Ness Technologies Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

| About: Ness Technologies, (NSTC)

Ness Technologies, (NSTCC) Q2 2010 Earnings Call May 28, 2010 8:30 AM ET


Drew Wright - Senior Vice President Financial Operations and Investor Relations

Sachi Gerlitz - President and CEO

Ofer Segev - Executive Vice President and CFO


[Vhi Shah] – Cowen & Company

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Matt McCormick – BGB Securities

Stephen [Gordaro] – Oppenheimer & Co.


Good morning, my name is Lindsay and I will be your conference operator today. At this time I’d like to welcome everyone to the Ness Technologies Second Quarter Earnings Conference C all. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers remarks there will be a question and answer session. (Operator Instructions).

Thank you, I will now turn the conference over to Drew Wright senior Vice President of Financial Operations and Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Drew Wright

Thank you, Lindsay. Good morning everybody and welcome to the Ness Technologies second quarter 2010 earnings call. In today’s call we will review our results for the quarter ended June 30th 2010.

First I’ll read the Safe Harbor statement. Except for historical matters discussed herein the matters discussed on today’s conference call include forward looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forwarding-looking statements are often preceded by words such as beliefs, expects, may, anticipates, plans, intends, assumes, will or similar expressions.

Forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs about future events, as of the date of this conference call and involves certain risks and uncertainties. As with any projection or forecast they are they are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and changes in circumstances and Ness’s actual results could differ material from those anticipated in its forward-looking statements as a result of various factors.

Some of the factors that could cause future results to materially differ from recent results or those projected in forward-looking statements are the risk factors described in Ness’s annual report on form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 15th 2010.

Ness is under no obligation and expressly declines any obligation to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of such changes new information, subsequent events or otherwise.

The audio from today’s call is being webcast live on the internet. A replay of the call will be available online at the Ness Technologies website about 2 hours after the call is over at

Also available on our investor relations website, are today’s press release and a copy of the related 8-K filing.

Today’s call will be lead by Sachi Gerlitz, President and CEO; and Ofer Segev, Executive Vice President and CFO. Sachi over to you.

Sachi Gerlitz

Good day everyone, thanks for joining us on the call. As you know we started the New Year well in Q1. I’m pleased to say if we continue this momentum nicely in Q2, growing revenue 10% year-over-year and 5% sequentially and extending operating margins sequentially.

We grew revenues in each segment as well as overall. We continue with wins and booking in the quarter not yet fully normal rate, but in line with continual gradual improvement of the economy.

Included were two new [negadin’s] in the public and utilities sector in Central and Eastern Europe , a large defense deal and a number of medium sized deals in the U.S., and in Israel.

The business environment in which we operate in Israel is feeling pretty good, in the U.S., it’s continuing to recover steadily and in the CEE region it is just starting to slowly hitch up after very long and deeper sessions.

We are seeing resumption of buying in many sectors with some fixed resulting from economic news and political changes. Our integration of Gilon Business Insight, the business intelligence provider whose acquisition we announced in Q1is going well following the deal during the quarter.

We are identifying numerous potentials synergies with our other business unit and are working hard to trap them. We are continuing to focus on maximizing organization efficiency even while resuming growth. Ofer, would you review the Q2 numbers please.

Ofer Segev

Thanks Sachi, hello everyone. As usual I’ll be discussing both GAAP and non-GAAP numbers. The reason we disclose non-GAAP numbers is to help you understand the underlying performance of Ness. Then on P&L metrics exclude one-time gains one-time expenses in recurring non-cash items.

Today’s earnings press release contains a non-GAAP reconciliation table that details the items excluded from out non-GAAP results for the current and comparable period.

Revenues for the second quarter were strong $140 million up 10% year-over-year and 5% sequentially.

European currencies accounts for about 25% of our revenues and the weakening of these currencies against the dollar during Q2 reduced our reported dollar revenue by about $3 million.

Backlog at the end of the quarter was $658 million up 3% year-over-year and 2% sequentially in costs and currency. In dollar terms backlog increased 1% year-over-year and declined 1% sequentially due to the weakening of the European currencies is non-dollar backlog was re-measured into dollars.

Backlog for the rolling 12 months was 51% of total backlog at June 30 a little below our historical norm of 55% to 60%. And recent bookings were [indiscernible] [006:06].

Quarterly revenues like customer geographic region where Israel 37%, North America 35%, Europe 27% and the rest of the world 1%.

Gross profit was $37.4 million for the quarter of 26.8% of revenue essentially flat 27.1% in the second quarter of ’09.

Operating income was $3 million for the quarter. On a non-GAAP basis quarterly operating income was $6 million or 4.3% of revenue down from 4.7% in Q2 of last year and up sequentially from 3.7 in Q1.

EBITDA was $8.3 million for the quarter. The non-GAAP basis EBITDA for the quarter was $9.1 million or 6.5% of revenue compared to 6.7% in the second quarter of ’09 and 5.9% in the first quarter of this year.

Financial expenses were 400,000 in the quarter down from 700,000 in Q2 of last year, due largely to reduction in our net debt and lower interest rates on our long term debt.

Our effective tax rates for the quarter remain much higher than normal mainly due to jurisdictions where we are still incurring losses for tax purposes, but where we are not able to create new different tax assets. On a non-GAAP basis our tax rate was 33%.

Net income from continual operation was $900,000 for the quarter. On a non-GAAP basis net income was $3.8 million compared to $4.3 million in Q2 of last year due to a $1.2 million increase in income taxes.

This corresponds to GAAP earnings per diluted share from continual operations of $0.02 for the quarter and in non-GAAP basis quarterly dilutes EPS from continuing operation was $0.10 compared to $0.11 in the second quarter of ’09.

Second quarter operating cash flows from continuing operations were 400,000 remember that our operating cash flow will be lower this year since we have to fund working capital as we grow revenues again.

Our balance sheets remain strong, at the end of June cash and cash equivalent and short term deposits of $53 million, $71 million of long term debt and $ 9 million of short term debt. Net debt increased to $27 million following the acquisition of Gilon. We remain in our comfort zone regarding liquidity.

Trade receivables were $137 million versus $131 million at the end of December. While unbilled receivables were $37 million up $4 million from December. Unbilled receivables as a percentage of total trade receivables was 21% up from 20% in December and down from 24% a year ago.

Day sales outstanding at quarter end was 71 days compared to 80 days a year ago and 66 days at year-end. We are very much in range thanks to our ongoing focus on collection.

In calculating DSO’s we exclude VAT and software vendor pass-through from our trade receivables since these amounts don’t represent revenues for Ness. Our target range for DSO is 70 to 80 days.

Our top 20 clients in aggregate represented 38% of our revenues in Q2 with our largest single client accounting for less than 5%. Revenues from existing clients continued at over 85%, approximately 33% of our revenue was from fixed price projects in Q2 in line with historical norms.

Our total head count for continued operations June 13, was 7,765 up sequentially by 295 employees.

Our percentage of billable employees from continued operation decreased slightly to 86.5 due to an additional small reduction in the billable headcount in the CEE region. Headcount in India increased for the 5th consecutive quarter.

Now let’s talk about operating segment results, in our software product engineering segment quarterly revenues were up 9% year-over-year and 6% sequentially and we continued to generate strong operating margins delivering 16.6% in the quarter.

We had expected the operating margin for this segment to drop a little in Q2 as we paid wage increases in India, but it now looks like that impact will incur in Q3. We are still targeting 13% to 15% segment operating margins for the full year.

Our system integration and application development segment continued to recover this quarter revenue is up 10% year-over-year and 4% sequentially and a non-GAAP margin of 4.8% flat year-over-year and up sequentially from 4.6%.

We expect segment margins to improve in the second half as revenues grow. These are the numbers back to you Sachi.

Sachi Gerlitz

Thanks Ofer, as you can see from the numbers we continue our recovery in the second quarter. Of course we are dependent on the economy as the regional IT spending recovery of the countries where we operate and every quarter this amount, but overall we feel encouraged.

Bookings are not yet at the level we’d like them to be, but we are competing on more and bigger deals. As Ofer mentioned out software product engineering segment did very well in Q2, with solid year-over-year revenue growth and very healthy operating model.

Headcount in India continues to increase, as the [Liber] operation in India remains very efficient with slim bench and with average cost per visible hour in line with outline.

The job market in India is getting quite hot again and we along with the rest of the industry are seeing more wage pressure and higher level of attrition than in the last 6 quarters. So far we’ve been able to offset the effect of those pressures who increase billable utilization rates, efficient bench management, a strong recruiting function and selective wage increases.

We are proactively reviewing their training and benefit policies making more career tricks available and setting up our recruiting capabilities which we need to do anyways to accommodate the planned growth.

During the quarter we booked 4 new customers, some through traditional sales and others to our eco system sales profits.

We also renewed two labs and we booked headcount growth in 6 other labs. Importantly we negotiated rate increases for most of our existing labs to help offset wage inflation.

In aggregate we are in the same circle we remain long in this segment with the deal [indiscernible] [0:13:29] looks promising. We currently operate over 50 software product labs in India and the CEE region.

Our system integration and application development segment did well in Q2 especially in the U.S., and in Israel. Let’s got to each of the markets.

Europe remained a trouble markets [Indiscernible] [0:13:49]. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary each recently completed the national election in which the incumbent administration was replaced. As a result the timing of the IT demands recovery in Central and Eastern Europe remains uncertain. However as I noted earlier we are seeing spending again in some industry sectors and certain countries.

In the Czech Republic we booked 5 deals with two public sector clients accounting for over $20 million of easy booking.

One of the bills which we announced this morning is a $12 million distribution network management system for Czech and the largest part of the distribution company is the Czech Republic and the other public sector client is the department of the national government, we are seeking client’s approval to announce the second bill.

In Slovakia we are ramping up the large eHealth project we announced last quarter and we booked 6 small public sector bill in range of the government department and energy telecom and transportation company. The public sector remains the main focus for the future field in Slovakia.

In Hungary which has remained strong for us throughout the recession we are seeing some slowness in the financial services sector and booking we are below expectation. We are working to improve there.

In Romania we booked 6 small public sector bills primarily in the energy sector. The Romanian economy is still very weak, but we believe that we can improve our sales there in the second half of the year.

All this gives us confidence that regardless of the troubled environment we are in the right track. Revenue from Ness Europe increased slight year-over-year. Backlog increased for the 5th consecutive quarter and we have many deals in the sales pipeline.

In our Israel and commercial and civilian business we had a very good Q2 with revenue and operating margin ahead of plan. We booked a couple of good outsourcing bill each in the range of $4 million to $6 million, half a dozen medium sized system integration project and a number of a smaller outsourcing bill.

These wins with [indiscernible] [0:16:15] industrial financial services health care and public sectors. We are negotiating quantum extension and or rate increases at a number of client decline. On the flip side some of these higher rates are being passed through to employees to come back which pressure and increase attrition.

We have another major achievement in Q2. In May we completed the successful roll-out of the mega project that we described in our analyst day last November. The next generation court system for the Israeli courts administration is now deployed in every national, regional and local court across the country.

And as I mentioned a few minutes ago we closed the acquisition of Gilon in May. We are rapidly integrating Gilon into our existing Israeli operation and are working hard to make advantage of the numerous opportunities that this opens up for our existing customer base and their customer base. We believe that the future performance of Gilon and the synergies with these other business units will make this a very positive acquisition.

In our defense and homeland security vertical, due to normal lumpiness in the business revenue were flat year-over-year, but operating was very strong. During the quarter we lost a large military intelligence system contract with the interim minister of defense as one several small bill with MOD [Taviran] and Israeli Aircraft Industry.

We completed a successful field [indiscernible] [0:17:49] test for a Northern European defense client began on site extensive testing for a Special Forces commander and control system customary in Latin America and participated in Israel’s very successful emergency readiness exercise.

Finally a North American system integration business as the solid Q2 with revenues up sequentially in year-over-year, with good operating margin like where we want them to be.

During the quarter we won a number of new engagements extensions at existing clients some of which we hope to announce shortly depending on customers approval.

Our new system integration business focuses mainly on financial services and like sciences clients and in both sectors we see the line picking up. At the same time we are continuing to slim our low margin technical starting group within this business unique which will offset a portion of this bill’s future revenue growth for a couple of quarters.

In corporate news Ness just received a gold ranking for corporate social responsibility for all our business based on our achievements in the business ethics, human rights in works place, community involvement, environmental awareness and corporate governance. Although this ranking applies especially to our work in Israel we have active programs in each of these areas, in every geography, in which we operate.

In Q2 our offshore software product engineering centers in India successfully completed their ISO quality management reclassification. And all our development centers in India successfully renewed or completed their ISO management of information security certification.

In primary we had a good second quarter with solid sequential and year over year revenue growth and with expanding operating margin. Nothing about the future is guaranteed in this still recovering economy, but we remain optimistic about the rest of the year.

Ofer would you discuss our financial guidance please.

Ofer Segev

We are reiterating our full 2010 guidance of revenues in the range of $575 million to $585 million and a non-GAAP dilutes EPS of $0.43 to $0.47 which corresponds to GAAP earnings of $0.12 to $0.16.

Our guidance assumed a tax rate of around 33% and an average diluted share count of $39 million in 2010.

In terms of foreign exchange rates the recent weakness of European currencies has significantly reduced the translated dollar value for European revenue. Assuming that relevant foreign exchange rates remain at current level our revenue guidance should be fine though we will probably be at the lower end of the range.

In terms of seasonality we expect top line revenue growth and margin expansion in 2010, with third quarter results in line with second quarter results and fourth quarter results significantly as the third quarter results.

Back to you Sachi.

Sachi Gerlitz

Thanks Ofer. As the market for IT services slowly recovers in our key geographies we are focusing all our attention on selling effectively into these changed markets; building market share, differentiating our first communities and continuing and even improving our excellent delivery. If we can do this successfully taking care of our employees and pricing our services appropriately we continue to demonstrate revenue growth and margin extension.

To our 7,800 employees throughout the world I say thank you for your hard work, innovation and commitment. And to our shareholders we appreciate your interest and continued support.

That concludes the petered remarks, Lindsay let’s take questions please.

Question and Answer Session


(Operator Instructions). Your first question comes from the line of Moshe Katri with Cowen & Company.

[Vhi Shah] – Cowen & Company

Hi good morning it’s [Vhi Shah] [Phonetic] [0:22:21] for Moshe. Two quick questions, one if you can talk a little bit about hiring plan and maybe quantify the reasonable increases in India and an increase in attrition? And do you find it more difficult to add employees in India? And I guess the second question can you tell me a little bit about free cash flow targets for the year?

Sachi Gerlitz

Good morning [Vhi Shah] I’m not so sure that I understand the first question, but let me give it a try. The environment in India is differently heated up as I said there in the year nevertheless we don’t see particular difficulty in getting out equipment operating in high gear. To be very exact we’ve put the target to actually to continuously improve the timing of our recruitment. So I think that we are performing very well in this tougher environment.

Regarding quantifying the growth I think that we’ve mentioned there’s about 300 employees of the net growth of our operation in India in the last quarter.

Regarding cash flow, I don’t think we ever gave a cash flow target. All we said is it is going to be for the whole year, just to remind you the model, just to remember that when we grow we have to finance the customers we say employees on a monthly basis. So we have to finance about 60 days of revenue and so if you do the calculations that it is going to be positive and should track earning not far behind.

[Vhi Shah] – Cowen & Company

Okay, and do you have hiring plans in India for the full year?

Sachi Gerlitz

I don’t think we ever gave them so… we are talking hundreds of people.

[Vhi Shah] – Cowen & Company

Okay, thank you very much.


Your next question comes from the line of James Freedman with Susquehanna

Sachi Gerlitz

Good morning Jamie?

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Hi, good morning. Congratulations on the improved results.

Sachi Gerlitz

Thank you.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

So I may have missed this I apologize, but the Israel geography grew about 22% year-over-year, what component of that was related to the Gilon acquisition?

Sachi Gerlitz

One second. It’s about…half of the growth is Gilon and half is organic.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Okay. And Ofer I may have misheard you, but could you say again the tax rate assumption was it 30 or was it 33?

Ofer Segev

33 yeah, the main reason for the increase in the tax rate is the weakness in Europe. Europe which is the lowest tax rate now that most of our operations in India are in full tax situation, Europe is around 20% and the fact that Europe does not contribute enough for the overall mix in tax rate our tax rate is getting up closer to the average between U.S., and India which is the 35% to 40%. As Europe we resume earnings for the proportion we go down and the tax rate down.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Okay, so yeah so that could potentially happen in like fiscal ’11?

Ofer Segev


James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Okay. And then Sachi with regard to attrition and wage inflation and I know you spoke to in some detail on this, but the operating margin was so strong from the software product labs in the Q2. So most of the companies including [Emphasys] are now describing are now describing margin deterioration, but that didn’t seem to happen. What should we anticipate about the timing of the margin pressure in the software product labs business?

Sachi Gerlitz

I think that we’ve heard it from the previous remarks that the we have anticipated deterioration or reduction in this margin for this segment in Q2, but the timing of the wage increased to as such that the [inaudible] [0:27:33] probably the impact will start in Q3. Just to remind you that we are targeting the margin for this segment to be between 13 to 15% and we anticipate that this will be the case going forward which inflation as we were able to mitigate it and partially by increased rate and partially by applying additional efficiency in the mix of the people.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

So is your conclusion that the operating margin for 2010 I mean your guidance would imply that the operating margin for 2010 will be higher than ’09.

Sachi Gerlitz

Is that segment or the whole?

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

I’m sorry for the whole company.

Sachi Gerlitz

Yes, absolutely.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Okay, and are you still comfortable with like a 7% target for 2011?

Sach Gerlitz

7% for 2011 margin?

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Margin yeah, was that too low.

Sachi Gerlitz

No, well it’s too early for me to comment on 2011, but I think to target currently this will have to have Europe really name [indiscernible] [0:28:55] which is we get closer to 2011 and Europe is where it is today I think it’s going to be a little bit difficult.

But Jamie I would reiterate that it’s a bit early for us to comment over 2011.

James Friedman – Susquehanna Financial Group

Fair enough. Okay congratulations on the quarter, thanks again.

Sachi Gerlitz

Thank you, Jamie.


(Operator Instructions). Your next question comes from the line of Matt McCormick BGB Securities.

Matt McCormick – BGB Securities

Yeah, hi good morning.

Sachi Gerlitz

Good morning Matt, how are you?

Matt McCormick – BGB Securities

I’m doing well. A couple of questions on the software lab, so I guess you said it was 9% growth. I guess could you comment on where you think, how fast you think that market as a whole is growing? So are you growing at the market above or below and you talked about strong demand, could you talk about the types of verticals that these software companies or these companies outside the software vertical?

Sachi Gerlitz

I think that we are above the rate of the whole market so I don’t think that losing the market share but I don’t think that we are gaining much of the market share at this rate. I think that you have to remember the profile by which this segment is the…is going. Usually a lab starts very small and as customer is getting comfortable with the off shore model and the quality of the deliverable in the [R&B] space they start to grow the laboratory. And this takes time and much of the growth is coming not from the new logos at the beginning but by increasing each one of the labs.

And if you could look at the business that we gave about this quarter all the growth, the real growth came from expanding six labs within the customers’ base that we have and I think that this is the typical phenomena. So booking real logos will actually contribute to growth in the next two, three quarters.

Second, that is the…with regard to the segmentation of the market I think that it's appropriate to say that these customers in that segment that all of them depend on software production to create revenue. But I would divide them into two groups; typical independent software vendors, either small or very large and other companies in the corporate space that create revenue base on their products…on their software products but not necessarily sending the software product research.

If we look at our customer base the main growth that we see is coming from the second segment which of course represents much larger adjustable markets.

Matt McCormick – DGB Securities

In terms of the competition in that specific area that…could you just talk about the landscape, talk about what has changed on other…the several smaller private companies? I guess that are probably equal or slightly larger than that segment and then there is the larger IT provider so have you seen any material change in any of those competitors?

Sachi Gerlitz

I think that one can look at the competitive landscape with relation to these…to the two segments of the markets as I’ve described. I think that we see many of the small private companies actually bidding on the…in the [OPD] space for the ISVs and some of them focusing more on the engineering parts that are embedded in other applications that we less focus on and the…over balancing the competition coming mainly from the small guys or where we have some divisions of these big guys that are also competing there. But main competition is coming from the smaller, more dedicated and focused industry players.

On the other segment companies that have got software as a source of the revenue but not by [VS] selling licenses, what we have is typically the big guys competing on the IT spending on those people. And there is a differentiation between the [R&B] budget and the IT budget so we see the big guys definitely are wrong but due to our differentiation focusing on the [R&B] part of the house and not on the IT part of the house, we are quite successful in those cases vis-à-vis even in [combust] large players that are having revenues from these customers.

Matt McCormick – DGB Securities

Okay, and then my final question is it overall the ST&A looks like it was 25% of revenue, I mean are there more overhead costs that you think you can take out of the business and what are you kind of targeting for the long-term?

Sachi Gerlitz

We are…we’re not…obviously we are not the set company and the level of the ST&A is basically now where it needs to be so while we are selling more efficiencies is we are trying to do but those are not huge numbers. I think we discussed it all times that the seg that we are in through geography is…it creates for essentially a little bit higher ST&A than normal size companies like us that operate in only one market and this is where we need to grow and leverage the fixed cost bases and this is how we increase profitability.

So there is nothing…there’s not a big number that can be taken out of this unit.

Matt McCormick – DGB Securities

Okay, thank you so much.

Sachi Gerlitz

Alright, thank you.


(Operator Instructions) Your next question comes from the line of Stephen [Gordaro], Oppenheimer & Company.

Stephen – Oppenheimer & Co.

Yes, how are you? To me it looks like a pretty good quarter, I’m just curious what are the reasons the stock has been under pressure throughout the last quarter? You’re trading almost near the low of the year, I mean can you comment on why do you think the stock is just so weak in relation to sales, absence to sales you’ve…less than a third and what can we try to do other than what you guys are doing to try to get the stock up?

Sachi Gerlitz

You know, I have a belief that it's not the role of the management to comment on the stock price and we feel very comfortable about the performance of the company in the second quarter and what we feel when we talk to investors is that there is a less than positive sentiment about our exposure…not our, but the exposure of the industry to our [papers] in Europe. And I think that some of it might have affected the appreciation that we’re having. I think that investor community is concerned about that market; I hope that with our improved performance and better results…continuous better results that can be measured definitely by the increased bookings fifth quarter in a row investor confidence will increase and appreciation will follow.

Stephen – Oppenheimer & Co.

Thank you.


There are no questions at this time, Mr. Gerlitz are there any closing remarks?

Sachi Gerlitz

Thank you Lindsay. Thanks for joining us today; we’ll speak to you again when we report our third quarter results at the end of October.

That concludes today’s call have a nice day and have a nice summer, bye.


This concludes today’s conference call you may now disconnect.

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