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Executives

Paul Ricci – Chairman and CEO

Tom Beaudoin – EVP and CFO

Analysts

Richard Davis – Needham & Company

Brent Thill – Citi

Derek Bingham – Goldman Sachs

Gore Topec [ph] – Thomas Weisel

Jeff Van Rhee – Craig-Hallum

Craig Nankervis – First Analysis

Daniel Ives – FBR

Abhey Lamba – UBS

Barbara Coffey – Kaufman

John Bright – Avondale Partners

Michael Latimore – Northland Securities

Mark Murphy – Piper Jaffray

Scott Sutherland – Wedbush Morgan Securities

Shyam Patil – Raymond James

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NUAN) F1Q09 (Qtr End 12/31/08) Earnings Call Transcript February 9, 2009 5:00 PM ET

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the Nuance’s first quarter 2009 conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Instructions will be given at that time. (Operator instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

With us today are the Nuance Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nuance, Mr. Paul Ricci, and CFO, Mr. Tom Beaudoin. At this time, I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Ricci. Please go ahead, sir.

Paul Ricci

Before we begin, I remind everyone that matters we discuss this afternoon include predictions, estimates, expectations and other forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. You should refer to our recent SEC filings for a detailed list of risk factors. As noted in our press release, we issued along with our press release a set of prepared remarks in advance of this call. Those remarks are intended to serve in place of extended formal comments and we will not repeat them here.

Before taking your questions though, I might recap a few points from our release and prepared remarks. Despite the challenging market environment, Nuance delivered a solid first quarter. We achieved this by leveraging robust growth opportunities in our healthcare market drawn upon our broad foundation of recurring revenue streams in our on-demand offerings, our long-term services engagements, and our numerous multi-year royalty contracts, and by attending assiduously to operational efficiencies and cost reductions.

We were challenged in the quarter by several areas of weak demand, in particular our conventional Windows-based software channels, mobile royalties based on end user shipments, and partner channels and enterprise. Nonetheless we were, of course, pleased with another quarter of continuing operating leverage and cash flow improvement.

As noted in the prepared remarks, we approached guidance with caution as market conditions remained turbulent and less predictable than in the past. Our published remarks sought to communicate a balance between the areas of strength and areas of volatility we have recently seen. We do not want, however, our cautious tone to undercut our firm conviction about the fundamental attractiveness of our markets or the strength of our position in those markets.

In healthcare, we believe the combination of quality and cost enabled by our solutions are reshaping the clinical documentation industry. In mobility, the unsurpassed number of units upon which we ship software provides a platform through which to deliver additional innovation, new mobile services and disruptive new model from mobile care. Within our enterprise market, Nuance has emerged as a trusted provider of complete call center solutions to large enterprises that seek to transform and modernize their call center operations.

With that, we will now take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator instructions) Our first question will come from Derek – excuse me. Our first question will come from Richard Davis with Needham & Company. Please go ahead, sir.

Richard Davis – Needham & Company

Thanks. I feel sorry for Derek, but I’ll go ahead and take his place. On the mobile side – or the side that you called mobile and enterprise, if I think about your business, you’re kind of stride two different methodologies. One is kind of server-based voice recognition and one is consumer electronics-based voice recognition. You kind of have a position in both. Which is – I mean, I guess, which is kind of gaining market share do you see one side winning big versus the other, or are you just kind of try to be the tools vendor to both and let the other people cited out?

Paul Ricci

When you say gaining market share, you mean our share?

Richard Davis – Needham & Company

Yes. More like which side – so you sell to both side, and so our handsets becoming voice recognition devices or will it be more of a server-based item? I’m just trying to figure out who is going to win in that proposition. You sell to both sides.

Paul Ricci

You’re from – you've been in this industry a long time and so you know trying to predict the winner between the client and server has proven for carriers business at best. Having said that, our view is that the solution will ultimately involve both speech on the device and speech in the network. And our efforts in particular with telecommunication – with carriers and with our enterprises has been to provide solutions that help them meet the needs of mobile users for their respective businesses that are seamless between those two experiences. So today we see some speech on the device and some speech emerging in early efforts for services from the network that those two will be seamlessly integrated over time. And our technologies intend to provide a platform that enables enterprises to do both.

Operator

Okay, thank you. And our next question will come from Brent Thill with Citi. Please go ahead.

Brent Thill – Citi

Good afternoon. Paul, you certainly lowered your revenue outlook for 2009, but you left your operating margin unchanged. Can you just walk through kind of your confidence on that line item and why you left it unchanged? And then secondly, if you could just kind of dissect the mobile and enterprise business. I think you mentioned it was down 10% year-over-year organically. Where did you see the most stress between the two and what’s your outlook for the rest of the year? Thank you.

Paul Ricci

With respect to your first question on operating margins, we left our profit guidance the same because we believe that the record we have established and the commitment we have established in cost management in consolidating operations and synergies from past acquisitions will allow us to continue to see operating leverage even if revenues ultimately are slightly lower than they were forecast when we were on this call last quarter. And in context, it is a slight reduction, about 2.5% at both ends of the range. And we are confident we can deliver our operating margins within that revised revenue range. On your second question, within enterprise we actually have a reasonably strong performance in what were reduced expectations for us in the first quarter in North America. On-demand was particularly good. I also mentioned that services and maintenance generally were up. We were hurt by sales from – license sales from our channel partners, which is referenced in both the release and the remarks. And Europe was off more than we anticipated in the enterprise sector. In mobile, we had some gains in the quarter from additional adoptions by new OEM partners. I think our solutions are being viewed increasingly as the solutions of choice and that’s a good for us long-term, but there is no question that unit shipments in all the mobile devices are off and that that’s been reflected in the royalty reports, and that’s of course consistent with what we are all reading in the press day-to-day in the decline in mobile shipments, the decline in automotive sales, and so forth.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question will come from Derek Bingham with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.

Derek Bingham – Goldman Sachs

Hi, thanks. I wonder if you could speak to what you are expecting from IBM in terms of revenue contribution and I guess earnings contribution too. If you could flood some kind of updated color on that it would be helpful to get a sense of what you are expecting.

Paul Ricci

I really can’t say – I can’t speak to it in particular other than the general outlook we provided at the time of the announcement, which was that the combination of the IBM announcement and the additional financing we did would be positive to – neutral to slightly positive in the balance of ’09 and would be accretive in fiscal year 2010. But I can’t give you any additional revenue or numbers associated with that.

Operator

We have a question from Tom Roderick with Thomas Weisel.

Gore Topec – Thomas Weisel

Sure. This is actually Gore Topec [ph] on for Tom. So historically you’ve talked about cash flow (inaudible) in mimicking pro forma net income. Yet this quarter they outpace them pretty significantly. Can you talk about what’s driving that significant upside to cash flow here? I see a nice increase in deferred revenue and a nice drop in DSOs. Is that sustainable? Are these one-time things? Thank you.

Paul Ricci

I’m going to – before I let Tom speak to the specifics, let me simply remind you that our objective has been to deliver cash flow from operations that were approximately in line with our non-GAAP net income. We were close to that for the full year of last year; not quite there, but close to that. And that long-term correlation between those two remains our objective. But in any one quarter, results can vary up or down, and we would urge you to focus on the long-term and not the quarter. And it’s easier to say that in a quarter which are substantially up than it is the quarter when they are down. So we’ll try and remind you we said it when they were up. And now I’ll let Tom speak of the particulars.

Tom Beaudoin

That was really in two areas. Certainly we were coming off of strong Q4 in revenue. And as you see in the remarks, DSO did go down three days from Q4 to Q1. So we had very strong cash flows. We continued to manage cash very carefully, and as always, pluses and minuses to the AP balances. So we had some invoices that came in late that we did not pay for this quarter, but as Paul said, that fluctuates quarter-on-quarter. But it really was continued focus on working capital and cash management.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question will come from Jeff Van Rhee with Craig-Hallum. Please go ahead.

Jeff Van Rhee – Craig-Hallum

Sure, thank you. Paul, couple of questions. First, the $25 million reduction in both ends of the range, I mean there is a lot of moving parts here. Can you just narrow it down for us where the bulk of the reduction came relative to your expectations before? And then secondly, the on-demand side certainly has grown as a percent of revenues. Can you give us some update as a percent of the total revenues what on-demand is running right now?

Paul Ricci

Jeff, I don’t have the on-demand number. So perhaps we can – someone can produce that before the end of the call. Otherwise we’ll have to do it subsequently. Certainly the most dramatic effect in the last few months has been the market reduction and activity in Windows-based software channels. And you’ve read about that for many companies and seen it in many reports, and we experienced it too. And it affected our imaging Windows apps and our Dragon application outside of medical. Our medical version Dragon we sell through our healthcare channels, and in fact, it performed very strongly in the quarter, but non-medical versions of Dragon as well (inaudible). And so we have reduced for the balance of the year our expectations around those products. We’ve – and that’s the primary factor. We’ve made a modest reduction in our revenue range for Europe as well. And those were probably the bulk of it.

Operator

Thank you. And we have a question from Craig Nankervis with First Analysis. Please go ahead.

Craig Nankervis – First Analysis

Thanks very much. A couple questions. On healthcare, Paul, which seems to continue to be so strong for you guys, a variety of healthcare IT companies are challenged right now, including your EMR neighbors, by speech in exception, or has that outlook even grown a little bit more cloudy incrementally for you? And also could you elaborate on the government interest you talk in electronic healthcare records and how much that is a new driver in the timing of that? Lastly, I’d like to touch on how you’re viewing the SNAPin and BeVocal combination that you’re taking to market. You referred to a disruptive channel. Are you doing anything more or less there than when you announced the acquisition in terms of traction and what that’s enabling you to do in the market? Thanks.

Paul Ricci

That was a lot. Let me see if I can take them in turn. Well, let me speak to SNAPin in that first. The SNAPin – the interest in mobile care has outpaced what at least I expected at the time we made the acquisition and you’ll remember that we had our own technology in this area and so we had early indications from our investments of the interest and our process of due diligence and discussions with SNAPin confirmed that they were experiencing similar interest. There will be quite sometime to deployments in many of these accounts. And so I caution investors not to build in revenue expectations too early on. We are going to see revenues later this year – meaningful revenues from our mobile care, from integrations that are already well underway and in activations that are occurring. But overall our view that that capability is going to be disruptive has been confirmed by the level of interest among other large enterprises. Our on-demand presence in enterprise, which you referred to as BeVocal, did in fact continue to do well, very well in the quarter, first quarter. That’s continued performance now for many, many quarters. And I anticipate that that will continue for the remainder of the year. We should have additional implementations coming online in that on-demand business as well, as the year goes on. And I’m sorry, your very first question that I forgot, and what was it?

Craig Nankervis – First Analysis

Some of the other healthcare IT areas like the EMR players are more challenged now. Why does speech continue to hold up or why will it continue to hold up better than, say, the EMR players and the like? Or has that picture grown on the margin a little more cloudy for you versus 90 days ago? And then the other part was the government interest that you talked about in electronic healthcare records.

Paul Ricci

Yes, thank you for repeating it, I’m sorry. I believe that the reason that our healthcare business continues to perform well is that there is an ongoing and heightening pressure upon hospitals to improve the quality of your clinical documentation and reduce the cost associated with completing it. And I believe our solutions have a technological and an operational advantage in delivering those that is unmatched in the industry. And I think it’s creating an accelerating migration from other people in the industry to us to provide that solution. I think that is the essence of what’s happening. I think it’s a big business. There are, depending on what numbers you use, $7 billion, $8 billion, $9 billion of transcription in North America alone. And I believe that we’ve created enough presence now that there is general awareness of us in that marketplace. And I think there is an accelerating trend to move towards our solutions and I think that’s what’s driving it. We are benefiting additionally from the intersection of our technology with electronic medical record implementations. In part, that’s occurring because hospitals have found that by integrating speech with EMR they get higher adoption rates of EMRs, which is what they are trying to do. With respect to the government interest, I think you are aware that there has been a considerable discussion in the current administration and in Congress about providing economic incentives for hospitals to move to electronic health records of various kinds and in using technologies in an accelerated way to do that, along some of the themes that I just spoke about a few minutes ago, our view is that while it’s impossible to quantify that that’s possibly and perhaps likely going to provide additional impetus to what we are trying to accomplish in healthcare as the coming quarters proceed.

Craig Nankervis – First Analysis

Thank you very much.

Operator

Okay. And our next question will come from Daniel Ives with FBR. Please go ahead.

Daniel Ives – FBR

Thanks. Can you just speak to Viacore? And you’re giving out services-based business, how that’s helped you in this environment, maybe just as a methodology, the way you’re selling more powder in the gun, can you just kind of speak to that?

Paul Ricci

Viacore has become the part of Nuance’s enterprise services organization. And it did infuse into that organization more of a solutions orientation, a solutions selling orientation. And that has become over the last 18 months – and I’ve talked about this frequently in previous calls. That has become increasingly our orientation for servicing large enterprises for call center solutions. We’ve done that as we’ve recognized that our most successful solutions have been delivered in conjunction with services that we deploy into that enterprise. And we’ve done it as our own enterprise partner channels have gone through some amount of disruption. So increasingly we’ve seen our model in our enterprise business shift to direct solution selling and our on-demand offering in a way from channel royalties, although we still continue to have significant channel royalties among some partners.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator instructions) And we have a question from Abhey Lamba with UBS. Please go ahead.

Abhey Lamba – UBS

Yes, thanks. Paul, I know you’re not talking about specific revenue contribution from the IBM deal. Can you talk qualitatively about the additional expenses associated with those revenues? What type of margin they let it for your corporate average (inaudible)?

Paul Ricci

I’m sorry, I really can’t. I just can’t provide you any more granularity than what we’ve already said with respect to the IBM announcement.

Abhey Lamba – UBS

Okay. And talking about your Windows-based apps business, how correlated is that to PC shipments? Do we need to see PC shipments to be bound [ph] for that business to actually get back on the reasonable growth?

Paul Ricci

I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m sure that there is some level of correlation with PC shipments, but I can’t give you anything precise. What’s clear is that outside the select vertical markets, outside the select professional markets, the demand for – broadly for Windows-based application software has declined and the activity in those channels has declined, and we’re seeing that. And we are not building into our forecast for the remainder of the year significant recovery in that, although we do have some offsetting activities, some offsetting opportunities because of product launches coming up later this year.

Operator

And our next question will come from Barbara Coffey with Kaufman. Please go ahead.

Barbara Coffey – Kaufman

Yes, good afternoon. I was just taking a look at sort of how deals are getting closed, whether or not it’s the on-demand solutions are more perpetual solutions. Are you seeing the buyers be looking at return on investment models that might be faster to have on-demand solution, or can you talk to me of the sort of buying patterns and issues have changed?

Paul Ricci

They divulge [ph] somewhat, and I think that’s in part of a slow evolution and perhaps it’s been accelerated slightly by the financial turmoil that we’ve seen towards on-demand. But for the most part, large enterprises have a preference in this phase for on-premise. They are looking more and more for a partner the associated services and perhaps even in the managed service arrangement, and that too has increased. And I – but the interest in limiting on-premise capital purchases has increased somewhat the interest in on-demand solutions.

Operator

We have a question from John Bright with Avondale Partners. Please go ahead.

John Bright – Avondale Partners

Thank you. Paul, two revenue questions. One, I think in the prepared remarks you said that you weren’t recognizing any mobile care revenues in the quarter. Were there any revenues associated with mobile care in the quarter?

Paul Ricci

No, none.

John Bright – Avondale Partners

Okay. And then recurring revenues for the quarter, last quarter I asked the question, what do you think the percentage of your revenues now you would characterize as recurring?

Paul Ricci

I think our view is that our recurring revenues are about 65% of our revenues right now.

Operator

We have a question from Michael Latimore with Northland Securities. Please go ahead.

Michael Latimore – Northland Securities

Yes, good afternoon. Just on the SNAPin acquisition, do you still expect kind of the entity to make kind of the original guidance you’re looking for there in 2009 here?

Paul Ricci

Yes, we do. Just as noted in our comments, they are complex contracts, and because of the accounting around complex contracts that involve numerous elements, revenue recognition can sometimes be delayed. And our practice is to be conservative on these things. And therefore we took no revenue in Q1. It doesn’t change our overall objectives and expectations for the year. And as I said in my earlier comments, the level of interest we are seeing in the solutions, actually some are greater than we anticipated.

Operator

We have a question from Mark Murphy with Piper Jaffray. Please go ahead.

Mark Murphy – Piper Jaffray

Yes, thank you. The decline in DSOs seems a little counterintuitive just considering the economic climate that’s out there. And I just wanted to ask what are the dynamics there and how would you expect the DSOs to trend during the rest of the year. And I have a follow-up also.

Paul Ricci

Tom, do you want to take that?

Tom Beaudoin

Sure. We haven’t seen a delay in payments. We implemented about two to three quarters ago a very focused cash collections effort. I think – as we go forward, I think we are probably in this kind of 38 to 40 range. I don’t think it will get much lower than that, particularly as we grow some of the European business and some of those countries have slightly higher payment cycles, but that’s relatively minor from next couple of quarters. And it really is I think just a very strong focus across the organization on cash collections.

Mark Murphy – Piper Jaffray

And then – thank you for that. Just a question on a line item on the balance sheet for contingent and deferred acquisition payments. Could you just remind us at this point which companies do those apply to? And just curious, are those amounts earn-out based such that potentially you might not actually owe some of the funds, or are those really just a question of timing?

Paul Ricci

There is some of both. So in the instance that we fail to achieve certain earn-out milestones, the earn-outs would be reduced or in some cases perhaps eliminated, probably reduced. I don’t have a list of –

Tom Beaudoin

So Paul, there – I can answer that. There are two major items at the end of Q1 made up of contingent and deferred acquisitions. The biggest element of it is the payment due at the end of this fiscal year associated with the PSRS acquisition. And then the second piece of it is associated with a tax election that we made for eScription. One is about 65 million and the other is about 19 million. I think that makes up the bulk of that item.

Operator

Okay. We have a question from Scott Sutherland with Wedbush Morgan Securities. Please go ahead.

Scott Sutherland – Wedbush Morgan Securities

Great, thank you. Good afternoon. Couple of questions. First, on the mobile side, you did talk about reduced by shipments, but can you talk about your traction with new customers? I know you’re just trying to penetrating Nokia, how that’s coming along, other device guys out there? And in that segment, also can you talk about penetrating more software like speech controls you’re doing with the high-end auto devices?

Paul Ricci

I didn’t understand your second question, so maybe you could just clarify it and I’ll answer that and then come back to the first question?

Scott Sutherland – Wedbush Morgan Securities

Yes. I want to know how you do in penetrating the existing devices with more software. I know on the high-end navigation devices, you are now doing some speech control, and how that can drive some incremental revenue?

Paul Ricci

Right. Well, we made several references in our press release and our published remarks to increased acceptance by OEMs. So we have seen an increased movement towards Nuance’s solutions in effect to increase share among OEMs throughout the mobile device landscape, car navigation devices, mobile device – cell phones. And that includes in some cases new customers and in some cases customers with additional – that we’re selling additional offerings to. So we’re having some success of both. I can’t really give you specific names because there are restrictions under which we can talk about those names. And from time to time we do try and publish some.

Operator

Okay. And we have a question from Shyam Patil with Raymond James. Please go ahead.

Shyam Patil – Raymond James

Hi, thank you. I have a few questions. First one is if you could talk about what drove the deferred revenue increase this quarter. And should we be looking at that as an indicator of on-demand bookings or was there a large maintenance component in there?

Paul Ricci

Tom? Tom?

Tom Beaudoin

Yes. A piece of the deferred was through the acquisitions. That was the major piece. Another piece was SNAPin and the PSRS were the two main drivers in the deferred increase.

Shyam Patil – Raymond James

Okay. And then how should we think about interest expense for the rest of the year given that rates just come down? And then just my last question, when you look at second half of ’08 growth for the top line, where are you expecting that to come from and just what are the drivers for that? Thank you.

Paul Ricci

I’ll take the second question first. As you saw in our first quarter and it – the growth in our healthcare business remained robust and I do think that that’s going to continue to be the fastest growth for us. I think we will also see growth in our North American enterprise and some growth in our mobile, as we suggested in our comments. And with respect to interest expense, Tom, do you want to provide that?

Tom Beaudoin

Sure. We will see interest expense come down over the remaining couple of quarters. It won’t come down as quickly in Q2 based on some swaps that we have in place, but it will come down from Q1. And then if the rates stay where they are, then we should see some significant improvement in the second half of the year.

Operator

Thank you. We have a follow-up question from John Bright with Avondale Partners. Please go ahead.

John Bright – Avondale Partners

Thank you. Paul, on the expense side of the equation in your prepared remarks, you talked about some of the efforts you are going through now to manage some of your expenses. Can you give us a flavor of where you are in the process right now and whether or not you may be accelerate some of those efforts in the quarter?

Paul Ricci

Nuance has a tradition of having – paying a lot of attention to cost. And we have activities within the company that are seeking continuously to reduce cost. I would say fairly that that work has been intensified as we view the year, but not dramatically so. And so this is not about a significant restructuring or something of that flavor. We’ve put additional cost controls in place in places that are discretionary. For example, we’ve reduced marketing expenditures in those channels where we just don’t think that there is going to be adequate returns in this climate. We further reduced travel expenses. We’ve reined in some facilities expenses. We’ve reduced hiring, though we’ve not eliminated hiring. Some of those take place more quickly than others. We – so you will – there will be benefits from further cost reductions in the second quarter, but I don’t want you to think that there being a substantial restructuring activity or something of that flavor.

Operator

Follow-up question from Mike Latimore with Northland Securities. Please go ahead.

Michael Latimore – Northland Securities

Yes, thanks. Paul, you mentioned in the second half, driver could be North American enterprise. Is that sort of both products and on-demand or just on-demand? What elements of North American enterprise would be a driver?

Paul Ricci

So the first half of your question, I just didn’t hear. It was garbled. If you wouldn’t mind repeating it?

Michael Latimore – Northland Securities

Yes. You mentioned that in the second half of ’09 that North American enterprise could be a driver of the business. Would that be mostly on-demand or would that be the product segment as well?

Paul Ricci

I think we’re going to see growth in our on-demand business for the remainder of the year. And I think we’re going to see some growth in our solutions business, which is an amalgamated sale of services and licenses and customized applications sold directly to enterprises. And I think that that will increasingly offset the decline that we’ve seen in the rate of royalties we’re receiving through third parties. And when I spoke earlier about growth in the enterprise in the second half, that’s what I was referring to.

Operator

Thank you. And our last question, follow-up question, will come from Brent Thill with Citi. Please go ahead.

Brent Thill – Citi

Thanks. Just a quick clarification on the CapEx, it jumped up in Q1. I think it was about half of what you spent all of last year. Should we look at that as just front-end loaded or do you anticipate spending more on this line item throughout the year?

Paul Ricci

CapEx was slated to go up slightly this year and in fact it will. The expenses in the first quarter were mostly associated, I believe, with an expansion of our technology grid, which our researchers use, and some other computing investments. But I don’t think you should think of it as – it was somewhat front-end loaded. But capital expenditure this year will be up somewhat over last year.

Operator

Okay, thank you. I will now turn the conference back over to Mr. Paul Ricci. Please go ahead.

Paul Ricci

Okay. Well, thank you again for joining us this quarter. And we look forward to speaking to you again at the end of the next quarter.

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using AT&T Executive Teleconference service. You may now disconnect.

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