Crawford's (CRD.B) CEO Jeffrey Bowman on Q2 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Crawford & Company (NYSE:CRD.B)

Q2 2014 Results Earnings Conference Call

August 4, 2014 3:00 PM ET


Allen Nelson - General Counsel and CAO

Jeffrey Bowman - President and CEO

Bruce Swain - Chief Financial Officer


Rob Myers - SunTrust

Adam Klauber - William Blair


Good afternoon. My name is Brandy, and I will be your conference facilitator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Crawford & Company Second Quarter 2014 Earnings Release Conference Call. In conjunction with this call, a supplementary financial presentation is available on our website at under the Investor Relations section. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer period. Instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions)

As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, this conference is being recorded today, Monday, August 4, 2014. Now I would like to introduce, Allen W. Nelson, Crawford & Company's General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer.

Allen Nelson

Thank you, Brandy. Some of the matters to be discussed in this conference call and in the supplementary financial presentation may include forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties.

These statements may include but are not limited to statements regarding the funded status of our defined benefit pension plans, our expectations related to future revenues and expenses, our long-term liquidity requirements and our ability to pay dividends in the future. The company's actual results achieved in future quarters could differ materially from results that maybe implied by such forward-looking statements.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly release revisions to any forward-looking statements made in this conference call to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of the call or to reflect the occurrence of an anticipated event. In addition, you are reminded that operating results for any historical period are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any future periods.

For a complete discussion regarding factors which could affect the company's financial performance, please refer to the company's Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2014 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly the information under the headings, Business Risk Factors, Legal Proceedings and Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, as well as subsequent company filings with the SEC.

This presentation also includes certain non-GAAP financial measures as defined under SEC rules. As required, a reconciliation is provided for those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures.

I would now like to introduce Mr. Jeffrey Bowman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crawford & Company. Jeff, you may begin our conference.

Jeffrey Bowman

Thanks, Allen. A warm welcome to our investors, clients and employees this afternoon. I am Jeffrey Bowman, President and CEO of Crawford & Company. Joining me from the global executive management team this afternoon are Bruce Swain, our CFO; and Allen Nelson, our General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer.

I will begin with some opening comment on our second quarter 2014 results. Bruce will then review the financials in more detail, which will be followed by our review of our business performance, comments on our strategic initiatives and conclude with our corporate focus and our firm 2014 guidance.

Our second quarter reflects profitable results in all segments and an improvement in performance over the first quarter, though they remain below our expectations. Operating earnings in the Americas segment continue to recover and increased 84% from the second quarter of 2013, as severe weather resulted in increased claims activity for our U.S. and Canadian property and casualty businesses.

Our contractor connection operations also continued its very strong growth trajectory in those countries. Revenue was flat in our EMEA/AP segment, as revenue growth in the U.K. and specialty markets offset a decline in revenues from the 2011 catastrophic flood losses in Thailand.

We also saw margin pressure reflecting our ongoing investment in the development of our global specialty markets operations, which include oil and energy, marine, aviation and forensic accounting. We remained excited about our prospects in these markets and are very pleased with our client’s reactions and support.

Year-over-year comparisons in Broadspire reflects the prior year one time -- a prior year one time credit of $3 million, which benefited with revenue and operating earnings in 2013 second quarter. Adjusting for this credit, we saw gains in both revenue and operating profitability of Broadspire in the second quarter of 2014. We continued to be encouraged by gains we have made in this segment.

Revenue in our Legal Settlement Administration segment during the second quarter of 2014 included continued to activity from the Deepwater Horizon class action settlement, but with revenues that were below last year’s level, as well as reduce revenues from other meaningful class action and bankruptcy matters.

At this segment, we just below activity levels, we are encouraged that margins return to the midteens range in the second quarter, improving from the first quarter 2014 levels. In addition, we are quite encouraged by the new business pipeline, which I'll discuss later in my remarks.

That concludes my initial comment on the second quarter. I will discuss business unit operations after Bruce has reviewed the financials. Bruce, would you please review the company’s overall performance for the second quarter.

Bruce Swain

Companywide revenues before reimbursements in the 2014 second quarter were $288.2 million, compared with $298.9 million in the prior year second quarter. In the prior year period, our revenues benefited from stronger result in Legal Settlement Administration segment, it was special project we've previously discussed.

Our net income attributable to shareholders of Crawford and Company totaled $10.5 million in the 2014 second quarter, down from $17 million in the 2013 period. Second quarter 2014 diluted earnings per share were $0.19 for CRDA and $0.18 for CRDB, compared to earnings per share of $0.31 for CRDA and $0.30 for CRDB in the 2013 period.

Consolidated operating earnings, a non-financial measure totaled $20.9 million for the 2014 second quarter, down from $30.4 million reported in the 2013 second quarter.

The company’s selling, general and administrative expenses or SG&A totaled $60.9 million or 21.1% of revenues in the 2014 second quarter, up 4% from $58.4 million or 19.5% of revenues in the prior year quarter.

Revenues from the Americas segment totaled $93.6 million in the 2014 second quarter, up from $82.6 million reported in last year’s second quarter. Operating earnings in our Americas segment were $8.1 million in the 2014 second quarter or 9% of revenues, compared with operating earnings of $4.4 million or 5% of revenues in the prior year quarter.

Revenues generated by our catastrophe adjusters in the U.S. totaled $11.5 million in the 2014 second quarter, up from $6.1 million in the 2013 second quarter. The increase in revenues was due to the use of catastrophe adjusters to fulfill an outsourcing contract from a major U.S. insurer.

EMEA/AP revenues decreased slightly in the 2014 second quarter to $87.2 million from $87.6 million in the 2013 period. EMEA/AP operating earnings were $4.3 million during the current quarter declining from last year’s second quarter operating earnings of $8.4 million. The operating margin in this segment was 5% in the 2014 quarter decreasing from 10% in the 2013 second quarter.

Revenues from our Broadspire segment increased to $66.7 million in the 2014 second quarter, up $65.8 million in the prior year quarter. Included in Broadspire’s revenues and operating earnings in the 2013 second quarter was a one-time benefit of $3 million related to certain life time claim handling obligations that the company was relieved of handling.

Operating earnings in Broadspire totaled $2.7 million or 4% of revenues in the 2014 second quarter, compared to operating earnings of $4.4 million or 7% of revenues in the 2013 second quarter or operating earnings of $1.4 million or 2% of revenues before reflecting the $3 million special -- $3 million one-time credit.

Legal Settlement Administration revenues totaled $40.7 million in the 2014 second quarter decreasing from $63 million in the prior year quarter. Operating earnings totaled $5.7 million in the 2014 second quarter or 14% of revenues as compared to $16.5 million or 26% of revenues in the prior period. Legal Settlement Administration’s backlog of project supported totaled $97 million at June 30, 2014, as compared to $130 million at June 30, 2013.

The company’s cash and cash equivalent position at June 30, 2014 totaled $47.7 million, as compared to $76 million at December 31, 2013. Our investment in unbilled and billed receivables has increased by $38.6 million during 2014, primarily as a result of an increase in receivables and Legal Settlement Administration in EMEA/AP.

Pension liabilities decreased by $17.6 million, reflecting cash contributions during the 2014 year-to-date period. Our total debt has increased in 2014 by $53.7 million reflecting our usual heavy cash usage in the first half of the year to fund cost traditionally incurred at the start of the year.

Cash used in operation totaled $59.6 million for the 2014 year-to-date period, compared to $15.1 million used in operations in the prior year period. This increase was primarily due to lower net income, increase in total receivables and greater working capital requirements during 2014.

Free cash flow declined in the 2014 period by $45.4 million as compared to the 2013 period. For the 2014 second quarter, the company repurchased nearly 164,000 shares of CRDA under its share repurchase plan at an average cost of $8.54 per share.

Since the inception of the May 2012 share repurchase plan, the company has repurchased over 1.5 million shares of CRDA at an average cost of $6.16, 7000 shares of CRDB at an average cost of $3.83. Also during the quarter, the company paid a regularly quarterly dividend of $0.05 on CRDA shares and $0.04 on CRDB shares.

Back to you, Jeff.

Jeffrey Bowman

Thanks Bruce. Before turning to the business segment, I would like to make a few comments. We believe as a group we are in a strong position going forward with our current business wins.

Further, we are seeing a slight falloff in commercial claims volume on a global basis. Our commercial clients are confirming the current industrywide decrease in commercial claims due to the benign weather and a lack of significant events on a global basis.

Our management team is doing an excellent job in winning new account and our actual win in future pipeline are strong in all of our business unit. One of the other areas, we are monitoring is the U.S. unemployment numbers as this affects our Broadspire business unit. As the unemployment rate has fallen over the past year, we have seen an increase in workers’ compensation claims referred to us by our client.

Crawford has continued to experience strong case growth over the past two quarters, which is a leading indicator that underlines several positive trends in the business. First, the continued success of contractor connection which has posted strong results over the past several quarters. And second, growth in the number of high frequency, low-severity claims we are handling. To some extent, those more frequent claims have offset variances in catastrophe claims for the year-to-date period.

As highlighted by our results for the year-to-date, our challenge is to drive replacement revenues for large projects like Thailand flooding and Deepwater Horizon as they roll off. As we go through this transition, we are pleased with the revenue gains we are seeing in the Americas and our Broadspire operation.

In the immediate period, our focus is on margins and managing cost to these anticipated run rate. I should also note in the past week, we have announced the acquisition of Buckley Scott, the U.K.-based firm specializing in international construction and engineering adjustment.

This addition to our global technical services operation should allow us to significantly expand our construction and engineering business in the U.K., the London market and internationally. We also continue our ongoing focus on an improved shareholder experience.

Today we announced that the Board has approved a new stock repurchase authorization through July 2017. It allows us to repurchase up to 2 million shares of our Class A shares or Class B shares or both. In addition, we announced declaration of quarterly dividends on our non-voting A shares and our voting B shares of $0.07 and $0.05 respectively which represents a $0.02 increase on the A share and a $0.01 increase on the B share. At the new payout levels, indicated annual yield based on Friday's closing price is 3.5% on the A share and 2.2% on the B share.

So let me now turn to the performance of each of our business units. Starting with the Americas segment, which represented 33% of our total consolidated revenues for the quarter. Overall performance in both revenue and operating earnings was supported by significant improvement in our Canadian operations and continued strength in our contractor connection operations both in the United States and Canada.

Growth in revenues reflected gain in case volumes in both the U.S. and Canada due to severe winter weather. In the U.S., there was an improvement in operating margin in the core property and casualty business and growth in contractor connection. Contractor connection grew 8% in the assignments and 41% in revenue over the second quarter of 2013, with both new insurer and consumer services clients being contracted.

As noted before, both the United States and Canadian operations continue to benefit from this business line, which is a strong growth platform and an area of continued strategic focus. Looking forward to the balance of the year, we expect the Americas segment will benefit in the second half from a long-term project to assist the major U.S. insurer.

The EMEA/AP operations represented 30% of our consolidated revenues for the second quarter. During the quarter, claims volumes increased 8% across the three regions to make up EMEA/AP. However revenue declines in the Asia-Pacific area continue to reflect declining revenues in Thailand as we expected.

Both Continental Europe and Australia have experienced the benign weather environment thus far this year. In the U.K., our traditional business is improving. However the EMEA/AP margin performance reflects the higher investment in the specialty markets start-up operation that commenced in the 2013 third quarter.

We view Crawford’s specialty market as an investment in higher margin claims and we expected to gain traction moving forward. For example, we have opened a new Qatar office to service construction and engineering claims in the country in respect of the massive construction project in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup. However, until these revenue streams begin to be realized, we will be managing costs across this business segment to reflect current revenue level.

We are pleased with the improved execution of sales and marketing plans in our Broadspire operation which represented 23% of our consolidated revenues for the quarter. After adjusting for 2013 second quarter $3 million credit, Broadspire reported an increase in revenue and improved margin.

We are seeing very strong client gains in a robust sales pipeline. Our retention rate for the quarter was excellent. We continue to see overall case volumes increased through new client wins and a stronger workers’ compensation environment. Opportunities continue to emerge in the area of medical management.

We are gaining efficiencies from investment in technology and new clients win that should continue to support revenue growth and improved profitability as we move through 2014. We expect to see Broadspire's results to improve sequentially in the second half of 2014.

Legal settlement administration represented 14% of 2014 second quarter revenue. Revenues reflected the runoff in claims associated with the Deepwater Horizon case, which we will continue to expect to flatten out over the reminder of the year. New business wins in GCG will begin to partially offset those reductions in the third and particularly in the fourth quarter.

As expected, our backlog at the end of the second quarter declined to $97 million compared to $130 million at the close of the second quarter last year. That concludes my comments on the business segment.

Let me turn to our guidance and 2014 focus. As we look out to the second half of the year, we have high confidence level based on existing backlog and new client wins already in hand for U.S. property and casualty, Broadspire and legal settlement administration.

As a result, based on our current projection we are reaffirming full year 2014 guidance as follows: Consolidated revenues before reimbursements between $1.08 billion and $1.12 billion; consolidated operating income between $84 million and $98.5 million; consolidated cash provided by operating activities between $50 million and $60 million; net income attributed to shareholders of Crawford and Company on a GAAP basis between $46.5 million and $54 million or $0.84 to $0.99 diluted earnings per CRDA share and $0.80 to $0.95 for CRDB share.

Our management efforts are currently focused on several areas. First, we are working actively to deliver new and incremental revenue in all of our business segments. I have touched on some of these opportunities in my comments thus far and I'm very encouraged by the opportunities I’m seeing there and the effect of the second half of the year.

Second, we have in place cost management measures that should ensure that overhead expenses are balanced against revenue performance and drive margin gains. And thirdly, we are excited about Buckley Scott acquisition in the U.K. We are also pleased with the progress we have made in specialty market area around the oil and energy, marine and aviation products.

We are beginning to see the benefits from the investments we're making in these areas. These initiatives also detail our intent to an onset data management and analytics capabilities to further improve efficiency and flexibility of our claims management services, to develop new lines of business and ultimately to further enhance our services to clients. With these actions, we expect to offer meaningful reward to our shareholders as the year unfolds.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to your questions. Operator, will you please explain the process for asking questions to our audience?

Question-and-Answer Session


(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from the line of Mark Hughes with SunTrust.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

Good afternoon everyone. This is Rob Myers on for Mark Hughes.

Jeffrey Bowman

Hello Rob.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

I was wondering if you guys could expand a little bit on this new special project in the Americas segment. You represented a long-term project. I was wondering if you could kind of give the trajectory for that as well as what kind of incremental margins you have seen on that business?

Jeffrey Bowman

Well we’ve communicated with the insurer, obviously. It’s a large long-term series of projects that we’re working with major insurer on. We see significant advantages to the organization and being able to deploy significant number of employees over six-months, one year project that they have and we expect to have a long-term relationship with that client. I’ll let Bruce comment on the margin issues.

Bruce Swain

Yeah, I mean, we wouldn’t disclose the specific margins for the contract but in general as we’ve talked about in the past, our incremental margins on new revenue dollars ranging from 20% up to 35% depending on the nature of the work, be at the lower end of the range or less complex, personal lines type work and at the upper end of the range for most sophisticated commercial losses and special projects.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

I think -- are you able to categorize how much of the growth in America this quarter was kind of standing business versus this new project?

Jeffrey Bowman

If you look at the catastrophe revenues quarter-over-quarter, most of that captures this special project because we're fulfilling the contract with catastrophe adjusters. So those revenues were up in the quarter as we mentioned on the call. I think they were at, we say $11.5 million for the quarter this year, compared to $6.3 million last year, so growing all that increment is going to be driven by this sort of project.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

Okay. Thank you. And then kind of the same thing in the legal settlement business, as we see that number continue to come down. Are you able to speak to the kind of the mix of how much these other large class action settlements are declining versus just what you’re expecting in declines from Deepwater Horizon?

Jeffrey Bowman

So, first thing is we’re comparing against the prior year. We’re also seeing a slight stabilization of the Deepwater Horizon revenues at this particular moment. We have been appointed on a number of very large projects over the past couple of months, which we’re seeing ramp up in Q3 and Q4. As with that business always, we look to see the strong revenue coming out of that will be over the next two quarters.

It is sometimes little bit difficult to project entirely, but we’re very confident that it has been making the difference to the business. We weren’t be however, obviously, getting back to the -- being able to click back the difference in the Deepwater Horizon shortfall, but we are beginning to make an impact on it.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

Okay. And then in similar, I mean, if you look back to 3Q kind of before deepwater horizon, were you around $40 million in revenue in that segment with margins in the low 20s. Is there kind of a place you see that segment going out in terms of the top line and margins?

Bruce Swain

Well, I think, on then margins, we expected to be mid to high teens in the current environment we’re in. The revenue will be, as we've always said, that will be a bit lumpy to say the least, but reduce yet improving at this moment.

Rob Myers - SunTrust

Okay. Thank you very much guys.

Bruce Swain

Thanks Rob.


Your next question comes from the line of Adam Klauber with William Blair.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Hi. Good afternoon. Thanks. Couple of different questions. In Broadspire, sounds like you're relatively positive on the back half and again the business has been doing well already but is that based on revenue from new clients coming out of the second half?

Jeffrey Bowman

Yeah. That’s part of it.

Adam Klauber - William Blair


Jeffrey Bowman

The part Adam is the cost savings that we’ve been able to put in place over the past 12 months, we’re just starting to kick in now.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. And I think you mentioned medical management, are some of the new wins in medical management area?

Jeffrey Bowman

Well, we’ve got number of unbundled and bundled programs that we’ve won over. We really started in the third quarter of last year. We had very strong pipeline wins. We had very good first and second quarter wins in line with that target. And we’re seeing hopefully, the third quarter producing even better results for us going forward. And that with the cost model that we’ve put in place, the technology investments we’ve made, that’s improving our service to our client, number one and its attracting new clients, number two.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. Thanks. On contractor connect, excuse me, could you give us some idea how much did that grow compared to second quarter last year, how much revenue?

Bruce Swain

The revenue was quarter-over-quarter about 40%.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. That’s god growth. And how are some of the initiatives within contractor connect doing? I know it's early, but just any anecdotal comments will be helpful?

Jeffrey Bowman

Well, obviously, we got the traditional model in place, a white labeled models are improving. They’re still going through the initial stages and we are looking at the consumer model.

Adam Klauber - William Blair


Jeffrey Bowman

That’s present as in Malaysia.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

And then we look at legal settlement, I mean, you’ve been very helpful letting us know that Deepwater has been running of and a lot of that has run off. As we look at the last two quarters, revenues were average roughly $41 million. Should we expect that to be a bottom and can we expect growth in the second half of that bottom or is going to be more step at bottom and then grow in ‘15?

Bruce Swain

Adam, I’d rather not get into segment specific guidance looking at the quarters. We still are doing fair amount of business with Deepwater Horizon project. I mean, by no means has it gone away and it’s still an important project for us, albeit one that’s a lot less significant than it was. We have a couple of other large cases that we are handling in ‘13 as well that have declined also this year. So it’s not just a one project story and we’re looking at the year-over-year change in legal settlement.

As Jeff mentioned in his comment, that’s a lumpy business and we tend to have swings and revenues in profitability based upon large projects that can come down the pipe. We have a started good backlog in that business and Jeff referred to the new business pipeline and project that they’re assuming right now that are -- could be meaningful to us. So you consider that with the other aspects of our business and we feel pretty confident about where we’re headed for the remainder of the year.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. And then in the international operations, should we assume that margins will stay more in this range until the new products, new teams ramp up or can they improve from here if that doesn’t ramp up?

Jeffrey Bowman

That’s a good question. I mean, we’re obviously managing cost whilst the specialty projects, sorry -- specialty market operations ramp up. I mean, we board into the operation. We’ve been investing in people and very importantly in the oil and energy arena in Houston, London, New York, Singapore, Canada and Australia. So we’re creating a very powerful team that has really got the clients and support and attention, which is the basis.

And as we build up, that team, those people, we will definitely see and what we’re saying beginning to see this already very worthwhile high-margin claims coming into the business. So I think we’ve got that moving along. That obviously, does not in anyway our projections account for any catastrophe events or any named storms and that’s just business as usual.

In terms of the margin, I expect the U.K. to slightly improving the margin. I think, the European arena is tough at the moment. We’re obviously managing that through cost initiatives. And then we’re picking back up the revenue we lost in Thailand throughout our operations through the Asia and Australian arena. So, I think, overall -- I think we will see the margins improving as we go through the third and fourth quarter.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. Thanks a lot.


(Operator Instructions) There are no further questions at this time. I will now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Bowman for closing remarks.

Jeffrey Bowman

I’d like to thank everyone for joining us today. Look forward to looking to you again at the end of the third quarter. Thank you for your time and your questions this afternoon. Have a great rest of the day.


Thank you for participating in today’s Crawford & Company conference call. This call will be available for replay beginning at 6 p.m. today through 11:59 p.m. on September 4, 2014. The conference ID number for the replay is 77577462. The number to dial for the replay is 1-855-859-2056 or 404-537-3406. Thank you. You may now disconnect.

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