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Infinera Corporation (NASDAQ:INFN)

February 27, 2013 4:55 pm ET

Executives

Ita M. Brennan - Chief Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer

Thomas J. Fallon - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Analysts

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Roderick B. Hall - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Hello, everyone. My name is Jeremy David, I work on the Communications Equipment team at Morgan Stanley with Ehud Gelblum, who cannot be here with us today. Welcome to the Infinera session. From Infinera today, I have Tom Fallon, CEO; and Ita Brennan, CFO. Welcome.

Ita M. Brennan

Thank you.

Thomas J. Fallon

Thank you very much.

Question-and-Answer Session

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

So we'll talk quite a bit about the 100G market, but I'm not sure everybody here is very familiar with Infinera. And maybe a good question to start is to go back at what you said at the Analyst Day about your TAM. What is the TAM you're averaging today? And where do you see that TAM going over the next several years? And what kind of products will get you there?

Thomas J. Fallon

Sure. So Infinera introduced the DTN platform into the long-haul transmission market in about 2005. At the time, it kind of revolutionized that industry. We came out with a sort of price point that was very effective based upon our vertical integration model, making photonic integrated circuits, and a new way of doing business, which was integrating switching capability into traditional optical analog transmission. We were very successful for those first couple of years. We won a lot of market share. We are #1 in market share in North America within 18 months, and we had anticipated that we would continue to grow that for a reasonably good period of time. One of the things we underestimated at the time was, one, we were a start-up. Two, we had no record in the industry. So we were an unknown new technology company, and one of the things that we saw, too, was that Tier 1s, one of the target customers, 10 gig had been in the market since about 1997. We were introducing 10 gig technology in 2005. Tier 1s are typically not interested in certifying technology that is already 7 or 8 years into a technology life cycle. They want to make their investment where the market is going, not where it's been. So we ended up being very successful in all the markets except the core Tier 1 backbones. And that roughly is about a $2 billion TAM, both for long-haul, submarine and what I would consider regional Metro applications. We recently introduced the DTN-X, which opens up the core backbone. Well, we've recently won the CenturyLink backbone bid, first Tier 1 backbone business, and that takes the TAM from about a $2 billion TAM to about $4 billion TAM worldwide. If you look across the horizon of what market analysts say that TAM should do over the next couple of years, it's forecasted to grow to be about a $6 billion TAM. So we think our TAM is -- what we're positioned for today is about a $6 billion TAM in the next couple of years. We also have a great technology. And really, the difference between Metro and long-haul is blurring. The technology makes that distinction not as important. It's really high-capacity networks, whether it be in Metro region of the core, and lower-capacity networks, mostly in the Metro. We have the PIC technology under development today that we think will bring a brand-new platform to market that will open up the lower-capacity Metro markets for us. That is probably about a $5 billion or $6 billion TAM in its own right in that time period. So we think we've taken a TAM that we participate in fully historically of $2 billion to a TAM that's going to be $6 billion over the next couple of years to a TAM that's probably in the $10 billion to $12 billion range as we introduce the Metro platform in the next few years.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay, that's actually a very interesting path for growth. So right now, you are extending your TAM from $2 billion to $4 billion with the 100G DTN-X product that you recently launched. Can you give us an update today on where you stand with this product in terms of purchase orders, number of customers that have reached revenue recognition? If I recall correctly, at the end of Q4, you had 22 purchase orders for the DTN-X and 15 customers. Is that still the case today? Have you...

Thomas J. Fallon

No, we continue to add customers on an ongoing basis. On February 5, we announced we had 22 customer commitments, I think 15 that we recognized revenue from. I'm delighted to update that. In just a few weeks, since February 5, we're now to 24 purchase commitments. So we continue to excite, I think, the market with this new capability. The DTN-X has really come and taken the market by storm. It has exceeded personally my expectations, which were pretty high. We started shipping the product in basically Q3 of this year. We were #1 market share in the 100 gig in the first quarter. We continue to expand our 100 gig output. And we have 24 customer commitments on a platform, in an architecture that is new, important and a very big strategic decision by customers.

Thomas J. Fallon

And we've also added to that same time period 13 new DTN customers. So it's not just the new platform selling, but 10 gig is going to have a nice, healthy, long life cycle. And for the first time, our company is in a position to benefit not only from legacy technology but a new technology right at the beginning of the technology curve.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Great. So going back to the 100G shipments you had in Q3, you said you obtained #1 market share. The industry analysts updated their numbers after you reported. And it looks like 100G port shipments from Infinera increased about 10% quarter-to-quarter in Q4. How should we take that number into context? Because the product really is just ramping, so that 10% might seem low to some people. And if we look at the guidance for Q1, you're guiding revenue down 2% to 10% quarter-over-quarter. So what can you tell us to give us confidence that the product is still -- beside the number of bids, the number of customer, what makes you confident that the product is really on a strong growth trajectory?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes. I think most people would say quarter-on-quarter growth of 10% on a brand-new platform that's already #1 in the industry is pretty darn good. And if we can grow quarter-on-quarter 10% forever, I think that's -- we're going to be bigger than GE. We came out to the market and the technology 100 gig was introduced as a young technology about 2 years ago. And there were a couple of people who are in the market and they had the dominant market share. They were the leaders in the market by introducing early technology to the market. In 1 quarter, we shipped enough ports to be #1 market share. And if you look across those 2 quarters, we've shipped in 2 quarters almost 30% of every 100-gig wave ever shipped in the world. That is a remarkable accomplishment for a company that is coming to the market as a third participant. So I'm extraordinarily happy with our progress. We grew the ports 10% quarter-on-quarter, but more importantly, we grew revenue in year-over-year in that time frame 14%. So we're growing ports. We're growing revenue. We're picking up market share. In Q1 we guided down revenue somewhere between 2% and 10%, I believe, to -- I think the median was $120 million. And if you look at the industry, the optical networking industry, 2010 to 2011, Q4 to Q1, the industry shrank 20%. In 2011 to 2012, the industry shrank Quarter 4 to Q1 25%. So the heritage of the last couple of years is our industry cyclically goes down somewhere in the order of 10%. If we go down nominally, what we have said, 5%, we're growing market share and we're doing great. So I think that people need to look at the industry, the cyclicality of the industry. And at the end of the day, are we winning market share? Are we winning new customers, and at the end of the day, are turning that into a profitable business?

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay, points well taken. You recently signed a Tier 1, CenturyLink, that you announced at the Analyst Day or just probably before the Analyst Day. How big is the opportunity this accounts? When should we expect that business to ramp? And which vendor is losing that CenturyLink potentially?

Thomas J. Fallon

CenturyLink has been a good long-term customer of ours for a long time. We've been a significant supplier to them in their Metro businesses, both regulated and unregulated, for a number of years. This is the first time that we have won a Tier 1 backbone, and it's an important victory for our company. Tier 1s are an important part of our industry. The first Tier 1, I always find, is the hardest because nobody now can say, well, you've never been in Tier 1 backbone. That's one of our competitors. They were saying -- well, they've been pretty successful but not in Tier 1s. They can't say that anymore. And I think that the opportunity there is going to be large, and it's going to be up to us to execute. We were picked not only for the excellence of our DTN architecture, which I personally believe is the best platform in the industry by a long margin, but also very specifically because over the several years we've been working with them, we have the highest quality in their network, we have the best service and support, and we have the shortest lead time. They find us operationally excellent. Our job is to continue to be operationally excellent and to win every dollar of opportunity that's in there, and the people who lose are everybody who sell them optical transport gear today.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So you're taking over at CenturyLink?

Thomas J. Fallon

Well, that's my opinion. I think there's a great opportunity. Clearly, CenturyLink has a number of suppliers. I'm sure a lot of them are good suppliers. All I want to do is have an opportunity to compete for the routes. And I think we'll earn our fair share.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. In terms of deployment, is that going to be -- I mean, are you already seeing them?

Thomas J. Fallon

They're carrying live traffic today.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. And is that going to be kind of a steady state in terms of orders? Are you seeing -- expecting an acceleration as your platform just got qualified.

Thomas J. Fallon

I'm not going to comment on the specific business of a specific customer, but our opportunity is to be a long-term partner with them.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So you said earlier you are going from $2 billion to $4 billion with the TAM by going after Tier 1s. So CenturyLink is a good example of that. Are -- your discussions with other potential Tier 1 accounts progressing? How long is the window of opportunity open for vendors to get footprint on 100 gigabits?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes, I think the 100 gig market is going to be a substantive market for probably 20 more years. It's a big, long tail of the cycle. 10 gig was introduced to the market in 1997. It is roughly peaking in volume about now. So 15 years into the cycle on a port count basis. I think this is going to be a couple of decade phenomenon. I think that there's some people who say most of the big decisions have been already made under the 100 gig suppliers, and I think that's not just a true statement. Every Tier 1, every major carrier, will have a 2-vendor strategy. Most vendors haven't picked their first vendor yet. I think a lot of decisions are going to be made over the next 3 or so years, and we are in lot of conversations for the DTN-X about opportunities for us. Some of them are at the conversation phase. Some of them are at the lab trial phase. Some of them are in the final negotiation phase. We won't win all of them, but we'll some of them. And I think the next few years are very critical, but this is still early on in an industry.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

So I want to go back to one of my earlier questions. You said you added 2 first orders, 2 customers. Can you give us some flavor for -- perhaps you can give us the breakdown of what kind of customers they are? Are they new to Infinera? Can you -- are any of those 2 Tier 1s or...

Thomas J. Fallon

I will let Ita answer so I don't get in trouble.

Ita M. Brennan

Yes, I think we can say they are -- the 2 that we've added our existing customers. Right, they are existing customers, yes.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Great. To go after the Tier 1s, you seem very optimistic about your prospects with Tier 1s. But do you need to partner with anybody to help you get into these accounts?

Thomas J. Fallon

We've been asked that question for a long time because there's been the view that we're not big enough. I think that, that is dissipating, that concern. We have 111 customers. We operate in probably 50 plus countries. We've demonstrated we can roll out nationwide networks as well as anybody. We are a digital optical architecture. So our systems roll out and turn up extremely easily. And part of it before was about financial stability in the industry. If you look at our industry, it's a pretty debt-structured industry. We have no debt. We have $185 million of cash. And last quarter, we created cash from operations, and we are committed to not consume cash. So I think from a debt structure perspective, we're not the most risky. We're probably the least risky alternative out there. And we really are not anymore having the conversations with potential customers about we think you're a financial risk. That just had not -- that's just not that. Nortel went away. NSN sold their optical business. Alcatel is debt structured. The industry has many bigger problems than us.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So you touched on a couple of your competitors, the competitive environment for 100 gigabit saw that change over the past 12 months. Any recent development that you're seeing in the marketplace right now?

Thomas J. Fallon

A year ago, there are really 2 viable suppliers in the 100 gig long haul, Ciena and Alcatel, both of them did a fine job. Since that period of time, the supply base has broadened. We are in there today. Certainly, other companies are in there. Huawei is in there. So the supply base has broadened. And what happens when that occurs is the customer base says we now can go and build on this technology because the supply base is broad enough to ensure competition, ensure continuity of the supply and ensure a good pricing. In that period of time, we've seen relatively steep drop in ASPs of 100 gig. 100 gig today is more cost effective on a dollar-per-bit basis than 40 gig. There's no good reason to build a new 40 gig network today. And it's cost competitive with 10 gig. So I think that the questions of is it the right technology, that's behind us. Is there a big enough supply base to support this being a mainstream technology? It is. And I think when you see industry forecasts of 40 gig now starting to drop and 100 gig even accelerating more, it's because of that dynamic. And the good news is with this greater competition, the industry is going to, I personally believe, explode at a faster rate. The competition is also greater because people are all interested in footprint. But I do think that the price erosion that it has experienced over the last 12 months is going to go back to more typical historic trends, 10% to 15% up per year would be, I would guess, more reasonable moving forward.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So we reached a point where pricing should be in line with historical norms for maturing technologies?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes, I think so. You can never tell what's going to happen, but I think that's what's going to occur. Clearly, I think another dynamic in the industry is NSN selling their optical business to a private equity group. That's going to be a continuation. Our industry continues to need to consolidate. I think that it's going to be harder and harder for people who don't have core intellectual property, core IP, to cut this on their own. NSN did a fine job, but they were an integrator of other people's technology. So I don't really consider them a deep innovator. That worked fine historically, but in this market today, where you have to have coherent technologies, either buy them yourselves -- make them yourselves or buy them from somebody, where I think photonic integrated capability is becoming more important. In the future, I think it will be mandatory. If you don't have some of these core technologies, you're going to have a hard time standing alone as a competitor in this industry.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. I just want to go back to some of the things you talked about during the quarter. In Q4, your revenue internationally was very strong. I think it grew 41% sequentially and 61% year-over-year. Sales in the U.S. were more flattish quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. What are you making out of these trends? Should we make anything out of those trends? And I know you don't initially have exposure to the Tier 1 in the U.S. quite yet, but do you have a sense for their decisions and their budgets at this point?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes, I mean, I think if you look at our international versus U.S. split, I mean, it's been in that 30%, 70% range. And then it will move around and be more volatile as we do large deployments, right? So in Q4, we had a number of significant DTN-X deployments happen in Europe, in particular, in Q4, and that kind of drove that number. I mean, we do think that there's the opportunity to grow our business in Europe and internationally as go forward with the DTN-X. It does open up some customers and some markets there where we weren't positioned well with the DTN originally. And now we have kind of the right solution to go compete for those. We would expect to see kind of the international piece of the business grow over time. But on a quarterly basis, you're going to see it move around, depending on whether we're winning business in the U.S. with U.S. customers or in Europe.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

So it's just lumpiness that's goes...

Ita M. Brennan

It's going to be lumpy, right. It is lumpy. But I think over time, you will see a trend more towards international mix.

Roderick B. Hall - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Okay. Can you give us an indication? I mean, today you're 70-30. Should we look at the 60-40 split 2 to 3 years from now?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes, that's certainly possible. Very possible, yes.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. And is there any investments you need to make from a go-to-market perspective to be able to get to that mix?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes, I mean, we've put reasonable footprint in place already, kind of in advance to DTN-X. We've made some investments in sales and marketing over the last 2 years, putting sales resources in place, some in North America but also a lot focused on international. We have people in place. But I think we're good to make the next step. And then success phase after that, we'll you look at it. But we've certainly -- it's kind of the market we're targeting now. We feel like we've got a base there to support kind of growth after that. And then there will be a further evolution beyond that later, right.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So I want to come back to a comment you made about you've made these investments already. So if I look at your guidance for OpEx for this year, you're guiding OpEx down actually, while the top line will grow, I think, from 10% to 20% of your guidance. Are you cutting back in some areas? Are you potentially missing opportunities to capitalize on the momentum of the DTN-X?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes. I mean, I think if you look at the detail of the OpEx spend, you'll see some different dynamics. And then the sales and marketing has been growing, right? And it's growing over the last number of years, right, because we've added headcount, probably added 25% headcount-wise to our sales force in that 2-year period. All right, as you bring a product like the DTN-X to market, you're going to spend a lot in R&D, between this prototype and bringing the products to market, and then on the sales and marketing side, around lab trials and getting equipment into labs and demo labs, et cetera. So there's a lot of that types of expenditure that we've incurred over the last kind of year or so. So if you look at the trend off of that, yes, we are committing to holding it pretty much flat to down until we start to turn to profitability. All right, but I wouldn't think of it as we'll not continue to add features to the product and do the development that we need to do. It's more we're through the expensive part of making sure the DTN-X come to market and have the equipment, et cetera, in place to be able to go sell the product.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay. So that's good to hear from a cash flow perspective. You also invested, I think, in a new PIC manufacturing facility. Can you remind us how much you spent on that and how much runway you have in terms of using that capacity? I mean, do you need to invest again in building another facility like this one?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes. I mean, the fab, when you think about the fab, you need to think about a boutique fab as opposed to anything that we normally think about in terms of fab. We haven't spent real CapEx on the fab since we founded the company until over the last 2 years, right? So we put in the original capacity. And then because of the yield improvement, et cetera, that we saw, that's kind of funded the growth in revenue and the growth in shipment, right, and then we started fewer wafers toward the end of our -- when DTN was recently shipping at peak volumes, then we started -- when we initially started shipping. All right, so the CapEx that we spent specifically on the fab is probably in the $20 million, $30 million range. All right, so at the end, it's not huge dollars. And that puts us in a position again where we believe that we can ramp to any revenue that the DTN-X is going to be able to -- it's going to drive.

Thomas J. Fallon

We've guided forward about $20 million of CapEx.

Ita M. Brennan

Right, and then CapEx comes back to what's been our kind of normal run rate, which is targeted across all manufacturing, R&D and other things in that 20 -- approximately $20 million range per year.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay, great. Because that makes you unique -- your vertical integration model makes you unique in the industry in any way?

Thomas J. Fallon

It's very unique. Personally, I believe, from a scale perspective, we're the only company structured who have an economic advantage with real volume. Our vertical integration model does yield that result.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

So tell me about your model. In the long term, you're looking at gross margin of about 45% and then operating margin of about 10%. What are the puts and takes on that model? What would make you more optimistic about essentially raising that model? What would make you more cautious about actually reaching that model as you look at developments in the industry over the next 2 to 3 years?

Ita M. Brennan

Yes, I mean, I think we've laid it out as a roadmap, right? I mean, this year, we've talked about margins being in the 38% to 40% range, right? And that requires us to kind of scale margins fairly from where we are today to where we would be in Q4 to achieve that range, right? And that's -- a lot of that is driven by also achieving the product cost targets that we have, the yields that we have around the products. We've already -- we talked on the last earnings call about how we are seeing success there. And we're seeing those costs start to come down. As we project those out, we see that really helping margins. That's something that's within our control, and we feel pretty comfortable that we're achieving those metrics. And that's critical to bringing the margins back into line and starting that progression. If you look beyond this year, the things that drive the margin after that as we do start to fill some of the footprints that we're putting in place. I mean, we are putting more footprints in place right now than we ever have, right? We have more amplifier line system sales in Q4 than we've had ever since the beginning of the company. So that is -- I mean, we're putting a lot of new footprint into place, and that's very low-margin footprint, right? We will start to see fill into that footprint beyond that. So we're not assuming a lot of that at this year in our 38% to 40%, but then as you start to scale up at 40%, we will start to fill that footprint, and that obviously the fill is much higher margin.

Thomas J. Fallon

The bigger risk I would say, on the downside, is if we win a very, very large deal that has a lot of footprint. That is a great deal for the company and the shareholders long term because we will fill that footprint for a very long time in good margin. But in the short term, it would have great margin pressure. But it will be a reasonably good thing to do as long as it didn't cause us to use a lot of cash. So what we've modeled in is what we expect to have happened in a relatively normal state. But if we have a big opportunity and we can make money at it, we'll take it.

Ita M. Brennan

And we'll move by quarter. I mean, I think -- clearly, we believe it's going to traject towards 45% over time. There will be quarters where if you're doing major deployments, then it's going to move around on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay, that makes sense. Are there any questions in the audience? Do they have a mic? Yes, there's a question over there. I'll repeat the question for the webcast. What's the rate of pricing decline year-over-year that you're seeing now?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes. I think it's changed over the last year to what we see currently. And I think that we see more of a typical 10% to 20% -- 10% to 15% moving forward range. And I think some of our competitors have recently announced that kind of what they're seeing is the same thing. Backward looking, it's been much more distinct. I would say it's in the neighborhood of 30% plus over the last year. It's been a very distinct drop. And the best as I recall, it's a fairly unprecedented drop for new technology. Usually, there's a period of time where there is a premium for the 2 technologies. That's been eradicated. And I consider that, quite frankly, good news because what it means is the volume of 100 gig is going to happen faster, and we'll take advantage of more volume.

Unknown Analyst

Are you finding that your competitors are being less aggressive on pricing? Or is the industry just firming, demand for 100 gig is picking up? What's causing that pricing decline to moderate?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes, I think that -- a couple of dynamics. One, the price now is to a point where below that price, people start having a hard time earning a fair return. And I think if you look at our industry, it's -- most of our competitors -- or some of them at least have a significant debt structure issue. And they have to be able to know that they can make money on it. And I think we've got it to a point where the price is -- everybody kind of agrees that this is about as low as we're going to be able to go. There are still deals that if somebody wants to win it, you'll see a low ball price. And from our perspective, we'll let somebody have it at that deal. If we can't make a fair return on the deal, we'll let somebody else have that deal. But in aggregate, I just see a more rational approach to the pricing that we're seeing in the industry.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Any other questions? So you think you made the right call and going after 100G and skipping 40G. And now the 40G market actually is not going to go as much and 100G is going to go faster. From a price -- if you look at the mix of RFPs and request for information that you're seeing, are you already seeing that kind of interest in 40G dropping and really people are embracing 100 gigabits?

Thomas J. Fallon

We see almost no interest in 40 gig. Literally, almost none. Now part of that might be we don't have a 40 gig offering really that's in the PIC base. 90% of our RFPs today request 100 gig as mandatory. It's not a request. It's you've got to have 100 gig. Another interesting dynamic is about 75% of all RFPs are requesting the integrated DWM with OTN. And this is a new architectural shift in the industry that I think is young and very, very important. The transition to 100 is not atypical. And the industry moved from 2.5 to 10 to 40 to 100. Moving to a converged network architecture is a much bigger architectural shift, and it has a significant opportunity for carriers to build much more cost-effective networks. I believe this is a dynamic that is going to be very real, and it's starting, and it's going to last a long time. If you look at the industry analysts, across the next 5 years, they said it's supposed to grow at 25% plus per year. And I think it probably will. It is a key way to help carriers reduce the cost of their networks as they're forced to spend more CapEx to carry the ever-growing amount of Internet traffic that is available and needed.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

So as you see more and more RFPs with OTN switching requirement in them, how does that change your odds of actually getting deals. Are you at a better situation competitively with these requirements?

Thomas J. Fallon

Yes, I think for people who are really interested in doing a converged architecture, we're the only company that can converge DWM and the switching architecture because of our PIC with no comprise. Long-haul optics take a huge amount of power, and they generate a huge amount of heat. Because we do that in an integrated device, a photonic integrated device, we have less power. That power can be used to perform switching functions or other functions. So our DTN-X is an uncompromised integration of multiple technologies. And I think other are going to have a challenge creating an uncompromised solution as long as they're using off-the-shelf optics.

Jeremy David - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Okay, great. Since there are no more questions, we'll stop here. Thank you, everybody.

Thomas J. Fallon

Thanks for your time.

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