SAVVIS Q4 2008 Earnings Call Transcript

Feb. 4.09 | About: SAVVIS, Inc. (SVVS)

SAVVIS, Inc (NASDAQ:SVVS)

Q4 2008 Earnings Call

February 04, 2009 10:00 AM ET

Executives

Peggy Reilly Tharp - Director of Investor Relations

Philip Koen - Chief Executive Officer

Jeffrey Von Deylen - Chief Financial Officer

Bill Fathers - Senior Vice President and Managing Director

Analysts

Jonathan Atkin - RBC Capital Markets

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

Simon Flannery - Morgan Stanley

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

Srinivas Anantha - Oppenheimer & Co

Thomas Seitz - Barclays Capital

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Colby Synesael - CAS Research

Donna Jaegers - D.A. Davidson

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the SAVVIS Communication's Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator Instructions).

I'd now like to turn the conference over to your host Ms. Peggy Tharp. Ma'am you may begin.

Peggy Reilly Tharp

Thank you, Ellie. Good morning and thank you for participating in the SAVVIS fourth quarter 2008 earnings call. I am Peggy Reilly Tharp, Director of Investor Relations for SAVVIS.

Earlier this morning, we distributed a press release with detailed financial table, which is available on our website at savvis.net. In addition we have corresponding slides available at that site, which will be referenced during this call. As always, please be aware that today's discussion contains forward-looking statements as defined under Federal Securities Laws.

Actual results could differ materially from our projections due to various risks factors including but not limited to the factors disclosed in the company's Form 10-K and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. We encourage you to review those disclosures.

Our presentation today will include references to certain non-GAAP financial measures that provide additional information for investors. In compliance with the SEC's Regulation G, our press release distributed today which is posted on our website and furnished to the SEC on Form 8-K includes both our rationale for why we believe non-GAAP information is important in describing our operating performance and the full reconciliation with the corresponding GAAP numbers.

Today we'll begin with a brief overview from Phil Koen, our CEO; Jeff Von Deylen, our CFO who'll follow with a financial update, and Phil will then provide a review of our business model strategy and focus before turning the call back over to the moderator for QA. Also here with us today is Bill Fathers, Managing Director, U.S.

And with that I'd now like to turn the call over to Phil Koen, Chief Executive Officer of SAVVIS.

Philip Koen

Thank you Peggy and good morning to everyone. Before handing things off to Jeff, I'd like to begin today with a brief summary of our full year achievements.

It goes without saying that 2008 was an historic year globally, but not for the best of reasons. Back in April, here at SAVVIS, we started to see signs as there were changes underway and that sales cycles were elongating. We adjusted it accordingly, modified our internal plans, and revised our outlook. Of course as the year unfolded, we are all witness to global macroeconomic weakness of monumental and unexpected proportions.

At SAVVIS, we continue to adjust our business plan and as a result delivered solid revenue and EBITDA growth and outperformed expectations. 2009 promises to be another challenging year and later in today's call I will view SAVVIS's strategic position and why it make sense now more than ever. CIOs are facing a tough environment and SAVVIS offers them the solutions they need to cut cost and focus on their core business during these trying times.

But before I get to that, I'd like to give you a brief review of 2008. Despite a turbulent year in the market, SAVVIS performed well and delivered full year 2008 revenues of 857 million, an increase of 8% over 2007 as shown on slide four.

Adjusted EBITDA up for 2008 was 184.6 million, a 15% improvement year-over-year. For overall hosting, revenue for 2008 was 564.5 million or 19% growth over 2007. Colocation was up 18% year-over-year while managed hosting was up 20% over 2007.

In addition to reporting strong financials, we achieved several other accomplishments in 2008. We secured a 35 million Sterling credit facility in the UK and despite the worse condition credit market in recent memory, SAVVIS was able to refinance its revolving credit facility with Wells Fargo Foothill in December. At present the 50 million revolver is undrawn.

We also opened and expanded a host of new data centers in key markets in 2008. The first half of the year we expanded our Dallas data center and opened a new data center in Chicago, which featured proximity hosting. The second half of 2008 brought the opening of new data centers in Singapore and the UK.

But our business is more than just data centers and last year we made a key announcement regarding Software-as-a-Service or SAAS. This offering is just one of the many ways SAVVIS continues to meet the needs of our customers. In addition with our corporate business structure, we achieved a 13% improvement in productivity on comparing fourth quarter annualized performance versus a year ago.

We also implemented SAP financial and procurement modules in 2008 along with other operational support systems. All in all, I am very pleased that we delivered such solid results and executed extremely well in such a challenging environment as we did in 2008. And with that I would like to turn things over to Jeff for an update on the quarter and a more in-depth financial review.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Thank you Phil. Good morning everyone. Since the first quarter, SAVVIS has delivered on its three stated objectives and reported three consecutive quarters of both year-over-year growth in revenue and adjusted EBITDA.

Slide 6 shows the progress we have made and in the fourth quarter we reported revenue of 222.4 million to the increase of 2% over the third quarter of 2008 and 12% over the fourth quarter of 2007.

In the fourth quarter, we did experience a revenue impact due to the exchange rate volatility that we talked about on the third quarter call. On a constant exchange rate basis, the quarterly sequential revenue growth for our hosting business would have been 5% and our overall revenue would have shown 3% quarter-on-quarter improvement.

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $52 million which is a 9% improvement over the third quarter of 2008 and reflected a 32% growth rate over the fourth quarter of 2007. In addition adjusted EBITDA margins expanded to 23% in the fourth quarter of 2008 which is up from 20% a year ago. We are pleased to be able to report these strong results despite the continued weakness in the global macroeconomic environment.

Turning to our Business Unit update on slide seven, I'd like to give you a brief update on our financial verticals, our hosting businesses, and our network services. Our financial vertical continues to be a strong component of our overall business and represents about 19% of total revenue.

While we did see slight growth over the third quarter of 2008, on a year-over-year basis it was up 17% from 2007. For 2009, our overall outlook is cautious and based in part on the expected departure of the American Stock Exchange due to its acquisition by New York Stock Exchange and due to the uncertain economic conditions that continue to persist in this industry, we're pretty cautious about that financial verticals.

For our hosting business, fourth quarter revenue was 150.9 million, which was 24% improvement over the fourth quarter of 2007. Our Software-as-a-Service offering help contribute and showed 12% growth over the third quarter of 2008. While we look forward to continued growth in the SaaS contribution to our overall hosting revenue, we're also eagerly anticipating the launch of our new cloud offering in 2009.

For the fourth quarter our network revenue declined 6% on a year-over-year basis and 3% sequentially. However about half of the fourth quarter 2008 decline was currency related. While we expect to see a year-over-year decline in revenue in 2009, our strategy calls for continued authorization of the network as it plays an important role in achieving our overall corporate objective.

Again and you will see this throughout our release, with our focus on EBITDA and cash flow, we are also in the network business focused on improving our EBITDA margins and the cash flow from the network services business.

Since we have already covered some of the results on slide 8, I'm just going to highlight a few points. For our Colo and Managed Hosting offerings, we experienced both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter revenue growth. Compared to 2007, Managed Hosting revenue was up 20%, while Colo revenue was up 18%.

For the full year of 2008, we also showed 8% year-over-year improvement in revenue and 15% growth in EBITDA. On a pro forma basis, adjusted EBITDA was up 26% while revenue improved 12%. In addition, adjusted EBITDA margin for the year improved approximately 130 basis points.

In addition to the strong income statement results, we improved our cash flow from operations to just -- too about 45 million in the quarter which is a year-over-year improvement of 66%. Also our DSOs improved to 22 days from 24 as we saw strong collections in the receivables area.

Slide 9 shows our combined Colocation and Managed Hosting revenues and it continues to show strong fourth quarter results. Our hosting revenue now contributes about 68% of the total revenue of SAVVIS and that's up from 62% in the fourth quarter of 2007.

In addition, we continue to improve the revenue per square foot in our Colo footprint. The $45 yield... the $45 per square foot yield in the fourth quarter is an 18% improvement year-over-year and a 10% improvement sequentially. As of the end of the year we were 68% utilized in our Colocation footprint.

Overall pricing in the industry has remained steady as demand has continued to exceed supply. In addition, some of the improvement in our average yield per square foot is due to the recent departure of the customer paying well below market rates in our Chicago data center. We are pleased to have the benefits of a virtually new data center without the capital recovery cost as an issue.

Equally impressive is that our total data center average yield per square foot improved to $89 per square foot as we continued to leverage our mix used model. One thing I'll point out is that our Managed Hosting yield has been impacted by currency volatility in the fourth quarter and during the year. As you see that rate per square foot has continued to decline over the course of the year.

On a constant currency basis, our Managed Hosting yield was essentially flat with the third quarter of 2008. Going forward, we do expect that our Managed Hosting yield will continue to see a slight decline on a square foot basis as our mix moves to virtualized servers and as we reflect the lower cost of servers.

In order to meet market demand and provide a compelling value proposition for our customers, we'll continue to pass on cost savings to our customers and as this is an important competitive advantage to us as we grow this business.

In 2008, we added additional supply with the completion of our data center expansion, as you can see on slide 10. However, as we move into 2009, there is only minimal expense in CapEx that we expect to have in 2009. We expect that customer and product growth capital to make up a big part of our capital expenditures at approximately 65 million. However, you can also see that approximately 45 million in maintenance and IT CapEx related to such items has continued high standards at our facilities, dedication to maintaining our recent investment in our network, and investments in the improvement of our customer support system.

Maintenance and IT CapEx has historically represented about 5% to 7% of total revenue. As we continue to grow our global footprint, we are focused on expanding our Managed Hosting as a percentage of revenue and increasing our sell rates in margins across our product portfolio. As such we will be able to offer our shareholders positive free cash flow.

Slide 11 shows the adjusted free cash flow to date as we have completed our expansion related capital expenditures. As we mentioned in our earnings release, in 2009 we expect to have positive free cash flow of $15 million to $30 million.

Earlier, Phil mentioned that we were able to refinance our revolving credit facility in December of last year. Slide 12 provides the details of our outstanding debt agreements as well as the maturity dates. As you can see we have very modest maturities for the next three year and have debt to EBITDA of approximately 2.9 times on a growth basis and about 2.3 times on a net of cash basis.

During the fourth quarter, I will point out, that two of our data center leases were renewed and as a result went from an operating lease to a capital lease. This did result in about $25 million of additional capital lease at the end of the year. And that was an increase from the end of the third quarter.

Not only is SAVVIS is well positioned in terms of debt. We're also well positioned in the industry when it comes to providing a quality return as you can see on slide 13. While this is clearly not the only measure of success, it represents a cash generation of the assets deployed and the relative returns on a percentage basis. It is one of the metrics that we measure because we think that return on capital matters and over the past several years we've made it a point to focus on the investments in our business which provides the best return.

As a result, we're targeting growth in the metrics that we think are most important to you as a shareholder. Free cash flow, cash return on capital employed and adjusted EBITDA all in concert with reasonable revenue growth.

Now let's talk a bit about the guidance for 2009 which you can see on slide 14. Given our focus on adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow, our guidance is centered around those measures. We expect adjusted EBITDA of $185 million to $195 million. At SAVVIS we're focused on driving EBITDA margins from the mid 20% range today to 30% range over the next 3 to 5 years.

We expect cash capital expenditures of $110 million to $140 million in 2009 with approximately 15 million related to the expansion, approximately 65 related to customer and product successes, and the remaining 45 related to maintenance and IT CapEx.

In 2009, we expect cash interest to be in the $40 million to $45 million range. And again very importantly, we look forward to generating positive free cash flow of $15 million to $30 million in 2009 as we are dedicated to delivering positive free cash flow this year.

While we're not providing specific annual revenue guidance, we do want to remind everyone of some of the headwinds and risks we are facing. The American Stock Exchange which provided annualized revenue contribution of about 27 million in 2008 was acquired by NYSE Euronext in October and is expected to migrate to the NYSE platform likely to occur during the first half of 2009.

In our Chicago data center, a large customer that provided about $5 million in annualized revenue in 2008 exited in December. And while we are pleased to be able to now fill the space at market rate this is essentially like selling a new data center and we expect we will take about 2 years.

Also we expect continued volatility in the currency markets and have estimated a revenue impact of about $12 million as compared to 2008. This comes primarily from our UK operations. And in the financial vertical, which accounts for about 19% of our total revenue, we are very cautious about our revenue growth given the very uncertain environment that we read about everyday.

So we'll continue to drive cost out and improve our margins while we can in 2009 and again focusing on free cash flow, adjusted EBITDA and our ultimate use of cash. Finally with that I'd like to turn it over to Phil Koen for a review of our corporate strategy.

Philip Koen

Thanks Jeff. Before covering our corporate strategy, I'd like to take just a few minutes to expand on the guidance Jeff just provided.

While we have visibility into our recurring revenue stream, we have less clarity when it comes to new bookings. It's very difficult for us to forecast the exact timing and closure of new business and we certainly don't want to miss lead view. While our bid teams workflow has increased over the past 30 days, the visibility into the enterprise decision making cycle and timing has definitely deteriorated. This lack of clarity is further compounded by the expected departure of the American Stock Exchange, the reclamation of our Chicago data center, and the increased exchange rate volatility.

It will be difficult enough to grow revenues through these challenges; however, we're also forced to do so in an increasingly more difficult environment. As a result we're unable to provide full year revenue guidance at this time. So our focus in 2009 will be where it should be, on driving adjusted EBITDA and we're committed to positive free cash flows.

Having generated positive free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2008 gives us confidence in the ranges we have outlined today. Of course, throughout the year, we'll keep you updated as to our progress.

As you can see on slide 16, the business environment has fundamentally changed and we've developed our 2009 business plan based on expectations that IT budgets will decline this year. While these are big challenges, we do see some opportunities available to SAVVIS. I believe CIOs will also begin to move to outsourced IT solution as the internal pressure to control their infrastructure spending collides with the increase in demand from the user community.

While this situation is difficult for our customers, SAVVIS is well positioned for this new environment. Our services model enables our customers to choose from a number of different strategies to reduce their IT cost. Our focus is to provide mission critical, non discretionary IT infrastructure outsourcing. This means we'll take away the context of business and focus on their core and that's what's make the money.

And with the completion of our global expansion, we have the right footprint in place to provide our customers what they need, where they need it. More and more, they're looking for options like our new and innovative service offerings such as our SaaS offering and our Proximity Hosting solutions.

SAVVIS is the right company providing infrastructure solution, which addresses the cost challenges that CIO is facing today. We have developed outsourcing solutions shown on slide 17 for commercial and enterprise customers and we are specialists in managing servers, storage, virtualization, security, and network infrastructure. The center-point of our strategy is to provide a scalable managed hosting solution. For sure Colocation and network service playing an important foundational role, but managed hosting is our focus going forward.

Now, I know some you have questioned, this is focus on Managed Hosting, and some of you have asked us, why not build more Colo? We believe the opportunity on slide 18 allows you to produce a much higher return on invested capital than Colocation alone. Particularly, we are able to leverage technologies for share platform resources like we do at SAVVIS. While returns from our Colo model are attractive, when compared to an IT infrastructure solutions model, they fall short.

I think this is well illustrated by Jeff when he compared operating cash flows relative to capital invested for various companies in this space. Our strategy continues to generate free cash flow and draw cash returns as high as possible. At this point in time, this is best accomplished by growing our Managed Hosting Services and not investing in more Collocation space. With our builds complete, we have sufficient footprint in place to accomplish our 2009 goals.

However, if adding more space allowed us to attack a new geographic market or to further penetrate key market opportunity such as Proximity Hosting, we would exercise solid business judgment in making that decision. But, lacking a compelling reason to expand our footprint, Managed Hosting remains the best way to drive total return and maximize cash flow. I hope you agree with me and can see why managed hosting is key focus for SAVVIS.

As you can see on slide on 19; we have built a solid foundation on our supporting flanks and Colocation and network services. The Colocation market has been the solid growth node over the past few years, and this has now became an expected first step in embracing an IT outsourcing solution. And we continue to see solid interest in our Colo offering. Across all three power density categories; standard, high and ultrahigh, Colo price points continue to remain stable and we continue to remain pleased with the progress we have made in that business.

While Colocation and network are great businesses, we have no need to dominate these markets. Both require significant capital to sustain growth, and unlike managed hosting, these markets lack the barriers to entry and a high switching cost needed to maintain pricing power. So, we'll continue to wrap Colo network into our IT infrastructure solutions as we build our managed hosting businesses going forward.

While we understand and cautious about 2009 from both a macro economic point of view and due to the risk that Jeff detailed earlier, we are still focused on our strategy which you can see on slide 20. At SAVVIS, we think now more than ever, our focus on managed hosting for information technology applications is a solution that makes sense to enterprise customers. Our focus on our network business has allowed us to service the needs of our hosting customers, while maximizing our existing network footprint.

While overall our network business will continue to be under pressure in 2009, we are still seeing more demand from an integrated managed hosting and managed network solutions. This is particularly true in hosted applications require higher network performance, which is provided by our application transport network. We're taking advantage of the market forces that are leading to increases and comprehensive IT infrastructure outsourcing, we're also going to drive growth by solving customer problems through our targeted business solutions. Solutions that save customer's money, allow them to focus on core areas of their business.

Our focus in 2009 is on our customers. We want to grow share of wallet, grow our account footprint, grow into our customers future by offering the solutions they need to better manage their costs associated with IT infrastructure today and even more importantly tomorrow. In 2009, we're looking forward to developing and leading the market for hosting SaaS offerings from independent software vendors.

This is an exciting new area and one we are pleased to be part of. In addition, we're also excited about expanding our existing virtualization and utility computing solutions into the cloud this year. We planned to leverage our unique opportunities in the proximity hosting to penetrate and lead the market for hosting applications in financial markets.

Our ability to offer our trading communing a portfolio of managed hosting services such as compute, storage, virtualization, and managed network incorporating market data is highly differentiated. Going forward we'll continue to build upon the solid momentum we generated in 2008.

With so many people looking at what's going wrong in the world right now, we're looking at what's going right. On slide 21 we show that we have a great focus and managed sourcing and we are proud to have good supporting players, Colocation and network services. This is a solid combination and we're looking forward to continuing with the right mix of offering. We also have strong financials with a clear focus on positive free cash flow and this is especially important during these turbulent time.

At SAVVIS, we're able to provide our shareholders expected growth and adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow while also providing a solid return on invested capital. Again during these times, these kinds of metrics just make sense to us and we think we'll make sense to long-term investors too.

Finally the time is right and the market is ready to take the leap to managed sourcing and SAVVIS is here to provide the right outsourced IT infrastructure solutions. Through our comprehensive offering of products, services and solutions, we offer CIO the offering to cut costs, something everyone is looking to do in this day and age.

And then with that I would like to thank you for your time today and turn the call back over to moderator for Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator instructions]. Our first question comes from Jonathan Atkin, your line is open.

Jonathan Atkin - RBC Capital Markets

Yes, good morning. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the competitive environment that you are seeing for both the Managed Hosting products as well as Colo?

Philip Koen

Sure John. Let me take that. Let me take the Colo. Generally speaking you have to go market-by-market because I think the market and demand of supply forces vary by market-by-market.

Overall what I would say is that it continues to be a solid market characterized by stable pricing. There is... it continues to be I think more demand than supply. We absolutely think that the credit crunch has drastically curtailed the number of peoples plans both enterprises and also what I'll call third party data center providers to reduce the Colo spend going forward. So that demand supply curve is going to continue to shift in favor of suppliers such as ourselves.

And I think that for the foreseeable future, we will continue to try to maintain our fair share of that market. But the caveat for us is to make sure we are bringing in the right customers. Our focus is definitely on enterprises, we are looking to take advantage of an integrated Managed Hosting solution.

So unlike some other players who will look at Colocation as simply someone who comes and buys raw square footage, we tend to be a little bit more cautious in making certain we are populating our data centers with the right people.

So generally speaking, the Colo market I think continues to be good. Managed Hosting, there I think what's happening is two things, first of all what we are seeing is absolutely in last 30 days an increase in the enquiry rate. I think that what's finally happen is that as enterprises start to look at the 2009 budgets, the realization that they definitely had to think outside of the box to try to change the cost equation is hitting home. Whether those actually turn into a decision to procure remains to be seen and that's the reason why we are cautious in thinking about what the revenue and the bookings rate going forward would be.

While our strategy is to continue to focus on the complex side of this, this is where requirements really play into our skill sets, our deep expertise and virtualization, our understanding of how to be able to take a an application that's latency sensitive and be able to play that over in MPLS network. That's our sweet spot and even more so if can get a customer who's looking across various geographical markets, particularly Europe, U.S., and Asia. We even have a better chance to win. So we're at the high end of that market, highly focused around integrated solutions that really build upon our expertise.

Jonathan Atkin - RBC Capital Markets

And if I could just follow up, maybe ask a question about churn rates that you saw and how might that have differed from prior periods, again for Colo and for Managed? And then maybe for Jeff, of the increased revenues that you saw, how much of that came from new versus -- new logos versus existing customers? Thanks.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah John, this is Jeff. On the churn rate, we actually had a really nice quarter from our fourth quarter churn rates. So we again had crossed almost all of our product sets. We were pretty positive, we were favorable to our churn rate in the fourth quarter was favorable to the third quarter, so that was the helpful in terms of maintaining revenues and then growing it. In terms of our -- in terms of the new logo versus existing customers, I mean we still continue to drive our significant amount of business from our existing customers. I don't think our mix in the quarter changed dramatically new versus existing. I think, one of the thing we're very focused on is our top 250 customers really drive a very significant portion of our revenue.

And in the case of probably 90% of those customers, we've a fairly small wallet share of their total IT spend that we have a possibility to go capture, that we're focused both on capturing more business with these existing customers that we have a deep relationship and then also obviously sprinkling in new customer opportunities.

Jonathan Atkin - RBC Capital Markets

Thank you.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Okay.

Operator: Our next question comes from Mark Kelleher of Canaccord Adams. Your line is open.

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

Thanks. Good quarter guys. I want to ask a few numbers question here. Just back on that churn, 50,000 square feet from Chicago was that not in that churn number, that was the end of December?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

It wasn't the churn number. But that -- because it was such a -- we measure churn on a dollar basis as opposed to square foot basis and because of a such a low revenue per square foot, the impact well in one center was significant, across our total mix didn't actually we were in line Q4 to Q3.

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

Okay. And how about utility computing as a percent of revenue, sometimes you give that out?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yes, let me -- we'll follow up -- I will have Peggy follow-up with you Mark on the specific. But I think across the utility footprint was pretty strong. Again the SaaS offerings as an example, many of those customers on the Managed Hosting side are taking advantage of that shared platform because that's really offering the kind of good price differentials from do it themselves. So I will have follow up with you on the specifics.

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

All right and one more numbers question. Could you tell us the EBITDA contribution from international?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

We haven't broken it out specifically. I think you see in K, we provide a mix of revenue by the different... by Asia, Europe, I can tell you, at the EBITDA line, those regions are pretty comparable in terms of their contribution as a percentage. What they are adding now we bear a lot of the corporate cost in the U.S. They are slightly older, they are smaller in size so they lack some of the skills that we've in the U.S.

But when you factor in that, they are not paying for some of their corporate costs, their contributions both Asia and Europe were pretty comparable to the U.S.

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

Okay. And last question, are you seeing any lengthening of sales cycles? I know you are seeing increase in inquiry rates, but how does the actual closing of the sales cycle going?

Philip Koen

Mark, I would say that when we told people that you should think about nine months, its still nine months. The real problem that we're facing is that finally get someone to commit. And the process that company's use two quarters ago is very different today than it was two quarters ago.

I don't know if that means that we are moving from nine months just as we don't have as much clarity around the actual commitment.

Mark Kelleher - Canaccord Adams

Okay, thanks.

Operator: Our next question comes from Simon Flannery of Morgan Stanley, your line is open.

Simon Flannery - Morgan Stanley

Okay, thank you very much. Good morning. I wonder if we could talk about the New York Stock Exchange for a second. Should we think about this as really the 27 million amortizing you are reducing during the first half of the year to zero by mid year? Or is it more lumpy than that and are there any cost savings associated with that in -- otherwise what's the incremental margin on that revenue? How should we think about the contribution margin? And any comments on Reuters/Thomson and how that relationship is going and any sort of potential extra business or potential reduction in business as a result of that? Thank you.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Sure. When I see the American Stock Exchange revenue that we have, it will... we do expect that to go out kind of over the course of the first half of the year. We certainly don't have a great visibility yet because those platforms are still alive in terms of exactly when but certainly I would expect that by May, June that revenue will be entirely gone.

The EBITDA contribution was very high. So that was when we signaled on the third quarter that, that was happening. It was not only a revenue impact but also a hole that we had to fill up from a EBITDA contribution perspective. And then... but that is reflected in our current guidance.

On the Thompson Reuters business, I was just trying and I think we had a great year with the Reuters business this year. We have great relationships across a wider portfolio of services including Managed Hosting as opposed to historically that has been almost inclusively a network relationship.

I can point out that for the first time since I have been here that revenue actually grew over the previous year which in the past it had not and I think that was fairly visible in our results over the last 5 or 6 years, so and then maybe Phil can have any other comments about that relationship.

Philip Koen

Yes, Simon I would -- I think, Jeff's characterization is fair. I think we're looking as we look into 2009 as to how we can continue to build off a positive momentum in 2008. And as Thomson and Reuters continues to operate closer and closer as one entity, there are a number of opportunities that I don't want to get into right now that we are obviously exploring with them.

Simon Flannery - Morgan Stanley

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jason Armstrong of Goldman Sachs. Your line is open.

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs

Great, thanks. Good morning guys. Couple of questions, first on the EBITDA guidance. I know you sort of gave us absolute dollar terms and Jeff you talked about longer term margin expansion growth sort of in the 3 to 5 year context. I am just wondering if you can comment on '09 specifically as the expectations that margins are up from '08 levels?

And then second question, Phil, maybe on distressed sales, I am just wondering if there is any evidence you're seeing in the marketplace of distressed sales of data centers out there and whether that maybe an opportunity for you guys?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah, on EBITDA question, Jason, I am not going to give a specific range. I will say that losing American Stock Exchange and even the Chicago data center with a positive contribution is... that put pressure on EBITDA and EBITDA margins in the first half. Clearly one of our goals is to expand that so, that is... and to meet our targets over the next two to three years we need to see improving EBITDA but I think you will see pressure in the first half of the year given the headwinds that we have with... the biggest impact being the loss of American Stock Exchange.

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs

Okay, great. Jeff, if I can just follow up, you didn't give revenue guidance but, if you are saying EBITDA moves up but margins effectively move down at least through the first half of the year, you are implying that there is an element of revenue growth next year despite the headwinds you mentioned. Is that the right way to look at it?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

I think we will just try to stay away. I think you can do the work. Again I would just say the first half of the year there is... you should absolutely expect that fourth quarter, first quarter that likely to be revenue decline as opposed to growth. So that's what we're working and have to be building out of that decline.

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs

Okay. Thanks and on the asset sales?

Philip Koen

Yeah, Jason, on the asset sales, I am aware of handful of distressed properties, primarily from what I will call opportunistic builds that have run into financing issues and can't get the necessary financing to complete. As far as our strategy of looking at that, that's just not in our headlights right now. As I said, our full focus is we've sufficient footprint. We want to drive our Managed Hosting. We think that's where the returns and the cash flow has come from. We are really pleased with the fourth quarter and I think we have demonstrated that. You can see what happens when we get through their expansion phase and so that's the '09 plan. And that's what we're going to drive.

Jason Armstrong - Goldman Sachs

Great, thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jonathan Schildkraut of Jefferies. Your line is open.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Thank you and thank you for taking my question today. A couple of housekeeping items and then hopefully a little bit on the strategy side from you guys.

The first question I had was; I was wondering if you could give us a little color, Jeff on CapEx that came in less than our expectations for the quarter and whether this was simply some timing issues with cash or whether some stuff was delayed or just didn't cost as much as you had anticipated?

The second item along the housekeeping side is you mentioned that a couple of data centers were renewed and moved to capital leases from OpEx. Could you quantify the impact to OpEx maybe in the fourth quarter and maybe for 2009 and then I will ask couple of strategy questions after that if it's alright.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Okay. On the CapEx issue I don't think there was anything unusual from a timing perspective. I think either one of the powers of our model is the customer growth and success based CapEx is really variable and ultimately driven by new sales. I think the dollars that we have highlighted from 2009 are sort of consistent at both for customer growth and maintenance sort of CapEx; or consistent with what we did in 2008. I think the maintenance jumped up a little bit as we -- as now large part of those new data center is added in late '07 and in '08. We'll have a little bit of maintenance of CapEx but I don't think there was anything unusual from a timing perspective.

And the one cutout as we did -- I think as we've talked about this from an expansion CapEx, some of the dollars from... that we had talked about and announced have just from a timing perspective or moved into '09 most notably in the UK where the work is essentially done but we weren't able to negotiate the cash payments into '09.

And then I think at a question on the capital lease centers, it was really two data centers in our DC market from the impact to EBITDA on a quarterly basis is about $400,000 a quarter by not all that was realized in the fourth quarter. But that would be the impact kind of going forward.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Alright, great. On the strategy side, I was wondering if you could spend a little time on three areas, first SaaS, that seems to be very interesting space and certainly with the assets you have seems to be a good target market. Can you talk about strength of that vertical and maybe, I know you have given some growth numbers here but helps us kind of get a better sense as to the overall absolute dollar stream coming from that?

Secondly, it seems like cloud, cloud computing, cloud efforts have become increasingly important. Certainly you are launching your cloud efforts some time in the beginning of this year. I'd love to hear some more detail there?

And then finally last year there was a lot of conversation about your federal business and I was wondering because we'd heard that maybe you were pulling back from that area. If we could get a little bit more color on the federal business. So again from strategy perspective, SaaS, cloud, and federal? Thank you.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Sure, Jon. What I am going to do is I am going to ask -- one of the reasons why we asked Bill to step in. I think it will be a great opportunity for Bill to give you a little bit more detail on SaaS and Cloud and I will come back and talk to you a little bit around the federal business.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Okay. Thanks.

Bill Fathers

So in terms of software and service, as you say it really has a great opportunity for us. If IFB move to this level of delivering sulphur as a service they of course need also some infrastructure solutions and most of the IT's don't currently have that themselves. I think in '08 we really started to get a great understanding of that specific needs and with that we are able to adapt all solutions which helped us grow. We're now beginning to see is what a powerful network effect whereby securing a number of these customers in a number of specific verticals perhaps just mentioning a couple of example payment processing, commission base in HR and sub market that we have become pretty strong in. We find that it is pretty powerful network effect.

I don't think we are giving any specific guidance on absolute dollars at this stage but if that continues to grow through 2009, perhaps we can be more specific of that. Then in terms of Cloud, yes, I think Phil alluded to the fact that we are seeing a very strong increase in demand for outsourcing solutions and as most enterprises look across their application portfolio, I think they see that some of the applications will suit well in a Colo environment, some work very well in Managed Hosting.

But many enterprises assume huge potential cost savings from moving into this Cloud shared environment. Obviously great news for SAVVIS as we've been doing shared platform hosting for a little over five years and have substantial business on our utility hosting platform. So we've spent a lot of 2008 really getting to understand the enterprise needs in terms of cost savings, security and the operational stability they are looking for from Cloud. So we are pretty excited about the opportunity for us in '09 and as Phil said we are launching that in the first and the third quarter of this year.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Well, we look forward to seeing a demonstration hopefully?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yes, we will love to have the ability to show you that John that will be great. Quickly on the federal business just to clarify, there is two pieces, one is the DoD and the other is the agency side.

We have never really participated in DoD at all. That has not been our focus traditionally. In the agency side what we intended to do is team with other larger companies because most of these contracts are complex and you have to have certain obviously ability to have contracting agreements in place.

So it continues to be an area that we participate in and clearly want that we have done well. I would look forward to 2009, I think as we think about it we have not built in to our 2009 thinking a drastic shift and opportunities coming out of the agencies by this business.

So if we see that dollars are being spent that might be an upside potential but for right now it's pretty much what we thought about this in the same levels of what we participated in 2008.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Alright, great. One last question here, if I may, on MX, I know that you have given us a great amount of detail and then we appreciate that. Wondering if this is mostly on the Colo side or if there is a breakout between Colo and Managed or Colo Managing Network Services that we can think about as we are adjust our models?

Philip Koen

It's mostly Managed Hosting, Jonathan. It's about 80, 20, 80% Managed Hosting, 20% Managed Network. So that was a complete outsourced solution of their entire IT environment. So it's alright within our Managed Hosting portfolio and then because it was on the Managed Network with redundant sites, those are two revenues lines you will see.

Jonathan Schildkraut - Jefferies & Co.

Alright. I really appreciate the extra color, thank you.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

No problem. Thanks Jon.

Operator

Our next question comes from Michael Bowen, of Piper Jaffray your line is open.

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

Okay. Thank you, good morning. Sorry if I missed this but I want to see if you could give us little color on what drove the higher Colo revenue per square foot? Second question is how should I think about the Colo versus Managed Hosting mix towards the end of '09 if you can help us on that, that would be great? And then with regard just the Chicago customer, can you indicate to us how far below market rate was this customer, either -- I know, you can't give us probably exact numbers maybe on a percentage basis in general how far below was that? Thanks.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah. On the revenue per square foot, as we continue to have success selling into the new data centers we certainly knew that it would drive up our yield. Also I mentioned that some of our because of that Chicago customer who significantly below market is now out of the base some of the increase from Q3 to Q4 is the fact that customers is no longer there. We haven't given sort of specific but what we have said is what's the dollar impact of that customers is obviously they have worn down a bit at the end of the year but on sort of a run rate basis it was sort of $6 million customer and we said there was about 50,000 square feet. So, clearly you can do the math as very below market.

Then on the Colo versus Managed Hosting mix. Again, as the new data centers were introduced, you'll see, and we've seen that throughout year that our Colo as a percentage of our hosting revenue has been increasing. It was 45%, a year ago, it's up to just under 50% today, this is our revenue in our data centers.

Overtime, we've already said that the Managed Hosting is going to take a longer period of time to drive revenue. So, overtime, we would expect the Managed Hosting mix obviously to increase, which will ultimately drive up the total yield in the data center. But I think for 2009 given the footprint we have available, we're under about 58% utilized. You should continue to see the Colo mix throughout 2009 to be higher than the Managed Hosting mix just because that's a market that we execute ourselves more quickly than Managed Hosting. But clearly, overtime, three to five years, we would expect the Managed Hosting mix to be higher than Colo.

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

So, when you've got space that you can lease out obviously in for instance the Chicago data center, and you've got customers coming to you. What will be the tipping point if for instances, I mean, obviously Managed Hosting has a more longer sales cycle, Colo is much shorter. You want to fill with Managed, but you've got maybe customers coming to you saying, we'll take a bunch of space at Colo rates. How will you evaluate that from a return on investment standpoint?

Philip Koen

Yeah. Michael this is Phil. I think what we have tried to do, I'm trying to give a gross definition to this is that, at one end to the spectrum are people who simply want to buy raw wholesale square footage. And the guy that turned out of there was exactly that type of buyer. Who is interested in buying is attracting his enterprise who as part of an outsourcing solution, maybe their first step is obviously to outsource their Colocation. But, we're also looking to have an attachment to that such as, can we sell storage solutions, can we sell or hand our hosted area network, can we sell some security services, can we sell a virtualization solution to them. And while, it's our engagement, our sales engagement is not along the dialogue what the real estate guy think, I need 10,000 square feet at this price point and although shop it. Our dialogue is at the CIO level thing. I'm trying to change the way I approach my IP infrastructure. And, I want to get from where I am today to some future state that may take me 18 months. And I'm going to do this in logical stages. That's the type of customer that we're going to engage in. And admittedly that's probably a sub component of all demand out there for Colo. But, that's right business solution for us and plays right into our rear house of driving our cash flows higher and our returns higher. Does that give some clarity?

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

Yeah, that helps a lot. And I guess just one last question if I may; on the flip side of that, I believe you're the number one customer to just the realty trust. Can you give us an idea in the fourth quarter and/or '09, whether you have any of those leases or percentage of that square footage that's coming up for repricing? Thanks.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

No, I think in 2009, we're done with our footprint, so we don't have any leases that are renewing. Most of that... most of the new data centers that we did a lot of business recently with there is signed for 15 plus year kind of leases, so we're pretty good with our cost structure across our data center footprint.

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

Anything at the end of '08 that was being negotiated as well?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

We talked about the one -- the DC leases, they are not with -- those were leases that were renegotiated, and that's why they... we added about $25 million of capital lease.

Michael Bowen - Piper Jaffray

Got it. Thank you very much.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Sri Anantha of Oppenheimer. Your line is open.

Srinivas Anantha - Oppenheimer & Co

Yeah, good morning, thank you. Jeff, just I want a clarification on the EBITDA guidance for next year. And if you go back historically, I think the mix between first half and second half was roughly 45, 55. Given the negative headwinds that you guys have especially with the mixed contract and the other Colo customer, is it going to be more like 35, 65 this year, or is it more like 40, 60.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yes, we certainly haven't given that level of detail. I do think what we've signaled is that second half would be higher than the first half given the negative impact of the items we've talked about with American Stock Exchange, revenue being the most significant. So, I don't think I am going to pin down exact percentages, but clearly we will grow through the loss of revenue, but that will, I mean, higher revenue and EBITDA in the second half of the year than the first half.

Srinivas Anantha - Oppenheimer & Co

Got it. And so, one question, I know you guys have talked about clearly, it's a quite uncertain macro environment, but at the same time you're saying, you're seeing increase from customers. As we think about building our revenue around throughout 2009, is it safe to assume that you guys are not expecting huge amount of closure rates or the booking trends are going to be probably much lower than what you guys have seen even three months ago here?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah, let me try to give a little clarity. And admittedly, we're appearing to some pretty murky water here. So, I apologize. I'd love to give you more, but I'm giving you everything I know. So the broad trend, and this is a very broad trend is that there is no doubt, in last 30 days we saw that a number of requests and bid proposals has increased from where we were as we came through the end of the fourth quarter. As I think about going forward, my concern is that we know that this revenue is coming out, it's coming out really quickly as Jeff has said. And, as we think about going through that, we're probably viewing internally a kind of a capture rate not too dissimilar to what we thought towards the end of -- post September 15th.

So, we are gearing our internal plans of saying that, we don't think it's going to be worse than what we experienced post September 15th. We think that that's probably a reasonable assumption. On the positive side, we see increase in people asking for proposals. On the negative side, we also know that the buying decision hurdles continue to get higher, which then translates into my mind a continued lengthy sales cycle.

And triangulating between those kind of gross data points, led us to the conclusion that it was probably pretty tough for us to give you any specific revenue guidance. And we focused on what we thought was the most important thing as managing our EBITDA and cash flow because I got a much more levers between revenue growth and cost and what we do from our day-to-day offerings standpoint. We have more control around that. So, I don't know the answer to your question, it's the best I could do. It's just very uncertain around deal-by-deal and where it is and when will someone actually say yes.

Srinivas Anantha - Oppenheimer & Co

Yeah, thanks. Well, that's helpful. And just one quick clarification; I think you have talked about the revenue pressure with the virtualized server offering. But from a profitability perspective, does it have any material impact there or does it not?

Philip Koen

No, and I think it could just kind of hit on that. I think the factor is affecting yield. I talked about virtualized servers versus dedicated. I think, overall we've got lower sever prices across the entire portfolio, and then we had some currency volatility. So, those three factors are kind of driving down that yield. I think the most important thing for us is we need to capture more revenue, and to capture more revenue, it's about having the most compelling cost advantage for our customer. So, as we lower our cost, we are pricing our services to win business, which means, the customers are getting the advantage of that. Ultimately, we talked about productivity improvements from the fourth quarter of last year to fourth quarter of this year. So, our view is, we can improve the margins even though our yield per square foot is declining because we are building in... we have a lower cost base for one, which is part of the overall cost of the customer. And two, we're more productive at managing the cost to manage the server today is lower than it was a year ago. And we're... so we're driving higher margins, but also being able to pass some of the savings to our customer to capture some more... to make a more compelling solution.

Srinivas Anantha - Oppenheimer & Co

Great. Thanks a lot, guys.

Operator

Our next question comes from Tom Seitz of Barclays Capital. Your line is open.

Thomas Seitz - Barclays Capital

Yeah. Thanks for taking the question, I think this is for Phil. Phil, it makes complete intuitive sense that companies are gong to increasingly look to outsource in this environment. IBM has talked about it. But clearly based on the guidance and what you have said today, discussions maybe up but the sales cycles remain elongated. Can you give us some examples of new types of potential Managed Hosting customers you are talking to without naming names? Are there industries that are in mass picking up dialog with you, are there changes in the size of the companies that are talking to you that maybe a year ago wouldn't have ever called you. Any color you can provide here I think would be greatly appreciated?

Philip Koen

Okay, let me struggle through this as best I can. It is really kind of a fascinating thing. As a general rule, what we're seeing is companies that have high IT infrastructure cost as related to the overall business. So IT intensive companies is kind of the focus. And what I am seeing is that, at the sea level suite there is tending to be a warming up -- and the calls that I am going on, I have been in the field a lot in the last 60 to 90 days talking to CIOs, CEOs. And we are kind of seeing that I am seeing across the industries that have high IT infrastructure investment is that there is an increasing drive towards benchmarking themselves against best of breed. And there is intensity that is going on right now saying I use rough numbers that IT spend as a percent of revenue runs anywhere from 2% to 4% as a kind of growth metrics.

The CIOs are looking at where they are and saying how do we get best of breed and then the next question is I can't do that internally. How do I turn in to a business partner to get to where I need to go, which then turns to let's go out and talk to three to four companies that have an expertise in this.

And the end result is that we are now engaged in I would say larger deals, the deal size that we're looking at tends to getting bigger. They tend to be more complex which is right into our realm. They tend to be talking about not only our hosting infrastructure but a lot of these applications that are in the web based architecture are increasingly chatty and so application performance of the network piece of this is increasingly an important part of the response process.

So those types of customers that we're seeing and it's not... don't think of this in terms of vertical. The common denominator is where IT spend as a percent of revenue side. And the enterprise we're seeing we need more leverage out of those dollars. How can we go about getting them?

Thomas Seitz - Barclays Capital

Understood. Thank you very much.

Operator

Our next question comes from Manny Recarey of Kaufman Brothers. Your line is open.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Hello? Can you hear me?

Philip Koen

Yes, Manny.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Hi, how you guys doing?

Philip Koen

We're great.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Just a couple of housekeeping questions and first, you gave kind of a guidance on where the currency impact is going to be for the full year. As we look sequentially, do you expect much of a currency impact?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

I think it will be down a little bit at least given that we started off the fourth quarter at certainly higher rates for sterling and then we ended and the volatility in January kind of continues. I think we'll have a little bit of impact probably not as much as third quarter to fourth quarter but we'll have a big impact. I think you are right, the year-over-year impact was largely because we had nine months of a pretty higher rate versus our expectations for 2009.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

And then second question just, the FAS 123 expense, just kind of trying to get an idea is the weight in the third and fourth quarter is kind of what we should look at going forward or do you expect that to kind of jump back up, sort of I suppose to jump back up in the fourth quarter here?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah, it will jump back up. So you should be thinking of that in the sort of $7 million to $8 million range on a quarterly basis. We got again in this quarter the benefit of some through ups to our forfeiture rates, so those are behind us and so that's kind of ongoing 7 million to 8 million a quarter is what you should be thinking about.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Okay. And then the last questions for Phil. As you look at your sales force and as you really focus on the Managed Hosting side, do you feel comfortable with what is -- how it stands now, do you feel yet to make some investments and improvements there?

Philip Koen

We're always fine-tuning our sales bids and our sales and execution. We just went through, it is a great question, we just went through our '09 launch with our entire sales organization. Even as we speak we're having a launch continue internationally. I am really delighted with the position, the messaging, the clarity and focus around the Managed Hosting story. We are really focusing into a number of key solution sets. We talked about one of them, which is obviously the SaaS. Another one is core warehouses, web hosting, another is in test and development area. And which we see tremendous opportunities for what we have to offer in the last month is in Proximity Hosting. It is really build on some clear momentum.

So, I think this last year '08 was a tremendous learning year for us. And I think as we went through that, our ability to refine the message has helped us. But, as everyone knows, you can do it better and we're... everyday we getup and try to make that happen.

Manuel Recarey - Kaufman Brothers

Okay. Thanks.

Operator: Our next question comes from Colby Synesael from CAS Research. Your line is open.

Colby Synesael - CAS Research

Oh, great. Most of my questions have been answered, but I do have one from the strategic perspective on the network services business. Obviously you guys put a big investment into that I think in 2007. For almost two years now that continues to decline. Can you just explain to me what the strategic value for that business continues to be? There is obviously lot of Managed Hosting provider software doing it with outline. And, it just doesn't seem like that's necessarily coming to fruition as we might have expected to when we made that investment few years ago? Thanks.

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Yeah, Colby, thanks. It's a great question. I'll try but it still was down. Our vision is that one of our core value proposition would differentiate this as the tight integration of the managed network with the Managed Hosting application platform. And, as more and more of these applications are web-based and increasingly chatty, what you are going to see is that there is going to be real need for being able to tightly tune that application to the actual delivery of it. We think owning and operating the entire stack is actually core. If you take a step back and you think about where this is all headed, and we've talked a little bit about our cloud initiative and there has been a number of articles written about this, the cloud platform very much depends upon the cloud itself, which is the network. And our view is that, for enterprises to be able to have a cloud solution that is career class focused on the enterprise, we need to be able to offer them this integrated solution. That brings us to... you're are absolutely right, that over the last couple of years that our manage network revenue number has been under pressure. And not to make excuses, but to try to explain that, part of this comes from the various mix of these revenue streams. We've talked about that there is a wholesale component to the carrier that continues to be very price sensitive. It's a byproduct that have been in network. Our hosted area network on hand, which is targeted directly to our Managed Hosting based customers. We show nice growth this quarter compared to the last quarter. And, we continue to believe that that will continue to grow as we get the right customers in our Colocation. So, a lot of this is landing the right people that will pull that through. And then the managed network piece of this we continue to work through, part of that is obviously -- which is somewhat problematic if they are focused in the financial vertical and their customer base comes under attack. We get the second and third order effects of that. And then also within that business making certain that we have and we're moving away from somebody's legacy customers who bought standalone IP VPN solution that aren't attached to any application that's being hosted within our data center. Those are the ones that we have the risk of churning. So, as we think about 2009, and the network business is very similar to the challenges we saw in 2006 and 2007 with our Colo business. Getting the right mix of customer here that can have the pull through effect is the challenge that causes these head pressures for us. That doesn't mean that the strategy is wrong. It means that we've just got to continue to work this as aggressively as we can. And the flip side of this is we aggressively look at cost side. We got to make certain that we get margin improvement out of the network business.

Colby Synesael - CAS Research

So your understanding the view that when the market does improve that, that unit including the Managed Network and the downward portion on that not just the hand solution should start to grow again or is it something you just kind of have to continue to be in if you want to be of value for some of your current customers in the Managed Hosting space.

Philip Koen

It's both. We absolutely want to be able to grow it. And the way we got to grow it is you have first of all have a compelling value proposition that people sign up for. We think we've done that, and making the investments we did in '07 and continue to roll that out in '08. I think the second part of this is to continue to make certain that we have improved the margin contribution from that business too.

Colby Synesael - CAS Research

Alright. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Steve (inaudible). Your line is open.

Unidentified Analyst

Good morning guys. You said that sales inquiries have been up over the past 30 days. Can you help us understand where they are relative to mid-year last year, let's say, even April before you started to see some issues in the economy. Is it above those levels or would it still be below?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

No, Steve, the short answer. I haven't looked back that far. I was looking relative to as we came through, my view is the world change September 15th, drastically. We went in this all credit crisis and kind of throughout the play books. Whatever happen in Q1 and Q2 is interesting but not really compelling. So what I am really looking at is where were we as we came through this past quarter.

Do I have a solid basis of this thing growing and which way it's growing. I don't have any answer for it relative to that. What I can tell you clearly is whether 30 days is a long-term trend. We all got to wait and see but it's encouraging to me to see that the quarter is absolutely higher than as we came out of Q4.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. My next question is in terms of the comments on the financial services industry and the uncertain environment you're seeing there, would that include Proximity Hosting or is that holding off?

Philip Koen

Thank you for the question, I'll take that one. I think we are seeing that certainly on the focused sales side and the buy side. We are seeing companies continue to make investments in Proximity Hosting and they are targeting the remaining IT dollars they do have to spend listing the projects around low latency algorithmic trading or proprietary trading continue to be areas where our customers are focusing their dollars.

Other projects are slowing down but specifically Proximity Hosting. To add a bit of color there, so our coverage expanded nicely in '08. We've the U.S coverage in Chicago, New York and we now have London, Singapore and Tokyo. We did see a shift and we are continuing to see a shift, a lots of exchanges have diversified themselves into other asset classes and other geographies. We are really well placed to meet their needs to trading derivative or other commodity markets based in Europe or Asia.

So certainly large global brokerage firms were saying -- they were just investing for the same in New York on that and making same investment for the same in Europe and Asia.

Unidentified Analyst

Can you help us in understanding how much of your financial services revenue is Proximity Hosting?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Steve, we never disclose that as a standalone.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, that's great. And Chicago, the reclamation that you did there; have you started booking on new business for filling that back up?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

We definitely have folks outstanding. That three year customer vacated very late towards the quarter and we had some work to do, to tear down cages and things like that. But we're definitely out-quoting that. I don't think I can say we have actually concluded a deal quite yet.

Unidentified Analyst

And the Americans Stock Exchange, is there a breakup payment for them going away?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

We think -- this is Jeff, at the time that they exit, they're going to be pretty much at the end of their contract life so, if it is nominal and it's really kind of a function of the timing, but have kind of factored that into our overall view of the revenue for the first half.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. And then in terms of the operating expenses, are you targeting a specific breakeven level or what would be the revenue breakeven level in terms of net income for the company in 2009?

Philip Koen

Well, this is Phil, I think what we're looking is EBITDA is the central metric. And we're obviously well ahead of that on a breakeven point. We can back to all that quite (inaudible)

Jeffrey Von Deylen

I think maybe taking it offline we can give color on it. It is just that we can give you color on cash comp expense and depreciation. And then... so that can give you a view. But, we're... this year we had or this quarter it was a benefit of non-cash lower kind of than historic. In going forward in 2009 the accounting change for the converts will drive a higher, albeit non-cash, a higher interest expense. So, that will put pressure on going to net income positive.

Philip Koen

Although, let me take it offline and Peggy would kind of walk you through that.

Unidentified Analyst

The reason why I asked is in terms of operating expense dollars, they've been coming down overtime. Would you expect them to continue to go down in 2009 to kind of get to your EBITDA forecast?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

Again, I think what we're focused on is managing EBITDA and EBITDA margins. So, as business grows, ultimately the dollars will grow. But, we are very focused on improving EBITDA margins and so, that's a function of kind of total cost as compared to revenue.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you.

Operator

And I am showing our question comes from Donna Jaegers of D.A. Davidson. Your line is open.

Donna Jaegers - D.A. Davidson

Hi, guys. Thanks for taking my questions, two quick ones. On the... obviously the low British pound that's having an impact on revenues, it would seem like you guys have some more than natural hedge on that because your costs are based on the UK. So, is the EBITDA hit as big as the revenue hit?

Jeffrey Von Deylen

No, you're right. Most of the business we contract over there, we contract in sterling and the cost obviously in UK are in sterling as well. So, the EBITDA impact is not as significant because of that natural hedge. But when that gets translated to USD, the revenue impact is at least, sequentially would be fairly significant.

Donna Jaegers - D.A. Davidson

Okay. And then the follow-up I guess for probably Bill, I know you guys are maybe so, on SaaS, you guys have a product that customers can test your SaaS platform before they buy. What sort of pipeline are you seeing as far as interest in that testing, and what's the close rate on that pipeline? Do a lot of people that test end up then going forward with projects?

Philip Koen

Yeah. Again, too much but nothing more. It's a great question. So the test that we have there is to allow those software companies to have the time where we rewrite their applications, so that it can be multi-tenant. This is a very quick way for them to organize themselves into the software as service world. Yet we're seeing pretty... we're seeing strong demand for that service and have a number of customers using it. Equally, we find we've got a pretty high range of sophisticated customers who have already written their application, and comes straight into our platform. So, we've been pleasantly surprised by how forward thinking and fast moving these customers are. And, obviously the great news is enterprise is considering buying software products at the moment, many of them are looking to buy software as a service type solutions because then they could be much more cost effective.

Donna Jaegers - D.A. Davidson

Great. Thank you.

Operator

And I am showing no further questions.

Philip Koen

Okay. Well, if there is no further questions, thank you very much for joining us on our Q4 2008 call and we look forward to updating to you on our Q1 results at the end of the quarter. Thank you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today's conference. You may now disconnect and have a wonderful day.

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