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Table of Contents
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to .
Commission File Number: 001-33155
ipgp-20201231_g1.jpg
IPG PHOTONICS CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware 04-3444218
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(IRS Employer
Identification No.)
50 Old Webster Road, Oxford, Massachusetts
 01540
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (508373-1100
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of ClassTrading SymbolName of Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, Par Value $0.0001 per shareIPGPThe Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes          No  
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    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 every Interactive Data File required to be submitted 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 such files).    Yes          No  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or emerging growth company. See definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company" and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer 
Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes          No  
The aggregate market value of the registrant's common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $5.7 billion, calculated based upon the closing price as reported by the Nasdaq Global Select Market on June 30, 2020. For purposes of this disclosure, shares of common stock held by persons who own 5% or more of the outstanding common stock and shares of common stock held by each officer and director have been excluded in that such persons may be deemed to be "affiliates" as that term is defined under the Rules and Regulations of the Exchange Act. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily conclusive.
As of February 19, 2021, 53,533,592 shares of the registrant's common stock were outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the registrant's Proxy Statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A within 120 days of the end of the registrant's fiscal year ended December 31, 2020 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the extent stated herein.


Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
PART I
ITEM 1.BUSINESS
ITEM 1A.RISK FACTORS
ITEM 1B.UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2.PROPERTIES
ITEM 3.LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
ITEM 4.MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
PART II
ITEM 5.MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
ITEM 6.RESERVED
ITEM 7.MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
ITEM 7A.QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
ITEM 8.FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
ITEM 9.CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
ITEM 9A.CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
ITEM 9B.OTHER INFORMATION
PART III
ITEM 10.DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
ITEM 11.EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
ITEM 12.SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS
ITEM 13.CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE
ITEM 14.PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES
PART IV
ITEM 15.EXHIBITS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES
ITEM 16.FORM 10-K SUMMARY
SIGNATURES
INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
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This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and we intend that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. For this purpose, any statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K except for historical information are forward-looking statements. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, words such as "may," "will," "expect," "believe," "anticipate," "intend," "target," "project," "intend," "plan," "seek," "strive," endeavor," goal," "could," "estimate," or "continue" or the negative or other variations thereof or comparable terminology are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to projections of our future financial performance, trends in our businesses, or other characterizations of future events or circumstances are forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements included herein are based on current expectations of our management based on available information and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, all of which are difficult or impossible to accurately predict and many of which are beyond our control. As such, our actual results may differ significantly from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those discussed in more detail in Item 1 (Business) and Item 1A (Risk Factors) of Part I and Item 7 (Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations) of Part II of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Readers should carefully review these risks, as well as the additional risks described in other documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). In light of the significant risks and uncertainties inherent in the forward-looking information included herein, the inclusion of such information should not be regarded as a representation by us or any other person that such results will be achieved, and readers are cautioned not to rely on such forward-looking information. We undertake no obligation to revise the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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PART I
ITEM 1.    BUSINESS
Our Company
IPG Photonics Corporation ("IPG", the "Company", the "Registrant", "we", "us" or "our") develops, manufactures and sells high-performance fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers and diode lasers that are used for diverse applications, primarily in materials processing. Fiber lasers are a type of laser that combine the advantages of semiconductor diodes, such as long life and high efficiency, with the high amplification and precise beam qualities of specialty optical fibers to deliver superior performance, reliability and usability.
Our portfolio of laser solutions are used in materials processing, communications, medical and advanced applications. We sell our products globally to original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs"), system integrators and end users. We market our products internationally, primarily through our direct sales force. Our major manufacturing facilities are located in the United States, Germany, Russia and Belarus. We have sales service offices and applications laboratories worldwide.
We are vertically integrated. We design and manufacture most of the key components used in our finished products, from semiconductor diodes to optical fiber preforms, finished fiber lasers and amplifiers. We manufacture complementary products used with our lasers including optical delivery cables, fiber couplers, beam switches, optical processing heads, in-line sensors and chillers. We offer laser-based and non-laser based systems for certain markets and applications. Our vertically integrated operations allow us to reduce manufacturing costs, control quality, rapidly develop and integrate advanced products and protect our proprietary technology.
We are listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (ticker: IPGP). We began operations in 1990, and we were incorporated in Delaware in 1998. Our principal executive offices are located at 50 Old Webster Road, Oxford, Massachusetts 01540, and our telephone number is (508) 373-1100.
Industry Overview
Laser technology has revolutionized a broad range of applications and products in manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, medical, research, consumer electronics, semiconductors and communications. A laser converts electrical energy to optical energy that can be focused and shaped, creating a powerful, concentrated beam that causes materials to melt, vaporize or change their character. In a laser, an energy source excites or pumps a gain medium, which converts the energy from the source into an emission consisting of particles of light, called photons, at particular wavelengths. Lasers provide flexible, non-contact and high-speed ways to process and treat various materials and enable automated production, miniaturization and increasing product complexity.
Lasers are utilized in materials processing applications requiring very high power densities, such as cutting, welding, marking, engraving, additive manufacturing, ablation and cleaning, printing, drilling and cladding. Historically, machine tools such as grinding machines, mechanical saws, milling machines, lathes, presses, water jet cutters, plasma cutters and welding machines have been used to cut, combine, form or otherwise process metal in the production of finished goods such as automobiles, consumer appliances, electronics and heavy machinery. Laser-based systems are increasingly gaining share within the materials processing market because of the greater precision, processing speeds and flexibility enabled by this technology. Beyond materials processing, lasers are well-suited for imaging and inspection applications and the ability to confine laser light to narrow wavelengths makes them particularly effective in medical, non-destructive inspection and sensing applications.
Fiber Lasers
Fiber lasers use semiconductor diodes as the energy source to pump a gain medium consisting of specialty optical fibers, which are infused with rare earth ions. These fibers are called active fibers and are comparable in diameter to a human hair. The laser emission is created within optical fibers and delivered through a flexible optical fiber cable. As a result of their different design and components, fiber lasers are more reliable, efficient, robust, compact and easier to operate than gas, crystal and solid state lasers that were initially used in industrial applications. In addition, fiber lasers free the end users from fine mechanical adjustments and the high maintenance costs that are typical for other laser technologies.
Although low power fiber lasers were introduced four decades ago, their increased adoption in the last twenty years has been driven primarily by our improvements in their output power levels and cost, as well as their superior performance, lower cost of ownership and greater reliability compared with other laser and non-laser technologies. We successfully increased output power levels, efficiency and reliability by improving optical components such as diodes and active fibers that increased their power capacities and improved their performance. Fiber lasers now offer output powers that exceed those of other laser technologies in many categories. Our substantial advancements in diode technology, packaging design and other optical
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components together with increased production volumes over the last two decades reduced the cost and increased the reliability of our products. As a result, the average cost per watt of output power has decreased dramatically and our fiber lasers effectively compete in many applications that used other laser technologies and non-laser solutions historically. We believe that fiber lasers provide a combination of benefits that include: superior performance; enhanced end user productivity; lower cost of ownership; greater ease of use; a more compact footprint; and greater choice of wavelengths and more precise beam control. There remain applications and processes where other laser and non-laser technologies may provide superior performance with respect to particular features or applications notwithstanding the benefits offered by fiber lasers.
Our Competitive Strengths
Our key strengths and competitive advantages include the following:
World's Leading Producer of Fiber Laser Technology.   As a pioneer and technology leader in fiber lasers, we are able to leverage our scale to reduce costs for our customers and drive the proliferation of fiber lasers in existing and new applications.
Vertically Integrated Development and Manufacturing.    We develop and manufacture most of our key high-volume specialty components, along with optical heads and other products used in conjunction with our lasers, which we believe enhances our ability to meet customer requirements, reduce costs and accelerate product development.
Manufacturing Scale. We have invested extensively in our production capabilities allowing us to efficiently manufacture and deliver large volumes of fiber lasers in short delivery cycles which provide us with a competitive advantage.
Breadth and Depth of Expertise.   Our extensive know-how in materials sciences and experience in optical, electrical, mechanical and semiconductor engineering enable us to develop and manufacture proprietary components, products, accessories and systems and assist customers in improving their manufacturing using our fiber lasers.
Broad Product Portfolio and Ability to Meet Customer Requirements.  Our broad range of standard and custom fiber lasers operating at various wavelengths and pulse durations allow us to meet varied customer requirements. Further, our vertically integrated manufacturing and broad technology expertise allow us to design, prototype and commence high-volume production of our products rapidly.
Diverse Customer Base, End Markets and Applications.    Our diverse customer base, end markets and applications provide us with many growth opportunities. In 2020, we shipped products to thousands of customers worldwide. Our principal end markets and representative applications within those markets include:
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Materials Processing Markets
End MarketApplicationsPrincipal Products
General manufacturingFlat sheet, tube and 3D cuttingContinuous Wave ("CW") lasers (1-20 kW)
Welding, brazing and hardeningCW lasers (1-100 kW)
Marking, engraving and printingNanosecond ("NS") pulsed lasers (10-100 W)
3D printingCW lasers (200-1,000 W)
Ablation and cleaningNS pulsed lasers (100-2000 W)
AutomotiveCutting of high-strength steel and aluminumCW lasers (1-20 kW)
Welding tailored blanks, frames and auto partsCW lasers (1-50 kW)
Seam welding and brazingCW lasers and IPG systems
Electric vehicle battery processingCW lasers and NS pulsed lasers
Consumer goodsMicro welding, cutting and markingQuasi-CW ("QCW") lasers and NS pulsed lasers
Marking of plastic and non-metal materialUltraviolet pulsed lasers
Medical devicesStent, pacemaker and device manufacturingCW lasers and NS pulsed lasers
Energy and Renewable EnergyHardening and welding of pipesCW lasers (4-50 kW)
Cladding of turbine blades and drill bitsCW lasers (1-20 kW) and IPG systems
Solar cell processingGreen pulsed lasers
Aerospace, rail andWelding titanium, welding/cutting thick platesCW lasers (1-50 kW) and IPG systems
shipbuildingPercussion drilling of partsQCW lasers
Non-destructive inspectionGenesis systems
Micro electronicsWafer inspection and annealingCW lasers and NS pulsed lasers
Processing of glass, ceramics, sapphire, siliconPicosecond ("PS") pulsed lasers
Other Markets
End MarketApplicationsPrincipal Products
Aerospace and defense Directed energySingle-Mode CW lasers, amplifiers and diodes
EntertainmentLaser cinema projectionRGB luminaire laser system
ScientificSensing, spectroscopy and researchMid-infrared and other lasers
Medical proceduresGeneral surgery, urology and soft tissueThulium lasers
Skin, wrinkle/hair removal, dentalErbium and diode lasers
CommunicationsDatacom and telecom network infrastructureOptical transceivers
Terrestrial and satellite broadbandOptical amplifiers and raman lasers

Products
We design and manufacture a broad range of high-performance fiber lasers and amplifiers. We also make packaged diodes, direct diode lasers, laser and non-laser systems and communications components and systems. Many of our products are designed to be used as general-purpose energy or light sources, making them useful in diverse applications and markets.
Our laser products are based on a common proprietary technology platform using many of the same core components, such as semiconductor diodes and specialty fibers, which we configure to our customers' specifications. Our engineers and scientists work closely with OEMs, system integrators and end users to develop and customize our products for their needs. Because of our flexible and modular product architecture, we offer products in different configurations according to the desired application, including modules, rack-mounted units and tabletop units. Our engineers and other technical experts work directly with the customer in our application and development centers to develop and configure the optimal solution for each customer's requirements. We also manufacture certain complementary products that are used with our lasers, such as optical delivery cables, fiber couplers, beam switches, optical processing heads and chillers.
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Lasers
Our laser products include medium (1 to 999 watts) and high (1,000 watts and above) output power lasers from 0.3 to 4.5 microns in wavelength. These lasers may be CW, QCW or pulsed. Our pulsed line includes NS, PS and femtosecond lasers. We offer lasers with different gain mediums and wavelengths. The gain mediums are ytterbium, erbium and thulium, as well as Raman and hybrid fiber-solid state lasers using our crystal technology. We produce hybrid fiber-solid state lasers at green and ultraviolet wavelengths for a range of micro processing applications and in the mid-IR spectrum for sensing, imaging and spectroscopy applications. We also sell fiber pigtailed packaged diodes and fiber coupled direct diode laser systems that use semiconductor diodes rather than optical fibers as their gain medium. In addition, we offer high-energy pulsed lasers, multi-wavelength lasers, tunable lasers, single-polarization and single-frequency lasers, as well as other versions of our products.
We believe that we produce the highest power solid-state lasers in the industry. Our ytterbium fiber lasers reach power levels of up to 120,000 watts. We also make single-mode and low-mode output ytterbium fiber lasers with power levels of up to 20,000 watts and single-mode, erbium and thulium fiber lasers with power levels of up to 1,000 watts.
For 2020 fiscal year, high power continuous wave ("CW") lasers accounted for 54% of revenue and were 56% and 62% of revenue, in 2019 and 2018, respectively. Pulsed lasers accounted for 13%, 11%, and 11% of revenue in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Accessories
We manufacture and sell accessories that include high power optical fiber delivery cables, fiber couplers, beam switches, chillers and scanners for our fiber lasers. We are expanding our line of cutting and welding optical processing heads for use with our fiber lasers and sell devices for in-line coherent monitoring for welding.
Systems
Besides selling laser sources, we also offer integrated laser systems for particular geographic markets or custom-developed for a customer's manufacturing requirements. We offer 2D compact flat sheet cutter systems and multi-axis systems for fine welding, cutting and drilling. We produce high precision laser systems for the medical device industry. We also offer a welding seam stepper and picker, which is an automated fiber laser welding tool providing customers increased processing speeds, better quality and the elimination of certain clamping tools. In 2018, we acquired Genesis Systems Group LLC (United States), a leader in the integration of laser and non-laser robotic welding and automation solutions, and Robot Concept GmbH (Germany), an integrator of laser-based systems. IPG also develops and sells specialized fiber laser systems for unique material processing applications as requested by customers desiring a complete laser-based solution, including orbital welding, pipe welding and remote welding. The platforms include robotic and multi-axis workstations for welding, cutting and cladding, flatbed cutting systems, and diode markers. For the 2020, 2019 and 2018 fiscal years, laser and non-laser systems accounted for 8%, 11%, and 4%, respectively, of revenues.
Other Products
We produce optical amplifiers, which are predominantly deployed in broadband networks, ranging from milliwatts to up to 1,500 watts of output power from 1 to 2 microns in wavelength. We offer erbium-doped fiber amplifiers ("EDFAs"), Raman amplifiers and integrated communications systems that incorporate our amplifiers. We also offer ytterbium and thulium specialty fiber amplifiers and broadband light sources that are used in advanced applications. Our fiber amplifiers offer some of the highest output power levels and highest number of optical outputs in the industry.
We also sell optical transceiver and transponder modules for communications applications. These optical subsystems provide the interface for interconnecting electronic equipment including Ethernet switches, IP routers and SONET/SDH optical transport modules within telecommunications, cable multi-system operator ("MSO") and data center networking applications.
Our Markets
We broadly classify our principal end markets as material processing, advanced applications, communications and medical procedures. The following table shows the allocation of our net sales (in thousands) among our principal markets:
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 Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
  % of Total % of Total % of Total
Materials processing$1,082,478 90.2 %$1,229,211 93.5 %$1,374,448 94.1 %
Advanced applications63,859 5.3 %40,779 3.1 %43,469 3.0 %
Communications23,144 1.9 %30,111 2.3 %34,397 2.4 %
Medical procedures31,243 2.6 %14,480 1.1 %7,560 0.5 %
Total$1,200,724 100.0 %$1,314,581 100.0 %$1,459,874 100.0 %
These estimates are based upon customer information and when customer information has not been provided, upon our best information and belief.
Materials Processing
The most significant materials processing applications for fiber lasers are cutting, welding and brazing, marking and engraving, additive manufacturing such as 3D printing and ablation. Other applications include precision processing, surface treatment, drilling and annealing.
Cutting and Welding Applications.    Laser-based cutting technology has several advantages compared to alternative technologies. Laser cutting is fast, flexible and highly precise and can be used to cut complex contours on flat, tubular or three-dimensional materials. The laser source can be programmed to process many different kinds of materials such as steel, aluminum, brass, copper, glass, ceramic and plastic at various thicknesses. Laser cutting technology is a non-contact process that is easy to integrate into an automated production line and is not subject to wear of the cutting medium. We sell low, mid and high power ytterbium fiber lasers for laser cutting. High electrical efficiency, low maintenance and operating cost, high beam quality, wide operating power range, power stability and small spot size are some of the qualities offered by IPG fiber lasers for many cutting applications, which enable customers to cut a variety of materials faster.
Laser welding offers several important advantages compared to conventional welding technology as it is non-contact, precise, easy to automate, provides high process speed and results in narrow-seamed, high-quality welds that generally require little or no post-processing machining. The high beam quality of our fiber lasers coupled with high CW power offer deep penetration welding as well as shallow conduction mode welding. Lasers allow for precise welding required in battery manufacturing or the small components used in consumer electronics. In addition, fiber lasers enable remote welding "on the fly," a flexible method of three-dimensional welding in which the laser beam is positioned by a robot-guided scanner. Remote welding stations equipped with fiber lasers are used for welding door panels, seat backs, spot and lap welds over the entire auto body frame ("body-in-white") and tailor welded blanks for automotive applications. Our products are used also for laser brazing of visible joints in automobiles such as tailgates, roof joints and columns. Brazing is a method of joining sheet metal by using a melted filler material similar to soldering but requiring higher temperatures.
3D Printing. Historically, metalworking has been performed with processes that remove material to produce component parts. The development of 3D printing technology enables the production of three-dimensional objects from digital design data through an additive manufacturing process, which builds up components in layers using materials that are available in fine powder form. 3D printers take advantage of improvements in computing power and motion and process control to deposit a range of materials, including metals, plastics and composite materials, accurately at high speed. Within metal-based 3D printing processes that include laser metal deposition (LMD) and selective laser melting (SLM), a laser beam is used to fuse metallic powder at points defined by computer-generated design data. 3D printing permits highly complex structures, with a high degree of customization capability and significantly less waste than subtractive manufacturing processes.  
Marking and Engraving.    With the increasing need for source traceability, component identification and product tracking as a means of reducing product liability and preventing falsification, as well as the demand for modern robotic production systems, manufacturers increasingly demand laser marking systems capable of applying serialized alphanumeric, graphic or bar code identifications directly onto their manufactured components. Laser engraving is similar to marking but forms deeper grooves in the material. In contrast to conventional acid etching and ink-based technologies, lasers can mark a wide variety of metal and non-metal materials, such as ceramic, glass and plastic surfaces, at high speeds and without contact by changing the surface structure of the material or by engraving. Laser marking systems can be easily integrated into a customer's production process and do not subject the item being marked to mechanical stress. In addition, we make high powered lasers for ablation and cleaning applications.
Micro-materials processing. In the semiconductor industry, lasers typically are used as the light source in microlithography and for annealing, dicing, drilling, lift-off and marking of wafers. In the electronics industry, lasers typically are used to cut, join, mark, scribe or otherwise process a variety of materials that include ceramics, metals, plastics, silicon, and
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sapphire among others. Consumer electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers and handheld computers contain many parts that are laser-cut, marked or welded. In the photovoltaic or solar panel industry, pulsed lasers are used to remove materials and to scribe, or cut, solar cells. The high beam quality, increased peak output powers, flexible fiber delivery and competitive price of fiber lasers have accelerated the adoption of fiber lasers in these low power applications.
Precision Processing.    The trend toward miniaturization in numerous industries such as consumer electronics, as well as innovations in materials and structures, is driving end users to utilize lasers in processing and fabrication. The ability of lasers to cut, weld, drill, ablate, etch and add materials on a fine scale is enabling new technologies and products across many industries. Our low power CW and QCW lasers are used to cut medical stents and weld medical batteries. In photovoltaic manufacturing, our lasers etch and perform edge isolation processes. The aerospace industry requires precise manufacturing of engine parts so that cooling is effective and aerospace manufacturers use lasers to conduct percussion drilling. Processing of plastics and semi-conductors require short pulse and high energy lasers, in the green, UV and mid-IR wavelengths.
Advanced Applications
Our fiber lasers and amplifiers are utilized by commercial firms and by academic and government institutions worldwide for advanced and scientific applications. These markets may sell specialty products developed by us or our commercial products. Representative applications include directed energy, spectroscopy, optical trapping, remote sensing, LIDAR and materials characterization. Our visible lasers can be used in cinema projection, amusement parks, planetariums and light shows.
Communications
We design and manufacture optical amplifiers and optical transceiver and transponder modules for communications applications. IPG's fiber amplifiers are deployed in some of the world's largest broadband networks, supporting high speed data, voice, video on demand and high definition television applications. We provide a broad range of high power products for these applications including erbium doped fiber amplifiers and Raman lasers. We also produce optical transceiver and transponder modules based upon proprietary tunable lasers, photonic integrated circuits and mixed signal coherent DSP-ASIC designs, intended to simplify optical networks and reduce customer capital costs. These configurable modules are designed to operate at 10G and 100G coherent transmission rates, with higher speed modules under development. These products are deployed in data center operations and optical network systems.
Medical Procedures
We sell our commercial fiber and diode laser modules, subassemblies and complete systems to OEMs that incorporate our products into their medical products. Our ultrafast, CW and QCW ytterbium, erbium, thulium fiber lasers and hybrid lasers with power from 1 to 200 watts and diode laser systems can be used in various medical and biomedical applications. We have also developed and are now selling medical laser systems and fibers for surgical applications, including benign prostatic hyperplasia and lithotripsy, as an OEM and, in certain territories, as an IPG-branded product. Aesthetic applications addressed by IPG lasers include skin rejuvenation, hair removal, and treatment of pigmented and vascular lesions.

Technology
Our products are based on our proprietary technology platform that we have developed and refined since our formation. The following technologies are key elements in our products.
Specialty Optical Fibers
We have extensive expertise in the disciplines and techniques that form the basis for the multi-clad active and passive optical fibers used in our products. We believe that our large portfolio of specialty active and passive optical fibers has a number of advantages as compared to other commercially available optical fibers.
Semiconductor Diode Laser Processing and Packaging Technologies
We use multiple multi-mode, or broad area, single-emitter diodes rather than diode bars or stacks as a pump source. We believe that multi-mode single-emitter diodes are the most efficient and reliable pumping source presently available, surpassing diode bars and stacks in efficiency, brightness and reliability. Single-emitter diodes have substantially reduced cooling requirements and typically have long lifetimes at high operating currents, compared to typical lifetimes of diode bars.
We developed advanced molecular beam epitaxy techniques to grow alumina indium gallium arsenide wafers for our diodes. This method yields high-quality optoelectronic material for low-defect density and high uniformity of optoelectronic parameters. In addition, we have developed numerous proprietary wafer processes and testing and qualification procedures in order to create a high energy output in a reliable and high power diode. Our diode is packaged to dissipate heat produced by the
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diode and withstands vibration, shock, high temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions, enabling world-class reliability and efficiency of the products.
Specialty Components and Combining Techniques
We developed a wide range of advanced optical components that are capable of handling high optical power levels and contribute to the superior performance, efficiency and reliability of our products. In addition to fibers and diodes, our optical component portfolio includes fiber gratings, couplers, isolators, combiners, and crystals. We also developed special methods and expertise in splicing fibers together with low optical energy loss and on-line loss testing. We believe that our internal development and manufacturing of key optical components allows us to lower our manufacturing costs and improve product performance and reliability.
Side Pumping of Fibers and Fiber Block Technologies
Our technology platform allows us to efficiently combine a large number of multi-mode single-emitter semiconductor diodes with our active optical fibers that are used in all of our products. A key element of this technology is that we pump our fiber lasers through the cladding surrounding the active core. We splice our specialty active optical fibers with other optical components and package them in a sealed box, which we call a fiber block. The fiber blocks are compact and are designed to eliminate the risk of contamination or misalignment due to mechanical vibrations and shocks as well as temperature or humidity variations. Our design is scalable and modular, permitting us to make products with high output power by coupling a large number of diodes with fiber blocks, which can be combined in parallel and serially.
High-Stress Testing
We employ high-stress techniques in testing components and final products that help increase reliability and accelerate product development. For example, we test all of our diodes with high current and temperatures to identify and eliminate potentially unreliable diodes. We also have built a large database of diode test results that allows us to predict the estimated lifetime of our diodes. This testing allows us to eliminate defective diodes prior to further assembly and thus increase reliability.
Research and Development
We perform research and development to develop new products or components, improve existing products or components, develop new applications for our products and improve our manufacturing processes.
We research, develop and manufacture most of the key components of our lasers. In addition to our cladding-pumped specialty fiber platform, we have core competencies in high power multi-mode and single-mode semiconductor laser diodes, diode packaging, specialty active and passive optical fibers, high-performance optical components, crystal growth and processing, fiber gain blocks and fiber modules, thin film optical coatings, as well as splicing and combining techniques and high-stress test methods. The strategy of developing our proprietary components has allowed us to leverage our optical experience and large volume requirements to lower the cost of our products.
Our research and development supports expanding and improving our product line by increasing power levels, improving beam quality and electrical efficiency, decreasing the size of our products and lowering the cost per watt. We are engaged in research projects to expand the spectral range of products that we offer. We are investing our research and development funds on laser systems, products for medical applications, and telecommunications products and components.
We have assembled a team of scientists and engineers with specialized experience and knowledge in fiber lasers and amplifiers, materials science, optics, critical components, testing and manufacturing process design, and laser application development. Our team of experienced scientists and engineers works closely with many of our customers to develop and introduce custom products and laser processing that address specific applications and performance requirements.
We incurred research and development costs of approximately $126.9 million, $130.0 million and $122.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. We expect to continue our commitment to research and development and to introduce new products, systems and complementary products. See Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition of Results of Operations."
Intellectual Property
We rely on the technical expertise, creativity, and knowledge of our personnel, and therefore, we utilize trade secret, patent, trademark, copyright and contractual protections to maintain our competitive position and protect our proprietary rights in our products and technology. While our intellectual property rights are important to our success, we believe that our business as a whole is not materially dependent on any particular patent, trademark, copyright or other intellectual property right. IPG has used, registered or applied to register a number of trademark registrations in the United States and in other countries.
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As of December 31, 2020, we have over 500 patents issued and over 475 pending patent applications worldwide. Intellectual property rights, including those that we own, those that we license and those of others, involve significant risks. See Item 1A, "Risk Factors — In the past, we were subject to litigation alleging that we infringed third-party intellectual property rights. Intellectual property claims could result in costly litigation and harm our business" and "Risk Factors — Our inability to protect our intellectual property and proprietary technologies could result in the unauthorized use of our technologies by third parties, hurt our competitive position and adversely affect our operating results."
Manufacturing
Vertical integration is one of our core business strategies through which we control our proprietary processes and technologies as well as the supply of key components and assemblies. Our vertically integrated manufacturing operations include the manufacturing or assembly of optical preforms, specialty fiber, semiconductor wafers, laser diodes and packaged laser diodes, specialty optical components, fiber blocks, fiber laser modules, power supplies, circuit boards, electronics and control systems and software, crystals, chillers, housings and cabinets and final assembly of finished product. In addition, we make some of the automated production systems, tools and fixtures and testing systems that we use in our own manufacturing processes. Over the last several years, we added additional production capabilities, including multi-wafer growth reactors, diode test stations, fiber preform and fiber drawing equipment and low, mid and high power laser production and testing, in order to increase our capacity as well as reduce the risks associated with our production processes.
We operate our own semiconductor foundry for the production of the multi-mode single-emitter diodes. We also process, package and extensively test all of our diodes. We developed proprietary components and accessories, manufacturing tools, equipment and techniques over many years in an effort to address the major issues that had been inhibiting the development of fiber laser technology and to provide products that differentiate us from our competitors. In addition, we have acquired the technology to produce additional components, such as volume Bragg gratings and crystals. Using our technology platform, we configure standard laser and amplifier products based upon each customer's specifications. We have developed proprietary testing methodologies that allow us to develop higher power components and products in short periods of time, enable us to introduce products to the market more quickly, capitalize on new opportunities and provide superior service to our customers. In our materials processing systems business, we manufacture standard configuration systems and also systems customized for specific customer requirements. We purchase common and specialized mechanical, electrical and optical parts and raw materials from vendors.
Sales, Marketing and Support
We market our products internationally primarily through our direct sales force. Our direct sales force sells to end users, OEMs and systems integrators. Once our fiber laser products are designed into an OEM system, the OEM's sales force markets its systems, allowing us to leverage our sales capability through the OEM sales channels and because the OEM's typically having several sales persons in locations other than where our sales offices are located. We have sales offices in the countries in which we have major manufacturing: United States, Germany and Russia. We have sales and service offices and application development centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia. To a lesser extent, we market through agreements with independent sales representatives and distributors. We typically provide one to five-year parts and service warranties on lasers and amplifiers. Most of the Company's sales offices provide support to customers in their respective geographic areas.
Customers
We sell our products globally to OEMs, system integrators and end users in a wide range of diverse markets who have the in-house engineering capability to integrate our products into their own systems. We also sell complete laser and non-laser solutions to end users for their production needs. We have thousands of customers worldwide. One of our customers, Han's Laser, headquartered in China, accounted for 8%, 9% and 12% of our net sales in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. No other customer accounted for 10% or more of our net sales in 2020, 2019 or 2018.
Competition
Our markets are highly competitive and characterized by rapidly changing technology, continuously evolving customer requirements and reduced average selling prices over time. In the materials processing market, we compete with makers of fiber lasers and other lasers, such as Coherent, Inc., Laserline GmbH, Lumentum Holdings Inc., Maxphotonics Co., Ltd., nLight, Inc., Trumpf GmbH + Co. KG and Wuhan Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies Co. Ltd., as well as other smaller competitors. Our current or potential customers may develop and produce products for their own use which are competitive to our products. Such vertical integration could reduce the market opportunity for our products. Many of our fiber laser competitors are increasing the output powers of their fiber lasers to compete with our products.
We also compete with end users that produce their own laser technology as well as with manufacturers of non-laser methods and tools, such as traditional non-laser welding, cutting dies, mechanical cutters and plasma cutters in the materials
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processing market. Some of our competitors are larger than we are and have substantially greater financial, managerial and technical resources, more extensive distribution and service networks, greater sales and marketing capacity, and larger installed customer bases than we do.
Backlog
At December 31, 2020, our backlog of orders (generally scheduled for shipment within one year) was approximately $673.7 million compared to $693.4 million at December 31, 2019. At December 31, 2020, our backlog included $376.0 million of orders with firm shipment dates and $297.6 million of frame agreements that we expect to ship within one year, compared to $285.1 million of orders with firm shipment dates and $408.3 million of frame agreements at December 31, 2019. Frame agreements are non-binding indications of customer pricing and volume levels but are not firm customer purchase obligations. Orders used to compute backlog are generally cancellable without substantial penalties or any penalties. We anticipate shipping a substantial majority of the present backlog during fiscal year 2021. However, our backlog at any given date is not necessarily indicative of actual sales for any future period.
Employees and Human Capital Management
Our employees are our most valuable assets. They contribute to IPG’s success and, in particular, the skilled and experienced employees within our manufacturing, sales, service, research and development and quality assurance departments are instrumental in driving operational execution and strong financial performance, advancing innovation and maintaining a strong quality and compliance program.
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 6,060 full-time employees, including 660 in research and development, 4,550 in manufacturing and service operations, 350 in sales and marketing, and 500 in general and administrative functions. As a global company, our employees are distributed throughout our more than thirty locations in twenty-four countries. Of our total full-time employees at our principal facilities, approximately 2,150 were in the United States, 1,200 were in Germany, 1,740 were in Russia, 210 were in Belarus and 230 were in China. We have never experienced a work stoppage, and none of our employees at our principal manufacturing facilities are subject to a collective bargaining agreement.
The success and growth of IPG’s business is dependent in large part on our ability to attract, retain and develop a diverse population of talented and high-performing employees at all levels of our organization. For our research, engineering and production management positions, we require employees with university and graduate-level degrees in physics, optics, electrical, mechanical and software engineering. Globally, the demand for employees with such levels of education is high and competitive.
To succeed in these conditions, IPG implements key recruitment and retention strategies, objectives and effectiveness measures as part of the overall management of our business. These core strategies are advanced through the following programs, policies and initiatives:
Competitive Pay and Benefits. IPG’s compensation programs are designed to align the compensation of our employees, who operate in a highly competitive and technologically challenging environment, with IPG’s business performance and to provide the proper incentives to attract, retain and motivate employees to achieve superior performance. The structure of our compensation programs balances incentive earnings for both short-term and long-term performance. Specifically:
We provide employee wages that are competitive and consistent with employee’s positions, skill levels, experience, knowledge and geographic location.
All employees participate in our annual cash bonus program, allowing them to share in the profitability and business performance of IPG. We also generally provide equity grants and an employee stock purchase plan to salaried employees consistent with geographic compensation practices and subject to regulatory compliance. These programs each further align our employees’ financial interests with the performance of the business and the interests of our stockholders.
We generally provide annual increases and incentive compensation based on merit.
We purchase compensation data from a compensation and benefits consulting firm to allow us to ensure we provide competitive compensation in each of the geographic locations in which we operate.
We align our executives’ annual and long-term equity compensation with our stockholders’ interests by linking realizable pay with stock performance and operating metrics.
We provide comprehensive benefit options designed to retain our employees and support their families in living healthier and more secure lives.
Employee recruitment, retention and development. IPG works diligently to attract the best talent from a broad array of sources to meet the current and future demands of our business. We have established relationships with trade schools, world-
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class universities, professional associations and industry groups to proactively attract talented and capable new hires. We also utilize social media, local job fairs and educational organizations to find diverse, motivated and responsible employees. IPG has made strides to increase diversity in management positions, building internal resources for potential future leadership openings. IPG has a strong employee value proposition that leverages our technology leadership, unique culture, collaborative working environment, shared sense of purpose, and desire to do the right thing to attract talent to our company. In 2020, we hired approximately 719 new employees.
We monitor employee turnover rates as our success depends upon retaining and investing in our highly trained manufacturing and technical staff. IPG strives to decrease voluntary turnover rates and thereby increase employee tenure by ensuring a combination of competitive compensation, individual developmental opportunities and personal career enrichment and growth. Our retention at the technical, professional and levels is high. In 2020, amidst global uncertainty and turmoil resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we introduced a number of special initiatives to minimize the impact upon our employees to safeguard the health and safety of them and their communities. These initiatives included compensation programs designed to provide a source of income to employees who needed to be absent from work as a result of the pandemic and enhanced “appreciation pay” to recognize the significant contributions of hourly employees who continued to work on-site. Throughout the crisis, we believe our employees took immense pride in the shared purpose of making products that supported the world’s critical supply chains within a wide range of essential businesses and services including medical devices, transportation, communications, packaging and agriculture.
Executive Officers of the Registrant
The following table sets forth certain information regarding our executive officers as of February 20, 2021:
NameAgePosition with the Company
Valentin P. Gapontsev, Ph.D.81Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board
Eugene A. Scherbakov, Ph.D.73Chief Operating Officer, Managing Director of IPG Laser GmbH, Senior Vice President, Europe, and Director
Timothy P.V. Mammen51Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President
Angelo P. Lopresti57General Counsel, Secretary and Senior Vice President
Alexander Ovtchinnikov, Ph.D.60Senior Vice President, Components
Trevor D. Ness48Senior Vice President, World Wide Sales and Marketing
Igor Samartsev56Chief Technology Officer
Felix Stukalin59Senior Vice President, North America Operations
Valentin P. Gapontsev, Ph.D. has been the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of IPG since our inception. Prior to founding the company in 1990, Dr. Gapontsev served as senior scientist in laser material physics and head of the laboratory at the Soviet Academy of Science's Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics in Moscow. In 2006 he was awarded the Ernst & Young® Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Industrial Products and Services in New England and in 2009, he was awarded the Arthur L. Schawlow Award by the Laser Institute of America. In 2011 he received the Russian Federation National Award in Science and Technology, and he was selected as a Fellow of the Optical Society of America. Dr. Gapontsev holds a Ph.D. in Laser Materials from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Eugene A. Scherbakov, Ph.D. has served as Chief Operating Officer since February 2017, Managing Director of IPG Laser GmbH, our German subsidiary, since August 2000 and Senior Vice President, Europe, since 2013. He served as the Technical Director of IPG Laser from 1995 to August 2000. From 1983 to 1995, Dr. Scherbakov was a senior scientist in fiber optics and head of the optical communications laboratory at the General Physics Institute, Russian Academy of Science in Moscow. Dr. Scherbakov graduated from the Moscow Physics and Technology Institute with an M.S. in Physics. In addition, Dr. Scherbakov attended the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, where he received a Ph.D. in Quantum Electronics from its Lebedev Physics Institute and a Dr.Sci. degree in Laser Physics from its General Physics Institute.
Igor Samartsev has served as our Chief Technology Officer since 2011. Prior to that, he was the Deputy General Manager of our Russian subsidiary, NTO IRE-Polus since 2005 and after having served in technical leadership roles at NTO IRE-Polus. Mr. Samartsev holds an M.S. in Physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Timothy P.V. Mammen has served as our Chief Financial Officer since July 2000 and as Vice President since November 2000. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in February 2013. Between May 1999 and July 2000, Mr. Mammen served as the Group Finance Director and General Manager of the United Kingdom operations for IPFD. Mr. Mammen was Finance Director and General Manager of United Partners Plc, a commodities trading firm, from 1995 to 1999 and, prior to that, he worked in the finance department of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Mr. Mammen holds an Upper Second B.Sc. Honours degree in International Trade and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a Chartered Accountant and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.
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Angelo P. Lopresti has served as our General Counsel, Secretary and Vice President since February 2001. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in February 2013. Prior to joining us, Mr. Lopresti was a partner at the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP from 1999 to 2001. He was a partner at the law firm of Hertzog, Calamari & Gleason from 1998 to 1999 and an associate there from 1991 to 1998. He served on the board of Coastway Bancorp, Inc. from 2016 to 2018, prior to its acquisition by HarborOne Bancorp, Inc. Mr. Lopresti holds a B.A. in Economics from Trinity College and a J.D. from the New York University School of Law.
Alexander Ovtchinnikov, Ph.D., has served as our Vice President, Components, since September 2005 and as Director of Material Sciences from October 2001 to September 2005. He was promoted to Senior Vice President in February 2013. Prior to joining us, Dr. Ovtchinnikov was Material Science Manager of Lasertel, Inc., a maker of high-power semiconductor lasers, from 1999 to 2001. For 15 years prior to joining Lasertel, Inc., he worked on the development and commercialization of high power diode pump technology at the Ioffe Institute, Tampere University of Technology, Coherent, Inc. and Spectra-Physics Corporation. He holds an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Electrotechnical University of St. Petersburg, Russia, and a Ph.D. from Ioffe Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Trevor D. Ness has served as our Senior Vice President, World Wide Sales and Marketing, since February 2013. From January 2011 until February 2013, he served as our Vice President-Asian Operations. Prior to joining us, Mr. Ness was Director of GSI Precision Technologies China from May 2005 to December 2010 and prior to that he held technical sales management roles with GSI Group, Inc. and Cobham Plc, located in UK, Japan and Taiwan. Mr. Ness holds a B.S. in Geology from Imperial College, a H.N.C. from Bournemouth University and an M.B.A. from The Open University.
Felix Stukalin has served as our Senior Vice President, North America Operations, since February 2013. From March 2009 until February 2013, he served as our Vice President, Devices. Prior to joining us, he was Vice President, Business Development of GSI Group Inc. from April 2002 to September 2008, and from March 2000 to April 2002 he was Vice President of Components and President of the Wave Precision divisions of GSI Lumonics, Mr. Stukalin holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Rochester and he is a graduate of the Harvard Business School General Management Program.
Seasonality
Our net sales can fluctuate from quarter to quarter with general economic trends, specific industry cycles, holidays in foreign countries such as Lunar New Year in the first quarter of our fiscal year and the timing of capital expenditures by our customers. Historically, our net sales have been higher in the second half of the year than in the first half of the year, although that trend did not occur in 2018 and 2019 due to a decrease in capital equipment spending in Europe and China caused by slower macro-economic growth and uncertainty caused by the trade war between the United States and China.
Government Regulation
Regulatory Compliance
The majority of our laser and amplifier products sold in the United States are classified as Class IV Laser Products under the applicable rules and regulations of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health ("CDRH") of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"). The same classification system is applied in the European markets. Safety rules are formulated with "Deutsche Industrie Norm" (i.e., German Industrial Standards) or International Organization for Standardization ("ISO") standards, which are internationally harmonized. CDRH regulations generally require a self-certification procedure pursuant to which a manufacturer must submit a filing to the CDRH with respect to each product incorporating a laser device, make periodic reports of sales and purchases and comply with product labeling standards, product safety and design features and informational requirements.
Our business activities are subject to various export controls and trade and economic sanctions laws and regulations, including, without limitation, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Export Administration Regulations, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s trade and economic sanctions programs, the U.S. Department of State’s Nonproliferation Sanctions and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, as well as those of the European Community and Germany, which we collectively refer to as Trade Controls. We further discuss the impact of such Trade Controls under "Risk Factors" in Item 1A "We must comply with and could be impacted by various export controls and trade and economic sanctions laws and regulations that are fluid and may change due to diplomatic and political considerations outside of our control."
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Environmental Regulation
Our operations are subject to various federal, state, local and international laws governing the environment, including those relating to the storage, use, discharge, disposal, product composition and labeling of, human exposure to and hazardous and toxic materials. In the event of an accident involving such materials, we could be liable for damages and such liability could exceed the amount of our liability insurance coverage and the resources of our business.
We face increasing complexity in our product design and procurement operations due to the evolving nature of environmental compliance regulations and standards, as well as specific customer compliance requirements. These regulations and standards have an impact on the material composition of our products entering specific markets. For example, the European Union ("EU") adopted the Restriction of the use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and China enacted the Management Methods for Controlling Pollution Caused by Electronic Information Products Regulation (China-RoHS). In addition to these regulations and directives, we may face costs and liabilities in connection with product take-back legislation.
For further discussion of risks relating to the regulations to which we are subject, see Item 1A. Risk Factors.
Availability of Reports
Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to such reports are available free of charge on our web site at www.ipgphotonics.com as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. We will also provide electronic or paper copies of such reports free of charge, upon request made to our Corporate Secretary. The information included on our website is not a part of, nor is it incorporated by reference into, this annual report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS
The factors described below are the principal risks that could materially adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. Other factors may exist that we do not consider significant based on information that is currently available. In addition, new risks may emerge at any time and we cannot predict those risks or estimate the extent to which they may affect us.

Risks Relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic, including private and public sector responses, could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and/or cash flows.
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, governmental authorities where we produce and sell our products implemented and are continuing to implement numerous and evolving measures to contain the virus, such as travel bans and restrictions, quarantines, shelter-in-place orders and guidance and business shutdowns. We have significant manufacturing operations in the U.S., Europe and Russia, and a material portion of our sales are in China, the U.S. and Europe. Each of these countries and regions has been affected by the pandemic and has taken measures to try to contain it. While our main production facilities currently remain operational, these measures have impacted and may further impact our workforce and operations, as well as those of our customers, vendors and suppliers. There is considerable uncertainty regarding such measures and potential future measures. In addition to reduced productivity, the constraints and limits implemented in our operations in response to COVID-19 may slow or diminish our research and development activities and qualification activities with our customers. Restrictive governmental measures had specific expiration dates and some of those measures have been extended in response to increases in infection rates. As a result, there is considerable uncertainty regarding the duration of such measures and potential future measures. Restrictions on our manufacturing, support operations or workforce, or similar limitations for our vendors and suppliers could limit our ability to meet customer demand, testing, installation and acceptance of our equipment or delays for orders, deliveries and payments, and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. In addition, restrictions or disruptions of transportation, such as reduced availability of air transport, port closures and increased border controls or closures, could limit our ability to manufacture, deliver or install products and generate sales, or could result in higher costs and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations.
In response to these developments, we and our suppliers and customers modified business practices, including restricting employee travel, modifying employee work locations, implementing social distancing and enhanced sanitary measures, and cancelling attendance at events and conferences. We experienced and may experience increased absenteeism and reduced levels
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of productivity and efficiency, even with the rollout of vaccination programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted our internal operations, including by exposing us to cyber and other data security risks associated with the increased number of our employees working remotely, as well as increased dependence on internet and telecommunications access and capabilities. There is no certainty that measures implemented by governmental authorities or by us in our operations will be sufficient to mitigate the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus, including risk of infection of our senior management, scientific staff or a significant number of employees or the ability of the healthcare system to treat them, and our ability to perform critical functions or respond to the needs of our customers could be impeded. The resumption of normal business operations after such interruptions may be delayed or constrained by lingering effects of COVID-19 on our suppliers, third-party service providers, and/or customers.
The impact of COVID-19, including changes in customer demand, pandemic fears and market downturns, and restrictions on business and individual activities has created significant economic and demand uncertainty. We have experienced and expect to continue to experience unpredictable volatility in demand in several of our end-markets. In addition to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we anticipate that it could cause regional recessions and/or a global recession. The COVID-19 pandemic also may exacerbate other risks disclosed herein, including but not limited to downturns in our markets, uncertainty and adverse changes in general economic conditions, highly competitive markets and declining average selling prices, price decreases, and international operations and customers.
The degree to which COVID-19 impacts our financial condition, cash flows and results of operations depends upon future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted, including but not limited to the duration, location and spread of the outbreak, its severity, governmental and business measures to contain the virus and address its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. We cannot at this time predict the many potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic makes it more difficult for us to forecast demand and provide guidance for 2021.
Accordingly, while IPG provided and may provide quarterly guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, any such guidance we provide is subject to greater risks and uncertainty than in the past and actual results may be more likely to ultimately vary a greater degree from actual results than guidance we provided in the past. In light of the foregoing, investors are urged to put the guidance we provide and may provide in context and not to place undue reliance on it.
Risks Relating to the Macroeconomic Environment
Uncertainty and adverse changes in the general economic conditions of markets in which we participate negatively affect our business.
Current and future conditions in the economy have an inherent degree of uncertainty. As a result, it is difficult to estimate the level of growth or contraction for the economy as a whole. It is even more difficult to estimate growth or contraction in various parts, sectors and regions of the economy, including the materials processing, telecommunications, advanced and medical markets and applications in which we participate. Because all components of our budgeting and forecasting are dependent upon estimates of growth or contraction in the markets and applications we serve and demand for our products, the prevailing economic uncertainties render estimates of future income and expenditures very difficult to make. A significant portion of our sales are to customers in China, which accounted for 42%, 37% and 43% in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Slowing economic growth or recession, tariff-trade wars or other adverse economic developments or uncertainty in any of our key markets, including in China, may result in a decrease in our sales. Adverse changes have occurred and may occur in the future as a result of declining or flat global or regional economic conditions, fluctuations in currency and commodity prices, wavering confidence, capital expenditure reductions, unemployment, declines in stock markets, contraction of credit availability, declines in real estate values, or other factors affecting economic conditions generally. These changes may negatively affect the sales of our products, increase exposure to losses from bad debts, increase the cost and decrease the availability of financing, increase the risk of loss on investments, or increase costs associated with manufacturing and distributing products. An economic downturn could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Downturns in the markets we serve, particularly materials processing, could have a material adverse effect on our sales and profitability.
Our business depends substantially upon capital expenditures by manufacturers in the materials processing market, which includes general manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, other transportation, heavy industry, electronics and photovoltaic industries. Approximately 90% of our revenues in 2020 were from customers in the materials processing market. Although
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applications in this market are broad, sales for these applications are cyclical and have historically experienced sudden and severe downturns and periods of oversupply, resulting in significantly reduced demand for capital equipment, including the products that we manufacture and market. For example, our sales decreased by 25% in the materials processing market in 2009 as a result of the global economic recession, our material processing sales declined 10% in the second half of 2018 and 11% in the 2019 fiscal year, in part due to decreased capital equipment demand stemming from adverse changes to U.S.-China relations, including rounds of tariff increases and retaliations and 12% in the 2020 fiscal year, in part due to decreased capital equipment demand attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the foreseeable future, our operations will continue to depend upon capital expenditures by customers in these industries or markets, which, in turn, depend upon the demand, as well as forecasted demand, for their products or services. A softening of demand for our customers' products and services, whether caused by a weakening of the U.S. or global economies or other factors, may result in decreased revenue or growth for our customers and may lead to decreased demand for our products, which would reduce our sales and margins. We may not be able to respond by decreasing our expenses quickly enough or sufficiently, due in part, to our fixed overhead structure related to our vertically integrated operations and our commitments to continuing investment in research and development and infrastructure for long term growth.
Risks Relating to Industry Dynamics and Competition
The markets for our products are highly competitive and increased competition could result in reduced sales, reduced gross margins or the loss of market share.
The industries in which we operate are characterized by significant price and technological competition. We compete with makers of fiber lasers, solid-state lasers, direct diode lasers, high power CO2, YAG and disc lasers. These include public and private companies such as Coherent, Inc., Laserline GmbH, Lumentum Holdings Inc., Maxphotonics Co., Ltd., nLight, Inc., Trumpf GmbH + Co. KG, and Wuhan Raycus Fiber Laser Technologies Co. Ltd., as well as other smaller competitors. Several of these are larger and have substantially greater financial, managerial and technical resources, more extensive distribution and service networks, greater sales and marketing capacity, and larger installed customer bases than we do. Many of our fiber laser competitors are increasing the output powers, improving the quality of their fiber lasers and decreasing prices to compete with our products. Our current or potential customers may determine to develop and produce products for their own use which are competitive to our products. Such vertical integration could reduce the market opportunity for our products. We also compete in the materials processing, advanced and medical applications markets with end users that produce their own solid-state and gas lasers as well as with manufacturers of non-laser methods and tools, such as traditional non-laser welding, cutting dies mechanical cutters and plasma cutters in the materials processing market and scalpels in the medical market.
We may not be able to successfully differentiate our current and proposed products from our competitors' products and current or prospective customers may not consider our products to be superior to competitors' products. To maintain our competitive position, we believe that we will be required to continue a high level of investment in research and development, application development, manufacturing facilities and customer service and support, and to react to market pricing conditions. As a result of the foregoing factors, competitive pressures have resulted in price reductions, reduced margins, loss of sales and loss of market share.
The laser and amplifier industries are experiencing declining average selling prices, which could cause our gross margins to decline and harm our operating results.
Our products are experiencing and may in the future continue to experience a significant decline in average selling prices ("ASPs") as a result of new product and technology introductions, increased competition and price pressures from significant customers. Newer market participants, particularly in China, have reduced and may continue to reduce, prices of competing products to gain market share. If the ASPs of our products decline further and we are unable to increase our unit volumes, introduce new or enhanced products with higher margins or reduce manufacturing costs to offset anticipated decreases in the prices of our existing products, our operating results may be adversely affected. In addition, because of our significant fixed costs, we are limited in our ability to reduce total costs quickly in response to any revenue shortfalls. Because of these factors, we have experienced and we may experience in the future material adverse fluctuations in our operating results on a quarterly or annual basis if the ASPs of our products continue to decline.
Our ability to maintain or increase sales depends upon our ability to develop new products, penetrate new applications and end markets for fiber lasers and maintain or increase our market share in existing applications.
Our level of sales will depend on our ability to generate sales of fiber lasers in new and developing markets and applications for lasers where they have not been used previously and in applications in which other lasers, such as CO2 and YAG lasers, have been used. To date, a significant portion of our revenue growth has been derived from sales of fiber lasers
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primarily for applications where CO2 and YAG lasers historically have been used. We have made significant sales into the cutting, welding and marking and engraving applications, large applications where the use of other laser technologies was well established. As fiber lasers reach higher levels of penetration in core materials processing applications and there is higher levels of competition in these core material processing application, the development of new applications, end markets and products outside our core applications becomes more important to our ability to generate sales. In order to maintain or increase market demand for our products, we will need to devote substantial resources to:
demonstrate the effectiveness of fiber lasers in new applications for materials processing, medical, communications or other applications such as cinema and projection;
successfully develop new product lines, such as UV, visible and ultrafast fiber lasers, with competitive features that extend our product line;
increase our direct and indirect sales efforts;
effectively meet growing competition and pricing pressures; and
continue to reduce our manufacturing costs and enhance our competitive position.
Potential customers may have substantial investments and know-how related to their existing laser and non-laser technologies. They may perceive risks relating to the reliability, quality, usefulness and profitability of integrating of fiber lasers in their systems when compared to other laser or non-laser technologies available in the market or that they manufacture themselves. Despite fiber lasers having better performance and prices compared to other lasers or tools, OEM customers may be reluctant to switch incumbent suppliers or we may miss the design cycles of our customers. Many of our target markets, such as the automotive, machine tool and other manufacturing, communications and medical industries, have historically adopted new technologies slowly. These markets often require long test and qualification periods or lengthy government approval processes before adopting new technologies.
If we are unable to successfully implement our strategy to develop new applications and end markets for our products or develop new products, our revenues, operating results and financial condition could be adversely affected. In addition, any newly developed or enhanced products may not achieve market acceptance or may be rendered obsolete or less competitive by the introduction of new products by other companies.
We depend on our OEM customers and system integrators to incorporate our products into their systems.
Our sales depend in part on our ability to maintain existing and secure new OEM customers. Our revenues also depend in part upon the ability of our current and potential OEM customers and system integrators to incorporate our laser and amplifier products. The commercial success of these systems depends to a substantial degree on the efforts of these OEM customers and system integrators to develop and market products that incorporate our technologies. Relationships and experience with traditional laser makers, limited marketing resources, reluctance to invest in research and development and other factors affecting these OEM customers and third-party system integrators could have a substantial impact upon our financial results. If OEM customers or integrators are not able to adapt existing tools or develop new systems to take advantage of the features and benefits of fiber lasers or if they perceive us to be an actual or potential competitor, then the opportunities to increase our revenues and profitability may be severely limited or delayed. In addition, some of our OEM customers are developing their own fiber laser sources. If they are successful, this may reduce our sales to these customers. Furthermore, if our OEM customers or third-party system integrators experience financial or other difficulties that adversely affect their operations, our financial condition or results of operations may also be adversely affected.
Risks Relating to Our Operations
Our vertically integrated business results in high levels of fixed costs and inventory levels that may adversely impact our gross profits and our operating results in the event that demand for our products declines or we maintain excess inventory levels.
We have a high fixed cost base due to our vertically integrated business model. Approximately 75% of our approximately 6,060 employees as of December 31, 2020 were employed in our manufacturing operations. We may not adjust these fixed costs quickly enough or sufficiently to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. Our gross profit, in absolute dollars and as a percentage of net sales, is impacted by our sales volume, the corresponding absorption of fixed manufacturing overhead expenses and manufacturing yields. In addition, because we are a vertically integrated manufacturer and design and manufacture our key specialty components, insufficient demand for our products may subject us to the risks of high inventory carrying costs and increased inventory obsolescence. If our capacity and production levels are not properly sized in relation to expected demand, we may need to record write-downs for excess or obsolete inventory. Because we are vertically integrated,
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the rate at which we turn inventory has historically been low when compared to our cost of sales. We do not expect this to change significantly in the future and believe that we will have to maintain a relatively high level of inventory compared to our cost of sales. As a result, we expect to have a significant amount of working capital invested in inventory. Changes in our level of inventory lead to an increase in cash generated from our operations when inventory is sold or a decrease in cash generated from our operations at times when the amount of inventory increases. Decreases in inventory may decrease our overhead absorption and decrease our gross margins and profitability.
Our manufacturing capacity and operations may not be appropriate for future levels of demand and may adversely affect our gross margins.
We have added and are continuing to add substantial manufacturing capacity at our facilities in the United States, Germany, Russia and Belarus. A significant portion of our manufacturing facilities and production equipment, such as our semiconductor production and processing equipment, diode packaging equipment and diode burn-in stations, are special-purpose in nature and cannot be adapted easily to make other products. If the demand for fiber lasers or amplifiers does not increase or if our revenue decreases from current levels, we may have significant excess manufacturing capacity and under-absorption of our fixed costs, which could in turn adversely affect our gross margins and profitability.
To maintain our competitive position and to meet anticipated demand for our products, we invest significantly in the expansion of our manufacturing and operations throughout the world and may do so in the future. We had capital expenditures of $88 million and $134 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively, and we expect to incur approximately $150 million to $160 million in capital expenditures, excluding acquisitions, in 2021. In connection with these projects, we may incur cost overruns, construction delays, project cancellations, labor difficulties or regulatory issues which could cause our capital expenditures to be higher than what we currently anticipate, possibly by a material amount, which would in turn adversely impact our operating results. Moreover, we may experience higher costs due to yield loss, production inefficiencies and equipment problems until any operational issues associated with the opening of new manufacturing facilities are resolved.
A few customers account for a significant portion of our sales, and if we lose any of these customers or they significantly curtail their purchases of our products, our results of operations could be adversely affected.
We rely on a few customers for a significant portion of our sales. In the aggregate, our top five customers accounted for 24%, 21% and 26% of our consolidated net sales in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Our largest customer is located in China and accounted for 8%, 9% and 12% of sales in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. A few of our larger customers, including our largest customer, are making fiber lasers or announced plans to develop fiber lasers. We generally do not enter into agreements with our customers obligating them to purchase our fiber lasers or amplifiers. Our business is characterized by short-term purchase orders and shipment schedules. If any of our principal customers discontinues its relationship with us, replaces us as a vendor for certain products or suffers downturns in its business, our business and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Because we lack long-term purchase commitments from our customers, our sales can be difficult to predict, which could lead to excess or obsolete inventory and adversely affect our operating results.
We generally do not enter into long-term agreements with our customers obligating them to purchase our fiber lasers or amplifiers. Our business is characterized by short-term purchase orders and shipment schedules and, in some cases, orders may be canceled or delayed without significant penalty or any penalty. As a result, it is difficult to forecast our revenues and to determine the appropriate levels of inventory required to meet future demand. In addition, due to the absence of long-term volume purchase agreements, we forecast our revenues and plan our production and inventory levels based upon the demand forecasts of our OEM customers, end users and distributors, which are highly unpredictable and can fluctuate substantially. This could lead to increased inventory levels and increased carrying costs and risk of excess or obsolete inventory due to unanticipated reductions in purchases by our customers. In addition, provisions have been recorded as a result of changes in market prices of certain components, the value of those inventories that was realizable through finished product sales due to declines in certain end market demand and uncertainties related to the recoverability of the value of inventories due to technological and product changes, and excess quantities. In this regard, we recorded provisions for slow-moving, obsolete or excess inventory totaling $45.4 million, $38.9 million and $13.0 million in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. If our OEM customers, end users or distributors fail to accurately forecast the demand for our products, fail to accurately forecast the timing of such demand, or are unable to consistently negotiate acceptable purchase order terms with customers, our results of operations may be adversely affected.
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We depend upon internal production and on outside single or limited-source suppliers for many of our key components and raw materials, including cutting-edge optics and materials. Any interruption in the supply or availability of these key components and raw materials could adversely affect our results of operations.
We rely exclusively on our own production capabilities to manufacture certain of our key components, such as semiconductor diodes, specialty optical fibers and optical components. We do not have redundant production lines for some of our components, such as our diodes and some other components, which are made at a single manufacturing facility. These are not readily available from other sources at our current costs and may not be available at all. If our manufacturing activities were obstructed or hampered significantly, it could take a considerable length of time, or it could increase our costs, to resume manufacturing or find alternative sources of supply. Many of the tools and equipment we use are custom-designed, and it could take a significant period of time to repair or replace them. Our four major manufacturing facilities are located in Massachusetts, Germany, Russia and Belarus. Despite our efforts to mitigate the impact of any flood, fire, natural disaster, political unrest, act of terrorism, war, outbreak of disease or other similar event, our business could be adversely affected to the extent that we do not have redundant production capabilities if any of our major manufacturing facilities or equipment should become inoperable, inaccessible, damaged or destroyed.
Also, we purchase certain raw materials used to manufacture our products and other components, such as semiconductor wafer substrates, diode packages, modulators, micro-optics, bulk optics and high power beam delivery products, from single or limited-source suppliers. We typically purchase our components and materials through purchase orders or agreed-upon terms and conditions and we do not have guaranteed supply arrangements with many of these suppliers. These suppliers are relatively small private companies that may discontinue their operations at any time and may be particularly susceptible to prevailing economic conditions. Some of our suppliers are also our competitors. Some of our suppliers may not be able to meet demand from our growing business or because of global demand for their components. As a result, we experienced and may in the future experience longer lead times or delays in fulfillment of our orders. Furthermore, other than our current suppliers, there are a limited number of entities from whom we could obtain these supplies. We do not anticipate that we would be able to purchase these components or raw materials that we require in a short period of time or at the same cost from other sources in commercial quantities or that have our required performance specifications. Any interruption or delay in the supply of any of these components or materials, or the inability to obtain these components and materials from alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable amount of time, could adversely affect our business. If our suppliers face financial or other difficulties, if our suppliers do not maintain sufficient inventory on hand or if there are significant changes in demand for the components and materials we obtain from them, they could limit the availability of these components and materials to us, which in turn could adversely affect our business.
We may experience lower than expected manufacturing yields, which would adversely affect our gross margins.
The manufacture of semiconductor diodes and the packaging of them is a highly complex process. Manufacturers often encounter difficulties in achieving acceptable product yields from diode and packaging operations. We have from time to time experienced lower than anticipated manufacturing yields for our diodes and packaged diodes. This occurs during the production of new designs and the installation and start-up of new process technologies and new equipment. If we do not achieve planned yields, our product costs could increase resulting in lower gross margins, and key component availability would decrease.
We are highly dependent on the significant experience and specialized expertise of our CEO, COO and other senior management and scientific staff. The unavailability or loss of one or more of these key employees or our failure to attract other highly skilled personnel necessary to compete successfully could harm our business and results of operations.
Our future success is substantially dependent on the continued service and performance of our executive officers, particularly our founder and chief executive officer, Dr. Valentin P. Gapontsev, age 81, and our chief operating officer, Dr. Eugene Scherbakov, age 73. They play key roles setting our strategic direction, directing the development of new technologies and maintaining our culture. The unavailability of either key executive could have a material impact on our business. Although the board engages in executive succession planning, our inability to effectively and immediately transition knowledge or responsibilities to their successors in the event of an unexpected absence or departure could harm our business and disrupt our operations. We also rely on our highly trained team of scientists, many of whom have numerous years of experience and specialized expertise in optical fibers, semiconductors and optical component technology, and other key engineering, sales, marketing, manufacturing and support personnel, any of whom may depart for a variety of reasons, which could harm our business. The members of our scientific staff who are expected to make significant individual contributions to our business are also members of our executive management team. We will need to continue to recruit and retain highly skilled scientists and engineers for certain functions. Competition for qualified personnel in our industry is intense, particularly for physicists, software engineers and other technical staff. If we fail to attract, integrate and retain the necessary personnel, it could
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delay the development or introduction of new products, negatively impact our ability to market, sell or support our products, and significantly harm our business.
Risks Relating to Intellectual Property, Litigation, Information Systems and Regulations
In the past, we were subject to litigation alleging that we infringed third-party intellectual property rights. Intellectual property claims could result in costly litigation and harm our business.
There has been significant litigation involving intellectual property rights in many technology-based industries, including our own. We face risks and uncertainties in connection with such litigation, including the risk that patents issued to others may harm our ability to do business; that there could be existing patents of which we are unaware that could be pertinent to our business; and that it is not possible for us to know whether there are patent applications pending that our products might infringe upon. Moreover, the frequency with which new patents are granted and the diversity of jurisdictions in which they are granted make it impractical and expensive for us to monitor all patents that may be relevant to our business.
From time to time, we have been notified of allegations and claims that we may be infringing patents or intellectual property rights owned by third parties. We have defended against several patent infringement claims in the past and we engage in patent office opposition proceedings internationally for patents owned by others.
There can be no assurance that we will be able to dispose without a material effect any claims or other allegations made or asserted in the future. Even if we ultimately are successful on the merits of any such litigation or re-examination, legal and administrative proceedings related to intellectual property are typically expensive and time-consuming, generate negative publicity and divert financial and managerial resources. Some litigants may have greater financial resources than we have and may be able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation more easily than we can.
If we do not prevail in any intellectual property litigation brought against us, it could affect our ability to sell our products and materially harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. These developments could adversely affect our ability to compete for customers and increase our revenues. Plaintiffs in intellectual property cases often seek, and sometimes obtain, injunctive relief. Intellectual property litigation commenced against us could force us to take actions that could be harmful to our business, including the following:
stop selling our products or using the technology that contains the allegedly infringing intellectual property;
pay actual monetary damages, royalties, lost profits or increased damages and the plaintiff's attorneys' fees; and
attempt to license the relevant intellectual property which may not be available on reasonable terms.
In addition, intellectual property lawsuits can be brought by third parties against OEMs and end users that incorporate our products into their systems or processes. In some cases, we indemnify OEMs against third-party infringement claims relating to our products and we often make representations affirming, among other things, that our products do not infringe the intellectual property rights of others. As a result, we may incur liabilities in connection with lawsuits against our customers. Any such lawsuits, whether or not they have merit, could be time-consuming to defend, damage our reputation or result in substantial and unanticipated costs.
Our inability to protect our intellectual property and proprietary technologies could result in the unauthorized use of our technologies by third parties, hurt our competitive position and adversely affect our operating results.
We rely on patents, trade secret laws, contractual agreements, technical know-how and other unpatented proprietary information to protect our products, product development and manufacturing activities from unauthorized copying by third parties. Our patents do not cover all of our technologies, systems, products and product components and may not prevent third parties from unauthorized copying of our technologies, products and product components. We have significant international operations and are subject to foreign laws which differ in many respects from U.S. laws. Policing unauthorized use of our trade secret technologies throughout the world and proving misappropriation of our technologies are particularly difficult, especially due to the number of our employees and operations in numerous foreign countries. The steps that we take to acquire ownership of our employees' inventions and trade secrets in foreign countries may not have been effective under all such local laws, which could expose us to potential claims or the inability to protect intellectual property developed by our employees. Furthermore, any changes in, or unexpected interpretations of, the trade secret and other intellectual property laws in any country in which we operate may adversely affect our ability to enforce our trade secret and intellectual property positions. Costly and time-consuming litigation could be necessary to determine the scope of our confidential information and trade secret protection. However, there can be no assurance that confidentiality agreements we enter into with consultants, suppliers, employees and
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others will not be breached, that we will be able to effectively enforce them or that we will have adequate remedies for any breach.
Given our reliance on trade secret laws, others may independently develop similar or alternative technologies or duplicate our technologies and commercialize discoveries that we have made. Therefore, our intellectual property efforts may be insufficient to maintain our competitive advantage or to stop other parties from commercializing similar products or technologies. Many countries outside of the United States afford little or no protection to trade secrets and other intellectual property rights. Intellectual property litigation can be time-consuming and expensive, and there is no guarantee that we will have the resources to fully enforce our rights. If we are unable to prevent misappropriation or infringement of our intellectual property rights, or the independent development or design of similar technologies, our competitive position and operating results could suffer.
Our information systems are subject to cyber-attacks, interruptions and failures. If unauthorized access is obtained to our information systems, we may incur significant legal and financial exposure and liabilities.
Like many multinational corporations, we maintain several information technology systems, including software products licensed from third parties. These systems vary from country to country. Any system, network or internet failures, misuse by system users, the hacking into or disruption caused by the unauthorized access by third parties or loss of license rights could disrupt our ability to timely and accurately manufacture and ship products or to report our financial information in compliance with the timelines mandated by the SEC. Any such failure, misuse, hacking, disruptions or loss would likely cause a diversion of management's attention from the underlying business and could harm our operations. In addition, a significant failure of our various information technology systems could adversely affect our ability to complete an evaluation of our internal controls and attestation activities pursuant to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 under the updated framework issued in 2013.
As part of our day-to-day business, we store our data and certain data about our customers, employees and service providers in our information technology system. While our system is designed with access security, if a third party gains unauthorized access to our data or technology, including information regarding our customers, employees and service providers, such security breach could expose us to a risk of loss of this information, loss of business, litigation and possible liability. Our security measures may be breached as a result of third-party action, including intentional misconduct by computer hackers, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise. Additionally, third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees or customers into disclosing sensitive information such as user names, passwords or other information in order to gain access to our customers' data or our data, including our intellectual property and other confidential business information, employee information or our information technology systems. Because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, or to sabotage systems, change frequently and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate or detect these techniques or to implement adequate preventative measures. Any unauthorized access could negatively impact our customers' products, result in a loss of confidence by our customers, damage our reputation, disrupt our business, result in a misappropriation of our assets (including cash), lead to legal liability and negatively impact our future sales. Additionally, such actions could result in significant costs associated with loss of our intellectual property, impairment of our ability to conduct our operations, rebuilding our network and systems, prosecuting and defending litigation, responding to regulatory inquiries or actions, paying damages or taking other remedial steps. In addition, we may incur significant costs designed to prevent or mitigate the damage related to cybersecurity incidents. For instance, we may retain additional employees or consultants, implement new policies and procedures, and install information technology to detect and prevent identity theft, data breaches, or system disruptions. We would incur any such costs with the intent that proactively preventing a cybersecurity incident ultimately helps to mitigate potential cybersecurity liability. As previously disclosed, on September 14, 2020, the Company detected a ransomware attack impacting certain of our operational and information technology systems that did not have a material impact on the Company's business, operations or financial condition.
The costs to address the foregoing security problems and security vulnerabilities before or after a cyber-incident could be significant. Our remediation efforts may not be successful and could result in interruptions, delays, a cessation of service, and a loss of existing or potential customers, impeding our sales, manufacturing, distribution, and other critical functions.
We may face particular privacy, data security and data protection risks due to laws and regulations regulating the protection or security of personal and other sensitive data.
We may face particular privacy, data security and data protection risks due to laws and regulations regulating the protection or security of personal and other sensitive data, including in particular several laws and regulations that have recently been enacted or adopted or are likely to be enacted or adopted in the future. For instance, effective May 25, 2018, the European General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) imposed additional obligations and risk upon our business and substantially increased the penalties to which we could be subject in the event of any non-compliance. GDPR requires companies to satisfy
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new requirements regarding the handling of personal data (generally, of EU residents), including its use, protection and the rights of affected persons regarding their data. Failure to comply with GDPR requirements could result in penalties of up to 4% of worldwide revenue. In addition, several other jurisdictions around the world have recently enacted privacy laws or regulations similar to GDPR. For instance, California enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which became effective January 1, 2020, and which gives consumers many of the same rights as those available under GDPR. Several laws similar to the CCPA have been proposed in the United States at both the federal and state level. GDPR and other similar laws and regulations, as well as any associated inquiries or investigations or any other government actions, may be costly to comply with, result in negative publicity, increase our operating costs, require significant management time and attention, and subject us to remedies that may harm our business. We are evaluating its processes and taking measures to ensure compliance with all applicable privacy and data protection-related laws and regulations. Due to the lack of experience with the interpretation and enforcement of many of these laws and regulations, some measures initially might not satisfy standard or best practices that will be established in the coming years.
Changes in tax rates, tax liabilities or tax accounting rules could affect future results.
As a global company, we are subject to taxation in the United States and various other countries and jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required to determine worldwide tax liabilities. Our future tax rates could be affected by changes in the composition of earnings in countries or states with differing tax rates, transfer pricing rules, changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, or changes in the tax laws. In addition, we are subject to regular examination of our income tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") and other tax authorities. From time to time the United States, foreign and state governments make substantive changes to tax rules and the application of rules to companies, including various announcements from the United States government potentially impacting our ability to defer taxes on international earnings. We regularly assess the likelihood of favorable or unfavorable outcomes resulting from these examinations to determine the adequacy of our provision for income taxes. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, there can be no assurance that any final determination will not be materially different than the treatment reflected in our historical income tax provisions and accruals, which could materially and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition.
If we or our third-party vendors fail to comply with FDA regulations or similar legal requirements in foreign jurisdictions relating to the manufacturing of our products or any component part, we may be subject to fines, injunctions and penalties, and our ability to commercially distribute and sell our products may be negatively impacted.
We now make fiber laser systems and accessories targeted at specific medical applications. In addition, we sell our commercial fiber and diode laser modules, subassemblies and systems to OEMs that incorporate them into their medical products. With respect to such products, some of our manufacturing facilities, and the manufacturing facilities of any of our third-party component manufacturers or critical suppliers, are required to comply with the FDA’s Quality System Regulation and those of other countries (“QSR”), which sets forth minimum standards for the procedures, execution and documentation of the design, testing, production, control, quality assurance, labeling, packaging, sterilization, storage, and shipping of the products we sell in the medical industry, and related regulations, including Medical Device Reporting (“MDR”) regulations regarding reporting of certain malfunctions and adverse events potentially associated with our products. The FDA and other regulatory agencies may evaluate our compliance with the QSR, MDR and other regulations, among other ways, through periodic announced or unannounced inspections which could disrupt our operations and interrupt our manufacturing. If in conducting an inspection of our manufacturing facilities, or the manufacturing facilities of any of our third-party component manufacturers or critical suppliers, an investigator from the FDA observes conditions or practices believed to violate the QSR, the investigator may document their observations on a Form FDA 483 that is issued at the conclusion of the inspection. A manufacturer that receives an FDA 483 may respond in writing and explain any corrective actions taken in response to the inspectional observations. The FDA will typically review the facility’s written response and may re-inspect to determine the facility’s compliance with the QSR and other applicable regulatory requirements. Failure to take adequate and timely corrective actions to remedy objectionable conditions listed on an FDA 483 could result in the FDA taking administrative or enforcement actions. Among these may be the FDA’s issuance of a Warning Letter to a manufacturer, which informs it that the FDA considers the observed violations to be of “regulatory significance” that, if not corrected, could result in further enforcement action.
FDA enforcement actions, which include seizure, injunction, criminal prosecution, and civil penalties, could result in total or partial suspension of a facility’s production and/or distribution, product recalls, fines, suspension of the FDA’s review of product applications, and/or the FDA’s issuance of adverse publicity. Thus, an adverse inspection could force a shutdown of our manufacturing operations for products servicing the medical industry or a recall of such products. Adverse inspections could also delay FDA approval of our products for the medical industry.
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Failure to maintain effective internal controls may cause a loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements or to cause us to delay filing our periodic reports with the SEC and adversely affect our stock price.
The SEC, as directed by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, adopted rules requiring public companies to include a report of management on internal control over financial reporting in their annual reports on Form 10-K that contain an assessment by management of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. We have experienced rapid growth and have extensive and complex international manufacturing and sales and service locations which may make us more vulnerable to weaknesses in our internal controls. Although we test our internal control over financial reporting in order to ensure compliance with the Section 404 requirements, our failure to maintain adequate internal controls over financial reporting could result in an adverse reaction in the financial marketplace due to a loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements or a delay in our ability to timely file our periodic reports with the SEC, which ultimately could negatively impact our stock price.
Our products could contain defects, which may reduce sales of those products, harm market acceptance of our fiber laser and other products or result in claims against us.
The manufacture of our products involves highly complex and precise processes. Despite testing by us and our customers, errors have been found, and may be found in the future, in our products. These defects may cause us to incur significant warranty, support and repair costs, incur additional costs related to a recall, divert the attention of our engineering personnel from our product development efforts and harm our relationships with our customers. These problems could result in, among other things, loss of revenues or a delay in revenue recognition, loss of market share, harm to our reputation or a delay or loss of market acceptance of our fiber laser products. Additionally, a recall, particularly in our products used or incorporated in medical devices, could result in significant costs and lost sales and customers, enforcement actions and/or investigations by state and federal governments or other enforcement bodies, as well as negative publicity and damage to our reputation that could reduce future demand for our products. The development and sale of medical devices and component products involves an inherent risk of product liability claims. Defects, integration issues or other performance problems in our fiber laser and other products could also result in personal injury or financial or other damages to our customers, which in turn could damage market acceptance of our products and result in significant product liability claims being brought against us. A product liability claim brought against us, even if unsuccessful, could be time-consuming and costly to defend. If a product liability action were determined against us, it could result in significant damages, including punitive damages, and our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows could be materially adversely affected.
We are subject to government regulations, including tariffs and duties that could restrict our international sales and negatively affect our business.
The United States, Germany, the European Union, China, Japan, South Korea and many other foreign governments impose tariffs and duties on the import of products, including some of those which we sell. In recent years, the U.S. instituted and proposed changes in trade policies that included the negotiation or termination of trade agreements, the imposition of higher tariffs on imports into the United States, including, in particular, on Chinese goods, economic sanctions on individuals, corporations or countries and other government regulations affecting trade between the United States and other countries where we conduct our business.
Policy changes and proposals could require time-consuming and expensive alterations to our business operations and may result in greater restrictions and economic uncertainty and disincentives on international trade, which could negatively impact our competitiveness in jurisdictions around the world as well as lead to an increase in costs in our supply chain. We are a multinational corporation, with manufacturing located both in the United States and internationally and with approximately 80% of our net sales arising from foreign customers. As such, we may be more susceptible to negative impacts from these tariffs or change in trade policies than other less internationally focused enterprises. In addition, new tariffs and other changes in U.S. trade policy could trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries, and certain foreign governments, including the Chinese government (which has imposed retaliatory tariffs on a range of U.S. goods including certain optical and electronic products and components), may impose trade sanctions on certain U.S. manufactured goods. Such changes by the United States and other countries have the potential to adversely impact U.S. and worldwide economic conditions, our industry and the global demand for our products, and as a result, could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We must comply with and could be impacted by various export controls and trade and economic sanctions laws and regulations that could negatively affect our business and may change due to diplomatic and political considerations outside of our control.
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A significant part of our business involves the export and import of components and products among many countries, including the U.S., Germany, Russia and China. The U.S. government and governments of other countries in which we do business have Trade Controls that impact our ability to export, re-export or transfer products, software and technology originating in those countries. Trade Controls may require that we obtain a license before we can export, re-export or transfer certain products, software or technology. The requirement to obtain a license could put us at a competitive disadvantage by restricting our ability to sell products to customers in certain countries or by giving rise to delays or expenses related to obtaining a license. We have experienced and, in the future, may experience delays in obtaining export licenses based on issues solely within the control of the applicable government agency. Licenses may also include conditions that limit the use, resale, transfer, re-export, modification, disassembly, or transfer of a product, software or technology after it is exported without first obtaining permission from the relevant government agency. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations could result in government sanctions, including substantial monetary penalties, denial of export privileges, debarment from government contracts and a loss of revenues. Delays in obtaining or failure to obtain required export licenses may require us to defer shipments for substantial periods or cancel orders. Any of these circumstances could adversely affect our operations and, as a result, our financial results could suffer.
We have a large manufacturing facility and research and development operations in Russia which supplies components to our U.S. and German manufacturing facilities. In addition, we supply components from our U.S. and German manufacturing facilities to our Russian facility. Also, all three such facilities provide finished products to China, our largest market. Should there be any disruption of our supplies from or to our Russian operations, should the United States, the European Union or Russia implement new or broad-based Trade Controls, including those directed at China, our production and/or deliveries as well as results of operations would be affected. Although we have implemented compliance measures designed to prevent transactions prohibited by current or future Trade Controls, our failure to successfully comply with applicable Trade Controls may expose us to negative legal and business consequences, including civil or criminal penalties, government investigations, and reputational harm.
In addition, Trade Controls and their implementation are fluid and may change due to diplomatic and political considerations outside of our control. Such changes, including the potential expansion of sanctions and sanctions designations, as well as public statements by government officials, could be significant, require us to take certain actions to be in compliance, adversely affect prevailing market prices of our common stock, have a reputational impact, or otherwise have a material adverse impact on us, our business, and our ability to raise capital.
We are subject to various environmental laws and regulations that could impose substantial costs upon us and may adversely affect our business, operating results and financial condition.
Some of our operations use substances regulated under various federal, state, local and international laws governing the environment, including those relating to the storage, use, discharge, disposal, product composition and labeling of, and human exposure to, hazardous and toxic materials. We could incur costs, fines and civil or criminal sanctions, third-party property damage or personal injury claims, or could be required to incur substantial investigation or remediation costs, if we were to violate or become liable under environmental laws. Compliance with current or future environmental laws and regulations could restrict our ability to expand our facilities or require us to acquire additional expensive equipment, modify our manufacturing processes, or incur other significant expenses in order to remain in compliance with such laws and regulations. There can be no assurance that violations of environmental laws or regulations will not occur in the future as a result of the lack of, or failure to obtain, permits, human error, accident, equipment failure or other causes.
Risks Relating to Our Common Stock
Dr. Valentin P. Gapontsev, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and three trusts he created collectively control approximately 31% of our voting power and have a significant influence on the outcome of director elections and other matters requiring stockholder approval, including a change in corporate control.
Dr. Valentin P. Gapontsev, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and IP Fibre Devices (UK) Ltd., of which Dr. Gapontsev is the managing director, together with three trusts he created beneficially own approximately 31% of our common stock. Trustees of the trusts are officers or employees of the Company. Dr. Gapontsev and the trusts have a significant influence on the outcome of matters requiring stockholder approval, including election of our directors, stockholder proposals and approval of significant corporate transactions. Dr. Gapontsev and the trusts may vote their shares of our common stock in ways that other stockholders may consider would be adverse to the interests of the other stockholders. These significant ownership interests could delay, prevent or cause a change in control of the Company and might affect the market price of our common stock.
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Provisions in our charter documents and Delaware law, and our severance arrangements, could prevent or delay a change in control of our company, even if a change in control would be beneficial to our stockholders.
Provisions of our certificate of incorporation and by-laws, including certain provisions that will take effect when Dr. Valentin P. Gapontsev (together with his affiliates and associates) ceases to beneficially own an aggregate of 25% or more of our outstanding voting securities, may discourage, delay or prevent a merger, acquisition or change of control, even if it would be beneficial to our stockholders. The existence of these provisions could also limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock. These provisions include:
authorizing the issuance of "blank check" preferred stock;
establishing a classified board and providing that directors thereon may only be removed for cause;
providing that directors fill board vacancies;
prohibiting stockholder action by written consent;
limiting the ability of stockholders to call a special meeting of stockholders;
establishing advance notice requirements for nominations for election to the board of directors and for proposing matters to be submitted to a stockholder vote;
supermajority stockholder approval to change certificate of incorporation and by-laws and
lack of cumulative voting for director elections.
Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which will apply to the Company following such time as Dr. Gapontsev (together with his affiliates and associates) ceases to beneficially own 25% or more of the total voting power of our outstanding shares, may prohibit business combinations with stockholders owning 15% or more of our outstanding voting stock. The terms of our employment agreements and severance plan with executives include change-of-control severance provisions which provide for the payment of cash following a termination of employment following a change of control. These provisions may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition, make a merger or acquisition costlier for a potential acquirer, or make removal of incumbent directors or officers more difficult.
General Risk Factors
We have experienced, and expect to experience in the future, fluctuations in our quarterly operating results. These fluctuations may increase the volatility of our stock price and may be difficult to predict.
We have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, fluctuations in our quarterly operating results. We believe that fluctuations in quarterly results may cause the market price of our common stock to fluctuate, perhaps substantially. Factors which may have an influence on our operating results in a particular quarter include those below and others included in the Risk Factors:
the increase, decrease, cancellation or rescheduling of significant customer orders;
the timing of revenue recognition based on the installation or acceptance of certain products shipped to our customers;
the timing of customer qualification of our products and commencement of volume sales of systems that include our products;
the gain or loss of a key customer;
product or customer mix;
competitive pricing pressures and new market entrants;
our ability to design, manufacture and introduce new products on a cost-effective and timely basis;
our ability to manage our inventory levels and any provisions for excess or obsolete inventory;
our ability to collect outstanding accounts receivable balances;
incurring expenses to develop and improve application and support capabilities, the benefits of which may not be realized until future periods, if at all;
incurring expenses related to impairment of values for goodwill, intangibles and other long-lived assets;
different capital expenditure and budget cycles for our customers, which affect the timing of their spending;
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expenses associated with acquisition-related activities;
health pandemic; and
our ability to control expenses.
These factors make it difficult for us to accurately predict our operating results. In addition, our ability to accurately predict our operating results is complicated by the fact that many of our products have long sales cycles, some lasting as long as twelve months or more. Once a sale is made, our delivery schedule typically ranges from four weeks to four months, and therefore our sales will often reflect orders shipped in the same quarter that they are received and will not enhance our ability to predict our results for future quarters. In addition, long sales cycles may cause us to incur significant expenses without offsetting revenues since customers typically expend significant effort in evaluating, testing and qualifying our products before making a decision to purchase them. Moreover, customers may cancel or reschedule shipments, and production difficulties could delay shipments. Accordingly, our results of operations are subject to significant fluctuations from quarter to quarter, and we may not be able to accurately predict when these fluctuations will occur.
Our inability to manage risks associated with our international customers and operations could adversely affect our business.
We have significant facilities in and our products are sold in numerous countries. Our principal markets include China, the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Korea, Turkey and Russia. A substantial majority of our revenues are derived from customers outside the United States. In addition, we have substantial tangible assets outside of the United States. We anticipate that foreign sales will continue to account for a significant portion of our revenues in the foreseeable future. Our operations and sales in these markets are subject to risks inherent in international business activities, including the following and others mentioned in the Risk Factors:
fluctuations in the values of foreign currencies;
changes, including recession, and other general economic uncertainties affecting the macroeconomic and local economic communities in which we and our customers operate or serve;
longer accounts receivable collection periods and less developed credit assessment and collection procedures;
compliance with domestic and foreign laws and regulations, unexpected changes in those laws and regulatory requirements, including uncertainties regarding taxes, tariffs, quotas, export controls, export licenses, trade sanctions and other trade barriers, and any corresponding retaliatory actions by affected countries, including China and Russia;
certification requirements;
less effective protection of intellectual property rights in some countries;
potentially adverse tax consequences;
different capital expenditure and budget cycles for our customers, which affect the timing of their spending;
political, legal and economic instability, foreign conflicts, labor unrest and the impact of regional and global infectious illnesses in the countries in which we and our customers, suppliers, manufacturers and subcontractors are located;
preference for locally produced products;
difficulties and costs of staffing and managing international operations across different geographic areas and cultures;
seasonal reductions in business activities;
fluctuations in freight rates and transportation disruptions;
investment restrictions or requirements;
repatriation restrictions or requirements;
export and import restrictions; and
limitations on the ability of our employees to travel without restriction to certain countries in which we operate.
Political, economic and monetary instability and changes in governmental regulations or policies, including trade tariffs and protectionism, could adversely affect both our ability to effectively operate our foreign sales offices and the ability of our foreign suppliers to supply us with required materials or services. Any interruption or delay in the supply of our required components, products, materials or services, or our inability to obtain these components, materials, products or services from
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alternate sources at acceptable prices and within a reasonable amount of time, could impair our ability to meet scheduled product deliveries to our customers and could cause customers to cancel orders.
We are subject to risks of doing business in Russia through our subsidiary, NTO IRE-Polus, which provides components and test equipment to us and sells finished fiber devices to customers in Russia and neighboring countries as well as finished lasers to China. Further, approximately 42% of our sales in 2020 were to customers in China. We have also invested in manufacturing facilities in Belarus. The results of our operations, business prospects and facilities in these three countries are subject to the economic and political environment in Russia, China and Belarus. In recent years, these countries have undergone substantial political, economic and social change. As is typical of an emerging economy, none of these three countries possess a well-developed business, financial, legal and regulatory infrastructure that would generally exist in a more mature free market economy. In addition, tax, currency and customs legislation is subject to varying interpretations and changes, which can occur frequently. The future economic direction of these emerging market countries remains largely dependent upon the effectiveness of economic, financial and monetary measures undertaken by the government, together with tax, legal, regulatory and political developments. Our failure to manage the risks associated with our operations in Russia, China and Belarus and our other existing and potential future international business operations could have a material adverse effect upon our results of operations.
Foreign currency risk may negatively affect our net sales, cost of sales and operating margins and could result in exchange losses.
We conduct our business and incur costs in the local currency of most countries in which we operate. In 2020 our net sales outside the United States represented a substantial majority of our total sales. We incur currency transaction risk whenever one of our operating subsidiaries enters into either a purchase or a sales transaction using a different currency from the currency in which it operates or holds assets or liabilities in currencies different than their functional currency. Changes in exchange rates can also affect our results of operations when the value of sales and expenses of foreign subsidiaries are translated to U.S. dollars. We cannot accurately predict the impact of future exchange rate fluctuations on our results of operations. Further, given the volatility of exchange rates, we may not be able to effectively manage our currency risks, and any volatility in currency exchange rates may increase the price of our products in local currency to our foreign customers or increase the manufacturing cost of our products, which may have an adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows and profitability.
We pursue acquisitions and investments in new businesses, products, patents or technologies. These involve risks which could disrupt our business and may harm our financial results and condition.
We make acquisitions of and investments in new businesses, products, patents and technologies and expand into new geographic areas, or we may acquire operations, products or technologies that expand our current capabilities. Although we have pursued relatively small acquisitions in the past, we may pursue larger transactions in the future. Acquisitions present a number of potential risks and challenges that could, if not met, disrupt our business operations, increase our operating costs, reduce consolidated margins, cause us to incur impairment charges and reduce the value of the acquired company, asset or technology to us. We may not be able to effectively integrate acquired businesses, business cultures, products, patents or technologies into our existing business and products, or retain key employees. As a result of the rapid pace of technological change in our industry, we may misjudge the long-term potential of an acquired business, product, patent or technology, or the acquisition may not be complementary to our existing business. Furthermore, potential acquisitions and investments, whether or not consummated, may divert our management's attention, require considerable cash outlays at the expense of our existing operations, incur unanticipated costs or liabilities, including the costs associated with improving the internal controls of the acquired company. In addition, to complete future acquisitions, we may issue equity securities, incur debt, assume contingent liabilities or have amortization expenses and write-downs of acquired assets, which could adversely affect our profitability and result in dilution to our existing and future stockholders.

We may incur impairments to goodwill or long-lived assets, which would negatively affect our results of operations.
We review our goodwill for impairment annually and other long-lived assets, including intangible assets identified in business combinations whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of these assets may not be recoverable. Negative industry or economic trends, including reduced estimates of future cash flows, disruptions to our business, slower growth rates, lack of growth in our relevant business units or differences in the estimated product acceptance rates could lead to impairment charges against our long-lived assets, including goodwill and other intangible assets. For example, we recorded a non-cash impairment charge of $44.6 million in 2020.
Our valuation methodology for assessing impairment requires management to make significant judgments and assumptions based on historical experience and to rely heavily on projections of future operating performance at many points
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during the analysis. Also, the process of evaluating the potential impairment of goodwill is subjective. We operate in a highly competitive environment and projections of future operating results and cash flows may vary significantly from actual results. Additionally, if our analysis indicates potential impairment to goodwill in one or more of our business units, we may be required to record additional charges to earnings in our financial statements, which could negatively affect our results of operations.
We are exposed to credit risk and fluctuations in the market values of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.
Given the global nature of our business, we have both domestic and international investments. At December 31, 2020, 74% of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities were in the United States and 26% were outside the United States. Credit ratings and pricing of our investments can be negatively affected by liquidity, credit deterioration, prevailing interest rates, financial results, economic risk, political risk, sovereign risk or other factors. Also, our investments may be negatively affected by events that impact the banks or depositories that hold our investments. As a result, the value and liquidity of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities may fluctuate substantially. Therefore, although we have not realized any significant losses on our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities, future fluctuations in their value could result in a significant realized loss.
Our ability to access financial markets to raise capital or finance a portion of our working capital requirements and support our liquidity needs may be adversely affected by factors beyond our control and could negatively impact our ability to finance our operations, meet certain obligations, implement our operating strategy or complete acquisitions.
We occasionally borrow under our existing credit facilities to fund operations, including working capital investments. Our major credit lines in the United States and Germany expire in April 2025 and July 2023, respectively. Uncertainty or disruptions in financial markets may negatively impact our ability to access additional financing or to refinance our existing credit facilities or existing debt arrangements on favorable terms or at all, which could negatively affect our ability to fund current and future expansion as well as future acquisitions and development. These disruptions may include turmoil in the financial services industry, unprecedented volatility in the markets where our outstanding securities trade, changes in reference rates for interest such as the scheduled discontinuation of LIBOR in 2021 and general economic downturns in the areas where we do business. If we are unable to access funds at competitive rates, or if our short-term or long-term borrowing costs increase, our ability to finance our operations, meet our short-term obligations and implement our operating strategy could be adversely affected. We also may in the future be required to raise capital through public or private financing or other arrangements. Such financing may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all, and our failure to raise capital when needed could harm our business.





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ITEM 1B.    UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.
ITEM 2.    PROPERTIES
Our significant facilities at December 31, 2020 include the following:
Location
Owned or
Leased
Lease Expiration
Approximate
Size (sq. ft.)
Primary Activity
Oxford, MassachusettsOwned502,300Diodes, components, complete device manufacturing, R&D, administration
Burbach, GermanyOwned499,500Optical fiber, components, final assembly, complete device manufacturing, R&D administration
Fryazino, RussiaOwned473,700Manufacturing, R&D, administration
LeasedJune 2021 - August 2022 80,500Components, complete device manufacturing
Minsk, BelarusOwned271,500Manufacturing
Marlborough, MassachusettsOwned243,000Components, manufacturing, applications, sales, R&D, administration
Davenport, IowaOwned160,300Systems integration, administration
LeasedMarch 2022 46,500Systems integration, sales, administration
Our corporate headquarters is in Oxford, Massachusetts. As of December 31, 2020, we occupied more than 3.0 million square feet of facilities worldwide. Of this we own 2.5 million square feet and lease 0.5 million square feet of building space, of which the majority is used for manufacturing. We operate four principal manufacturing facilities for fiber lasers, laser systems, fiber amplifiers, and related optical and mechanical components, which are located in the United States, Germany, Russia and Belarus. We conduct our major research and development activities in Oxford and Marlborough, Massachusetts; Burbach, Germany; and Fryazino, Russia.
We own additional facilities and land for various purposes, such as sales and support and applications labs. We believe the existing facilities are in good operating condition and are suitable for the conduct of our operations. The productive capacity at our current facilities is substantially utilized. We plan to continue the expansion of our operations and build manufacturing in Germany, the United States and Belarus to meet the demand for our products and our sales and support needs.
ITEM 3.    LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
From time to time, we are party to various legal claims and legal proceedings and other disputes incidental to our business, such as employment, intellectual property or product issues. For a discussion of the risks associated with intellectual property legal proceedings and other disputes, see Item 1A. "Risk Factors — In the past, we were subject to litigation alleging that we infringed third-party intellectual property rights. Intellectual property claims could result in costly litigation and harm our business."
ITEM 4.    MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.
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PART II
ITEM 5.    MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common stock is quoted on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol "IPGP". As of February 19, 2021, there were 53,533,592 shares of our common stock outstanding held by approximately 31 holders of record, which does not include beneficial owners of common stock whose shares are held in the names of various securities brokers, dealers and registered clearing agencies.
Stock Price Performance Graph
The following Stock Price Performance Graph and related information includes comparisons required by the SEC. The graph does not constitute "soliciting material" and should not be deemed "filed" or incorporated by reference into any other filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate this information by reference into such filing.
The following graph presents the cumulative shareholder returns for our Common Stock compared with the S&P 500 Index and the S&P 1500 Composite 1500 / Electronic Equipment Instruments & Components Index. We include the S&P 500 Index because we became a member of this index in 2018. We include the S&P Composite 1500 / Electronic Equipment Instruments & Components Index because outstanding performance stock units awarded to executive officers use this index when comparing total shareholder return and due to our being an index member, industry similarities, our internal use to monitor executive compensation, and the fact that it contains several direct competitors.
ipgp-20201231_g2.jpg
 Base Period5-Year Cumulative Total Return
 12/31/201512/31/201612/31/201712/31/201812/31/201912/31/2020
IPG Photonics Corporation$100.00 $110.71 $240.16 $128.98 $161.42 $251.00 
S&P 500 Index$100.00 $111.96 $136.40 $129.31 $171.94 $203.04 
S&P 1500 Composite / Electronic Equipment Instruments & Components Index$100.00 $129.69 $168.06 $144.95 $195.01 $241.56 
The above graph represents and compares the value, through December 31, 2020, of a hypothetical investment of $100 made at the closing price on December 31, 2015 in each of (i) our common stock, (ii) S&P 500 Index, and (iii) the S&P 1500 Composite / Electronic Equipment Instruments & Components Index, in each case assuming the reinvestment of dividends. The stock price performance shown in this graph is not necessarily indicative of, and not is intended to suggest, future stock price performance.
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Dividends
We anticipate that we will retain future earnings to support operations, fund acquisitions and to finance the growth and development of our business. Therefore, we do not expect to pay cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Our payment of any future dividends will be at the discretion of our Board of Directors after taking into account any business conditions, any contractual and legal restrictions on our payment of dividends, and our financial condition, operating results, cash needs, growth plans and other factors. In addition, a current agreement with one lender contains a restrictive covenant that prohibits us from paying cash dividends, making any distribution on any class of stock or making stock repurchases if a breach of a financial covenant or an event of default exists or would result from the dividend, distribution or repurchase.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities; Use of Proceeds from Registered Securities
There have been no sales of unregistered securities during the past year.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The following table shows repurchases of our common stock in the fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2020:
Date
Total Number of Shares (or Units) Purchased
 
Average Price Paid per Share (or Unit)
Total Number of Shares (or Units) Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs
Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares (or Units) that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs
October 1, 2020 — October 31, 202063 (1), (2), (3)$195.33 — $246,386 
November 1, 2020 — November 30, 2020545 (1), (2), (3)188.43 — 246,386 
December 1, 2020 — December 31, 202053 (1), (2), (3)209.03 — 246,386 
Total661   $190.74 — $246,386 
(1)In 2012, our Board of Directors approved "withhold to cover" as a tax payment method for vesting of restricted stock awards for certain employees. Pursuant to the "withhold to cover" method, we withheld from such employees the shares noted in the table above to cover tax withholding related to the vesting of their awards. For the fourth quarter of 2020, the Company withheld 661 shares at an average price of $190.74.
(2)On February 12, 2019, we announced that our Board of Directors authorized the purchase of up to $125 million of IPG common stock (the "February 2019 program") following the completion of our $125 million repurchase program authorized in July 2018. Under the February 2019 program, we are authorized to repurchase shares of common stock in an amount not to exceed the lesser of (a) the number of shares issued to employees and directors under the Company's various employee and director equity compensation and employee stock purchase plans from January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020 and (b) $125 million, exclusive of any fees, commissions or other expenses. There were no shares purchased in the fourth quarter of 2020 under the February 2019 program.
(3)On May 5, 2020, we announced that our Board of Directors authorized the purchase of up to $200 million of IPG common stock (the "May 2020 program"), exclusive of any fees, commissions or other expenses. The May 2020 program is separate from, and in addition to, the repurchases authorized under the February 2019 program. There were no shares purchased in the fourth quarter of 2020 under the May 2020 program.
ITEM 6.    RESERVED

ITEM 7.    MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors including, but not limited to, those discussed under Item 1A, "Risk Factors."
Overview
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We develop, manufacture and sell high-performance fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers and diode lasers that are used for diverse applications, primarily in materials processing. We also manufacture and sell complementary products used with our lasers including optical delivery cables, fiber couplers, beam switches, optical processing heads, in-line sensors and chillers. In addition, we offer laser-based and non-laser based systems for certain markets and applications. Our portfolio of laser solutions are used in materials processing, communications, medical and advanced applications. We sell our products globally to original equipment manufacturers ("OEMs"), system integrators and end users. We market our products internationally, primarily through our direct sales force. Our major manufacturing facilities are located in the United States, Germany, Russia and Belarus. We have sales service offices and applications laboratories worldwide.
We are vertically integrated such that we design and manufacture most of the key components used in our finished products, from semiconductor diodes to optical fiber preforms, finished fiber lasers, amplifiers and complementary products. Our vertically integrated operations allow us to reduce manufacturing costs, control quality, rapidly develop and integrate advanced products and protect our proprietary technology.
Description of Our Net Sales, Costs and Expenses
Net sales. We derive net sales primarily from the sale of fiber lasers, diode lasers, laser and non-laser based systems, amplifiers and complementary products. We sell our products to OEMs that supply materials processing laser systems, communications systems, medical laser systems and other laser systems to end users. We also sell our laser products and laser and non-laser based systems to end users. Our scientists and engineers work closely with OEMs, systems integrators and end users to analyze their system requirements and match appropriate fiber laser, amplifier or system specifications to those requirements. Our sales cycle varies substantially, ranging from a period of a few weeks to as long as one year or more, but is typically several months.
Sales of our products are generally recognized upon shipment, provided that no obligations remain and collection of the receivable is reasonably assured. Sales of customized robotic systems are recognized over time. Our sales typically are made on a purchase order basis rather than through long-term purchase commitments.
We develop our products to standard specifications and use a common set of components within our product architectures. Our major products are based upon a common technology platform. We continually enhance these and other products by improving their components and developing new components and new product designs.
Cost of sales. Our cost of sales consists primarily of the cost of raw materials and components, direct labor expenses and manufacturing overhead. We are vertically integrated and currently manufacture all critical components for our products as well as assemble finished products. We believe our vertical integration allows us to increase efficiencies, leverage our scale and lower our cost of sales. Cost of sales also includes personnel costs and overhead related to our manufacturing, engineering and service operations, related occupancy and equipment costs, shipping costs and reserves for inventory obsolescence and for warranty obligations. Inventories are written off and charged to cost of sales when identified as excess or obsolete.
Due to our vertical integration strategy and ongoing investment in plant and machinery, we maintain a relatively high fixed manufacturing overhead. We may not be able to or choose not to adjust these fixed costs to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. Our gross margin is therefore significantly affected by our sales volume and the corresponding utilization of capacity and absorption of fixed manufacturing overhead expenses.
Sales and marketing. Our sales and marketing expense consists primarily of costs related to compensation, trade shows, professional and technical conferences, travel, facilities, depreciation of equipment used for demonstration purposes and other marketing costs.
Research and development. Our research and development expense consists primarily of compensation, development expenses related to the design of our products and certain components, the cost of materials and components to build prototype devices for testing and facilities costs. Costs related to product development are recorded as research and development expenses in the period in which they are incurred.
General and administrative. Our general and administrative expense consists primarily of compensation and associated costs for executive management, finance, legal, human resources, information technology and other administrative personnel, outside legal and professional fees, insurance premiums and fees, allocated facilities costs and other corporate expenses such as charges and benefits related to the change in allowance for doubtful debt.
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Factors and Trends That Affect Our Operations and Financial Results
In reading our financial statements, you should be aware of the following factors and trends that our management believes are important in understanding our financial performance.
COVID-19 Update. Global demand trends have been impacted adversely by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and therefore remain uncertain at this time. Economic indicators show some improvement from the severe contraction experienced earlier in 2020, which has led to an improvement in the recent demand environment in certain regions. It is difficult to predict whether the improvement in some macro-economic indicators will be sustained if there are additional restrictions imposed as a result of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections. This uncertainty continues to make forecasting our business challenging in the near to medium-term.
Currently, our four major production facilities in United States, Germany, Russia and Belarus remain open and are operating normally. We have implemented employee safety and sanitization protocols that have impacted productivity and efficiency. We have vertically integrated manufacturing, and many of the components one facility supplies to another facility are single sourced internally and not available from third party suppliers, for example our semiconductor diodes manufactured in Oxford, Massachusetts. While we have attempted to build safety stock of critical components at our various locations, if government restrictions to address COVID-19 become more severe than we have experienced to date or if there was significant absenteeism as a result of COVID-19 or resurgence in the places where we operate, it could impact our internal supply chain. If our revenues are reduced for an extended period or if our production output falls because of government restrictions or absenteeism, we may be required to reduce payroll-related costs and other expenses in the future through layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours, even though we have not done so to date.
We have not experienced significant supply disruption from third party component suppliers; however, we may face some supply chain restraints related to logistics, including available air cargo space and higher freight rates if there is a COVID-19 resurgence. We may experience delays in the future if resurgences are experienced and governments implement new restrictions. We believe we have the ability to meet the near-term demand for our products, but the situation is fluid and subject to change.
We continue to monitor the rapidly evolving conditions and circumstances as well as guidance from international and domestic authorities, including public health authorities, and we may need to take additional actions based on their recommendations. The measures implemented by various authorities related to the COVID-19 outbreak have caused us to change our business practices including those related to where employees work, the distance between employees in our facilities, limitations on in-person meetings between employees and with customers, suppliers, service providers, and stakeholders as well as restrictions on business travel to domestic and international locations or to attend trade shows, investor conferences and other events. To date, we have been able to accommodate these changes to our business operations and continue to meet customer demand. If guidelines from relevant authorities becomes more restrictive due to a resurgence of COVID-19 in a particular region, the effect on our operations could be more significant.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased economic uncertainty and decreased demand for our products in many markets we serve and could continue for an unknown period of time. In these circumstances, there may be developments outside of our control, including the length and extent of the COVID-19 outbreak and government-imposed measures that may require us to adjust our operating plans. As such, given the dynamic nature of this situation, we cannot reasonably estimate the future impacts of COVID-19 on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.
Net sales.  Our annual revenue growth rates have varied from year to year. Net sales decreased by 9% and 10% in 2020 and 2019, respectively, and increased by 4% in 2018. In 2020, the decline in net sales was driven by decreased demand for our products related to the COVID-19 pandemic that extended and deepened the weak macroeconomic environment prevailing at the end of 2019. In 2019, the decline in net sales was driven by decreased demand for our products related to the trade war between the U.S. and China that weakened macroeconomic conditions in the second half of 2019. In addition to these factors, sales were affected by declines in average sales prices related to competition. These reductions in sales were partially offset by the introduction of new products, including high power and ultra-fast pulsed lasers, optical heads and other accessories and the development of new applications for our products some of which displace non-laser technologies.
Our business depends substantially upon capital expenditures by end users, particularly by manufacturers using our products for materials processing, which includes general manufacturing, automotive, other transportation, aerospace, heavy industry, consumer, semiconductor and electronics. Approximately 90% of our revenues in 2020 were from customers using our products for materials processing. Although applications within materials processing are broad, the capital equipment market in general is cyclical and historically has experienced sudden and severe downturns. For the foreseeable future, our operations will continue to depend upon capital expenditures by end users of materials processing equipment and will be subject to the broader fluctuations of capital equipment spending.
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Our net sales have historically fluctuated from quarter to quarter. The increase or decrease in sales from a prior quarter can be affected by the timing of orders received from customers, the shipment, installation and acceptance of products at our customers' facilities, the mix of OEM orders and one-time orders for products with large purchase prices, competitive pressures, acquisitions, economic and political conditions in a certain country or region and seasonal factors such as the purchasing patterns and levels of activity throughout the year in the regions where we operate. Net sales can be affected by the time taken to qualify our products for use in new applications in the end markets that we serve. Our sales cycle varies substantially, ranging from a period of a few weeks to as long as one year or more, but is typically several months. The adoption of our products by a new customer or qualification in a new application can lead to an increase in net sales for a period, which may then slow until we penetrate new markets or obtain new customers.
In the recent years, our net sales have been negatively impacted by tariffs and trade policies. New tariffs and other changes in U.S. trade policy could trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries, and certain foreign governments.
We are also susceptible to global or regional disruptions such as political instability, geopolitical conflicts, acts of terrorism, significant fluctuations in currency values, natural disasters, macroeconomic concerns and particularly the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak that affect the level of capital expenditures or global commerce. With respect to the COVID-19 outbreak specifically, our 2020 financial results were negatively impacted. In addition, as of the time of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we expect that COVID-19 could continue to negatively impact our businesses beyond 2020, but the extent and duration of such impacts over the longer term remain uncertain and dependent on future developments that cannot be accurately predicted at this time, such as the severity and transmission rate of the coronavirus, the extent and effectiveness of containment actions taken, the approval, effectiveness, timing and widespread inoculation of the global population with new vaccines, and the impact of these and other factors on our customer base and general commercial activity.
The average selling prices of our products generally decrease as the products mature. These decreases result from factors such as increased competition, decreased manufacturing costs and increases in unit volumes. We may also reduce selling prices in order to penetrate new markets and applications. Furthermore, we may negotiate discounted selling prices from time to time with certain customers that place high unit volume orders.
The secular shift to fiber laser technology in large materials processing applications, such as cutting applications, had a positive effect on our sales trends in the past such that our sales trends were often better than other capital equipment manufacturers in both positive and negative economic cycles. As the secular shift to fiber laser technology matures in such applications, our sales trends are more susceptible to economic cycles which affect other capital equipment manufacturers.
Gross margin. Our total gross margin in any period can be significantly affected by total net sales in any period, by competitive factors, by product mix, and by other factors such as changes in foreign exchange rates relative to the U.S. Dollar, some of which are not under our control. For instance,
As our products mature, we can experience additional competition which tends to decrease average selling prices and affects gross margin;
Our gross margin can be significantly affected by product mix. Within each of our product categories, the gross margin is generally higher for devices with greater average power. These higher power products often have better performance, more difficult specifications to attain and fewer competing products in the marketplace;
Higher power lasers also use a greater number of optical components, improving absorption of fixed overhead costs and enabling economies of scale in manufacturing;
The gross margin for certain specialty products may be higher because there are fewer or sometimes no equivalent competing products;
Customers that purchase devices in greater unit volumes generally are provided lower prices per device than customers that purchase fewer units. In general, lower selling prices to high unit volume customers reduce gross margin although this may be partially offset by improved absorption of fixed overhead costs associated with larger product volumes, which drive economies of scale in manufacturing; and finally,
Gross margin on systems and communication components can be lower than margins for our laser and amplifier sources, depending on the configuration, volume and competitive forces, among other factors.
We expect that some new technologies, products and systems will have returns above our cost of capital but may have gross margins below our corporate average. If we are able to develop opportunities that are significant in size, competitively advantageous or leverage our existing technology base and leadership, our current gross margin levels may not be maintained. Instead, we aim to deliver industry-leading levels of gross margins by growing sales, by taking market share in existing
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markets, or by developing new applications and markets we address, by reducing the cost of our products and by optimizing the efficiency of our manufacturing operations. For instance, despite the decreases in sales in 2020 and 2019, manufacturing levels remained high and our facilities increased production as we manufactured more optical power products at lower average selling prices.
We invested $87.7 million, $133.5 million and $160.3 million in capital expenditures in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Most of this investment relates to expansion of our manufacturing capacity and, to a lesser extent, research and development and sales-related facilities.
A high proportion of our costs is fixed so costs are generally difficult to adjust or may take time to adjust in response to changes in demand. In addition, our fixed costs increase as we expand our capacity. If we expand capacity faster than is required by sales growth, gross margins could be negatively affected. Gross margins generally decline if production volumes are lower as a result of a decrease in sales or a reduction in inventory because the absorption of fixed manufacturing costs will be reduced. Gross margins generally improve when the opposite occurs. If both sales and inventory decrease in the same period, the decline in gross margin may be greater if we cannot reduce fixed costs or choose not to reduce fixed costs to match the decrease in the level of production. If we experience a decline in sales that reduces absorption of our fixed costs, or if we have production issues, our gross margins will be negatively affected.
We also regularly review our inventory for items that are slow-moving, have been rendered obsolete or are determined to be excess. Any provision for such slow-moving, obsolete or excess inventory affects our gross margins. For example, we recorded provisions for slow-moving, obsolete or excess inventory totaling $45.4 million, $38.9 million and $13.0 million in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Selling and general and administrative expenses. In the past, the Company has invested in selling and general and administrative costs in order to support continued growth in the company. As the secular shift to fiber laser technology matures, our sales growth becomes more susceptible to the cyclical trends typical of capital equipment manufacturers. Accordingly, our future management of and investments in selling and general and administrative expenses will also be influenced by these trends, although we may still invest in selling or general and administrative functions to support certain initiatives even in economic down cycles. Certain general and administrative expenses are not related to the level of sales and may vary quarter to quarter based primarily upon the level of acquisitions and litigation.
Research and development expenses. We plan to continue to invest in research and development to improve our existing components and products and develop new components, products, systems and applications technology. We believe that these investments will sustain our position as a leader in the fiber laser industry and will support development of new products that can address new markets and growth opportunities. The amount of research and development expense we incur may vary from period to period.
Goodwill and long-lived assets impairments. We review our intangible assets and property, plant and equipment for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. Goodwill is required to be tested for impairment at least annually. Negative industry or economic trends, including reduced estimates of future cash flows, disruptions to our business, slower growth rates, lack of growth in our relevant business units or differences in the estimated product acceptance rates could lead to impairment charges against our long-lived assets, including goodwill and other intangible assets. We incurred $0.7 million and $2.5 million of non-cash impairment charges related to long-lived assets during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. There were no impairment charges recognized during the year ended December 31, 2018.
Our valuation methodology for assessing impairment requires management to make significant judgments and assumptions based on historical experience and to rely heavily on projections of future operating performance at many points during the analysis. Also, the process of evaluating the potential impairment of goodwill is subjective. We operate in a highly competitive environment and projections of future operating results and cash flows may vary significantly from actual results. If our analysis indicates potential impairment to goodwill in one or more of our reporting units, we may be required to record charges to earnings in our financial statements, which could negatively affect our results of operations.
As a result of the continued negative impact of COVID-19 on order flow for our Genesis custom system business, we performed an impairment analysis of the goodwill during the third quarter of 2020. We performed a quantitative assessment using the discounted cash flow method under the income approach as well as the guideline public company analysis and guideline transaction analysis under the market approach to estimate the fair value of the custom systems business. As a result of this and to a lesser extent the overall performance of the business since its acquisition in 2018, we recognized a non-cash impairment loss of $44.6 million, which was equal to the carrying amount of goodwill prior to its impairment. The analysis considered internal forecasts of sales, profitability and capital expenditures, as well as valuation multiples of comparable public companies and valuation multiples of transactions of comparable companies. If the business impacts of COVID-19 carry on for
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an extended period, it could cause us to recognize additional impairments for goodwill and certain long-lived assets, including amortizable intangible assets or right-of-use assets in one or more of our reporting units, which would negatively affect our results of operations.
Foreign exchange. Because we are a U.S. based company doing business globally, we have both translational and transactional exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. Changes in the relative exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the foreign currencies in which our subsidiaries operate directly affects our sales, costs and earnings. Differences in the relative exchange rates between where we sell our products and where we incur manufacturing and other operating costs (primarily in the U.S., Germany and Russia) also affects our costs and earnings. Certain currencies experiencing significant exchange rate fluctuations like the Euro, the Russian Ruble, the Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan have had and could have an additional significant impact on our sales, costs and earnings. Our ability to adjust the foreign currency selling prices of products in response to changes in exchange rates is limited and may not offset the impact of the changes in exchange rates on the translated value of sales or costs. In addition, if we increase the selling price of our products in local currencies, this could have a negative impact on the demand for our products.
Major customers. While we have historically depended on a few customers for a large percentage of our annual net sales, the composition of this group can change from year to year. Net sales derived from our five largest customers as a percentage of our annual net sales were 24%, 21% and 26% in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Our largest customer accounted for 8%, 9% and 12% of our net sales in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The same customer accounted for 21% and 24% of our net accounts receivable as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. We seek to add new customers and to expand our relationships with existing customers. We anticipate that the composition of our significant customers will continue to change. We generally do not enter into agreements with our customers obligating them to purchase a fixed number or large volume of our fiber lasers or amplifiers. If any of our significant customers were to substantially reduce their purchases from us, our results would be adversely affected.
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP") requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of net sales and expenses. By their nature, these estimates and judgments are subject to an inherent degree of uncertainty. We base our estimates and judgments on our historical experience and on other assumptions that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances, the results of which form the basis for making the judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results could differ from those estimates, which may materially affect our operating results and financial position. We have identified the following items that require the most significant judgment and often involve complex estimation: revenue recognition, inventory valuation, warranty, accounting for income taxes and goodwill and long-lived asset impairment.
Revenue Recognition. Revenue is recognized when transfer of control to the customer occurs in an amount reflecting the consideration that we expect to be entitled. In order to achieve this core principle, we apply the following five step approach: (1) identify the contract with a customer, (2) identify the performance obligations in the contract, (3) determine the transaction price, (4) allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and (5) recognize revenue when a performance obligation is satisfied.
We allocate the transaction price to each distinct product based on its relative standalone selling price, as more fully described in Note 1, "Nature of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies - Revenue Recognition," in our consolidated financial statements. Revenue is generally recognized when control of the product is transferred to the customer (i.e., when our performance obligation is satisfied), which typically occurs at shipment, but which can occur over time for certain of our systems contracts. We also recognize revenue over time for sales of extended warranties. When goods or services have been delivered to the customer, but all conditions for revenue recognition have not been met, deferred revenue and deferred costs are recorded on our consolidated balance sheet. We enter into contracts to sell customized robotic systems, for which revenue is generally recognized over time, depending on the terms of the contract. Recognizing revenue over time for these contracts is based on our judgment that the customized robotic system does not have an alternative use and we have an enforceable right to payment for performance completed to date. Recognizing revenue over time also requires estimation of the progress towards completion based on the projected costs for the contract.
Inventory. Inventory is stated at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out method) or market value. Inventory includes parts and components that may be specialized in nature and subject to rapid obsolescence. We maintain a reserve for excess or obsolete inventory items. The reserve is based upon a review of inventory materials on hand, which we compare with historic usage, estimated future usage and age. In addition, we review the inventory and compare recorded costs with estimates of current
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market value. Write-downs are recorded to reduce the carrying value to the net realizable value with respect to any part with costs in excess of current market value. Estimating demand and current market values is inherently difficult, particularly given that we make highly specialized components and products. We determine the valuation of excess and obsolete inventory by making our best estimate considering the current quantities of inventory on hand and our forecast of the need for this inventory to support future sales of our products. We often have limited information on which to base our forecasts. If future sales differ from these forecasts, the valuation of excess and obsolete inventory may change and additional inventory provisions may be required. Because of our vertical integration, a significant or sudden decrease in sales could result in a significant change in the estimates of excess or obsolete inventory valuation.
Warranty. We maintain an accrual for warranty claims for units sold that are subject to warranty. We estimate this accrual considering past claims experience, the number of units still carrying warranty coverage and the average life of the remaining warranty period. A change in the rate of warranty repairs or when warranty is generally incurred during the warranty period could change our estimated warranty accrual and associated warranty expense.
Income Taxes and Deferred Taxes. Our annual tax rate is based on our income, statutory tax rates and tax planning opportunities available to us in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. We file federal and state income tax returns in the United States and tax returns in numerous international jurisdictions. We must estimate our income tax expense after considering, among other factors, if inter-company transactions have been made on an arm’s length basis, differing tax rates between jurisdictions, allocation factors, tax credits, nondeductible items and changes in enacted tax rates. Significant judgment is required in determining our annual tax expense and in evaluating our tax positions. As we continue to expand globally, there is a risk that, due to complexity within and diversity among the various jurisdictions in which we do business, a governmental agency may disagree with the manner in which we have computed our taxes. Additionally, due to the lack of uniformity among all of the foreign and domestic taxing authorities, there may be situations where the tax treatment of an item in one jurisdiction is different from the tax treatment in another jurisdiction or that the transaction causes a tax liability to arise in another jurisdiction.
We provide reserves for potential payments of tax to various tax authorities related to uncertain tax positions and other issues. Reserves recorded are based on a determination of whether and how much of a tax benefit taken by us in our tax filings or positions is "more likely than not" to be realized following resolution of any potential contingencies present related to the tax benefit, assuming that the matter in question will be raised by the tax authorities. Potential interest and penalties associated with such uncertain tax positions is recorded as a component of income tax expense.
Goodwill and Long-lived Asset Impairment. We perform our annual goodwill impairment review as of the first day of our fourth quarter, or more frequently if events or circumstances indicate it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount. Such events and circumstances could include significant and sustained reductions in sales volume, margin, profitability or cash flows of the reporting unit or changes in market dynamics, including technology or product changes. We test reporting units for impairment by comparing the estimated fair value of each reporting unit with its carrying amount. Intangible assets and other long-lived assets are also subject to an impairment test if there is an indicator of impairment.
Fair value determinations require considerable judgment and are sensitive to changes in underlying assumptions, estimates, and market factors. Estimating the fair value of individual reporting units requires us to make assumptions and estimates regarding our future plans, as well as industry, economic, and regulatory conditions. These assumptions and estimates include estimated future annual net cash flows, income tax considerations, discount rates, growth rates, royalty rates, contributory asset charges, and other market factors. Assumptions used in impairment testing are made at a point in time and require significant judgment; therefore, they are subject to change based on the facts and circumstances present at each annual and interim impairment test date. Additionally, these assumptions are generally interdependent and do not change in isolation. If current expectations of future growth rates and margins are not met, if market factors outside of our control, such as discount rates, change, or if management’s expectations or plans otherwise change, then one or more of our reporting units might become impaired in the future.
Definite-lived intangible assets are amortized on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life. We review definite-lived intangible assets for impairment when conditions exist that indicate the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable. Such conditions could include significant adverse changes in the business climate, current-period operating or cash flow losses, significant declines in forecasted operations, or a current expectation that an asset group will be disposed of before the end of its useful life. We perform undiscounted operating cash flow analyses to determine if an impairment exists. When testing for impairment of definite-lived intangible assets held for use, we group assets at the lowest level for which cash flows are separately identifiable. If an impairment is determined to exist, the loss is calculated based on estimated fair value.
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Results of Operations
The following table sets forth selected statement of operations data for the periods indicated in dollar amounts and expressed as a percentage of net sales: 
 Year Ended December 31,
 202020192018
 (In thousands, except percentages and per share data)
Net sales$1,200,724 100.0 %$1,314,581 100.0 %$1,459,874 100.0 %
Cost of sales661,728 55.1 708,372 53.9 659,606 45.2 
Gross profit538,996 44.9 606,209 46.1 800,268 54.8 
Operating expenses:
Sales and marketing70,583 5.9 77,745 5.9 57,815 4.0 
Research and development126,898 10.6 129,997 9.9 122,769 8.4 
General and administrative110,005 9.2 107,597 8.2 102,429 7.0 
Goodwill impairment44,589 3.7 37,120 2.8 — — 
Impairment of long-lived assets and other restructuring charges1,177 0.1 7,130 0.5 — — 
Loss (gain) on foreign exchange(12,915)(1.1)12,827 1.0 (6,150)(0.4)
Total operating expenses340,337 28.4 372,416 28.3 276,863 19.0 
Operating income198,659 16.5 233,793 17.8 523,405 35.9 
Interest income, net6,270 0.5 14,238 1.1 9,057 0.6 
Other income, net763 0.1 345 — 1,933 0.1 
Income before provision for income taxes205,692 17.1 248,376 18.9 534,395 36.6 
Provision for income taxes45,354 3.8 68,115 5.2 130,226 (8.9)
Net income160,338 13.3 180,261 13.7 404,169 27.7 
Less: net income attributable to non-controlling interest766 0.1 27 — 142 — 
Net income attributable to IPG Photonics Corporation$159,572 13.2 %$180,234 13.7 %$404,027 27.7 %
Net income attributable to IPG Photonics Corporation per share:
Basic$3.00 $3.40 $7.55 
Diluted$2.97 $3.35 $7.38 
Weighted average shares outstanding:
Basic53,186 53,061 53,522 
Diluted53,785 53,839 54,726 

Comparison of Year Ended December 31, 2020 to Year Ended December 31, 2019
Net sales. Net sales decreased by $113.9 million, or 8.7%, to $1,200.7 million in 2020 from $1,314.6 million in 2019. The table below sets forth sales by application: 
Year Ended December 31,  
 20202019Change
(In thousands, except for percentages)
Sales by Application % of Total % of Total  
Materials Processing$1,082,478 90.2 %$1,229,211 93.5 %$(146,733)(11.9)%
Other Applications118,246 9.8 %85,370 6.5 %32,876 38.5 %
Total$1,200,724 100.0 %$1,314,581 100.0 %$(113,857)(8.7)%
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The table below sets forth sales by type of product and other revenue:
Year Ended December 31,
 20202019Change
(In thousands, except for percentages)
Sales by Product% of Total% of Total
High Power Continuous Wave ("CW") Lasers$646,062 53.8 %$734,745 55.9 %$(88,683)(12.1)%
Medium Power CW Lasers50,796 4.2 %56,625 4.3 %(5,829)(10.3)%
Pulsed Lasers158,448 13.2 %137,675 10.5 %20,773 15.1 %
Quasi-Continuous Wave ("QCW") Lasers 50,333 4.2 %56,440 4.3 %(6,107)(10.8)%
Laser and Non-Laser Systems93,727 7.8 %141,647 10.8 %(47,920)(33.8)%
Other Revenue including Amplifiers, Service, Parts, Accessories and Change in Deferred Revenue201,358 16.8 %187,449 14.2 %13,909 7.4 %
Total
$1,200,724 100.0 %$1,314,581 100.0 %$(113,857)(8.7)%
Materials processing
Sales for materials processing applications decreased due to lower sales of high power lasers, laser and non-laser systems, QCW lasers and medium power lasers, partially offset by increased sales in pulsed lasers.
High power laser sales for metal cutting and welding applications declined due to the impact of COVID-19 on end market demand, continued reductions of average selling prices and increased competition. Part of the decline in average selling prices for high power lasers is due to the adoption of more compact or rack mounted "YLR" series lasers which are displacing 1 to 3 kilowatt "YLS" series lasers, which are larger, more complex and more expensive. These more compact YLR lasers are less expensive to manufacture and are sold at prices lower than the YLS series lasers they are displacing.
Medium power laser sales decreased due to decreased demand in laser sintering for metal-based additive manufacturing and ongoing transition to kilowatt scale cutting lasers.
Pulsed laser sales increased due to growth in sales of high power pulsed lasers used for battery processing, ablative processing and solar cell manufacturing applications, partially offset by decreased demand of pulsed lasers used for marking and engraving applications.
QCW laser sales decreased due to lower demand for fine processing and consumer electronics applications.
Laser and non-laser systems sales decreased due to lower demand primarily as a result of COVID-19. The reduction of revenue in laser systems was attributable to lower demand for cutting and welding applications. The reduction of revenue in non-laser systems was attributable to lower demand in the transportation and aerospace sectors.
Other Revenue for materials processing decreased due to lower parts and service revenue.
Other Applications
Sales from other applications increased due to increased demand for lasers used for directed energy, semiconductor, scientific and instrument applications, as well as lasers used in medical procedures, partially offset by lower sales of telecom products.

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Our net sales were derived from customers in the following geographic regions:
 Year Ended December 31,
 20202019Change
(In thousands, except for percentages)
Sales by Geography% of Total% of Total
North America (1)
$246,189 20.5 %$280,886 21.4 %$(34,697)(12.4)%
Europe:
Germany65,646 5.5 %81,365 6.2 %(15,719)(19.3)%
Other including Eastern Europe/CIS219,540 18.3 %249,871 19.0 %(30,331)(12.1)%
Asia and Australia:
China502,278 41.8 %491,890 37.4 %10,388 2.1 %
Japan53,180 4.4 %71,757 5.5 %(18,577)(25.9)%
Other103,785 8.6 %121,586 9.2 %(17,801)(14.6)%
Rest of World10,106 0.9 %17,226 1.3 %(7,120)(41.3)%
Total$1,200,724 100.0 %$1,314,581 100.0 %$(113,857)(8.7)%
(1) The substantial majority of sales in North America are to customers in the United States.
Cost of sales and gross margin. Cost of sales decreased by $46.7 million, or 6.6%, to $661.7 million in 2020 from $708.4 million in 2019. Our gross margin decreased to 44.9% in 2020 from 46.1% in 2019. Gross margin decreased mainly due to increased manufacturing costs as a percentage of sales due to lower sales, particularly in the first half of the year resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, provisions for inventory reserves and freight costs were higher. The increase in freight costs is also primarily attributable to COVID-19. Expenses related to provisions for excess or obsolete inventory and other valuation adjustments increased by $6.5 million to $45.4 million, or 3.8% of sales, for the year ended December 31, 2020, as compared to $38.9 million, or 3.0% of sales, for the year ended December 31, 2019.
Sales and marketing expense. Sales and marketing expense decreased by $7.1 million, or 9.1%, to $70.6 million in 2020 from $77.7 million in 2019. This change was primarily a result of decreased spending on trade fairs and exhibits, travel and personnel costs partially offset by an increase in depreciation. As a percentage of sales, sales and marketing expense was 5.9% in 2020, unchanged from 2019.
Research and development expense. Research and development expense decreased by $3.1 million, or 2.4%, to $126.9 million in 2020 from $130.0 million in 2019. This change was primarily a result of decreases in R&D materials, consultants and travel partially offset by increases in personnel costs. As a percentage of sales, research and development expense increased to 10.6% in 2020 from 9.9% in 2019. We expect to continue to invest in research and development and that research and development expense will increase in the aggregate.
General and administrative expense. General and administrative expense increased by $2.4 million, or 2.2%, to $110.0 million in 2020 from $107.6 million in 2019. This change was primarily a result of increases in personnel costs, loss on disposal of fixed assets, insurance, information systems, and premises partially offset by decreases in expense for travel, bad debt provision, legal, and consultants. As a percentage of sales, general and administrative expense increased to 9.2% in 2020 from 8.2% in 2019.
Goodwill impairment, impairment of long-lived assets and other restructuring charges. During the third quarter of 2020, we concluded that declines in revenue and order flow for the Genesis custom systems business caused by pandemic-related decreases in capital spending in the aerospace and transportation industries were a triggering event requiring a goodwill impairment evaluation. As a result of the analysis, we incurred a non-cash goodwill impairment loss of $44.6 million in 2020. In 2019, we incurred non-cash goodwill impairment losses of $37.1 million related to impairments of our transceivers reporting unit and our submarine network division.
We incurred impairment of long-lived assets and other restructuring charges of $1.2 million in 2020, of which $0.4 million related to severance and $0.1 million related to lease termination costs that resulted from the restructuring of our submarine network division. We also incurred $0.7 million of non-cash long-lived impairments related to machinery and equipment. In 2019, we incurred impairment of long-lived assets and other restructuring charges of $7.1 million, of which $5.3 million related to non-cash impairment losses of long-lived assets and $1.8 million were charges related to global restructuring programs.
Effect of exchange rates on sales, gross margin and operating expenses. We estimate that if exchange rates had been the same as one year ago, sales in 2020 would have been $2.5 million lower, gross margin would have been $3.7 million lower and
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operating expenses in total would have been $6.2 million higher. These estimates assume constant exchange rates between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2019 and are calculated using the average exchange rates for the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2019 for the respective currencies, which were US$1=Euro 0.89, US$1=Japanese Yen 109, US$1=Chinese Yuan 6.91 and US$1=Russian Ruble 65.
Loss (gain) on foreign exchange. We incurred a foreign exchange gain of $12.9 million in 2020 as compared to a loss of $12.8 million in 2019. The gain was primarily attributable to the depreciation of the Russian Ruble and the appreciation of the Chinese Yuan as compared to the U.S. Dollar, which was partially offset by a loss attributed to the appreciation of the Euro and depreciation of the Brazilian Real as compared to the U.S. Dollar.
Interest income, net. Interest income, net decreased to $6.3 million of income in 2020 compared to $14.2 million of income in 2019. The reduction in interest income, net, is primarily due to a decrease in yields on shorter duration investments that resulted in lower market interest rates as compared to rates last year. In addition, our initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic included holding shorter duration investments to increase liquidity, which also reduced yields.
Provision for income taxes. Provision for income taxes was $45.4 million in 2020 compared to $68.1 million in 2019, representing an effective tax rate of 22.0% in 2020 and 27.4% in 2019. The lower effective tax rate was primarily due to increased benefit from discrete adjustments. Discrete adjustments in 2020 resulted in a $10.6 million reduction in tax expense, which includes (i) $9.7 million for equity-based compensation deductions for tax in excess of the deductions reflected in book income, (ii) $3.2 million for an investment credit in Russia requested in amended returns filed for prior years and (iii) $1.2 million for prior year provision to return adjustments, offset by an increase to tax expense for a $3.6 million impact of losses in subsidiaries for which no tax benefit was taken. Discrete adjustments in 2019 were $1.3 million and include a decrease to tax expense for (i) $5.1 million related to equity-based compensation deductions for tax in excess of the deductions reflected in book income and (ii) $4.8 million for prior year provision to return adjustments, offset by an increase to tax expense of $10.0 million for goodwill impairments losses which were not deductible for tax.
Net income attributed to IPG Photonics Corporation. Net income attributable to IPG Photonics Corporation decreased by $20.6 million to $159.6 million in 2020 from $180.2 million in 2019. Net income attributable to IPG Photonics Corporation as a percentage of our net sales decreased by 0.4% to 13.3% in 2020 from 13.7% in 2019 due to the factors described above.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
The following table presents our principal sources of liquidity:
As of December 31,
20202019
(In thousands)
Cash and cash equivalents$876,231 $680,070 
Short-term investments514,835 502,546 
Unused credit lines and overdraft facilities132,048 105,469 
Working capital (excluding cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments)542,433 522,114 
Short-term investments at December 31, 2020 consist of liquid investments including corporate bonds, commercial paper, U.S. Treasury and agency obligations and municipal bonds with original maturities of greater than three months but less than one year. See Note 3, "Fair Value Measurements" in the notes to the consolidated financial statements for further information about our short-term investments.
We expect to continue investments in capital expenditures, to assess acquisition opportunities and to repurchase shares of our stock in accordance with our repurchase program. The extent and timing of such expenditures may vary from period to period. Our future long-term capital requirements will depend on many factors including our level of sales, the impact of the economic environment on our growth including any ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain global or regional economies, global or regional recessions, the timing and extent of spending to support development efforts, expansion of global sales and marketing activities, government regulation including trade sanctions, the timing and introductions of new products, the need to ensure access to adequate manufacturing capacity and the continuing market acceptance of our products.
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The following table details our line-of-credit facilities and long-term notes as of December 31, 2020: 
DescriptionTotal Facility/ NoteInterest RateMaturitySecurity
U.S. Revolving Line of Credit (1)
$75.0 millionLIBOR plus 0.80% to 1.20%, depending on our performanceApril 2025Unsecured
Euro Credit Facility (Germany) (2)
Euro 50.0 million
($61.3 million)
Euribor plus 0.75% or EONIA plus 1.00%July 2023Unsecured, guaranteed by parent company and German subsidiary
Other Euro Facilities (3)
Euro 2.0 million
($2.5 million)
Euribor plus 0.94% to 2.02%March 2021Common pool of assets of Italian subsidiary
Long-term Secured Note (4)
$19.6 millionFixed at 2.74%July 2022Secured by the corporate aircraft
Long-term Unsecured Note (5)
$18.4 million1.20% above LIBOR, fixed using an interest rate swap at 2.85% per annumMay 2023Unsecured
(1) This facility is available to certain foreign subsidiaries in their respective local currencies. At December 31, 2020, there were no amounts drawn on this line, however, there were $3.3 million of guarantees issued against the line which reduces total availability.
(2) This facility is available to certain foreign subsidiaries in their respective local currencies. At December 31, 2020, there were no drawings, however, there were $3.4 million of guarantees issued against the line which reduces total availability.
(3) At December 31, 2020, there were no drawings. This facility renews annually.
(4) At maturity, the outstanding note balance will be $15.4 million.
(5) At maturity, the outstanding note balance will be $15.4 million.
Our largest committed credit lines are with Bank of America N.A. and Deutsche Bank AG in the amounts of $75.0 million and $61.3 million (or €50,000 as described above), respectively, and neither of them is syndicated. We plan to seek amendments of our credit agreements and notes to modify LIBOR and Euribor reference rates as these rates are phased out as borrowing rates.
We are required to meet certain financial covenants associated with our U.S. revolving line of credit and long-term debt facility. These covenants, tested quarterly, include an interest coverage ratio and a funded debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") ratio. The interest coverage covenant requires that we maintain a trailing twelve-month ratio of EBITDA to interest on all obligations that is at least 3.0:1.0. The funded debt to EBITDA covenant requires that the sum of all indebtedness for borrowed money on a consolidated basis be less than three times our trailing twelve months EBITDA. Funded debt is decreased by our cash and available marketable securities not classified as long-term investments in the U.S. in excess of $50 million up to a maximum of $500 million. We were in compliance with all such financial covenants as of and for the three months ended December 31, 2020.
The financial covenants in our loan documents may cause us to not take or to delay investments and actions that we might otherwise undertake because of limits on capital expenditures and amounts that we can borrow or lease. In the event that we do not comply with any one of these covenants, we would be in default under the loan agreement or loan agreements, which may result in acceleration of the debt, cross-defaults on other debt or a reduction in available liquidity, any of which could harm our results of operations and financial condition.
See Note 11, "Financing Arrangements" in the notes to the consolidated financial statements for further information about our facilities and term debt.
The following table presents cash flow activities:
As of December 31,
20202019
(In thousands)
Cash provided by operating activities$285,335 $323,521 
Cash used by investing activities(99,574)(139,975)
Cash used by financing activities(10,080)(37,067)
Operating activities. Net cash provided by operating activities decreased by $38.2 million to $285.3 million in 2020 from $323.5 million in 2019. In 2020, net sales and net income decreased by 9% and 11%, respectively. Our largest working capital items typically are inventory and accounts receivable. Items such as accounts payable to third parties, prepaid expenses and other current assets and accrued expenses and other liabilities are not as significant as our working capital investment in
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accounts receivable and inventory because of the amount of value added within IPG due to our vertically integrated structure. Accruals and payables for personnel costs including bonuses and income and other taxes payable are largely dependent on the timing of payments for those items. The decrease in cash flow from operating activities in 2020 primarily resulted from a decrease in cash provided by net income after adding back non-cash charges, an increase in cash used by accounts receivable, an increase in cash used by prepaid expenses and an increase in cash used by inventory; partially offset by a decrease in cash used for accrued expenses, a decrease in cash used by income and other taxes payable and a decrease in cash used by accounts payable.
Investing activities. Net cash used in investing activities was $99.6 million and $140.0 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively. The cash used in investing activities in 2020 related to $87.7 million for property, plant and equipment, $12.3 million of net purchases of investments and $0.4 million for the acquisition of a business during 2020, net of cash acquired. The cash used in investing activities in 2019 related to $133.5 million for property, plant and equipment, and $15.1 million for the acquisition of a business during 2019, net of cash acquired; partially offset by $7.8 million of net proceeds of investments.
In 2021, we expect to incur approximately $150 million to $160 million in capital expenditures, excluding acquisitions. Capital expenditures include investments in property, facilities and equipment to add capacity worldwide to support anticipated revenue growth, increase vertical integration, increase redundant manufacturing capacity for critical components and enhance research and development capabilities. The timing and extent of any capital expenditures in and between periods can have a significant effect on our cash flow. If we obtain financing for certain projects, our cash expenditures would be reduced in the year of expenditure. Many of the capital expenditure projects that we undertake have long lead times and are difficult to cancel or defer to a later period.
Financing activities. Net cash used in financing activities was $10.1 million and $37.1 million in 2020 and 2019, respectively. The cash used in financing activities in 2020 was primarily related to the purchase of treasury stock of $37.9 million, payments on our long-term borrowings of $3.7 million, and $1.7 million of payment of a purchase price holdback from a business combination. These uses of cash were partially offset by net proceeds from the exercise of stock options net of amounts disbursed in relation to shares withheld to cover employee income taxes due upon the vesting and release of restricted stock units and shares issued under our employee stock purchase plan of $33.2 million. The cash used in financing activities in 2019 was primarily related to the purchase of treasury stock of $40.7 million and payments on our long-term borrowings of $3.7 million. These cash uses were partially offset by net proceeds of $7.3 million from the exercise of stock options net of amounts disbursed in relation to shares withheld to cover employee income taxes due upon the vesting and release of restricted stock units and shares issued under our employee stock purchase plan.
Contractual Obligations and Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
As of December 31, 2020, we had no off-balance sheet arrangements that have, or are reasonably likely to have, a current or future material effect on our consolidated financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, capital expenditures or capital resources. The following summarizes our contractual obligations at December 31, 2020 and the effect such obligations are expected to have on our liquidity and cash flow in future periods:
 Payments Due in
 Total
Less Than 1 Year
1-3 Years3-5 Years
More Than 5 Years
(In thousands)
Operating lease obligations$27,517 $6,452 $8,427 $4,327 $8,311 
Purchase obligations51,730 51,730 — — — 
Long-term debt obligations (including interest)(1)
39,899 4,821 35,078 — — 
Contingent consideration1,963 491 1,472 — — 
Total(2)
$121,109 $63,494 $44,977 $4,327 $8,311 
(1)Interest for long-term debt obligations was calculated including the effect of our fixed rate amounts. The weighted average fixed rate amount was 2.79%.
(2)Excludes obligations related to ASC 740, reserves for uncertain tax positions, because we are unable to provide a reasonable estimate of the timing of future payments relating to the remainder of these obligations. See Note 17, "Income Taxes" to the consolidated financial statements.
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Recent Accounting Pronouncements
See Note 1, "Nature of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" in the notes to the consolidated financial statements for a full description of recent accounting pronouncements, including the respective dates of adoption or expected adoption and effects on our consolidated financial statements contained in Part IV of this Annual Report.
ITEM 7A.    QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
We are exposed to market risk in the ordinary course of business, which consists primarily of interest rate risk associated with our cash and cash equivalents and our debt and foreign exchange rate risk.
Interest rate risk. Certain interest rates are variable and fluctuate with current market conditions. Our investments have limited exposure to market risk. We maintain a portfolio of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, consisting primarily of bank deposits, money market funds, certificates of deposit, commercial paper, corporate notes and government and agency securities. None of these investments have a maturity date in excess of one year. Because of the short-term nature of these instruments, a sudden change in market interest rates would not be expected to have a material impact on our financial condition or results of operations.
We are also exposed to market risk as a result of increases or decreases in the amount of interest expense we must pay on our bank debt and borrowings on our bank credit facilities. Our interest obligations on our long-term debt are fixed. Although our U.S. revolving line of credit and our Euro credit facility have variable rates, we do not believe that a 10% change in market interest rates would have a material impact on our financial position or results of operations.
Exchange rates. Due to our international operations, a significant portion of our net sales, cost of sales and operating expenses are denominated in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar, principally the Euro, the Russian Ruble, the Chinese Yuan and the Japanese Yen. As a result, our international operations give rise to transactional market risk associated with exchange rate movements of the U.S. Dollar, the Euro, the Chinese Yuan, the Japanese Yen, and the Russian Ruble. In 2020 we incurred a gain on foreign exchange transactions of $12.9 million as compared to a loss of $12.8 million in 2019. As our Russian subsidiary has net U.S. dollar denominated assets, the depreciation of the Russian Ruble contributed to most of the foreign exchange gain in 2020. Management attempts to minimize these exposures by partially or fully off-setting foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities at our subsidiaries that operate in different functional currencies. The effectiveness of this strategy can be limited by the volume of underlying transactions at various subsidiaries and by our ability to accelerate or delay inter-company cash settlements. As a result, we are unable to create a perfect offset of the foreign currency denominated assets and liabilities. Furthermore, if we expect a currency movement to be beneficial to us in the short or medium term, we have, on occasions, chosen not to hedge or otherwise offset the underlying assets or liabilities. However, it is difficult to predict foreign currency movements accurately.
At December 31, 2020, our material foreign currency exposure is net U.S. Dollar denominated assets at subsidiaries where the Euro or the Russian Ruble is the functional currency and U.S. Dollar denominated liabilities where the Chinese Yuan is the functional currency. The net U.S. Dollar denominated assets are comprised of cash, third party receivables and inter-company receivables offset by third party and inter-company U.S. Dollar denominated payables. The U.S. Dollar denominated liabilities are comprised of inter-company payables. A 5% change in the relative exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar to the Euro applied to the net U.S. Dollar asset balances as of December 31, 2020, would result in a foreign exchange gain of $8.9 million if the U.S. Dollar appreciated and a $8.9 million foreign exchange loss if the U.S. Dollar depreciated. A 5% change in the relative exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar to the Ruble applied to the net U.S. Dollar asset balances as of December 31, 2020, would result in a foreign exchange gain of $3.3 million if the U.S. Dollar appreciated and a $3.3 million foreign exchange loss if the U.S. Dollar depreciated. A 5% change in the relative exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar to the Yuan applied to the net U.S. Dollar liability balances as of December 31, 2020, would result in a foreign exchange loss of $5.8 million if the U.S. Dollar appreciated and a $5.8 million foreign exchange gain if the U.S. Dollar depreciated. It is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic may create additional volatility in exchange rates going forward.
In addition, we are exposed to foreign currency translation risk for those subsidiaries whose functional currency is not the U.S. Dollar as changes in the value of their functional currency relative to the U.S. Dollar can adversely affect the translated amounts of our revenue, expenses, net income, assets and liabilities. As discussed in our Results of Operations, this can, in turn, affect the reported value and relative growth of sales and net income from one period to the next. In addition changes in the translated value of assets and liabilities due to changes in functional currency exchange rates relative to the U.S. Dollar result in foreign currency translation adjustments that are a component of other comprehensive income or loss.
Foreign currency derivative instruments can also be used to hedge exposures and reduce the risks of certain foreign currency transactions; however, these instruments provide only limited protection and can carry significant cost. We have no foreign currency derivative instrument hedges as of December 31, 2020. We will continue to analyze our exposure to currency
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exchange rate fluctuations and may engage in financial hedging techniques in the future to attempt to minimize the effect of these potential fluctuations. Exchange rate fluctuations may adversely affect our financial results in the future.
ITEM 8.    FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
This information is incorporated by reference from pages
F-1
through
F-33
of this report.

ITEM 9.    CHANGES IN AND DISAGREEMENTS WITH ACCOUNTANTS ON ACCOUNTING AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
None.
ITEM 9A.    CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
Evaluation of Disclosure Controls and Procedures
Under the supervision of our Chief Executive Officer and our Chief Financial Officer, our management has evaluated the effectiveness of the design and operation of our "disclosure controls and procedures" (as defined in Rules 13a-15(e) and 15d-15(e) promulgated under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act")), as of the end of the period covered by this Annual Report on Form 10-K (the "Evaluation Date") utilizing the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission's Internal Control - Integrated Framework ("COSO") Updated Framework issued in 2013. Based upon that evaluation, our Chief Executive Officer and our Chief Financial Officer have concluded that, as of the Evaluation Date, our disclosure controls and procedures are effective to ensure that information we are required to disclose in reports that we file or submit under the Exchange Act is recorded, processed, summarized and reported within the time periods specified in the SEC's rules and forms. Disclosure controls and procedures include, without limitation, controls and procedures designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by an issuer in the reports that it files or submits under the Exchange Act is accumulated and communicated to the issuer's management, including its principal executive and principal financial officers, or persons performing similar functions, as appropriate to allow timely decisions regarding required disclosure.
Management's Annual Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
Our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Exchange Act Rules 13a-15(f) and 15d-15(f)) for the Company and its subsidiaries. Internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Our management conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of the Evaluation Date based on criteria established in COSO utilizing the Updated Framework issued in 2013. Based on this assessment, our management concluded that, as of the Evaluation Date, our internal control over financial reporting was effective.
Our independent registered public accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche LLP, has audited our internal control over financial reporting, as stated in their report below.
Changes in Internal Controls
There was no change in our internal control over financial reporting (as defined in Rule 13a-15(f) under the Exchange Act) that occurred during the last fiscal quarter that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
Limitations on Effectiveness of Controls
Our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, does not expect that the disclosure controls and procedures or internal control over financial reporting will prevent or detect all error and all fraud. A control system, no matter how well designed and operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met. Further, the design of a control system must reflect the fact that there are resource constraints, and the benefits of controls must be considered relative to their costs. Due to the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that all control issues, errors and instances of fraud, if any, within the company have been or will be detected.

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REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM
To the Shareholders and the Board of Directors of
IPG Photonics Corporation
Oxford, Massachusetts

Opinion on Internal Control over Financial Reporting

We have audited the internal control over financial reporting of IPG Photonics Corporation and subsidiaries (the "Company") as of December 31, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO). In our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by COSO.

We have also audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the consolidated financial statements as of and for the year ended December 31, 2020, of the Company and our report dated February 22, 2021, expressed an unqualified opinion on those financial statements.

Basis for Opinion

The Company's management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying "Management's Annual Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting." Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company's internal control over financial reporting based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.

We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects. Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.

Definition and Limitations of Internal Control over Financial Reporting

A company's internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company's internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company's assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.


/s/    DELOITTE & TOUCHE LLP
Boston, Massachusetts
February 22, 2021

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ITEM 9B.    CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
None.

PART III
ITEM 10.    DIRECTORS, EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
Certain of the information required hereunder is incorporated herein by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A, which Proxy Statement is anticipated to be filed with the SEC within 120 days after December 31, 2020. Pursuant to General Instruction G(3) of Form 10-K, additional information required hereunder relating to our executive officers is contained in Part I of this Annual Report on Form 10-K under the caption "Executive Officers of the Registrant."
ITEM 11.    EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
The information required hereunder is incorporated herein by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A, which Proxy Statement is anticipated to be filed with the SEC within 120 days after December 31, 2020.
ITEM 12.   SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT AND RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS
The information required hereunder is incorporated herein by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A, which Proxy Statement is anticipated to be filed with the SEC within 120 days after December 31, 2020, with the exception of the information regarding securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans, which is set forth below.
Information Regarding Equity Compensation Plans
The following table sets forth information with respect to securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans as of December 31, 2020:
Plan Category
Number of Securities to be Issued upon Exercise of Outstanding Options, RSUs and PSUs
(a)
Weighted-Average Exercise Price of Outstanding Options, RSUs and PSUs
(b)
Number of Securities Remaining Available for Future Issuance under Equity Compensation Plans (Excluding Securities Reflected in Column (a))
(c)
Equity Compensation Plans Approved by Security Holders1
1,685,235 $136.17 3,145,972 
Equity Compensation Plans Not Approved by Security Holders
— — 
Total1,685,235 3,145,972 
1 As of December 31, 2020, there were 2,851,428 shares available for future issuance under the 2006 Incentive Compensation Plan and 294,544 shares available for future issuance under the employee stock purchase plan.
ITEM 13.   CERTAIN RELATIONSHIPS AND RELATED TRANSACTIONS, AND DIRECTOR INDEPENDENCE
The information required hereunder is incorporated herein by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A, which Proxy Statement is anticipated to be filed with the SEC within 120 days after December 31, 2020.
ITEM 14.   PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTING FEES AND SERVICES
The information required hereunder is incorporated herein by reference to our definitive Proxy Statement to be filed pursuant to Regulation 14A, which Proxy Statement is anticipated to be filed with the SEC within 120 days after December 31, 2020.
PART IV
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ITEM 15.   EXHIBITS AND FINANCIAL STATEMENT SCHEDULES
a.The following documents are filed as part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K:
1.Financial Statements.
See Index to Financial Statements on page F-1.
2.Financial Statement Schedules.
All schedules are omitted because they are not applicable or the required information is shown on the financial statements or notes thereto.
3.Exhibits.
















































 
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Exhibit Number
  Description
3.1  
3.2  
4.1  
4.2
10.1
10.2
10.3
  
10.4
  
10.5
 
10.6
 
10.7
  
10.8
10.9
  
10.10
  
10.11
10.12
10.13
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Exhibit Number
  Description
10.14
10.15
10.16
10.17
10.18
10.19
21.1
23.1
31.1
31.2
32.1
101.INS
XBRL Instance Document - the instance document does not appear in the Interactive Data File because its XBRL tags are embedded within the Inline XBRL document
101.SCH
XBRL Taxonomy Extension Schema
101.CAL
XBRL Taxonomy Extension Calculation Linkbase
101.DEF
XBRL Taxonomy Definition Linkbase
101.LAB
XBRL Taxonomy Extension Label Linkbase
101.PRE
XBRL Taxonomy Extension Presentation Linkbase
104Cover Page Interactive Data File (formatted as inline XBRL and contained in Exhibit 101)

† Identifies management contract or compensatory plans or arrangements required to be filed as an exhibit.
b.Exhibits.
See (a)(3) above.
c.Additional Financial Statement Schedules.
All schedules are omitted because they are not applicable or the required information is shown on the financial statements or notes thereto.
ITEM 16.   FORM 10-K SUMMARY
None.
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SIGNATURES
Pursuant to the requirements of Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Registrant has duly caused this report to be signed on its behalf by the undersigned, thereunto duly authorized, on February 22, 2021. 
IPG PHOTONICS CORPORATION
By:/s/    Valentin P. Gapontsev
 
Valentin P. Gapontsev
Chief Executive Officer and
Chairman of the Board
Pursuant to the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, this report has been signed below by the following persons on behalf of the Registrant and in the capacities and on the dates indicated.
 
Signature  Title 
  
/s/    Valentin P. Gapontsev        
Valentin P. Gapontsev
  Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of the Board and Director (Principal Executive Officer) February 22, 2021
/s/    Timothy P.V. Mammen        
Timothy P.V. Mammen
  Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer (Principal Financial Officer)  February 22, 2021
/s/    Thomas J. Burgomaster        
Thomas J. Burgomaster
Vice President, Corporate Controller
(Principal Accounting Officer)
February 22, 2021
/s/    Michael C. Child        
Michael C. Child
  Director February 22, 2021
/s/    Jeanmarie F. Desmond     
   Jeanmarie F. Desmond
DirectorFebruary 22, 2021
/s/    Gregory P. Dougherty     
   Gregory P. Dougherty
  Director February 22, 2021
/s/    Catherine P. Lego        
Catherine P. Lego
DirectorFebruary 22, 2021
/s/    Eric Meurice        
Eric Meurice
  Director February 22, 2021
/s/    Natalia Pavlova        
Natalia Pavlova
DirectorFebruary 22, 2021
/s/    John R. Peeler        
John Peeler
  Director February 22, 2021
/s/    Eugene A. Scherbakov        
Eugene Scherbakov
  Director February 22, 2021

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