Local.com CEO Discusses Q1 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: Local Corporation (LOCM)

Local.com Corporation (NASDAQ:LOCM)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

May 2, 2011 4:30 pm ET


David Katzoff - Associate VP

Heath Clarke - Chairman and CEO

Ken Cragun - CFO


Jon Hickman - MDB

David Delleo - Canaccord


Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the first quarter 2011 Local.com Corporation earnings conference call. (Operator instructions) I would now like to turn the call over to David Katzoff, Associate Vice President.

David Katzoff

Thank you and good afternoon. It is my pleasure to welcome you to Local.com's first quarter 2011 financial results conference call. With me today, are Local.com's Chairman and CEO, Heath Clarke; and our Chief Financial Officer, Ken Cragun. Heath and Ken will discuss our financial results for the first quarter 2011 and our outlook for the second quarter 2011. At the conclusion of the prepared remarks, we will open the lines for questions.

I would like to bring to everyone's attention that today's comments include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21-A of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results and events to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties will be outlined at the end of the conference call and are also detailed in Local.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Forward-looking statements made today during today's call are only made as of the date of this conference call, and we undertake no obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

We use non-GAAP financial measures in evaluating our financial performance, specifically the non-GAAP financial measure of adjusted net income or loss.

Please refer to the press release we issued today for how we define adjusted net income or loss and the reasons for using that non-GAAP measure, as well as a detailed review of our first quarter 2011 results, including the corresponding GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation of our non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP financial measures.

To comply with SEC's guidance on fair and open disclosure, we have made this conference call publicly available via audio webcast through the Investor Relations section of our website, and a replay of the conference call will be available for 90 days after the call. Today's call features shortened prepared remarks in order to spend more time on questions-and-answers segment of the call.

I'd now like to turn the call over to our CEO, Heath Clarke.

Heath Clarke

Thanks, David, and welcome to everyone on our call. Today we reported our first quarter results and second quarter guidance, and Ken will guide into those numbers later. We also released news of our Krillion acquisition, plus the launch of our Spreebird Daily Deals business, which I'll discuss in a movement.

We have some amazing developments underway at Local.com and we expect to build significant value for our shareholders. But I'd first like to discuss where the Corporation is now, what are long-term goals are, and what are the strategies are to achieve those goals, so where are we now. We're growing our local online media business with a platform to support increasingly diversified products and sufficient agent capability to enter new local ad markets.

We are in a leading local search engine. We have a search network of over 100,000 websites and 1,400 regional media sites. We had extraordinary reach to over 20 million consumers each month, doing only local and commercial searches, which mean they're more valuable than regular search traffic. We just entered the high growth deal in the daily space with Spreebird, with plans to grow to 20 markets by the end of the year. We'll be in the reach media display advertising space with the expected closing of where we are later this week.

We just acquired the Krillion shopping platform, which gives us unique real time product pricing and discount data from over 50,000 retailers nationwide. We have a full management team with tremendous expertise, experienced advance strategy discipline. I am pleased to welcome Lowell Robinson to our Board of Directors.

We've have added about a half dozen new products to create a differentiated portfolios to small business, online ad production and services. We have a strong balance sheet and we've adapted to the Yahoo!-Bing issues that knocked us around 90 days ago.

We have a lot of assets at our disposal to build our business, so where do we want to go from here? We have two long-term goals. Firstly, we want to build a leading online local media business over the next few years with organic revenue growth to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Secondly, we want to deliver better multiples to our shareholders by aggressively investing in proprietary assets to consumers, great technologies and direct relationships with local merchants.

So what's our strategy to achieve these two goals? First, grow organic traffic. To diversify a traffic away from the major search engine, we intend to continue investing in Local.com as the local lifestyle site for our soccer mom' demographic. We also plan to launch or acquire other sites to serve this demographic and ones that are complementary to our current efforts.

The addition of both Spreebird and Krillion to our portfolios, are great example to this. Krillion's real time local shopping information, which includes products, prices and discounts is exactly the kind of service our demographic uses. Krillion enables us to deliver this proprietary and unique information across our entire ecosystem, which we believe will grow organic traffic.

We made good progress in increasing organic traffic across our site network during the first quarter, reaching over 27 million unique organic visitors during the quarter. In the next few months, we plan to roll our Krillion and Spreebird aps on iPhone, android and Blackberry platforms in order to drive additional mobile organic traffic.

Two, we want to monetize our traffic with our own ad products, which really means we must diversify our revenue streams by building our sales capabilities and selling our own ad products. Our recent acquisitions have provided us with a variety of new products to sell and Spreebird itself is a catalyst for a rapid expansion of our sales capabilities, because it enables us to deploy the combination of (inaudible), agency sales and telesales to sell those products.

Three, enter new markets. Our recent acquisitions have also provided us with (Toho) the new local ad markets including display, data, daily deals, SEO and web posting. And we intent to fully leverage these market opportunities by investing in our acquisitions. Spreebird is a great example. We plan to enter 20 regional markets by the end of the year.

Four, develop an organization capable of leveraging our various assets for maximum performance. Rebuild a team capable of execution excellence. For five years we've delivered 50% compound annual growth rate. While this year's revenue has been effected by the Yahoo!-Bing integration, we've adapted to this new landscape quickly and have already put a number of strategies in place in several high growth local ad markets to minimize future risk. This speaks to the capabilities of our team.

We continually prepare our organization for the next phase of our growth and today we have a management structure to take us beyond $300 million per year in revenue. G&A as a percentage of a revenue is expected to drop as our revenue grows in the coming quarters.

And finally, number five. We'll communicate our progress to our stakeholders better than ever before. With so many positive developments, we need to get the news out more frequently into the right audience. By executing on these five strategies, we believe we'll deliver strong revenue acceleration in the third and fourth quarters in through 2012.

Moving now to today's news. The acquisition of Krillion provides us with a unique source of shopping data with real time product, pricing and discount data from retailers nationwide. As described in the press release, we intend to use this data right across our business as well as to grow the Krillion business itself by expanding the range of products index.

We're excited to have this strategic data capability as a new feature of our platform, because it ties in so tightly with our target demographic and our ability to monetize our own traffic. It's also a highly proprietary capability. There are only a few businesses providing this kind of data and the ones that do aren't syndicating that data. Milo recently acquired by eBay for $75 million provide the comparable products.

Today's launch of Spreebird represents our official entrance into the daily deal segment. There are two sides in the deals business, building e-mail subscribers and building deals from local merchants. When you send the deals to your e-mail subscribers and they've purchased products and services, you gain a revenue.

Spreebird.com already has thousands of deals from merchants nationwide. And we use these deals help other marketing initiatives to build our e-mail subscribers there. We have launched local merchant sales in three markets initially and we plan to grow to 20 markets by the end of this year. We also have planned to expand Spreebird by acquisitions.

We are very excited about Spreebird in the daily deal segment generally in large part, because it achieves four of the five strategic objectives for us. One, it increases organic traffic via e-mail instead of within a search ecosystem dominated by the major search engines. Two, we monetize that organic traffic with our ad products. Three, it's a new market segment overall, which diversifies our revenues. And four, it enables us to deploy a planned sales force for 20 regional markets by the end of this year in order to directly reach more local merchants.

We think daily deals is here to stay, because it allows our industry to demonstrate the value of online advertising to a local merchant, who had no money down and the merchant only pays when we deliver what they value most, a customers through their cash register. This model shows the small business just how powerful, immediate and affective online advertising can be. And our plan is to sell local merchants our online ad products once they had experienced success on Spreebird, thereby increasing the lifetime value of our Spreebird merchants.

Before I hand it over to Ken, I want to acknowledge three key concerns you may have. First, our Corporation suffered a material revenue decline due to Yahoo!-Bing integration. We believe we've adapted to this new pricing landscape. We do expect that Yahoo!-Bing RPCs will increase over time, but we're not waiting for that. We're moving aggressively to diversify revenues in order to build a more defensive and independent business that is less acceptable to third-party impact.

Second, search now, deal of the day, is dominated by the major players, how can we compete? We've already build considerable assets in the space and with execution excellence we believe we can deliver superior shareholder returns as we scale the corporation. No matter how big you are, local advertising is a tough fragmented market that requires a lot of hand holding.

In over 100 years of the print yellow pages, no single print publisher dominates Local. We simply don't believe that there is any company capable of dominating Local. We believe that an ad-job company like ours is perfectly seated to drive in this fragmented environment.

Third, there maybe a concern that Local.com's most recent financial results demonstrate a lot of momentum within our projected loss shows a breakdown in fundamentals. This is not correct. We beat our topline guidance in Q1, despite two headwinds, the decline of our subscriber base and the Yahoo!-Bing impact. Subscribers will continue to decline, until we ramp our direct and channel sales capabilities in the second half, nothing new there.

Due to our emphasis on organic traffic going forward, we're defocusing the XML'S indication portion of our network business, since it's no longer core to our strategy. This plus the subscriber attrition is what are driving our revenue expectations for Q2. We're doing everything in our power to change our blend of revenue and traffic, so that were a stronger business. And we have every expectation that we will show strong growth in Q3 and Q4.

Let me wrap this up by emphasizing our long-term view. The majority of our cost in Q2 are driven by the investments we're making in new areas to drive long-term growth with our largest share being Spreebird. Because we've already build the base of assets in local, we consider that the investments we're making to expand our business is simply not significant compared to the massive opportunity we see before us. We'll continue to take a long-term perspective and make the near term investments we feel appropriate to meet our vision of building a leading online local media business.

Ken will now discuss our financial results.

Ken Cragun

Thank you, Heath, and thanks to everyone who has joined us for our Q1 2011 earnings call. In Q1, we had a revenue of $16.8 million and adjusted net income of $8,000. Q1 revenue was 5% higher than our projected revenue of $16 million and adjusted net income came in at a breakeven guidance for the quarter.

During Q1, we had a GAAP net loss of $1.3 million or $0.07 per diluted with 20.2 million shares outstanding. This compares to Q4 GAAP net loss of $891,000 million or $0.05 per diluted share with 16.6 million diluted shares outstanding.

Cost of revenue in Q1 was $11 million or 65% of revenue, up from 59% of revenue in Q4, primarily due to the impact of the Yahoo!-Bing integration that occurred during fourth quarter 2010 and was fully weighted for the first quarter of 2011. We also saw a decrease in our high margin SAS revenue, due to the expected churn from acquired subscriber basis.

Sales and marketing expenses in Q1 was $3.3 million, flat in Q4. General and administrative expense in Q1 was $2.6 million, which was up about $700,000 from Q4, primarily due to higher personnel-related cost. It should be noted that on trend, Q4 2010 G&A expense was lower than usual, primarily due to lower bonus expense related to the underperformance in Q4 from the Yahoo!-Bing impact.

Researching and development cost in Q1 were $1.5 million or 9% of revenue, up slightly from $1.4 million or 7% in Q4. Amortization expense decreased in Q1 to $1.2 million from $1.5 million in the prior quarter.

During Q1, we recorded $1.6 million or $0.05 per diluted share warrant valuation gain. The revaluation of the warrant liability is based on a Black-Scholes model that takes into account among other things the trading price of our common stock.

As for cash and liquidity, cash increased from approximately $13 million at the end of 2010 to $20 million at the end of the first quarter, an increase of $7 million. Working capital increased from $8 million to $25 million during the period.

During Q1, we completed a public offering of 4.6 million shares at a public offering price of $4.25 per share. Net proceed to the company from the sale of shares after deducting related expenses were approximately $18.2 million. We repaid $7 million balance outstanding under the line of credit. We used approximately $500,000 relating to the acquisition of developed technology intangible assets, primarily related to our Spreebird Daily Deals platform.

Now, $900,000 of cash was used for capital expenditures. Mostly related to investments in our technology infrastructure and capitalize website development cost. Availability on the $30 million revolving line of credit is dependent among other among other things on reaching $1 million in quarterly adjusted net income, which we did not achieve as of March 31, 2011.

Looking to Q2 2011, we expect revenue to be approximately $17 million with adjusted net loss of $2.5 million with 20.6 million diluted shares outstanding. In light of potential warrant revaluation gain or loss, we are unable to project net income for Q2 2011, at this time. The projected loss is primarily related to investments we are making to grow revenue through initiatives, such as our recently launched Spreebird Daily Deals service and key acquisitions such as Rovion and Krillion.

I'd now like to open the call up to Q&A. Moderator.

Question-and-Answer Session


(Operator Instructions) And the first question comes from the line of Jon Hickman with MDB.

Jon Hickman - MDB

Two questions for you, Heath. Any comments about, you gave guidance for the second quarter; do you want to still stick with your guidance for the year from last time? Do you have any guidance?

Heath Clarke

Yes, we are not updating guidance, but we are not changing our prior guidance.

Jon Hickman - MDB

And then, maybe I missed this, but could you elaborate on your channel partner search for the Exact Match product?

Heath Clarke

Yes, sure. So with the OCTANE platform, the product today is Exact Match. We are developing new products off that platform that we are looking forward to launching. And then market strategy, when we acquired OCTANE was primarily through sales channel which were the print yellow page publishers mostly, and have relationships with the four leading print yellow page publishers. So there's also a whole ecosystem of smaller yellow page publishers and agencies and so on that we intended to see go after, and we still intend to go after.

So we have launched with about five, I think we announced earlier in the year. And they are test-selling. And so that strategy hasn't changed. What has changed a little bit is the fortunes of the major publishers, some of them are not doing as well as they were a year ago. And the other impact that we felt is, although we've done a terrific job I believe in growing organic traffic on our site and network, the changes that Google's made has impacted the OCTANE platform's ability to get grant. And they are working on that.

But as I said, we're launching new products to accommodate that, some of which we believe we'll not be relying on Google and so we're really excited about that. Just generally as a push, or getting away from reliance on Google, generally, we are pushing in as many other areas as we can from a more strategic standpoint.

So we are still moving forward on the channel sales strategy. The product will look slightly different by the time we get there. But we do believe that what we have come out with for those channel sales, as we treat our product, we are somewhat unique in the marketplace. And we did those relationships. It's still a second half story for that; we're not backing off that.

But the other piece that's additive to that core strategy which is what we laid out last July when we bought them is the ability to sell some of the new products that we are planning in the OCTANE platform through our own sales channel.

So when we acquired Octane, we hadn't contemplated the ability to deploy feet on the street or any sizeable direct sales force. And now with that we are kind of excited about getting that up and running and then starting to leverage that feet on the street sales force for the sale of other products of which Octane will be one or two or three.

Jon Hickman - MDB

So if I understood you correctly, you are going to start to build a direct sales force?

Heath Clarke

Yes, that's actually already started, I'll say this morning, but part of our growth strategy with Spreebird is to deploy a direct sales force. And we plan to be in 20 markets between now and the end of the year. And how we plan to leverage that is, Spreebird is developing out relationships with local merchants for the deal of the day product, and what we plan to do is as a local merchant experiences success with the deal of the day product we are going to come back to that merchant and attempt to sell him some of our other online ad products. At least one sales channel approach will, as it turns out, be our own direct sales channel.

Jon Hickman - MDB

And then you say 20 markets; does that mean like, is that geographic, like other than California and then within California?

Heath Clarke

Yes well not that large. Like, if you look at the three markets that we launched in Orange County, Philadelphia, Denver, we do markets like those. We are looking for markets that are primarily going to service Spreebird business; and then having established a sales presence in those markets then leverage off. But sales presence and the customer base that we are building to sell other online ad products, that would be regional markets, yes.


And the next question comes from the line of David Delleo from Canaccord.

David Delleo - Canaccord

Just a couple of questions, one a follow on from the first. You said you had noticed some impact from the algorithm change at Google. Any more specific color on that impact? I mean, you say you are working through it. Any timelines for resolution, and what exact impact is?

Bruce Crair

Well, the challenge with getting precise in that and I think you will get this from everybody is we're more specifically tweaking the algorithm, so once a day on average. And so what may have worked to get a precise range last may or may not work this month. We don't feel we are being targeted necessarily specifically, but obviously Google's working real hard to clean up what they consider the content farm related sites. We certainly don't feel that we fit in that bucket at all.

But that's had an impact in the ability to get the OCTANE site ranked. And of course that's obviously a key value proposition of that particular product. And so we are doing different things. We are going to work at different ways to do SEO to get those sites ranked and continue to get them ranked some more highly from where they are right now.

And then thinking out of box and really kind of focus on how do we build products, we are excited about what's going in the general search ecosystem. So how do we as a business sell products that are not as reliant within that ecosystem? And we do have some very specific things that we are working on that we'll be test-selling very soon during the second quarter. And they are entirely of Google's ecosystem and that good for us as a business.

Ken Cragun

I think a couple of things that are worth noting is the Owned & Operated business and the network business related to our regional publishers hasn't really been impacted by Google. We are seeing a good trend on organic results related to local.com as we have a relevant site and more content on the site. And then our syndication partners that are primarily visual media players, their sites are also seeing good organic results on Google. Part of that is probably as some of the low quality or relevant traffic that Google is filtering out clears away, but we tend to bubble up to the top of that.

Heath Clarke

Just to clarify, the content from other sites as Google (inaudible) our content's becoming exposed. One of our strategies has been to have a large footprint of traffic. The reason for that is, some of the stuff Google does is positive, some of it's negative, but overall as we've seen with our organic search results it's generally been positive, I think for the last six quarters on average, it's been growing.

David Delleo - Canaccord

I guess last quarter you talked about kind of new low, driven by the Yahoo/Bing changes to the agreement. And so this quarter, is it kind of coming in line with your expectations, or is your business trending better after the tough quarter in Q1 as expected, or are you still facing challenges seeing that Yahoo reported last week still has some weak search trends.

This is affecting or impacting your business any more so than you would have thought it would?

Heath Clarke

I think at this point it's stabilized. Just to be clear, when we gave our annual guidance, we did that on the basis that we didn't, or at least we modeled that on the basis that there wouldn't be any increases in revenues per click. And although we did have the expectation in the second half, they would increase. And I think that's what (Carol Boss) said as well in the earnings call before the last one.

So from our standpoint, basically it's at a steady state. We think that over time the bids will go up. So on Owned & Operated, which is 50% of our revenue, that's stable. On Network, it's stable too, except the three pieces of our network business, our Regional Media Publishing Network, our XML product and our OCTANE-based domain network. And it's that XML-based product which was primarily syndicating organic search results from our engine, plus monetization of those results from Yahoo which has been impacted. And that's really not quite the way we want to be going forward. And I mentioned in the prepared statements that we are defocusing our business. We are really going to defocus that significantly.

And so if you look at our Q1 to Q2, it's our network business that's dropping off, as you know that are very specific to that. Outside of that we anticipate that the remainder of the network will grow. Those are the two pieces of that network business.

So we feel that we've reached stability. And we said in the last earnings call that we expect our Q4 revenues to be 50% higher than our Q1 revenues. And like I said we are not updating that but we are going to have to deliver that to yield our annual revenue guidance.

It is weighted in the second half, and as I said earlier we do expect to see revenue acceleration in Q3 and Q4 because of all the things that we are doing right now. And that will be material we believe.

David Delleo - Canaccord

And then just lastly, OCTANE360, specific to the pipeline, you guys have already signed five or so partners. Any change in existing partner relationships, and then what the fill-up pipeline is, potential new partners by the end of the year? I don't know if you give that specific guidance or not, but I guess if you can just kind of talk about qualitatively the trend of the pipeline with OCTANE360?

Heath Clarke

I' sure you heard my prior comments to John; he asked a similar question. So basically, the OCTANE product, there are many pieces to the OCTANE business and some of those are performing extremely well. But the Exact Match product, the go-to-market strategy of that was channel sales. And our expectation was that some of the partners that we already have relationships with would be first ones out that ship. And some of those same partners that had different things that they had to deal with, industry issues that they had to deal with, and so their priorities are shifting.

And so while we just don't believe that channel sales will be how we go to market, it may be with different players. And so we continue to move those forward. It is still a a second-half scenario. But as I said to John, what we have which we didn't contemplate but we do have is the capability of deploying sales force directly to speak with local merchants. And that we were talking about is the sales strategy with OCTANE and the regional media, the yellow page publishers.

Now what we're basically saying is we learn in general a bit more about ourselves with own sales force, because that's a more defensible business. And so we are really pushing that through the second half of the year as well.

David Delleo - Canaccord

Okay, that's fair, guys. Thanks for call.

Ken Cragun

Thank you. We don't give specific numbers, just what those channels might be.


(Operator Instructions) Ladies and gentleman, this concludes the question-and-answer session for today's call. I would now like to hand a call over to Mr. Ken Cragun, CFO, for closing remarks.

Ken Cragun

Thank you for being on today's call. I would now like to turn the call back over to David for final disclosures.

David Katzoff

This conference call contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Exchange Act 1934.

Words or expressions such as anticipate, believe, estimate, plans, expects, intend, projects, forecast, potential, feel and similar expressions and phrases are intended to identify such forward-looking statements.

Any forward-looking statements are based on the beliefs of our management as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to our management. Actual results could differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements as a result of certain factors, including but not limited to Yahoo!-Bing paying less RPC and revenues to us for our search results, our ability to adapt our business following the Yahoo!-Bing integration or to improve our RPCs and revenues following that integration.

Our ability to monetize the Local.com domain, including at a profit, our ability to retain monetization partners for the Local.com domain and other web properties under our management that allows us to operate profitably. Our ability to incorporate our local-search technologies, our ability to market the Local.com domain as a destination for consumers seeking local-search results, our ability to grow our business by enhancing our local-search services, including through businesses we acquire.

The future performance of our OCTANE360 business, the integration and future performance of our social buying business, the integration and future performance of our Krillion business, the integration and future performance of the Rovion business once that acquisition is completed, our ability to successfully expand our Spreebird business into new markets, the possibility that the information and estimates used to predict anticipated revenues and expenses associated with the businesses we acquire are not accurate, difficulties executing integration strategies or achieving planned synergies.

The possibility that integration costs and go-forward costs associated with the businesses we acquire will be higher than anticipated. Our ability to successfully expand our sales channels for new and existing products and services, our ability to increase the number of businesses that purchase our subscription advertising and other business products, our ability to expand our advertiser and distribution networks, our ability to integrate and effectively utilize our acquisitions' technologies, our ability to develop our products and sales, marketing, finance and administrative functions and successfully integrate our expanded infrastructure, as well as our dependence on major advertisers, competitive forces and pricing pressures, changes in legal and regulatory requirements, and general economic conditions.

Any forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and are subject to these and other risks, uncertainties and assumptions relating to our operations, results of operations, growth strategy and liquidity. All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by this paragraph. Unless otherwise stated, all site traffic and usage statistics are from third-party service providers engaged by the company.

Our Annual Report on Form 10-K/A, subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Form 10-QA, recent current reports on Form 8-K and Form 8-K/A, and other Securities and Exchange Commission filings discuss the foregoing risks as well as other important risk factors that could contribute to such differences or otherwise affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.

The forward-looking statements made in this release speak only as of the date they are made. We undertake no obligation to revise or update publicly any forward-looking statement for any reason. This concludes our call for today. Thank you for your interest in Local.com.


Thank you for your participation in this today's conference. This concludes the presentation. You may now disconnect.

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