PMC-Sierra's (PMCS) CEO Greg Lang on Q2 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Q2 2014 Earnings Conference Call

July 31, 2014 04:30 PM ET


Suzanne Schmidt - IR

Greg Lang - President and CEO

Steve Geiser - VP and CFO


Ryan Goodman - CLSA

Sundeep Bajikar - Jefferies


Welcome to the PMC Second Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded. At this time I would like to turn the call over to Suzanne Schmidt, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Schmidt

Thank you, operator. Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for joining the call. With me today are Greg Lang, President and CEO and Steve Geiser, Vice President and CFO.

Greg will begin the call with a discussion of the business and key highlights from the second quarter of 2014, and Steve will then discuss the financial results for the second quarter of 2014 and the business outlook for the third quarter of 2014. Please note that our second quarter 2014 earnings press release was disseminated today via Business Wire after the market closed, and a copy of the release can be downloaded from our website.

Before we begin, I would like to point out that during the course of this conference call we will be making forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to PMC's limited revenue visibility due to variable customer demands, market segment growth or decline, customer concentration, bookings rates, changes in inventory, foreign exchange rates and tax rates and other risk factors that are detailed in the Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Actual results may differ materially from the Company's projections. For further information about these risks and uncertainties, please read the Company's SEC filings, including our Forms 10-K and 10-Q. Note that PMC undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

Please note that for each of the historical non-GAAP financial measures mentioned on this call, a full reconciliation to the most comparable GAAP financial measures is included in our press release issued today. In addition, a GAAP to non-GAAP reconciliation of financial measures noted in our outlook will be posted on our Web site under the Financial Reports section of the Investor Relations tab.

If you are asking a question during the Q&A session of today's call, we request that you limit yourselves to one question. If you'd like to ask a second question, please re-queue with the operator.

Thank you. And I will now turn the call over to Greg Lang.

Greg Lang

Thank you for joining us today, and welcome to our second quarter 2014 earnings call. We had a very solid quarter with both our top and bottom line results once again coming at above the midpoint of our outlook range. Q2 revenues totaled $126.8 million, well above the midpoint of our outlook and up slightly over last quarter. Strength in sales of our Optical and Mobile products more than offset lower storage revenue. Non-GAAP net income was approximately $18 million, up 15% from Q1 and non-GAAP EPS was $0.09 per diluted share.

So with that backdrop, I'll give you an overview of the Q2 results by end market. The Carrier revenue increased by over 11% or $4.5 million in the quarter, with Mobile up 20% sequentially and Optical up by 6%. Our OTN family of products continues to grow with six straight quarters of growth, while Mobile saw increases, driven by both 3G and 4G mobile backhaul deployments, matching a high mark not seen since 2012. The growth was underpinned by the LTE rollout in China, as well as strength in North America.

Storage revenues declined by 4.7%, or approximately $4.1 million versus last quarter due to the inventory consumption expected at two large customers. In terms of mix, Storage represented 65% of the total revenue mix, Optical came in at 20% and Mobile was 15% of the total.

For those of you tracking the legacy portion of our revenue, it was approximately 7.3% of total revenue in Q2 due to strength in our SONET business in emerging markets, compared with 5.5% last quarter. We anticipate this percentage will drop back down to the 4% to 5% range of revenues next quarter.

Now I'll provide a bit more detail on each of the end market segments. Our Storage business performed largely as expected. Revenue from our Flash Controller was lower due to the timing of data center build-outs and our core storage products were down after a challenging first quarter as experienced by our large enterprise storage customers, resulting in some inventory consumption in Q2. In Q3 we expect to work through the remaining inventory and experience positive seasonality. We also expect to see a small uplift from the Grantley launch and related 12 gig SAS share gains.

In the last quarter we were awarded 12 gig sockets from a major Tier I storage system vendor, which now gives PMC a clean sweep of all three of the top three storage system OEMs. We are increasingly confident about our share gains across our SAS and SATA controllers and disk switching business in both storage systems and servers.

In Flash Controllers, we anticipate an increase quarter-to-quarter, due to an expanded customer base and improved data center build-outs. The latest production release by a major customer brings our Tier I customer base to three, one large manufacturer, one large data center customer and one large storage OEM.

You may have noticed Samsung's May 25 press release announcing the industry's first NVMe drive. This new drive is the first to support the industry standard NVMe interface and plugs directly into the PCI Express bus, enabling the lowest overhead, lowest latency, and highest performing SSDs on the market. At 750,000 IOPS, it delivers more than three times the performance of a high performance 12 gig SAS SSD. NVMe based drives are the future for performance SSDs and we're extremely well positioned with wins across flash manufacturers, large data centers and large drive suppliers.

In May we demonstrated our data center leadership when we hosted a Storage and Connectivity Innovation Summit at the China Cloud Computing Conference in Beijing. PMC was joined by Alibaba Group, Inspur and Wiwynn Corporation to discuss its scalable and flexible solutions that can be tailored to each of the varied requirements across all of China's hyperscale data centers. Specific topics discussed included hybrid and pure flash storage to accelerated applications, scalable and flexible architectures geared towards open applications, software defined storage and tiering data to deliver efficient and cost effective storage. Overall, our position in the storage end market and flash controller market segment continued to strengthen and grow.

Now we'll move on to the Carrier business, which was up $4.5 million overall compared with the prior quarter and was better than our expectations. The details are as follows. In Optical, revenue was up $1.4 million sequentially with our sixth straight quarter of revenue growth in OTN and stronger SONET sales tied to deployments in India, Russia and Korea. These gains were somewhat offset by lower fiber-to-the-home revenues in Japan. We remain very well positioned for continued growth with our third generation OTN product family called DIGI, as additional line cards go into production in Q3 and beyond. As we indicated last quarter, PMC has over 50 line cards in various phases of design. At the end of Q2, about 20% of the DIGI based cards had been released for production and we anticipate that number to triple by year-end based on the current design win status.

PMC has demonstrated clear leadership in this arena, driving standards and integrated ASSPs beyond any competitive effort. Two recent examples. In May, PMC hosted a panel with China Mobile Research to discuss the state of OTN network deployments at the Optical China Conference. Specific topics discussed were the 100-gig ecosystem and how PMC's DIGI 120 enabled the maturity of the ecosystem and facilitated China Mobile's network deployment, continued scalability, transmission beyond the 100 gig and software defined optical transport networking.

In July, PMC joined AT&T, Ciena and Verizon on a panel at the Lightwave Optical Summit in Austin, Texas to discuss the state of the 100 gig OTN networking and deployment readiness and what is beyond the 100 gig. The discussion topics included the latest developments in equipment, optics and OTN processing semiconductors as well as software defined networking. The growing traction of OTN in metro networks and specifically switched OTN is a key growth driver we've been investing in for several years. Today we have a great start in China with nearly half of our revenue generated there and later this year we anticipate greater penetration in North America and other geos and continued growth in market shares our customers' ramp their new DIGI-based platforms.

Now onto our Mobile market segment, where our revenues were up $3 million or almost 20% versus the previous quarter. The WinPath business was the primary driver of the growth due to broad-based strength in Mobile backhaul for 3G and 4G deployments with revenue roughly matching our best quarters since 2011. There are also a couple of end-of-life orders which contributed to this upside. Our UniTRX integrated radio chipset for mobile base stations continues to charge forward. We continue to believe we will see early revenue towards the end of this year as we now have several vendors who are targeting production with new platforms in this timeframe. And we have said in the past we anticipate more material revenue from this growth area in 2015.

Okay. Now turning to our outlook; in Q3 we expect revenues to be in the range of $130 million to $138 million or up 6% sequentially at the midpoint of our range. Following the strong quarter, we anticipate OTN to grow again, but carrier revenue overall will be down a few million dollars as one-time legacy revenue in SONET returns to the normalized 4% to 5% of total revenue range. Mobile will also be down a bit given the pause in China LTE spend. But on the other hand, our current storage backlog suggests double-digit growth over Q2. We currently expect growth in every storage end market we serve; Enterprise Storage, Hyperscale Data Centers and Flash Controllers. The growth is due to seasonal upside, lesser inventory and server and data center growth.

After years investing, we're pleased to see evidence of key product cycles taking hold in each of our four growth drivers. First, our OTN business continues to experience a solid ramp with our latest generation of products. We have the design wins in place to grow into the lead position in this market, passing each competitor an alternative solution. Our growth will continue as our customers release their platforms into production.

Second is our core SAS business. As the Intel Grantley launch nears, our design win position us for greater than 10% share gains, which will contribute to meaningful growth towards the end of this calendar year and into next year. We're also encouraged that our largest customers are seeing improved enterprise spend environment.

The third growth driver for us this year is our Flash Controller business. We have tremendous potential as we broaden our customer base and existing data center customer build schedules resume. We have design wins in place with not only the largest data center customers, but also the major flash, storage and drive OEMs. Lastly our strength in density and drive switching places us at the center of a move towards densification of Hyperscale data centers, and we fully expect to benefit from this fast growing segment of the market.

Underpinning each of these four growth drivers is the ongoing escalation of data traffic, driven by the Digitization of Everything, the Internet of Everything and the Proliferation of Mobile Devices. With our leadership position in critical areas of storage and carrier technology, our customers are increasingly turning to us to help them solve the difficult challenges around transforming their networks that connect, move and store big data.

So, with that, I'd like to hand it over to Steve for details on the financials and our outlook.

Steve Geiser

Thanks, Greg. I will now discuss our second quarter financial results and comment further on our outlook for the third quarter of 2014. Second quarter revenue was toward the upper end of our outlook range at $126.8 million, down 1.0% from the second quarter of 2013 and up 0.3% over the prior quarter. In Q2 we had two customers, which each accounted for more than 10% of our revenues, calculated on a rolling 12-month basis, namely HP and EMC.

Non-GAAP gross margin in the second quarter was 71.1%, slightly above the upper end of our outlook range of 70% to 71% for the quarter. Gross margins have been maintained around the 70% to 71% range for the past nine quarters.

On a non-GAAP basis, operating expenses came in at $71.2 million for the second quarter, near the midpoint of our outlook range. Operating expenses were down by $3.6 million from the second quarter of 2013, as the result of several cost reduction initiatives implemented over the course of the last year. As anticipated, operating expenses were down approximately $0.8 million sequentially from the first quarter of 2014, primarily due to a decrease in payroll related costs, on lower headcount and a seasonal reduction in benefit costs.

Non-GAAP operating margin was 15.0% for the second quarter, a 300-basis-point improvement from 12% in Q2 '13 and 150 basis point improvement from 13.5% in Q1 of '14 with both changes driven by improved gross margins and the decrease in non-GAAP operating expenses just discussed.

Non-GAAP net income was $18.3 million or $0.09 per share, up 14% from $16.1 million or $0.08 per share in the second quarter of 2013 and up 15% from $16.0 million, or $0.08 per share in the first quarter of 2014. Q2 GAAP net loss was $3.5 million or $0.02 per share, flat with $0.02 net loss per share in each of Q2 13 and Q1 14. The primary items reconciling GAAP to non-GAAP net income for Q2 are as follows, $9.9 million in amortization of purchased intangible assets, $4.9 million in stock-based compensation expense, $1.6 million in termination expense, and $0.8 million in acquisition related expense. You can see our press release issued today for a full reconciliation.

Turning to the balance sheet. We ended the second quarter with a net cash position of $214 million. We define net cash as cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and investment securities, net of outstanding debt. Our Q2 net cash position was approximately $26 million higher than our Q1 ending net cash position, and rose from $28.4 million of cash generated from operations, and $1.3 million of new stock issuances from employee stock options, partially offset by $4.6 million of capital and IP purchases.

Please note that $5 million drawn against the revolving debt facility as of the end of the first quarter was repaid during the month of April. Our net inventory at the end of Q2 was $31.4 million, $1.2 million or 4% higher than at the end of the prior quarter. With strategic inventory build-up on anticipated increase in demand in the second half of 2014 coupled with tight control of manufacturing activities by our operations team, we continue to maintain net inventory turns at 4.7 times in Q2. Q2 ending deferred revenue balance decreased to $5.2 million from approximately $5.6 million as of the end of Q1, reflective of the relatively light levels of inventory held by our point-of-sale distributors.

Overall our inventory including at distributors remains well managed. In terms of lead times from our foundry partners, they have remained stable and we have adequate wafer supply to meet our forecasted demand. In the second quarter we had no stock repurchase activity. In total, since the authorization of the $275 million share repurchase program by the Board in March 2012, we have repurchased a total of 41.4 million shares for $248 million for an average price of approximately $6 per share. In the coming quarters we will continue to assess the best use of our capital resources and may continue to repurchase shares opportunistically up to the remaining $27 million of outstanding authorization.

Now I will turn to the outlook for the third quarter of 2014. As Greg mentioned, we expect Q3 revenues to be in the range of $130 million to $138 million, or an increase of approximately 3% to 9% sequentially. This takes into account current levels of demand and our expectation of booking rates through the balance of the quarter. On a non-GAAP basis we expect our overall gross margin percentage in Q3 to be in the range of 70% to 71%.

Non-GAAP operating expenses in Q3 are expected to be in the range of $73 million to $75 million, $2.8 million higher than Q2 at the midpoint of this range. This increase is mainly the result of a high level of tape-out activity in the third quarter. We expect other income in Q3 to be nil, with interest income on cash balances largely offset by financing costs related to our line of credit.

We expect our non-GAAP tax provision in Q3 to be approximately $1 million. At the midpoint of our outlook range, non-GAAP earnings per share for Q3 are projected to be $0.10, $0.01 higher than Q2 as a result of the expected increase in revenue, partially offset by a slight decline in gross margin and an increase in operating expenses. The EPS outlook for the third quarter assumes a diluted share count of 202 million.

With that we'd like to open the call to questions.

Question-And-Answer Session


Thank you. (Operator Instructions) We'll go to Srini Pajjuri from CLSA.

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

Hey, thanks for taking the question. This is Ryan Goodman in for Srini. So just a question on OTN. You guys are on a very good tear there, six quarters in a row of growth. I'm just trying to understand, maybe -- you briefly mentioned the geographies. If you could dig a bit deeper in there, it sounds like China is going well, but maybe a little more color there would be helpful. And then as we look out over the next few quarters, how do you expect the growth profile for this to shape-up? Is this sort of a deployment scheduled that's kind of lumpy like what we've seen in China LTE or is this more of a smooth accelerating growth cycle? Just any color there would help.

Greg Lang

Yes. Sure. On the first part of your question, today the revenue profile year-to-date has been roughly 50%. A little bit over 50% of the revenue has been to serve the LTE build-out. They've been putting in more -- LTE build-out in China. They've been putting in more infrastructure to support the higher bandwidth phones that will be connected to that network. We expect that the shift to the balance of this year and end up probably in the order of closer to 40% of the business there as North America and to some extent Europe start to pick up. So we do expect there to be kind of a balancing over time. Part of it is due to the nature of the build-out in China, but also part of it is due to the product readiness for some of the advanced capabilities that will be going into the next round of products.

So the second part of your question was about, is this kind of a steady growth? Or is this lumpy? I think most of the carrier deployments tend to be a bit lumpy. We have two phenomenon that are going on here. One is the adoption of switched OTN. That's happening and as that adoption goes up, we'll benefit. But also maybe more importantly is we only have 20% of the platforms have been released to production so far. So there's a number of line cards that are in the engineering process getting released and going to field trials and getting into a revenue situation. So the combination of those two I think in general over the next 18 to 24 months should have us growing up into the right, but I think it would be reasonable to expect that that could also could be lumpy at times as we've seen in the past.

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

Okay. Great. And then just a follow up. Could you give us an update on what's going on with fiber-to-the-home and PON? And as I mentioned a little bit in the prepared remarks, in this last quarter our PON revenue was down a bit. It was up in Q1, down in Q2 as there was basically a factory transition happening and they bought a little more in Q1 to make up for the downside in Q2. We expect it to come back a little bit in Q3. Maybe more interesting than that for the Japan market is they're getting ready to do trials for 10 gig, and we expect that certainly by this time next year they'll be rolling out 10 gig PON in the Japan market.


(Operator Instructions) We'll now go to Sundeep Bajikar from Jefferies.

Sundeep Bajikar - Jefferies

Just first on OTN, can you just give us some more color on the OTN design wins? It seems that you're seeing particular pockets of strength in China in terms of the ramp up. I was also wondering if there is a connection between broader availability of 100 gig coherent optical modules and the ramp of OTN switches as it seems that 100 gig coherent optical modules are also ramping.

Greg Lang

Yes. I think that's a reasonable correlation. I think certainly the carriers and data center customers are looking to move aggressively to 100 gig. So I don't think that's a coincidence and our DIGI platform, while it is a 100-gig platform, it also can operate as a 10 by 12 -- 10 gig pipe or a 40 by 3, 40 gig OTN pipe. So we get the benefit of participating in all the market segments. But you're right, there does seem to be a good strength around the globe around 100 gig. Although the volumes are still small, they're growing nicely I think for all the vendors involved.

Sundeep Bajikar - Jefferies

And then on the OTN design wins, I'm assuming that these are global and broad based, but that you're seeing pockets in China. Is that correct?

Greg Lang

Yes. We have a very strong position at eight of the top nine Telco equipment providers, and we have an okay position at the ninth. So our design win footprint is very, very strong. And I mentioned earlier that we have about 50 different line cards that are going in production at those nine, of which maybe 20% of those, so around 10 or 11 have actually reached production status as of last quarter. So we expect to see the balance of these -- excuse me, not the balance, but we expect that to grow to over 30 by the end of the year. So it's a good steady release of platforms coming into production here throughout the year.

Sundeep Bajikar - Jefferies

Okay, great. And just a bigger question on the Flash Controller business. Do you think the Flash Controller opportunity would scale to 3D NAND over time? Or do you think it's primarily for planar NAND? And if you could help us understand just the competitive landscape for motion controllers, particularly for enterprise SSD, that would be great, given there has been some recent M&A in this space.

Greg Lang

Yes, so on the first part of your question, 3D NAND definitely still needs a controller and all the functionality that comes with it to sit in front of it. It's actually one of the benefits of 3D NAND is it's actually a little bit easier of an ECC problem to solve. But as the geometry shrinks there, again, we start down the same path of having tougher and tougher ECC challenges on that front. So the 3D or not 3D, we'll be interoperating with both flavors of NAND.

In terms of the marketplace, as you pointed out, there has been -- over the last couple of years there's been -- and it's true of every new technology market, there's a lot of entrants early on, there's a shakeout in consolidation that happens and then things settle out and the winners and losers become clear, and I think we're in that latter phase where there's been a lot of shake out. I think every standalone controller company that existed at one point has now been acquired and some of them resold. And we like where we are in the ecosystem right now with substantial design wins, substantial lead on the product front and our job is to go finish winning the major Flash and SSD manufacturers onto our roadmap, but we've got a very good start.

Sundeep Bajikar - Jefferies

Okay. Great. And maybe just a last question for me also in Storage side/ I was wondering if there are any particular chipset features in Grantley that enable high density storage or would Grantley just merely serve as a platform refresh catalyst, specifically for the high density RAID adapter opportunity?

Greg Lang

Yes, good question. So the reason Grantley is important for us is that that is when all of the OEMs really kind of rallied around 12 gigs. So it's the first cycle that 12 gig will become predominant by the server guys and the storage system guys are not far behind. So we're tying kind of the 12 gig ramp and the share gains that we have there with Grantley because that's when they embrace it fully. Products have been available for a couple of quarters, three quarters, but really this is going to be the first time they really embrace them wholehearted.

The second part of your question around density is not necessarily tied to Grantley, but it is tied to our roadmap as we have products in our roadmap today as we have products in our roadmap today that offer 2 times and 3 times, 16-port and 24-port densities in a base controller configuration that are two or three times higher density than what our competition offers. So as people look to build denser and denser platforms for their data centers, we have the most cost and power and performance way to do -- cost effective way to do that in the marketplace. So that's the other benefit for us, somewhat independent of Grantley, but clearly we have a very strong position in these higher density platforms because we're alone in those capabilities.


And it appears there are no further questions. However, I would like to give a final reminder. (Operator Instructions) And we have a follow up from Srini Pajjuri from CLSA.

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

This is Ryan Goodman again for Srini. Just some follow ups on the enterprise SSD business, specifically Flash. Could you remind us exactly what products you have right now or what controller products you're shipping right now? Just between SAS and PCI Express, which ones are actually in the market today and getting revenue, which ones you have design wins with, and what the long-term roadmap is for that business in terms of which product form factors you're going to go after?

Greg Lang

Yes. I'll start at a simple level, where we do not have a SAS product offering in production today. So it's primarily a PCI Express NVMe-based controller that we have in the market. NVMe is a kind of a tongue twister, but basically think of it as a standard OS interface. So you don't have to have proprietary software for every drive that you use in a system. So it's important just from a broad deployment standpoint.

PCI Express is important because it is literally the fastest way to connect to the CPU bus. It is the CPU bus and that's why I mentioned earlier we have performance that's three times that of some of the high performance 12 gig SAS drives. It's because we're sitting right there on the CPU bus. And more impressive than that are the latency figures.

So our product line up today is a family of those PCI Express controllers for different channels and different configurations. And major design wins there come in the form of large self-builder data center customers; a couple of those, large drive manufacturer and large OEM. So we kind of have touched all of the major segments of the marketplace. In terms of roadmap going forward we haven't really announced anything beyond this, but you'll see some new announcement from us that sets a new high watermark for performance at the Flash Memory Summit next week, so keep an eye out for that. And we also plan to expand our product line, both up and down going forward. So I guess I'll leave it at that for the future roadmap part of your question.

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

Okay. And then so you – it sounded like four major customers you mentioned, two soft builders, a large drive manufacturer and then a large OEM. And the drive manufacturer and the OEM, is that product that they're manufacturing using your controller currently available in the market?

Greg Lang

Which one, for the Flash manufacturer?

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

I guess the soft builders. The general market is never going to actually see the products. But I'm trying to understand if there's actually SSDs available in the market today from the drive manufacturer that you sell to or from the NAND OEM that you sell to. Are they actually selling drives today? Do you have a drive in the market today that's available based on your controller?

Greg Lang

Yes. So okay. I get it. We have one of the large data center guys that's deploying in production. That's obviously not available in the end market. So that doesn't answer your question. But there's one of those guys; one of the equipment OEMs has this controller built into one of his systems. So that's not a standalone drive. And then one large Flash manufacturer has a drive in the marketplace as of last quarter that's available. Over the next two quarters we expect to see -- actually in Q1 of next year we expect to see another major data center come online, and between now and then we have several customers, probably in the order of half a dozen customers coming online with their own products.

Ryan Goodman - CLSA

Okay. And then I guess a longer-term question, I'm guessing maybe this is what you're referring to more for next week at the conference. Do you have any thoughts of actually going out with your own cards and the actual drives themselves? Or for now are you sticking mostly to just the controllers?

Greg Lang

Well, I would expect us to focus on the places where we can have the most value, and I think that's in enterprise class type of performance in applications. I wouldn't want you to expect us to come out with a commodity SSD. That's something that I think there's a lot of other people that can do better than us, but there may be some niche applications that we serve with our big storage OEMs with something more than a piece of silicon. But don't expect us to be in the commodity drive business.


And it appears there are no further questions. So this does conclude our presentation for today. Thank you for your participation.

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