Jack Henry & Associates Q4 2008 Earnings Call Transcript

| About: Jack Henry (JKHY)

Jack Henry & Associates (NASDAQ:JKHY)

Q4 2008 Earnings Call

November 5, 2008 8:45 a.m. ET

Executives

John Prim – Chief Executive Officer

Kevin Williams – Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer

Tony Wormington – President

Analysts

John Kraft - D.A. Davidson & Co.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

John Maietta – Needham and Company

Gil Luria – Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Jack Henry & Associates first quarter fiscal year 2009 conference call. Today's call is being recorded. With us today is Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Jack Prim, Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Kevin Williams and President, Mr. Tony Wormington. At this time I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Kevin Williams. Please go ahead.

Kevin Williams

Thanks, Connie. Good morning and welcome to the Jack Henry & Associates first quarter fiscal year 2009 earnings call. Statements and responses to questions may be made in this conversation which are forward-looking or deal with expectations about the future. Like any statement about the future, these are subject to a number of factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from those which we anticipate.

Such factors are disclosed in our recent SEC filings. There could also be other factors not included that could potentially cause results to differ materially. We're pleased to host the call this morning to provide a Company update and report on our financial results for our first fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2008. With me this morning I have Jack Prim, our CEO, Tony Wormington, our president.

We will each provide some opening comments regarding the state of the Company and our quarterly financial performance. Then after our prepared statements we will then open the call up for question and answers. With that I will now turn the call over to Jack Prim, CEO.

John Prim

Thank you, Kevin. Good morning. In the face of a challenging operating environment made even more challenging by an unprecedented stream of progressively worse economic news, we were able to increase revenues 5% to a new record for the fiscal quarter. This level of growth was below our expectations, largely due to a more conscious outlook by banks related to discretionary software and hardware expenditures.

While we saw solid sales for certain products including fraud, customer relationship management and performance and profitability management add-ons, we have seen a more cautious outlook on some discretionary license sales. In the credit union segment we actually sold twice the number of new core systems as in the year ago quarter, but the average asset size and margin was less than half.

At this time, credit union discretionary spending and license fees have not seemed to be as impacted as we have seen in the banking segment. Hardware sales were down significantly compared to the year ago period, primarily due to previously-discussed declines in scanner sales, related to remote deposit capture, fewer large sorter purchases and fewer I-Series processor sales and upgrades.

Related to remote deposit scanner sales, although the number of banks installed on our solution is up 50% year-over-year, the number of scanners sold is down 39%. This is due to the fact that typically the larger banks implemented RBC earlier in the adoption cycle, and also ordered larger numbers of scanners than the banks we now see moving up amounts.

Additionally, these small scanners are now available from a variety of sources, many times at lower prices than we will offer. The store sales were a similar reflection of the fact that many banks, including nearly all the larger ones, have implemented Check 21 solutions and do not need the larger source. We are, however, seeing strong sales of the smaller, branch capture devices as imaging capabilities pushed out farther towards the point of item entry.

There were several factors affecting the I-Series process for sales compared to the year-ago period. At the end of November 2007 deadline for an upgrade option on a specific I-Series model, which drove a number of upgrades in our in-house base in the July-September period a year ago. They also had a separate trade-in program which ended in June of this year, which also tended to influence sales in that period.

We have seen some banks in the current economy stretch their hardware capacity a little further to postpone certain capital outlays and the positive long-term move of our in-house customers to outsourced processing will also have an effect on hardware revenues.

Support services continue to show steady growth, up 10% over the year-ago period. And with the primary contributor to a 12% year-over-year increase in backlog, and increase exceeded only once in the last five years. Support service growth in the period was somewhat restrained by decreased implementation revenue, attributable to the significant slowdown in bank acquisition and the related merger conversion activity, which we believe is directly related to the economic environment.

Ultimate support services is the check image exchange revenue, which decreased 25% and as we have discussed in prior calls, is because our customers continue to get it directly through the Fed for check settlement rather than routing through a third-party provider.

Despite these challenges, we are encouraged by a number of signs in the economy. At our national user group and the nearly universal business outlook expressed by the attendees was cautiously optimistic. Most reported seeing substantial deposit inflows as customers moved money from some of the large banks and brokerages that have been in the headlines and also thought that the opportunities to compete for business customers were improved by the tightened credit standards at the larger financial institutions. Several new products and partner ships were introduced to us all and received a strong reception, which we believe bodes well for future sales, particularly in the second half of the fiscal year.

Credit union segment continues to lead the industry in core system sales and we had more polar activity among mid-tier banks than we have seen in quite some time. And since banks of this size tend to prefer in-house delivered systems, we see opportunities for significant improvement in license fee sales by fiscal third quarter.

So we remain cautiously optimistic in our outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, barring further significant shocks to the financial industry. We remain focused on cost control, but also on continuing the system investments that will allow us to take advantage of what we believe to be the inevitable increase in spending by financial institutions as stability and clarity returns to their environment. With that I'll turn it over to Tony Wormington for some additional comments.

Tony Wormington

Thanks, Jack. Our support and services revenue increased in all components with the exception of implementation revenue. We have seen less merger and acquisition activity by financial institutions which has a direct impact to our conversion merger component of implementation revenue. As Jack mentioned, although we saw increases in our electronic funds transfer processing businesses, these increases weren't as significant as we had expected.

Our Check 21 image exchange revenue is down due to customer preference of exchanging images through Fed. Our ATM/debit card processing volumes increased 12% compared to prior year quarter, and bill payment transaction volumes increased 23% in the same period.

The number of financial institutions installed with out Enterprise Payments AFT solution for remote deposit processing increased 50% compared to prior year quarter, and the financial institutions merchants installed in utilizing this solution increased by 112% to over 1,500 merchants in 60,000 locations.

Along with signing and implementing the new institutions and their respective merchants, we saw solid increases in the volume of transactions being processed. Transactions increased by 145% compared to the same quarter a year ago, and 18% sequentially. We continue to focus our efforts on customer satisfaction, the results of our monitoring and continued success with our demanding customer bases.

To meet the ongoing demand of our customers we developed new products and services as well as enhanced the features and depth of functionality in our existing products. While we continue to see strong demands for many of our complementary products and services, a number of complementary product deals for in-house banking clients have been put on hold in some cases due to the use of capital for loan loss reserves and in general an uncertain economic environment.

It is important to note we have not seen an increase in any losses to competitive solutions. With that I'll turn it over to Kevin for a look at the numbers.

Kevin Williams

Thanks, Tony. As Jack previously mentioned, we did experience revenue growth of 5% to 183.1 million in the quarter at which organic growth was 3%. Our license revenue was basically flat, decreasing by just 2% for the quarter compared to the prior year. And as Jack mentioned, it was below our expectations for the quarter. Sequentially our license revenue was down 27%, as is typically the case in the first quarter, but again was down a little more than our expectations would have thought there would be.

Support and services increased in every component within the line of revenue with the exception of implementation revenue for the quarter. For the quarter implementation revenue decreased by 5% compared to the prior year quarter and decreased 7% sequentially, which is primarily due to the decrease in the convert merger activity that Jack and Tony mentioned.

This is directly related, in our opinion, to the overall M&A environment. Our payment business was up 16% for the quarter compared to prior year, and increased 5% sequentially. And this is what the headwinds created by the banks moving their Check 21 image exchange to go directly to the Fed as we mentioned.

Check 21 revenue decreased 61% or 833,000 for this quarter compared to a year-ago. And was down 38%, or 327,000 from the June quarter. Our outlying data and IM processing was up 8% for the quarter compared to last year, but was down 2% or 648,000 sequentially, due primarily to one-time deconversion fees in the June quarter of approximately 680,000 compared to essentially no deconversion fees in the current quarter.

And also the reduction due to some reduction in item processing revenue as that business continues to move from the traditional item processing to electronic image capture at the branch and seller. Our in-house support notice services was up 12% for the quarter compared to last year and 5% sequentially as our new annual agreements start in for FY'09 based on the repriced asset sizes of our financial institutions.

However, revenue did decrease by 24% for the quarter compared to a year-ago and 18% sequentially due primarily to the significant decrease in I Series and sorters activity as Jack previously mentioned. Our recurring revenue consists of in-house support maintenance, our EST business, which includes all of our electronic payments business and outlink data and other processing.

In other words, this is our support and services line of revenue on the income statement without the one-time implementation fees and this has continued to grow very nicely with growth at 12% for the quarter compared to the prior year, and over 3% sequentially.

Our consolidated gross margins remain level at 40% for the quarter, compared to both last year's quarter and sequential to the June quarter. Our license margins decreased from 94% a year ago to 92% this year. Our support and service margins remain level at 37% and hardware margins decreased slightly from 26% a year-ago to 25%.

To break this down into our two reporting segments, our banking gross margin slipped slightly to 39% from 40% a year ago, and our credit union segment merger remained level at 40%. In the bank segments, in our license margins we saw a decrease from 93 to 90%, due to the higher amount of third-party software sold during the quarter.

Support and service margins for the bank segment decreased to 37% from 38% for the quarter, due primarily to higher personnel costs and depreciation amortization. However, margin in the banking segment decreased to 26% from 27% this quarter compared to a year-ago, primarily due to sales mix.

In our credit union segment, license margins were 94% for the quarter compared to 97% a year-ago, again due to more third-party product sales this year in the credit union segment. Our support and service margins increased from 32% to 37%, driven primarily by increases in our electronic payments business.

And our hardware margin decreased from 25% to 23% in the credit union segment, due to sales mix and vendor rebates. For the quarter, bank segment margins have decreased to 39% from 40% and credit union segment margins remained level at 40%.

Our total operating expenses increased 10% for the quarter and as a percentage of total revenue increased slightly from 19% to 20% for the current quarter compared to the prior year. On a sequential basis, operating expenses only increases 1%.

As I mentioned in the press release, we have had an unprecedented number of significant health claims, which have either exceeded our stop loss or are approaching it during the last couple of quarters. This is increased our fringe load allocations to the various lines of cost, causing some unusual increases.

For example, our GNA increased 17% in the quarter compared to last year. However, excluding the fringe-related costs, our other GNA costs only increased 10% compared to last year and was essentially flat sequentially. This had a similar impact on our cost of sales, selling and R&D lines of expenses.

Our operating margin decreased to 19% from 20% for the quarter, compared to both the year-ago quarter and sequentially. The net result was a decrease in operating income with 2% for the quarter compared to the prior year. Our effective tax rate for the quarter was at 37% compared to 36.5% during the first quarter last year.

Also for your future modeling, remember that as part of the financial bail-out package signed by congress last month, the R&D credit was put back in place during our second fiscal quarter and at this time it appears that our effective tax rate for the year will end up at approximately 35.5 to 36% with a significant catch-up benefit in the December quarter.

Our December effective tax rate will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 32 to 33 percent. Our EBITDA increased slightly to 52.0 million from 51.9 million last year. Our deprecation amortization of 15.8 this quarter compared to 14.4 million last year.

During the quarter we purchased an additional 1.5 million shares of our stock through the treasury and of September 30th we had approximately 7.2 million shares available remaining under our current authorization, which we will continue to buy back opportunistically with our pre-cash and also with our available lines of credit.

Our backlog was at 266.3 million with 65.1 million in-house and 201.1 million outsourcing at September 30th, which represents a 12% increase over that of the year-ago, with nice increases in both in-house and outsourced parts of our backlog.

I would like to point out that in the press release there was an incorrect date in this part of the backlog. It says June 30th, 2007 but is actually comparing our backlog at June 30, 2008. And I apologize for getting that date wrong. Also remember that there are no transaction revenue represented by EFT Data Processing, online bill pay or remote deposit chaser contracts reflecting the backlog, due to the difficulty in conservatively estimating these transactional revenues, especially in such fast-growing parts of our business. However, the backlog is obviously growing faster than other parts of the business, since most of these are long-term contracts.

For future guidance, we are prepared to update our guidance to the year with the understanding that software and hardware components continue to be a significant challenge to project, especially with the ongoing influence of the economy, which could impact this guidance more going forward. We are lowering our projection of topline revenue growth slightly from that of high single digits to potentially double-digit growth to a more conservative topline growth rate of mid to high-single digits.

We think software and hardware will continue to be either relatively flat or slightly down from FY'08, and support and services revenue will continue to grow in the low to mid teens. We continue to not project any margin expansion at this time for the fiscal year. Obviously we hope there is some future upside to this guidance with additional software sales, as Jack mentioned and cost control efforts but we would rather stay at conservative, realistic and achievable expectations.

Our primary goal with the current challenges and economy headwinds is to maintain our current operating margin. Therefore EPS growth should approximate that of top-line growth with some potential improvement for continued stock buybacks and the impact on the R&D tax credit.

Also we are still not providing specific quarterly guidance due to the lumpiness of software/hardware, but rather our guidance is for the entire fiscal year. However, because the growth is coming from our support and services lines of revenue and specifically our recurring revenue, it should grow somewhat steadily over the remainder of the year.

This concludes our prepared comments and we are now ready to take questions. Connie, will you please open the call lines up for questions?

Question–and–Answer Session

Operator

Thanks to you. (Operator Instructions) And we'll take our first question from John Kraft from D.A. Davidson.

John Kraft - D.A. Davidson & Co.

Good morning, guys.

John Prim

Good morning.

John Kraft - D.A. Davidson & Co.

Hey, Jack, you mentioned in your prepared remarks the core pipeline, I guess, increasing in the mid-tier in the credit union space. And I guess I'm curious what gives you - what's happening there? And then also if I can reconcile a little bit from last quarter you had talked about the increasing acceleration, if you will, on you know, switching from in-house deals to subscription deals. I think you had 14 in the quarter.

John Prim

Yeah, John, couple things. My comments were that we actually had, in terms of units, a pretty solid quarter on the credit union side was about the twice the number of credit union sales that we had in same quarter a year ago, they just were smaller deals. You know, those are what they are. Sell what you can when it's ready to close.

The comments related to increase in mid-tier activity was more related to the banking side than the credit union side. And we have several of those opportunities that we're working on out there at the moment. Regarding the increased switching from in-house to outsource, we did end up the fiscal year with 27 banks that made that change and you'll recall that 14 of those were signed in the fourth fiscal quarter.

I think we had about five in the first quarter which, you know, if you kind of take out the 14 out of the 27 and divide it by three quarters you get 4 point something and so we're tracking in Q1 in line with the kind of change that we saw in Q1 of a year ago or at least in the average of the first three quarters of the year. So what we see, another large jump-up in fiscal Q4? Hard to say, but again I think that all the factors that have been causing this number of transitions to increase year-over-year-over-year are still at play, so I think there is the potential, if not the likelihood for that to continue to increase.

Kevin Williams

But the other thing to note, John, is the outer was 14 that signed in the June quarter, that I would, and I don't know this to be complete fact but I would doubt that any of the 14 have converted yet. So they're still in the backlog to be converted. So that's why you're not seeing the switch from in-house maintenance to outsourcing in the financials.

John Kraft - D.A. Davidson & Co.

Okay, gotcha. That's helpful. And then another bigger question, big-picture question if I could, about the TARP program and I guess your anticipation or what you're seeing as far as the number of banks that you cater to that are accepting some of the funds or applying for it and the potential for some of those to use some of that money for technology spending?

John Prim

Yes, it's interesting to watch, John. I don't know that I could tell you how many of our banks have applied. We sort of see a press release come out every so often where a bank has said that they're going to look to participate in the program and some of them kind of surprised us. It's actually some pretty strong banks that are looking to participate in the program.

And we do believe that at least in a couple of instances that there may be some of that money that ends up getting put to work to improve technologies. I don't know whether the view is that, you know, it's a challenging time right now and nobody is necessarily expecting the banks to put up significantly-improved earnings so let's, you know, shore up the underpinning so that when we see some normalcy return to the economy that we're prepared and we've got the right platforms in place to move forward.

But don't know the number - do some participating and do believe that some of that will go to technology and related expenditures.

John Kraft – D.A. Davidson & CO

Okay, and then just a couple of housekeeping questions. Tony, I thought you said as for as transaction growth you threw out a 145% year-over-year number. Was that specific to remote deposit?

Tony Wormington

Yes, that’s a transaction increase for remote deposit this quarter compared to the prior year quarter.

John Kraft – D.A. Davidson & CO

Okay, good numbers there, obviously and then, Kevin, I thought I heard you mention it, but I didn’t get the number, recurring revenue percent for the quarter?

Kevin Williams

It went up 12%, but it’s 75% of total revenue, John.

John Kraft – D.A. Davidson & CO

Seventy-five. Okay, great. Thanks, guys.

Operator

And we’ll take our next question from Tim Fox of Deutsche Bank.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

Good morning, thank you.

Kevin Williams

Good morning, Tim.

Tony Wormington

Good morning.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

A follow up on the prior question about the strengths that you’re seeing in the pipeline for mid-tier banks, in the possibility of improving license down the road, our impression was that the banks tend to go more outsource as opposed to in-house. Is this just because it’s more mid-tier focused banks rather than larger banks?

John Prim

Yes, Tim, it seems like somewhere right around the billion dollar asset mark is where the banks tend to lean a little more towards in-house rather than outsourcing and typically, the economics just dictate that that’s a the scale advantage that the that brings them, even though our outsource provides some scale advantages, it’s not at the same level that they would be able to realize with having their hardware.

So, above north of a billion dollars in the banking space there definitely starts to be a stronger preference for in-house processing.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

Got it, okay and second question was around hardware. You mentioned that there were a couple of specific programs that were in place that made your comparables year-over-year difficult. How do those compares look going forward? Are there any other programs that were in place last year that are not in place this year that might impact hardware even further?

John Prim

Well, the one program that I mentioned that was the September of ’07 — I’m sorry, November ’07 — end of life on an upgrade. That was a specific model and it was kind of like, hey, if you ever want to upgrade this model to a higher capacity model, you have to do by November, because the upgrade pass is being withdrawn for this model. So, that spurred some activity.

Trade-in program in June probably pulled a couple of deals that might have happened in Q1, back end of the Q4 deal. I’m not aware of a fifth year, of any specific promotions that IBM is running right now. However, it is, I believe, coming up to the end of their fiscal year, so it’s entirely possible that we could see something if we haven’t.

Of the other two items that I mentioned, the remote deposit captor scanner sales, I see that likely to run at about kind of the same levels that it is right now for the reasons that I mentioned; big banks went earlier, big banks buy more scanners and so, that’s an impact. And, again, because these things are pretty close to a commodity item, they can get them for less money somewhere else than we’re likely to sell them for.

And then, of course, on the Check 21 side, good activity with the branch capture, but those are, again, pretty small devices and it takes an awful lot of those to make an impact. But, the big — by and large — the large Check 21 — enabling implementations have already taken place, so we suspect that in all of those categories it’ll be similar to what we saw this quarter.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

Okay, great and lastly, just on the implementation services on the convert-merger. If we were to look out for the remainder of the year, are we going to be seeing similar headwinds assuming that the merger activity stays rather muted here? Are we looking at tough compares across the rest of the year?

John Prim

It depends on a couple of things. If we see some of the mid-tier opportunities that we’re working on move to closure, there’s a good opportunity to catch up on that and see some pretty significant improvement in some of those implementation numbers.

In terms of the general economic environment, bank stocks are depressed right now. People, if they were thinking about selling their bank, probably don’t want to sell it at these prices, so in the absence of some change in the economy, I don’t expect to see a lot of uptick in the merger-related conversion activities.

Just to give you an example, I think last year, we did 78 conversion mergers in our customer banks and through June of this year — I believe I‘m correct — that there had only been 64 announced mergers in the entire industry. So, to double that in the second half of the year, that’s still going to be spread across all the vendors that are out there, a dramatically reduced number.

So, I don’t know that I see in the remainder of the fiscal year, anything that’s likely to influence or cause an increase in merger-related activity.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

That’s very helpful. If I may, just one quick follow-up there, is there a way to think about — as a percentage of the revenue, either total revenue or the support and service revenue — how much of that is related to this convert-merger business?

John Prim

I’ll flip this number here and see if I can hand on that. Did you have another question while we’re trying to look that up?

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

No, that’s all I have.

John Prim

Okay.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

I’ll throw one more out I have down here. You mentioned that EFT was not quite as good as you expected. Was there anything in particular within EFT that was soft and was that more macro-related?

Tony Wormington

That was really related to the transactions in September for the quarter were down, as a whole, compared to what we were expecting. Last September transactions were off a little bit as well, but they weren’t down as much as they were this year from an ATM and debit card perspective.

Also, we had the drag on EFT from the Check 21 movement to fed.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

Okay, thank you.

Kevin Williams

Tim, on your question on the vert-merg activity, all that happens in the bank segment and — basically, I think we have one or two in the credit union side, but the majority of it’s in the bank side of the house. And if you look our implementation revenue in the bank segment, it was down 15% or $2 million.

Is all of that attributed to convert-mergers? Probably not because there was some decrease in some of the other add-on products and different things, so, as a percentage of total implementation, what percentage of that makes up convert-merge, I don’t have that specific number with me, but that should give you kind of an idea of the impact that convert-merge can have on our implementation revenue.

Tim Fox – Deutsche Bank Securities

Great, that’s helpful.

Kevin Williams

Thanks, Tim.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) and we’ll go next to John Maietta from Needham and Company.

John Maietta – Needham and Company

Thanks very much. Kevin, in your prepared remarks you had mentioned that gross margins had ticked down a little bit due to some third-party software that was embedded in some of those sales. I was wondering if you could describe what type of software, without naming vendors, just by function.

Kevin Williams

Well, the biggest thing there, John, is the BSA, bank (inaudible 00:33:24) product that we had developed for us, that we shared the license fee, and that product has done well, historically, on the bank side, since we rolled that product out, but in the last couple of quarters, it’s picked up steam in the credit union side, so that’s having a slight impact in both the banking and credit union side of the business.

Also, the Argo solution that we sell for the platform automation to, typically, our larger banks, that’s also a third party that we split the revenue with and then on the credit union side, we still have a relationship, a retail agreement, with a couple of vendors over at Intervoice and OTG that we sells upgrades for — electronic document imaging.


We try to sell our Synergy solution over there, but for the customers that already have that product, we do sell them upgrades and, again, split the revenue on that so, those are the largest products that have an impact on the third party license sales in the related margin.

John Maietta – Needham and Company

Okay. And then, Jack, were there certain new products that were discussed at the user group meeting that generated the most interest coming out of that event?

John Prim

Yes, John, there were several. We mentioned that when we did the acquisition of Gladiator Technologies a little over a year ago — you may recall that Gladiator does the network monitoring, intrusion prevention services of about 600 banks and credit unions that use that service and it’s a great service. But, the real interest we had in that acquisition going forward was the ability to develop more of an enterprise-wide view of security and not only monitor servers and firewalls and internet-facing devices, but also to be able to pull in security-related information from our core applications and from the operating system of the I-series or the P-series and for that matter, from third party applications into a consolidated reporting engine that would provide consolidated management via security.

We’ve been working on that solution for about the last year. We have it installed in beta now and it’s gone very well and it received a very good reception at the user group meeting. If you look at pretty much any of the industry surveys, Grant Thornton, the Independent Community Bankers Association, security is pretty much the number one item that banks are indicating that they’re focused on.

We also announced a rewards program that we’re working on that will allow the banks to implement reward programs to encourage debit and credit card usage and we also announced an extension, if you will, of our remote deposit capture, a consumer and small business, micro-business capture capability using flatbed scanners rather than the more expensive remote deposit scanners that folks are seeing.

All those products received a good reception. I would also say that all three of those products are delivered in an ASP delivery environment. We’re seeing more and more, not only from ourselves, but from ancillary vendors out there that, for example, would be in the exhibit area at our trade show that most of the new solutions that anybody appears to be bringing to the market these days are ASP-delivered solutions, so good for returning revenue, but again, not, for the most part, significant license impact kind of offerings.

Kevin Williams

And one more offering that we rolled out was Synergy as a service, which is our electronic doc and imaging solution in an ASP-hosted environment, which that also showed quite a bit of excitement. Again, it doesn’t drive license revenue, but it should drive some nice recurring revenue going forward.

John Maietta – Needham and Company

Got it, okay and then just my last question; speaking of the Gladiator acquisition, in an environment like this, Jack, have you seen valuation expectations start to come down a little bit for companies in your pipeline or are they still lagging pretty significantly?

John Prim

Yeah, Joe a lot of what is on the market right now has not been terribly interesting to us to pursue that far. IF you’re looking to — certainly there’s exception to this, but if you’re looking to sell a company in this environment, it’s a pretty tough environment to be wanting to sell. So, you would think that expectations had moderated some. I couldn’t tell you that with most of what we’ve seen in the market out there that we’ve gone far enough in the process to be able to reach a conclusion.

I don’t know if they sold or necessarily what they sold for, so all logic would indicate that people should be more realistic, but I don’t know that I could tell if that’s the case or not.

John Maietta – Needham and Company

Got you. Thanks very much.

Kevin Williams

Thanks, John.

Operator

And we’ll take our next question from Dave Koning from Baird.

David Koning – Robert W. Baird & Co, Inc.

Yeah, hey guys. First of all, on the support and service line, I think the AudioTel acquisition was done early October of last year, so I think you anniversary it in early Q2 and that’s not helping — I think it’s been helping the support and service line by about 2% or 3% year-over year — so, I’m wondering why we wouldn’t see little more deceleration in that line in Q2 given that that anniversaries.

Kevin Williams

Well, it was actually October 1st and AudioTel is not 2% of that line. In fact, it’s barely 1% of support and services line. But, we’ve got other things that are coming on that are driving that. We saw some slow-down in some businesses that we think will pick back up. One of those is in part of our payments business. So, I don’t think that we’ll see much deceleration in the growth of the support and service line going forward because, obviously, the two biggest decelerators there in this quarter was the implementation revenue and then also the headwinds that we’re getting from the Check 21 changes in the electronic payments line.

When you take $900,000 basically, out of revenue, again, that’s very, very low margin business that we’re taking out of that line and even sequentially it has a pretty big impact. That’s going to run its course, hopefully, in the next couple of quarters and not have near the impact on our support and services line.

David Koning – Robert W. Baird & Co, Inc.

Okay, that’s great, thanks. On the license side, I think you announced the signing of a pretty big bank. I think a $14 billion or so bank in late August. I’m wondering when that license is expected because I would imagine in the quarter that that hits, that would be a pretty big jump.

Kevin Williams

Dave, that was kind of an unusual deal. That’s a farm credit bank and the way that deal was structured, that license is not going to hit a specific quarter. That’s actually going to be spread out over time as different modules are delivered and different milestones are reached within that agreement. So, it’ll —prevent software and the related installation will probably be spread over about four quarters.

David Koning – Robert W. Baird & Co, Inc.

Okay, and then finally, when you talked about license and hardware expecting flat, to down maybe, do you expect hardware to be down around 20% or so? Is that kind of the tone there? Is it going to stay around 18 to 20 million over the next few quarters or do you truly expect it to come back closer to flat for the year?

Kevin Williams

I don’t know if it’ll get back to flat, Dave, because obviously, the first quarter is going to set up a pretty big road block to get over, but December is typically a very strong quarter in hardware because the hardware as Jack mentioned — the hardware vendors, that’s their end of the year, so they typically put some promos out there to drive some business. The banks will spend some of their money in CapEx to get those and also, as Jack previously mentioned, I think some of our customers are actually stretching their hardware a little farther in the current economic conditions and hopefully, that they’ll see some relief in our second half fiscal year and they’ll open their wallets and do some upgrades on hardware.

So, again, we’re cautiously optimistic about both software and hardware going forward and a lot of it depends on the stabilization of the economy.

John Prim

Well, and also keep in mind, too that the mid-tier activity that we’re seeing will impact license fees, but can potentially have a nice bump to hardware revenues, too because those would be some pretty sizeable boxes that they’d be looking at for that solution.

David Koning – Robert W. Baird & Co, Inc.

That’s helpful and then just one final question. I think last year, your gross margin in support and service was the strongest in Q2 and I’m wondering if there’s some seasonality you expect this year or if it bounces around, but should stay in the 37, 38 range through all the quarters and it’s just hard to predict, exactly, when the strength comes.

Kevin Williams

It’s going to bounce around a little bit, David and actually, in the second quarter last year, that was our largest de-conversion quarter on the out language. Obviously, that dropped pretty much to the bottom line, which had an impact on those margins. So, I think for modeling purposes, if you can just model 37% and hope that we can improve on that slightly throughout the year, I think you’ll be pretty much on target.

David Koning – Robert W. Baird & Co, Inc.

Great, thanks so much.

Kevin Williams

Thanks, David.

John Prim

Thanks.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). And we’ll go next to Gil Luria from Wedbush.

Gil Luria – Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.

Thank you for taking my question. At what point, what’s your threshold for taking action to cut costs? The last couple of quarters you’ve grown around the 4% rate, but your expectations for the year is still mid to high single digit for the top line. At what of decelerating growth or maybe if the growth hits low single digits or lower than that do you decide to take actions to cut down costs?

John Prim

We’ve historically, maintained a pretty tight focus on cost control, I think as evidenced by our operating margins and we certainly are tightening that up even further. Looking at the usual things like discretionary travel and a number of those types of things.

In terms of lay-offs of staff, that is not something that we’re looking at at this point in time. Again, our challenge is more likely to be, Gil with some of the success that we have a potential to see in the mid-tier sales. We’re going to need all the folks that we have to implement some of the things that we’re and think we have a good opportunity of winning.

So, we continue to maintain a close watch on costs. There are some things that, as Kevin mentioned, with the surprising number of healthcare related issues that we had that those are pretty challenging to foresee and be able to predict and hopefully, we’re kind of passed some of those particular issues, but believe me, we understand the importance of keeping costs in line and are focused on that, but I would not tell you that we have plans as we sit here to make substantial reductions because A, we don’t think that they’re needed, based on what we believe the business outlook to be and B, because I don’t think we’ve gotten out of control with those expenses at this point.

Gil Luria – Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.

Got it. Now, let me just try again in terms of the higher level issues here. You’re obviously having a lot of conversations with your customers. A lot of them are in the budget cycle right now. How does this compare to previous years in terms of where they’re at at the decision making. How many of them are you hearing talking about reducing spending significantly, freezing them until they get more clarity, just holding on to the capital? Do you get a significant number of your customers that are saying those kinds of things?

John Prim

Gil, I have to tell you, we don’t. There certainly are some. If you can believe any of the surveys that are out there and two that we tend to look at — we look at them all — but two that have some consistency to them year-over-year are the Grant Thornton survey and the Independent Community Banker Survey and all of those indicate that for the majority of banks that spending is going to increase or will remain the same at that current level.

I doubt that there’s more than 15 or 20% responses to either survey that anticipate spending less money in the area of technology. I would tell you that I asked every banker that I came in contact with at our user group meeting how business was in their area and they felt good about the business.

Most of them would say it’s probably not going to be the best year we’ve ever had, but it’s definitely not going to be the worst. And had quite a few that said, in fact, it is going to be the best year that they’ve ever had. The deposit inflows have been substantial and they’re not having to pay up to get those deposits, they’re just coming in because of people being nervous about some of the larger institutions and the broker firms.

At the same time that they see large financial instructions tightening credit standards, potentially making it easier to win some of the small businesses opportunities that they’ve might have been losing to some of the bigger banks. They’re feeling pretty good about what’s going to happen.

The news, hopefully, now that we’re kind of passed the election and we can get back to focusing on the economy and people start actually talking about here’s the steps that we’re going to be taking to address the economic environment. I think once people can kind of get some clarity — but, it’s been tough to pin anybody down about what’s going to happen next in terms of taxes or incentives or anything else to try to get the economy going.

Hopefully, we’re passed that now and we’ll get some straight talk on some of those things and folks can have better information to make plans with.

Gil Luria – Wedbush Morgan Securities, Inc.

That’s very helpful. Thank you.

Operator

(Operator Instruction). And at this time, we have no further questions in the queue.

Kevin Williams

Okay, thank you, Connie. Again, we want to thank you for joining us today to review our first fiscal quarter 2009 results. Obviously, it was a somewhat challenging quarter, but we feel that we continue to be positioned correctly for the future with the right people, the right product and continue to provide superior levels of service.

Again, thank you very much for joining us this morning and with that, Connie, will you please provide the replay number for the listeners?

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions).

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