“There is a substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern,” YTB’s Annual Report says. The controversial Wood River, IL-based network marketing firm notes that its independent accounting firm has issued an opinion that questions YTB's “loss from operations and working capital deficiency raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” YTB said it had incurred a loss of$4.1 million from operations in 2008. The 159 page YTB Annual Report (10-K) is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
YTB said net revenues totaled $162.5 million, $141.3 million, and $50.9 million for the years ending December 31, 2008, 2007, and 2006, respectively. YTB said its IBC (Internet Business Center) sales were $49.2 million, $47.9 million, and $25.0 million for the years ending December 31, 2008, 2007, and 2006, respectively. The increase was $1.3 million, or 2.7 percent, in 2008 compared to 2007.
Travel commissions and services revenue was $27.9 million, $20.7 million, and $7.4 million for 2008, 2007, and 2006, respectively. The $7.2 million increase, or 35.1 percent, in 2008 compared to 2007 is attributable to the growth in gross travel retail bookings driven by the number of customers utilizing us as their travel provider, YTB said.
YTB said it continues to conduct marketing activities, book travel and sell related products exclusively through 8,337 independent contractors known as Reps and 92,383 RTAs (such numbers are provided as of December 31, 2008), and we depend upon them directly for substantially all revenue. We experienced a 44.3 percent decrease in active Reps and a 29.2 percent decrease in RTAs during 2008,” YTB said.
YTB says that like “most direct selling companies, we experience a high turnover among new Reps and RTAs from year to year. We cannot accurately predict any fluctuation in the number.”
YTB said, “We are involved, and may become involved in the future, in legal proceedings that, if adversely adjudicated or settled, could adversely affect our financial results. We are and may, in the future, become party to litigation, including, for example, claims relating to advertising, unfair competition and anti-pyramid laws. We are also subject to the risk of private party challenges to the legality of our network marketing program. The multi-level marketing programs of other companies have been successfully challenged in the past.
“Currently, we are defending against two such cases. The first, now pending in state court in California, involves claims brought by the Attorney General of California alleging violations of Section 17200 of the California Business and Professions Code. The second, now pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, involves claims brought by private plaintiffs on behalf of a putative class alleging violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act." YTB notes the cost of litigation is now $1 million.
“An adverse judicial determination with respect to our network marketing program, or in proceedings not involving us directly but which challenge the legality of multi-level marketing systems in any market in which we operate, could negatively impact our business,” YTB said.
The accountants' statement is noteworthy: “A material weakness is a control deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the Company’s annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
“The following material weaknesses have been identified and included in management’s assessment. The Company’s tone at the top was not sufficient to assure the directives of the Company’s Board of Directors were followed. Management did not obtain approval of the Board prior to entering into certain contracts and agreements as required by the Company’s control structure. In addition, controls were not sufficient to prevent management override of controls over approval of disbursements.
“In our opinion, because of the effect of the material weaknesses described above on the achievement of the objectives of the control criteria, YTB International, Inc. has not maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2008,” the independent accounting firm said.
The full text of YTB’s Annual Report is posted online at www.ytb.com