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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, 2023

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 No. 000-11676

_____________________

 

BEL FUSE INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

New Jersey

 

22-1463699

(State of incorporation)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

300 Executive Drive, Suite 300

West Orange, NJ  07052

 

(Address of principal executive offices and zip code)

Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (201) 432-0463

 

 

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

 

Title of Each Class

 Trading Symbol

 

Name of Each Exchange on which Registered

Class A Common Stock ($0.10 par value)

 BELFA

 

NASDAQ Global Select Market

Class B Common Stock ($0.10 par value)

 BELFB

 

NASDAQ Global Select Market

 

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 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 an emerging growth company. See the 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.

 

 

 
If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. 
   
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). 
   
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 voting and non-voting common equity of the registrant held by non-affiliates (for this purpose, persons and entities other than executive officers and directors) of the registrant, as of the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter (June 30, 2023) was $696.1 million based on the closing sale price as reported on the NASDAQ Global Select Market.

 

Title of Each Class

 

Number of Shares of Common Stock Outstanding as of March 1, 2024

Class A Common Stock

 

2,141,011

Class B Common Stock

 

10,615,662

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:

 

Portions of Bel Fuse Inc.'s Definitive Proxy Statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

The registrant has been a smaller reporting company under applicable Securities and Exchange Commission rules and regulations. As a result of the measurement of the registrant’s public float as of the June 30, 2023 determination date, the registrant will no longer qualify as a smaller reporting company. However, pursuant to Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, the registrant is not required to reflect the change in its smaller reporting company status or comply with the non-scaled disclosure obligations until the registrant’s first quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ending March 31, 2024. In accordance with applicable rules, the registrant is permitted to use the scaled disclosure requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (and in the registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for its 2024 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, portions of which are incorporated by reference into Part III hereof), and has elected to do so.

 

 

 

 

BEL FUSE INC.

 

 

 

 

FORM 10-K INDEX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page

 

 

 

 

Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information

1

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

2

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

11

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

20

 

 

 

 
  Item 1C. Cybersecurity 20
       

 

Item 2.

Properties

21

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

21

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

21

 

 

 

 

Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

22

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6.

[Reserved]

23

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7.

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

23

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

33

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

33

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

77

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

77

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B.

Other Information

77
       
  Item 9C. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections 77

 

 

 

 

Part III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

78

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

78

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

78

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

78

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

78

 

 

 

 

Part IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

79

 

 

 

 

 

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

80

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

 

81

 

 

 

 

CAUTIONARY NOTICE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

 

The terms the "Company," "Bel," "we," "us," and "our" as used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (this "Form 10-K"or this "Annual Report on Form 10-K") refer to Bel Fuse Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise specified.

 

The Company's consolidated operating results are affected by a wide variety of factors that could materially and adversely affect revenues and profitability, including the risk factors described in Item 1A of this Form 10-K, and the risk factors described in our other reports and documents filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). As a result of these and other factors, the Company may experience material fluctuations in future operating results on a quarterly or annual basis, which could materially and adversely affect its business, consolidated financial condition, operating results, and common stock prices. Furthermore, this document and other reports and documents filed by the Company with the SEC contain certain forward-looking statements under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 ("Forward-Looking Statements") with respect to the business of the Company. Forward-Looking Statements are necessarily subject to risks and uncertainties, many of which are outside our control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements. Forward-Looking Statements can be identified by such words as "anticipates," "believes," "plan," "assumes," "forecasts," "could," "should," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "potential," "seek," "predict," "may," "will" and similar references to future periods. All statements other than statements of historical facts included in this report regarding our strategies, prospects, financial condition, operations, costs, plans and objectives and regarding the anticipated impact of COVID-19 ("COVID") are Forward-Looking Statements.

 

These Forward-Looking Statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, including those detailed in Item 1A of this Form 10-K, and the risk factors described in our other reports and documents filed from time to time with the SEC, which could cause actual results to differ materially from these Forward-Looking Statements. Any Forward-Looking Statements are qualified in the entirety by reference to such risk factors discussed throughout this Form 10-K and as described in our other reports and documents filed from time to time with the SEC. Some of the risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from estimates or projections contained in the Forward-Looking Statements include but are not limited to:

 

 

the market concerns facing our customers, and risks for the Company’s business in the event of the loss of certain substantial customers;

 

the continuing viability of sectors that rely on our products;

 

the effects of business and economic conditions, and challenges impacting the macroeconomic environment generally and/or our industry in particular;

  the effects of rising input costs, and cost changes generally, including the potential impact and effects of inflationary pressures;
  difficulties associated with integrating previously acquired companies;

 

capacity and supply constraints or difficulties, including supply chain constraints or other challenges;
 

the impact of public health crises (such as the governmental, social and economic effects of COVID or other future epidemics or pandemics);

 

difficulties associated with the availability of labor, and the risks of any labor unrest or labor shortages;

 

risks associated with our international operations, including our substantial manufacturing operations in the People's Republic of China (the "PRC");

 

risks associated with restructuring programs or other strategic initiatives, including any difficulties in implementation or realization of the expected benefits or cost savings;

 

product development, commercialization or technological difficulties;

 

the regulatory and trade environment;

 

risks associated with fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates;

 

uncertainties associated with legal proceedings;

 

the market's acceptance of the Company's new products and competitive responses to those new products; and

 

the impact of changes to U.S. and applicable foreign legal and regulatory requirements, including tax laws, trade and tariff policies.

 

The foregoing list sets forth some, but not all, of the factors that could affect our ability to achieve results described in any Forward-Looking Statements, which speak only as of the date of this Form 10-K or the date of the document incorporated by reference into this report. Except as required by law, we assume no obligation and expressly disclaim any duty to publicly release the results of any revisions to these Forward-Looking Statements or otherwise update any Forward-Looking Statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Form 10-K or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. In addition, we cannot assess the impact of each factor on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any Forward-Looking Statements contained in this Form 10-K. Any Forward-Looking Statement made by the Company is based only on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made. All Forward-Looking Statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements contained in this section.

 

 

 

1

 

PART I

 

Item 1.  Business

 

Bel Fuse Inc. designs, manufactures and markets a broad array of products that power, protect and connect electronic circuits. These products are primarily used in the networking, telecommunications, computing, general industrial, high-speed data transmission, military, commercial aerospace, transportation and eMobility industries. Bel's portfolio of products also finds application in the automotive, medical, broadcasting and consumer electronics markets. Bel's product groups include Power Solutions and Protection (front-end, board-mount, industrial and transportation power products, module products and circuit protection), Connectivity Solutions (expanded beam fiber optic, copper-based, RF and RJ connectors and cable assemblies), and Magnetic Solutions (integrated connector modules, power transformers, power inductors and discrete components).  

 

With 75 years in operation, Bel has reliably demonstrated the ability to participate in a variety of product areas across a global platform. The Company has a strong track record of technical innovation working with the engineering teams of market leaders. Bel has proven itself a valuable supplier to world-class companies by developing new products with cost effective solutions.

 

The Company was incorporated in 1949 and is organized under New Jersey law. Bel's principal executive offices are located at 300 Executive Drive, Suite 300, West Orange, New Jersey 07052, and Bel's telephone number is (201) 432-0463. The Company operates facilities in North America, Europe and Asia and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market (ticker symbols BELFA and BELFB). For information regarding Bel's operating segments, see Note 14, "Segments", of the notes to our consolidated financial statements. Hereinafter, all references to "Note" will refer to the notes to our consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8. "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data" of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Acquisitions have played a critical role in the growth of Bel and the expansion of both our product portfolio and our customer base and continue to be an important element in our growth strategy. We frequently evaluate possible acquisition candidates that would expand our product and technology offerings to our customers and/or optimize our overall cost structure. The Company may, from time to time, purchase equity positions in companies that are potential merger candidates. 

 

On February 1, 2023, Bel closed on an €8.0 million (approximately $8.8 million as of the February 2023 closing) noncontrolling (one-third) investment in innolectric AG ("innolectric"), a Germany-based business in the field of on-board charging for eMobility applications. This passive investment creates a strategic alliance that is focused on Electric Vehicles (“EV”) on-board power electronics, and in particular next generation fast-charging technology. With no product overlap, this relationship expands the Bel eMobility Power portfolio, further enhancing Bel's competitive position in this emerging field. The innolectric investment is part of Bel's Power Solutions and Protection group.

 

On March 31, 2021, the Company completed the acquisition of EOS Power ("EOS") through a stock purchase agreement for $7.8 million, net of cash acquired, including a working capital adjustment. EOS, located in Mumbai, India, had sales of $15.4 million and $17.6 million (pro forma) for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. EOS enhances Bel's position related to certain industrial and medical markets historically served by EOS, with a strong line of high-power density and low-profile products with high convection ratings. In addition to new products and customers acquired, this acquisition diversified Bel's manufacturing footprint in Asia. The EOS business is part of Bel's Power Solutions and Protection group. 

 

On January 8, 2021, the Company acquired rms Connectors, Inc. (“rms Connectors” or "rms"), from rms Company Inc., a division of Cretex Companies, Inc., for $9.0 million in cash, including a working capital adjustment. rms Connectors is a highly regarded connector manufacturer with over 30 years of experience producing harsh environment circular connectors used in a variety of military and aerospace applications. This acquisition complemented Bel's existing military and aerospace product portfolio and enabled us to expand key customer relationships within these end markets and leverage the combined manufacturing resources to improve our operational efficiency. Originally based in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, the rms Connectors business was relocated into Bel's existing facilities during the second quarter of 2021, and is part of Bel's Connectivity Solutions group.   

 

On December 3, 2019, we completed the acquisition of the majority of the power supply products business of CUI Inc. (the "CUI power business") through an asset purchase agreement with CUI Global Inc. for $29.2 million (after a working capital adjustment), plus the assumption of certain liabilities. The CUI power business designs and markets a broad portfolio of AC/DC and DC/DC power supplies and board level components. The CUI power business is headquartered in Tualatin, Oregon and contributed sales of $50.8 million for 2023, $64.5 million for 2022, $55.8 million for 2021 and $43.1 million for 2020. The acquisition of the CUI power business enhanced Bel's existing offering of power products, allowing us to better address more of our customers' power needs.  It also introduced an alternative business model to Bel's, one which carries a higher gross margin profile and lower manufacturing risk. CUI is part of Bel's Power Solutions and Protection group.

 

2

 

Products

 

The Company primarily generates revenue through the sale of its products. Bel offers a broad array of product offerings, which are grouped as follows: Power Solutions & Protection (49% of net sales in 2023), Connectivity Solutions (33% of net sales in 2023) and Magnetic Solutions (18% of net sales in 2023). While there are key customers and end markets within each of the three product groups, there were no direct customers who accounted for more than 10% of our consolidated net sales in 2023. Our diverse product mix and customer base minimizes our dependence on any one customer or end market. 

 

Power Solutions and Protection

 

Bel's power conversion products include internal and external AC/DC power supplies, DC/DC converters and DC/AC inverters. These products provide power conversion solutions for a number of industrial, networking and consumer applications.  Bel circuit protection products include board level fuses (miniature, micro and surface mount), and Polymeric PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) devices, designed for the global electronic and telecommunication markets.

 

 

Product Line

Function

Applications

Brands Sold Under

Power

Solutions

and

Protection

Front-End Power Supplies

Provides the primary point of isolation between AC main line (input) and the low-voltage DC output that is used to power all electronics downstream.

Servers, telecommunication, network and data storage equipment.

Bel Power Solutions & Protection

Board-Mount Power Products

These are designed to be mounted on a circuit board.  These converters take input voltage and provide localized on-board power to low-voltage electronics.

Telecommunication, networking and a broad range of industrial applications.

Bel Power Solutions & Protection, MelcherTM, CUI

Industrial and Transportation Power Products

Designed to be used in industrial equipment or on-board and off-board transportation applications for powering various AC and DC electronics, battery charging and power management.

Rail, transportation, automation, test and measurement, medical and eMobility applications.

Bel Power Solutions & Protection, MelcherTM, CUI, EOS

External Power Products Standard and customizable desktop and wall plug adapters that convert AC main input voltages to a variety of DC output voltages. Consumer and industrial devices and equipment. CUI, EOS

Circuit Protection

Protects devices by preventing current in an electrical circuit from exceeding acceptable levels.

Consumer electronics, power supplies, electric vehicles, EV chargers, battery charging and lighting.

Bel Power Solutions & Protection

 

3

 

Connectivity Solutions

 

Bel offers a comprehensive line of high speed and harsh environment copper and optical fiber connectors and integrated assemblies, which provide connectivity for a wide range of applications across multiple industries including commercial aerospace, military communications, defense, network infrastructure, structured building cabling and several industrial applications.

 

 

Product Line

Function

Applications

Brands Sold Under

Connectivity

Solutions

Expanded Beam Fiber Optic Connectors, Cable Assemblies and Active Optical Devices (transceivers and media converters)

Harsh-environment, high-reliability, flight-grade optical connectivity for high-speed communications.

Military/aerospace, oil and gas well monitoring and exploration, broadcast, communications, RADAR.

Stratos®, Fibreco®

Copper-based Connectors / Cable Assemblies-FQIS

Harsh-environment, high-reliability connectivity and fuel quantity monitoring (FQIS).

Avionics, smart munitions, communications, radar and various industrial equipment.

Cinch®

RF Connectors, Cable Assemblies, Microwave Devices and Low Loss Cable

Connectors and cable assemblies designed to provide connectivity within radio frequency (RF) applications.

Military/aerospace, test and measurement, IoT, 5G high-frequency and wireless communications.

Johnson, Trompeter, Midwest MicrowaveTM, Semflex®

Ethernet, I/O, Industrial and Power Connectivity RJ45, RJ11, M12, IP67 and USB connectivity for data/voice/video transmission. Applications including routers, hubs, switches, peripheral device connectivity and patch panels; and emerging internet-of-things (IoT) applications. Stewart Connector

 

Magnetic Solutions

 

Bel's Magnetics offers industry-leading products.  The Company's ICM products integrate RJ45 connectors with discrete magnetic components to provide better performance and a more robust device that allows customers to substantially reduce board space and optimize performance. Power Transformers include standard and custom designs for use in a wide array of applications, including industrial instrumentation, alarm and security systems, motion control, elevators, and medical products.

 

 

Product Line

Function

Applications

Brands Sold Under

Magnetic

Solutions

Integrated Connector Modules (ICMs)

Condition, filter, and isolate the electronic signal to ensure accurate data/voice/video transmission and provide RJ45 and USB connectivity.

Network switches, routers, hubs, and PCs used in multi-speed Gigabit Ethernet, Power over Ethernet (PoE), PoE Plus and home networking applications.

Bel, TRP Connector®, MagJack®

Power Transformers

Safety isolation and distribution.

Power supplies, alarm, fire detection, and security systems, HVAC, lighting and medical equipment. Class 2, three phase, chassis mount, and PC mount designs available.

Signal

SMD Power Inductors & SMPS Transformers

A passive component that stores energy in a magnetic field.  Widely used in analog electronic circuitry.

Switchmode power supplies, DC/DC converters, LED lighting, automotive and consumer electronics.

Signal

Discrete Components-Ethernet

Condition, filter, and isolate the electronic signals to ensure high speed Ethernet data transmission.

Network switches, routers, hubs, and PCs used in multi-speed Gigabit Ethernet and Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Bel

 

4

 

Sales and Marketing

 

We sell our products to customers throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Sales are made through one of three channels: strategic account managers or in some cases, regional sales managers, working directly with our customers; regional sales managers working with independent sales representative organizations; or authorized distributors. Bel's strategic account managers are assigned to handle major accounts requiring global coordination.

 

Independent sales representatives and authorized distributors are overseen by the Company's sales management personnel located throughout the world. As of December 31, 2023, we had a sales and support staff of approximately 200 people that supported a network of sales representative organizations and non-exclusive distributors. We have written agreements with all our sales representative organizations and most of our major distributors. These written agreements, terminable on short notice by either party, are standard in the industry.

 

Sales support functions have also been established and located in our international facilities to provide timely, efficient support for customers. This supplemental level of service, in addition to first-line sales support, enables us to be more responsive to customers' needs on a global level. Our marketing capabilities include product management which drives new product development, application engineering for technical support and marketing communications.

 

Market Factors

 

Competition

 

We operate in a variety of markets, all of which are highly competitive. There are numerous independent companies and divisions of major companies that manufacture products that are competitive with one or more of our products.

 

Our ability to compete is dependent upon several factors including product performance, quality, reliability, depth of product line, customer service, technological innovation, design, delivery time and price. Overall financial stability and global presence also give us a favorable position in relation to some of our competitors. Management intends to maintain a strong competitive posture in the markets we serve by continued expansion of our product lines and ongoing investment in research, development and manufacturing resources. The preceding sentence represents a Forward-Looking Statement. See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

Trends in Market Demand

 

Product orders, or bookings, received during 2023 amounted to $447.6 million, a 41% decrease from 2022. By product group, orders received for our Power Solutions and Protection products amounted to $184.0 million in 2023, a 55% decrease from 2022. This decrease was partially due to a $17.7 million reduction in orders related to expedite fees. Orders received for our Connectivity Solutions products were $210.9 million in 2023, 5% lower than in 2022, as a result of decreased demand from our distribution partners largely offset by a rebound in demand from our direct and aftermarket commercial aerospace and military customers. Bookings for our Magnetic Solutions products decreased by 58% from 2022 to $52.7 million in 2023, largely due to reduced demand from our networking customers.

 

Backlog of Orders

 

We typically manufacture products against firm orders and projected usage by customers. Cancellation and return arrangements are either negotiated by us on a transactional basis or contractually determined. We estimate the value of the backlog of orders as of February 29, 2024 to be approximately $362.5 million as compared with a backlog of $526.9 million as of February 28, 2023. Management estimates that approximately 80%-85% of the Company's backlog as of February 29, 2024 will be shipped by December 31, 2024. The current level of backlog is still viewed by management as being elevated compared to historical levels (i.e. pre-COVID, the Company's backlog level was $160 million as of December 31, 2019). Factors that could cause the Company to fail to ship all such orders by year-end include unanticipated supply difficulties, changes in customer demand and new customer designs. Due to these factors, backlog may not be a reliable indicator of the timing of future sales. The preceding statements regarding the Company’s backlog, including but not limited to estimates and anticipated timing of shipping, represent Forward-Looking Statements. See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

5

 

Research and Development ("R&D")

 

Our engineering groups are strategically located around the world to facilitate communication with and access to customers' engineering personnel. This collaborative approach enables partnerships with customers for technical development efforts. The global capabilities and collaborative approach allows Bel to develop leading edge technological products that support highly complex and evolving markets such as eMobility, cloud computing, military, aerospace, and others. On occasion, we execute non-disclosure agreements with customers to help develop proprietary, next generation products intended for rapid deployment. We also sponsor membership in technical organizations that allow our engineers to participate in developing standards for emerging technologies. It is management's opinion that this participation is critical in establishing credibility and a reputable level of expertise in the marketplace, as well as positioning the Company as an industry leader in new product development.

 

R&D costs are expensed as incurred. Generally, R&D is performed internally for the benefit of the Company. R&D costs include salaries, building maintenance and utilities, rents, materials, administrative costs and miscellaneous other items.  

 

Resources

 

Raw Materials and Sourcing

 

We have multiple suppliers for most of the raw materials that we purchase. Where possible, we have contractual agreements with suppliers to assure a continuing supply of critical components.

 

With respect to those items which are purchased from single sources, we believe that comparable items would be available in the event that there were a termination of our existing business relationships with any such supplier. While such a termination could produce a disruption in production, we believe that the termination of business with any one of our suppliers would not have a material adverse effect on our long-term operations. Actual experience could differ materially from this belief as a result of a number of factors, including the time required to locate an alternative supplier, and the nature of the demand for our products. In the past, we have experienced shortages in certain raw materials, such as capacitors, ferrites and integrated circuits ("IC's"), when these materials were in great demand. Even though we may have more than one supplier for certain materials, it is possible that these materials may not be available to us in sufficient quantities or at the times desired by us. In the event that the current economic conditions have a negative impact on the financial condition of our suppliers, this may impact the availability and cost of our raw materials.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We have acquired or been granted a number of patents in the U.S., Europe and Asia and have additional patent applications pending relating to our products. Our U.S. design patents have a life of 14 years and our U.S. utility patents have a life of 17 years from the date of issue or 20 years from filing of patent applications. Our existing patents expire on various dates through July 2041. It is management's opinion that the successful continuation and operation of our business does not depend upon the ownership of patents or the granting of pending patent applications, but upon the innovative skills, technical competence and marketing and managerial abilities of our personnel. 

 

We utilize registered trademarks in the U.S., Europe and Asia to identify various products that we manufacture. The trademarks survive as long as they are in use and the registrations of these trademarks are renewed.

 

Government Contracts

 

We must comply with and are affected by laws and regulations relating to the award, administration, and performance of U.S. Government contracts. Government contract laws and regulations affect how we do business with our customers and, in some instances, impose added costs on our business. A violation of specific laws and regulations could result in the imposition of fines and penalties or the termination of our contracts or debarment from bidding on contracts. These fines and penalties could be imposed for failing to follow procurement integrity and bidding rules, employing improper billing practices or otherwise failing to follow cost accounting standards, receiving or paying kickbacks, or filing false claims. We have been, and expect to continue to be, subjected to audits and investigations by government agencies. The failure to comply with the terms of our government contracts could harm our business reputation. It could also result in our progress payments being withheld.

 

6

 

In some instances, these laws and regulations impose terms or rights that are more favorable to the government than those typically available to commercial parties in negotiated transactions. For example, the U.S. Government may terminate any of our government contracts and, in general, subcontracts, at its convenience as well as for default based on performance. Upon termination for convenience of a fixed-price type contract, we normally are entitled to receive the purchase price for delivered items, reimbursement for allowable costs for work-in-process, and an allowance for profit on work actually completed on the contract or adjustment for loss if completion of performance would have resulted in a loss. Upon termination for convenience of a Federal Government cost reimbursement contract, we normally are entitled to reimbursement of allowable costs plus a portion of the fee. Such allowable costs would normally include our cost to terminate agreements with our suppliers and subcontractors. The amount of the fee recovered, if any, is related to the portion of the work accomplished prior to termination and is determined by negotiation.

 

Seasonality

 

In the PRC, the availability of labor is cyclical and is significantly affected by the migration of workers in relation to the annual Lunar New Year holiday. Each year following the Lunar New Year holiday, we must assess the worker return rate and whether it is adequate to meet the needs of current demand from our customers. Accordingly, we must continually recruit and train new workers to replace those lost to attrition each year and to address peaks in demand that may occur from time to time. This temporary setback in production has historically resulted in our first quarter sales being the lowest sales quarter of the year. Further, recruiting and training efforts and related inefficiencies, as well as overtime required in order to meet demand, can add volatility to the costs incurred by the Company for labor in the PRC, primarily during the first quarter of the year.

 

Government Regulations

 

The Company is subject to various government regulations in the United States as well as various jurisdictions where it operates. These regulations cover several diverse areas including trade compliance, anti-bribery, anti-corruption, money laundering, and data and privacy protection. Regulatory or government authorities where the Company operates may have enforcement powers that can subject the company to legal penalties or other measures and can impose changes or conditions in the way it conducts business.

 

Human Capital Resources, Strategy and Management

 

At Bel, our values guide everything we do. We are committed to the highest standards of ethical and legal conduct and have created an environment where open and honest communication is the expectation, not the exception. Failing to do so puts Bel’s name, reputation for integrity and business at risk. We hold all employees of Bel (our associates) to this standard and offer the same in return. Our Code of Ethics was created to ensure that our associates, officers, directors, partners, contractors, and suppliers follow our commitment to customer satisfaction in accordance with ethical and legal standards, guided by the basic, unchanging principle of integrity.

 

Our Human Capital Strategy is built around four areas:

 

Extraordinary Performance

 

Our associates are a critical driver of Bel’s global business results. On December 31, 2023, Bel employed approximately 5,260 associates, almost all of which are full-time, across 6 countries, with 33.0% located within North America. Outside of the United States, our largest employee populations were located within the PRC, Mexico, Slovakia, the Dominican Republic, India and the United Kingdom. We regularly monitor various key performance indicators around the key human capital priorities of attracting, retaining, and engaging our global talent. In addition, we enable the execution of our strategic priorities by providing all associates with access to training and development opportunities to improve critical skill sets.

 

7

 

Great Associates

 

Bel is committed to fostering an inclusive environment that respects and encourages individual differences, diversity of thought, and talent. We strive to create a workplace where associates feel that their contributions are welcomed and valued, allowing them to fully utilize their talents while achieving personal satisfaction in their respective roles within Bel. 

 

Across the organization, we invest in our people to learn in a variety of ways - on the job, in the classroom, through self-directed learning, and through leadership programs. We have expanded our learning management system to make new content and training available to our associates. The Company has advanced its leadership development programs and continues to enhance internship and apprenticeship programs to develop new talent.

 

Health and Safety

 

Bel offers a variety of programs globally to protect the health and safety of our associates. While we maintain targets for year-over-year reduction of the total recordable incident rate and serious injuries, our goal is always zero.

 

In 2023, we maintained our focus on the safety and well-being of our associates around the world in light of COVID and the variants of COVID that have followed. Our management team closely monitors the situation at each of our facilities; protective measures, where possible and as applicable under governing regulations, remain in place throughout our facilities. See "Overview - Key Factors Affecting our Business - Potential Future Impacts of COVID" in Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of current and potential future impacts of COVID upon our business.

 

Culture

 

In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, Bel succeeds when we attract and retain the best talent that is reflective of the diversity of the communities in which we work and live.

 

We are committed to increasing the diversity of our workforce by participating in networking and community events and actively recruiting and hiring veterans, women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

 

As a global leader in delivering reliable solutions, Bel has signed a Statement of Support Program declaration to show support for National Guard and Reserve member associates coordinated by the Department of Defense's Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program. The intent of the program is to increase employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for associate participation in the military.

 

The global Human Resources team members are strategically placed, primarily in manufacturing facilities, to provide support to all our associates. The mission of Human Resources is to attract, retain and engage the best people. We create a positive work environment where associates can make a difference.

 

As a company that has been in business for 75 years, Bel understands the importance of trust, integrity and accountability of all levels of the organization. Our policies, practices and priorities are continually reviewed to align with the best interests of our associates, shareholders and other stakeholders. 

 

Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”)

 

Bel is committed to creating a better tomorrow by understanding how our actions impact the world around us. We aim to accomplish this by making tangible steps, big and small, to invest in our communities, to seek to minimize environmental impact and to promote alignment of interest among stakeholders. As an organization that thrives on learning and continuous improvement, Bel welcomes and embraces change. The below sections outline some recent developments at Bel as we work to drive continuous improvements in these areas.

 

8

 

Global Director of ESG

 

In November 2022 Bel appointed a Global Director of ESG. This new dedicated role has allowed the Company to embark on a series of initiatives aimed at improving Bel’s commitment to its ESG program.

 

ESG Committee

 

The first internal (operations-level) ESG Committee was formed in early December of 2022. The purpose of the ESG Committee is to support the Company’s ongoing commitment to ESG matters including environmental stewardship, health and safety, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, sustainability, and other related issues of significance to the Company.

 

The ESG Committee aims to:

 

 

Define ESG priorities, objectives and strategy with the goal of further integrating sustainability into the Company’s strategy and operations, subject to the oversight and overall direction of the Nominating and ESG Committee of our Board of Directors (as described below);

 

Oversee and coordinate the implementation of the Company’s ESG initiatives at the operational level;

 

Assist the Nominating and ESG Committee of our Board of Directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities with respect to the Company’s ESG efforts; and

 

Monitor and assess developments relating to and improving the Company’s understanding of ESG matters.

 

The members of the ESG Committee include senior executives and associates from various regions and business segments while taking into account each person’s expertise in relevant disciplines, such as environmental, health and safety, operations, marketing, legal, investor relations, corporate governance, finance, and human resources.

 

Board-Level Oversight of ESG Matters

 

In October 2022, Bel’s Board of Directors approved an expanded role for its Nominating Committee, broadening the purposes and functions of such committee to include oversight and monitoring of ESG matters, and re-designating the committee as the “Nominating and ESG Committee” in recognition of these new responsibilities. In accordance with the amended charter of the Nominating and ESG Committee, a copy of which can be found at https://ir.belfuse.com/corporate-governance, certain oversight functions were added including:

 

 

To oversee the Company’s corporate governance initiatives and periodically consider, and report to the Board on, such initiatives and applicable policies, including development and periodic review of corporate governance guidelines for the Company; and

 

To assist the Board in overseeing and monitoring the Company’s environmental, social and corporate governance policies, activities, practices and initiatives, including matters relating to sustainability, environmental stewardship, corporate social responsibility including ethical business practices, corporate culture and health and safety programs, and other public issues of significance which affect investors and other key stakeholders including such other matters that may be referred to the Committee by the Board from time to time.

 

Bel’s internal ESG Committee provides updates to either the Nominating and ESG Committee or to the full Board on a quarterly basis.

 

9

 

Environmental

 

At Bel, we understand the impact of climate change upon so many aspects of our lives and our future, and we are committed to reducing environmental impact for a more sustainable tomorrow. We consistently look for alternatives and approaches to consider in Bel’s business and strategies at multiple levels, from improving the efficiency ratings of our products and factories to better managing our consumption habits of electricity and water.

 

Bel has started the process of measuring the impact of its operations on the environment and intends to utilize these measurements to establish reduction goals and related initiatives throughout the global organization. Today we have 19 manufacturing facilities of various sizes and five of them are ISO 14001 certified and represent 73% of our manufacturing footprint. These five sites have been measuring their consumption levels of natural gas, electricity and water and have targets in place for reducing consumption and waste and improving recycling efforts. For the rest of our manufacturing sites, we intend to follow an approach comparable to the template laid out with these five as we begin the process of better understanding our impact.

 

Social

 

Associates are the cornerstone of our business and key to our success. At Bel, we believe in the need for diversity and inclusion that reflects the communities in which we work and live. Associates are encouraged to bring with them their unique perspectives, opinions and experiences as they work for the betterment of Bel, its customers and the locations in which we operate. Bel recognizes its role in the global community and giving back is a priority. From coaching their local sports team to raising funds for local charities of choice, Bel supports and encourages our associates’ participation in these types of activities.

 

2023 Charitable Contribution Program:

 

In 2022, Bel launched a Company-wide Charitable Contribution Program to ensure consistency and drive our corporate values across the organization. The social program is also in alignment with our Core Value of Community Engagement and directly reflects the ambitions of our ESG initiative to support the global communities within which we operate. In 2023, the program resulted in contributions to 52 local charities across 14 countries. In addition, there was a matching program for the organizations selected and associates who donated.

 

Governance

 

As a company that has been in business for 75 years, Bel understands the importance of trust, integrity and accountability at all levels of the organization. Recent additions to our Board and executive management team have brought greater diversity and new perspectives to Bel. We intend that our policies, practices and priorities will be periodically and continually reviewed as appropriate to better align with the best interests of our shareholders, associates and other stakeholders.

 

In addition to the establishment of Board-level ESG oversight pursuant to the Nominating and ESG Committee’s expanded role and the creation of Bel’s internal ESG Committee as discussed above, in February 2023, the Board adopted Bel’s Corporate Governance Guidelines which are available at https://ir.belfuse.com/corporate-governance. These guidelines, which are designed to enhance the Company’s corporate governance, will serve as a framework within which the Board will conduct its business, subject to applicable laws, regulations, listing requirements, and the Company’s organizational documents and Board committee charters. 

 

Bel is committed to a better tomorrow. With a solid foundation and oversight functions having been established, we expect ESG to be an ongoing journey of continuous improvement.

 

The foregoing discussion of ESG matters contains Forward-Looking Statements.  See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

Available Information

 

We maintain a website at www.belfuse.com where we make available free of charge the proxy statements, press releases, registration statements and reports on Forms 3, 4, 8-K, 10-K and 10-Q, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act that we (and in the case of Section 16 reports, our insiders) file with the SEC. These forms are made available as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. Press releases are also issued via electronic transmission to provide access to our financial and product news, and we provide notification of and access to voice and internet broadcasts of our quarterly and annual results. Our website also includes investor presentations and corporate governance materials. The information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or in any other report or document we file with the SEC.

 

10

 

Item 1A.  Risk Factors

 

The risks described below should be carefully considered before making an investment decision. These are the risk factors that we consider to be material, but they are not the only risk factors that should be considered in making an investment decision. This Form 10-K also contains Forward-Looking Statements that involve risks and uncertainties. See the "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information," above. Our business, consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of the risk factors described below, under "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information" or with respect to specific Forward-Looking Statements presented herein. The trading price of our securities could decline due to any of these risks, and investors in our securities may lose all or part of their investment. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial may also materially adversely affect our business in the future.  Except as required by the federal securities law, we undertake no obligation to update or revise any risk factor, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

 

STRATEGIC RISKS

 

We conduct business in a highly competitive industry.

 

Our business operates in a globally competitive industry, with relatively low barriers to entry. We compete principally on the basis of product performance, quality, reliability, depth of product line, customer service, technological innovation, design, delivery time and price. The industry in which we operate has become increasingly concentrated and globalized in recent years and our major competitors, many of which are larger than Bel, have significant financial resources and technological capabilities.

 

Our intellectual property rights may not be adequately protected under the current state of the law.

 

Our efforts to protect our intellectual property rights through patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws in the United States and in other countries may not prevent misappropriation, and our failure or inability to protect our proprietary rights could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results and future prospects. A third party could, without authorization, copy or otherwise appropriate our proprietary information. Our agreements with employees and others who participate in development activities could be breached, we may not have adequate remedies for any breach, and our trade secrets may otherwise become known or independently developed by competitors.

 

Our acquisitions may not produce the anticipated results.

 

A significant portion of our growth has been attributable to acquisitions. We cannot assure that we will identify or successfully complete transactions with suitable acquisition candidates in the future. If an acquired business fails to operate as anticipated or cannot be successfully integrated with our other businesses, our results of operations, enterprise value, market value and prospects could all be materially and adversely affected. Integration of new acquisitions into our consolidated operations may result in lower average operating results for the group as a whole, and may divert management's focus from the ongoing operations of the Company during the integration period.

 

Our strategy also focuses on the reduction of selling, general and administrative expenses through the integration or elimination of redundant sales facilities and administrative functions at acquired companies. If we are unable to achieve our expectations with respect to our acquisitions, such inability could have a material and adverse effect on our results of operations. If the acquisitions fail to perform up to our expectations, or if there is a weakening of economic conditions, we could be required to record impairment charges on the goodwill associated with our acquisitions. 

 

We are dependent on our ability to develop new products.

 

Our future operating results are dependent, in part, on our ability to develop, produce and market new and more technologically advanced products. There are numerous risks inherent in this process, including the risks that we will be unable to anticipate the direction of technological change or that we will be unable to timely develop and bring to market new products and applications to meet customers' changing needs.

 

11

 

OPERATIONAL RISKS

 

Our global operations and demand for our products face risks related to health epidemics such as the coronavirus.

 

Any outbreaks of contagious diseases and other adverse public health developments in countries where we operate could have a material and adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations. Over the past three years, our business was impacted by temporary facility closures, shelter-in-place orders and challenges related to travel restrictions imposed by the local governmental authorities as a result of COVID. Our suppliers, customers and our customers’ contract manufacturers have experienced similar challenges from time to time throughout the pandemic.

 

As the status of the COVID pandemic and its effects continue to evolve, additional Bel facilities could become negatively impacted. COVID remains a potential supply continuity risk due to the unknown nature of future outbreaks including as a result of the emergence of further COVID virus variants. The extent to which COVID will impact our business and our consolidated financial results will depend on future developments which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at the time of the filing of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  See "Overview - Key Factors Affecting our Business - Potential Future Impacts of COVID" in Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of current and potential future impacts of COVID upon our business.

 

We may experience labor unrest.

 

As we periodically implement transfers of certain of our operations, we may experience strikes or other types of labor unrest as a result of lay-offs or termination of employees in higher labor cost countries. Our manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom and Mexico are represented by labor unions and substantially all of our factory workers in the PRC are represented by government-sponsored unions.

 

We may experience labor shortages.

 

Government, economic, social and labor policies in the PRC may cause shortages of factory labor in areas where we have some of our products manufactured. Further, availability of labor in the PRC is cyclical and is significantly affected by the migration of workers in relation to the annual Lunar New Year holiday. If we are required to manufacture more of these products outside of the PRC as a result of such shortages, our margins will likely be materially adversely affected.

 

A shortage of availability or an increase in the cost of raw materials, components and other resources may adversely impact our ability to procure these items at cost effective prices and thus may negatively impact profit margins. Additionally, inflationary pressures could result in higher input costs and materially adversely affect our financial results.

 

Our results of operations may be materially adversely impacted by difficulties in obtaining raw materials, supplies, power, labor, natural resources and any other items needed for the production of our products, as well as by the effects of quality deviations in raw materials and the effects of significant fluctuations in the prices of existing inventories and purchase commitments for these materials. Many of these materials and components are produced by a limited number of suppliers and their availability to us may be constrained by supplier capacity. Any material disruption could materially adversely affect our financial results. In addition, inflationary pressures could result in higher input costs, including those related to our raw materials, labor, freight, utilities, healthcare and other expenses. Our future operating results will depend, in part, on our continued ability to manage these fluctuations through pricing actions, cost savings initiatives and sourcing decisions, and any negative impact of inflation could materially adversely affect our financial results. See “Overview - Key Factors Affecting our Business" in Item 7 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of how pricing and availability of materials is currently impacting our business.

 

12

 

We have substantial manufacturing operations located in the PRC, which exposes us to significant risks that could materially and adversely affect our business, operations, consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations.

 

The majority of Bel's Magnetic Solutions manufacturing capacity and supplier base is located in the PRC, as is a portion of Bel's Power Solutions and Protection group. As of December 31, 2023, 50% of our associates, 74% of our owned or leased manufacturing facilities (by square footage) and 24% of our Company’s tangible assets were all located in the PRC. Our Company’s presence and operations in the PRC expose us to significant risks that could materially and adversely affect our Company and our business, operations, financial position and results of operations.

 

For example, our significant operational presence in the PRC exposes us to foreign currency exchange risk. Our PRC-based manufacturing associates’ salaries, and other labor and overhead costs, associated with our PRC operations are paid in the Chinese renminbi. As a result, the cost of our operations and our consolidated operating results may be adversely impacted by the effects of fluctuations in the applicable exchange rate for the renminbi as compared to the U.S dollar.

 

Our significant labor force based within the PRC subjects us to risks associated with staffing and managing this substantial complement of factory workers and other associates who are important to our Company’s operations and success. As noted above, factory workers in the PRC are represented by government-sponsored unions, and are participants in a cyclical labor market that may become subject to shortages including as a result of PRC government policies. See “We may experience labor unrest” and “We may experience labor shortages” above. Wage rates in the PRC have been increasing in recent years as PRC government-mandated increases in the minimum wage rate have caused an increase in our overall pay scale for our PRC workers. 

 

The PRC government has broad authority and discretion to regulate the economy, manufacturing, industry, and the technology sector, among other areas generally. As a result, our activities and operations in the PRC as well as those of our PRC-based suppliers are subject to extensive local government regulation. Additionally, the PRC government has implemented policies from time to time to regulate economic expansion. It exercises significant control over its economic growth through the allocation of resources, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. Any additional new regulations or the amendment of previously implemented regulations could require us to change our business plans, increase our costs, or limit our ability to manufacture and sell products domestically and/or otherwise restrict or curtail our operations in the PRC. To the extent our suppliers in the PRC are negatively impacted by new or amended regulations, any such negative implications could adversely impact our supply chain, including in the form of increased costs, disruptions, shortages or unavailability of product or component parts, and/or other deleterious consequences, which could materially adversely affect our business and operating results. 

 

13

 

Our significant manufacturing operations in the PRC may expose us to other risks. Risks inherent in our PRC operations include the following:

 

 

changes in import, export, transportation regulations and tariffs, and risks associated with boycotts and embargoes;

 

changes in, or impositions of, legislative or regulatory requirements or restrictions, including tax and trade laws in the U.S. and in the PRC, and government action to restrict our ability to sell to customers where sales of products may require export licenses;

 

transportation delays and other supply chain issues;

 

changes in tax regulations in the U.S. and/or the PRC, including restrictions and/or taxes applicable to the transfer or repatriation of funds;

 

international political relationships, including the relationship between the U.S. and the PRC;

 

epidemics and illnesses (including COVID, any new variants that may emerge, and any future health crises) within the PRC that affect the areas in which we operate and manufacture our products;

 

economic, social and political instability;

 

longer accounts receivable collection cycles and difficulties in collecting accounts receivable;

 

less effective protection of intellectual property and contractual arrangements, and risks associated with enforcing contracts and legal rights and remedies generally;

 

uncertainties associated with the PRC legal system, which is based on civil law, can involve protected proceedings involving substantial judicial discretion, and is based in part on PRC government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published on a timely basis, or at all, and may have retroactive effect;

 

risks arising out of any changes in governmental and economic policy and the potential for adverse developments arising out of any political or economic instability related to Hong Kong or Taiwan;

 

the potential for political unrest, expropriation, nationalization, revolution, war or acts of terrorism; and

 

risks associated with the concentration of a substantial portion of our manufacturing capacity and supplier base in the PRC.

 

In addition to the risks associated with our PRC operations described above, the global nature of our operations generally subjects us to additional risks. We conduct operations in 14 countries, and outside of the United States (and the PRC), our largest manufacturing operations and associate populations are located within Mexico, Slovakia, the Dominican Republic, India and the United Kingdom. Please see the Risk Factor appearing below under the caption, "The global nature of our operations exposes us to numerous risks that could materially adversely affect our consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations.”

 

The loss of certain substantial customers could materially and adversely affect us.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2023, while there were no direct customers whose sales exceeded 10% of our 2023 consolidated net sales, approximately11.6% of the Company's total net sales were sold to one ultimate end-user through various intermediary contract manufacturers. While Bel sells a diversified portfolio of products to this ultimate end-user, we believe that the loss of this end user could have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position and consolidated results of operations. We have experienced significant concentrations of customers in prior years. See Note 14, "Segments" for additional disclosures related to our significant customers. Furthermore, factors that negatively impact the businesses of our major customers could materially and adversely affect us even if the customer represents less than 10% of our 2023 consolidated net sales.

 

14

 

We may not achieve all of the expected benefits from our restructuring programs.

 

In 2022, we announced restructuring plans related to four facility consolidations as further described in "Overview - Key Factors Affecting our Business - Restructuring" in Item 7 of this Annual Report. Management has estimated that these initiatives will result in restructuring costs of approximately $13.4 million ($6.3 million of which was incurred through December 31, 2023), incremental capital expenditures of approximately $5 million and once complete, annualized cost savings of approximately $6.9 million. Additionally, in connection with a new restructuring initiative implemented in the fourth quarter of 2023 involving the transition of certain manufacturing from our Glen Rock, Pennsylvania facility to other existing Bel sites as further described in "Overview Key Factors Affecting our Business Restructuring" in Item 7 of this Annual Report, management estimated that the initiative will result in restructuring costs of approximately $0.5 million ($0.4 million of which was incurred through December 31, 2023) and once complete, annualized cost savings of approximately $1.0 million. We made certain assumptions in estimating the anticipated savings we expect to achieve related to these initiatives, which include the estimated savings from the elimination of certain headcount and the consolidation of facilities. These assumptions may turn out to be incorrect due to a variety of factors. In addition, our ability to realize the expected benefits from these programs is subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control. If we are unsuccessful in implementing these programs or if we do not achieve our expected results, our results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected or our business operations could be disrupted. As mentioned above, the amounts set forth in the foregoing including anticipated restructuring costs, incremental capital expenditure spend and annualized cost savings are the Company’s current estimates based on information presently available to the Company, assumptions and circumstances as they exist in each case at the time of filing of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and are subject to change. See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

FINANCIAL RISKS

 

There are several factors which can cause our margins to suffer.

 

Our margins could be substantially impacted by the following factors. 

 

 

Declines in Selling Prices: The average selling prices for our products tend to decrease over their life cycles, and customers put pressure on suppliers to lower prices even when production costs are increasing. Further, increased competition from low-cost suppliers around the world has put additional pressures on pricing. Any drop in demand for our products or increase in supply of competitive products could also cause a significant drop in our average sales prices. 

 

 

Increases in Material Costs: While we continually strive to negotiate better pricing for components and raw materials, there are many factors that could lead to higher material costs, or premiums incurred for expedited orders, including an increase in industry demand for or supplier shortages of certain components, or inflationary pressures. Further, commodity prices, especially those pertaining to gold, copper and silver, can be volatile. Fluctuations in these prices and other commodity prices associated with Bel's raw materials will have a corresponding impact on our profit margins.

 

 

Increases in Labor Costs: Wage rates, particularly in the PRC, Mexico and Slovakia where the majority of our manufacturing associates are located, have been gradually increasing in recent years as government-mandated increases in the minimum wage rate in these jurisdictions cause an increase in our overall pay scale. Labor costs can also be impacted by fluctuations in the exchange rates in which local wages are paid as compared to the U.S. dollar. 

 

Profit margins will be materially and adversely impacted if we are not able to reduce our costs of production, introduce technological innovations as sales prices decline, or pass through cost increases to customers.

 

Our backlog figures may not be reliable indicators. 

 

Many of the orders that comprise our backlog may be delayed, accelerated or canceled by customers without penalty. Customers may on occasion double order from multiple sources to ensure timely delivery when lead times are particularly long. Customers often cancel orders when business is weak and inventories are excessive. Additional factors that could cause the Company to fail to ship orders comprising our backlog include unanticipated supply difficulties, changes in customer demand and new customer designs. Throughout 2023, Bel has faced macroeconomic and excessive levels of inventory within the supply channel and these conditions expected to continue through at least the first half of 2024. Due to the foregoing factors, we cannot be certain that the amount of our backlog equals or exceeds the level of orders that will ultimately be delivered, and backlog may not be a reliable indicator of the timing of future sales. Our results of operations could be adversely impacted if customers cancel a material portion of orders in our backlog.

 

We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to service all of our indebtedness and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.

 

Our ability to make scheduled payments on or refinance our debt obligations depends on our financial condition and operating performance, which are subject to prevailing economic and competitive conditions and to certain financial, business, legislative, regulatory and other factors beyond our control. We may be unable to maintain a level of cash flows from operating activities sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness.

 

15

 

If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and could be forced to reduce or delay acquisitions, investments and capital expenditures or to dispose of material assets or operations, seek additional debt or equity capital or restructure or refinance our indebtedness. We may not be able to effect any such alternative measures on commercially reasonable terms or at all and, even if successful, those alternative actions may not allow us to meet our scheduled debt service obligations. Our credit agreement restricts our ability to dispose of assets and use the proceeds from those dispositions and may also restrict our ability to raise debt or equity capital to be used to repay other indebtedness when it becomes due. We may not be able to consummate those dispositions or to obtain proceeds in an amount sufficient to meet any debt service obligations then due.

 

Our inability to generate sufficient cash flows to satisfy our debt obligations, or to refinance our indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all, would materially and adversely affect our consolidated financial position and consolidated results of operations. If we cannot make scheduled payments on our debt, we will be in default, the lenders under the credit agreement could terminate their commitments to loan money, the lenders could foreclose against the assets securing their borrowings and we could be forced into bankruptcy or liquidation. 

 

Our level of indebtedness could negatively impact our access to the capital markets and our ability to satisfy financial covenants under our existing credit agreement.

 

Our U.S. debt service requirements are significant in relation to our U.S. revenue and cash flow. This leverage exposes us to risk in the event of downturns in our business, in our industry or in the economy generally, and may impair our operating flexibility and our ability to compete effectively. Our current credit agreement requires us to maintain certain covenant ratios. If we do not continue to satisfy these required ratios or receive waivers from our lenders, we will be in default under the credit agreement, which could result in an accelerated maturity of our debt obligations. We cannot assure investors that we will be able to access private or public debt or equity on satisfactory terms, or at all. Any equity financing that could be arranged may dilute existing shareholders and any debt financing that could be arranged may result in the imposition of more stringent financial and operating covenants.

 

LEGAL, TAX AND REGULATORY RISKS

 

We may be sued by third parties for alleged infringement of their proprietary rights and we may incur defense costs and possibly royalty obligations or lose the right to use technology important to our business.

 

From time to time, we receive claims by third parties asserting that our products violate their intellectual property rights. Any intellectual property claims, with or without merit, could be time consuming and expensive to litigate or settle and could divert management attention from administering our business. A third party asserting infringement claims against us or our customers with respect to our current or future products may materially and adversely affect us by, for example, causing us to enter into costly royalty arrangements or forcing us to incur settlement or litigation costs.

 

We are subject to taxation in multiple jurisdictions. As a result, any adverse development in the tax laws of any of these jurisdictions or any disagreement with our tax positions could have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition or consolidated results of operations.

 

We are subject to taxation in, and to the tax laws and regulations of, multiple jurisdictions as a result of the international scope of our operations and our corporate and financing structure. We are also subject to transfer pricing laws with respect to our intercompany transactions, including those relating to the flow of funds among our companies. Adverse developments in fiscal or tax laws, regulations or policies, or any change in position regarding the application, administration or interpretation thereof, in any applicable jurisdiction, could have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition or consolidated results of our operations. In addition, the tax authorities in any applicable jurisdiction, including the United States, may disagree with the positions we have taken or intend to take regarding the tax treatment or characterization of any of our transactions. If any applicable tax authorities, including U.S. tax authorities, were to successfully challenge the tax treatment or characterization of any of our transactions, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition or consolidated results of our operations.

 

Our results of operations may be materially and adversely impacted by environmental and other regulations.

 

Our manufacturing operations, products and/or product packaging are subject to environmental laws and regulations governing air emissions; wastewater discharges; the handling, disposal and remediation of hazardous substances, wastes and certain chemicals used or generated in our manufacturing processes; employee health and safety labeling or other notifications with respect to the content or other aspects of our processes, products or packaging; restrictions on the use of certain materials in or on design aspects of our products or product packaging; and, responsibility for disposal of products or product packaging. Discussions and proposals related to gas emissions and climate change have increasingly become the subject of substantial attention; additional regulation in this area could have the effect of restricting our business operations or increasing our operating costs. More stringent environmental regulations may be enacted in the future, and we cannot presently determine the modifications, if any, in our operations that any such future regulations might require, or the cost of compliance with these regulations.

 

16

 

ESG issues, including those related to climate change and sustainability, may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and could damage our reputation.

 

Companies across all industries are facing increasing scrutiny relating to their ESG policies. Increased focus and activism related to ESG may hinder our access to capital, as investors may reconsider their capital investment as a result of their assessment of our ESG practices. In particular, investors, customers and other stakeholders are increasingly focusing on environmental issues, including climate change, water use, waste and other sustainability concerns. Changing customer or consumer preferences may also result in increased demands regarding components and materials including packaging materials, including with respect to their environmental impact on sustainability. These demands could impact the profitability products, cause us to incur additional costs, to make changes to our operations, or to make additional commitments, set targets or establish additional goals and take actions to meet them, which could expose us to market, operational and execution costs or risks. In addition, governmental and non-governmental organizations, investors, customers, consumers, our employees and other stakeholders have placed increasing importance on ESG matters, and depending on their assessment of our ESG practices, certain investors may reconsider their investment in the Company.

 

Concern over climate change, waste, consumption or use of materials including packaging materials, may result in new or increased legal and regulatory requirements to reduce or mitigate impacts to the environment. Increased regulatory requirements, including in relation to various aspects of ESG including the SEC’s recent disclosure proposal on climate change, or environmental causes may result in increased compliance or input costs of energy, raw materials or compliance with emissions standards, which may cause disruptions in the manufacture of our products or an increase in operating costs. We may undertake additional costs to control, assess and report on ESG metrics as the nature, scope and complexity of ESG reporting, diligence and disclosure requirements expand. Our ability to achieve any stated goal, target, or objective is subject to numerous factors and conditions, many of which are outside of our control. Any failure to achieve our ESG goals or ambitions or a perception (whether or not valid) of our failure to act responsibly with respect to the environment or to effectively respond to new, or changes in, legal or regulatory requirements concerning environmental or other ESG matters, or increased operating or manufacturing costs due to increased regulation or environmental causes could adversely affect our business and reputation.

 

If we do not adapt to or comply with new regulations, or fail to meet ESG goals or ambitions or evolving investor, industry or stakeholder expectations and standards, or if we are perceived to have not responded appropriately to the growing concern for ESG issues, customers may choose to stop purchasing our products or purchase products from another company or a competitor, and our reputation, business or financial condition may be adversely affected.

 

Expanding and evolving data privacy laws and regulations could impact our business and expose us to increased liability.

 

Our global business is subject to complex and changing laws and regulations including but not limited to privacy, data security and data localization. Evolving foreign events may adversely affect our revenues and could subject us to new regulatory costs and challenges (such as the transfer of personal data between the EU and the United Kingdom), in addition to other adverse effects that we are unable to effectively anticipate. This may impose significant requirements on how we collect, process and transfer personal data, as well as significant financial penalties for non-compliance. Any inability to adequately address privacy concerns, even if unfounded, or to comply with the more complex privacy or data protection laws, regulations and privacy standards, could lead to significant financial penalties, which may result in a material and adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations.

 

17

 

RISKS RELATED TO OUR COMMON STOCK

 

As a result of protective provisions in the Company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended, the voting power of holders of Class A common shares whose voting rights are not suspended (including officers, directors and principal shareholders) may be increased at future meetings of the Company's shareholders.

 

The Company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended, provides that if a shareholder, other than shareholders subject to specific exceptions, acquires (after the date of the Company's 1998 recapitalization) 10% or more of the outstanding Class A common stock and does not own an equal or greater percentage of all then outstanding shares of both Class A and Class B common stock (all of which common stock must have been acquired after the date of the 1998 recapitalization), such shareholder must, within 90 days of the trigger date, purchase Class B common shares, in an amount and at a price determined in accordance with a formula described in the Company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended, or forfeit its right to vote its Class A common shares. As of February 29, 2024, to the Company's knowledge, there was one shareholder of the Company's common stock with ownership in excess of 10% of Class A outstanding shares with no ownership of the Company's Class B common stock and with no basis for exception from the operation of the above-mentioned provisions. In order to vote its shares at Bel's next shareholders' meeting, this shareholder must either purchase the required number of Class B common shares or sell or otherwise transfer Class A common shares until its Class A holdings are under 10%. As of February 29, 2024, to the Company's knowledge, this shareholder owned 16.7% of the Company's Class A common stock and had not taken steps to either purchase the required number of Class B common shares or sell or otherwise transfer Class A common shares until its Class A holdings fall below 10%. Unless and until this situation is satisfied in a manner permitted by the Company's Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended, the subject shareholder will not be permitted to vote its shares of common stock.

 

To the extent that the voting rights of particular holders of Class A common stock are suspended as of times when the Company's shareholders vote due to the above-mentioned provisions, such suspension will have the effect of increasing the voting power of those holders of Class A common shares whose voting rights are not suspended. As of February 29, 2024, Daniel Bernstein, the Company's Chief Executive Officer, beneficially owned 382,032 Class A common shares (or 21.4%) of the outstanding Class A common shares whose voting rights were not suspended, and all directors and current executive officers as a group (which includes Daniel Bernstein) beneficially owned 396,175 Class A common shares (or 22.2%) of the outstanding Class A common shares whose voting rights were not suspended.

 

Our stock price, like that of many companies, has been and may continue to be volatile.

 

The market price of our common stock may fluctuate as a result of variations in our quarterly operating results and other factors beyond our control. These fluctuations may be exaggerated if the trading volume of our common stock is low. The market price of our common stock may rise and fall in response to a variety of other factors, including:

 

announcements of technological or competitive developments;

general market or economic conditions;

the continuing and uncertain future impact of the COVID pandemic on our operations and supply chain;

market or economic conditions specific to particular geographical areas in which we operate;

acquisitions or strategic alliances by us or our competitors;

our ability to achieve our anticipated cost savings from announced restructuring programs;

the gain or loss of a significant customer or order;

changes in the amount or frequency of our payments of dividends or repurchases of our common stock; or

changes in estimates of our financial performance or changes in recommendations by securities analysts regarding us or our industry.

 

In addition, equity securities of many companies have experienced significant price and volume fluctuations even in periods when the capital markets generally are not distressed. These price and volume fluctuations often have been unrelated to the operating performance of the affected companies.

 

18

 

GENERAL RISKS

 

The global nature of our operations exposes us to numerous risks that could materially adversely affect our consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations.

 

We manufacture in 7 countries, and our products are distributed in those countries as well as in other parts of the world. A large portion of our manufacturing operations are located outside of the United States and a large portion of our sales are generated outside of the United States. Operations outside of the United States, particularly operations in developing regions, are subject to various risks that may not be present or as significant for our U.S. operations. Economic uncertainty in some of the geographic regions in which we operate, including developing regions, could result in the disruption of commerce and negatively impact cash flows from our operations in those areas.

 

Risks inherent in our international operations include:

 

 

COVID-related closures and other pandemic-related uncertainties in the countries in which we operate;

 

Import and export regulations that could erode profit margins or restrict exports;

 

Foreign exchange controls and tax rates;

 

Foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, including devaluations;

 

Changes in regional and local economic conditions, including local inflationary pressures;

 

Difficulty of enforcing agreements and collecting receivables through certain foreign legal systems;

 

Variations in protection of intellectual property and other legal rights;

 

More expansive legal rights of foreign unions or works councils;

 

Changes in labor conditions and difficulties in staffing and managing international operations;

 

Inability or regulatory limitations on our ability to move goods across borders;

 

Changes in laws and regulations, including the laws and policies of the United States affecting trade, tariffs and foreign investment;

 

Restrictive governmental actions such as those on transfer or repatriation of funds and trade protection matters, including antidumping duties, tariffs, trade wars, embargoes and prohibitions or restrictions on acquisitions or joint ventures;

 

Social plans that prohibit or increase the cost of certain restructuring actions;

 

The potential for nationalization of enterprises or facilities; and

 

Unsettled political conditions and possible terrorist attacks against U.S. or other interests.

 

As a multi-national company, we are faced with increased complexities due to recent changes to the U.S. corporate tax code relating to our unremitted foreign earnings, potential revisions to international tax law treaties, and renegotiated trade deals. In addition, other events, such as the ongoing discussion and negotiations concerning varying levels of tariffs on product imported from the PRC, also create a level of uncertainty. If we are unable to anticipate and effectively manage these and other risks, it could have a material and adverse effect on our business, our consolidated results of operations and consolidated financial condition.

 

The recent political tensions and armed conflict involving Russia and Ukraine continues to evolve and we are closely monitoring this dynamic situation. The Company has indefinitely ceased all shipments of product to customers in Russia. The Company's operations in Slovakia have not been, and are not currently expected to be, impacted by the political instability of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as our facility is not in close proximity to the Ukraine border. We do not currently anticipate any material impact to the Company's financial results.

 

For additional information regarding risks associated with our operations in the PRC, see the discussion set forth above under the caption, "We have substantial manufacturing operations located in the PRC, which exposes us to significant risks that could materially and adversely affect our business, operations, consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations."

 

19

 

Cybersecurity risk and the failure to maintain the integrity of our operational or security systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties with which we do business, could have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations.

 

Cybersecurity threats, including but not limited to malware, phishing, credential harvesting, ransomware and other attacks, are rapidly evolving and are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it difficult to detect and prevent such threats from impacting the Company. Our Company has seen an increased volume of cybersecurity threats and ransomware attempts in 2023 and expects to continue to experience cybersecurity threats from time to time, which pose a risk to the security of our systems and networks and the confidentiality, availability and integrity of our data. Disruptions or failures in the physical infrastructure or operating systems that support our businesses and customers, or cybersecurity attacks or security breaches of our networks, systems or applications, could result in the loss of customers and business opportunities, legal liability, regulatory fines, penalties or intervention, other litigation, regulatory and legal risks and the costs associated therewith, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensatory costs, remediation costs, increased cybersecurity protection costs, additional compliance costs, increased insurance premiums, and lost revenues, damage to the Company's competitiveness, stock price, and long-term shareholder value, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. While we attempt to mitigate these risks, our systems, networks, products, solutions and services remain potentially vulnerable to advanced and persistent threats. We also maintain and have access to sensitive, confidential or personal data or information in certain of our businesses that is subject to privacy and security laws and regulations. Despite our efforts to protect such sensitive, confidential or personal data or information, our facilities and systems and those of our customers and third-party service providers may be vulnerable to security breaches, theft, fraud, misplaced or lost data, “Acts of God”, programming and/or human errors that could lead to the compromising of sensitive, confidential or personal data or information, improper use of our systems, software solutions or networks, unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or destruction of information, defective products, production downtimes and operational disruptions, which in turn could adversely affect our consolidated financial condition and consolidated results of operations.

 

A loss of the services of the Company's executive officers or other skilled associates could negatively impact our operations and results.

 

The success of the Company's operations is largely dependent upon the performance of its executive officers, managers, engineers and salespeople. Many of these individuals have a significant number of years of experience within the Company and/or the industry in which we compete and would be extremely difficult to replace. The loss of the services of any of these associates may materially and adversely impact our results of operations if we are unable to replace them in a timely manner.

 

 

Item 1B.   Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

Item 1C.   Cybersecurity

 

Bel employs a full-time Cyber Security Expert who reports directly into our Senior Director of Global IT Services. During 2023, the Company worked with third-party cybersecurity companies to continually enhance the programs Bel has in place. These relationships involve regular communication and collaboration between the Bel cybersecurity team and our third-party providers to share threat intelligence and implement proactive measures to safeguard our systems and data. The Company has continued to invest in IT security, including additional end-user training, using layered defenses, identifying, and protecting critical assets, strengthening monitoring and alerting, and engaging experts. Our cybersecurity team regularly monitors alerts and meets to discuss threat levels, trends, and remediation. Further, we conduct periodic external penetration tests. In addition to assessing our own cybersecurity preparedness, we also consider and evaluate cybersecurity risks associated with the use of third-party service providers that host our applications. The internal business owners of the hosted applications are required to document user access reviews at least annually and provide from the vendor a System and Organization Controls (SOC) 1 or SOC 2 report. Third party contractors or vendors that require access to our network are given specific limited access to only the specific resource. The access provided expires automatically after a period determined by the project and must follow all Company security measures.

 

The Audit Committee of the Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the management of cybersecurity risks. The Audit Committee is informed about cybersecurity risks through quarterly reports from the Senior Director of Global IT Services and, as necessary, to the full Board. The Audit Committee also reviews and approves the company’s cybersecurity policies and the Company’s Senior Director of Global IT Services is responsible for developing and implementing our information security program and reporting on cybersecurity matters to the Board. This includes our overall information security strategy, policy, security engineering, operations and cyber incident detection and response reporting in alignment with Company policies. The current Senior Director of Global IT Services has more than 15 years of information technology and program management experience which includes information security, and others on our IT security team have years of cybersecurity experience and certifications.  

 

 

20

 

Item 2.   Properties

 

The Company is headquartered in West Orange, New Jersey. The Company occupies 294,000 square feet at 18 non-manufacturing facilities, which are used primarily for management, financial accounting, engineering, sales and administrative support. Of this space, the Company leases 187,000 square feet in 13 facilities and owns properties of 107,000 square feet.

 

The Company also operated 19 manufacturing facilities in 7 countries as of December 31, 2023. Approximately 13% of the 2.4 million square feet the Company occupies is owned while the remainder is leased. See Note 19, "Commitments and Contingencies", for additional information pertaining to leases.

 

The following is a list of the locations of the Company's principal manufacturing facilities at December 31, 2023: 

 

Location

 

Approximate Square Feet

 

Product Group Produced at Facility

 

Owned/ Leased

 

Percentage Used for Manufacturing

 
                       

Dongguan, People's Republic of China

    661,000  

Magnetic Solutions

 

Leased

    36 %

Pingguo, People's Republic of China

    180,000  

Magnetic Solutions

 

Leased

    39 %

Shenzhen, People's Republic of China

    227,000  

Power Solutions & Protection

 

Leased

    100 %

Zhongshan, People's Republic of China

    77,000  

All three product groups

 

Leased

    100 %

Zhongshan, People's Republic of China

    118,000  

All three product groups

 

Owned

    100 %

Zhongshan, People's Republic of China

    78,000  

All three product groups

 

Owned

    100 %

Guangxi, People's Republic of China

    243,000  

Magnetic Solutions

 

Leased

    54 %

Mumbai, India

    56,000  

Power Solutions & Protection

 

Leased

    46 %

Dubnica nad Vahom, Slovakia

    35,000  

Power Solutions & Protection

 

Owned

    50 %

Dubnica nad Vahom, Slovakia

    70,000  

Power Solutions & Protection

 

Leased

    100 %

Worksop, United Kingdom

    51,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    28 %

Chelmsford, United Kingdom

    17,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    80 %

Dominican Republic

    33,000  

Magnetic Solutions

 

Leased

    85 %

Cananea, Mexico

    30,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    60 %

Reynosa, Mexico

    80,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    56 %

Glen Rock, Pennsylvania

    74,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Owned

    60 %

Waseca, Minnesota

    127,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    83 %

McAllen, Texas

    40,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    56 %

Melbourne, Florida

    13,000  

Connectivity Solutions

 

Leased

    64 %
      2,210,000                

 

Of the space described above, 420,000 square feet is used for engineering, warehousing, sales and administrative support functions at various locations and 419,000 square feet is designated for dormitories, canteen and other employee related facilities in the PRC.

 

The Territory of Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region ("SAR") of the PRC during 1997. The territory of Macao became a SAR of the PRC at the end of 1999. Management cannot presently predict what future impact, if any, this will have on the Company or how the political climate in the PRC will affect its contractual arrangements in the PRC. A significant portion of the Company's manufacturing operations and approximately 21.6% of its identifiable assets are located in Asia.

 

Item 3.   Legal Proceedings

 

The information called for by this Item is incorporated herein by reference to the caption "Legal Proceedings" in Note 19, "Commitments and Contingencies."

 

Item 4.   Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not applicable.

 

21

 

PART II

 

Item 5.   Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

 Market Information

 

The Company's voting Class A Common Stock, par value $0.10 per share, and non-voting Class B Common Stock, par value $0.10 per share ("Class A" and "Class B," respectively), are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbols BELFA and BELFB, respectively.

 

 

Holders

 

As of February 29, 2024, there were 34 registered shareholders of the Company's Class A Common Stock and 317 registered shareholders of the Company's Class B Common Stock. We believe that the number of beneficial owners is substantially greater than the number of record holders because a large portion of our Class A and Class B Common Stock is held in "street name" by brokers. At February 29, 2024, to the Company's knowledge, there was one shareholder of the Company's Class A common stock whose voting rights were suspended. This shareholder owned 16.7% of the Company's outstanding shares of Class A common stock. For additional discussion, see Item 1A – "Risk Factors – As a result of protective provisions in the Company's restated certificate of incorporation, as amended, the voting power of holders of Class A common shares whose voting rights are not suspended (including officers, directors and principal shareholders) may be increased at future meetings of the Company's shareholders"

 

Dividends

 

During the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, the Company declared dividends on a quarterly basis at a rate of $0.06 per Class A share of common stock and $0.07 per Class B share of common stock totaling $3.5 million in 2023 and $3.4 million in 2022. On February 1, 2024, the Company paid a dividend to all shareholders of record at January 15, 2024 of Class A and Class B Common Stock in the total amount of $0.1 million ($0.06 per share) and $0.7 million ($0.07 per share), respectively. On February 21, 2024, Bel's Board of Directors declared a dividend in the amount of $0.06 per Class A common share and $0.07 per Class B common share which is scheduled to be paid on May 1, 2024 to all shareholders of record at April 15, 2024.  

 

There are no contractual restrictions on the Company's ability to pay dividends provided the Company is not in default under its credit agreement immediately before such payment and after giving effect to such payment. Cash dividends are payable to the holders of Class A Common Stock and Class B Common Stock only as and when declared by the Board of Directors. Subject to the foregoing, cash dividends declared on shares of Class B Common Stock in any calendar year cannot be less than 5% higher per share than the annual amount of cash dividends per share declared in such calendar year on shares of Class A Common Stock. No cash dividends may be paid on shares of Class A Common Stock unless, at the same time, cash dividends are paid on shares of Class B Common Stock, subject to the annual 5% provision described above. Cash dividends may be paid at any time or from time to time on shares of Class B Common Stock without corresponding cash dividends being paid on shares of Class A Common Stock. Nevertheless, as in the past, the respective amounts of future dividends, if any, to be declared on each class of Common Stock depends on circumstances existing at the time, including the Company's financial condition, capital requirements, earnings, legally available funds for the payment of dividends and other relevant factors and are declared at the discretion of the Company’s Board of Directors.

 

Stock Performance Graph

 

Not applicable.

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

The following table summarizes the activity related to repurchases of our equity securities during the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2023:

 

   

Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)

   

Average Price Paid per Share(1)

   

Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs

   

Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs(2)

 

October 1, 2023 – October 31, 2023

    -     $ -       -       (2)  

November 1, 2023 – November 30, 2023

    -       -       -       (2)  

December 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023

 

2,000 (Class B)(1)

      52.60 (1)     -       (2)  

Total

 

2,000 (Class B)(1)

    $ 52.60 (1)     -       (2)  

 

 

(1)

Represents 2,000 shares of Class B Common Stock that were repurchased by the Company from a former employee in connection with the sale of its Czech Republic subsidiary Bel Steward s.r.o.  The repurchase was executed in December 2023 in a privately negotiated transaction at the market price of the Class B Common Stock on the date the parties reached agreement with respect to the terms of the transaction.  

 

 

(2)

As the relevant authorization and initiation of the Company’s new Repurchase Program (as defined below) are events subsequent to the Q4-2023 reporting period, the table above reporting repurchase data for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2023 does not reflect any data or transactions relevant to the Company’s $25.0 million share repurchase program (the “Repurchase Program”) as authorized by the Company’s Board of Directors and publicly announced on February 21, 2024. The Repurchase Program authorizes the repurchase of up to $25.0 million of shares of outstanding Class A Common Stock and Class B Common Stock. The aggregate $25.0 million available for repurchases under the Repurchase Program has been suballocated for purchases of Class A shares and Class B shares in portions of $4.0 million and $21.0 million, respectively, prorated to take into account the number of outstanding shares of each respective class. Shares of Common Stock may be repurchased pursuant to the Repurchase Program in open market, privately negotiated or block transactions or otherwise from time to time, depending upon market conditions and other factors, and in accordance with applicable law and regulations. The Repurchase Program has no expiration date. The Repurchase Program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any dollar amount or number of shares, and the Repurchase Program may be suspended or terminated at any time.

22

 

Item 6.   [Reserved]

 

 

Item 7.   Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

The information in this MD&A should be read in conjunction with the Company's consolidated financial statements and the notes related thereto. The discussion of results, causes and trends should not be construed to imply any conclusion that such results, causes or trends will necessarily continue in the future. See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information" above for further information. Also, when we cross reference to a "Note," we are referring to our "Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements," unless the context indicates otherwise. All amounts and percentages are approximate due to rounding.

 

The Company has been (and is for purposes of this Form 10-K) a “smaller reporting company” under applicable SEC rules and regulations, permitting the Company to use the scaled disclosure requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies, including a reduced number of years covered by the consolidated financial statements in Item 8. As a result of the measurement of the Company’s public float as of the June 30, 2023 determination date, the Company will no longer qualify as a smaller reporting company. However, pursuant to Rule 12b-2 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, the Company is not required to reflect the change in its smaller reporting company status or comply with the non-scaled disclosure obligations until the Company’s first quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ending March 31, 2024. In accordance with applicable rules, the Company is permitted to use the scaled disclosure requirements applicable to smaller reporting companies in this Form 10-K and has elected to do so.  See the “Explanatory Note” on the cover page of this Form 10-K.

 

Overview

 

Our Company

 

We design, manufacture and market a broad array of products that power, protect and connect electronic circuits. These products are primarily used in the networking, telecommunications, computing, general industrial, high-speed data transmission, military, commercial aerospace, transportation and eMobility industries. Bel's portfolio of products also finds application in the automotive, medical, broadcasting and consumer electronics markets.  

 

We operate through three product group segments, in addition to a Corporate segment. In 2023, 49% of the Company's revenues were derived from Power Solutions and Protection, 33% from Connectivity Solutions and 18% from our Magnetic Solutions operating segment.  

 

Our operating expenses are driven principally by the cost of labor where the factories that Bel uses are located, the cost of the materials that we use and our ability to effectively and efficiently manage overhead costs. As labor and material costs vary by product line and region, any significant shift in product mix can have an associated impact on our costs of sales. Costs are recorded as incurred for all products manufactured. Such amounts are determined based upon the estimated stage of production and include labor cost and fringes and related allocations of factory overhead. Our products are manufactured at various facilities in the U.S., Mexico, India, the Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom, Slovakia and the PRC.

 

We have little visibility into the ordering habits of our customers and we can be subjected to large and unpredictable variations in demand for our products. Accordingly, we must continually recruit and train new workers to replace those lost to attrition and be able to address peaks in demand that may occur from time to time. These recruiting and training efforts and related inefficiencies, and overtime required in order to meet any increase in demand, can add volatility to the labor costs incurred by us.

 

 

  

23

 

 

Key Factors Affecting our Business

 

The Company believes the key factors affecting Bel's 2023 and/or future results include the following: 

 

 

Revenues – The Company's revenues decreased by $14.4 million, or 2.2%, in 2023 as compared to 2022. By product segment, Power Solutions and Protection sales increased by 8.9%, Connectivity Solutions sales increased by 12.6% and Magnetic Solutions sales decreased by 35.6%.   

 

 

Backlog – Our backlog of orders totaled $373.1 million at December 31, 2023, representing a decrease of $192.3 million, or 34%, from December 31, 2022. From 2022 to the 2023 year-end, the backlog for our Power Solutions and Protection products decreased by 37%, due to a reduction in demand within the networking end market and in the distribution channel. Our Magnetic Solutions backlog decreased by 69%, primarily due to reduced order volume from a large networking customer. The backlog for our Connectivity Solutions products was the same as the year-end 2022 level, as restored demand from our direct and after-market commercial aerospace customers was fully offset by reduced demand from customers in the networking and industrial end markets. 

 

 

Product Mix – Material and labor costs vary by product line and any significant shift in product mix between higher- and lower-margin product lines will have a corresponding impact on the Company’s gross margin percentage. In general, our Connectivity products have historically had the highest contribution margins due to the harsh environment, high-reliability end applications for these products. Our Power products have a higher cost bill of materials and are impacted to a greater extent by changes in material costs. As our Magnetic Solutions products are more labor intensive, margins on these products are impacted to a greater extent by minimum- and market-based wage increases in the PRC and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates between the U.S. Dollar and the Chinese renminbi. Fluctuations in sales volume among our product groups will have a corresponding impact on Bel's profit margins. See Note 14, "Segments" for profit margin information by product group.

 

 

Pricing and Availability of Materials – During 2023, while there has been some stabilization of raw materials pricing, overall our cost of materials remain elevated. Supply constraints have eased related to components that constitute raw materials in our manufacturing processes, particularly with capacitors, resistors and copper. Lead times are still above normal though suppliers are now meeting the agreed delivery deadlines with more regularity. 

 

 

Labor Costs – Labor costs as a percentage of sales fluctuate based upon our product mix, with our Magnetic Solutions segment sales comprised largely of labor-intensive ICM products. Any significant fluctuations in the exchange rates of the Chinese Renminbi versus the U.S. dollar will have an impact on labor costs within our Magnetic Solutions and Power Solutions and Protection segments. Similarly, any significant fluctuation in the exchange rate of the Mexican Peso versus the U.S. dollar will have a corresponding impact on labor costs within our Connectivity Solutions segment.  Effective January 1, 2024, the statutory minimum wage rate in Mexico was increased by 20%, impacting labor costs at our Reynosa and Cananea, Mexico factories. We estimate the additional cost associated with this increase will be approximately $1.4 million annually. Also effective January 1, 2024, minimum wage increases which went into effect at our factory in Slovakia are expected to result in approximately $0.3 million of higher labor costs at that facility in 2024 as compared to 2023. 

 

 

Inflationary Pressures – Inflationary pressures could result in higher input costs, including those related to our raw materials, labor, freight, utilities, healthcare and other expenses. Our future operating results will depend, in part, on our continued ability to manage these fluctuations through pricing actions, cost savings initiatives and sourcing decisions. 

 

 

Restructuring – During the third quarter of 2022, a series of initiatives were launched to streamline our operational footprint. Within our Magnetic Solutions group, our previously announced facility consolidation efforts in China were completed during the fourth quarter of 2023. Further, during 2023, we completed the transitions of our Tempe, Arizona and Sudbury, UK sites, moving those operations into other existing Bel facilities. The initiative related to our Connectivity site in Melbourne, Florida is substantially complete, with the final elements of the transition of these manufacturing operations to our existing site in Waseca, Minnesota scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. Aggregate annual cost savings related to the four facility consolidations announced in 2022 were estimated at $6.9 million, with full savings to be realized beginning in the first quarter of 2024. In a new restructuring initiative implemented in the fourth quarter of 2023, also within the Connectivity segment, certain manufacturing will transition from our Glen Rock, Pennsylvania facility to other existing Bel sites (the “Glen Rock initiative”) at an estimated cost to implement of $0.5 million. We anticipate estimated annualized cost savings of approximately $1.0 million in connection with the Glen Rock initiative to be realized gradually over the course of 2024. The Company will continue to review its operations to optimize the business, which may result in restructuring costs being recognized in future periods. The preceding sentences represent Forward-Looking Statements. The amounts set forth in the foregoing including anticipated restructuring costs (including severance costs), incremental capital expenditures and annualized cost savings are the Company’s current estimates based on information presently available to the Company, assumptions and circumstances as they exist in each case at the time of filing of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and are subject to change. See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

24

 

 

Impact of Foreign Currency – As further described below in this "Impact of Foreign Currency" discussion, during 2023, labor and overhead costs were less than $0.1 million higher than in 2022 due to an unfavorable foreign exchange environment involving the Mexican peso, and Euro partially offset by favorable foreign exchange fluctuation due to Chinese renminbi as compared to the prior year period. Also as described below in the discussion captioned "Inflation and Foreign Currency Exchange", the Company realized foreign exchange transactional losses of $1.4 million during 2023, due to the fluctuation of the spot rates of certain currencies in effect when translating our balance sheet accounts at December 31, 2023 versus those in effect at December 31, 2022. Since Bel is a U.S. domiciled company, our foreign currency-denominated financial results are translated into U.S. dollars. Due to the changes in the value of foreign currencies relative to the U.S. dollar, translating our financial results and the revaluation of certain intercompany as well as third-party transactions to and from foreign currencies to U.S. dollars may result in a favorable or unfavorable impact to our consolidated statements of operations and cash flows. We were favorably impacted by transactional foreign exchange gains in 2023 due to the depreciation of the Chinese Renminbi against the U.S. dollar, which was largely offset by an appreciation of the Mexican Peso against the U.S. dollar, as compared to exchange rates in effect during 2022.  We have significant manufacturing operations located in in the PRC and Mexico where labor and overhead costs are paid in local currency.  As a result, the U.S. Dollar equivalent costs of these operations were approximately $2.6 million lower in the PRC, largely offset by higher costs in Mexico of approximately $2.3 million, in 2023 as compared to 2022. The Company monitors changes in foreign currencies and has historically implemented additional foreign currency forward contracts, and may continue to implement pricing actions to help mitigate the impact that changes in foreign currencies may have on its consolidated operating results. The preceding sentence represents a Forward-Looking Statement.  See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

 

Potential Future Impacts of COVID – The Company continues to be focused on the safety and well-being of its associates around the world in light of COVID and the variants of COVID that have followed. The combination of protective measures at our factories coupled with remote work arrangements have enabled us to maintain operations, including financial reporting systems, internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures. We have not experienced a negative impact on our liquidity to date as a result of the COVID pandemic. Our balance of cash on hand and held to maturity investments in U.S. Treasury securities continues to be strong at an aggregate amount of $126.9 million at December 31, 2023 as compared to $70.3 million at December 31, 2022. The Company also has availability under its current revolving credit facility; as of December 31, 2023, the Company could borrow an additional $115 million while still being in compliance with its debt covenants. COVID remains a potential supply continuity risk due to the unknown nature of future outbreaks including potential further variants. For additional information, see Item 1A -"Risk Factors - Our global operations and demand for our products face risks related to health epidemics such as the coronavirus." Our statements regarding the potential future impact of COVID represent Forward-Looking Statements.  See “Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information.”

 

 

Effective Tax Rate – The Company's effective tax rate will fluctuate based on the geographic region in which the pretax profits are earned. Of the jurisdictions in which the Company operates, the U.S. and Europe's tax rates are generally equivalent; and Asia has the lowest tax rates of the Company's three geographic regions. See Note 10 to the Company's Consolidated Financial Statements - "Income Taxes".

 

As our focus on streamlining the organization continues its momentum with reaching material milestones achieved, we will reemphasize and dedicate our focus on top line growth. We expect 2024 to start slow, with indications of a possible rebound in the second half of the year as inventory in the supply channel normalizes. The preceding sentences represent Forward-Looking Statements.  See "Cautionary Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Information."

 

Results of Operations - Summary by Operating Segment  

 

Net Sales and Gross Margin

 

The Company's net sales and gross margin by major product line for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 were as follows (dollars in thousands):

 

   

Years Ended

 
   

December 31,

 
   

Net Sales

   

Gross Margin

 
    2023     2022     2023     2022  

Power Solutions and Protection

  $ 314,105     $ 288,366       38.1 %     30.5 %

Connectivity Solutions

    210,572       187,085       34.2 %     25.9 %

Magnetic Solutions

    115,136       178,782       22.0 %     27.6 %
    $ 639,813     $ 654,233       33.7 %     28.0 %

 

Power Solutions and Protection:

 

Sales of our Power Solutions and Protection products were higher by $25.7 million in 2023 as compared to 2022. This increase was primarily due to higher sales of our front-end power products and board mount power products of $42.7 million and $6.9 million, respectively, both of which are used in networking and datacenter applications. Further, sales of product into the eMobility end market increased by more than $7.5 million (40%) and sales of product into the rail end market increased by $7.5 million (33%) in 2023 as compared to 2022. These increases were offset in part by a reduction in sales of our CUI products of $13.7 million and a decline in sales of our circuit protection products of $9.9 million, both of which were largely impacted by the lower demand from our distribution customers. Raw material expedite fee revenue for this segment totaled $14.9 million in 2023 as compared to $32.5 million in 2022. Gross margin improved in 2023 as compared to 2022 as pricing actions, higher sales volume, favorable exchange rates with the Chinese renminbi versus the U.S. dollar, a lower volume of low-margin expedite fees and a favorable shift in product mix offset the impact of increased material costs.

 

Connectivity Solutions:

 

Sales of our Connectivity Solutions products increased by $23.5 million (12.6%) in 2023 as compared to 2022. These increases were primarily due to an increase in sales into the commercial aerospace end market of $22.2 million (71%) in 2023 as compared to 2022. Sales into our military end market also grew by $8.8 million (24%) in 2023 as compared to 2022. We also experienced an increased volume of Connectivity Solutions products sold through our distribution channels in 2023 compared to last year. These sales increases were offset in part by a decline in sales of passive connector and cabling products used in the industrial premise wiring and 5G/IOT markets of $11.0 million (29.0%) as compared to the prior year. Gross margins for the 2023 periods presented above were favorably impacted by the higher overall sales volume, pricing actions and operational efficiencies implemented during 2023, partially offset by higher wage rates in Mexico and an unfavorable fluctuation in exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and Mexican peso in 2023 as compared to 2022.

 

Magnetic Solutions:

 

Sales of our Magnetic Solutions products declined by $63.6 million during 2023 as compared to 2022. Reduced demand for our Magnetic Solutions products from our networking customers and through our distribution channels has been the primary driver as we believe these customers continue to work through inventory on hand. The lower sales volume and favorable exchange rates with the Chinese Renminbi versus the U.S. dollar, was the primary driver of gross margin reduction for this product group compared with 2022.

 

 

25

 

Cost of Sales

 

Cost of sales as a percentage of net sales for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 consisted of the following:

 

   

Years Ended

 
   

December 31,

 
   

2023

   

2022

 

Material costs

    40.8 %    

45.4

%

Labor costs

    6.6 %     8.3 %

Other expenses

    18.9 %     18.3 %

Total cost of sales

    66.3 %     72.0 %

 

Material costs as a percentage of sales during 2023 came down compared to 2022, as pricing actions helped to offset the continued heightened cost of certain raw materials. Labor costs in 2023 as a percentage of sales have decreased significantly from the 2022 periods presented due to a variety of factors, including the shift in product mix resulting in a lower consolidated percentage of sales from of our labor-intensive Magnetic products, lower labor costs in the PRC due to the favorable fluctuation in the Chinese Renminbi exchange rate versus the U.S. Dollar, and the restructuring and efficiency programs implemented throughout 2023 in our Connectivity Solutions segment. The reduction in labor costs were partially offset by the unfavorable fluctuation of the Mexican Peso exchange rate versus the U.S. Dollar in the 2023 versus the 2022.

 

The other expenses noted in the table above include fixed cost items such as support labor and fringe, depreciation and amortization, and facility costs (i.e. rent, utilities, insurance). In total, these other expenses were largely the same in 2023 as compared to 2022 as the benefits realized on cost savings initiatives were offset by higher costs from the redundant operations in China that were in place while our facility consolidation project was underway for much of 2023.

 

Research and Development ("R&D")

 

R&D expenses were $22.5 million and $20.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. The increase noted in R&D expenses during 2023 is largely due to higher salaries, benefits and product development costs. 

 

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses ("SG&A")

 

SG&A expenses were $99.1 million in 2023 as compared with $92.3 million in 2022. Within SG&A, increases in salaries and fringe benefits of $6.1 million, legal and professional fees of $2.4 million, and travel of $1.0 million were partially offset by a $1.3 million reduction in commissions to outside sales representatives, and a $1.2 million reduction in depreciation and amortization as compared to 2022.

 

26

 

Restructuring Charges

 

The Company recorded $10.1 million of restructuring charges in 2023 largely in connection with the four facility consolidation projects in the U.S., UK and PRC, as further described in "Overview - Key Factors Affecting our Business - Restructuring" above. In 2022, the Company recorded $7.3 million of restructuring charges related to these same initiatives.

 

Gain on Sale of Properties

 

During 2023, the Company recorded a gain of $3.8 million related to the sale of one of its properties in Jersey City, New Jersey. In 2022, a gain of $1.6 million was recorded in connection with the sale of a separate property in Jersey City.

 

Interest Expense

 

The Company incurred interest expense of $2.9 million in 2023 and $3.4 million in 2022 primarily due to its outstanding borrowings under the Company's credit agreement. The reduction in interest expense during 2023 related to a lower debt balance throughout 2023 as compared to 2022. See "Liquidity and Capital Resources" and Note 11, "Debt" for further information on the Company's outstanding debt.

 

Other Income/Expense, Net

 

Other income/expense, net was a net expense of $2.8 million in 2023 compared to a net expense of $2.7 million in 2022. The net expense in 2023 was comprised of a foreign exchange loss of $1.4 million, the loss on liquidation of a foreign subsidiary of $2.7 million, $0.8 million of losses associated with Bel's investment in innolectric and $0.8 million of other expense; partially offset by $1.7 million of interest income and a gain of $1.2 million related to the Company's SERP investments. The net expense in 2022 was comprised of a loss of $2.2 million in 2022 related to the Company's SERP investments and $1.0 million of other expense; partially offset by foreign exchange gains of $0.3 million and $0.2 million of interest income.

 

Income Taxes

 

The Company’s effective tax rate will fluctuate based on the geographic regions in which the pretax profits are earned. Of the jurisdictions in which the Company operates, the U.S. and Europe’s tax rates are generally equivalent; and Asia has the lowest tax rates of the Company’s three geographic regions. See Note 10, “Income Taxes.”

 

2023 as Compared to 2022

 

The provision for income taxes for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022 was $9.5 million and $6.4 million, respectively. The Company’s earnings before income taxes for the year ended December 31, 2023 were approximately $24.2 million higher as compared with the year ended December 31, 2022, primarily attributable to an increase in income in the Asia and North America regions. The Company’s effective tax rate was 11.4% and 10.8% for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. The change in the effective tax rate during the year ended December 31, 2023 as compared to fiscal year 2022 is primarily attributable to an increase in U.S. tax expense resulting from higher U.S. income, which was offset by a benefit resulting from the impact of permanent differences on U.S. activities, was well as an increase in the tax benefit relating to the reversal of uncertain tax positions resulting from the expiration of certain statute of limitations.

 

27

 

Other Tax Matters

 

The Company has a portion of its products manufactured on the mainland of the PRC where Bel is not subject to corporate income tax on manufacturing services provided by third parties. Hong Kong has a territorial tax system which imposes corporate income tax at a rate of 16.5% on income from activities solely conducted in Hong Kong. 

 

The Company holds an offshore business license from the government of Macao. With this license, a Macao offshore company named Bel Fuse (Macao Commercial Offshore) Limited has been established to handle the Company’s sales to third-party customers in Asia. Sales by this company primarily consist of products manufactured in the PRC. The Macao corporate profit taxes imposes a tax rate of 12% on income from activities solely conducted in Macao. 

 

Due to the practicality of determining the deferred taxes on outside basis differences in our investments in our foreign subsidiaries, management has not provided for deferred taxes on outside basis differences at December 31, 2023 and deemed that these basis differences will be indefinitely reinvested.

 

Inflation and Foreign Currency Exchange

 

During the past two years, we do not believe the effect of inflation was material to our consolidated financial position or our consolidated results of operations. We are exposed to market risk from changes in foreign currency exchange rates. Fluctuations of the U.S. dollar against other major currencies have not significantly affected our foreign operations as most sales continue to be denominated in U.S. dollars or currencies directly or indirectly linked to the U.S. dollar. Most significant expenses, including raw materials, labor and manufacturing expenses, are incurred primarily in U.S. dollars, Mexican pesos, or the Chinese renminbi, and to a lesser extent in British pounds, or Indian rupees. The Mexican pesos appreciated by 12%, Euro appreciated by 3%, British pound appreciated by 1%, the Indian rupee and the Chinese renminbi each depreciated by 5% versus the U.S. dollar in 2023 compared to 2022. To the extent the renminbi or peso appreciate in future periods, it could result in the Company's incurring higher costs for most expenses incurred in the PRC and Mexico. The Company periodically uses foreign currency forward contracts to manage its short-term exposures to fluctuations in operational cash flows resulting from changes in foreign currency exchange rates as further described in Note 13, "Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities". The Company's European entities, whose functional currencies are Euros and British pounds, enter into transactions which include sales that are denominated principally in Euros, British pounds and various other European currencies, and purchases that are denominated principally in U.S. dollars and British pounds. Such transactions, as well as those related to our multi-currency intercompany payable and receivable transactions, resulted in a net realized and unrealized currency exchange loss of $1.4 million in 2023 and a gain of $0.3 million in 2022 which were included in other expense, net on the consolidated statements of operations. Translation of subsidiaries' foreign currency financial statements into U.S. dollars resulted in translation adjustments, net of taxes, of $6.7 million and ($8.2) million for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively, which are included in accumulated other comprehensive loss on the consolidated balance sheets.

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

Our principal sources of liquidity include $89.4 million of cash and cash equivalents at December 31, 2023, $37.5 million of held to maturity investments in U.S. Treasury securities, cash provided by operating activities and borrowings available under our credit facility. We expect to use this liquidity for operating expenses, investments in working capital, capital expenditures, interest, taxes, dividends, debt obligations and other long-term liabilities. We believe that our current liquidity position and future cash flows from operations will enable us to fund our operations, both in the next twelve months and in the longer term.

 

28

 

Cash Flow Summary

 

During the year ended December 31, 2023, the Company's cash and cash equivalents increased by $19.1 million.  This increase was primarily due to the following:

 

  net cash provided by operating activities of $108.3 million;
  proceeds from the sale of property, plant and equipment of $6.0 million;
  proceeds from held to maturity securities of $19.9 million; and
  proceeds from the sale of our business in the Czech Republic of $5.1 million; partially offset by
    •    purchases of held to maturity and marketable securities of $60.0 million;
    •    payments for our equity method investment in innolectric of $10.3 million;
 

 

•    purchases of property, plant and equipment of $12.1 million;

 

 

•    dividend payments of $3.5 million; and

 

 

•    net repayments under our revolving credit line of $35.0 million.

 

During the year ended December 31, 2022, the Company's cash and cash equivalents increased by $8.5 million. This increase was primarily due to cash provided by operating activities of $40.3 million, and proceeds from the sale of property, plant and equipment of $1.8 million; partially offset by the purchase of property, plant and equipment of $8.8 million, dividend payments of $3.4 million, and repayments under our revolving credit line of $17.5 million. 

 

During the year ended December 31, 2023, accounts receivable decreased $22.5 million primarily due to the lower sales volume in the second half of 2023 as compared to the same period of 2022. Days sales outstanding (DSO) decreased to 55 days at December 31, 2023 from 58 days at December 31, 2022. Inventories decreased by $33.6 million from the December 31, 2022 level. Inventory turns, excluding R&D, were 3.1 times for the year ended December 31, 2023 and 2.7 times for the year ended December 31, 2022.

 

Cash and cash equivalents, held to maturity U.S. Treasury securities and accounts receivable comprised approximately 36.9% and31.7% of the Company's total assets at December 31, 2023 and December 31, 2022, respectively. The Company's current ratio (i.e., the ratio of current assets to current liabilities) was 3.4 to 1 and 2.8 to 1 at December 31, 2023 and December 31, 2022, respectively. At December 31, 2023 and 2022, $40.9 million and $50.1 million, respectively (or 46% and 71%, respectively), of cash and cash equivalents was held by foreign subsidiaries of the Company. During 2023, the Company repatriated $47.2 million of funds from outside of the U.S., with minimal incremental tax liability. We continue to analyze our global working capital and cash requirements and the potential tax liabilities attributable to further repatriation, and we have yet to make any further determination regarding repatriation of funds from outside the U.S. to fund the Company's U.S. operations in the future. In the event these funds were needed for Bel's U.S. operations, the Company would be required to accrue and pay U.S. state taxes and any applicable foreign withholding taxes to repatriate these funds.

 

 

29

 

Future Cash Requirements

 

The Company expects foreseeable liquidity and capital resource requirements to be met through its existing cash and cash equivalents, held to maturity investments in U.S. Treasury securities and anticipated cash flows from operations, as well as borrowings available under its revolving credit facility, if needed. The Company's material cash requirements arising in the normal course of business primarily include:

 

Debt Obligations and Interest Payments - The Company had $60 million outstanding under its revolving credit facility at December 31, 2023, as further described below and in Note 11, "Debt"There are no mandatory principal payments due on the credit facility borrowings during 2024. The current balance of $60 million is due upon expiration of the credit facility on September 1, 2026. Anticipated interest payments due amount to $10.7 million, of which $4.0 million is expected to be paid in 2024 based on our debt balance and interest rate in place at December 31, 2023. 

 

Lease Obligations - The Company has operating leases for its facilities used for manufacturing, research and development, sales and administration. There are also operating and finance leases related to manufacturing equipment, office equipment and vehicles. As of December 31, 2023, the Company was contractually obligated to pay future operating lease payments of $22.6 million, of which $6.7 million is expected to be paid in 2024, and future financing lease obligations of $2.1 million, of which $0.7 million is expected to be paid in 2024.  See Note 18, "Leases," for further information.  

 

Purchase Obligations - The Company submits purchase orders for raw materials to various vendors throughout the year for current production requirements, as well as forecasted requirements. Certain of these purchase orders relate to special purpose material and, as such, the Company may incur penalties if an order is cancelled. The Company had outstanding purchase orders related to raw materials in the amount of $57.7 million at December 31, 2023, of which $50.6 million is expected to be paid in 2024. The Company also had outstanding purchase orders related to capital expenditures which totaled $5.8 million at December 31, 2023, all of which is expected to be paid in 2024.

 

Pension Benefit Obligations - As further described in Note 15, "Retirement Fund and Profit Sharing Plan", the Company maintains a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan ("SERP"). At December 31, 2023, estimated future obligations under the plan amounted to $19.5 million. It is expected that the Company will pay $0.8 million in benefit payments in connection with the SERP during 2024. Included in other assets at December 31, 2023 is the cash surrender value of company-owned life insurance and marketable securities held in a rabbi trust with an aggregate value of $15.4 million, which has been designated by the Company to be utilized to fund the Company's SERP obligations.

 

Dividends - The Company has historically paid quarterly dividends on its two classes of common stock, which amounted to $3.5 million in 2023 as compared to $3.4 million in 2022. Consistent with the dividend rates declared in prior years, Bel's Board of Directors declared dividends on November 1, 2023 and again on February 21, 2024 on each of our two classes of common stock. These two quarterly payments will be made in the first half of 2024 in the total anticipated amount of $1.7 million.  

 

Share Repurchase Program - In February 2024, Bel's Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $25 million of the Company's common stock. The Repurchase Program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any dollar amount or number of shares, and the Repurchase Program may be suspended or terminated at any time. The timing and actual number of shares repurchased will depend on a variety of factors including price, market conditions, corporate and regulatory requirements and the consideration of other uses of cash including other investment opportunities.

 

Tax Payments - At December 31, 2023, we had liabilities for unrecognized tax benefits and related interest and penalties of $19.8 million, all of which is included in other liabilities on our consolidated balance sheet. At December 31, 2023, we cannot reasonably estimate the future period or periods of cash settlement of these liabilities. See Note 10, "Income Taxes", for further discussion. Also included on our consolidated balance sheet at December 31, 2023 is $2.7 million of liabilities for transition tax associated with the 2017 U.S. tax reform, of which $2.7 million is expected to be paid in 2024.

 

 

Credit Facility
 
The Company is a party to a credit agreement, as further described in Note 11, "Debt". The credit agreement contains customary representations and warranties, covenants and events of default. In addition, the credit agreement contains financial covenants that measure (i) the ratio of the Company’s total funded indebtedness, on a consolidated basis, less the aggregate amount of all unencumbered cash and cash equivalents, to the amount of the Company’s consolidated EBITDA (“Leverage Ratio”) and (ii) the ratio of the amount of the Company’s consolidated EBITDA to the Company’s consolidated fixed charges (“Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio”). If an event of default occurs, the lenders under the credit agreement would be entitled to take various actions, including the acceleration of amounts due thereunder and all actions permitted to be taken by a secured creditor. 
 
At December 31, 2023, the Company had $60 million outstanding under its credit agreement. The unused credit available under the credit facility at December 31, 2023 was $115 million, of which we had the ability to borrow the full amount without violating our Leverage Ratio covenant based on the Company's existing consolidated EBITDA. At December 31, 2023, the Company was in compliance with its debt covenants, including its most restrictive covenant, the Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio. 
 
At December 31, 2023, the Company was also a party to two pay-fixed, receive-variable interest rate swap agreements covering the full amount of its then variable interest exposure through August 2026. See Note 13, "Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities" for further details.
 

Critical Accounting Estimates

 

The Company's consolidated financial statements include certain amounts that are based on management's best estimates and judgments. The Company bases its estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions, including in some cases future projections, that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. The results of these estimates form the basis for making judgments about the carrying values of assets and liabilities that are not readily apparent from other sources. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions. Different assumptions and judgments could change the estimates used in the preparation of the consolidated financial statements, which, in turn, could change the results from those reported.  Management evaluates its estimates, assumptions and judgments on an ongoing basis.  

 

Based on the above, we have determined that our most critical accounting estimates are those related to business combinations, inventory valuation, goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets, and those related to our pension benefit obligations.

 

Business Combinations

 

In a business combination, we allocate the fair value of purchase price consideration to the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed, and any noncontrolling interest in the acquiree based on their estimated fair values. The excess of the fair value of purchase price consideration over the fair values of these identifiable assets and liabilities is recorded as goodwill. Such valuations require management to make significant estimates and assumptions, especially with respect to intangible assets. Significant estimates in valuing certain intangible assets include, but are not limited to, future expected cash flows from acquired customers or earned through the use of acquired trademarks, estimated royalty rates, acquired technology, useful lives and discount rates. Management’s estimates of fair value are based upon assumptions believed to be reasonable, but which are inherently uncertain and unpredictable and, as a result, actual results may differ from estimates.

 

Inventory Valuation

 

Inventories consist of raw materials and purchased components and are stated at the lower of cost and net realizable value. Material costs are principally determined by standard cost or the weighted moving average method, both of which approximate actual cost. The Company reduces the carrying value of its inventory for estimated obsolescence or unmarketable inventory by an amount equal to the difference between the cost of inventory and the estimated market value based on the aforementioned assumptions. Our reserve calculations are based on historical experience related to slow-moving inventory in addition to specific known concerns in the case of products going end-of-life or customer cancellations. As of December 31, 2023 and 2022, the Company had reserves for excess or obsolete inventory of $13.7 million and $14.5 million, respectively. With the recent decrease in demand for our products, our value of inventory on hand has decreased by $35.9 million from December 31, 2022 to December 31, 2023. In the event of a sudden decrease in demand for our products, or a higher incidence of inventory obsolescence, the Company could be required to increase its inventory reserve, which would have an unfavorable impact on our gross margin.

 

30

 

Goodwill

 

We use a fair value approach to test goodwill for impairment. We must recognize a non-cash impairment charge for the amount, if any, by which the carrying amount of goodwill exceeds its implied fair value. We derive an estimate of fair values for each of our reporting units using a combination of an income approach and an appropriate market approach, each based on an applicable weighting. We assess the applicable weighting based on such factors as current market conditions and the quality and reliability of the data. Absent an indication of fair value from a potential buyer or similar specific transactions, we believe that the use of these methods provides a reasonable estimate of a reporting unit's fair value.

 

Fair value computed by these methods is arrived at using a number of factors, including projected future operating results, anticipated future cash flows, effective income tax rates, comparable marketplace data within a consistent industry grouping, and the cost of capital. There are inherent uncertainties, however, related to these factors and to our judgment in applying them to this analysis. Nonetheless, we believe that the combination of these methods provides a reasonable approach to estimate the fair value of our reporting units. Assumptions for sales, net earnings and cash flows for each reporting unit were consistent among these methods.

 

Income Approach Used to Determine Fair Values

 

The income approach is based upon the present value of expected cash flows. Expected cash flows are converted to present value using factors that consider the timing and risk of the future cash flows. The estimate of cash flows used is prepared on an unleveraged debt-free basis. We use a discount rate that reflects a market-derived weighted average cost of capital. We believe that this approach is appropriate because it provides a fair value estimate based upon the reporting unit's expected long-term operating and cash flow performance. The projections are based upon our best estimates of projected economic and market conditions over the related period including growth rates, estimates of future expected changes in operating margins and cash expenditures. Other significant estimates and assumptions include terminal value long-term growth rates, provisions for income taxes, future capital expenditures and changes in future cashless, debt-free working capital.  We applied a combined weighting of 75% to the income approach when determining the fair value of our reporting units.

 

31

 

Market Approach Used to Determine Fair Values

 

The market approach estimates the fair value of the reporting unit by applying multiples of operating performance measures to the reporting unit's operating performance (the "Guideline Publicly Traded Company Method"). These multiples are derived from comparable publicly traded companies with similar investment characteristics to the reporting unit, and such comparables are reviewed and updated as needed annually. We believe that this approach is appropriate because it provides a fair value estimate using multiples from entities with operations and economic characteristics comparable to our reporting units and the Company as a whole. The key estimates and assumptions that are used to determine fair value under this market approach include current and forward 12-month operating performance results and the selection of the relevant multiples to be applied. Under the Guideline Publicly Traded Company Method, a control premium, or an amount that a buyer is usually willing to pay over the current market price of a publicly traded company, is applied to the calculated equity values to adjust the public trading value upward for a 100% ownership interest, where applicable.

 

In order to assess the reasonableness of the calculated fair values of our reporting units, we also compare the sum of the reporting units' fair values to our market capitalization and calculate an implied control premium (the excess of the sum of the reporting units' fair values over the market capitalization). We evaluate the control premium by comparing it to control premiums of recent comparable market transactions. If the implied control premium is not reasonable in light of these recent transactions, we will reevaluate our fair value estimates of the reporting units by adjusting the discount rates and/or other assumptions.

 

We applied a combined weighting of 25% to the market approach when determining the fair value of these reporting units.

 

As indicated in Note 5, "Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets", the fair value of each of our four reporting units exceeded their respective carrying values by a large margin (ranging from 71% to 169%). If market factors change and the discount rate utilized in the fair value calculation changes, it would result in a higher or lower fair value of our reporting units. The discount rates utilized in our October 1, 2023 impairment test ranged from 14.0% to 18.5%. An increase in the discount rate assumption of 50 basis points would have impacted the fair values of our reporting units, and would have reduced the excess of fair value over carrying value to a revised range of 69% to 163%. Further, if we are unable to achieve the projected revenue growth rates or margins assumed in our projections, this would also impact the fair value of our reporting units. Effective with the October 1, 2023 testing date, we changed our reporting unit structure to align with how management is currently reviewing and managing the business. Based on the testing performed, no impairment existed either under the former reporting unit structure or under the new reporting unit structure. If we were to change our reporting unit structure again or if other events and circumstances change (such as a sustained decrease in the price of our common stock, a decline in current market multiples, a significant adverse change in legal factors or business climates, an adverse action or assessment by a regulator, heightened competition, strategic decisions made in response to economic or competitive conditions or a more-likely-than-not expectation that a reporting unit or a significant portion of a reporting unit will be sold or disposed of), we may be required to record impairment charges in future periods. Any impairment charges that we may take in the future could be material to our consolidated results of operations and consolidated financial condition.

 

The Company conducted its annual goodwill impairment test as of October 1, 2023, and no impairment was identified at that time. Management has also concluded that the fair value of its goodwill exceeded the associated carrying value at December 31, 2023 and that no impairment exists as of that date. See Note 5, "Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets," for details of our goodwill balance and the goodwill review performed in 2023. We will continue to monitor goodwill on an annual basis and whenever events or changes in circumstances, such as significant adverse changes in business climate or operating results, changes in management's business strategy or significant declines in our stock price, indicate that there may be a potential indicator of impairment.

 

32

 

Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets

 

The Company tests indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment annually on October 1, or upon a triggering event, using a fair value approach, the relief-from-royalty method (a form of the income approach). The Company conducted its annual impairment tests as of October 1, 2023 and 2022, and no impairment was identified at either testing date. Management has also concluded that the fair value of its trademarks exceeds the associated carrying values at December 31, 2023 and that no impairment existed as of that date. At December 31, 2023, the Company's indefinite-lived intangible assets related solely to trademarks.

 

Pension Benefit Obligations

 

Net periodic benefit cost for the Company's SERP totaled $1.3 million in 2023 and $1.5 million in 2022. Benefit plan information for financial reporting purposes is calculated using actuarial assumptions including a discount rate for plan benefit obligations. The changes in net periodic benefit cost year-over-year are attributable to demographic changes within the plan, as well as any changes to the discount rate or the assumption around the future annual increases in compensation. The discount rate utilized for the net periodic benefit cost was 5.0% at December 31, 2023 and 2.75% at December 31, 2022. An increase in this 2023 discount rate assumption of 25 basis points would have decreased the 2023 periodic benefit cost by $0.1 million.  A decrease in this 2023 discount rate assumption of 25 basis points would have increased the 2023 periodic benefit cost by $0.2 million. The discount rate utilized for the pension benefit obligation was 4.75% at December 31, 2023 and 5.00% at December 31, 2022. An increase in this 2023 discount rate assumption of 25 basis points would have reduced the pension benefit obligation by $0.5 million at December 31, 2023. A decrease in this 2023 discount rate assumption of 25 basis points would have increased the pension benefit obligation by $0.6 million at December 31, 2023.

 

Other Matters

 

The Company believes that it has sufficient cash reserves to fund its foreseeable working capital needs. It may, however, seek to expand such resources through bank borrowings, at favorable lending rates, from time to time. If the Company were to undertake another substantial acquisition for cash, the acquisition would either be funded with cash on hand or would be financed through cash on hand and through bank borrowings or the issuance of public or private debt or equity. If the Company borrows additional money to finance acquisitions, this would further decrease the Company's ratio of earnings to fixed charges, and could further impact the Company's material restrictive covenants, depending on the size of the borrowing and the nature of the target company. Under its existing credit facility, the Company is required to obtain its lender's consent for certain additional debt financing and to comply with other covenants, including the application of specific financial ratios, which may limit the Company’s ability to pay cash dividends on its common stock and/or the amounts thereof, including to the extent that payment of any such dividend would cause noncompliance with any such financial ratio. Depending on the nature of the transaction, the Company cannot assure investors that the necessary acquisition financing would be available to it on acceptable terms, or at all, when required. If the Company issues a substantial amount of stock either as consideration in an acquisition or to finance an acquisition, such issuance may dilute existing stockholders and may take the form of capital stock having preferences over its existing common stock.

 

New Financial Accounting Standards

 

The discussion of new financial accounting standards applicable to the Company is incorporated herein by reference to Note 1, "Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies."

 

Item 7A.  Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

The Company is not required to provide the information called for by this Item as it is a "smaller reporting company," as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act, for purposes of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Item 8.     Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

See the consolidated financial statements listed in the accompanying Index to Consolidated Financial Statements for the information required by this item.

 

33

 

 

BEL FUSE INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

 

 

 

 

Financial Statements

 

Page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reports of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (Grant Thornton LLP, Iselin, New Jersey, PCAOB #248)

 

35

 

    

Consolidated Balance Sheets - December 31, 2023 and 2022

 

39

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Operations for the Two Years Ended December 31, 2023

 

40

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the Two Years Ended December 31, 2023

 

41

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Stockholders' Equity for the Two Years Ended December 31, 2023

 

42

 

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Two Years Ended December 31, 2023

 

43

 

 

 

 

 

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

 

45

 

 

34

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

 

 

Board of Directors and Shareholders

Bel Fuse Inc.

 

Opinion on the financial statements

 

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Bel Fuse Inc. (a New Jersey corporation) and subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the two years in the period ended December 31, 2023, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the “financial statements”). In our opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the two years in the period ended December 31, 2023, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

 

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”), the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2023, based on criteria established in the 2013 Internal ControlIntegrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (“COSO”), and our report dated March 11, 2024 expressed an unqualified opinion.

 

Basis for opinion

 

These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audits. 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 audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

 

 

35

 

Critical audit matter

 

Critical audit matters are matters arising from the current period audit of the financial statements that were communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that: (1) relate to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements and (2) involved our especially challenging, subjective, or complex judgements. We determined that there are no critical audit matters.

 

/s/ GRANT THORNTON LLP

 

We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2021.

 

Iselin, New Jersey

March 11, 2024

 

36

 

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

Board of Directors and Shareholders

Bel Fuse Inc.

 

Opinion on internal control over financial reporting

 

We have audited the internal control over financial reporting of Bel Fuse Inc. (a New Jersey corporation) and subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2023, based on criteria established in the 2013 Internal ControlIntegrated Framework 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, 2023, based on criteria established in the 2013 Internal ControlIntegrated Framework issued by COSO.

 

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”), the consolidated financial statements of the Company as of and for the year ended December 31, 2023, and our report dated March 11, 2024 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.

 

37

 

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/ GRANT THORNTON LLP

 

Iselin, New Jersey
March 11, 2024

 

 

38

 

 

BEL FUSE INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(dollars in thousands, except share and per share data)

 

  

December 31,

  

December 31,

 
  

2023

  

2022

 
         

ASSETS

        

Current assets:

        

Cash and cash equivalents

 $89,371  $70,266 

Held to maturity U.S. Treasury securities

  37,548   - 

Accounts receivable, net of allowance of $1,388 and $1,552, at December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively

  84,129   107,274 

Inventories

  136,540   172,465 

Unbilled receivables

  12,793   18,244 

Other current assets

  21,097   13,159 

Total current assets

  381,478   381,408 
         

Property, plant and equipment, net

  36,533   36,833 

Right-of-use assets

  20,481   21,551 

Related-party note receivable

  2,152   - 

Equity method investment

  10,282   - 

Intangible assets, net

  49,391   54,111 

Goodwill, net

  26,642   25,099 

Deferred income taxes

  11,553   7,281 

Other assets

  33,119   34,183 

Total assets

 $571,631  $560,466 
         

LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY

        

Current liabilities:

        

Accounts payable

 $40,441  $64,589 

Accrued expenses

  54,657   50,873 

Operating lease liability, current

  6,350   5,870 

Other current liabilities

  9,161   14,972 

Total current liabilities

  110,609   136,304 
         

Long-term liabilities:

        

Long-term debt

  60,000   95,000 

Operating lease liability, long-term

  14,212   15,742 

Liability for uncertain tax positions

  19,823   24,798 

Minimum pension obligation and unfunded pension liability

  19,876   18,522 

Deferred income taxes

  1,456   1,257 

Other long-term liabilities

  5,097   6,497 

Total liabilities

  231,073   298,120 
         

Commitments and contingencies (see Note 19)

          
         

Stockholders' equity:

        

Preferred stock, no par value, 1,000,000 shares authorized; none issued

  -   - 

Class A common stock, par value $.10 per share, 10,000,000 shares authorized; 2,141,589 shares outstanding at each date (net of 1,072,769 restricted treasury shares)

  214   214 

Class B common stock, par value $.10 per share, 30,000,000 shares authorized; 10,620,260 shares and 10,642,760 shares outstanding at December 31, 2023 and December 31, 2022, respectively (net of 3,218,307 restricted treasury shares)

  1,065   1,067 

Treasury stock (unrestricted, consisting of 3,323 Class A shares and 17,342 Class B shares)

  (454)  (349)

Additional paid-in capital

  44,260   40,772 

Retained earnings

  307,510   237,188 

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

  (12,037)  (16,546)

Total stockholders' equity

  340,558   262,346 

Total liabilities and stockholders' equity

 $571,631  $560,466 

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

39

 

 

BEL FUSE INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

(in thousands, except per share data)

 

   

Years Ended December 31,

 
   

2023

   

2022

 
                 
                 

Net sales

  $ 639,813     $ 654,233  

Cost of sales

    423,964       470,780  

Gross profit

    215,849       183,453  
                 

Research and development costs

    22,487       20,238  

Selling, general and administrative expenses

    99,091       92,342  

Restructuring charges

    10,114       7,322  

Gain on sale of properties

    (3,819 )     (1,596 )

Income from operations

    87,976       65,147  
                 

Gain on sale of Czech Republic business

    980       -  

Interest expense

    (2,850 )     (3,379 )

Other income/expense, net

    (2,806 )     (2,709 )

Earnings before provision for income taxes

    83,300       59,059  
                 

Provision for income taxes

    9,469       6,370  

Net earnings available to common shareholders

  $ 73,831     $ 52,689  
                 
                 

Net earnings per common share:

               

Class A common shares - basic and diluted

  $ 5.52     $ 4.01  

Class B common shares - basic and diluted

  $ 5.83     $ 4.24  
                 

Weighted-average shares outstanding:

               

Class A common shares - basic and diluted

    2,142       2,143  

Class B common shares - basic and diluted

    10,634       10,394  

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

40

 

 

BEL FUSE INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

(dollars in thousands)

 

  

Years Ended December 31,

 
  

2023

  

2022

 
         
         

Net earnings

 $73,831  $52,689 
         

Other comprehensive income:

        

Currency translation adjustment, net of taxes of ($93) and ($47)

  6,684   (8,196)

Unrealized (losses) gains on interest rate swap cash flow hedge, net of taxes of $0 in both periods

  (1,579)  5,655 

Unrealized holding gains (losses) on marketable securities arising during the period, net of taxes of $0 in both periods

  1   (11)

Change in unfunded SERP liability, net of taxes of ($161) and ($1,381)

  (597)  4,869 

Other comprehensive income

  4,509   2,317 

Comprehensive income

 $78,340  $55,006 

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

41

 

 

 

BEL FUSE INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY

(dollars in thousands)

 

 

          

Accumulated

                 
          

Other

  

Class A

  

Class B

      

Additional

 
      

Retained

  

Comprehensive

  

Common

  

Common

  

Treasury

  

Paid-In

 
  

Total

  

Earnings

  

(Loss) Income

  

Stock

  

Stock

  

Stock

  

Capital

 
                             

Balance at December 31, 2021

 $208,743  $187,935  $(18,863) $214  $1,038  $-  $38,419 

Net earnings

  52,689   52,689   -   -   -   -   - 

Dividends declared:

                            

Class A Common Stock, $0.24/share

  (514)  (514)  -   -   -   -   - 

Class B Common Stock, $0.28/share

  (2,922)  (2,922)  -   -   -   -   - 

Issuance of restricted common stock

  -   -   -   -   33   -   (33)

Forfeiture of restricted common stock

  -   -   -   -   (4)  -   4 

Repurchase of treasury stock

  (349)  -   -   -   -   (349)  - 

Foreign currency translation adjustment, net of taxes of ($47)

  (8,196)  -   (8,196)  -   -   -   - 

Unrealized gains on interest rate swap cash flow hedge, net of taxes of $0

  5,655   -   5,655   -   -   -   - 

Unrealized holding losses on marketable securities, net of taxes of $0

  (11)  -   (11)  -   -   -   - 

Stock-based compensation expense

  2,382   -   -   -   -   -   2,382 

Change in unfunded SERP liability, net of taxes of ($1,381)

  4,869   -   4,869   -   -   -   - 

Balance at December 31, 2022

  262,346   237,188   (16,546)  214   1,067   (349)  40,772 
                             

Net earnings

  73,831   73,831   -   -   -   -   - 

Dividends declared:

                            

Class A Common Stock, $0.24/share

  (512)  (512)  -   -   -   -   - 

Class B Common Stock, $0.28/share

  (2,997)  (2,997)  -   -   -   -   - 

Issuance of restricted common stock

  -   -   -   -   1   -   (1)

Forfeiture of restricted common stock