Lightbridge Announces 2012 And Fourth Quarter Business Update And Financial Results

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MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lightbridge Corporation (Nasdaq:LTBR), a leading innovator of next generation nuclear fuel designs and provider of nuclear energy consulting services to commercial and governmental organizations, today provided a business update on the progress of its nuclear fuel technology and consulting operations and reported financial results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2012.

"Lightbridge advanced strategically and tactically on every business front in 2012," said Seth Grae, President and Chief Executive Officer. "The stage is set for continued achievement in 2013 because of the compelling value of our patented fuel technology and proven expertise of our consulting services. Lightbridge is well positioned as global recognition grows of nuclear energy as a source of long-term, efficient, base-load and carbon-free electric power."

Lightbridge is developing and commercializing next generation nuclear fuel technology with benefits of increasing power output of existing and new reactors, reducing nuclear waste, improving safety and enhancing proliferation resistance of spent fuel. Lightbridge's comprehensive advisory services are helping existing clients with on-time and on-budget development and regulation of nuclear power plants to expand electricity generation capabilities.

2012 Business Update

Fuel Technology

"We made measureable progress and achieved strategic milestones in 2012 toward commercialization of our fuel technology," Grae said.
  • In late 2012, an independent analysis of the Company's fuel design validated the technology's benefits of increased power output and enhanced operating economics for nuclear utilities. "The study by Siemens Industry, Inc. shows that Lightbridge's metallic fuel can deliver significantly improved economics to nuclear utilities from increased power output and extended fuel cycles, resulting in highly attractive returns on invested capital, even with conservative assumptions on reactor conversion and regulatory licensing costs, and fuel technology licensing fees paid to Lightbridge," Grae said. "The economics for a 10% power uprate case are quite favorable across both regulated and unregulated utility markets and provide the cheapest source of incremental generating capacity compared to building a new nuclear or non-nuclear power plant."  
  • A peer-reviewed article on Lightbridge metallic fuel technology was published in the December 2012 edition of the American Nuclear Society journal Nuclear Technology . An abstract of the article is available at . "The article's publication provides further validation of Lightbridge fuel technology at an important stage in Company negotiations on fuel fabrication for the planned irradiation testing at research reactors in Russia and the U.S.," Grae said.  
  • Negotiations began in 2012 with fuel fabrication partners relating to Lightbridge metal fuel fabrication process development and demonstration work in the United States. These negotiations are expected to conclude in 2013. "Having our fuel fabricated in the U.S. would streamline production for a major segment of the fuel's addressable market," Grae said.  
  • Lightbridge secured preliminary approval from Rosatom relating to fabrication of Lightbridge-designed metallic fuel samples for irradiation testing in the MIR research reactor in Dimitrovgrad, Russia, and the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory in the United States. As part of this process, the Russian fuel fabricator TVEL designated MSZ Electrostal as the facility for fabricating Lightbridge-designed fuel samples. "We are currently in commercial discussions with TVEL and MSZ Electrostal relating to fabrication of these fuel samples," Grae said. "We expect these discussions to be completed in the coming months."  
  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) notified Lightbridge that Rosatom provided non-proliferation assurances to DOE that become effective upon entry into an agreement between Lightbridge and Rosatom entities. "We believe that this is the last key step of the Part 810 export authorization review process prior to approval by DOE," Grae said.  
  • At the ATR at Idaho National Laboratory, experiment planning and irradiation test design continues for the Company's metallic fuel samples.  The team agreed to a single fuel rod design that is compatible with both capsule and loop irradiation rig designs in order to accommodate uncertainty in reactor availability between now and when the fuel samples are delivered to that laboratory.  
  • Lightbridge also strengthened its extensive intellectual property portfolio in 2012 with patent grants or extensions on the Company's fuel technology in Eurasia, Ukraine and the U.S. "In addition, national and international patent applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty were submitted for Lightbridge fuel technologies that, once granted, would extend patent protection for these fuel designs to 2028-2030," he said.

Lightbridge also reiterated key research and development milestones for its fuel technology.
  • Demonstrate the full-scale fabrication process for Lightbridge metallic fuel rods in 2013-2014.  
  • Perform in-reactor and out-of-reactor experiments in 2013-2016.  
  • Develop analytical models in 2013-2016 for the Company's metallic fuel technology that can be used for regulatory licensing.  
  • Begin lead test assembly (LTA) operation in a full-size commercial light water reactor in 2017-2018, which involves testing a limited number of the full-scale fuel assemblies in the core of a commercial nuclear power plant over three 18-month cycles.

Advisory Services

"Our emergence in the field of nuclear energy consulting is in direct response to demand for independent assessments and expert technical consulting services from countries looking to establish nuclear energy programs," Grae said. "Lightbridge's comprehensive advisory services for developing safe, secure, efficient and cost-effective nuclear power have generated more than $40 million in revenue since 2008."
  • In 2012, Lightbridge submitted advisory services proposals to several countries, mostly in Europe and the Middle East. The review process for these complex, multi-million dollar contracts can be long. Responses are expected beginning in mid-2013.  
  • The Company's consulting contract with the nuclear regulatory authority in the United Arab Emirates was renewed in 2012 and extended to the end of 2014.

Financial Results and Guidance

For the quarter ended December 31, 2012, Lightbridge's net loss was $0.7 million, or a loss of $0.05 per share, on revenue of $0.8 million, compared to a net loss $1.9 million, or a loss of $0.15 per share, on revenue of $0.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. For the 12 months ended December 31, 2012, the Company's net loss was $4.1 million, or a loss of $0.32 per share, on revenue of $3.7 million, compared to a net loss of $5.9 million, or a loss of $0.47 per share, on revenue of $6.4 million in 2011. Lightbridge revenues are derived from consulting and strategic advisory services for foreign governments planning to create or expand electricity generation capabilities using nuclear power plants, and are used to help fund the continuing development of the Company's nuclear fuel technologies. Revenues were primarily generated from contracts in place with governmental entities in the United Arab Emirates.

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