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Lithium Technology Corp. (LTHU.PK)

The Wall Street Analyst Forum

August 15, 2007 10:30 am ET

Executives

Klaus Brandt - CEO

Amir Elbaz - CFO

Presentation

Moderator

Okay. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen or good morning still. In our ongoing attempt to adhere to the public schedule, I’d like to introduce the next company in this program. Lithium Technology Corporation, if I have my facts right, has only presented in two analyst conferences. Ours was the first six months ago and this is the second that they have presented in.

I guess I point that out to you because it sort of reflects Lithium Technology’s space in general, having spent a lot of time studying the space, although I am not a full-time analyst. The applications for Lithium Technology are enormous on a commercial and consumer basis. And there have not been any publicly traded companies that are purely focused on this space; this is one of those companies.

And so I think it’s one of the industries, it’s a chart earlier on from (inaudible) show did not have public money and private money going into solar and bio-fuels and it was really disproportionate. And I think Lithium Technology space, as well as some other spaces like waste to energy, there are a couple of spaces where the applications are extraordinary and the technology is either present or soon to be present and I am a little shocked as it hasn’t got as much interest from the sell side. I attribute it cynically to the investment banking dollars the investment banks, perhaps, are making from it. But that’s not to say that you are not going to hear a lot more about these segments in the next couple of years, one way or the other. I think you’re clearly going to, and this is one of those companies and this is a space that’s been attracting tremendous headlines just in the last couple of weeks between Toyota announcements and General Motors announcements and so forth. So it’s been very active just in the last few weeks.

In any case, I will let the company speak for itself. The Lithium Technology Corporation is a global provider of large-format rechargeable power solutions for diverse applications, and offers the largest lithium-ion cells with the highest power with any standard commercial lithium-ion cell produced in the western hemisphere, with more than 30 years of experience. LTC leverages its extensive expertise, and high power and large battery assemblies to commercialize advanced lithium batteries as a new power source in the military and national security systems, transportation and stationary power markets.

LTC manufactures the GAIA product line of large, high-powered hermetically sealed rechargeable lithium-ion cells and batteries. The company's product portfolio includes large cells and batteries from 10 times the capacity of a standard laptop computer battery to 100,000 times greater. LTC manufactures a variety of standard cells that are assembled into custom large batteries complete with electronics, battery management systems and electronics to communicate with other components of the system for performance monitoring.

LTC headquarters are located in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania and research and development in Nordhausen, Germany. LTC sales in the U.S. and the European markets are managed out of each of the offices.

So, without any further introduction I would like to introduce the senior management team. We have both the Chief Executive Officer, as well as the Chief Financial Officer of the company.

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Klaus Brandt

Gerry, thank you very much for the introduction. I would like to introduce myself. My name is Klaus Brandt, I am the Chief Executive Officer of LTC, and I would like to take the next 25 to 30 minutes to tell you more about our company.

First, I would like to give you an overview of the company and its operations. We have two locations as Gerry already mentioned, the U.S. operations of LTC are in Plymouth Meeting close to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That is our corporate headquarters; from there we develop our product materials based on U.S. government and military contracts. This part of R&D is done in Plymouth Meeting as well. That is also the headquarters for the sales in the U.S., and we also build batteries there to get the understanding, more often to distinguish between batteries and cells.

Cells are the individual electro-chemical units that in the end provide the power, but they have a limited voltage. If you want higher voltage, higher power, you take a number of cells and interconnect them electrically. For example, in your car battery and in your starter battery, there are six of those electro-chemical cells connected to make a battery. So we also produce batteries at LTC in Plymouth Meeting from cells which are being shipped from Germany.

We also produce -- you will see more of that later -- what we call flat cells. Those are cells that don't have a cylindrical format, but are flat and have a prismatic format. The European operations are in Nordhausen, which is in the geographic center of Germany. There, we also have R&D working on European development contracts. Our German sales and also all of the European sales are done out of Nordhausen. There, we have commercial production of cylindrical cells. That is then also used in Nordhausen as a basis for building batteries for specific applications.

This gives you an impression of the scale of production in both facilities. At this point in time, we have a total of 82 employees. The majority of them are in Germany. Of the two facilities, the German one is the larger one, with about 120,000 square feet of manufacturing office space; the one in Plymouth Meeting is about 13,000 square feet.

The products in both facilities, as I mentioned before, are custom-engineered batteries engineered towards specifications of an application and the customer. The development contracts, as I mentioned before, are in both facilities and cylindrical cells are made in Nordhausen. That’s the picture that you see there, from the production line in Nordhausen.

The cylindrical cells are produced in a number of standardized sizes. The smallest one we make is 7.5 amp per hour, the largest one is 500 amp per hour. To give you sort of a sense of the scale, a typical cell that's used to power a laptop is about 2 amp per hour. So, as was mentioned before, we specialize in large cylindrical and large flat cells, not the type that power a laptop or the type that power a cell phone.

Let me say a bit about our technology. This LTC is focused on a single technology called lithium-ion. Lithium-ion is a relatively new technology in the battery world. Its commercial production started about 15 years ago, and the initial applications were in the photographic market, in laptops and in cell phones. And there, they have displaced all previous battery technologies.

We now talk about larger batteries, for example starter batteries in cars and even larger. The main competitor was its technology, two older technologies. The oldest one is the lead acid battery technology, which most of you know is the starter battery for your car, and nickel metal hydride technology. Lead acid technology is sort of the benchmark for large batteries. And in this table we have used it as such; so we compare certain features based on the benchmark lead acid’s performance to one.

Nickel metal hydride is a technology in commercial production for about 25 years, and it's, for example, used in today’s hybrid electric vehicles as a propulsion battery, for example in the Toyota Prius.

If you compare certain technical features of these battery systems to lead acid, there are two important electrical features. One is how much energy you can store through either unit weight or unit volume, and how much power you can withdraw from a battery for a unit weight or volume.

Maybe for some of you, to clarify the difference between energy and power, think of the analogy of a car. The energy actually to operate the car comes from the gas tank and the size of the gas tank basically determines how far you can drive, so in a car energy is close range. The power to propel the car actually comes from the motor, so the bigger the motor, the more powerful the motor, the more the acceleration, and you get more speed.

So, as far as energy per weight is concerned, lithium-ion is far superior to lead acid and also beats clearly nickel metal hydride. It is also possible, which is relative for new development, as far as power is concerned, to deliver per weight and volume more power than both lead acid and nickel metal hydride.

Another important feature for batteries is how quickly you can replenish the energy you took out from them, how quickly you can charge it. And again, lithium-ion shows a very fast rate to recharge, which means, again -- just keeping the analogy with, for example electric vehicles -- this means how quickly you can recharge your vehicle to drive further on the battery.

And another important feature is heat generation. If you store a lot of energy in a small space and demand a lot of power from it, you will have waste heat, because the conversion is never 100% efficient. The lower the waste heat, the less issues you have with cooling, the less issues that you have with the life of the batteries. Again, lithium-ion, in general, is very good in heat -- in being low on heat generation.

Operational temperature range is important for how insensitive the battery is to the environment. Again, lithium-ion here provides a very wide range of operation. Battery complexity is also a very important point. That means in order to achieve the performance demand from the batteries, how many individual cells you have to take to make the battery. And because of the high voltage and high energy content of lithium-ion, again you have a lower complexity because you need a smaller number of cells to achieve the same performance.

This was a comparison of technologies that are commonly known. What is LTC's unique proposition in this field? First, I should emphasize that LTC is a company that has developed and is now manufacturing batteries with large depths of manufacturing. We start from raw-materials, make our own electrodes, our own cells, our own batteries. We have a proprietary design for the electro-chemical unit, the cell, which guarantees a low internal resistance, which allows for high power output, and as I mentioned before, for rapid charging and limited heat generation.

The manufacturing process for the electrodes which we use in our cells is also unique. We, instead of a wet coating process that’s commonly used in this industry, we use an extrusion process that has lower costs than the coating process. It allows easier scalability from the research stage to the pilot stage to full scale manufacturing and, therefore, gives us, kind of a lower cost in the end the opportunity for higher margins. What is also important, especially if you think of the overall environmental impact of manufacturing, is that this process is very environmentally friendly. It does not use volatile organic solvents, which have to be used in the standard electro-fabrication processes.

As was mentioned before, we have been in this business for quite a long time and we, over the years, have had 54 patents issued that protect, bolster products and the process of manufacturing, and have about 39 more applications pending.

Let me tell you a bit more about our products. As I mentioned before, our cylindrical cells are the building block for our batteries. They have a wide-ranging range and sizes from about 7.5 amp per hours to 500 amp per hours. To give you a sense of scale, a 500 amp per hour cell is nearly as to take it as a waste paper basket. We have developed two lines of products. They differentiate themselves in how fast they can deliver the energy that is stored in them. So, the first product line is -- we call it the high energy product line. Its basic feature is that it maximizes in its design the amount of energy you can store in the given space in the cell. It has a modest capability to deliver power. Again if I go to technology of hybrid electric vehicles, this would be the ideal battery for an electric vehicle because it would give you a lot of range because energy equals range.

The High Power and Ultra High Power series are focusing on delivering out of the smallest possible space the highest amount of electrical power. So, they are capable of delivering many kilowatt-hours in a small space. Based on these cells, we have developed a large variety of battery packs for a number of applications and for a number of customers, up to voltages of 600 volts. I will show you later some examples of those.

These battery packs also contain an Intelligent Battery Management System. That is required from a point of view of safety life but also has some important additional features for the user.

Let's go back a little bit to the difference between energy and power. This is more of a standard way in the battery industry to compare different battery systems with each other. The way this is done, what is plotted on the horizontal axis is the amount of power as best it wants that can be delivered per kilogram of battery weight.

On the vertical axis, the energy expressed in watt hours is given from a standardized per battery weight. So, if you go to the origin at zero watts per kilogram, go up specific energy, this tells you the total energy content of battery systems. All battery systems will deliver less and less energy, in total the more power you demand. So all this [growth] will slowly go down as there is increasing power demand.

You compare now the LTC brand, Lithium-Ion High Energy and High Power batteries, first within cells, you see that the high energy system has the highest energy content per weight, but it drops after the high power version, when you increase the power demand.

The high power version starts as a lower energy content, but it is able to deliver this energy even at very high power demands. So, the two products cross over. Again going to the comparison of applications, the high energy version is the ideal battery for an electric vehicle -- the high power version for hybrid electric vehicles where power is needed for the acceleration.

To compare that to the other systems you see the results which we already talked about in the table that lithium-ion is superior in energy content to the older technologies, but also if you look at the high-power version of lithium-ion, it is also superior in delivering a maximum amount of power per weight.

Lithium-ion is like the chameleon. It comes in very many flavors, speak very different chemistries. Other than lead acid or nickel metal hydride, there are many basic chemistries you can choose from to develop a lithium-ion battery. One of these chemistries is called the iron phosphate chemistry.

This chemistry is relatively new. It's not the chemistry that's being used in commercial applications like laptops and cell phones. It has been specifically developed for large batteries especially in view of the hybrid electric vehicle. And we initially, the cells were developed in small format. So, we were as we believe the first ones to introduce this chemistry to the large high energy, high power batteries that are used for example to power a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

We have developed a battery that has a 7-kilowatt hour capacity. Again in relation -- the typical hybrid vehicle battery in the conventional nickel metal-hydride technology has an energy content between 1 and 2-kilowatt hours. So, this is a larger battery giving you a larger range and then enabling you to have a so-called plug-in hybrid, as it's a hybrid vehicle that can drive a reasonable range on electricity alone and can be recharged from a normal power outlet. We have shown this battery as the power source for a Toyota Hybrid, which was converted into a plug-in hybrid using our lithium-ion battery.

As I said before, one of the elements of large lithium-ion batteries and also small ones is the so-called battery management system. The battery management system has a number of functions, which both protect the battery from abuse from the outside, for example from a short circuit, as well as manage the individual cells within the battery to guarantee a long battery life, but also to provide the management system of the application. For example, the vehicle management system, whose information it uses to then make the maximum use out of the battery, and which also gives the user information about the state of charge of the battery.

So, our core expertise is really based on offering, being able to offer large cells based on lithium-ion technology that can deliver very high electrical power per weight. Our expertise is to be able to build very large batteries that have large energy content for some applications I'll show you later, which are even much larger than an electric vehicle. And also our expertise is that we are working closely with our customers to custom design our batteries to make the best use of their capabilities and applications.

Let me give you some of our target markets. Our targets markets are military and national security. There the focus is on the high performance that we can deliver with our battery, much less on price. Our other focus is transportation like hybrid electric vehicles. There it's not only the passenger vehicles, but a lot of work we are doing right now is focusing on either niche market or commercial vehicles like delivery trucks or taxis and also on military vehicles.

And potentially in the long run, the largest market for this application is stationary power; in the shorter term, emergency power backup; while in the mid-to-long-term, storing energy generated by alternative energy sources, may it be wind or solar.

These are some examples of the engineered solutions. These are examples out of the transportation sector. These are various batteries both for commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles. This is an example out of the military or aerospace region. Here you see a robot that was designed by NASA as a repair robot for solar panels on satellites, and the robot is powered by our batteries. This is actually also, I am proud to say, something that was done fairly early on and has been a repeat business.

This is an example of various assembly stages of a large battery, an 8.1 kilowatt hour battery that has gone into a plug-in hybrid in Great Britain. You see here clearly how these cylindrical cells are connected together to form the battery, and you also see the electronics that goes with the battery. In the end, we end up with the case with cables coming out plus and minus for the power and connections to deliver information from the battery management system.

Another application, which is also very interesting as you know and I think you’ve heard already today, fuel cell technologies, which is also being seen as one of the future possibilities to power, to covert chemistry into electrical power. Fuel cells also in the end are little engines that, to be used optimally, require a battery. So this is an example of a fuel cell powered bus, which is a hybrid between a fuse and the battery and it’s our power batteries in this, developed by a German Research Institute called the Fraunhofer Institute.

Another application, this is a company that makes security robots for commercial use. These robots have a number of the functionalities, but they are all powered by lithium-ion batteries provided by Lithium Technology.

For example, for one of the larger batteries, this is a rack-mounted battery of 600 volts or about 15 kilowatt hours, so several times as big as you would have in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. This was a military application's battery that is capable of extremely high power pulses.

Where do we see the largest growth opportunities for our markets? Military is certainly a market where we are already very present, and we also see important growth opportunities. To give an example, we have a development contract for a German company called Thyssen-Krupp. Thyssen-Krupp is the world’s largest builder of non-nuclear submarines and we are developing for them a battery which is the main proportion battery of a submarine. So, we are not talking kilowatt hours any more, but thousands of kilowatt hours, megawatt hours. The battery for the submarine is bigger than this room. And its value is probably in the neighborhood of EUR5 million to EUR10 million for a single battery.

We have had a Phase I project, which was the development of the technology for the cell. Now we are in Phase II. We go from cell level to the module level; in the end we will go to the battery level. As I said before, the value of these batteries is very substantial. We develop together with Thyssen-Krupp a marketing plan, business plan for this sub section of the military market and two submarine batteries per year, which represents a sales volume of roughly EUR20 million.

.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles are also a huge growth potential. Here is an example. A year ago we demonstrated together with a British company called Zytek, the full hybrid that's also plug-in hybrid. You can see the picture at the lower left corner, where the vehicle batteries are recharged from a power outlet.

With full electric vehicles -- our experience there has been with the Dutch company called [Enosis] Engineering. They took a normal vehicle, normally propelled with internal combustion engine and converted into a full electric vehicle. The battery there has an energy content of 25 kilowatt-hours and weighs about 200 kilograms; it gives the vehicle an electric range of 160 miles, so more than your average computer needs.

As I said before, the field of renewable energy is of great interest to us. Here you see a battery that is used in wind generators to provide the power to adjust the pitch of the blades of the wind generators. This function is battery powered so that in case of emergency when the main power fails you still have time to turn the blades to a neutral position, so that the wind does not spin the rotator fast and destroy it.

In summary, our expertise is large format, high power lithium-ion batteries engineered specifically and optimized for a number of applications. We have a very high power capability. We have very respectable energy storage capability per weight and per volume. And we have very large cells, up to an energy content of nearly two kilowatt hours per cell, which allows us to economically build very large batteries.

Right now, our customers are both in the military transportation and stationary market. We have delivered batteries, large batteries up to a voltage of 600 volts. We have identified a number of key applications in our key markets, both for hybrid electric vehicles, military applications, and renewable energy generation, wind and solar.

We started to deliver our first batteries to customers about three, four years ago. Since then, we have steadily increased our production volume and with it sales and revenues. For example, we continue to invest into Nordhausen and have doubled our capacity there within the last twelve months.

I would like to close here. Thank you for your attention and I think there is now time for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Audience Member

Can you very briefly characterize the financial performance, balance sheet and income statement?

Amir Elbaz

We are in --

Klaus Brandt

I'm sorry. I should repeat the question to understand. The question was, can I very briefly characterize our financial performance, balance sheet, cash flow and so on? I would like to give the question to our Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Amir Elbaz.

Amir Elbaz

Well, about October of last year, we had to dismiss our accountants and after we did this, they pulled their signature. Since then, we reported our statements. We will refrain from answering this. We will in the next month, or at the latest two, get back with all the financial statements. If you follow our recent 8-Ks and filings, through that you'll see that we are either refinancing basically in the last 10 months -- you read something like north of $26 million. We retired a lot of debt. We are in a process of completely restructuring the balance sheet. We have very limited debt left, but it will be published. We don't want to get into these details right now.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Well, we comply with, except for some sections relevant to small companies. I mean we comply with all the requirements of SEC regulations.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

I know, I answered, my answer is still valid. We are not complying with all the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley to the large issuers, but for smaller issuers we are complying with Sarbanes-Oxley. We are taking steps to improve and comply with all of these. We are a small company, so Sarbanes-Oxley -- some say it might be changed and modified to fit small issuers like ourselves not to have the added costs associated with complying with all of their requirements to Sarbanes-Oxley.

Unidentified Audience Member

Where the stock trades now?

Amir Elbaz

The stock trades right now at -- to my best knowledge, this morning opened on $0.12, but I don't want to comment on the valuation. I'll just say, hey you people go out there to the market and see exactly what others have--.

Unidentified Audience Member

How much is it trading at?

Amir Elbaz

$0.12.

Unidentified Audience Member

Is it pink sheet or…?

Amir Elbaz

A pink sheet, because we -- we were approving both, but once we were --

Unidentified Audience Member

Not complying?

Amir Elbaz

Exactly. We were de-listed but we have the plans to be current shortly on our financials and then go to a reputable trading house.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Right now, $422 million.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Correct, yes.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Klaus Brandt

That depends very much on what the customer needs. Right now, our main business is customized batteries. The cells that, for example, go into aerospace applications are -- not all cells are carefully built, but they have to comply with specific requirements for aerospace. So, they are a lot more expensive than batteries that go into land application. So, the price varies widely. If you compare to price per kilowatt hour, then in the aerospace region, the price per kilowatt hour is in the region of $2,000 to $10,000. And for the other applications, it's closer to $1,000 to $2,000 per kilowatt hour.

Amir Elbaz

Well, price is basically a function of how much you manufacture. And when Klaus helped to found the first lithium company -- rechargeable company in the world, Moli Energy, 30 years ago, the price of the lithium cell phone battery was $500, but that was a while ago. And as you manufacture, basically the cost, according to the scale, is getting into a factor. Today there is a premium, half the premium relative to the [other day]. If lead acid, you can find $0.10 per watt hour, we are at the range of $2, but for specific applications, you cannot use the other technology. Hybrids cannot run on lead acid.

Here are a few points just to make it very understandable. The voltage of a hybrid car will run between 200 volts and 400 volts. It depends on the size of the car. If it's a pick-up truck and it needs a lot of power, so 400; but if it's a regular sedan, previously it was 200 volts. So if you do the average, you'll need at least 50 cells connected in a series to get this voltage. So we are not talking about small batteries. Now there are companies out there doing electrical vehicles, like Tesla, where they are connecting about 7,000 small cells.

Now you can do a positive out of 7,000 pieces or you can do out of 70. So the complexity which we touched is extremely important, especially if you want to get to the safety, because if you want to monitor each individual cell, you cannot do it on 7,000, but then when you have 70 basically our cells are monitored individually. So it's for the health of the battery, but also for the health of the drivers. So, there is a lot of energy stored. And we focus on a limited number of cells. We basically have about eight, which we put together to build the different batteries.

And some of the pictures you saw, especially in the vehicles, no names. We are bound by confidentiality, but some of them were one of the top producers of the car companies, and for other cars, it will be very easy to throw 60 names that we sell through, but you can't, at least we can’t.

The market is changing. If you follow the market for batteries, especially in the last year, it's becoming the focus, and I believe Gerry just mentioned that about Toyota they were trying to get into lithium. It's not that simple. Even if you are big as Toyota, it's not that simple. And we believe that we master that technology in a way that some of our clients -- that we can say are Lockheed Martin, which we went through a very long quality assurance process with to make sure that these cells would perform the way they should when they go to space. Yes sir.

Unidentified Audience Member

What is the so-called run rate? You know what I mean by that and also when do you think it's reasonable to expect profitability?

Amir Elbaz

Management, we believe that we'll be profitable within mid-next year.

Unidentified Audience Member

Within what?

Amir Elbaz

Mid-2008. We actually manufacture and we have clients, so just if you are wondering…

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

I don't want to get exactly into the figures, because as I said we will be more freely able to do it once we are current. We are again, as you know, regulation FD and all the requirements of the SEC I have given information -- it is available to all shareholders. But sales will be in the range close to $15 million to $20 million a year.

Unidentified Audience Member

That's most of the customized battery?

Amir Elbaz

Correct. We are not putting in our business plan that we will sell to General Motors or to other companies within a year or two or three. The niche market that Klaus mentioned -- there is a lot of power requirement. Each of the old cars are eating more and more electricity every year and this lead acid very soon will stop to be sufficient and they'll need different technology. Weight is really a factor also, so you have to put more power and less space. Yes sir.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

I said cash flow, you said cash flow from operation will be positive.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Mid, yes.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Basically, we will not give the backlog information and everything, but I can tell you that whatever we manufacture we sell. Our limiting factor is basically production and that's why we are making all these efforts to increase production. Clients are out there and especially if we lower the price, the potential market will increase substantially. Right now, we are serving all these cells that are mostly in the defense.

Klaus made a comment -- he said the defense contractors are more interested in performance and the time that you will deliver. Now product development, because we have the standard cells which are the building blocks of our batteries, is basically designing the battery and doing some software modification and then assembly. Well, it's a function of labor.

Unidentified Audience Member

(Question Inaudible)

Amir Elbaz

Well, I won't give this information to our competitors, there will be -- I will just talk in factors that right now we -- by mid-2008, we hope to get to a factor like triple our capacity. We already purchased the equipment, now it's already being put together in Nordhausen, Germany.

Unidentified Audience Member

Thank you very much.

Amir Elbaz

Thank you.

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