and China, respectively. There is no assurance that our reliance on software development resources in India and manufacturing personnel in China will enable us to maintain our cost structure at current levels, achieve additional cost savings, or generate greater resource efficiency. Furthermore, our software development and manufacturing efforts abroad involve significant risks in addition to the ones disclosed in other risk factors:

·
difficulty in hiring and retaining appropriate engineering and manufacturing resources due to intense competition for such resources and resulting wage inflation;
·
exposure to misappropriation of intellectual property and proprietary information;
·
heightened exposure to changes in the economic, regulatory, security, and political conditions of these countries;
·
fluctuations in currency exchange rates;
·
changes in tax laws and regulations in India and China, including transfer pricing policies;
·
cash management and repatriation of profit; and
·
high inflation rates which could increase our operating costs.

If we are unable to adapt to current and future changes in technology or if we are unable to introduce new and enhanced products on a timely basis, our products may become obsolete, which could prevent us from achieving our growth strategy and adversely affect our operating results.

The industries that we serve are characterized by rapidly evolving technology and industry standards that result in frequent new product introductions. For example, we are transforming ourselves from a supplier of dedicated test instruments into a supplier of end-to-end service assurance and analytics solutions to meet the emerging needs of communications service providers, who are increasingly shifting their spending towards virtualized networks. Any failure by us to anticipate or respond to new technological developments, customer requirements or evolving standards could cause us to incur significant impairment losses of goodwill and/or losses from operations. Consequently, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. The development of proprietary technology entails significant technical and business risks and requires substantial expenditures and lead times. The success of our new product introductions will depend on several factors, including, among other things, our ability to:

·
properly identify and anticipate customer needs;
·
innovate and develop new products on a timely basis;
·
gain timely market acceptance for new products;
·
manufacture and deliver our new products on time, in sufficient volume and with adequate quality;
·
price our products competitively;
·
continue investing in our research and development programs;
·
anticipate competitors' announcements of new products; and
·
successfully transform the company into an end-to-end service assurance and analytics supplier.

Failure to do the above could be exploited by our competitors. If we lose market share as a result of lapses in our product development, our business would suffer.

Our products may have unforeseen defects, offer substandard technical specifications or fail to deliver the key features that customers want, all of which could harm our reputation, impede market acceptance of our products and negatively impact our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Given their complexity, our products may contain undetected software or hardware defects, inaccurate calibration or compatibility problems, or regulatory compliance issues, particularly when they are first introduced or when new versions are released. Our new products could also be substandard in terms of technical specifications or fail to deliver the key features that customers want. There can be no assurance that, despite our testing and diligent efforts, defects will not be found in new products after they have been fully deployed and operated under peak stress conditions, or that customized products will meet customer sign-off acceptance requirements. If we are unable to fix defects or other problems or meet custom requirements, we could experience, among other things:
 
 
 
 
·
costly repairs;
·
additional development and support costs;
·
product returns or recalls;
·
sales cancellations;
·
damage to our brand reputation;
·
loss of customers, failure to attract new customers or achieve market acceptance;
·
diversion of development and engineering resources;
·
legal actions by our customers, including claims for consequential damages and loss of profits; and
·
legal actions by governmental entities, including actions to impose product recalls and/or forfeitures.

The occurrence of any one or more of the foregoing could seriously harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Our intellectual property and proprietary technology are important to the continued success of our business. Our failure to protect this proprietary technology may significantly impair our competitive position.

Our success and ability to compete depend to a significant extent on our proprietary technology, with which we attempt to prevent others from using the innovations that are central to our existing and future products. As of August 31, 2016, our records indicated that we held the following portfolio of utility patents: 60 active granted US patents, 47 granted or validated patents in countries of the European Union, 7 patents in Canada, 12 patents in China, and 5 patents in other jurisdictions. In addition, we have 36 utility patent applications (including provisional applications) pending in the US, 22 patent applications at the European Patent Office or directly entered at the national patent office of an EU member country, 2 applications in Canada, 14 applications in China and 8 applications in other countries. The expiration dates of our active issued patents range from 2016 to 2034, with no significant active patent expiring in the near future.

Our records also indicated that, as of August 31, 2016, we held 17 active granted design patents, as well as 10 pending design patent applications, in the United States and several other international jurisdictions.

We also rely on a combination of copyright and trademark laws, trade secrets, confidentiality procedures, contractual provisions and license agreements to protect our proprietary technology.

We may have to engage in litigation, formal opposition proceedings, or the like in order to defend our patents and other intellectual property rights or to determine the validity or scope of the proprietary rights of others. Such litigation and opposition proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive, regardless of whether we win or lose.

The process of seeking patent protection can be long and expensive and we cannot be certain that any currently pending or future application will actually result in issued patents, or that, even if a patent is issued in a particular jurisdiction, it will not be subsequently invalidated at the patent office as a result of a third-party-initiated opposition procedure. Moreover, we cannot be certain that an issued patent will be of sufficient scope or strength to provide meaningful protection or commercial advantage to us.

We also rely on trade secret protection for our technology, in part through confidentiality agreements with our employees, consultants, distributors and third parties. However, these agreements may be breached or otherwise rendered ineffective and we may not have adequate remedies for any breach or shortfall of these agreements. In any case, others may come to know about our trade secrets through a variety of methods. In addition, the laws of some jurisdictions in which we sell our products may not protect our intellectual property rights to the same extent as do the laws of Canada and the United States.
 
 
 
 
Our intellectual property rights, particularly our existing or future patents, may be invalidated, circumvented, challenged or required to be licensed to others.

Our intellectual property rights are important assets for us. Various events outside of our control pose a threat to our intellectual property rights, as well as to our products, services and technologies. For example, effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every country in which our products and services are distributed. Also, the efforts we have undertaken to protect our proprietary rights may not be sufficient or effective.

Furthermore, others may develop technologies that are similar or superior to our technology, duplicate or reverse engineer our technology, or design around the patents owned or licensed by us. We cannot be sure that the steps that we take to protect our technology will prevent misappropriation or infringement. If we fail or are unable to protect our technology, thereby enabling others to copy or use it, we will be less able to differentiate our products and our sales may decline.

Others may claim that our products infringe upon their intellectual property rights, or they may infringe our intellectual property, and we may expend significant resources enforcing or defending our rights or suffer competitive injury.

Litigation regarding intellectual property rights is common in the technology industry and third-party infringement claims involving technologies may increase. If an infringement claim is filed against us, we may be prevented from using some of our technologies and may incur significant costs to resolve the claim. Conversely, we may be required to spend significant resources to monitor and enforce our intellectual property rights.

Non-practicing entities (NPEs – also informally known as "patent trolls") are increasingly asserting patent claims against companies working in the Information and Communications Technology domain. Because their entire business model is predicated upon undertaking legal action to extract licensing and/or royalty fees from legitimate "practicing" entities, such as EXFO, they often initiate such litigation even if the purported relevance of their patent claims may be questionable. Consequently, we may be obliged to reach a negotiated monetary settlement or embark upon costly legal proceedings if an NPE asserts such claims against us.

More generally, we could incur substantial costs in defending ourselves and our customers against infringement claims asserted by any third party (including notably competitors), or in bringing infringement claims against others. Litigation could also adversely affect sales of the challenged product or technology and divert the efforts of our management and technical personnel. In the event of an infringement claim, we may be required to obtain one or more licenses from third parties. We cannot assure you that we, or our customers, could obtain necessary licenses from third parties at a reasonable cost or at all. If we fail to obtain a license where one is required, we could incur substantial liabilities and be forced to suspend the marketing of the challenged products.

Our use of open source software in our products could adversely affect our ability to sell our products and subject us to possible litigation.

Some of our products contain software licensed to us by third-party authors under "open source" licenses. If our proprietary commercial software were to incorporate open source software, we might, under the terms of certain open source licenses, be required to license that combined software as well as release the source code of the combined software to third parties. This could allow third parties to use our proprietary software at no charge, could enable our competitors to create similar products with lower development effort and time, and ultimately could result in a loss of product sales and lower revenues for us.
 
 
 
 
We could be subject to suits by parties claiming infringement of intellectual property rights in what we believe to be licensed open source software. Moreover, we cannot assure you that our internal processes for controlling our use of open source software in our products will be effective. If we are held to have breached the terms of an open source software license, we could be required to seek licenses from third parties to continue offering our products, to re-engineer our products, to discontinue the sale of our products if re-engineering could not be accomplished in a timely manner, to allow third parties to use our products at no charge under the terms of that open source software license, or to make generally available, in source code form, our proprietary software, any of which could adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.

Our quarterly revenues and operating results are subject to significant fluctuations and you should not rely on them as an indication of our future performance.

Our sales and operating results have fluctuated from quarter to quarter in the past and significant fluctuations may occur in the future. Given that orders for our service assurance and analytics solutions vary in size and complexity and in certain instances require customer acceptance before revenue recognition occurs, our sales may fluctuate significantly on a quarterly basis. As well, many of our deals involve lengthy sales cycles, contract negotiations as well as extensive product testing, installation, laboratory or network certification, including network-specific or region-specific processes. In addition, our sales and operating results generally depend on the volume and timing of the orders we receive from customers as well as our ability to fulfill received orders.

On the other hand, our cost of sales and operating expenses, which include manufacturing overhead costs, selling and administrative, research and development, as well as depreciation and amortization expenses, are relatively fixed in the short term. If we sell fewer products than anticipated, if there is a delay in the launch of new products, or if prices for our products decline, we may not be able to quickly reduce our cost of sales and operating expenses in response to lower sales. Factors that could affect the amount and timing of our sales and cause quarterly fluctuations in our revenue and operating results include, among other things:

·
length of the sales cycle for certain products, especially those that are higher priced and more complex;
·
sales cycle prolonged by lengthy customer acceptance;
·
timing of product launches and market acceptance of our new products as well as those of our competitors;
·
our ability to sustain product volumes and high levels of quality across all product lines;
·
timing of shipments for large orders;
·
effect of seasonality on sales and bookings; and
·
losing key accounts and not successfully developing new ones.

Our sales and operating results could also be volatile due to a number of factors, some of which we have little or no control over, including, without limitation:

·
fluctuating demand for test, service assurance and analytics solutions;
·
changes in the capital spending and operating budgets of our customers, which may cause seasonal or other fluctuations in product mix, volume, timing and number of orders we receive from our customers;
·
order cancellations or rescheduled delivery dates;
·
pricing changes by our competitors or suppliers;
·
insufficient or excess inventory;
·
variations in the mix between higher and lower-margin products and services;
·
customer bankruptcies and difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;
·
restructuring and impairment charges;
·
foreign exchange rate fluctuations;
·
general economic conditions, including a slowdown or recession;
·
distorted effective tax rate due to non-taxable/deductible elements and unrecognized deferred tax assets; and
·
effects of recent acquisitions of businesses.
 
 
 
 
We may in the future choose to reduce prices, increase spending, or modify our product portfolio in response to actions by competitors or in an effort to pursue new market opportunities. These actions may also adversely affect our business and operating results and may cause our quarterly results to be lower than the results of previous quarters. Due to these factors, you should not rely on quarter-to-quarter comparisons of our results of operations as an indication of our future performance.

We depend on short-term arrangements with a single supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some key components and materials in our products, which makes us susceptible to supply shortages or price fluctuations that could adversely affect our operating results.

We depend on a single supplier or a limited number of suppliers for several parts used to manufacture our products for which alternative sources may not be readily available. In addition, all of our orders are placed through individual purchase orders and, therefore, our suppliers may stop supplying parts to us at any time. Our reliance on a single source or limited number of suppliers could result in increased costs, delivery problems, reduced control over product pricing and quality and could require us to stockpile critical parts. Financial difficulties of suppliers could also affect our ability to obtain necessary parts in a timely manner. Any interruption or delay in the supply of any of these parts could significantly harm our ability to meet scheduled product deliveries to our customers and cause us to lose sales. Furthermore, the process of qualifying a new manufacturer for complex parts designed to our specifications, such as our optical, electronic and mechanical parts, is lengthy and would consume a substantial amount of time of our technical personnel and management. If we were required to change a supplier in a short period of time, our business would be disrupted. In addition, we may be unsuccessful in identifying a new supplier capable of meeting and willing to meet our needs on acceptable terms. Consolidation involving suppliers could further reduce the number of alternatives available to us and increase the cost of parts, which would make our products less competitive and result in lower margins.

If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately report our financial information or prevent fraud, which could harm our operating results and cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information.

Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable and accurate financial information and effectively prevent fraud. We devote significant resources and time to comply with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. In addition, Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requires that we assess and that our independent auditor attests to the design and operating effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. Our compliance with the annual internal control report requirement for each fiscal year will depend on the effectiveness of our financial reporting as well as data systems and controls throughout our company and operating subsidiaries. Furthermore, we cannot be certain that these measures will ensure that we design, implement and maintain adequate controls over our financial processes and reporting in the future, especially in the event of acquiring companies that are not in compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. As well, the complexity of our systems and controls may become more difficult to manage as we transform our operating structure and as we potentially reduce infrastructure costs. To effectively manage these changes, we will need to continue to adapt and/or improve our operational, financial and management controls and our reporting systems and procedures. Any failure to implement newly required or improved controls or adapt controls, difficulties encountered in their operation, or difficulties in the assimilation of acquired businesses into our control system, could harm our operating results or prevent us from meeting our financial reporting obligations or result in a restatement of previously disclosed financial statements. Inferior internal controls could also cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information, which could have a negative effect on our share price and our access to capital.

 
 
 
We require employees and managers who are knowledgeable about the specialized nature of our business. If we are unable to attract and retain sufficient numbers of highly skilled technical, sales, marketing, senior management and other personnel, our operations and financial results will suffer.

Due to the specialized nature of our business, we are highly dependent on the continued service of and on our ability to attract qualified engineering, sales, marketing, senior management and other personnel. If we are unable to attract and retain such qualified personnel, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

We must also provide significant training for our employees due to the highly specialized nature of the telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics markets. The knowledge base of our current personnel may be inadequate or we may fail to assimilate and train new employees. Highly skilled employees with the education and training that we require – especially employees with significant experience and expertise in international business development, product management, sales, engineering and operations – may be difficult to find. Once trained, our employees may leave the organization or be hired by our competitors and reveal highly sensitive information to them.

We may become involved in various lawsuits and legal proceedings that may substantially increase our costs and harm our business.

We may from time to time become involved in various lawsuits and legal proceedings. Litigation is subject to inherent uncertainties and an adverse result may arise from time to time that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition. Any litigation to which we are subject could require significant involvement of our senior management and may divert management attention from our business and operations.

In addition, the failure of our products to perform to customer expectations could give rise to product liability and warranty claims. We carry insurance for product liability and take accounting reserves for warranty claims that we consider adequate in view of industry practice, but this may not be sufficient to cover all potential liability.

We may also face other types of claims by third parties in relation to the conduct of our business. A successful claim against us for an amount exceeding our policy limits would force us to use our own resources to pay the claim, which could result in a reduction of our cash available for other uses, increase our expenses and have a negative effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If we suffer loss to our factories or facilities, our operations could be seriously harmed.

Our factories and facilities may be subject to catastrophic losses due to fire, vandalism, terrorism or other natural or man-made disasters. We do not have redundant multiple-site capacity and if any of our facilities or factories were to experience a catastrophic loss, it would disrupt our operations, delay production, shipments and revenue and result in large expenses, thereby harming our results of operations.

Unexpected declines in our research and development and other tax credits and grants may have an adverse effect on our business.

Our historical operating results reflect substantial benefits from programs sponsored by Canadian federal and provincial governments for the support of research and development activities conducted in Canada. In addition, EXFO Oy is entitled to government grants from a Finnish technology organization for research and development activities conducted in Finland. Altogether, research and development tax credits and grants represented 10.8% of our gross research and development expenses for the year ended August 31, 2016.
 
 
 
 
Our research and development projects entitled to government grants from the Finnish technology organization must be pre-approved and the grant is subject to certain conditions. In the event a specific condition is not met, we may be required to reimburse a portion or the entire amount of the grant received, which would have material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.

If changes in laws or government policies terminate or adversely modify the Canadian federal and provincial government programs or the Finnish government program, under which we receive the majority of our research and development and other tax credits and grants, or if we unexpectedly become unable to participate in or take advantage of these programs, then our net research and development and other expenses will materially increase or we may decrease our research and development activities.

In addition, to the extent that we may increase our research and development activities in India, or potentially acquire new companies, our increased R&D activities may not be eligible for these programs. If we were required to decrease our research and development activities, or were unable to benefit from other tax credits and grants, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Changes in our effective tax rate or adverse outcomes resulting from tax audits, including international inter-company transfer price audits, may have an adverse impact on our results.

As an international corporation, we are subject to taxation in the various jurisdictions in which we conduct business. Significant judgment is required in the determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and this determination requires the interpretation and application of complex tax laws and regulations. Our global effective tax rate may be adversely impacted by the level of earnings, by changes in the mix of earnings/losses among companies and countries which may have different statutory tax rates, by the write off of our deferred tax assets, by the intercompany transfer price used and by changes in tax rules and regulations. We are also subject to income tax and transfer pricing audits in the respective jurisdictions in which we conduct business. We regularly assess the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from these audits and review the adequacy of our provisions for income taxes. There can be no assurance that the outcomes of these tax audits will not result in liabilities in excess of our provisions, which can have an adverse impact on our results and financial condition.

Our current principal stockholder has effective control over our company.

As of November 1, 2016, Germain Lamonde, our Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, held 94.55% of the voting rights in our stock. By virtue of his stock ownership, Mr. Lamonde has effective control over all matters submitted to our stockholders, including the election of our Directors, and exercises significant control over our policies and affairs. Such concentration of voting power could have the effect of delaying, deterring or preventing a change in control or other business combinations that might otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders and may harm the market price of our shares.

If we complete major acquisitions of complementary businesses, products or technologies, we may need additional capital, and may not be able to raise additional capital on favorable terms or at all, which could limit our ability to grow and could increase our costs.

Our future liquidity and capital requirements are difficult to predict because they depend on numerous factors, including the success of our existing and new product offerings as well as competing technology and market developments. As a result, we may not be able to generate sufficient cash flows from our operations to meet additional working capital requirements, support additional capital expenditures or take advantage of acquisition opportunities. As at August 31, 2016, we held $47.3 million in cash and short-term investments.
 
 
 
 
We may need to raise additional capital in the future. Our ability to obtain additional financing will be subject to a number of factors, including market conditions, reduced access to credit facilities and our operating performance. These factors may render the timing, amount, terms and conditions of additional financing unattractive for us. If we raise additional funds by selling equity securities, the relative ownership of our existing investors could be diluted or new investors could obtain terms more favorable than previous investors. If we raise funds through debt financing, we could incur significant borrowing costs and be required to meet restrictive debt covenants. If we are unable to raise additional funds when needed or at terms satisfactory to us, our ability to operate and grow our business could be impeded.

Our business and operations would suffer in the event of a failure of our information technology infrastructure.

We rely upon the capacity, efficiency and security of our information technology hardware and software infrastructures and those from third parties, as well as our ability to expand and update these infrastructures, in response to our evolving needs. Any failure to manage, expand, update or secure our information technology infrastructures or any failure in the operation of these infrastructures could harm our business.

Our information systems and third-party systems may be vulnerable to damages from computer viruses, natural disasters, unauthorized access, theft of information and other similar disruptions. Any system failure, accident or security breach could result in disruptions to our operations. To the extent that any disruption, security breach or cyber-attack results in a loss or damage to our data, or inappropriate disclosure of confidential information, it could harm our business. In addition, these events may force us to devote more money and resources in order to protect ourselves against damages caused by these disruptions or security breaches in the future.

Compliance with SEC rules relating to "conflict minerals" may require us and our suppliers to incur substantial expense and may result in disclosure by us that certain minerals used in components and/or products we contract to manufacture may contain such "conflict minerals".

The SEC adopted disclosure requirements under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, regarding the source of certain conflict minerals for issuers for which such conflict minerals are necessary to the functionality or production of a product manufactured, or contracted to be manufactured, by that issuer, which are mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo ("DRC") and adjoining countries. The metals covered by the rules include tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, commonly referred to as "3TG." Because we use components which contain tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold, the SEC rules require us to conduct a reasonable country of origin inquiry to determine if we know or have reason to believe any of the minerals used in the production process may have originated from the DRC or an adjoining country (collectively referred to as "covered countries") and to perform further supply chain due diligence on the source and chain of custody of those minerals to determine if they originated in one of the covered countries and, if so, whether they financed or benefited armed groups in the covered countries. Our material sourcing is broad based and multi-tiered, and we may not be able to easily verify the origins for all metals used in our products. As a result, the costs of the aforementioned diligence efforts by us and by our suppliers could be significant. In addition, disclosures by us mandated by the new rules which are perceived by the market to be "negative" may cause customers to refuse to purchase our products. We are unable to assess the cost of continuing compliance with this rule, and there can be no assurance that the cost will not have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 
 
 
If we are held liable for the violation of the applicable anti-bribery laws, it could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We are subject to the applicable anti-bribery laws in countries we do business, which generally prohibit companies, their subsidiaries, their affiliates and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business or otherwise obtaining favorable treatment. The anti-bribery laws generally apply to companies, individual directors, officers, employees and agents. Under the applicable anti-bribery laws, companies may be held liable for actions taken by agents, local partners or representatives. If we or our intermediaries fail to comply with the requirements of the applicable anti-corruption laws, governmental authorities in the U.S., in Canada or other countries could seek to impose civil and/or criminal penalties, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

Our stock price is volatile.

Our stock price has experienced substantial volatility in the past and may remain volatile in the future. Volatility in our stock price can arise from a number of factors discussed in this "Risk Factors" section. Our stock price will fluctuate based on our financial performance and growth expectations. It can also be affected by public announcements from our competitors and our customers in the telecommunications industry. In addition, turmoil in credit markets and in the broader economy can contribute to share price and volume fluctuations in global stock markets. During fiscal 2016, our closing stock price on NASDAQ ranged from a high of $4.32 per share to a low of $2.57 per share. These aforementioned factors, including volatility often unrelated to the operating performance of our company, may materially affect our stock price in the future.
 
 
 

Item 4.
Information on the Company

A.
History and Development of the Company
 
Our legal name and commercial name is EXFO Inc. / EXFO inc. Our head office is located at 400 Godin Avenue, Quebec, Quebec, Canada, G1M 2K2 and our main telephone number is (418) 683-0211. Our e-mail address is [email protected] and our website is www.EXFO.com. Information on our website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report. Our agent for service in the United States is CT Corporation System, 111 Eighth Avenue, New York, New York 10011. Our Transfer Agent and Registrar is CST Trust Company (CST), 2001 Robert-Bourassa Blvd., Suite 1600, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 2A6. This Annual Report contains trademarks and registered trademarks of us and other companies.

We were incorporated in Canada on September 18, 1985 pursuant to the Canada Business Corporations Act. Since that date, we have amended our articles on various occasions mainly to modify our legal and corporate names and our share capital.

Since we are using this Form 20-F as an annual report, we have provided herein the information required pursuant to Item 4A(4) for the period beginning as at September 1, 2015 until the date of this Annual Report. For information responsive to this Item 4A(4) for prior periods, please refer to our previously filed Annual Reports on Form 20-F. Information in our previously filed Annual Reports on Form 20-F is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report.

On March 25, 2015, we announced that our Board of Directors approved the renewal of our share repurchase program, by way of a normal course issuer bid on the open market of up to 10% of our issued and outstanding subordinate voting shares, representing 1,397,598 subordinate voting shares at the prevailing market price. The period of the normal course issuer bid commenced on March 27, 2015 and ended on March 26, 2016. We had repurchased for cancellation 194,389 shares under that program for an aggregate net purchase price of $577,000.

On March 29, 2016, we announced that our Board of Directors approved the renewal of our share repurchase program, by way of a normal course issuer bid on the open market of up to 6.6% of our issued and outstanding subordinate voting shares, representing 900,000 subordinate voting shares at the prevailing market price. The period of the normal course issuer bid commenced on April 1, 2016 and will end on March 31, 2017. As of November 14, 2016, we had repurchased for cancellation 389,908 shares under that program for an aggregate net purchase price of $1.4 million.

On October 31, 2016, we acquired substantially all the assets of Absolute Analysis Inc., a privately held company located in United States, supplying solutions for radio frequency testing of fiber-based radio access networks which will extend our commitment to meet need of mobile network operators deploying fiber-based fronthaul networks and radio access networks architectures. This acquisition was settled for a total consideration of approximately $8.5 million, excluding acquisition-related costs. The consideration paid consisted of $5 million in cash and the issuance of 793,070 subordinate voting shares, valued at $3.5 million.
 
 
B.
Business Overview
 
We provide communications service providers (CSPs) and data center, cloud and web-scale operators with field test, service assurance and analytics solutions to ensure the smooth deployment, maintenance and management of next-generation physical, virtual, fixed and mobile networks. We have also forged strong relationships with network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) to develop deep expertise that migrates from the lab to the field and beyond. We believe that our key differentiation comes from combining intelligent, automated and cloud-based test and monitoring solutions with real-time analytics to deliver what we believe to be unmatched end-to-end visibility and assurance—from a network, services and end-user level. We are no.1 in portable optical testing in terms of global market share and have deployed the largest active, probe-based service assurance solution worldwide.
 
 
 
 
We target high-growth market opportunities related to increasing bandwidth and improving quality of experience on network infrastructures: 4G/LTE (long-term evolution), wireless backhaul, small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), 100G network upgrades and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)/fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC)/fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) deployments.

We were founded in 1985 in Quebec City, Canada. Our original products were focused on the needs of installers and operators of fiber-optic networks. Customers use these field-portable test solutions for the installation, maintenance and troubleshooting of optical networks. Over the past several years, we have enhanced our competitive position in telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics markets through acquisitions of transport and datacom, copper/xDSL and wireless test companies, an IP service assurance business, an analytics software company, and recently radio frequency (RF) test technologies for fiber-based radio access networks (RANs).

We launched 15 new products or major enhancements in fiscal 2016. Key new product introductions included TestFlow, a unique cloud-based, field test automation solution simplifying and accelerating complex, labor-intensive deployment activities for home-broadband and wireless radio access networks (RAN); LTB-8 platform, a multi-module test and software-sharing automation suite accelerating high-speed optical testing in lab and manufacturing environments; a whole new family of optical time domain reflectometers (OTDRs), raising industry standards for technical specifications and time savings in characterizing optical networks; iSAM, an intelligent service activation software bringing speed and simplicity to testing Ethernet services; MaxTester-940 Fiber Certifier OLTS (optical loss test set) for data center and enterprise markets; and the telecom industry's first G.fast handheld test set for the roll out of ultra-broadband services on copper links.

Industry Background

Market conditions improved in fiscal 2016 due to the necessity of CSPs to deploy fiber deeper in their networks and at higher transmission rates (100G) in order to cope with growing Internet usage, proliferation of smart phones and tablets, and explosion in videos services. The transition towards virtualized network functions and cloud-based services also required substantial investments on the part of CSPs and will continue to do so in upcoming years given the inherent complexity of managing hybrid networks, both physical and virtualized. Finally, the advent of new technologies like 5G wireless and Internet of Things (IoT) are expected to increase capital spending due to their ultra-high speeds and low-latency requirements not seen in today's network infrastructures.

These positive market drivers within the telecommunications industry in 2016 were mitigated by uneven macro-economic conditions with modest and slowing growth witnessed in the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions, respectively, and a flat to negative environment in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) following Britain's decision to exit from the European Union.

Growth Strategy

Our long-term goal is to become the leader in the global telecom test, service assurance and analytics markets. Given surging bandwidth demand and the need to better monetize networks, we believe that CSPs and NEMs must make considerable investments to network infrastructures.

To achieve our goal, we plan to:

·
evolve into a trusted advisor;
·
increase our presence with wireless operators;
·
expand our share of wallet with tier-1 service providers, as well as with data center, cloud and web-scale operators; and
·
accelerate profitability.

 
 
 
Customers

Customers on a global basis use our test, service assurance and analytics solutions to enable their networks to perform optimally during their complete life cycles: research, development, manufacturing, installation, maintenance and monitoring.
 
We initially developed test equipment for wireline CSPs and, to a lesser extent, component vendors and equipment manufacturers, but over the years we have expanded our offering to wireless CSPs, cable television companies, data center, cloud and web-scale operators, public utilities, private network operators, third-party installers, equipment rental companies, large enterprises and laboratory researchers.

In fiscal 2016, our top customer accounted for 7.1% of our sales and our top three customers represented 15.6%. In comparison, our top customer accounted for 7.1% of sales and our top three customers represented 14.4% in 2015, while our top customer accounted for 6.1% of sales and our top three customers represented 11.6% in 2014.

Products

We offer an extensive range of wireline and wireless test, service assurance and analytics solutions to the global telecommunications industry. We believe our success has been largely predicated on our core expertise in developing test equipment for wireline networks. Following the acquisition of Brix Networks in April 2008, we expanded our product portfolio into the service assurance market for next-generation IP networks. Through the acquisition of NetHawk Oyj in March 2010, we offer test and service assurance solutions for 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE wireless networks.

In April 2014, we acquired the assets of ByteSphere, a software company specializing in global IT management and network monitoring solutions. This transaction extended our service assurance offering into infrastructure performance monitoring through highly scalable device and network element polling technology.

In June 2014, we acquired the assets of Aito Technologies, a provider of customer experience analytics for mobile CSPs. We have combined the analytics software capabilities of Aito Technologies with our service assurance portfolio to provide mobile CSPs with heightened, end-to-end visibility and in-depth troubleshooting capabilities of their 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Both of these asset acquisitions were non-material.

We believe the competitive advantages of our products include a high degree of innovation, modularity (especially wireline products) and ease of use. Ultimately, we believe our products enable NEMs, CSPs as well as data center, cloud and web-scale operators to design, deploy, troubleshoot and monitor wireline and wireless networks, and also help customers reduce their operating expenses.

Products for Communications Service Providers (CSPs)

Wireline Test Equipment

We provide an extensive range of portable test solutions that are mainly used by CSPs to install, turn up and maintain their optical and copper-based telecommunications networks. These products are available as handheld test instruments, portable platforms with related modules, and as rack-mounted chassis with related modules.

Our handheld instruments are durable, compact and easy to use. They include dedicated testers like power meters or they can be multi-function units that carry out several different measurements.

Our field-test platforms, namely the FTB-1 Pro Platform, FTB-1 Platform, FTB-2 Pro Platform and FTB-500 Platform, are at the core of our wireline product portfolio. Our FTB-1 Pro, designed for frontline technicians in the field, is a single-slot, modular platform dedicated to c arry out optical, Ethernet and multiservice tests simply and efficiently. It differentiates itself through ultra-strong processing power and rich features like a multi-touch, high-resolution widescreen display. The FTB-1 Platform does   not possess the same processing power or rich feature set of the FTB-1 Pro, but it is suitable for optical, copper, Ethernet and multiservice testing applications.
 
 
 
 
Our FTB-2 Pro Platform offers the power and scalability of a multi-technology, high-performance unit, but in a smaller form factor. The FTB-2 Pro Platform can host two single-slot test modules, such as an OTDR (optical time domain reflectometer), automated optical loss test set (OLTS) with a variety of fiber inspection probes (FIPs), and Ethernet tester that can characterize transmission rates up to 100 Gbit/s.

Our FTB-500 platform is available in two configurations for various high-end tasks with transmission rates up to 100 Gbit/s. The four-slot model of the FTB-500 is designed for datacom testing, OTDR analysis, optical loss, Ethernet and multiservice transport (SONET/SDH/OTN) testing. The eight-slot model is a high-performance, multiple-protocol unit that allows users to combine next-generation SONET/SDH functions with Ethernet, Fibre Channel and optical-layer testing capabilities. It can handle dispersion characterization (PMD and CD), as well as DWDM/ROADM testing with optical spectrum analysis, and a variety of FIPs .

All four portable platforms support USB, mobile, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity capabilities to efficiently manage testing and reporting operations in the field. These PC-centric, open-ended platforms, combined with cloud-based software applications, can be transformed into a fully connected test environment that allows CSPs to automate complex, labor-intensive tasks like fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA), distributed antenna system (DAS) and small cell deployments. Leveraging platform connectivity, customers can also keep track of their entire test fleet, manage software updates and schedule calibration procedures. All test data can be stored in a central database and used as a point of reference against future measurements within our cloud-based solution. Consequently, this enhanced test environment enables customers to increase productivity and reduce operating expenses.

Wireless Test Equipment

We provide 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network simulators for CSP labs. EXFO's network simulators   emulate real-world, large-scale network traffic and end-user behavior in a laboratory environment in order to predict network behavior, uncover faults and optimize networks before wireless networks and services are deployed. Typical tests include regression and load testing.

We also offer protocol analyzers which analyze mobile network elements to validate functionality according to wireless technology specifications, whether these elements interoperate with each other effectively when combined to form a network, and how well the live network performs. These test tools allow engineers to troubleshoot networks in order to find the source of errors and quickly fix them. Our protocol analyzers support multi-interface testing and all major mobile technologies: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/LTE. These analyzers have also been integrated into passive probes within our service assurance offering to better meet the emerging requirements of our customers. These new hardware probes complement our active verifiers to form a fully integrated active and passive service assurance solution.

Wireline/Wireless Service Assurance Systems

We provide a comprehensive service assurance solution, called the EXFO Worx System, for wireline and wireless CSPs, as well as for the managed services arms of NEMs in support of service-level agreements (SLAs) required by their customers.

The EXFO Worx System is a hardware and software solution that delivers real-time, end-to-end quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) service monitoring for next-generation IP networks. Built around a distributed architecture, we believe the EXFO Worx System enables the successful launch and ongoing profitable operation of Ethernet/IP-based voice, video and data networks and services across wireline and wireless networks.

We have also transformed our service assurance portfolio to address the growing need for NFV-related solutions. The EXFO Worx solution offers a variety of software-based probes, enabling the interworking with new NFV-based network architectures and components.
 
 
 
 
We believe a competitive advantage of EXFO's service assurance solution is the ability to implement SLA monitoring and assure any IP service, over any network, to any endpoint—all from the same open and extensible platform. Key capabilities include:

·
performance monitoring and analysis;
·
advanced data correlation and analysis engine;
·
VoIP and VoLTE service assurance;
·
IP/MPLS service assurance;
·
mobile backhaul and metro Ethernet service assurance;
·
IP video service assurance;
·
advanced analytics and reports; and
·
custom solutions and back-office integration services.

The EXFO Worx System offers a multi-play capability such that customers can leverage one, several or all of the aforementioned capabilities on a single platform, which we believe delivers significant savings in capital and operating expenditures.

We believe the highly scalable EXFO Worx correlation and analysis engine architecture is well suited for the needs of CSP networks and related IP services. It works together with network-wide monitoring sources — including EXFO's physical and virtual verifiers, third-party devices and standards-based interfaces. In fiscal 2014, we acquired the assets of ByteSphere to complement EXFO Worx. ByteSphere's solutions feature advanced techniques for infrastructure performance management, including network element polling and fault management. The combination of ByteSphere, now marketed and enhanced under the EXFO Xtract brand, and EXFO Worx's capabilities provides real-time correlation between network element performance metrics and probe-based service performance metrics.

EXFO Worx conducts network and IP service testing and monitoring, while collecting, storing, correlating and analyzing essential data to produce detailed graphical reports and analytics on end-to-end service performance.

EXFO Worx software applications include:

·
Voice quality (VoIP, VoLTE, VoWiFi) and performance management;
·
IP/MPLS and carrier Ethernet (mobile backhaul and metro Ethernet) service quality monitoring;
·
IP video (IPTV, OTT) quality and performance management;
·
FLEX: Adapted analytics and customized dashboards for integrated operations with operator back-office and NOC systems.

It is a holistic solution designed to provide CSPs with end-to-end visibility from a network, services and end-user level. Data mined from a variety of sources and correlated into the EXFO Worx engine is leveraged to provide CSPs with three essential benefits: Prioritization of service-affecting issues, root-cause analysis and predictive analytics. As a result, EXFO can drive the value of raw data into correlated and actionable insight for customers through advanced analytics and visualization.

Products for Network Equipment Manufacturers (NEMs)

Wireline Test Equipment

Our network equipment manufacturer (NEM) solutions, mainly built around our newly launched LTB-8 Rackmount Platform, are available as test modules or stand-alone benchtop instruments.
 
 
 
 
Our highly scalable LTB-8 platform, which can host as many as eight 100G test modules, was introduced in 2016 to address the numerous requirements that NEMs demand from their multiservice transport and datacom network equipment. Lab users can carry out tests for a variety of technologies including Ethernet, OTN, Fibre Channel and SONET/SDH. Optical tests can also be carried out via power meters, variable attenuators and switches. Remote control of one or several LTB-8 platforms is available via a proprietary web-based interface. As well, 100G test modules within the LTB-8 platform can be readily inserted into the portable FTB-2 Pro Platform for ease of transition between lab and field testing.

We also offer the IQS-600 platform which can efficiently run as many as 100 optical test modules using a single controller unit. Its system-based approach – one box, several test modules – combined with an open architecture (PXI, Windows, LabVIEW™, etc.) and ease of programming, produces a highly flexible test environment.

The IQS-600 also provides backward compatibility with previous IQ-generation test modules, while delivering all the power and advantages of a next-generation platform. EXFO's wide selection of test modules includes multiservice test solutions covering optical transport network (OTN), Ethernet and SONET/SDN technologies, high-speed power meters, light sources, WDM laser sources, tunable laser sources, variable attenuators, polarization controllers, optical spectrum analyzers and optical switches.

Outside of these modular-based products, we offer advanced, stand-alone test solutions for NEMs in the process of developing ultra-high-speed optical networks.

Wireless Test Equipment

We provide 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network simulators for the NEMs market. EXFO's network simulators   emulate real-world, large-scale network traffic and end-user behavior in a laboratory environment in order to predict network behavior, uncover faults and optimize networks before wireless networks and services are deployed. Typical tests include regression and load testing.

We also offer intelligence tools for police, armed forces and other governmental organizations to help fight organized crime and terrorists.

Research and Development

Our global R&D operations fall under the management of a vice-president. We maintain R&D centers in Quebec City, Canada, Montreal, Canada, Toronto, Canada, Chelmsford, USA, Oulu, Finland and Pune, India. Gross research and development expenditures totaled $47.9 million in fiscal 2016 compared to $50.1 million in 2015 and $52.4 million in 2014.

We believe that our future success largely depends on our ability to introduce new solutions and product enhancements to our core technologies. Through market-oriented product portfolio review processes, we ensure that our investments in research and development are aligned with market opportunities and customers' needs. This process enables us to maximize our returns on R&D investments by focusing our resources on prioritized projects. Product portfolio review meetings, which occur three times per year, enable us to select the right mix of new products and allocate the necessary resources for their development. All our projects, including those already underway, are reviewed, given a priority rating and allocated budgets and resources. Existing projects can be stopped or substantially redefined if there have been significant changes in market conditions, or if the project development schedule or budget has significantly changed.

Product development projects, once they are underway, are managed through a structured process known as the stage-gate approach. The stage-gate approach is based on a systematic review of a project's progress at various stages of its lifecycle. The following are the key review stages of the stage-gate approach:
 
 
 
 
·
market study and research feasibility;
·
product definition;
·
development feasibility;
·
development;
·
qualification; and
·
transfer to production.

At each stage, we review our project risks, costs and estimated completion time. We compare our design to anticipated market needs and ensure that our new product development is synchronized with other internal departments and external industry events.

Sales

We sell our wireline and wireless test, service assurance and analytics solutions through direct and indirect sales channels in the Americas (US, Canada, Central and South America), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific regions.

In the Americas, we use a hybrid model, combining key account management with direct and indirect sales coverage. We typically use key account managers to serve large customers that generate high sales volumes or might potentially represent high sales volumes in the future. These key account managers are supplemented by regional sales managers, sales engineers, sales representatives and distributors in the US as well as Central and South American metropolitan areas, and regional sales managers and sales engineers in Canada.

We opt for a direct sales approach when selling higher-end, highly technical products to sophisticated buyers. Sales of low- to medium-level complexity products to less stringent technical buyers are usually done through a manufacturer representative organization or distributors supported by regional sales managers. Our main sales offices in the Americas are located in Richardson, Texas, Quebec City, Canada, Toronto, Canada and Mexico D.F., Mexico. They are supplemented by a regional presence in cities across the US, Central and South America, as well as Canada.

On the international front, we have sales personnel covering strategic areas in EMEA and Asia-Pacific.

Our sales network in EMEA is supported by a main office and service center in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, UK, which serves as headquarters of our European sales operations and also provides repair, calibration and technical support services for our EMEA customers. We also have additional sales offices in multiple countries across EMEA to serve and support our various customers and distribution partners.

As for Asia-Pacific, our main sales office for South East Asia is located in Singapore, while our main sales offices for mainland China are located in Beijing and Shenzhen. In addition, we have other sales offices in strategic locations around the world to support our network of distributors and various customers.

We also rely on a network of distributors worldwide to work with us in supporting mostly our international sales and to participate in a large number of international events. We believe that the local presence and cultural attributes of our distributors allow us to better serve our global markets.

Our sales team is led by a chief operating officer (COO), who is supported by a vice-president responsible for each major geographic region: Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These sales executives, in turn, are backed by regional sales directors that lead a widely distributed team acting as key account managers, regional sales managers, sales engineers and application engineers. Our sales people are located throughout major metropolitan areas around the world. This group of sales professionals has on average more than 15 years of experience in the fields of telecommunications, fiber optics, or test and service assurance. Within each major geographic region, we have sales staff dedicated to wireline and wireless test, service assurance and analytics customers.
 
 

 
We also have an in-house Customer Service Group to meet the needs of existing and new customers. This group is responsible for providing quotations to customers, supporting our sales force, managing demonstration units, order management, technical support and training as well as calibration and repair services.

Sales to customers in the Americas represented 55% of our sales in fiscal 2016, while sales to customers in EMEA and Asia-Pacific accounted for 25% and 20% of our sales, respectively. In comparison, the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific accounted for 54%, 26% and 20% of our sales in 2015, respectively, and 53%, 28% and 19% in 2014, respectively.

Product Management, Marketing/Communications and Global Services

Product Management

All product management duties fall under the leadership of a COO, who is supported by two vice-presidents respectively responsible for test and measurement as well as systems and services. Each product management executive, in turn, is backed by directors and/or product managers who have various degrees in engineering, science and business administration. Directors and product managers are responsible for all aspects of our telecom marketing program including product strategy, new product introductions, definition of new features and functions, pricing, product launches and advertising campaigns. We follow up our marketing initiatives by attending industry trade shows. Furthermore, we have a customer relationship management (CRM) system to compile market and customer information including forecasts, opportunities, leads and competitive data. We use this information to make strategic business decisions.

Marketing/Communications

Our Marketing-Communications team, which mainly consists of a director, project managers, marketing writers, translators and graphic artists, supports our product management team by producing marketing and corporate documentation. Literature includes specification sheets, application notes, product catalogues, advertising copy and an electronic corporate newsletter. This Marketing-Communications team is also responsible for all sales tools required by our worldwide sales force like webinars and for updating the marketing contents of our website. In addition, it is responsible for interfacing and engaging with key industry analysts and media. Marketing and communications activities fall under the direct responsibility of a vice-president.

Global Services

EXFO's Global Services operation, which falls under the responsibility of a vice-president, provides customers with a broad array of support and services worldwide. This team has in-house staff in North America, Europe, and Asia. It also provides local support in specific countries through select partners. Such a strategy enables EXFO to have a global reach while maintaining strong local ties.

This team's objective is to ensure customer satisfaction through a flawless business experience and to achieve our long-term mission by providing internal and customer-facing services. Specifically, it fulfills its mission by offering:

·
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Administration –   Business ownership of our CRM toolset and evolution;
·
Sales Support – Leverage the effectiveness of our sales force by providing pre-sales and demo support, as well as guiding customers in purchasing the correct equipment for their respective applications, issuing quotations, and promoting our extended warranty service and support program;
·
Order Management – Accurately process customer orders from entry through fulfillment and delivery, and manage order changes;
·
Customer Service Serve as a primary interface for inbound and outbound customer communication. Provide customers with one central point of contact and work with the customer from purchasing equipment to helping them arrange for service, if necessary;
 
 
 
 
·
Field Support – Provide expert technical support and deliver product service worldwide. Support our Worldwide Service Centers and directly manage the Service Partner Program. Where applicable, furnish installation and on-site servicing for more complex equipment and applications;
·
Systems Services – Provide pre-sale, delivery, post-sale technical support, and systems actualization of customer's network monitoring and converged service assurance systems;
·
Education Services – Aggregate expertise, develop material, and deliver free and fee-based training;
·
Professional Services – Provide value-added solution services for our test and system customers.

Manufacturing

Our manufacturing operations consist mainly of material planning, supply-chain management, sub-assembly, final assembly and test, software loading, calibration, quality control, shipping, billing and customs management. Most of our manufacturing activities, which occupy a total of 138,000 square feet, take place at our facility compound in Quebec City, Canada and Shenzhen, China, but we also have facilities in Chelmsford, USA, and Oulu, Finland, for final assembly of service assurance and wireless test equipment, respectively. All our manufacturing operations fall under the supervision of a vice-president.

Our Quebec City, Canada, operations mainly produce low-volume, high-complexity telecom products. It has maintained ISO 9001 certification since 1994 and first obtained TL 9000 certification in July 2012. Our manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China, which started operations in September 2007, is responsible for the production of high-volume, low-complexity telecom products. Our Shenzhen plant, which follows the same corporate quality standards, was first certified ISO 9001 in January 2009 and also obtained TL 9000 certification in July 2012.

All of our products meet required industry standards, and some of our products address additional voluntary standards, such as those set by Telcordia, IEC, IETF, ETSI and other bodies that issue industry standards. During manufacturing, each product has a specific quality control plan, with rigorous checkpoints, to ensure product conformity. Various tasks in the quality assurance process include quality control, conformity testing, product documentation, product improvement, regulatory compliance, metrology and calibration.

Our manufacturing operations include the following responsibilities:

·
Production. From production planning to product shipment, our production department is responsible for manufacturing high-quality products on time. Factories are organized in work cells; each cell consists of specialized technicians with equipment and has full responsibility over a product family. Technicians are cross-trained and versatile enough, so that they can carry out specific functions in more than one cell. This allows shorter lead times by alleviating bottlenecks.

·
Manufacturing and Test Engineering. This department, which supports our production cells, acts like a gatekeeper to ensure the quality of our products and the effectiveness of our manufacturing processes. It is responsible for the transfer of products from research and development to manufacturing, product improvement, documentation, metrology, and the quality control and regulatory compliance process. Quality control represents a key element in our manufacturing operations. Quality is assured through product testing at numerous stages in the manufacturing process to ensure that our products meet both stringent industry and customer performance requirements.

·
Supply-Chain Management. This department is responsible for sales forecasting, raw material procurement, material-cost reduction and vendor performance management. Our products consist of optical, electronic and mechanical parts, which are purchased from suppliers around the world. Approximately one-third of our parts are manufactured to our specifications. Materials represent the largest portion of our cost of goods. Our performance is tightly linked to vendor performance, requiring greater emphasis on this critical aspect of our business.
 
 
 
 
Our manufacturing operations are subject to environmental laws in various jurisdictions around the world. Our product designs comply with WEEE Directive and RoHS   Directive legislation enacted by the European Union regarding, respectively, the disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment and the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, for all products exported to Europe. As the world undergoes climate changes, environmental and biodiversity issues have become critical to our society. We obtained ISO 14001 certification in October 2013 and, therefore, started continuous improvement in reducing our environmental footprint.

Sources and Availability of Raw Materials

We use various suppliers to provide parts for the manufacture and support of multiple product lines. Although our intent is to establish at least two sources of supply for materials whenever possible, we obtain several parts from single or limited source supply arrangements. We may not be able to procure these parts from alternative sources at acceptable prices within a reasonable time; therefore, the loss or interruption of such arrangements could have an impact on our ability to deliver certain products on a timely basis. See Item 3D of this Annual Report under "Risk Factors" ‒ We depend on short-term arrangements with a single supplier or a limited number of suppliers for some key components and materials in our products, which makes us susceptible to supply shortages or price fluctuations that could adversely affect our operating results."

We will continue to mitigate the risk of production interruptions and shortages of parts by: (1) carrying safety stock of critical components, (2) monitoring the delivery performance of our suppliers, (3) selecting and qualifying alternative sources of supplies for key parts whenever possible, and (4) promptly assessing potential effects of worldwide natural disasters.

Seasonality

Historically, we have been subject to seasonality mainly in our second quarter (December, January and February) due to the Christmas holidays and delays in approval of CSP spending budgets for the new calendar year. These two factors can have negative effects on our bookings in our second quarter, but they are mitigated by the renewal of annual maintenance contracts and sometimes calendar year-end spending on the part of CSPs. We are also subject to increased seasonality in the fourth quarter (June, July and August), because bookings activity tends to slow down during the summer months, especially in Europe. These seasonal effects do not apply consistently and do not always correlate to our financial results. Accordingly, they should not be considered as reliable indicators of future revenue or results of operations.

Competition

The test, service assurance and analytics markets are highly competitive and subject to rapid change as a result of technological developments and market conditions. We compete with many different companies, depending on product family and geographical market. We believe that the main competitive factors in the industry include the following:

·
level of technical compliance and alignment to use-case;
·
product performance and reliability;
·
solution's contribution to productivity;
·
price and quality of products;
·
level of technological innovation;
·
product lead times;
·
breadth of product offerings;
·
ease of use;
·
brand-name recognition;
·
customer service and technical support;
·
strength of sales and distribution relationships; and
·
financial stability of supplier.
 
 
 
 
Main competitors in the test equipment environment include global suppliers like Anritsu Corporation, Danaher Corporation (namely subsidiaries of Danaher: Fluke Networks), and Viavi Solutions (formerly a division of JDS Uniphase Corporation), as well as other players such as AFL Noyse, IXIA, Kingfisher International, ShinewayTech, Spirent Communications plc, VeEX Inc., and Yokogawa Electric Corporation. On the service assurance and analytics side, we mainly compete against Accedian Networks, Anritsu Corporation, Empirix, IXIA, NetScout Systems, Inc. (including the 2015 merger of Netscout Systems and Tektronix Communications), Radcom, Spirent Communications plc and Viavi Solutions (formerly a division of JDS Uniphase Corporation). See Item 3D of this Annual Report under "Risk Factors ‒ We must continue to overcome significant competition in our targeted industries in order to keep or gain market share and achieve our growth strategy."

Employees

As at November 1, 2016, we had 1,551 full-time employees compared to 1,499 and 1,572 for the same periods in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Our workforce as of November 1, 2016 included 341 employees in manufacturing, 598 employees in research and development, and 612 employees in sales and marketing as well as general and administrative functions.

Our future performance depends, to a significant degree, on our continued ability to attract and retain highly skilled and qualified technical, sales and marketing, and senior management personnel. Our employees are not represented by a labor union with the exception of our manufacturing personnel in Quebec City, Canada. We consider relations with our employees to be good. See Item 3D of this Annual Report under "Risk Factors ‒ We require employees and managers who are knowledgeable about the specialized nature of our business. If we are unable to attract and retain sufficient numbers of highly skilled technical, sales, marketing, senior management and other personnel, our operations and financial results will suffer".

Regulatory Environment

In most countries where our products are sold, our products must comply with the regulations of one or more governmental entities. These regulations often are complex and vary from country to country. Depending upon the country and the relevant product, the applicable regulations may require product testing, approval, registration, marking and unique design restrictions. Accordingly, we have appointed a team of engineers who are responsible for ensuring that our products comply with all applicable regulations.

In the United States, our products must comply with the regulations of some agencies of the U.S. federal government, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Under the FCC's regulations, our products must comply with certain electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements to insure they do not generate electromagnetic noise which could possibly cause undesirable operation, as well as affect other surrounding devices. Additionally, some of our products must comply with the FDA's non-medical   performance standards and related rules concerning light-emitting products, such as lasers. The FDA's regulations applicable to our products are intended to promote safety by limiting human exposure to harmful non-iodizing radiation. Similarly, our products must comply with safety standards adopted by OSHA.

Similar regulations apply in other countries. For example, in Canada our products must comply with the applicable standards adopted by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). These include product safety standards developed in collaboration with the Canadian Standards association as well as EMI requirements adopted by Industry Canada. Countries in the European Union require product compliance as dictated by the applicable directives, which are required to be authorized to apply the CE marking on the product. This includes testing to ensure compliance with harmonized European Norm (EN) standards for product safety, EMC requirements and RoHS.

In Europe, with the implementation of the WEEE directives (2012/19/EU) for recycling of electronic products in selected European Countries, EXFO has established a process to ensure full compliance with regulations and oversee the management, logistics, recycling rate, disposal services and activities related to recycling of electronic equipment and products within the member states.

 
 
 
Additionally, to address the issue of environmental compliance, the European Union has mandated the Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances or "RoHS" Directive (2011/65/EU), which applies to all products included within the scope of WEEE directive. Mandatory product compliance includes the ban of certain substances within specified concentrations, unless formally exempted by the directive. To ensure compliance to this directive, a formal restricted substances control (RSC) program was implemented for our products included within the scope of WEEE. This program ensures the design, procurement and manufacturing of affected products prevents the inclusion of the banned substances as specified by the RoHS directive.

Other significant types of regulations not described in this Annual Report also may apply, depending upon the relevant product and country of destination.

Intellectual Property

Our success and ability to compete are dependent in part on our ability to develop and protect our proprietary technology. We file U.S. and international (utility) patent applications to protect technology, inventions and improvements important to the development of our business. We also rely on a combination of design patents, copyright, trademark, trade secret rights, licensing and confidentiality agreements.

Our intellectual property and proprietary technology are important to the continued success of our business. Were we inadequately protect our intellectual property and proprietary technology, our competitive position might be significantly impaired. There also remains a risk that our intellectual property rights, particularly our existing or future patents might be invalidated, circumvented, challenged or required to be licensed to others. Furthermore, others may claim that our products infringe upon their intellectual property rights, or they may infringe our intellectual property, and we may expend significant resources enforcing or defending our rights or suffer competitive injury.

Our success and ability to compete depend to a significant extent on our proprietary technology, with which we attempt to prevent others from using the innovations that are central to our existing and future products. As of August 31, 2016, our records indicated that we held the following portfolio of utility patents: 60 active granted US patents, 47 granted or validated patents in countries of the European Union, 7 patents in Canada, 12 patents in China, and 5 patents in other jurisdictions. In addition, we have 36 utility patent applications (including provisional applications) pending in the US, 22 patent applications at the European Patent Office or directly entered at the national patent office of an EU member country, 2 applications in Canada, 14 applications in China and 8 applications in other countries. The expiration dates of our active issued patents range from 2016 to 2034, with no significant active patent expiring in the near future.

Our records also indicated that, as of August 31, 2016, we held 17 active granted design patents, as well as 10 pending design patent applications, in the United States and several other international jurisdictions.

We consider seven of our inventions for which patents have either been granted or are pending to be material. These inventions are:

·
a method and apparatus for improved characterization of loss-inducing "events" along an optical fiber using an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR).  This invention describes how, by a judicious combination of OTDR data corresponding to different optical-pulse durations, the location and loss characteristics of an event can be quantified with much better accuracy and/or more rapidly than via conventional approaches.  This invention is offered as an option for almost all of the current EXFO OTDR-based products;

·
a method for determining the optical signal-to-noise ratio employing an optical spectrum analyzer, which is particularly advantageous for use with tightly-filtered DWDM signals used in high-bandwidth optical networks.  This invention is a key value-added option to our FTB-5240-S series of portable optical spectrum analyzers;
 
 

 
·
a method and apparatus to determine the theoretical and practical data rates for a cable under test. This invention uses a single test device to predict the performance of a pair of ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) modems, and in case of problems, analyze the cause of the modems' failure to synchronize. It is a key functionality of our FTB-610, FTB-635, MaxTester 610, MaxTester 635 and MaxTester 635G;
 
·
a scalable system for monitoring network elements, for which only a non-redundant subset of the identified network information is stored, thereby enabling monitoring of a much larger group of network elements than is possible with conventional memory-constrained monitoring systems. Furthermore, this system employs a multi-threaded architecture that dynamically spawns an array of multi-technology monitoring sub-systems.  This invention forms the basis of the web-based EXFO Xtract Open Analytics Platform, enabling the user, among other things, to leverage data from a multitude of sources and to define a sequence of activities based on templates in order to accomplish a given task;
 
·
a method for actively analyzing a data packet delivery path to provide diagnostics and root cause analysis of network delivery path issues, which is embedded in certain software applications of the EXFO Worx System of EXFO Service Assurance;
 
·
a distributed protocol analyzer for quality-of-service measurement. This invention underlies the combined QoS measurements offered in the NetHawk iPro and NetHawk M5 products; and

·
a communication methodology used to perform independent bi-directional protocol testing over a connection or connectionless network between two test instruments, wherein the transfer mechanism of status and intermediate test results during an active test and the transmission of the final results to one of the instruments enables the user to perform a bidirectional single-ended test. This invention is at the heart of the EXFO Datacom product families, including applications in conformity with our EtherSAM standard test suite.

Confidentiality and proprietary information agreements with our senior management, employees and others generally stipulate that all confidential information developed or made known to these individuals by us during the course of their relationship is to be kept confidential and not disclosed to third parties, except under specific circumstances. The agreements also generally provide that all intellectual property developed by the individual in the course of rendering services to us belongs exclusively to us. However, these efforts afford only limited protection.

 
 
 
C.
Organizational Structure
 
As of November 1, 2016, the following chart presents our corporate structure, the jurisdiction of incorporation of our subsidiaries and the percentage of shares (which is also the percentage of voting power) that we hold in those subsidiaries.
 
 
 
 
 
 
D.
Property, Plant and Equipment
 
Our head offices are located in Quebec City, Province of Quebec, Canada where we occupy two buildings. These buildings house our executive and administrative offices, research and development facilities and production facilities. We also have offices in Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada, in Concord, Ontario, Canada, in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, United States (EXFO Service Assurance Inc.), in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, United Kingdom (EXFO Europe Limited), in Shenzhen, China (EXFO Telecom Equipment (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd.), in Pune, India (EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering India Private Ltd.), in Oulu, Finland (EXFO Oy), in Lappeenranta, Finland (EXFO Oy), and in Richardson, Texas, United States (EXFO America Inc.).

In addition, we maintain sales offices and/or have regional sales managers located in Australia, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The following table sets forth information with respect to the main facilities that we occupy as at November 1, 2016.

Location
Use of Space
Square Footage
% of Utilization
Type of Interest
 
436 Nolin Street
Quebec (Quebec)
G1M 1E7
 
 
Occupied for manufacturing of products
 
 
44,000
 
 
90%
 
 
Owned
 
 
400 Godin Avenue
Quebec (Quebec)
G1M 2K2
 
 
Occupied for research and development, customer services, repair/calibration services, manufacturing, management and administration
 
 
129,000 (1)
 
 
90%
 
 
Owned
 
 
2500 Alfred-Nobel
Montreal (Quebec)
H4S 2C3
 
 
Occupied for research and development, management and administration
 
 
75,000
 
 
60%
 
 
Owned
 
 
2500 Alfred-Nobel
Montreal (Quebec)
H4S 2C3
 
 
Available for rent
 
 
50,000
 
 
0%
 
 
Owned
 
 
160 Drumlin Circle
Concord (Ontario)
L4K 3E5
 
 
Occupied for research and development, product management and administration
 
 
23,500
 
 
40%
 
 
Owned
 
 
270 Billerica Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824
United States
 
 
Occupied for research and development, manufacturing, management and administration
 
 
29,000
 
 
75%
 
 
Leased
 
 
Winchester House
School Lane
Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh
Hampshire SO53 4DG
United Kingdom
 
 
Occupied for European customer service, repair/calibration services, sales management and administration
 
 
13,000
 
 
80%
 
 
Leased
 
 
 
 

Location
Use of Space
Square Footage
% of Utilization
Type of Interest
 
3 rd Floor, Building 10
Yu Sheng Industrial Park
(Gu Shu Crossing)
No. 467, National Highway 107
Xixiang, Bao An District
Shenzhen 518126
China
 
 
Occupied for manufacturing of products, repair/calibration services
 
 
64,000
 
 
80%
 
 
Leased
 
 
Offices No 602, 603, 604, 701 and 702
Tower S-4 Cybercity
Magarpatta , Hadapsar
Pune 411 013
India
 
 
Occupied for research and development
 
 
 
33,981
 
 
85%
 
 
Owned
 
 
Offices No 102
Tower S-4 Cybercity
Magarpatta , Hadapsar
Pune 411 013
India
 
 
Leased to a third party
 
 
5,979
 
 
100%
 
 
Owned
 
 
Elektroniikkatie 2
FI-90590 Oulu
Finland
 
 
Occupied for research and development, manufacturing, management and administration
 
 
30,338
 
 
100%
 
 
Leased
 

(1)
Including the warehouse space. Premises without the warehouse are approximately 115,000 square feet.


Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments

Not applicable.
 
 
 

Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
 
This discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, and we intend that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. Forward-looking statements are statements other than historical information or statements of current condition. Words such as may, expect, believe, plan, anticipate, intend, could, estimate, continue, or similar expressions or the negative of such expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, projections or other characterizations of future events and circumstances are considered forward-looking statements. They are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those in forward-looking statements due to various factors including, but not limited to, macroeconomic uncertainty as well as capital spending and network deployment levels in the telecommunications industry (including our ability to quickly adapt cost structures with anticipated levels of business and our ability to manage inventory levels with market demand); future economic, competitive, financial and market conditions; consolidation in the global telecommunications test, service assurance and analytics solutions markets and increased competition among vendors; capacity to adapt our future product offering to future technological changes; limited visibility with regards to the timing and nature of customer orders; delay in revenue recognition due to longer sales cycles for complex systems involving customers' acceptance; fluctuating exchange rates; concentration of sales; timely release and market acceptance of our new products and other upcoming products; our ability to successfully expand international operations; our ability to successfully integrate businesses that we acquire; and the retention of key technical and management personnel. Assumptions relating to the foregoing involve judgments and risks, all of which are difficult or impossible to predict and many of which are beyond our control. Other risk factors that may affect our future performance and operations are detailed in our Annual Report, on Form 20-F, and our other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Canadian securities commissions. We believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable based on information currently available to us, but we cannot assure that the expectations will prove to have been correct. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These statements speak only as of the date of this document. Unless required by law or applicable regulations, we undertake no obligation to revise or update any of them to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date of this document. This discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements.

The following discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is dated November 28, 2016.

All dollar amounts are expressed in US dollars, except as otherwise noted.


COMPANY OVERVIEW

We are a leading provider of next-generation test, service assurance and analytics solutions for fixed and mobile communications service providers (CSPs), web-scale operators as well as network equipment manufacturers in the global telecommunications industry. Our intelligent solutions with contextually relevant analytics are designed to improve end-user quality of experience, enhance network performance and drive operational efficiencies throughout the network and service delivery lifecycles. We target high-growth market opportunities related to increasing bandwidth and improving quality of experience on network infrastructures: 4G/LTE (long-term evolution), wireless backhaul, small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), 100G network upgrades and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH)/fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC)/fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) deployments.

 
 
 
Our success has been largely predicated on our core expertise in developing test equipment for wireline networks. These solutions are available as handheld test instruments, portable platforms with related modules, and as rack-mounted chassis with related modules. Our PC-centric, open-ended platforms, combined with cloud-based software applications, can be transformed into a fully connected test environment that allows CSPs to automate complex, labor-intensive tasks like fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA), DAS and small cell deployments. Leveraging platform connectivity, CSPs can also keep track of their entire test fleet, manage software updates and schedule calibration procedures. All test data be stored in a central database and used as a point of reference against future measurements. Consequently, this enhanced test environment enables customers to increase productivity and reduce operating expenses.

Over the years, we expanded our product portfolio into service assurance for next-generation IP (Internet protocol) networks and into test equipment for 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE wireless networks. Our service assurance solution, called the Brix System, is a probe-based hardware and software offering that delivers end-to-end, quality of service and quality of experience visibility as well as real-time, service monitoring and verification of next-generation IP networks. We have enriched our service assurance offering with infrastructure performance management tools and analytics software solutions via technology acquisitions. Built around a distributed architecture, the Brix System enables the successful launch and ongoing profitable operation of IP-based voice, video and data applications and services across wireline and wireless networks.

Our 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE test portfolio mainly consists of network simulators and protocol analyzers. Our network simulators simulate real-world, large-scale network traffic and end-user behavior in a laboratory environment in order to predict network behavior, uncover faults and optimize networks before wireless networks and services are deployed. Our protocol analyzers analyze mobile network elements in order to validate functionality according to wireless technology specifications, determine whether or not these elements interoperate with each other effectively when combined to form a network, and assess how well the live network performs.

The competitive advantages of our products include a high degree of innovation, modularity (especially wireline products) and ease of use. Ultimately, our products enable network equipment manufacturers, CSPs and web-scale operators to design, deploy, troubleshoot and monitor wireline and wireless networks and, in the process, help them reduce the cost of operating their networks.

We have a staff of approximately 1600 people in 25 countries, supporting more than 2000 customers in approximately 100 countries around the world. We operate three main manufacturing sites, which are located in Quebec City, Canada, in Shenzhen, China and in Oulu, Finland. We also have five main research and development expertise centers in Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City and Oulu, supported by a software development center in India.

We launched 15 new products or major enhancements in fiscal 2016. Key new product introductions included TestFlow, a unique cloud-based, field test automation solution simplifying and accelerating complex, labor-intensive deployment activities for home-broadband and wireless radio access networks (RAN); LTB-8 platform, a multi-module test and software-sharing automation suite accelerating high-speed optical testing in lab and manufacturing environments; a whole new family of optical time domain reflectometers (OTDRs), raising industry standards for technical specifications and time savings in characterizing optical networks; iSAM, an intelligent service activation software bringing speed and simplicity to testing Ethernet services; MaxTester-940 Fiber Certifier OLTS (optical loss test set) for data center and enterprise markets; and the telecom industry's first G.fast handheld test set for the roll out of ultra-broadband services on copper links.

Our sales increased 4.7% to $232.6 million in fiscal 2016 compared to $222.1 million in 2015, despite a headwind from a stronger US dollar versus other currencies. In fiscal 2016, in constant currency, our sales would have increased 6.0% year-over-year. Bookings increased 7.7% to $240.3 million in fiscal 2016 compared to $223.1 million in 2015, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.03. In constant currency, bookings would have increased 9.0% year-over-year.
 
 
 
 
Net earnings amounted to $8.9 million, or $0.16 per diluted share in fiscal 2016, compared to $5.3 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, in fiscal 2015. Net earnings in fiscal 2016 included $1.1 million in after-tax amortization of intangible assets, $1.4 million in stock-based compensation costs, and a foreign exchange gain of $0.2 million. Net earnings in fiscal 2015 included $2.7 million in after-tax amortization of intangible assets, $1.3 million in after-tax restructuring charges, $1.3 million in stock-based compensation costs, and a foreign exchange gain of $7.2 million.

Adjusted EBITDA (net earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, restructuring charges, stock-based compensation costs and foreign exchange gain) amounted to $22.0 million, or 9.5% of sales, in fiscal 2016, compared to $13.8 million, or 6.2% of sales, in 2015. See page 50 of this document for a complete reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA and IFRS net earnings.

On March 29, 2016, we announced that our Board of Directors approved the renewal of our share repurchase program by way of a normal course issuer bid on the open market of up to approximately 6.6% of the issued and outstanding subordinate voting shares, representing 0.9 million subordinate voting shares at the prevailing market price. We expect to use cash, short-term investments or future cash flows from operations to fund the repurchase of shares. The normal course issuer bid started on April 1, 2016, and will end on March 31, 2017, or on an earlier date if we repurchase the maximum number of shares permitted under the bid. The program does not require that we repurchase any specific number of shares, and it may be modified, suspended or terminated at any time and without prior notice. All shares repurchased under the bid will be cancelled. In fiscal 2016, we redeemed for cancellation 0.5 million subordinate voting shares for a cash consideration of $1.6 million.

On October 31, 2016, we acquired substantially all the assets of Absolute Analysis Inc., a privately held company located in United States, supplying solutions for radio frequency testing of fiber-based radio access networks. This acquisition was settled for a total consideration of approximately $8.5 million, excluding acquisition-related costs. The consideration paid consisted of $5 million in cash and the issuance of 793,070 subordinate voting shares, valued at $3.5 million.

 
Sales

We sell our products to a diversified customer base in approximately 100 countries through our direct sales force and channel partners, such as sales representatives and distributors. Most of our sales are denominated in US dollars, euros and Canadian dollars.

In fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2016, no customer accounted for more than 10% of our sales, with our top customer representing 6.1%, 7.1% and 7.1% of our sales respectively.

We believe that we have a vast array of products, a diversified customer base, and a good spread across geographical areas, which provides us with reasonable protection against the concentration of sales and credit risk.

Cost of Sales

The cost of sales includes raw materials, salaries and related expenses for direct and indirect manufacturing personnel, as well as overhead costs. Excess, obsolete and scrapped materials are also included in the cost of sales. However, the cost of sales is presented exclusive of depreciation and amortization, which are shown separately in the statements of earnings.

Operating Expenses

We classify our operating expenses into three main categories: selling and administrative expenses, research and development expenses, as well as depreciation and amortization expenses.

 
 
 
Selling and administrative expenses consist primarily of salaries and related expenses for personnel, sales commissions, travel expenses, marketing programs, professional services, information systems, human resources and other corporate expenses.

Gross research and development expenses consist primarily of salaries and related expenses for engineers and other technical personnel, material component costs as well as fees paid to third-party consultants. We are eligible to receive research and development tax credits and grants on research and development activities carried out in Canada and Finland. All related research and development tax credits and grants are recorded as a reduction of gross research and development expenses.

 
 
 
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
(in thousands of US dollars, except per share data, and as a percentage of sales for the years indicated)

Consolidated statements of earnings data (1) :
 
2016
   
2015
   
2014
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
 
Sales
 
$
232,583
   
$
222,089
   
$
230,806
     
100.0
%
   
100.0
%
   
100.0
%
                                                 
Cost of sales (2)
   
87,066
     
85,039
     
86,836
     
37.4
     
38.3
     
37.6
 
Selling and administrative
   
82,169
     
82,200
     
86,429
     
35.3
     
37.0
     
37.4
 
Net research and development
   
42,687
     
44,003
     
44,846
     
18.4
     
19.8
     
19.4
 
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment
   
3,814
     
4,835
     
4,995
     
1.6
     
2.2
     
2.2
 
Amortization of intangible assets
   
1,172
     
2,883
     
4,398
     
0.5
     
1.3
     
1.9
 
Interest and other income
   
(828
)
   
(155
)
   
(326
)
   
(0.4
)
   
(0.1
)
   
(0.1
)
Foreign exchange gain
   
(161
)
   
(7,212
)
   
(1,634
)
   
     
(3.2
)
   
(0.7
)
Earnings before income taxes
   
16,664
     
10,496
     
5,262
     
7.2
     
4.7
     
2.3
 
Income taxes
   
7,764
     
5,198
     
4,479
     
3.4
     
2.3
     
2.0
 
Net earnings for the year
 
$
8,900
   
$
5,298
   
$
783
     
3.8
%
   
2.4
%
   
0.3
%
                                                 
Basic net earnings per share
 
$
0.17
   
$
0.09
   
$
0.01
                         
Diluted net earnings per share
 
$
0.16
   
$
0.09
   
$
0.01
                         
                                                 
Other selected information:
                                               
                                                 
Gross margin before depreciation and amortization (3)
 
$
145,517
   
$
137,050
   
$
143,970
     
62.6
%
   
61.7
%
   
62.4
%
                                                 
Research and development data:
                                               
Gross research and development
 
$
47,875
   
$
50,148
   
$
52,423
     
20.6
%
   
22.6
%
   
22.7
%
Net research and development
 
$
42,687
   
$
44,003
   
$
44,846
     
18.4
%
   
19.8
%
   
19.4
%
                                                 
Restructuring charges included in:
                                               
Cost of sales
 
$
   
$
290
   
$
     
%
   
0.1
%
   
%
Selling and administrative expenses
 
$
   
$
586
   
$
     
%
   
0.3
%
   
%
Net research and development expenses
 
$
   
$
761
   
$
     
%
   
0.3
%
   
%
                                                 
Adjusted EBITDA (3)
 
$
22,039
   
$
13,779
   
$
14,391
     
9.5
%
   
6.2
%
   
6.2
%
                                                 
Consolidated balance sheets data (1) :
                                               
Total assets
 
$
239,317
   
$
219,002
   
$
278,031
                         

(1)
Consolidated statements of earnings and balance sheets data has been derived from our consolidated financial statements prepared according with IFRS, as issued by the IASB, except for non-IFRS measures (3) .
(2)
The cost of sales is exclusive of depreciation and amortization, shown separately.
(3)
Refer to page 50 for non-IFRS measures.
 
 
 
 
RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Sales and Bookings

The following tables summarize sales and bookings by product line in thousands of US dollars:

Sales

   
Years ended August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
 
                   
Physical-layer product line
 
$
151,910
   
$
144,060
   
$
132,097
 
Protocol-layer product line
   
83,324
     
80,591
     
99,618
 
     
235,234
     
224,651
     
231,715
 
Foreign exchange losses on forward exchange contracts
   
(2,651
)
   
(2,562
)
   
(909
)
Total sales
 
$
232,583
   
$
222,089
   
$
230,806
 

Bookings

   
Years ended August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
 
                   
Physical-layer product line
 
$
155,320
   
$
144,673
   
$
137,166
 
Protocol-layer product line
   
87,631
     
80,948
     
104,148
 
     
242,951
     
225,621
     
241,314
 
Foreign exchange losses on forward exchange contracts
   
(2,651
)
   
(2,562
)
   
(909
)
Total bookings
 
$
240,300
   
$
223,059
   
$
240,405
 

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, our sales increased 4.7% to $232.6 million, compared to $222.1 million in 2015, while our bookings increased 7.7% year-over-year to $240.3 million in 2016 from $223.1 million in 2015, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.03 (1.00 in 2015).

In fiscal 2016, despite year-over-year sales increase, we suffered from a continued headwind from a stronger US dollar compared to 2015. Given that we generate a portion of our revenue in Canadian dollars (Americas) and in euros (Europe, Middle East and Africa [EMEA]) but report our results in US dollars, it had a negative impact on our total sales and bookings year-over-year, as the US dollar increased against these currencies. In fact, in fiscal 2016, our total sales would have increased by approximately 6% and our total bookings would have increased by approximately 9% year-over-year in constant currencies.

In fiscal 2016, despite the negative currency impact, both product lines delivered year-over-year increases in sales, with respective increases of 5.4% and 3.4 % for our Physical and Protocol-layer product lines.

In fiscal 2016, the year-over-year sales increase in our Physical-layer product line (optical and copper testing) is mainly due to our leadership position in portable optical testing and a 100G investment cycle among communications service providers (CSPs), especially in the United States. This 100G investment cycle also benefited to our transport and datacom product line (a sub-group within our Protocol-layer product line), especially in the United States. In addition, in fiscal 2016, sales of our newly launched analytics software solution EXFO Xtract (which is also a sub-group of our Protocol-layer product line) contributed to the year-over-year sales increase.
 
 
 
 
Overall, the year-over-year increase in sales in fiscal 2016 comes from the Americas, namely in the United States and from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, namely in China. Both United States and China delivered robust year-over-year sales increase. On the other hand, sales to EMEA slightly decreased year-over-year, due to negative currency impact. Otherwise, this region would have reported slight sales increase year-over-year, despite uncertain market conditions in many European countries. United Kingdom however, delivered strong sales increase in 2016, after a steady decline in sales over the last couple of years.

In fiscal 2016, we delivered solid year-over-year increases in bookings for our two product lines, despite the negative currency impact. The year-over-year increase in bookings was manifested through heightened penetration of mobile network operators for their fronthaul and backhaul networks, increased traction with fixed network operators for their 100G long-haul and metro links, and growing business with web-scale operators for their data center interconnects. In addition, in fiscal 2016, we received orders in the Americas for our EXFO Xtract solution, which resulted in increased bookings for our protocol-layer product line year-over-year.

Overall, in fiscal 2016, we reported robust year-over-year bookings increases in every geographic area.

As we gradually evolve from a supplier of dedicated test instruments to a supplier of end-to-end solutions, our quarterly sales and bookings are becoming increasingly subject to quarterly fluctuations, as we are managing more complex, multimillion dollar deals that have prolonged sales and revenue recognition cycles related to our Protocol-layer products.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

In fiscal 2015, our sales decreased 3.8% to $222.1 million, compared to $230.8 million in 2014, while our bookings decreased 7.2% year-over-year to $223.1 million in 2015 from $240.4 million in 2014, for a book-to-bill ratio of 1.00 (1.04 in 2014).

In fiscal 2015, however, we faced a significant headwind from a stronger US dollar, compared to 2014. Excluding this negative currency impact, our sales would have been flat year-over-year.

In fiscal 2015, we increased sales of our Physical-layer product line by 9.1% based on our leadership position in portable optical testing and the growing need for fiber in wireless access areas. Sales or our Protocol-layer product line, meanwhile, decreased 19.1% year-over-over, especially in the areas of 10G or less, portable transport testing and in wireless protocol analysis, due to delays in the launched of some important products (in the first half of the fiscal year), longer than usual market acceptance of newly launched products and difficult market conditions in EMEA. On a constant currency basis, sales growth of our Physical-layer product line would be higher and the decline of our Protocol-layer product line lower to reflect stable sales year-over-year for the combined product lines.

In constant currency, our sales to the Americas and APAC slightly increased year-over-year. In fiscal 2015, we benefited from some improvements in the Americas, following a challenging year in 2014 due to order delays and lower spending levels, especially among key customers. In fiscal 2015, we would have reported year-over-year increase in sales of our Physical-layer product line in the Americas and APAC, offset in part by a decrease in sales of our Protocol-layer product line in these areas.

In constant currency, sales to EMEA slightly decreased year-over-year as Europe, overall, remained a challenging market due to weaker currencies and economic uncertainties. That slight year-over-year decline in sales in the EMEA region comes from our Protocol-layer product line.

In fiscal 2015, our bookings were also negatively affected by a stronger US dollar, compared to the Canadian dollar and euro. In fiscal 2015, the year-over-year decrease in total bookings comes from our Protocol-layer product line; this more than offset the increase in bookings for our Physical-layer product line in the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
 
 
 
 
In addition, in fiscal 2015, our sales and bookings for our Protocol-layer product line were negatively affected by the management of more complex, multimillion dollar deals that have prolonged sales and revenue recognition cycles.

Finally, in fiscal 2015, we faced increased competition and pricing pressure, compared to 2014, which negatively affected our sales and bookings year-over-year.

Sales by geographic region

The following table summarizes sales by geographic region:

   
Years ended August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
 
                   
Americas
   
55
%
   
54
%
   
53
%
EMEA
   
25
     
26
     
28
 
APAC
   
20
     
20
     
19
 
     
100
%
   
100
%
   
100
%


GROSS MARGIN BEFORE DEPRECIATION AND AMORTIZATION
(non-IFRS measure – refer to page 50 of this document)

Gross margin before depreciation and amortization (gross margin) amounted to 62.6%, 61.7% and 62.4% of sales in fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, our gross margin was favorably affected by a richer product mix within our protocol-layer product line. Namely, year-over-year sales increases for our transport and datacom products, as well as the recognition of orders for our EXFO Xtract software analytics solution, had a positive impact on our gross margin in fiscal 2016, compared to 2015; this was offset in part by an unfavorable product mix within our physical-layer product line year-over-year.

In addition, in fiscal 2016, we recorded lower inventory write-off compared to 2015, which contributed to increase our gross margin by 0.2% year-over-year.

Furthermore, in fiscal 2015, we recorded $0.3 million in restructuring charges in the cost of sales (nil in 2016), which negatively affected our gross margin for that year (0.1%).

Finally, in fiscal 2016, a stronger US dollar compared to other currencies reduced our manufacturing costs and had a positive impact on our gross margin year-over-year.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

In fiscal 2015, our gross margin was unfavorably affected by product mix compared to 2014 as our Physical-layer product line represented a larger portion of our sales year-over-year and this product line delivers lower margins than our Protocol-layer product line.

In addition, the decrease in our gross margin year-over-year comes from foreign exchange losses on our forward exchange contracts, which reduced our sales and negatively affected our gross margin by 0.3% compared to 2014.

Furthermore, in fiscal 2015, we faced increased competition and pricing pressure for some product lines, compared to 2014, which negatively affected our gross margin year-over-year.

Finally, in fiscal 2015, we recorded $0.3 million in restructuring charges in the cost of sales (nil in 2014), which negatively affected our gross margin for that year (0.1%).
 
 
 
 
However, in fiscal 2015, we reported lower inventory write-down compared to the same period last year, which increased our gross margin by 0.2% year-over-year.

In addition, in fiscal 2015, a stronger US dollar compared to other currencies reduced our manufacturing costs and had a positive impact on our gross margin year-over-year.


SELLING AND ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES

Selling and administrative expenses amounted to $82.2 million, $82.2 million and $86.4 million for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively. As a percentage of sales, selling and administrative expenses amounted to 35.3%, 37.0% and 37.4% for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, our selling and administrative expenses were positively affected by the significant increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro year-over-year, as a portion of our selling and administrative expenses are incurred in Canadian dollars and euros, and we report our results in US dollars, and the positive impact of our 2015 restructuring plan. In addition, our 2015 restructuring plan resulted in severance expenses of $0.6 million (or 0.3% of sales) recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015 (nil in 2016); these elements offset inflation, salary increases and increased commission expenses on increased sales.

As percentage of sales, our selling and administrative expenses decreased in fiscal 2016 compared to 2015 as these expenses were flat year-over-year and our sales increased.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

In fiscal 2015, selling and administrative expenses included $0.6 million or 0.3% of sales, in restructuring charges compared to nil in 2014.

Otherwise, in fiscal 2015, our selling and administrative expenses decreased due to the increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro year-over-year, as a portion of our selling and administrative expenses are incurred in these latter two currencies and we report our results in US dollars, and to tight control on expenses, which more than offset inflation and salary increases.


RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EXPENSES

Gross research and development expenses

Gross research and development expenses totaled $47.9 million, $50.1 million and $52.4 million for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively. As a percentage of sales, gross research and development expenses amounted to 20.6%, 22.6% and 22.7% for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively, while net research and development expenses accounted for 18.4%, 19.8% and 19.4% of sales for these respective years.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, the year-over-year significant increase in the average value of the US dollar, compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro had a positive impact on our gross research and development expenses as a large portion of these expenses are incurred in Canadian dollars and euros, and we report our results in US dollars. In addition, the 2015 restructuring plan positively affected our gross research and development expenses in 2016. Finally, our 2015 restructuring plan resulted in severance expenses of $0.8 million (or 0.3% of sales) in 2015 versus nil in 2016. However, these positive effects year-over-year were offset in part by inflation, salary increases, as well as a shift in the mix and timing of research and development projects, compared to 2015.
 
 
 
 
As percentage of sales, our gross research and development decreased in fiscal 2016 compared to 2015 as these expenses decreased year-over-year and our sales increased.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

In fiscal 2015, the year-over-year increase in the average value of the US dollar, compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro had a positive impact on our gross research and development expenses as a large portion of these expenses are incurred in these latter two currencies and we report our results in US dollars.

In fiscal 2015, excluding the positive currency impact year-over-year, inflation, salary increases, as well as a shift in the mix and timing of research and development projects slightly increased our gross research and development expenses, compared to 2014.

In addition, in fiscal 2015, our gross research and development expenses included $0.8 million, or 0.3% of sales, in restructuring charges, compared to nil in 2014.

Tax Credits and Grants

We are entitled to tax credits from the Canadian federal and provincial governments for eligible research and development activities conducted in Canada. We are also eligible for grants by a Finnish technology organization on certain research and development projects conducted in Finland.

Tax credits and grants for research and development activities were $5.2 million, $6.1 million and $7.6 million for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively. As a percentage of gross research and development expenses, tax credits and grants reached 10.8%, 12.3% and 14.5% for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

The decrease in our tax credits and grants in fiscal 2016, compared to 2015, results from the decrease in our gross research and development expenses, the shift in mix of eligible projects, namely in Finland, as well as from the increase in the average value of the US dollar, compared to the Canadian dollar year-over-year, as our tax credits are denominated in Canadian dollars and we report our results in US dollars.

In fiscal 2016, the decrease in tax credits and grants as a percentage of gross research and development expenses, compared to 2015, mainly comes from the shift in mix of eligible projects.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

The decrease in our tax credits and grants in fiscal 2015, compared to 2014, results from the decrease in the statutory Canadian federal and provincial research and development tax credit rates, as well as from the increase in the average value of the US dollar, compared to the Canadian dollar year-over-year, as our tax credits are denominated in Canadian dollars and we report our results in US dollars.

In fiscal 2015, the decrease in tax credits and grants as a percentage of gross research and development expenses, compared to 2014, mainly comes from the decrease in the statutory Canadian federal and provincial research and development tax credit rates.


DEPRECIATION OF PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT

Depreciation of property, plant and equipment totaled $3.8 million, $4.8 million and $5.0 million for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.
 
 
 
 
Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, the year-over-year increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar had a positive effect on our depreciation expenses as these expenses are incurred in Canadian dollars and we report our results in US dollars.


AMORTIZATION OF INTANGIBLE ASSETS

In conjunction with the business combinations we completed over the past several years, we recorded intangible assets, primarily consisting of core technology, customer relationships and brand name. In addition, intangible assets include software. These intangible assets resulted in amortization expenses of $1.2 million, $2.9 million and $4.4 million for fiscal 2016, 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

The decrease in our amortization expenses in fiscal 2016, compared to 2015, is mainly due to the fact that core technology related to the acquisition of NetHawk Oyj (acquired in fiscal 2010) became fully amortized in the third quarter of fiscal 2015, and that the average value of the US dollar increased compared to the Canadian dollar year-over-year, as our amortization expenses is incurred in this currency and we report our results in US dollars.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

The decrease in amortization expenses in fiscal 2015, compared to 2014, is mainly due the core technology related to the acquisition of NetHawk Oyj, as well as the increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar year-over-year, as our amortization expenses is incurred in this currency and we report our results in US dollars.

 
FOREIGN EXCHANGE GAIN

Foreign exchange gains and losses are mainly the result of the translation of operating activities denominated in currencies other than our functional currency, which is the Canadian dollar. A portion of our foreign exchange gains or losses result from the translation of cash balances and deferred income taxes denominated in US dollars. We manage our exposure to currency risk in part with forward exchange contracts. In addition, some of our entities' operating activities are denominated in US dollars, euros and British pounds, which further hedges this risk. However, we remain exposed to a currency risk; namely, any increase in the value of the Canadian dollar, compared to the US dollar, would have a negative impact on our operating results.

We reported a foreign exchange gain of $0.2 million in fiscal 2016, compared to $7.2 million in 2015 and $1.6 million in 2014.

Fiscal 2016

In fiscal 2016, we witnessed some volatility in the value of the Canadian dollar as it fluctuated compared to the US dollar, which overall resulted in a foreign exchange gain of $0.2 million during that period. The period-end value of the Canadian dollar slightly increased 0.3% versus the US dollar to CAD$1.3116 = US$1.00 in fiscal 2016, compared to CAD$1.3157 = US$1.00 at the end of the previous year. In fiscal 2016 the average value of the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar was CA$1.3278 = US$1.00.
 

 
 
 
Fiscal 2015

In fiscal 2015, the period-end value of the Canadian dollar significantly decreased versus the US dollar and the euro, compared to the previous year end, which resulted in a significant foreign exchange gain of $7.2 million during the year. The period-end value of the Canadian dollar decreased 17.5% to CA$1.3157 = US$1.00 in fiscal 2015, compared to CA$1.0858 = US$1.00 at the end of the previous year, and decreased 3.0% to CA$1.4755 = €1.00 in fiscal 2015, compared to CA$1.4319 = €1.00 at the end of the previous year.   In fiscal 2015, the average value of the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar was CA$1.2093 = US$1.00.

Fiscal 2014

In fiscal 2014, the period-end value of the Canadian dollar decreased versus the US dollar and the euro, compared to the previous year end, which resulted in a foreign exchange gain of $1.6 million during the year. The period-end value of the Canadian dollar decreased 3.0% compared to CA$1.0858 = US$1.00 in fiscal 2014, compared to CA$1.0530 = US$1.00 at the end of the previous year, and decreased 2.7% compared to CA$1.4319 = €1.00 in fiscal 2014, compared to CA$1.3936 = €1.00 at the end of the previous year.   In fiscal 2014, the average value of the Canadian dollar versus the US dollar was CA$1.0782 = US$1.00.

Foreign exchange rate fluctuations also flow through the P&L line items as a portion of our sales are dominated in Canadian dollars and euros and a significant portion of cost of sales and our operating items are denominated in Canadian dollars, euros and Indian rupees, and we report our results in US dollars.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

In fiscal 2016, the increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar, the euro and the Indian rupee year-over-year, resulted in a positive impact on our financial results. The average value of the US dollar increased 8.9%, 4.6% and 6.3% respectively year-over-year, compared to the Canadian dollar, the euro and the Indian rupee.

Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

In fiscal 2015, the increase in the average value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro year-over-year had a positive impact on our financial results. The average value of the US dollar in fiscal 2015 increased 10.8% and 14.5%, respectively, compared to the Canadian dollar and the euro.


INCOME TAXES

In fiscal 2016, we reported income tax expenses of $7.8 million on earnings before income taxes of $16.7 million, compared to income tax expenses of $5.2 million on earnings before income taxes of $10.5 million in 2015 and income tax expenses of $4.5 million on earnings before income taxes of $5.3 million in 2014.

These distorted tax rates mainly resulted from the fact that we did not recognize deferred income tax assets for some of our subsidiaries at loss and had some non-deductible losses and expenses, such as stock-based compensation costs. However, a significant portion of our foreign exchange gain was created by the translation of financial statements of our foreign subsidiaries from their local currency to the functional currency, and was therefore non-taxable. Otherwise, our effective tax rate would have been closer to the combined Canadian and provincial statutory tax rate of 27% for these years.

Please refer to note 18 to our consolidated financial statements for a full reconciliation of our income tax provision.
 

 
 
 
LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES

Cash Requirements and Capital Resources

As at August 31, 2016, cash and short-term investments totaled $47.3 million, while our working capital was at $87.2 million. Our cash and short-term investments increased $19.9 million in fiscal 2016, compared to 2015. In fiscal 2016, we generated $24.4 million in cash flows from operating activities and we recorded an unrealized foreign exchange gain on our cash and short-term investment of $1.6 million. This unrealized foreign exchange gain resulted from the translation, in US dollars, of our Canadian-dollar-denominated cash and short-term investments and was included in the accumulated other comprehensive income in the balance sheet. Otherwise, in fiscal 2016, we made cash payments of $4.4 million and $1.6 million respectively for the purchase of capital assets and the redemption of share capital.

Our short-term investments consist of debt instruments issued by high-credit quality corporations; therefore, we consider the risk of non-performance of these financial instruments to be limited. These debt instruments are not expected to be affected by a significant liquidity risk. For the purpose of managing our cash position, we have established a cash management policy, which we follow and monitor on a regular basis. Our cash and short-term investments will be used for working capital and other general corporate purposes, potential acquisitions as well as our share repurchase program. As at August 31, 2016, cash balances included an amount of $23.3 million that bears interest at an annual rate of 1.2%.

We believe that our cash balances and short-term investments of $47.3 million will be sufficient to meet our liquidity and capital requirements for the foreseeable future, including the effect of our share repurchase program. In addition to these assets, we have unused available lines of credit totaling $14.9 million for working capital and other general corporate purposes, and unused lines of credit of $21.6 million for foreign currency exposure related to forward exchange contracts. However, possible operating losses, restructuring charges and/or possible investments in or acquisitions of complementary businesses, products or technologies may require additional financing. There can be no assurance that additional debt or equity financing will be available when required or, if available, that it can be secured on satisfactory terms.

As at August 31, 2016, our commitments under operating leases amount to $3.3 million in 2017, $1.8 million in 2018, $0.8 million in 2019, $0.7 million in 2020 and $1.7 million in 2021 and after, for total commitments of $8.3 million.

Sources and Uses of Cash

We finance our operations and meet our capital expenditure requirements mainly through cash flows from operating activities, the use of our cash and short-term investments as well as the issuance of subordinate voting shares.

Operating activities

Cash flows provided by operating activities were $24.4 million in fiscal 2016, compared to $6.5 million in 2015 and $19.8 million in 2014.

Fiscal 2016 vs. 2015

Cash flows provided by operating activities in fiscal 2016 were attributable to the net earnings after items not affecting cash of $20.7 million, and the positive net change in non-cash operating items of $3.6 million. This was mainly due to the positive effect on cash of the decrease of $2.7 million in our accounts receivable due to the timing of receipts and sales during the year, the $0.9 million decrease in our income tax and tax credits recoverable due to tax credits earned in previous periods recovered during the year, and the $4.9 million increase in our accounts payable, accrued liabilities and provisions due to the timing of purchases and payments during the year. These positive effects on cash were offset in part by the negative effect on cash of the $4.7 million increase in our inventories to meet future demand, and the negative effect on cash of the increase of $0.3 million in our prepaid expenses due to timing of payments during the year.
 
 
 
 
Fiscal 2015 vs. 2014

Cash flows provided by operating activities in fiscal 2015 were attributable to the net earnings after items not affecting cash of $11.4 million, offset in part by the negative net change in non-cash operating items of $4.9 million; this was mainly due to the negative effect on cash of the increase of $10.8 million in our accounts receivable due to the timing of receipts and sales during the year, the negative effect on cash of the increase of $2.1 million in our income tax and tax credits recoverable due to tax credits earned during the year not yet recovered, and the negative effect on cash of the increase of $1.0 million in our prepaid expenses due to timing of payments during the year. These negative effects on cash were offset in part by the positive effect on cash of the decrease of $0.8 million in our inventories due to improved inventory turns during the year and the increase of $8.1 million in our accounts payable, accrued liabilities and provisions due to timing of purchases and payments during the year.

Investing activities

Cash flows used by investing activities amounted to $7.0 million in fiscal 2016, compared to $2.3 million in 2015 and $8.9 million in 2014.

Fiscal 2016

In fiscal 2016, we paid $4.4 million for the purchase of capital assets and we acquired (net of disposal) $2.6 million worth of short-term investments.

Fiscal 2015

In fiscal 2015, we paid $5.9 million for the purchase of capital assets but we disposed (net of acquisitions) of $3.6 million worth of short-term investments.

Fiscal 2014

In fiscal 2014, we acquired (net of disposal) $1.0 million worth of short-term investments and we paid $7.9 million for the purchase of capital assets, including the assets of ByteSphere and Aito.

Financing activities

Cash flows used by financing activities amounted to $1.6 million in fiscal 2016, compared to $25.5 million in 2015 and $1.0 million in 2014.

Fiscal 2016

In fiscal 2016, we redeemed share capital under our share repurchase program for a cash consideration of $1.6 million.

Fiscal 2015

In fiscal 2015, we redeemed share capital under our share repurchase programs (namely our substantial issuer bid) for a cash consideration of $25.5 million.

Fiscal 2014

In fiscal 2014, we redeemed share capital under our share repurchase program for a cash consideration of $0.9 million and repaid $0.3 million of our long-term debt. However, we received $0.2 million from the exercise of stock options.
 

 
 
 
FORWARD EXCHANGE CONTRACTS

We are exposed to a currency risk as a result of our export sales of products manufactured in Canada, China and Finland, the majority of which are denominated in US dollars and euros. In addition, we are exposed to a currency risk as a result of our research and development activities in India (Indian rupees). These risks are partially hedged by forward exchange contracts. Forward exchange contracts, which are designated as cash flow hedging instruments, qualify for hedge accounting.

As at August 31, 2016, we held forward exchange contracts to sell US dollars for Canadian dollars and Indian rupees at various forward rates, which are summarized as follows:

US dollars – Canadian dollars
 
Expiry dates
 
Contractual
amounts
   
Weighted average contractual
forward rates
 
             
September 2016 to August 2017
 
$
22,200,000
     
1.2784
 
September 2017 to August 2018
   
9,900,000
     
1.3367
 
September 2018 to December 2018
   
1,900,000
     
1.3639
 
Total
 
$
34,000,000
     
1.3002
 

US dollars – Indian rupees

Expiry dates
 
Contractual
amounts
   
Weighted average contractual
forward rate
 
             
September 2016 to August 2017
 
$
3,800,000
     
70.92
 

 
The carrying amount of forward exchange contracts is equal to fair value, which is based on the amount at which they could be settled based on estimated current market rates. The fair value of forward exchange contracts amounted to net losses of $4.2 million and $0.1 million as at August 31, 2015 and 2016 respectively.   The US dollar – Canadian dollar year-end exchange rate was CA$1.3116 = US$1.00 as at August 31, 2016.


SHARE CAPITAL

Share Capital

As at November 14, 2016, EXFO had 31,643,000 multiple voting shares outstanding, entitling to 10 votes each and 22,799,383 subordinate voting shares outstanding. The multiple voting shares and the subordinate voting shares are unlimited as to number and without par value.


OFF-BALANCE SHEET ARRANGEMENTS

As at August 31, 2016, our off-balance sheet arrangements consisted of letters of guarantee amounting to $0.4 million for our own selling and purchasing requirements, which were reserved from our lines of credit; these letters of guarantee expire at various dates through fiscal 2020.


STRUCTURED ENTITIES

As at August 31, 2016, we did not have interests in any structured entities.
 
 
 
 
CRITICAL ACCOUNTING POLICIES AND ESTIMATES

The preparation of financial statements in accordance with IFRS requires us to make judgments, estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses and the disclosures of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements. On an ongoing basis, we evaluate these estimates and assumptions, including those related to the fair value of financial instruments, the allowance for doubtful accounts receivable, the amount of tax credits recoverable, the provision for excess and obsolete inventories, the estimated useful lives of capital assets, the valuation of long-lived assets, the impairment of goodwill, the recoverable amount of deferred income tax assets, the amount of certain accrued liabilities, provisions and deferred revenue as well as stock-based compensation costs. We base our estimates and assumptions on historical experience and on other factors that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances.

Critical Judgments in Applying Accounting Policies

(a)
Determination of functional currency

We operate in multiple countries and generate revenue and incur expenses in several currencies, namely the Canadian dollar, the US dollar, the euro, the British pound, the Indian rupee and the CNY (Chinese currency). The determination of the functional currency of EXFO and its subsidiaries may require significant judgment. In determining the functional currency of EXFO and its subsidiaries, we take into account primary, secondary and tertiary indicators. When indicators are mixed and the functional currency is not obvious, we use our judgment to determine the functional currency.

(b)
Determination of cash generating units and allocation of goodwill
 
For the purpose of impairment testing, goodwill must be allocated to each cash-generating unit (CGU) or group of CGUs that are expected to benefit from the synergies of the business combination. Initial allocation and possible reallocation of goodwill to a CGU or a group of CGUs requires judgment.

Critical Estimates and Assumptions

(a)
Inventories

We state our inventories at the lower of cost, determined on an average cost basis and net realizable value, and we provide reserves for excess and obsolete inventories. We determine our reserves for excess and obsolete inventories based on the quantities on hand at the reporting dates compared to foreseeable needs, taking into account changes in demand, technology or market. It is possible that additional inventory reserves may occur if future sales are less than our forecasts or if there is a significant shift in product mix compared to our forecasts, which could adversely affect our results.

(b)
Income taxes

We are subject to income tax laws and regulations in several jurisdictions. Under these laws and regulations, uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation of complex tax regulations and the amount and timing of future taxable income. We maintain provisions for uncertain tax positions that we believe appropriately reflect our risk based on our interpretation of laws and regulations. In addition, we make reasonable estimates and assumptions to determine the amount of deferred tax assets that can be recognized in our consolidated financial statements, based upon the likely timing and level of anticipated future taxable income together with tax planning strategies. The ultimate realization of our deferred income tax assets is dependent upon the generation of sufficient future taxable income during the periods in which those assets are expected to be realized.
 
 
 
 
As at August 31, 2016, we had deferred income tax assets in the balance sheet in the amount of $4.6 million for operating losses in the United States. In order to recover these deferred income tax assets, we need to generate approximately $13.5 million in pre-tax earnings in the United States, and in order to do so over the estimated recovery period of four years, we must generate pre-tax earnings compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2 %, which we believe is probable. Our losses in the United States can be carried forward over a twenty-year period.

(c)
Tax credits recoverable

Tax credits are recorded provided that there is reasonable assurance that we have complied and will comply with all the conditions related to the tax credits and that the tax credits will be received. The ultimate recovery of our non-refundable tax credits is dependent upon the generation of sufficient future taxable income during the tax credits carry-forward periods. We have made reasonable estimates and assumptions to determine the amount of non-refundable tax credits that can be recognized in our consolidated financial statements, based upon the likely timing and level of anticipated future taxable income together with tax planning strategies.

As at August 31, 2016, our non-refundable research and development tax credits recognized in the balance sheet amounted to $37.2 million. In order to recover these non-refundable research and development tax credits, we need to generate approximately $240 million (CA$315 million) in pre-tax earnings at the Canadian federal level and approximately $12 million at the Canadian provincial level. In order to generate $240 million in pre-tax earnings at the Canadian Federal level over the estimated recovery period of 12 years, we must generate a pre-tax earnings CAGR of 2 %, which we believe is probable.
Our non-refundable research and development tax credits can be carried forward over a twenty-year period.

(d)
Impairment of non-financial assets

Impairment exists when the carrying value of an asset or group of assets (cash generating unit (CGU)) exceeds its recoverable amount, which is the higher of its fair value less costs of disposal and its value in use. The fair value less costs of disposal calculation for our CGUs is based on a market approach that relies on input from implicit valuation multiples and recent transactions for comparable assets or businesses, within the same industry. We apply judgment in making adjustments for factors such as size, risk profile or profitability and also consider EXFO's value derived from its market capitalization considering a control premium based on comparable situations. Depending on the market evidence available, we, from time to time, may further supplement this market approach with discounted cash flows.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, we performed our annual goodwill impairment test for our two CGUs, EXFO and Brix.

For the purposes of the impairment test, goodwill has been allocated to the lowest level within the company at which it is monitored by management to make business decisions, which are the following two CGUs:

 
EXFO CGU
 
$
8,663,000
 
 
Brix CGU
   
13,265,000
 
 
Total
 
$
21,928,000
 
 
 
 
 
In performing the goodwill impairment review of both CGUs, we determined the recoverable amount of goodwill based on fair value less costs of disposal.  In estimating the recoverable amount of the EXFO CGU, we used a market approach, which is based on sales multiples within the range of 0.7 to 3.7 times sales, for comparable businesses with similar operations within the same industry over the past year. We applied judgment in making certain adjustments for factors such as size, risk profile or profitability of the comparable businesses, when compared to the EXFO CGU. To calculate the recoverable amount of the Brix CGU, we also applied a similar market approach, based on sales multiples for comparable businesses, which also ranged from 0.7 to 3.7 times sales. Furthermore, as the sales and operations of the EXFO CGU constitutes the significant majority of our sales and operations, we also compared the carrying amount of the EXFO CGU to EXFO's overall market capitalization, after adjustment for a control premium and the adjustment to deduct the recoverable amount of the Brix CGU.  Based on this calculation, we calculated a recoverable amount which resulted in an implied sales multiple that was within the 0.7 to 3.7 times range, as used in the market approach described above.

As at August 31, 2016, the recoverable amount for both CGUs exceeded their carrying value. The recoverable amount of EXFO CGU and Brix CGU would equal their carrying value using sales multiples of 0.6 and 0.7 time sales respectively.


NEW IFRS PRONOUNCEMENTS NOT YET ADOPTED

Financial Instruments

The final version of IFRS 9, " Financial Instruments ", was issued in July 2014 and will replace IAS 39, " Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement ". IFRS 9 uses a single approach to determine whether a financial asset is measured at amortized cost or fair value, replacing the multiple rules in IAS 39. The approach in IFRS 9 is based on how an entity manages its financial instruments in the context of its business model and the contractual cash flow characteristics of the financial assets. Most of the requirements in IAS 39 for classification and measurement of financial liabilities were carried forward unchanged to IFRS 9. The new standard also requires a single impairment method to be used, replacing the multiple impairment methods in IAS 39. Requirements relating to hedge accounting representing a new hedge accounting model have also been added to IFRS 9. The new standard is effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018, and must be applied retrospectively. We will adopt this new standard on September 1, 2018. We are currently assessing the impact that the new standard will have on our consolidated financial statements.

Revenue from Contracts with Customers

IFRS 15, " Revenue from Contracts with Customers ", was issued in May 2014. The objective of this new standard is to provide a single, comprehensive revenue recognition model for all contracts with customers to improve comparability. This new standard contains principles that an entity will apply to determine the measurement of revenue and timing of when it is recognized. The underlying principle is that an entity will recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to customers at an amount that the entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. This new standard is effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2018. Early adoption is permitted. We are currently assessing the impact that the new standard will have on our consolidated financial statements and whether or not early adopt the new standard.

Leases

IFRS 16, " Leases ", was issued in January 2016.   IFRS 16 sets out the principles for the recognition, measurement, presentation and disclosure of leases for both parties to a contract, i.e., the customer (lessee) and the supplier (lessor). IFRS 16 will supersede IAS 17, "Leases", and related Interpretations. This new standard is effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2019, with earlier adoption permitted if IFRS 15, "Revenue from Contracts with Customers", is also applied. We have not yet assessed the impact that the new standard will have on our consolidated financial statements.
 
 
 
 
NON-IFRS MEASURES

We provide non-IFRS measures (constant currency data, gross margin before depreciation and amortization and adjusted EBITDA) as supplemental information regarding our operational performance. We use these measures for the purpose of evaluating our historical and prospective financial performance, as well as our performance relative to our competitors. These measures also help us to plan and forecast future periods as well as to make operational and strategic decisions. We believe that providing this information to our investors, in addition to the IFRS measures, allows them to see the company's results through the eyes of management, and to better understand our historical and future financial performance.

The presentation of this additional information is not prepared in accordance with IFRS. Therefore, the information may not necessarily be comparable to that of other companies and should be considered as a supplement to, not a substitute for, the corresponding measures calculated in accordance with IFRS.

Constant currency data represents data before foreign currency impact. Data for the current period is translated using foreign exchange rates of the corresponding period from the preceding year.

Gross margin before depreciation and amortization represents sales less cost of sales, excluding depreciation and amortization.

Adjusted EBITDA represents net earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, restructuring charges, stock-based compensation costs and foreign exchange gain.

The following table summarizes the reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to IFRS net earnings, in thousands of US dollars:

Adjusted EBITDA

   
Years ended August 31,
 
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
 
                   
IFRS net earnings for the year
 
$
8,900
   
$
5,298
   
$
783
 
                         
Add (deduct):
                       
                         
Depreciation of property, plant and equipment
   
3,814
     
4,835
     
4,995
 
Amortization of intangible assets
   
1,172
     
2,883
     
4,398
 
Interest and other income
   
(828
)
   
(155
)
   
(326
)
Income taxes
   
7,764
     
5,198
     
4,479
 
Restructuring charges
   
     
1,637
     
 
Stock-based compensation costs
   
1,378
     
1,295
     
1,696
 
Foreign exchange gain
   
(161
)
   
(7,212
)
   
(1,634
)
Adjusted EBITDA for the year
 
$
22,039
   
$
13,779
   
$
14,391
 
                         
Adjusted EBITDA in percentage of total sales
   
9.5
%
   
6.2
%
   
6.2
%
 
Item 6.
Directors, Senior Management and Employees

A.
Directors and Senior Management

The following table sets forth information about our executive officers, senior managers and Directors as of November 1, 2016.

Name and Municipality of Residence
 
 
 
Position with EXFO
 
 
PIERRE-PAUL ALLARD
Pleasanton, California
 
 
Independent Director
 
STEPHEN BULL
Quebec City, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Research and Development
 
STÉPHANE CHABOT
Quebec City, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Test and Measurement
 
FRANÇOIS CÔTÉ
Montreal, Quebec
 
 
Independent Director
 
DARRYL EDWARDS
Weston Under Wetherley, United Kingdom
 
 
Independent Director
 
LUC GAGNON
St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Manufacturing Operations and Global Services
 
GERMAIN LAMONDE
St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec
 
 
Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
 
CLAUDIO MAZZUCA
LaSalle, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Systems and Services
 
PHILIPPE MORIN
Senneville, Quebec
 
 
Chief Operating Officer
 
PIERRE PLAMONDON
Quebec City, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
 
BENOIT RINGUETTE
Boischatel, Quebec
 
 
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
 
SYLVAIN ROULEAU
Kirkland, Quebec
 
 
Vice-President, Human Capital
 
MICHAEL SCHEPPKE
Singapore, Singapore
 
 
Vice-President, Sales — Asia-Pacific
 
CLAUDE SÉGUIN
Westmount, Quebec
 
 
Independent Director
 
LEE HUAT (JOSEPH) SOO
Singapore, Singapore
 
 
Vice-President, Sales — Asia-Pacific
 
WILLEM JAN TE NIET
Harfsen, Netherlands
 
 
Vice-President, Sales — EMEA
 
RANDY E. TORNES
Frisco, Texas
 
 
Independent Director
 
DANA YEARIAN
Lake Forest, Illinois
 
 
Vice-President, Sales — Americas
 
 
 
 
 
The address of each of our executive officers, senior managers and Directors is c/o EXFO Inc., 400 Godin Avenue, Quebec, Quebec, Canada, G1M 2K2. The following is a brief biography of each of our executive officers, senior managers and Directors.

Pierre-Paul Allard was appointed a member of our Board of Directors in September 2008 and has been a board member of many other technology companies in Canada and in the US. Mr. Allard is Senior Vice-President, Worldwide Sales and President Global Field Operations at Check Point Software Technologies Inc. As Chief Revenue Officer, Mr. Allard is responsible for all go-to-market at Check Point. Prior to joining Check Point in July 2016, Mr. Allard led the go to market and sales teams at Avaya Inc. for 4 years. Prior to this, he worked for nineteen (19) years at Cisco Systems, Inc., where he most recently held the position of Vice-President, Sales and Operations, Global Enterprise. Previously, Mr. Allard was President of Cisco Systems Canada, and before that he held various management roles at IBM Canada for twelve (12) years. In 2002, Mr. Allard co-chaired the Canadian e-Business Initiative, a private-public partnership aiming to measure the role e-Business plays in increasing productivity levels, job creation and competitive position. In 1998, he was the laureate of the Arista-Sun life Award, for Top Young Entrepreneur in Large Enterprise, conferred by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, he received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, which highlights significant contributions to Canada. In the same year, he was also awarded the prestigious Trudeau Medal from the University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management. Pierre-Paul Allard holds a bachelor's and masters' degree in business administration from the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Stephen Bull joined EXFO in 1995 as an Engineering Manager (project management) for the Advanced Optics group. From September 1997 to December 1999, he held the position of Assistant Director of Engineering responsible for all the software development. Mr. Bull was then appointed EXFO's Vice-President of Research and Development in December 1999. Today, he manages a department that includes more than 760 engineers and technicians spread out over three continents and nine locations. He is responsible for EXFO's product development initiatives and manages the Project Management Office and related processes. Prior to joining EXFO, Mr. Bull was General Manager and Managing Director of Space Research Corporation, a military engineering company in Belgium, from June 1986 to March 1990, as well as of Taurus, an IT consulting firm, from 1990 to 1995. He is currently the President of the Institut de développement de produits (an institute dedicated to the advancement of product development practices) and a member of the Product Development Management Association (PDMA). He speaks regularly at conferences on product development. Stephen Bull holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Université Laval in Quebec City, and is a certified New Product Development Professional from the PDMA.

Stéphane Chabot first joined EXFO as a Product Line Manager in 1998 and was promoted to Product Line Manager—Network Service Provider Market in 2001. As Vice-President, Test and Measurement, Mr. Chabot is responsible for the Optical and Access & Platform product lines. Prior to this appointment, he was Director of EXFO's Optical Business Unit, a position he had held since 2006. In this role, Mr. Chabot led the main team in its responsibility for developing the worldwide optical business and strategy, developing and maintaining the product family roadmap and vision, developing and controlling yearly marketing, ensuring go-to-market plans, developing new markets, providing key market watch and competitive updates, analyzing product line performance and metrics, providing periodic benchmarking, and developing partnerships/OEMs/acquisitions within the product line family. Mr. Chabot was highly successful as Director of the Optical Business Unit, doubling its annual revenues to more than $120M and 38% market share in optical portable solutions, with leadership in many key worldwide applications, such as Fiber-to-the-Home. Prior to his employment at EXFO, Mr. Chabot was a Telecommunications Officer at the Canadian Armed Forces from 1992 to 1998. Stéphane Chabot holds a bachelor's degree in Space Science from The Royal Military College of Canada, and a Diploma in Business Administration from Laval University.
 
 
 
 
François Côté was appointed a member of our Board of Directors in January 2015. Mr. Côté is a director as a full-time occupation, for corporations in the public, private and non-profit sectors, bringing his expertise in strategy, M&A, governance and passion for growth. Mr. Côté held a variety of executive positions at Bell Canada prior to becoming President and Chief Executive Officer of Emergis. Following the acquisition of Emergis by TELUS in January 2008, he was appointed President of TELUS Quebec, TELUS Health and TELUS Ventures. In this role, Mr. Côté was responsible for broadening TELUS Quebec's presence and driving the company's national health strategy through timely investments in information technology and innovative wireless solutions. Mr. Côté holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Relations from Laval University. In 2007, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, in the Corporate Restructuring category for the province of Quebec. Mr. Côté serves on the boards of Alithya and Lumenpulse Inc. (LMP) as well as the Advisory Board of the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE). He is also Chairman of the Board for Norda Stelo, Vice-President of the Board of the Foundation Dr. Julien and Board member of the Fondation Martin Matte. In June 2013, Mr. Côté was named Honourary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Canadian Armed Forces' 34th Signal Regiment.

Darryl Edwards was appointed a member of EXFO's Board of Directors in September 2011. Mr. Edwards is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ECI Telecom, a leading provider of access and transport solutions. Prior to leading ECI, Mr. Edwards was the Chairman of the Board for MACH, a leading provider of hub-based mobile communication solutions. He brings to EXFO more than thirty (30) years of telecommunications experience gained from a number of senior executive leadership positions; most recently he was the Chief Executive Officer of AIRCOM International, successfully leading the company through to business sale. Mr. Edwards was previously at Nortel Networks for seventeen (17) years, where he held various executive officer positions, including President of EMEA and President of Global Sales (Carrier Networks). He also was the Chief Executive Officer for two (2) of Nortel's key joint ventures, first in the Middle East and later in Germany. Prior to his time at Nortel, Mr. Edwards spent thirteen (13) years at GEC-Plessey Telecommunications where he worked in engineering, quality assurance and international sales. He was also an advisor to private equity firm Warburg Pincus, the majority shareholder in MACH, on telecommunications-related topics. Mr. Edwards has held a number of chairs, including Chairman of the Board of Nortel's interests in Turkey, Nortel Netas, which was listed on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. He also was a member of the Advisory Counsel to the Turkish government between 2004 and 2008, and previously served on the UK Government Broadband Stakeholders Group and the Information Age Partnership. Darryl Edwards holds a Higher National Certificate (Physics) from Birmingham Polytechnic in the UK.

Luc Gagnon was appointed Vice-President, Manufacturing Operations in May 2003 and, in May 2007, he also took on the vice-presidency of the Global Services department. He is responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of all manufacturing activities, which include production, purchasing, product engineering, quality assurance, planning, manufacturing engineering, product configuration, transportation and customs, as well as material resources. In addition, he must ensure that there is an ongoing and efficient relation between the manufacturing process and the end customer. Prior to his nomination in 2003, Mr. Gagnon held the position of Production Director since 2000. Before joining EXFO, he had similar roles in several other high-technology companies. He worked for Mendes from 1999 to 2000, for C-MAC from 1997 to 1999, for STERIS from 1993 to 1997 and for MITEL from 1985 to 1993. Luc Gagnon holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and master's degree in engineering, both from the Université de Sherbrooke , in Canada.

Germain Lamonde , a founder of EXFO, has been President and Chief Executive Officer of EXFO since its inception in 1985. He has also been Chairman of the Board since EXFO went public in 2000. Responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of EXFO, Mr. Lamonde has grown the company from the ground up into a global leader in the test, service assurance and analytics markets. Mr. Lamonde has served on the board of directors of several organizations such as the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations, the POLE QCA Economic Development Corporation, the National Optics Institute of Canada (INO) and Université Laval in Quebec City, to name a few. Mr. Lamonde has also been involved in numerous charity organizations such as United Way and served as honorary President for the Leucan Shaved Head initiative for the Quebec City Region. Germain Lamonde holds a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Montreal's School of Engineering ( École Polytechnique ), a master's degree in optics from Université Laval , and is also a graduate of the Ivey Executive Management Program offered by the University of Western Ontario.
 
 
 
 
Claudio Mazzuca was appointed Vice-President, Systems and Services in March 2012. Prior to this appointment, he held the role of Director of EXFO's Transport and Datacom business unit since 2006. In this role, he was responsible for the development and execution of business and product strategy for this business unit, which now is a leading player in the Ethernet and next-generation packet transport test market segments. Mr. Mazzuca began his career as a systems engineer for Nortel Networks, where he worked on the launch of the highly successful 10G High-Speed Transport and DWDM product line, and later on Nortel's Preside Network Management solution. He then moved to technology startup Hyperchip Systems as Senior Product Manager, focusing on the development of large-scale metro and core IP routers and switches, and associated OEM components. In 2004, he joined EXFO's Transport and Datacom business unit as Product Line Manager for the next-generation SONET/SDH products, and in 2005, was promoted to Group Manager for the entire Transport and Datacom product line. Claudio Mazzuca holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Concordia University and a master's degree in business from McGill University in Montreal.

Philippe Morin was appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO) of EXFO in November 2015. He is responsible for EXFO's global sales leadership, market development, marketing, product management and technology strategy. Before joining EXFO, Mr. Morin was Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Sales and Field Operations at Ciena. Previously, he was Ciena's Senior Vice-President of the Global Products Group and held a number of leadership roles at Nortel Networks including President of Metro Ethernet Networks, Vice-President and General Manager of Optical Networks, as well as having held positions in sales, marketing and product management in North America and Europe. Altogether, Mr. Morin has more than 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Philippe Morin holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada

Pierre Plamondon was appointed Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of EXFO in January 1996. He is responsible for the accounting services, financial reporting, legal services, investor relations and information technology services. Prior to joining EXFO, Mr. Plamondon served as Senior Manager for Price Waterhouse, now PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, from September 1981 to December 1995, in Canada and France. Pierre Plamondon holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a license in accounting, both from Université Laval in Quebec City. Mr. Plamondon is a member of the Quebec Chartered Professional Accountants Order. He is currently a director of Urbanimmersive Inc., a public company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. Over the years, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of several non-profit organizations among which the Fondation de l'Université Laval and SOVAR Inc. (Société de valorisation des applications de la recherche de l'Université Laval).

Benoit Ringuette has been our in-house Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary since April 2004. Prior to joining EXFO, Mr. Ringuette practiced mainly in commercial, corporate and securities law from 1998 to 2003 as an associate in the law firms of O'Brien, Flynn Rivard in Quebec City and Desjardins Ducharme Stein Monast in Quebec City. Mr. Ringuette has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 1998. Mr. Ringuette holds a bachelor's degree in Civil Law and a master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.

Sylvain Rouleau was appointed Vice-President, Human Capital at EXFO in January 2012. As such, his main responsibility is overseeing the human resources department, and, more specifically, his mandate is to transform EXFO into an organization that optimizes its human capital and, in turn, surpasses its objectives. Mr. Rouleau has over twenty-five (25) years' experience in human resources and has held several executive positions in a variety of international organizations. Namely, before joining EXFO, he was Senior Vice-President, Human Capital at Kruger since February 2009. From 2003 to 2009, he worked for the Alcan Group ─ Bauxite & Alumina as Vice-President, Human Resources, Communications and Corporate Affairs. Prior to that, he managed human resources teams for Nortel Networks as well as several divisions of the General Electric Company, such as GE Power Systems, GE Medical Systems and GE Aircraft Engines, both in Canada and abroad. Mr. Rouleau's international perspective and his proven expertise as a business partner and as a change agent serve as a reference in human resources management. Sylvain Rouleau holds a master's degree in organizational psychology (O.D. and Complex Systems) from the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada, and he has given several conferences on leading-edge organizations.
 
 
 
 
Claude Séguin was appointed a member of EXFO's Board of Directors in February 2013. He brings to EXFO nearly forty (40) years of corporate, financial, executive and provincial government experience gained through senior management positions in major corporations and government departments. Mr. Séguin is currently Special advisor to the Founder and Executive Chairman at CGI Group Inc., a global leader in information technology and business process services. He was, until October 2016, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Development and Strategic Investments. In this position, he was responsible for all merger and acquisition activities. Prior to joining CGI in 2003, he served as President of CDP Capital—Private Equity, and prior to this position, he served as Teleglobe Inc.'s Executive Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, a position that he held from 1992 to 2000. Mr. Séguin also has extensive senior-level government experience, having served as Deputy Finance Minister of the Province of Québec from 1987 to 1992, in addition to Assistant Deputy Finance Minister. Prior to that, he has been Director of Planning and Assistant Director of Social Programs at the Province of Quebec Treasury Board. Mr. Séguin is a member of the boards of HEC-Montréal and Centraide of Greater Montreal Foundation as well as being Chairman of the Board of Finance – Montreal, an organization regrouping financial institutions in the Province of Quebec. Claude Séguin graduated from HEC-Montréal and earned a master's and a Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University in New York State. He also followed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
 
Michael Scheppke was appointed EXFO's Vice-President, Sales – APAC in October 2016. He is responsible for managing telecom sales, both direct and indirect, and the execution of sales strategies across APAC regions. Michael developed his expertise working in our industry in both the USA and Asia. Following several years at HP and Agilent, he spent a significant part of his career at Ixia where he held various senior roles. He has developed and executed the go-to-market strategy for their network monitoring business in APAC by successfully leading diverse sales teams, and expending sales coverage with channel partners. Michael holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Florida.
 
Lee Huat (Joseph) Soo was appointed EXFO's Vice-President of Asia Sales in December 2011. He is responsible for managing telecom sales, both direct and indirect, and for the execution of sales strategies in the Asian market. As a member of the Strategy and Management Committees, he also develops corporate strategy for EXFO. Mr. Soo has extensive market knowledge and sales experience in the telecom industry, as he has been leading Asia Pacific sales teams for major test and measurement providers for the last fifteen (15) years. Namely, he was Vice-President of Asia Pacific Sales at Fluke Networks from 2010 to 2011. Prior to that, he was Executive Vice-President of Rohde & Schwarz Asia Pacific Regional, where he held various management and sales positions at different Rohde & Schwarz locations since he began there in 1997. Earlier on, Mr. Soo began his career as a Senior EMC Engineer at Astec Power Pte Ltd in 1990. Lee Huat (Joseph) Soo is fluent in English and Chinese and has lived both in Asia and the US. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota─Twin Cities and has attended several executive MBA courses at the Singapore Institute of Management. Mr. Soo will remain with EXFO until the end of November 2016.
 
Willem Jan te Niet was appointed Vice-President, Sales – EMEA in August 2016. He is responsible for managing telecom sales, both direct and indirect, and the execution of sales strategies across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining EXFO, Wim was on the senior management teams for global leaders such as Citrix Systems, Equinix, Ericsson-LG and Nortel.  He brings considerable expertise in the areas of cloud, networking and big data mobile analytics.  Wim also has more than 20 years of experience in managing sales teams and executing successful business development strategies with wireline and mobile operators. Wim holds a master of science degree in business administration from the University of Groningen.
 
Randy E. Tornes was appointed a member of EXFO's Board of Directors in February 2013. He brings to EXFO over thirty (30) years of telecommunications experience gained through senior management positions at leading network equipment manufacturers. Mr. Tornes is Vice-President, Strategic Alliances at Juniper Networks, a worldwide leader in high-performance networking and telecommunications equipment. Prior to his current role at Juniper, he was the Operating Area Leader for AT&T and responsible for all sales, service and support of Juniper products and services. Prior to joining Juniper Networks in May 2012, he spent two (2) years at Ericsson, where he was Vice-President Sales (AT&T account). Previous to that position, he worked for Nortel for twenty-six (26) years, holding various sales management positions, including Vice-President Sales, GSM Americas. Mr. Tornes also served as member of the Board of Governors at 3G Americas LLC. Randy E. Tornes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business—organizational development and production and operations management, from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
 
 
 
 
Dana Yearian was appointed EXFO's Vice-President, Sales – Americas in March 2007. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Yearian held the position of Vice-President, Telecom Sales, North America. He is responsible for managing telecom sales, both direct and indirect, and the execution of sales strategies across North, Central and South America regions. From 2005 to 2006, Mr. Yearian held senior executive sales positions at Spirent Communications Service Assurance division. In 2003, he founded The Katrixx Group, which provided consulting and contracting services to high-technologies companies. Before founding this company, Mr. Yearian worked as Vice-President of Sales at Acterna Corp. (from 1991 to 2003), where he led both North American and International sales and support operations. Prior to working for Acterna, Mr. Yearian held various executive positions, namely at Toshiba America, Silicon Sensors (Advanced Photonix, Inc.) and Impell Corporation (ABB Ltd.). Dana Yearian holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and has completed MBA course work at DePaul University, also in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Term of Executive Officers

Executive officers are appointed annually by the Board of Directors and serve until their successors are appointed and qualified or until earlier resignation or removal. There are no family relations among directors and officers and no arrangements with third parties (customers, suppliers) pursuant to which they were appointed as officers or directors.


B.
Compensation

COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

Compensation Discussion and Analysis

This Compensation Discussion and Analysis focuses primarily on: (i) significant elements of the Corporation's executive compensation program; (ii) principles on which the Corporation makes compensation decisions and determines the amount of each element of executive and director compensation; and (iii) an analysis of the material compensation decisions made by the Human Resources Committee for the financial year ended August 31, 2016.

The following is a discussion of the compensation arrangements with the Corporation's Chief Executive Officer ("CEO"), Chief Operating Officer ("COO"), Chief Financial Officer ("CFO") and each of the two most highly compensated executive officers of the Corporation and its subsidiaries whose total compensation was, individually, more than CA$150,000, (collectively with the CEO, COO and CFO, the "Named Executive Officers" or "NEOs"). The NEOs for the financial year ended August 31, 2016 were Mr. Germain Lamonde (CEO), Mr. Philippe Morin (COO), Mr. Pierre Plamondon (Vice-President, Finance and CFO), Mr. Jon Bradley (Vice-President, Sales — Europe Middle East and Africa) and Mr. Dana Yearian (Vice-President, Sales — Americas).

Members of the Human Resources Committee

During the financial year ended August 31, 2016, the Human Resources Committee was composed of:

·
Mr. François Côté (Chairman)
·
Mr. Pierre-Paul Allard
·
Mr. Darryl Edwards
·
Mr. Claude Séguin
·
Mr. Randy E. Tornes
 
 

 
None of these members were officers or employees, or former officers or employees of the Corporation or its subsidiaries. All of the members of the Human Resources Committee are considered "independent", as defined in applicable securities legislation and regulations. They each have experience in executive compensation either as a chief executive officer or a senior executive officer of a publicly-traded corporation. Mr. Pierre-Paul Allard has held management and executive positions for the last thirty (30) years. Mr. Côté held a variety of executive positions, including president and chief executive officer, for approximately twenty (20) years and he is the Chairman of the Human Resources Committee of Lumenpulse Inc. Mr. Côté also holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Relations. Mr. Darryl Edwards has held a number of senior executive leadership positions in the last thirty (30) years. Mr. Claude Séguin has held various senior management and executive positions in major corporations in the last forty (40) years. Mr. Randy E. Tornes has approximately thirty (30) years of management experience through senior sales management positions. Over the course of their careers, all members have been exposed at various degrees to the complexity of balancing efficient executive compensation strategies with the evolution of business requirements, having to manage directly or indirectly impacts and consequences of executive compensation decisions. The Board of Directors believes that the Human Resources Committee collectively has the knowledge, experience and background required to fulfill its mandate.

Mandate of the Human Resources Committee

The Human Resources Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for establishing the annual compensation and assessing the risks related thereto and overseeing the assessment of the performance of all the Corporation's executive officers, including the President and CEO. The Human Resources Committee also reviews and submits to the Board of Directors recommendations for the salary structure and the short-term and long-term incentive compensation programs for all employees of the Corporation. The Human Resources Committee also evaluates and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding the compensation of directors, including the number of Deferred Share Units credited to the non-employee directors pursuant to the Deferred Share Unit Plan. The Human Resources Committee's goal is to develop and monitor executive compensation programs that are consistent with strategic business objectives and shareholders' interests. Though the Human Resources Committee is responsible for the review of employees' performance and approval of the identity of the employees that will receive Restricted Share Units or options to purchase shares of the Corporation, in accordance with policies established by the Board of Directors and the terms of the Long-Term Incentive Plan, these functions may be shared between the Board of Directors and the Human Resources Committee. During the period from September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016, these functions have been shared by the Board of Directors and the Human Resources Committee but have mainly been performed by the Human Resources Committee.

The Human Resources Committee has reviewed and discussed with the CEO and Vice-President, Human Capital of the Corporation, the compensation disclosure in this document, and has recommended to the Board of Directors that the disclosure be included in this Annual Report.

From September 1, 2015 to November 1, 2016, the Human Resources Committee held five (5) meetings and at all of those meetings executive compensation was discussed. The Human Resources Committee meetings were attended by all the members of the Human Resources Committee except Mr. Allard and Mr. Edwards, each of whom were absent at one (1) meeting. The following table outlines the main activities of the Human Resources Committee during the period from September 1, 2015 to November 1, 2016:
 
 
 
 
 
Meeting
 
 
Main Activities of the Human Resources Committee
 
 
  October 7, 2015
 
 
Review of the Business Performance Measures results for the financial year ended August 31, 2015;
Review of the Business Performance Measures for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review of the Short-Term Incentive Plan results for the financial year ended August 31, 2015;
Review of the Short-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review of the proposed salary scales and salary increases for the year started September 1, 2015;
Review of the compensation plans of executive officers for the financial year started September 1, 2015 being the Base Salary, the Short-Term Incentive Plan and the stock-based compensation delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan;
Review and approval of the stock-based compensation plan for the sales force delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review and approval of the quantum for the stock-based compensation plan for the performing employees delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review and approval of the executive compensation section of the Management proxy circular for the financial year ended August 31, 2015;
Review and approval of the CEO objectives and compensation plan;
 
Review of the Risk Assessment of Executive Compensation disclosure obligations.
 
 
  January 6, 2016
 
 
Review and approval of the Business Performance Measures for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review and approval of the Short-Term Incentive Plan of some executive officers for the financial year started September 1, 2015, including the CEO objectives;
Review of the Short-Term Incentive Plan results for the financial year ended August 31, 2015;
Review of the quarterly results under the Short-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015 and being part of the Short-Term Incentive Plan;
Review and approval of the stock-based compensation for performing employees delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Global Compensation Review;
Leadership program;
 
Talent Management.
 
 
  March 29, 2016
 
 
Review of the quarterly results under the Short-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015 and being part of the Short-Term Incentive Plan;
Succession Planning;
Review and approval of the Short-Term Incentive Plan   of some executive officers for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Review of the Key Human Capital Initiatives;
Executive Compensation Review;
Leadership program;
Review of the selection criteria for Board Members;
 
Review of the Talent Management.
 
 
  June 29, 2016
 
 
Review of the quarterly results under the Short-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2015 and being part of the Short-Term Incentive Plan;
Review and approval of the Short-Term Incentive Plan of the remaining executive officers for the financial year started September 1, 2015;
Update on the Global Compensation Review;
Update on the Management Structure Review;
Update on the Talent Management Review;
 
Review of the Key Human Capital Initiatives.
 
 
  October 12, 2016
 
 
Review of the Business Performance Measures results for the financial year ended August 31, 2016;
Review of the Business Performance Measures for the financial year started September 1, 2016;
Review of the Short-Term Incentive Plan results for the financial year ended August 31, 2016;
Update on the Short-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2016;
Review of the proposed salary scales and salary increases for the year started September 1, 2016;
Review of the compensation plans of executive officers for the financial year started September 1, 2016 being the Base Salary, the Short-Term Incentive Plan and the stock-based compensation delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan;
Review and approval of the stock-based compensation plan for the sales force delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2016;
Review and approval of the quantum for the stock-based compensation plan for the performing employees delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan for the financial year started September 1, 2016;
Review and approval of the executive compensation section of the Management proxy circular for the financial year ended August 31, 2016;
Review and approval of the CEO objectives and compensation plan;
 
Review of the Risk Assessment of Executive Compensation disclosure obligations.
 
 
 
 
 
Compensation Plan Control - Compensation Consultant and Internal Review

As a general practice, the Corporation's relative position in terms of compensation levels is determined periodically through studies performed by independent consulting firms using a selected reference market of comparable companies. The benchmarking activities are further detailed below under the heading – "Benchmarking".

In 2016, the Corporation engaged Willis Towers Watson to perform an executive total compensation review (hereinafter in this Annual Report referred to as the "Target Compensation Positioning"). The compensation elements covered by the analysis were: base salary; target bonus; long-term incentive; perquisites and pension (hereinafter in this Annual Report referred to as the "Target Total Compensation"). Willis Towers Watson's work included assistance in benchmarking, assessing potential gaps between the market and the executives' compensation levels and proposing potential changes to ensure alignment with the market and with the Corporation's compensation policy. In 2016, eleven (11) executive positions were covered by the executive total compensation review, eight (8) located in Canada and three (3) outside of Canada.

In 2015, the Corporation relied on the benchmarking activities and on the work accomplished in previous years. In 2013 and 2014, as in 2016, Willis Towers Watson was engaged to perform the Target Compensation Positioning as described in the above paragraph. Willis Towers Watson also provided recommendations regarding the short-term incentive and long-term incentive compensation design of the Corporation and assessed the competitiveness of the compensation offered to the independent Directors of the Board and proposed changes to ensure alignment with market practices.

In addition, internal pay equity studies are a key factor used by the Corporation to complete the compensation review process and indicate where necessary adjustments may be required. During the financial year ended August 31, 2016, this practice continued and certain compensation adjustments were made as have been made in previous years. Notably, in 2012, the Human Resources Committee, after the evaluation of the share ownership of the CEO, determined that the CEO should no longer receive equity-based compensation within his compensation since the share ownership of the CEO is sufficient and equity-based compensation is no longer reasonably considered as an incentive to performance. Accordingly, it was decided that the base salary of the CEO would be adjusted over a period of four (4) years starting from the financial year started September 1, 2012.

The Human Resources Committee has the authority to retain any independent consultants of its choice to advise its members on total executive compensation policy matters, and to determine the fees and the terms and conditions of the engagement of these consultants. The Human Resources Committee is ultimately responsible for its own decisions, which may take into consideration more than the information and recommendations provided by its compensation consultants or Management.

For the financial year that ended on August 31, 2016, the Human Resources Committee retained the services of Willis Towers Watson for an analysis on executive officers' compensation.

For the financial years that ended on August 31, 2015 and 2016, the Corporation also retained the services of Willis Towers Watson, Eckler, 37-2 Conseil Inc. (now Normandin Beaudry), Aon, Great Place to Work, Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge, Mercer, Morneau Shepell, OPEX Conseils, SMA Transformation, and SPB Organizational Psychology for services which were not related to executive compensation. The services provided by Willis Towers Watson concerned the access to benefits and compensation data and surveys for employees in Canada, United States, Finland and United Kingdom. The services provided by Eckler related to defined contribution pension plan analysis, retirement policy, governance and communication to employees. The services provided by 37-2 Conseil Inc. (now Normandin Beaudry) and OPEX Conseils concerned various work related to the logistic and the administration of compensation of sales employees including improvement of processes. The services provided by Aon related to the access to compensation data and surveys for sales employees in various countries. The Corporation retained the services of Great Place to Work for culture audit services. The services provided by Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge and Morneau Shepell related to outplacement services.
 
 

 
The Corporation consulted Mercer for assistance with compensation data for expatriate employees and assistance with the compliance of the Pay Equity Act established by the Government of Quebec, Canada. The Corporation consulted SMA Transformation for assistance with employees' training. The Corporation consulted SPB Organizational Psychology for tests before promoting. Fees for the services performed that are not related to executive compensation are not required to be approved by the Human Resources Committee.

The aggregate fees paid to Willis Towers Watson, Eckler, 37-2 Conseil Inc. (now Normandin Beaudry), Aon, Great Place to Work, Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge, Mercer, Morneau Shepell, OPEX Conseils, SMA Transformation and SPB Organizational Psychology for consulting services provided to the Human Resources Committee related to determining compensation for any of the Corporation's directors and executive officers and to the Corporation for all other services provided during the financial years ended August 31, 2015 and 2016 were as follows:

 
Type of Fee
 
 
Financial 2015 Fees
 
 
Percentage of
Financial 2015 Fees
 
 
Financial 2016 Fees
 
 
Percentage of
Financial 2016 Fees
 
 
  Executive Compensation - Related Fees
 
 
CA$0,00
 
 
 
0%
 
 
 
CA$28,734
 
 
 
28%
 
 
 
  All Other Fees
 
 
CA$115,333
 
 
 
100%
 
 
 
CA$175,202
 
 
 
72%
 
 
 
  Total
 
 
CA$115,333
 
 
 
100%
 
 
 
CA$203,936
 
 
 
100%
 
 

Benchmarking

For the purpose of assessing the competitiveness of the Target Total Compensation of senior executives, the Corporation considered compensation data from a comparator group including private and publicly-traded companies of comparable size and similar industry, operations in multiple countries and attracting similar profiles of employees, professionals and experts. The comparator group has been revised in 2016 with the guidance and advice from Willis Towers Watson.

·
Canada executives : For the executives based in Canada, the Corporation used the following comparator group: 5N Plus Inc., ACCEO Solutions, AgJunction Inc, Atos IT Services and Solutions, Inc., Avigilon Corporation, Callian Technologies Ltd., Ciena, COM DEV International Ltd., Constellation Software inc., Evertz Technologies Ltd., GTECH, Open Text Corporation, Redline Communications Group Inc., Sandvine Corporation, Sierra Wireless Inc., Smart Technologies Inc., Vecima Networks Inc., Vidéotron Ltée and Wi-Lan Inc.

·
United States executives : For the executives based in the United States, the Corporation used the following comparator group: AMETEK, Avangate, BMC Software, CDK Global, Communications Systems, Crown Castle, Intelsat, Itron, Keysight Technologies, Laird Technologies, MTS Systems, Plexus, SAS Institute, SunGard Data Systems, Teradata, TomTom, Total System Services, Truphone, Verint Systems.

·
United Kingdom executives : For the executives based in the United Kingdom, the Corporation used the following comparator group: BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, COLT Telecom, Flextronics, Fujitsu, Irdeto, McCain Foods, PepsiCo, Premier Food Group, QinetiQ, Qualcomm, Rentokil Initial, Talk Talk Group, Viacom.
 
 

 
·
Asia executives : For the executives based in Asia, the Corporation used a broader comparator group, based on general industry data: A.Menarini Asia-Pacific, Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie, Accenture, ACE Asia Pacific Services, ACE Insurance, ACE Life Insurance Company Ltd, ACR Capital Holdings, AIA Company, Aimia, Alcatel-Lucent, Amazon.com, ANZ Banking Group, ASML, AstraZeneca, Avanade, Aviva Ltd, AXA Insurance Singapore, AXA Life Insurance Singapore, Bank of New York Mellon, Baxter, Beckman Coulter, Becton Dickinson, BHP Billiton, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Biosensors, BT Global Services, Cerebos Pacific Limited, Chubb Pacific Underwriting, Cigna, CommScope, DHL, DHL Express, DHL GBS, DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Mail, DHL Supply Chain, Discovery Communications, Experian, Federal Insurance Company, Fujitsu, GE Energy, GE Healthcare, General Electric, Great Eastern Life Insurance, Hap Seng Consolidated, HSBC Holdings, IHS Global, IMI, Ingenico, Intel, Intercontinental Hotels Group, International Flavors & Fragrances, ITT Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Lexmark, Liberty Insurance, M1 Limited, Manulife, MasterCard, Merck KGaA, Microsoft, Molex, MSD International GMBH (Singapore Branch), National Australia Bank, NBC Universal, NCR, Overseas Assurance Corporation, Pfizer, Pramerica Financial Asia HQ, Proximus, Prudential Assurance Company, Prudential Services, QBE Insurance, Qualcomm, Reinsurance Group of America, RELX Group, Rio Tinto, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Sabre Holdings, Sealed Air, Smiths Group, Spirax Sarco, Standard Chartered Bank, StarHub, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Straits Developments, Swiss Reinsurance International, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Trayport, TUI, UBS, Unilever, United Overseas Bank, Verizon, Zurich Insurance Company, Zurich Life Insurance.

To be considered in the comparator group, a company had to meet the following specific criteria:

a)
Similar industry: Technology Hardware and Equipment, Telecommunications Equipment and Services or Software and Services; and

b)
Comparable in size: revenues under CA$1 billion. Only one publicly traded company had revenues above the equivalent of CA$1 billion. The compensation market comparison is done using the regression analysis which is a method to predict the "size-adjusted" competitive level of compensation to reflect the size of the Corporation in relation to that of the other companies of the reference group. This method mitigates the impact that larger companies may have on the competitive compensation levels for the Corporation.

The Corporation also participates in two (2) major surveys on an annual basis and accordingly is permitted to purchase the results in order to continue the benchmarking of our compensation on a regular basis. The first one is Willis Towers Watson High Tech Middle Management, Professional and Support Compensation Survey, providing and receiving data for Canada, USA, UK, Finland and Lebanon. The other one is Radford (AON) Global Sales Survey, providing and receiving data for all the countries where the Corporation employs sales force.

Guiding Principles for Compensation of Executive Officers

The Corporation's executive compensation plans are designed to attract, retain and motivate key executives who directly impact the Corporation's long-term success and the creation of shareholder value. In determining executive compensation, the Human Resources Committee considers the following four (4) principles:

·
Performance-based : Executive compensation levels reflect both the results of the Corporation and individual results based on specific quantitative and qualitative objectives established at the beginning of each financial year in keeping with the Corporation's long-term strategic objectives.

·
Aligned with shareholder interests : An important portion of incentive compensation for executives is composed of equity awards to ensure that executives are aligned with the principles of sustained long-term shareholder value growth.
 
 

 
·
Market competitive : Compensation of executives is designed to be externally competitive when compared against executives of comparable peer companies, and in consideration of the Corporation's results.

·
Individually equitable : Compensation levels are also designed to reflect individual factors such as scope of responsibility, experience, and performance against individual measures.

Compensation Policies and Practices

In April 2007, the Corporation adopted a Best Practice Regarding the Granting Date of Stock Incentive Compensation. The purpose of this best practice is to ensure that the Corporation complies with securities regulation and avoids the back-dating of equity based incentive compensation. The best practice states that the Corporation shall: (i) grant recurrent equity based incentive compensation pursuant to its Long-Term Incentive Plan on the fifth business day following the public release of the Corporation's financial results; and (ii) grant recurrent stock based incentive compensation pursuant to its Deferred Share Unit Plan on the last business day of each quarter. In October 2014, the Corporation amended the Human Resources Committee Charter in order to adapt it to the latest NASDAQ Rules on independency of directors, nomination and compensation committees and to better describe the nomination of directors' process.

Risk-Assessment of Executive Compensation Program

The Human Resources Committee considers the implications of the risks associated with the Corporation's compensation policies and practices when establishing recommendations for the compensation of executive officers. As such, for the financial year ended August 31, 2016, the Human Resources Committee conducted an internal risk assessment for executive compensation. The Human Resources Committee individually examined the compensation plans for each potential NEO against a list of elements that could trigger executives taking inappropriate or excessive risks. For the financial year ended August 31, 2016, the Human Resources Committee did not identify any risks associated with the Corporation's executive compensation policies and practices that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the Corporation.

On October 9, 2012 the Human Resources Committee Charter was amended in order to expressly reflect the responsibility of the Human Resources Committee to conduct an annual assessment of the risks associated with the Corporation's executive compensation policies and procedures.

Purchase of Hedging Financial Instruments by an Executive Officer or Director

While the Corporation has not adopted a policy prohibiting or restricting its executive officers and directors from purchasing financial instruments, including prepaid variable forward contracts, equity swaps, collars, or units of exchange funds, that are designated to hedge or offset a decrease in market value of equity securities granted as compensation or held, directly or indirectly, by the executive officer or director, to Management's knowledge, no executive officer or director has purchased any such financial instruments as of November 1, 2016. In addition, according to the Security Trading Policy of the Corporation, executive officers and directors are required to pre-clear with the Corporation's legal counsel's office any transaction concerning the Corporation's securities, which includes the entering into any of the above-mentioned financial instruments.

Compensation Elements

The key elements of the Corporation's 2016 executive compensation program were (i) base salary, (ii) short-term incentive compensation (by way of the Short-Term Incentive Plan or the Sales Incentive Plan) and (iii) the stock-based incentive compensation delivered through the Long-Term Incentive Plan. In addition, the Corporation has also offered benefit plans and, if applicable, contributed to a Deferred Profit-Sharing Plan or a 401K Plan. To determine appropriate compensation levels for each compensation component, the Human Resources Committee considered all key elements of the executive compensation program. The Human Resources Committee did not assign specific weightings to any key element of the Corporation's 2016 executive compensation program.
 
 

 
Base Salaries

In establishing the base salaries of senior officers, including the President and CEO, the Corporation takes into consideration responsibilities, job descriptions and salaries paid by other similar organizations for positions similar in magnitude, scope and complexity. The Human Resources Committee's objective is to align executive compensation levels with the Target Compensation Positioning offered within a reference market of comparable companies that are similar in size to the Corporation, with a particular focus on those within the high-technology/telecommunications and manufacturing-durable goods industries. The Human Resources Committee reviews the base salary of each executive officer on an annual basis at the beginning of each financial year and recommends that the Board of Directors approve appropriate adjustments, if required, within the salary range in order to maintain a competitive position within the market place.

Short-Term Incentive Compensation

The Short-Term Incentive Plan ("STIP"), or the Sales Incentive Plan ("SIP") for the executive officers that are included within the sales force, provides executive officers with the opportunity to earn annual bonuses based on the Corporation's financial performance and the achievement of strategic corporate and departmental objectives established on a yearly basis (the "Business Performance Measures") as well as the achievement of individual performance objectives ("Individual Performance Measures"). The Business Performance Measures under the STIP also apply to all other employees of the Corporation, except the sales force, for which the SIP applies. The Individual Performance Measures only apply to executive officers and directors' levels of the Corporation.

Annually the Human Resources Committee determines the annual incentive target for each executive officer, being a percentage of the executive's base salary ("Annual Incentive Target"). The Annual Incentive Targets for executive officers eligible for incentive bonuses in the financial year ended August 31, 2016 were established to be progressively in line with the objective of the Human Resources Committee of aligning compensation with the Target Compensation Positioning offered in the reference market. For the most recently ended financial year, the Annual Incentive Target for the NEOs was:

 
Name & Position
 
 
Annual Incentive Target as % of Base Salary
 
 
  Germain Lamonde, CEO
 
 
65.0%
 
 
  Philippe Morin, COO
 
 
50.0%
 
 
  Pierre Plamondon, Vice-President, Finance and CFO
 
 
42.5%
 
 
  Jon Bradley, Vice-President, Sales — EMEA
 
 
70.0%
 
 
  Dana Yearian, Vice-President, Sales — Americas
 
 
89.0%
 

Short-Term Incentive Plan

The STIP awards (for executive officers not in sales force) are calculated as follows:

       Base Salary
X
Annual Incentive Target (%)
X
Business Performance Measures (%)
X
Individual Performance Measures (%)

At the beginning of each financial year, the Human Resources Committee recommends for approval by the Board of Directors the Business Performance Measures that will account for the annual incentive compensation. The following table provides the Business Performance Measures, their weight and result within the overall Business Performance Measures applicable to all executive officers and employees of the Corporation except those executives and employees that are within the sale force:
 
 
 
 
 
Business Performance Measures (1)
 
 
Weight
 
 
Result in % of the Weight
 
 
Result of the Metrics
 
 
  Consolidated revenues (2)
 
 
30%
 
 
 
17.85%
 
 
 
US$232.6 million
 
 
  Adjusted EBITDA (3)
 
 
45%
 
 
 
30.52%
 
 
 
US$22.0 million
 
 
  Quality (4)
 
 
15%
 
 
 
12.75%
 
 
 
95%
 
 
  Net Promoter Score (5)
 
 
5%
 
 
 
5.88%
 
 
 
70%
 
 
  On-time delivery (4)
 
 
5%
 
 
 
4.22%
 
 
 
96.5%
 
 
  Total
 
 
100%
 
 
 
71.22%
 
   
   
   
(1)
The corporate Adjusted EBITDA result for the year must be positive (above 0) for the whole Business Performance Measure to trigger a payout. Adjusted EBITDA represents net earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization, restructuring charges, stock-based compensation costs and foreign exchange gain.
(2)
For consolidated revenues metric, results will be based on the achievement from 25% to 125%, calculated on a pro-rated basis, from the revenues attained in the previous financial year (US$222.1 million) up to the target defined at the beginning of the financial year (US$252.5 million).
(3)
For Adjusted EBITDA metric, results will be based on the achievement from 25% to 125%, calculated on a pro-rated basis, from the Adjusted EBITDA attained in the previous financial year (US$13.8 million) up to the target defined at the beginning of the financial year (US$33.1 million).
(4)
For quality and on-time delivery metrics, results will range from nil to 100% of the weight upon attainment of a minimum threshold of 50% and 91.7%, respectively, up to the annual target defined at the beginning of the financial year and from 100% to 150% of the weight from such annual target to the maximum threshold of 125% and 99.7%, respectively.
(5)
For Net Promoter Score metrics, results will range from nil to 100% of the weight upon attainment of a minimum threshold of 45% up to the annual target defined at the beginning of the financial year and from 100% to 150% of the weight from such annual target to the maximum threshold of 72%.

The Individual Performance Measures are determined annually by the executive's supervisor or the Human Resources Committee and approved by the Board of Directors of the Corporation. They are based upon the position, role and responsibilities of each executive within the Corporation, departmental objectives and personal management objectives. At the conclusion of each year, the executive's supervisor or the Human Resources Committee evaluates the performance of the executive against the pre-determined objectives and the executive's performance is evaluated by progress, achievements and contributions. The following tables provide for each NEO subject to the STIP an overview of the elements included within the Individual Performance Measures, their weight and result for financial year 2016 within the overall Individual Performance Measures:

 
  Germain Lamonde, CEO
 
 
  Elements of Individual Performance Measures 1
 
 
Weight
(from 0% to 160%)
 
 
Result
(%)
 
 
  Financial objectives
 
 
  Corporate revenues
 
 
From 0% to 35%
 
 
25.70%
 
 
 
  Corporate EBITDA
 
 
From 0% to 55%
 
 
17.85%
 
 
 
  Strategic contribution
 
 
  Merger and Acquisition activities aiming towards a Solutions oriented company
 
 
From 0% to 20%
 
 
18.00%
 
 
  Establishment and implementation of a strategic plan that will result in revenue growth in identified services and
  products family
 
 
From 0% to 20%
 
 
15.50%
 
 
 
  Customer Satisfaction
 
 
From 0% to 15%
 
 
11.63%
 
 
 
  Employee Satisfaction
 
 
From 0% to 15%
 
 
13.50%
 
 
 
  Total
 
 
 
102.18%
 
 
 
  Total of Business Performance Measures (71.22%)   X   Individual Performance Measures (102.18%)
 
 
 
72.77%
 
 
   
   
(1)
If the minimum level of the Corporate EBITDA, as determined at the beginning of the financial year, is not achieved, payment of any variable compensation to the CEO will be at the discretion of the Human Resources Committee.
 
 
 
 
 
  Philippe Morin, COO
 
 
  Elements of Individual Performance Measures
 
 
Weight
(from 0% to 150%)
 
 
Result
(%)
 
 
  Financial objectives
 
 
Weight
 
 
From 0% to 70%
 
 
49.30%
 
 
 
  Corporate EBITDA
 
 
40%
 
 
  Corporate revenues
 
 
30%
 
 
  Strategic contribution
 
 
Weight
 
 
From 0% to 80%
 
 
52.27%
 
 
 
  Expending corporate revenues, profitability and positioning in selected strategic markets
 
 
30%
  Delivering the strategies and objectives under the NEO's responsibility as set forth in the Corporation's
strategic plan
 
 
30%
 
 
Positioning and transforming the Corporation to allow significant growth in Corporate EBITDA
and revenues
 
 
20%
 
 
  Total
 
   
 
101.57%
 
 
 
  Total of Business Performance Measures (71.22%)   X   Individual Performance Measures (101.57%)
 
 
 
72.34%
 
 

 
  Pierre Plamondon, Vice-President, Finance and CFO
 
 
  Elements of Individual Performance Measures
 
 
Weight
(from 0% to 150%)
 
 
Result
(%)
 
 
  Financial objectives
 
 
Weight
 
 
From 0% to 70%