"In the third quarter we saw improving sequential performance as global economies began to reopen and our customers resumed their capital investment plans. Additionally, we continued to progress on our strategic initiatives both organically with positive customer response to our recently announced new products and inorganically with our Digital Twin initiative enabled through the August acquisition of Advanced Technical Solutions ("ATS")," stated Michael Burger, President and Chief Executive Officer. "While near-term demand remains below the 2019 level, we have gained confidence that our second quarter represents the trough in demand, as we continue to experience increased customer activity levels. As importantly, as evidenced by our third quarter results, we expect the cost reduction actions taken earlier this year will drive strong operating leverage and profit growth as demand returns to normalized levels."
Third Quarter 2020 Financial Summary
Total sales were $70.7 million for third quarter 2020 representing a 17% sequential quarterly increase when compared to $60.6 million in the second quarter 2020, and a 22% decrease when compared with $90.5 million for third quarter 2019. The sales level fluctuations were primarily a result of the COVID-19 impact on customer demand in our served markets. Similarly, new order bookings of $72.0 million increased 17% sequentially compared to $61.4 million in the second quarter 2020, but were down 24% when compared to $94.9 million for the third quarter 2019.
Gross margin was 51.3% for the third quarter 2020, as compared to 56.1% for the same prior year period. Non-GAAP gross margin was 51.5% for the third quarter 2020 compared to 56.4% for the third quarter 2019. The annual decrease in gross margin was primarily a result of the impact of lower sales resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operating expense, which includes $0.2 million of non-recurring charges, was $41.2 million for the third quarter 2020, as compared to $56.7 million for the same prior year period. Non-GAAP operating expense was $38.5 million for the third quarter 2020 compared to $51.1 million for the third quarter 2019.
Net loss was $3.0 million, or $0.17 per share, for the third quarter 2020, as compared to a net loss of $6.2 million, or $0.36 per share, for the third quarter 2019. Non-GAAP net loss was $1.3 million, or $0.08 per share, for the third quarter 2020 compared to Non-GAAP net loss of $0.2 million, or $0.01 per share, for the third quarter 2019.
Adjusted EBITDA was $0.8 million, or 1% of Non-GAAP total sales, for the third quarter of 2020 compared to Adjusted EBITDA of $3.8 million, or 4% of Non-GAAP total sales, for the third quarter of 2019.
*A reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures is provided in the financial schedules portion at the end of this press release. An additional explanation of these measures is included below under the heading "Non-GAAP Financial Measures".
The Company's cash and short-term investments decreased $10.3 million to $163.6 million as of the end of the third quarter of 2020, and the Company remained debt-free.
The Company will host a conference call to discuss these results on Wednesday, October 29, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. ET. Interested parties can access the conference call by dialing (800) 459-5346 (U.S.) or +1 (203) 518-9544 (International) and using the passcode FARO. A live webcast will be available in the Investor Relations section of FARO's website at: https://www.faro.com/about-faro/investor-relations/events
A replay webcast will be available in the Investor Relations section of the company's web site approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call and will remain available for approximately 30 calendar days.
For 40 years, FARO has provided industry-leading technology solutions that enable customers to quickly and easily measure their world, and then use that data to make smarter decisions faster. FARO continues to be a pioneer in bridging the digital and physical worlds through data-driven reliable accuracy, precision and immediacy. For more information, visit http://www.faro.com
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
This press release contains information about our financial results that are not presented in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"). These non-GAAP financial measures, including non-GAAP total sales, non-GAAP gross margin, non-GAAP operating expenses, non-GAAP net (loss) income and non-GAAP net (loss) income per share, exclude the GSA sales adjustment (as defined in the tables below), the impact of purchase accounting intangible amortization expense, stock-based compensation, advisory fees incurred related to the GSA Matter (as defined in the tables below), imputed interest expense recorded related to the GSA Matter, executive severance costs, executive sign-on bonuses and relocation costs, Present4D impairment charges, restructuring charges, and other tax adjustments, and are provided to enhance investors' overall understanding of our historical operations and financial performance.
In addition, we present Adjusted EBITDA, which is calculated as net loss before interest expense, net, income tax benefit and depreciation and amortization, excluding (gain) loss on foreign currency transactions, the GSA sales adjustment, stock-based compensation, advisory fees incurred related to the GSA Matter, executive severance costs, executive sign-on bonuses and relocation costs, Present4D impairment charges, and restructuring costs, as measures of our operating profitability. The most directly comparable GAAP measure to Adjusted EBITDA is net loss.