Planet Payment's CEO Discusses Q4 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: Planet Payment, (PLPM)

Planet Payment, Inc. (NASDAQ:PLPM)

Q4 2012 Results Earnings Call

March 19, 2013 17:00 ET


Robert Cox - SVP and CFO

Philip D. Beck - Chairman and CEO


Chris Shutler - William Blair

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research


Greetings and welcome to the Planet Payment Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2012 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions]. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Robert Cox, Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead, sir.

Robert Cox

Thank you, operator. Good afternoon everyone. With me on today's call is Philip Beck our CEO. By now, you should have access to our fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 press release. It can also be found at under the investor relations section. Throughout this conference call, we will also be presenting certain non-GAAP financial information. This information is not calculated in accordance with GAAP and maybe calculated differently from other companies, similarly titled non-GAAP information. Quantitative reconciliations of our non-GAAP financial information, to their most directly comparable GAAP financial information appear in today's press release.

Before we begin our formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that part of our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and therefore, you should not put undue reliance upon them. These statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from what we expect. Some of these risks are mentioned in today's press release. Others are discussed in our Form 10, which is available at

Today, we are going to provide a brief overview of the company, discuss some of the key business metrics and growth drivers for our business, give an overview of our annual and fourth quarter results, as well as provide our guidance for 2013. We will then open the call up for any questions that you might have.

With that, I would now like to turn the call over to Philip Beck, our CEO. Philip?

Philip D. Beck

Thank you, Bob. Good evening, and welcome to our first earnings call, following our NASDAQ admission in December. For those of you that are not familiar with our history, Planet Payment has been listed on the London Stock Exchange A market since 2006. For clarity, our stock which trades on the London Market, under the ticker symbol PPT is exactly the same stock that trades on NASDAQ under our PLPM ticker symbol. Basically, the only difference is that our stock trades in Pounds in the London market, and in dollars on the US market, and investors can choose to trade on whichever market suits them best.

2012 was a significant year for Planet Payment. We implemented 11 customers in nine countries. At the same time, we have been laying the foundation for new customers in new markets, like Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia. In 2012, we continue to enhance our processing platform organically, by adding support for additional card types in market segments, and by acquiring branded payment solutions, which is enabling technology that will allow us to offer value added services on a merchant point-of-sale.

We ended the year by listing on NASDAQ under our existing US ticker PLPM, and we believe that the listing represents an incremental step in the development and progress of the company.

But we are happy with the progress we have made to date. Our 2012 results are reflectors of our investment in opening new markets, winning new customers, acquiring and developing our commercial services platform, as well as the costs involved in becoming in US reporting company. Our results also reflect in part, the challenging economic climate, particularly in the markets in which we do business. Today, we do business in 20 countries, including China, Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan; Malaysia, India, Singapore, Philippines, Myanmar, the UAE, United States, Canada and Mexico.

Since this is our first call, I am going to spend a few extra minutes highlighting what we do as opposed to how we do it. So for those of you who are new to Planet, our company provides the technology, that enables the interaction between acquiring banks, merchants and consumers around the world. Our technology platform helps solve many of the challenges facing today's electronics payments industry.

Specifically, we help merchants, whether hotelier, retailer, restaurateur or e-commerce merchant sell more goods and services. We help banks in their sales organizations, sign and retain more merchants, by providing new and innovative products, and help them expand into new markets.

We help consumers, by providing choice and clarity at the point-of-sale and improve the shopping experience, in both physical and e-commerce worlds. More recently, we are working with the payment networks to help expand acceptance.

At the heart of Planet Payment is our proprietary unified global transaction platform. Our platform is centrally hosted and manages the connectivity between consumers, merchants, banks and the payment networks, like Visa, MasterCard, Union Pay, American Express and JCB. However, what we do is much more powerful than just providing connectivity. What is exciting, is that through our platform, merchants can not only accept an electronic payment, they can also use card acceptance, as a means to attract and close more sales, and at the same time, reduce their cost of card acceptance.

Planet single platform approach enables us to quickly develop and deploy solutions to both established and dynamic emerging markets around the world. Our recently announced strategic processing relationship with Visa, and the successful launch in Myanmar is a good example. Until recently, international visitors to Myanmar could not use their credit or debit cards to complete purchases of merchants, and withdraw cash at ATMs, working with Visa in each bank. We are able to deliver the processing solution needed to operate their ATM and merchant acquiring systems to a Visa managed service.

Based on the success of the solution, Visa and Planet are working on opportunities to target the deployment of Visa's managed service to additional developing markets, in support of traditional ATM and point-of-sale acceptance.

Another example, is how Planet leveraged its single platform to deliver a turnkey end-to-end solution to banks and sales organizations in Canada. A bank approaches us with a problem, and a license to acquire credit cards in Canada, but no processing platform to support it. Planet was able to help the bank by deploying its full processing solution customized for the Canadian market, leveraging our existing infrastructure. By outsourcing the processing to Planet, our customer is able to quickly launch a solution without the heavy capital investment required to build the necessary systems internally.

Another challenge in many markets around the world, is that merchants continue to use payment terminals, that operate independently of their business management solutions, and that forces merchants to rely on two systems to manage their business. Recently, there has been a shift in these markets to integrated solutions, as merchants seek the increased efficiency from managing payment and business operations from a single system.

To meet this need, Planet has been working with partners, including MICROS, a leading provider of hospitality and retail solutions, to deliver integrated solutions for merchants which solve many of their challenges. So by way of example, Planet Payment launched MICROS' payment gateway solution, which is fully integrated to a single platform in Hong Kong and the Philippines, which support Chinese cardholders using Union Pay cards, as well as support for all other major brands. More recently, the solution has been launched in Mexico, where we are seeing the same shift from standalone to integrated payments solutions.

And another challenge, more and more Chinese consumers have begun travelling internationally and purchasing online. This does create challenges and opportunities for merchants worldwide, seeking to tap into this pool of potential customers. To meet this need, Planet Payment signed an agreement with Union Pay in 2012, and subsequently deployed support for the card side to our platform, enabling the processing of Union Pay cards, both in brick and mortar, and e-commerce environments.

In addition to our core capabilities, we are also providing innovative suite of products, that fit on top of our single platform. With our multi-currency products, Planet Payment provides the processing capability that allows merchants to transact in the currencies of their foreign customers, while receiving settlements in their local currency from their bank, via the payment networks, exactly as they do today.

So for international travelers; say you are traveling to India and checking out of your hotel. At checkout, you are handed for 25,000 rupees. Would it not be more convenient to know at the time of the transaction, the amount that will ultimately be billed to your card? Paying your currency product allows merchants to do just that, by enabling them to offer their customers, the convenience to choose to pay in their home currency.

Retailers can also use paying in your currency to close more sales, by making it easier for their international customers to shop. Our model is to share a portion of our fee with our customers and their merchants.

Another one of our multi-currency products is shop-in-your-currency. Many online merchants are seeking to fuel growth by tapping into international markets. To do this effectively, merchants need to be able to localize their websites for both content and pricing. In other words, US based retailers selling into Japan should be enabling their Japanese consumers to view their website in Japanese, and see pricing and pay in Japanese Yen.

While merchants are the users of our products and distribution model and channel is primarily through banks, our client institutions and their sales organizations. They do the sales, they generally take the acquiring risk, and we provide the day-to-day processing services from our centrally hosted platform, for which we get paid. Today, our distribution channel consists of more than 60 financial institutions in 20 countries. As of the end of 2012, our services were used by approximately 41,000 active merchant locations, an increase of 47% during the year.

We have a number of strong new collaborations that we believe will enable us to expand our footprint into very exciting markets around the world. Our approach has been to go with either an existing customer, or find the right party within the country, with whom to set up shop. Together with our partner, we will identify the merchants who need our services, and then provide the training and necessary support, so that our partner sales and marketing teams can approach the market.

Planet Payment provides the processing capability in a single platform, submits the data transaction data on behalf of the banks to the networks that we support, provides all the needed reporting and reconciliation. We also support their day-to-day operations, and their partners' operations team may use our secured platform to manage their business.

In summary, the technology underlying our service is complex, and in our industry, there are high barriers to entry. However, our business is relatively straightforward. We get paid for processing transactions, and in particular, in our international and multi-currency line of business, we have a recurring and sticky revenue stream.

I would like to turn the call back over to Bob Cox our CFO, so he can provide a high level overview of our revenue categories, briefly review our financial results from the fourth quarter, and review our 2013 guidance.

Robert Cox

Thank you, Philip. Before I discuss our 2012 results, let me provide a high level overview of our revenue categories. We have two revenue streams, multi-currency processing services revenue and payment processing services revenue. Multi-currency processing services revenue is derived from foreign currency transaction fees earned on processing and converting a credit or debit card transaction from one currency into another. Foreign currency transaction fees earned under our agreements with our multi-currency processing service customers have traditionally been based either on a fixed percentage applied to the next foreign currency margin earned, or as a percentage of the overall transaction value.

Payment processing services revenue is derived from transaction fees earned on processing services provided in facilitating the sale of goods and services by means of credit and debit cards and other electronic payments, either as a fixed fee for transaction, or as a percentage of the overall transaction value.

As discussed further on our MD&A, we conduct business primarily in three geographical regions; Asia-Pacific or APAC, North America, and Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, or CEMEA. Detail of our revenue by region is based upon where the transaction originated.

Today, we conduct our payment processing services, primarily in North America. Our management also relies on certain key business metrics, such as active merchant locations, consolidated gross billings, and settled dollar volume processed, in order to manage and assess our business. These key metrics, which are explained in table three of our press release, help us evaluate growth trends, establish budgets, measure the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts and assess operational efficiencies. We believe that improvement in these metrics will result in improvements in our financial performance over time.

Our results for the fiscal year 2012 are as follows; net revenue increased to approximately 4% to $43.6 million. Multi-currency processing revenue increased $1.6 million or 6% to $28.8 million. Breaking that down further, in CEMEA, we saw an increase of $2.6 million or 54%, due predominantly to a 71% increase in our active merchants in that region. In North America, revenue climbed $1 million or 25% due to an increase in active merchants in that region.

Asia Pacific multi-currency revenue declined $2.1 million or 11%, predominantly due to a 10% decline in our average net markup percentage on settled multi-currency dollar volume processed. This decline was predominantly due to the repricing of certain contracts, which are then renewed on a long term basis.

Our payment processing services revenue increased 1% in 2012 to $14.8 million. Our 2012 revenue was impacted by a reduction in our revenue for merchant. This was due to challenging economic conditions in the markets in which we do business, and due to the mix of merchants, with which we do business.

Our total active merchant locations increased by 47% to approximately 41,000 as of December 31, 2012. We consider our merchant location to be active, if that merchant has completed at least one revenue generating transaction in the last 90 days.

Total settled dollar volume process increased 27% to $6.1 billion; consolidated gross billings increased 15% to $117.9 million, and gross foreign currency markup increased approximately 17%, to $103.2 million. For a detailed explanation of our key business metrics, please see table 3 in our earnings release.

On a GAAP basis, our net loss for 2012 was $4.5 million or $0.09 per share. This compares to net income of $2.4 million or $0.04 a share a year ago. The change of $6.9 million include the expensing of $2.6 million of deferred IPO costs in the third quarter of 2012, approximately $1.4 million of operating expenses related to our 2012 acquisition of Branded Payment Solutions and additional cost increases in support of new customer implementations and product launches, referenced by Philip earlier on this call.

Our adjusted EBITDA for the year was $2.4 million compared to $5.9 million reflecting the impact of the additional costs noted. As we look forward, we intend to provide guidance on an annual basis.

For 2013, we are expecting the following; net revenue is estimated to be in the range of $52.2 million to $55 million, representing top line growth of between 20% and 26%. Net income is estimated to be in the range of $2.6 million to $4.8 million. Adjusted EBITDA is estimated to be in the range of $8.3 million to $10.6 million for the year. Fully diluted earnings per share are estimated to be in the share of $0.05 to $0.09 per share, based upon 56.4 million fully diluted common shares outstanding in 2013.

We assume an effective tax rate of between 12% and 15% for the year. The majority of our income tax expense results from withholding taxes on revenue earned in jurisdictions where we do not have income tax nexus. The effective tax rate will therefore vary based on the mix of countries where revenue arises.

You will note from this guidance that we expect to grow our top line revenue in the range of 20% to 26% for 2013, while keeping our processing and service costs, and our selling and general and administrative costs in line with 2012 in the aggregate, thus illustrating the leverage in our model.

Let me now hand you back to Philip for further discussion of our growth strategy, and to make some closing remarks. Philip?

Philip D. Beck

Thank you, Bob. Company's guidance is based on a strong pipeline that we have invested in, in 2012 and prior periods. We expect to continue to grow our revenue, by adding merchants to our platform, and we will do this by continuing to focus on our existing customers, adding new customers in existing and new markets, and by providing our customers and their merchants with new products and services.

As I previously mentioned, in 2012, we announced the implementation of new services with 11 customers, including Citibank in Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines; Taishin Bank in Taiwan; Mashreq in the UAE; Global Payments in the US and Canada; and Banorte in Mexico; and more recently, Visa in Myanmar.

In December, we announced an agreement to move forward with Cielo in Brazil, which represents a new customer in a new country. We are very excited by our opportunities in the Brazilian market with Cielo, which is the leader in electronic payment solutions in Brazil, with approximately 60% market share.

In December, we also announced our agreement with Payment Alliance, the largets independent ATM deployer in the US, who are moving forward with our banking and currency service from the ATM portfolio. This is an example of the new service that we are making available to our customers internationally. Separately, we also expect to expand into the Indonesian market with our multi-currency products in 2013, subject to regulatory approval.

Bob and I look forward to keeping you apprised of our progress during the course of the year.

Thank you. We are now available to take some questions.

Question-and-Answer Session


Thank you. We will now be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]. Our first question is from Chris Shutler of William Blair. Please go ahead.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

Hey guys, good afternoon and congrats on the successful listing on NASDAQ.

Philip D. Beck

Thanks very much Chris.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

I guess my first question would be, Philip and Bob, looking back at 2012, you guys increased the number of multi-currency merchants by -- I think about 35%, which is pretty impressive, but obviously the revenue growth was 4% and the gross markup was up 17%. So obviously, it's a little bit disconnect there, I know some of it was the economy, could you just dissect that a little bit closer, was there anything going on in terms of adoption rates or anything else that might have driven the delta there? Thanks.

Robert Cox

So Chris, I think one of the -- thank you for the question, one of the metrics or several of the metrics that we highlight, one is our total foreign multi-currency markup, as well as our active merchant numbers, and if you look at those, you would see a decline in the revenue per merchant that we were able to earn in 2012, versus that which we earned in 2011. Much of that is based upon the economic climate in the markets in which we do business, as well as the mix of the underlying merchant base. So we have talked about that a bit in the past in our releases, and so we have seen that.

Now what we have done, as far as our guidance goes frankly is we have kind of reset the bar, as far as our expectation of revenue for merchants, and we carry that forward. So that 20% to 26% top line growth that we have highlighted within our guidance, is driven off of the revenue per merchant number. So at the end of the day, we will continue to add merchants, and we are not expecting to see any rebound in that revenue per merchant number, but if we do see a rebound, I think we will all be pleasantly surprised. So, I think that's the direct answer to the question.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

Okay, that's helpful.

Philip D. Beck

If you look at it, it is less transactions per merchant, when you look at the numbers, this is where it comes down to.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

Okay. Got you. Then, as you guys look out to 2013, can you maybe give us a framework for thinking about, maybe you can't get into customer-by-customer, but since Cielo is such an essentially important customer of yours, how should we think about your expectations for the Brazilian market in 2013 and beyond, and maybe in addition to that, talk a little bit about Indonesia and just what your expectations are in terms of timing there?

Philip D. Beck

Okay, Bob, why don't you just tell him a little bit?

Robert Cox

Yeah, Chris it is a little difficult in this regard, and that we obviously can't give individual customer information. But certainly from a size and a capability to certainly make, to be a needle mover if you will, both the Brazilian market and the Indonesian market are very exciting to us. We hope to have activity in those markets, within the first half of this year, so that there will be additives in 2013. Certainly, we expect that both of them will be a part of the growth story, not just in 2013, but certainly well beyond that. Some pretty exciting events going on in Brazil in the next couple of years between the World Cup and the Olympics, that I think are sort of headliners for our multi-currency services. But at the end of the day, it's all about that daily traffic that helps drive the business and drive the revenues. So we think it will be nicely additive along with the other of the new markets that Philip mentioned, which are also exciting, that we added this year, this past year.

Philip D. Beck

Right, the difference, the way to look at Indonesia versus Brazil, with Indonesia, we are effectively done with implementation, and we are waiting on regulatory approval. So we see that coming up certainly by the end of Q2, whereas Cielo, we are sort of starting the implementation process, so you know, we will be able to do it later in the year, but certainly you are looking forward to coming to the story.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

That's helpful. Then just another question on other opportunities, I don't think you talked about money transfer? (Inaudible) in your prepared remarks, I might have missed it, but --

Philip D. Beck

Yeah, we'd be happy to touch on that.

Chris Shutler - William Blair

That would be helpful.

Philip D. Beck

Our approach is being to provide support specifically to the brand's money transfer services. We recently certified the Visa money transfer service, and we are working on some others, and effectively the approach is to provide a platform that the brand's numbers, the banks can use, in order to both initiate an outbound transfer, as well as to do that -- know your customer and due diligence work.

So it's an interesting model we think, the brands are very keen to facilitate both D2C and P2P payments. We think it's the ability we are able to debit a card, and credit a card, that's very close to what we do. It's an expansion of our multi-currency product set. So we have invested in support of that, and we are working closely with the brands, particularly Visa, in talking to banks about bringing that online. Interesting we think, [to that point].

Chris Shutler - William Blair

Okay, thanks a lot guys.

Philip D. Beck

Thanks Chris.


[Operator Instructions]. The next question is from Gary Prestopino of Barrington Research. Please go ahead.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

Good afternoon guys, how are you doing?

Philip D. Beck

Fine, thanks Gary.

Robert Cox

Thanks Gary.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

Bob, (inaudible) on the first conference call, but on this guidance that you are giving, this year, any -- what are you assuming to the average gross mark-up and the average net markup, can you share that with us, or is that something you won't share with us as you do these calls?

Robert Cox

No, we will share and first off, our average net markup for the full year 2012 was 110 basis points on our multi-currency product line. The top line, I believe was in the neighborhood of 3.85%. Our expectation on a going forward basis obviously the 110 being our revenue component, is that revenue component stays stable for 2013. As you may recall Gary, we have done a number of contract renewals of late, that represent a significant portion of our revenue, and all of those are certainly embedded in those expectations.

So we have seen the overall markup rise over the past couple of years, and we believe that the component of the markup that we keep will remain stable.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

Okay. So that's really helpful. And I am travelling, so I haven't had the chance to go through the numbers, so some of these things may seem redundant, just because I have not had that opportunity to do that. Could you may be talk about, on your growth projections to this year, what percentage, if you could break that down would be -- of that growth will be coming for -- top line would be coming from new merchants versus existing merchants?

Robert Cox

That one we haven't broken out. I can offer up one that I think will be helpful, our expectations as far as revenue growth are that the multi-currency product line will grow in the neighborhood of 25% to 30% and that the payment processing line will grow in the range of 10% to 15%. We are not breaking those down by region at this time, and obviously those are annual numbers, but I think at least those will be helpful to folks as they try to model out the business.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

That's fair. Maybe if you could talk about very briefly, not in depth, what you saw in each of your individual markets, as you track through 2012, meaning APAC, CEMEA and North America, and if you are seeing, what you are anticipating for 2013, do you see any strength, do you see stability, do you see just flatness? Is that something you can share with us?

Robert Cox

So we have highlighted what we saw top line wise in each region as it relates to our multi-currency business. Largely speaking, we saw a reduction in revenue per merchant, I think across the merchant phase in 2012, but as I mentioned, we are kind of carrying that forward with no expectation for an immediate rebound.

That said, we have good growth opportunities with customers who are implemented within North America. For instance, Global Payments Canada, within the UAE, which is Mashreq, a significant new customer and customers throughout Asia. So we think we will grow in each region, off of the base, or the new base if you will, that's represented by 2012. So good growth opportunities in each region I guess, one of the reasons we are not giving guidance at this time is frankly, the speed with which some of these new implementations come online, will dictate which regions grow quicker than others. But from our perspective, there's certainly plenty of opportunity in each region to drive the top line.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

That's fair. Then maybe, I know you had a great year in 2012 with new signings, but how does your pipeline look as you go into 2013? I mean, as you are getting bigger and getting more acquirer banks signed up, are you starting to see a more interest in your products from other acquirer banks?

Philip D. Beck

Yeah, that's a very good question. We are seeing a lot of interest, and we are out there talking to or getting calls from acquirers in different regions. I mean, specifically, we talked about Brazil, we clearly see Brazil as being very significant for us and particularly, when we are partnering with the leader in that market.

Mexico is just a great market, we couldn't be any more excited, we are live in Mexico and have all sorts of plans in Mexico and a very strong pipeline over there. We only just have one acquirer at the moment, Banorte, and we have the hospitality with MICROS up in that market, and we mentioned Indonesia. I mean, Indonesia is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and so -- we have got a lot of time and energy into making sure that we are going to be successful in those markets.

So there are other opportunities in Southeast Asia, we are trying to pick and choose our customers carefully. After all, we want people that are just as aggressive as we are in terms of approaching the market, and that are willing to make the same investment that we are in terms of being successful. I mean, of course, we couldn't be any happier about the recent activity in Myanmar and our ability to bring up a great service with Visa very quickly, and honestly we think that sort of goes to the power of the model or the leverage of the model, the fact that we are able to bring our platform anywhere where there is opportunity and the right ROI and we have a whole world to plan. So we think it's a very-very exciting time for us as a company, and for payments generally, it's a very exciting time for payments, and we are very pleased to be there.

Gary Prestopino - Barrington Research

Okay. Thank you very much.

Philip D. Beck

It's a pleasure.


Thank you. That is all the time we have for questions. I'd like to turn the floor back over to management for any closing remarks.

Philip D. Beck

Well thank you everybody. Thank you very much for attending our first call. Bob and I promise to keep you posted on our developments as they occur, and look forward to seeing many of you soon and certainly on the next call.

Robert Cox

Thank you very much.


Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today's teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation.

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