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YuMe Inc. (NYSE:YUME)

Q3 2013 Earnings Conference Call

November 13, 2013 04:30 PM ET

Executives

Gary Fuges - VP, IR

Jayant Kadambi - CEO

Tim Laehy - CFO

Analysts

Ross Sandler - Deutsche Bank

Mark May - Citi

Kerry Rice - Needham & Company

Gene Munster - Piper Jaffray

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the YuMe Third Quarter 2013 Earnings Conference Call. During today's presentation all parties will be in a listen only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be opened for questions. (Operator Instructions). This conference is being recorded today, Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Gary Fuges, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Gary Fuges

Thank you, good afternoon and welcome to YuMe’s third quarter 2013 financial results conference call. On the call with me today are Jayant Kadambi, Chief Executive Officer; and Tim Laehy, Chief Financial Officer.

This call contains predictions, estimates and other information that might be considered forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve various unknown and known risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results and timing expressed or implied by such forward looking statements should be considered. Reported results should not be considered an indication of future performance. We make these statements as of November 13, 2013 and YuMe undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

We refer you to our SEC filings for a discussion of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward looking statements, including the section titled Risk Factors in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2013 that has been filed with the SEC and in our future filings and reports with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Also I’d like to remind you that during the course of this conference call we will discuss both GAAP and non-GAAP measures in talking about the Company's performance. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures are provided in the Press Release.

With that I would like to turn the call over to Jayant Kadambi, CEO of YuMe.

Jayant Kadambi

Thank you and welcome to YuMe's Q3 earnings call. I will start with some high level comments about our Q3 performance, then provide some background on the ad market in general and then our progress on key initiatives. I will then hand the call over to Tim, who will discuss Q3 and the financial outlook in more detail. I will then return to give you some final comments and then we'll take your questions.

YuMe had a very strong third quarter. Revenue and adjusted EBITDA were above the high end of our guidance ranges, due mainly the strong customer growth and gross margin expansion that drove operating leverage. We believe our third quarter results illustrate the continued competitive differentiation of our cross platform products and data sciences based audience offerings for brand advertisers.

We'd like to call particular attention to our ability to measure audience attention and receptivity and to target viewers across screens without solely relying on cookies. We continue to believe that our product suite and technology are the right fit for the needs of advertisers as they seek a fragmented digital office. Finally our performance to date in 2013 and our continued platform investment and technology leadership give us confidence going forward for the business in Q4 2013 and 2014.

Q3 revenue of $36.2 million increased 39% year-over-year. Excluding presidential political spending in Q3 of 2012, year-over-year growth was even stronger at 53%. Our last 12 month customer account increased 30% year-over-year to 563 and LTM spent per advertiser increased by 8%. We added four new AdAge 100 customers, bringing our total number of AdAge 100 advertisers to 70.

First a little background on the ad market. Global TV and brand advertising is planned and purchased generally speaking on a calendar year basis and not on a quarterly calendar basis. This spending is generally split into two parts, upfront media spend and scatter media spend.

Upfront spend the calendar year and scatter is more short term and fluctuates, especially in the later part of Q4. The bulk of our revenue is due to our strong presence in the scatter markets. As a result we expect to continue to see quarterly variations in spending and what we focus on for tracking and measuring our business are the overall trends of the metrics and growth and not necessarily quarter-to-quarter variations.

We believe our overall success in growing our customer metrics overtime is a testament to the strength of our business model and technology. Our platform is built to drive metrics that brand advertisers care about most, reach and frequency with target audiences, with the addition of attention for digital audiences. We believe this makes YuMe the perfect digital complement to TV advertising.

I will now spend a few minutes speaking about our continued emphasis on technology. Our unique embedded software and data sciences approach solve two key brand advertiser challenges associated with digital video. First our platform addresses the audience attention issues advertisers’ face with digital audiences, who are increasingly distracted by the expanding number of choices in digital content and devices. Second, our platform allows us to transcend the limitations of cookie based targeting.

Digital video advertising is more challenging than traditional TV advertising because digital audiences are fragmented and distracted. This makes it difficult for brand advertisers to not only aggregate reaching frequency at TV scale for the digital video campaigns, but to apply advanced digital audience targeting capabilities at scale and ensure the target audience is actually paying attention to their message.

We feel it is insufficient to just provide reach and frequency against an audience when targeting digitally. We believe providing a receptive and attentive audience improves brand advertising results and gives us a key differentiation in this market.

In addition to the consumer disruption issues, digital ad targeting for video is becoming more challenging to achieve via traditional cookie based approaches. Cookies have limited effectiveness in mobile, tablet and connected television devices, the fastest growing parts of our market, and increased consumer privacy concerns are calling into question the fundamental relevance of cookies in the long run.

We believe the best way to deliver scale and reach across fragmented audience is to use targeting mechanisms that do not solely rely on cookies. This is what we’ve built and continually enhanced in our audience amplifier technology. YuMe’s platform aggregates data related to attention at scale and then analyzes it to assess consumer behavior. Our embedded custom SDK software gives us multiple data signals, including device specific data we used to algorithmically score inventory quality and target campaign appropriate with audiences.

In addition, we’re collecting first party survey data across video devices including mobile, tablet, PC and connected televisions. This allows us to measure audience receptivity and attention to the advertiser’s message. As we announced earlier today, the new release of our custom SDK enables us to deliver surveys directly through the video stream, which further integrates our data capabilities to drive increased scale.

We apply machine learning to our SDK and survey data to find patterns of behavior and then deliver campaigns based on these patterns and their correlation with campaign parameters. The foundation of the platform is our ability aggregate this data across all screen categories without relying solely on cookies. The first party survey data helps us find audiences and measure their attention to drive what digital branded advertisers need, reach, frequency and attention.

During the quarter, we also made progress on two key strategic initiatives, geographic expansion and further penetration into mobile and connected televisions. International growth was in triple digits and international revenue now accounts for more than 10% of our total revenue. In Q3 we launched our office in Germany, Europe’s second largest digital ad market. Earlier this month, we formerly announced the launch of our Nordics office in Stockholm.

Mobile and connected television revenue almost doubled year-over-year in Q3 with 80% of our top accounts leveraging our unique multiple screen capabilities. We believe our platform’s custom SDK approach gives us a competitive advantage in mobile and connected televisions as it enables us to deliver reach and frequency to attentive audiences regardless of their screen of choice.

In summary, we think the market is vibrant and that our product and technology solutions are working. Our long term fundamentals continue to improve and believe the success we’ve achieved this year positions us well for a strong 2014.

Before I turn the call over to Tim, I would like to update you on our thoughts regarding programmatic. The term programmatic is used broadly in the industry but in most cases, it’s used to describe the automated processes for data driven digital audience targeting and the buying and selling of digital media advertising.

YuMe’s digital video advertising technology is built on an automated data science’s based platform for real-time audience targeting, campaign delivery and optimization. In short our platform already supports programmatic buying and selling, but we have not yet fully enabled this distribution channel yet.

Today, virtually all of the audience targeting immediate buying that we execute is across our SDK embedded publishers and our current sales model was to sell directly to ad agencies and large brand advertisers. We believe this high touch approach is more effective in the early days of digital video advertising than a pure software self-service distribution model in helping large traditional TV brand advertisers adapt to the fragmented and complex digital video ad environment.

In 2014, we intend to complement the vast audiences and inventory that YuMe Network publishers represent with additional source of traffic and inventory, including major public and private video advertising exchanges. Our vision is to extend our machine learning and data science algorithms to optimize audience targeting and media buying across both our publishers, where our preparatory embedded SDKs provides us unique access to viewing data, as well as various third party digital advertising marketplaces exchanges. We will augment the sales model to support advertisers seeking more efficiency and reach through programmatic solutions.

With that, I will now hand the call over to Tim.

Tim Laehy

Thank you. Jayant. I will review the financial results for the quarter and then discuss our updated outlook for fiscal year 2013. As Jayant mentioned, we had a very strong third quarter, revenue of $36.2 million increased 39% year-over-year and was above our guidance range of $34.1 million to $35.1 million. Q3 revenue growth accelerated 3% points from 36% in Q2. Growth was in all geographies and in all devices. Excluding the impact of the presidential political ad spending in the year ago quarter, revenue would have increased 53% year-over-year.

We worked with 563 total advertising customers over the last 12 months ended September 30th, an increase of 30% from the year ago period. Average revenue per customer was $248,000 over the last 12 months, up 8% from the year-ago period. We continue to expect growth from our customer base to be one of the primary drivers of the revenue in short term.

Gross margin of 47.5% increased 190 basis points sequentially and 290 basis points year-over-year, demonstrating the continued positive impact of our PQI inventory quality scoring algorithm. As we previously discussed, our revenue share relationships with publishers are structured around PQI. This is differentiated from traditional publisher rep models that’s more susceptible to gross margin swings. Our PQI algorithm improves with scale and a revenue outperformance in Q3 provided additional volume for our PQI to leverage.

Total operating expenses in the quarter increased 59% year-over-year, as we invested for continued growth. Sales and marketing expenses increased 60% primarily due to an increase in employee related expenses, as we further expanded our domestic and international sales organizations.

Research and development expenses increased 63% year-over-year, primarily due to an increase in hiring engineers and our continued investment in data sciences. G&A increased 57% year-over-year, primarily due to increases in headcount and professional service related expenses associated with our transition into a public company structure.

Adjusted EBITDA was $1.6 million for the quarter, above our guidance range of $1.5 million to $2.5 million loss, as strong revenue growth and gross margin expansion help generate operating leverage. Adjusted EBITDA margin for the quarter was 4.4%. Net loss was $0.03 per share in the quarter, compared to $0.00 per share in the year ago period. We ended the quarter with $63.5 million in cash and cash equivalents, which included $40 million in net proceeds raised from our August IPO.

Before I turn the call back over to Jayant, I’d like to review our guidance for the full year and fourth quarter. For full year 2013, we are reiterating our revenue guidance in the range of $154.5 million to $157.5 million. At the midpoint, year-over-year revenue growth is 34%. Excluding the impact of revenue from the Presidential Election campaign spending in Q3 and Q4 2012, normalized revenue growth at the midpoint would have been 40%.

We’re also raising our full year 2013 adjusted EBITDA guidance to a range of $5 million to $8 million, due to operating leverage being generated by our business model. At the midpoint of guidance, adjusted EBITDA margin is 4.2%.

For the fourth quarter, we expect revenue to be in the range of $57.4 million to $60.4 million, which implies a year-over-year revenue growth of 30% at the midpoint. And again, excluding the impact of the revenue generated from the Presidential Election campaign spending in Q4 of last year, normalized year-over-year revenue growth at the guidance midpoint will be approximately 39%. We anticipate Q4 adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $4.3 million to $7.3 million. Adjusted EBITDA margin at the midpoint improves to 9.8%.

In summary we’re very pleased with our 2013 financial performance to date and believe it sets a stage for continued strong performance in 2014. We continue to have great confidence in the business and we believe that YuMe’s fundamentals remain strong.

With that, I’ll turn the call back over to Jayant.

Jayant Kadambi

Thank you, Tim. I think the third quarter results and our outlook speak to the overall health of our business. In Q3 revenue, and adjusted EBITDA performance was above the high end of our guidance ranges and we improved most of our customer related KPIs.

Our outlook reflects continued health of the business and illustrates the value in our platform’s ability to deliver reach and frequency to attentive digital audiences and optimize campaigns based on the metrics that are most important to TV advertisers. In our view, the market remains strong and our products are helping us capitalize on the long term market opportunity in front of us.

We believe our successful 2013 positions us well for next year. The macro trends continue to be encouraging. Agencies are combining their television and digital video groups, brand advertisers are thinking more holistically about their video ad budgets and they are positioning themselves to commit a portion of the traditional TV budgets to digital. We believe TV advertisers will buy digital the way they buy television, through existing CPM pricing models and audience mind.

The digital audience continues to grow and fragment across more screens and content outlets, with plays to our strengths. As a result we remain confident that in 2014 we can continue to grow across the industry. We’re well positioned to remedy the audience attention issue inherent in digital audience fragmentation to drive digital reach and frequency as well as the branding metrics that TV advisers want to measure. We believe our continued investment in our SDK custom software and data sciences will enable us to continue to capitalize on these macro trends and drive long term growth that exceeds industry rates.

Thank you for your interest in YuMe. And we’ll now open up the call to your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you, sir. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions). Our first question is from the line of Ross Sandler with Deutsche Bank. Please go ahead.

Ross Sandler - Deutsche Bank

Thanks guys, I had three questions I’ll start with the telephone first. So you guys are executing as planned, these numbers are solid but unfortunately the market is punishing you and others in ad tech who are completely unrelated because of what happened with tremor last week. So the question is, would you consider buying back stock if we stay at these depressed levels?

Second question Jayant, you mentioned that the programmatic strategy will kind of get rolled out in 2014. Do you see that as additive to your growth rates or is there going to be some natural kind of cannibalization or shifting of your direct business into programmatic or is that a completely different subset of budget that you’re just not addressing today?

And then the last question Tim, gross margin was better than expected, you guys mentioned PQI. Can you just give us little more color about how PQI is driving up the gross margin and then gross margins are typically up in 4Q. So do you see that happening again this year? Thanks.

Jayant Kadambi

I’ll take the first question on stock buyback. We’re considering -- we'll put it in front of the Board and we’re considering it. We have no answer to give you at the moment about whether we would be able to buy back stock, but it’s a very interesting option, given where we feel the stock is relative to its value.

The programmatic question, I think you asked and please correct me if I go off topic here, but you asked if its additive, is it a subset? Yes, so the way we view it, and I’ll give you sort of the core analogy here. The way we view the programmatic businesses, is we have a direct sales force that sells to advertisers and media planners and we view programmatic as a different selling mechanism, a different distribution channel and the budgets that are going to that distribution channel are different and distinct than the budgets that are going through the current distribution channel in which we operate.

That said, the reason I motioned the core analogy, if you are buying a Lexus and you go to a Lexus dealership, there are some people who -- there is a Camry that’s sitting in a Corolla dealership and the low end of the Lexus model, they look a lot alike. They’re built on the same chassis and there is some fluctuation between the Lexus dealership and the Corolla dealership as to who buys the Camry, but we believe fundamentally they’re different products with different budgets, with some set of overlap and the overlap we feel is sort of service item for us. If people are coming to us and buying our direct sales products and we will offer the programmatic products as part of that and if people are coming to us on the programmatic side, we’ll start offering the direct sales products as well.

So, the short answer to your question is, we believe they’re separate. I think question on PQI or gross margin, I’ll let Tim to talk to.

Tim Laehy

Sure. So regarding gross margins, we continue to reiterate that our gross margins will be in the 46% to 48% range, what we said, which is our long term model which we’re already performing within and recall that tack represents the largest portion of gross margin. We don’t break that out specifically for competitive reasons but tack varies and it typically is about 80% of our cost of revenue.

So, what’s going to drive gross margins in the future is the continued performance of our PQI algorithm and that’s performing and it’s performing better with more volume and of course we’re going to see typically with most media companies Q4 volume rising. So, we expect that PQI algorithm to continue to perform.

We’re also seeing some leverage in Q3, as the fixed portion of COGS gets amortized over a higher revenue volume. So, we expect that the gross margins for Q4 will remain in the range that we’ve been guiding you toward.

Operator

Our next question is from line of Mark May with Citi. Please go ahead.

Mark May - Citi

I also have three questions. One question on active customers. Can you give us a sense, either qualitatively or quantitatively existing versus new customer trend in terms of spend behavior repeat, and I guess if you want to talk about that on an agency level or brand level, however you look at it. Secondly, on the programmatic investments, was that considered in your previous thinking around OpEx margins and earnings for next year?

And then thirdly, I appreciate your comments on programmatic. That’s great that you gave us kind of a sneak peek ahead of time. Question on that, how do you see the market evolving in terms of managed services versus self-service? I’m sure there are some agencies and brands that may want to manage this on a self-service basis. What’s sort of your philosophical thinking around that topic?

Jayant Kadambi

If you don’t mind, for no particular reason, because I’ll remember it that way, I’ll take them in programmatic and managed service order and then I’ll go to the active customers. So on the programmatic question, yes, so the way we look at it and I think we said this in our last call and we sort of reiterated it on this call; we believe programmatic to be sort of a distribution channel with separate set of money. We have always been building for our own use the technology base to support multiple distribution channels for the production of our product if you will.

So, it’s been baked into -- from the R&D expense you’re seeing, R&D expenses go up as a percentage. So, we’re investing in the technology and we’ll continue to invest in it to support sort of ad business in general and the way we’ve approached the technology and the platform is to support multiple sets of distribution channels. I would add to that, by the way, the international business as well because the international business has some platform changes that are required and tech changes.

So, the answer is yes. We are still going through the 2014 planning process. So on the margins there may be some movement here and there but we don’t expect to come back and say there will be $440 million of investment because I’m going at a Programmatic business.

While we’re on the topic, I think the fact that we have multiple distribution channels now to take the revenue, we believe will help us accelerate the already fast shift of TV dollars moving over to digital, because they want to buy through multiple methods, just like you want to go to either the product store or Macy’s or the outlet in Gilroy, if you are from the West Coast to buy the same shoe. People want to buy their products from different locations and they have different needs. So we feel very good about that.

How do I see the managed services portion of the business versus self-service? I think it depends on the customer. Some customers who are TV customers want a bespoke or custom sort of like for like treatment with sales reps and customized businesses, customized services and they want to talk to someone. We believe that will continue for the time being.

The truth of the matter is in our opinion that the video business is just not as homogenous and consistent across its infrastructure and its growing so quickly and there are so many new devices and there is so much different data that it didn’t have the advantage of just having a single web browser running everything in a display webpage.

And so it is just more difficult to operate on a self-service basis; forecasting is harder, targeting is harder, the ad units are different and harder and so we continue to stand by the direct sales managed model. It’s working, it’s growing for us and we believe that there is a set of customers that will want to have left touch and we will provide that for them given our platform.

I hope that answered the question and then I’ll get to the first question. You wanted a quantitative or qualitative sort of description of our active customers. In general I can say that the customers that we have that are spending at high levels continue to spend with us, the fundamental churn rate if you will you are talking the sort of the router, the DSL of the other businesses is not an issue for us. And we are -- you can see from the customer account being increased, we are getting a lot of new customers that are coming in from existing sort of AdAge 100 brands.

So I think we have talked about this before, we believe that once we get an advertiser happy with the product, that other brands inside that advertiser start to latch on and we get sort of movement across the brands in that advertiser.

Operator

Our next question is from the line of Kerry Rice with Needham & Company. Please go ahead.

Kerry Rice - Needham & Company

A couple kind of again theoretical question. One if I think about programmatic and the shift, particularly when it relates to premium online video advertising, can you maybe think about or give us some sense of where you think we are in that cycle of how much spending, video online advertising spending is going to programmatic today and how long it will take to become a greater part of that or will it always kind of be relegated to a smaller sub segment, because it is premium video advertising?

And then second, you talked a lot about the transition away from cookies. May be you could give us some insight in what you think the timeline with that might occur? And then more on a mechanical and modeling sense and I think that we have laid it, we saw a sequential acceleration and customer growth. Was there anything that you guys did differently in this quarter to help drive that growth. And then if I think about the linearity of those customer adds, did that have an impact on the average revenue per customer?

Jayant Kadambi

If you don’t mind, I will take them in the reverse order as well. On the sequential growth of customers I think we added -- international growth was pretty strong as I mentioned and because of the size of the markets, the international customers tend to spend less to start at least and so the growth in customers has definitely helped by backup diversification of the business internationally. That is growth north of 10% now.

We are very supportive of the international business and as a result of that, the insertion over size across the business has declined but we think it’s pretty healthy because we’re getting more customers and there is different customers at different stages of the pipeline and so we feel very good about that.

On the question about transition from direct sales to programmatic, frankly we don’t look at it that way. We look at it the way the core analogy is, which is they are different sets. So if you think about buying a car and you are a 40 something year old male like I am, there is all kinds of different 40 something year old males with different backgrounds and different needs and different family situations and they need different products. And sometimes they want to buy the product direct, sometimes they want to buy it through a different distribution channel and that's the way we look at it. We don't look at it as money shifting; we look at it as advertisers buying different products with different optimization criteria and different requirements through different channels.

And so the way we're looking at that business to give you a little bit more insight is our sort of existing flagship direct sales product is a very heavily sort of customer service, managed service, frequency, attention, we're going to get you impact business and we believe the programmatic business will be more I want lots of scale and I want it quickly.

So we differentiate it, which one product will be sort of about optimized around scale and secondarily about frequency attention and receptivity and the other one will be optimized around attention, frequency and secondarily about reach and scale. We don't see it as a shift. We see it as different products and different requirements. And I think, if you could repeat the question about cookies that would be great. Sorry I forgot.

Kerry Rice - Needham & Company

Yes, it was similar, just in the sense of transition away from cookies and maybe the timeline between you think that might occur, does that seem like that would be a real competitive advantage for you?

Jayant Kadambi

Well, so our goal is wit trying to find targets that advertisers want without cookies had two pieces to it. One was the obvious, we wanted people, there is a sense of consumer sentiment sort of relief with people who aren't using cookies, so there is that portion of it, I think. But more importantly to us, we didn't believe there was any technically effective way to target on mobile or connected television when you were not running in a web browser that didn't support a cookie.

So other ad businesses were ending up using sort of what we thought were proxies for good targeting and we always thought that television advertising sort of business wanted audiences and they wanted attentive audiences. And so a year ago, we went into the business and purchased a technology company that could help us provide the foundation for finding people in areas where there wasn't a browser. And so we build sort of essentially big data statistics and find targets to help scale our business.

And so I don't think -- so let me be specific about your question. I don't think cookies are going away tomorrow. The web browser video business is a very strong business, it's growing, there is a lot of people watching video on the web and cookies are usable for targeting and they will. It's just that with mobile and tablet growing so quickly as a percentage, we think in order to get the right scale we needed a mechanism to target people wherever they are watching video and I think in five years there will be a lot of people on mobile and tablet, more from a video perspective or even three years than there are now. And so you need a different mechanism.

Gary Fuges

Thank you. Operator, we'll take one more question, please.

Operator

Okay. Our last question is from the line of Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray. Please go ahead.

Gene Munster - Piper Jaffray

Jayant, if you can talk a little bit about your existing customers, you mentioned that the spend increased 8% year-over-year. And is there any sort of just big picture, how we should think about the existing customer spend over the next few quarters? I know you’re not giving specific guidance, it could go up or down and possibly how the programmic or any new attentiveness receptive tracking could potentially impact the customer spend?

Jayant Kadambi

Well hopefully -- I don't mean to be too facetious but hopefully any sort of technology product or feature that we announce will improve brand advertisers confidence in our ability deliver results. So we're basically signaling here that on the attention question, we're signaling it is insufficient, as I said in my prepared remarks for TV advertisers to just measure reach and frequency on digital media. They need to measure something called attention and find out when people are actually paying attention. And attention will be correlated to increases in brand advertising awareness results, purchase intent and all the things that advertisers look for in the back end metrics at the top of sort of advertising tunnel.

So we think it's a feature. I don't think we have any commentary for you as to whether that feature will add X percent on the average per customer. In terms of in general how do we look at the spend, the two metrics that we provide guidance on are the total customers we have. We continue to expect to see that, especially with the growth that we seek to increase. And I don’t think given where the businesses are, I think we don't have any prepared statements about whether we expect it to go from 8% or 10% or 20% going forward but we’ll continue to provide you those metrics as we see them.

Operator

At this time, I would like to turn the conference back to Mr. Kadambi for any closing remarks.

Jayant Kadambi

Thank you everyone for joining us and I will see you all in February, I think.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be available for replay. You may access the replay system at any time by dialing 1800-406-7325 or (303) 590-3030 and enter the access code 4646548 followed by the pound sign. Those numbers again are 1800-406-7325 or (303) 590-3030 and enter the access code 4646548 followed by pound sign. This concludes our conference call for today. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

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