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Executives

Samuel Jones - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

Peter McDonald - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Analysts

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Kyle Okita

Jason Alper - BTIG, LLC

Dale Stohr

Jake Newman - CreditSights

Steve Hasnain

Unknown Analyst -

Mark Kaufman - Rafferty Capital Markets, LLC

SuperMedia (SPMD) Q1 2011 Earnings Call May 3, 2011 10:00 AM ET

Operator

Good morning and welcome to SuperMedia's First Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call. With me today are Peter McDonald, Chief Executive Officer; and Dee Jones, Chief Financial Officer.

Some statements made by the company today during this call are forward-looking statements. These statements include the company's beliefs and expectations as to future events and trends affecting the company's business and are subject to risks and uncertainties. The company advises you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and to consider them in light of the risk factors set forth in the reports filed by SuperMedia with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company has no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

A replay of this teleconference will be available at (800) 642-1687. International callers can access the replay by calling (706) 645-9291. The replay passcode is 59180762. The replay will be available through May 17, 2011. In addition, a live webcast will be available on SuperMedia's website in the Investor Relations section at www.supermedia.com. At the end of the company's prepared remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. And now I'd like to turn the call over to Peter McDonald. Peter?

Peter McDonald

Thank you, Wes. I'd like to welcome everyone and thank you for your time and interest in our company. This morning, I will provide you with an overview of our first quarter results and provide an update on the progress we are making to drive profitable sales while maintaining strong financial discipline. Dee will provide more detail relative to our financials, and we will then open things up for questions and answers.

First, a quick summary of our results. First quarter of 2011 advertising sales declined 17.8% compared to the first quarter of 2010, a decline of 20.4%. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $154 million for the first quarter of 2011, a 5.5% decline compared to the first quarter of 2010 adjusted pro forma EBITDA of $163 million. And continued cost management and expense reductions partially mitigated revenue declines, resulting in an improved adjusted EBITDA margin of 35.2% compared to an adjusted pro forma EBITDA margin of 30.6% in the first quarter of 2010.

Looking at the big picture, we are disappointed with these top line results. This was a productive quarter. First, as I just mentioned, we continue to see improvements in our adjusted EBITDA margins because of our rigorous eye towards expense reduction. Second, we solidified our sales and marketing team with the addition of a new chief marketing officer, Matt Stover. And lastly, we began implementing the disciplined processes and practices I outlined on our last call.

To help execute our plans and to better complement our new sales leadership of Del Humenik and Steve Nord, brought in during the fourth quarter of 2010, Matt Stover was appointed Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer in February. The team of Del, Steve and Matt had a proven track record in local media and some of the best experience in selling and marketing to small businesses across the United States.

Before joining SuperMedia, Del led a team of approximately 2,000 in the sales, marketing and business development organizations at Paychex. Prior to that, Del was a Senior Vice President and General Manager for R.H. Donnelly. He also worked for SuperMedia's predecessor's companies for nearly 20 years. Steve has over 30 years of experience, including senior leadership roles at Dex Media, SBC Directory and Ameritech Publishing.

Matt is a local media pioneer who is credited with creating the first national online yellow pages and in integrating online search, advertising and shopping. Matt has been an officer and director of companies providing online commerce, mobile services, search and advertising solutions, as well as print and online directories. His knowledge of our operations, his 6 years as director and then chairman of the Yellow Pages Industry Association (sic) [Yellow Pages Association], his experience overseeing corporate communications, advertising and branding for major corporations and his involvement in negotiating and managed numerous business transaction and partnerships will be a great asset for our company. Matt will drive the process of developing and refining our company's strategy and marketing functions across print, online, mobile and social media, as well as oversee business development and partner relationships.

Matt, Del and Steve and the entire company are now implementing the go-to-market approach that I mentioned on the last call and was presented to the entire company during a series of first quarter employee roadshows. The go-to-market approach better aligns our company with our mission of helping small and medium-sized businesses grow through effective local marketing solutions across print, online, mobile and social media. The initiatives are designed to stabilize our core products, leverage new offerings within our Superpages.com network and broaden the distribution of our customers' content.

First, sales compensation now focuses on customer and revenue growth and retention instead of focusing on selling specific products. Second, our sales structure as a whole is realigned to place accountability for profitability at the local office level and to capitalize on face-to-face customer interactions. Third, the training of our sales force has a new direction. Now looking at how to sell on value to establish long-lasting customer relationships instead of focusing on how to maneuver through internal systems and product specifications. We've also streamlined those internal systems with new and improved reporting and process changes. Lastly, marketing is working closely with local sales in developing market-specific campaign plans designed to enhance the delivery of the value proposition during the sales cycle.

We are pleased with the overall employee response to our changes and new approach. By continuing to work on the needs of our customers, we look forward to seeing improved results as we execute on our multi-year approach.

In addition to the progress we're making internally, I'm encouraged with a just recently research released that continues to show value in core print and online businesses, as well as expanding opportunities in other digital offerings. The local media tracking study conducted by Burke research, which found that in 2010, print and Internet Yellow Pages together generated 16.6 billion searches: 11 billion for the print Yellow Pages and 5.6 billion for the Internet Yellow Pages. According to Burke, who presented these findings a few weeks ago at our industry's trade conference, search engines and the combination of print and Internet Yellow Pages are the top sources consumers use last and most often.

It is clear consumers are using the products we provide to find local businesses. It is up to us to make sure our sales force is well trained and is communicating that value to sell effectively and efficiently.

In closing, while we're not satisfied with our top line results, we have continued our cost discipline, allowing for margin improvement. We believe we have the right team in place and we are implementing our approach. With the economy starting to show early signs of improvement, we continue to be encouraged as we move ahead.

Again, I thank you for your time. And now to Dee.

Samuel Jones

Thank you, Peter, and good morning, everyone. To begin the call, I would like to mention that our 2011 first quarter reported results are provided in GAAP format and non-GAAP. Due to fresh start accounting in 2010, GAAP results for that period will not provide comparability with the 2011 GAAP results. As a result, we also provide due results for the period on an adjusted pro-forma basis. Reconciliations of the GAAP and non-GAAP results are included in the presentation appendix. In reference to our first quarter results on today's call, I will be speaking to the non-GAAP adjusted numbers.

For the first quarter, revenues were $438 million, a decline of 17.8% compared to 2010. EBITDA was $154 million compared to $163 million in 2010. Our first quarter 2011 EBITDA margins were 35.2% compared to 30.6% for the same period in 2010.

Looking at advertising sales for the first quarter. Ad sales declined 17.8% compared to a decline of 20.4% in 2010. Ad sales were negatively impacted by the financial distress and operational wind down of one of our largest CMR [certified marketing representative] firms in our third-party national sales channel. Excluding this impact, ad sales would have reflected a decline of 15.9%, a 450 basis point improvement compared to first quarter 2010.

Turning to our EBITDA results in more detail. Total operating expense excluding depreciation and amortization was favorable to last year by 23.2%, or $86 million, reflecting savings from reductions across all operating expenses. Selling expense reflected a reduction of 23.7%, or $36 million, primarily due to lower selling expense and changes to the sales structure.

Cost of sales was favorable at first quarter last year by 20.3% or $28 million. This was primarily driven by lower print and distribution volumes and efficiencies in the operations area. Our G&A expenses are favorable over 2010 first quarter by 27.5% or $22 million. This was driven by favorability related to our bad debt and continued efficiencies from our G&A functions.

Bad debt expense for the first quarter 2011 reflects a provision rate of 3.9%, compared to our 2010 full year provision rate of 5.2%. First quarter free cash flow was negative $9 million, consisting of negative operating cash flow of $6 million and $3 million of capital expenditures. This did include tax payments in the quarter of $72 million relative to 2010 tax obligations which we've mentioned on prior calls.

Our ending cash balance was $165 million. Relative to 2011 tax obligations, we paid our first quarter estimated tax payment in April, with the second quarter estimate due in June. We will experience a more normal tax payment cycle in 2011.

With that, operator, Peter and I are now ready to address questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And your first question comes from Wilson Jaeggli of Southwell.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Two things to follow up on. Your tax rate going forward here -- help us, what should we be looking for? And what was your quarterly estimated tax payment?

Samuel Jones

Yes. On a normal basis, we're probably looking at a cash tax rate of in the 37% range. We're pretty much a cash tax payer. And so you should expect on a full-year basis, that we'll be dealing with about a 37% cash tax basis. And first quarter estimate payment was in the $20 million range, estimate payment.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Okay, $20 million. And depreciation and amortization that will affect taxes going forward, what is that on a quarterly basis?

Samuel Jones

Well, I don't provide that level of specificity with respect to the depreciation. Depreciation and amortization was impacted by fresh start accounting and the amortization of goodwill, so you don't see that, or you don't get that degree of benefit on the tax return. But suffice to say, we'll return into a more normal level in 2011.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Well, we're just trying to -- you've given a tax rate in here of 37%. I'm just trying to see what your effective pretax is going to be as you report it to the IRS. Your depreciation and amortization looks like it was around $44 million in the quarter just reported. Is all of that tax-deductible? And if not, what portion is?

Samuel Jones

Yes. Like I said, we don't get into that degree of specificity with regard to the tax return. But like I said, we're in a 37% range with respect to that. There should be some more detail provided in the Q when that comes out in the quarter. But like I say, we paid an estimated tax payment in the first quarter in the $20 million range.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Okay. You mentioned one of your larger C -- if I got it right, CMR firms had a wind down and hurt your advertising sales. Help me understand that. What's all that about?

Samuel Jones

Yes. Within the national sales channel, CMR firms sell to your national clients across the various publishers in the industry. One of the larger firms went through some financial distress towards the end of last year, but primarily through the first quarter of this year, and is basically winding down their operations. As a result of that, we had some revenues in ad sales that we had to reverse out of our financial results due to the collectability of those. That impacted the result, as you're seeing on the slide. About 1.8%, 1.9% of the ad sales was influenced by that.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

I see. And so national sales are handled that way and local sales are handled by your own personnel.

Peter McDonald

That's correct.

Wilson Jaeggli - Southwell Partners

Okay.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jason Alper of BTIG.

Jason Alper - BTIG, LLC

I was hoping you guys could go into maybe some detail about trends that you're seeing in the marketplace. I don't know if you have any intention of discussing bookings or customer count, or even maybe anecdotally, what some of your customers are seeing in terms of satisfaction with other products. And maybe some stories about how you've maybe gotten some customers back who have gone to some of the other products and maybe returned to you.

Peter McDonald

Jason, this is Peter. Yes, I think that the trends that we're seeing -- and I think if you'd look across the industry, there's a slight uptick in most of our improvement in some of our ad sales. We're still not growing, so it's not where we need to be. But there's a slight improvement. And I think that most of us would consider that, that's relative to the economy. And one of the trends that I think we're all seeing is an improvement in our bad debt. And with the, I think, the economy, and people look at the unemployment and the consumer confidence kind of numbers, and they feel a little bit better. And then so we're seeing things move a little bit more in the right direction, but a long way from where we need to go.

Jason Alper - BTIG, LLC

Okay. And what about the shift away from the analog print to more digital type of product? Are you being able to capture some of that by keeping them in-house? I was just curious as to what your experience with that is.

Peter McDonald

Well, there's a lot of perception that it's going digital, so our customers are very interested in any and all digital products. And I think the good news is that we're very well-positioned with our customers to bring them not only the print, and they know that, that works. Our largest advertisers -- and this is true for across the industry, we have the highest retention rates of the people who spend the most amount of money with us. And I think that small businesses really don't have a lot of time. And as a result, if they could do all of their, let's say, advertising or marketing through one source, that would be their preference. So I think it's opened up some great opportunities for us. And clearly, that's where part of the sweet spot is for us in this business.

Jason Alper - BTIG, LLC

Okay. And if you're going to return eventually to a state where you're negative single digits or even growing, I mean, what type of blocking and tackling, or what events or product launches do you think have to occur for you to get there?

Peter McDonald

I think the key, really, in the industry, is to put together bundles and products that really have a compelling value story. And I think, as I look at the industry and this business, we've had a lot of individual products that we've been promoting, but I don't think that we've attacked it the way that we could have with the bundles. That being said, we have some bundles out there that are very attractive and are doing pretty well. So I think that as I look at the business going forward, getting the right story and then training the sales force and making it simpler will be a key to moving this business in the right direction.

Jason Alper - BTIG, LLC

Okay. And then last question. I was wondering if you could comment on -- Google recently changed their algorithm for searches, if that's affected small business? And if you've seen any impact from that?

Peter McDonald

I really don't -- I don't keep up with Google changing their algorithm. I think they do it every day.

Operator

Your next question comes from Jake Newman of Crédit Suisse.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

That should be CreditSights, sorry. I wanted to focus a few questions on the expense side and the amounts of the large expense reductions you were able to achieve. How much did headcount fall between first quarter of 2011 from first quarter of 2010?

Samuel Jones

We took out a substantial number of headcount of the workforce. It's probably in the 1,000-person range when we look at quarter to quarter. Since the end of the year, we've probably reduced headcount, a couple of hundred folks across, essentially, all the functions. Some of that is from outsourcing. Some of that is from peer reductions and efficiency gains. But we continue to look at being more efficient across all the activities in the business. We have to be. And we'll continue to do that as we go forward.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

And does that include a reduction in the number of salespeople?

Samuel Jones

Yes. We're looking to get additional efficiencies with how we go to market and with the sales headcount. And we'll continue to look at all aspects of the business, including sales.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

On the selling structure. Mr. McDonald mentioned what sounded like a realignment of commission structure, but it also sounds like there was an overall reduction in commissions. Can you talk about how much of it was just reduction in volume of business that affected commissions?

Peter McDonald

Jake, really, I think the way to think about this is not a reduction in commissions. It was a change of an approach, and it's an approach that we've used in many companies over the years that, I think, makes it simpler for the sales force. And in the past, if I were to think about this company and what's driving the change, is we were paying additional incentives for individual products. So a sales rep would be able to go out, see a customer, and if they sold one product over another, they could make more commission. In this environment, what we've done is we're not trying to push any product as a result of commissions. What we're trying to do is reward the salesperson for delivering whatever products make sense for the customer, right? And then, if they grow the customers and put together good programs, they would then be rewarded accordingly. I'd also just like to mention, when you say -- when we analyzed the sales force and the structure, what we found is that there was an underutilization of the sales force in the field. And we felt that we could capitalize on that. And so we've realigned a lot of the work to take advantage of the existing resources that we had in the field to get better results. Because as the business is more complicated with the multiple different scenarios out there, there's a benefit of more face-to-face type of an approach in the marketplace, especially since we already have the people there to do it.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

Has there been any increase in the turnover of salespeople as a result of the changes?

Peter McDonald

Actually, the turnover in sales, the recent quarter looks like we're churning in the right direction.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

On the production distribution side, if I could. Was there a conscious effort to cut back on the total books in circulation? And if I could ask, what the total was for the quarter?

Peter McDonald

Yes. We are always conscious of being as efficient with distribution as we can be, in making sure that we get value, and that our clients get value for all the distribution that we put on the street and all the page counts that we put on the street. There was some measure of improvement of favorability in the result due to simple volume of ads and page counts, but there was also an approach to get more efficient with the distribution. I don't have the specific numbers relative to what came out in this particular quarter, but we look at every directory. As we develop a campaign plan, we look at every directory to assess whether we need increased distribution and coverage in a market, or whether we can be more efficient with the distribution in the marketplace. I would say page counts, the trend line has been down as far as how many pages we're putting in the book, and how many we're putting on the street, to be more efficient and get at some cost savings in that area. That's both White Pages and Yellow Pages.

Peter McDonald

Jake, I'd also like to mention that on the call, we talked about -- that we've done some -- that we've tied profitability to the local markets and so considering their compensation, for the first time, is tied to how efficient they are. And so the more that -- so they are involved in, actually, the distribution process and making decisions about who and what directories are distributed. So it's in their best interest to do what's right for the customer and to drive the best results for the business.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

And was there any rescheduling of books or lengthening of the time they were in circulation?

Samuel Jones

Not that there was any material impact from. We're always looking at the scheduling of books, but for the quarter, I wouldn't say that there was any significant material impact from book moves.

Jake Newman - CreditSights

The unusual items and benefit expenses that helped in the quarter?

Samuel Jones

No.

Operator

Your next question comes from Lance Vitanza of CRT Capital.

Kyle Okita

Actually, this is Kyle Okita calling in for Lance. Thank you for taking the call. I was wondering if you could maybe talk about any specific sales training that you're doing to assist your sales force in providing various digital solutions for your customers, especially given those who have been in the print business for so long?

Peter McDonald

Sales training, we've -- it's Peter. The sales training that we've really reintroduced was more focused on the selling and less focused on each individual product. And during the next 12 months, we'll be doing quite a bit of training. In the past, what we found was 75% of all the training days that we had were dealt with how to process accounts and how to deal with our systems, and then individual product training versus selling. So what we will be doing is switching to less of that and more of actually selling techniques and how to service the customer more appropriately. Product training will come over the next 12 months. So it's a blend, but that's the change of what we're looking for in the sales training aspect. And again, these are things that have been tried and true in the marketplace, and they've worked. So we feel very confident about the new approach that we've got to training. We'll also be using -- as we continue to develop training, as the group that goes out to be future managers, and our trainers will be made up of the highest quality current sales force to get into management training.

Kyle Okita

Okay. And then, could you maybe discuss sort of your success to date with digital? Particularly maybe what percentage of revenues come from the website, or digital products in general, versus print.

Samuel Jones

As in the past, we don't break out the total revenue. I mean, we're selling local advertising and delivering it across multiple medias. And so as a result, that's how we look at the financial aspects of the business. And we're not breaking out, and haven't, since emergence, broken out the individual components there.

Kyle Okita

Okay. But would you say that your -- of the revenues that you get from digital, could you just give me an idea of the trend line there? Are they growing versus print?

Samuel Jones

Well, like I say, I mean, we're not going to break out or provide information in that regard.

Kyle Okita

Okay. And in terms of the G&A decreases, are those sustainable on an ongoing basis?

Samuel Jones

Well, a good portion of the reduction in the G&A expense period-over-period was associated with bad debt. And then, there was some efficiency gains in the other functional areas. But the vast majority of those reductions were from bad debt expense.

Kyle Okita

Okay. Assuming, sort of, the economy sort of continues on its present trend, maybe slow -- some might call it slow and steady, maybe it starts to trickle down to small businesses. Do you think that your current bad debt level is sustainable?

Samuel Jones

I think in the quarter, we provided for a provision of 3.9%, which is improved from last year's full year rate of 5.2%. I'd like to see a bad debt rate that's in that range. I wouldn't say that -- there's always unpredictable events that occur, but I would say that it's a reasonable range to be after.

Kyle Okita

Okay. So like the mid-3s, or just call it between 3% and 4% is a reasonable normal operating range.

Samuel Jones

Well, I mean, we've talked in the past about a range of 3.5% to 4.5% for this business as being fairly typical, and I think our view of that range is unchanged.

Kyle Okita

Okay. And then, do you think you could maybe talk about -- it seems to me that you must have taken out a lot of -- a fairly significant level of your fixed cost base. Can you talk about how you sort of view your cost base in terms of fixed versus variable?

Samuel Jones

We've talked in the past about the fact that you have to take action in this business to get at the cost structure. You don't have a lot of direct just off of the bottom-line variability in that cost base. Obviously, you've got a piece of paper and ink that flows through there, and then you got some selling cost that could flow as a result. But the vast majority of the cost base that you're looking to get at, you have to take action to get at it, or at a minimum, it's a step function of variability. And it's -- there has to be action that occur. We been after that throughout last year. We'll continue to be looking for actions and opportunities to get out that cost structure. But it's not a pure function of just a significant portion of your cost structure being directly variable.

Operator

Your next question comes from Dale Stohr of RBS.

Dale Stohr

Two questions for you. One is with respect to the CMR impact. How much is that going to impact things going forward? In other words, has that middleman been replaced, or where do you stand on that?

Samuel Jones

Yes. I think the wind down of that CMR and the transfer of the accounts to others in the industry was, for the most part, completed in the very early part of April. We may have a residual effect that carries into the second quarter, but it won't have near the magnitude or the significance of what we saw in the fourth quarter and the first quarter relative to that impact. So hopeful that as we move forward and look forward, the servicing of those clients has been effectively transferred, and that we'll see a more normal level of activity, and hopefully an improved level of activity in regard to that channel and those clients.

Dale Stohr

Okay. My other question was regarding the AT&T announcement yesterday, that they're getting into the daily deal business. I know there are hundreds of people doing that, so it's not necessarily something you can go in and dominate. But I was curious as to what, if any, strategy you guys have on that front, or plans to enter that business?

Peter McDonald

We're like -- I think you got this right, Dale, that everybody's getting into that business. We have daily deals now, and that's a piece of our business. It's a piece of it, and I think when we think about small and medium-sized businesses, they're looking for a total solution. And I think this will be part of our total solution.

Dale Stohr

It looks like they're using it also as a way to try drive -- I don't know if a member is the right word or subscriber's the right word, it's just people that kind of signing up and registering e-mail addresses to their site. Is that how you envision that working for you guys as well? In other words, trying to get a benefit of increasing the viewership on your Superpages site?

Peter McDonald

First, we do collect the majority of our e-mail addresses right now from our customers. But we're looking at this as one of the pieces of the puzzle that we're going to provide the total solution, and I think that's how we think about it. The individual small and medium-sized businesses out there are looking for a total solution, not one piece at a time. And I think that's how we're looking to go to market.

Dale Stohr

Okay. And do you guys have subscribers on your website? Or is it just e-mail addresses that you have?

Samuel Jones

Well, with the SuperGuarantee program, there is subscriber activity. When you come in and utilize the SuperGuarantee program, you have to register and that sort of stuff. So that's been part of our activity on Superpages.com since we introduced SuperGuarantee. So for over a year now, we've been addressing it in that fashion.

Dale Stohr

And how many people do you have registered under that program?

Samuel Jones

We don't provide that level of detail around the SuperGuarantee program.

Operator

Your next question comes from Mark Kaufman of Rafferty Capital.

Mark Kaufman - Rafferty Capital Markets, LLC

I've got a question about the expense side of the equation. We really had a good quarter year-over-year, and also sequentially, on reducing the expenses. I understand a portion of it, lower bad debt expense. But that said, you took out about $80 million in costs as the business declined. So, I guess, rather than ask about variable or fixed, is there a EBITDA margin range that maybe you're targeting, or that we can think about for the year?

Samuel Jones

As in the past, and our policy will continue in this fashion, at least for the foreseeable future, we don't provide guidance. Having said that, I mean, we got to a 35% margin on adjusted pro forma basis. We'll continue to be after expenses to help mitigate the revenue declines that we've seen that will flow through on an amortized basis moving forward. We were pleased with being able to get to the 35% margin level in the quarter and our ability to affect the cost structure of the enterprise. We'll continue to be driving for efficiencies as we move forward. We look to see those benefits help mitigate the revenue declines as we move through the year. But again, I'm not looking to provide guidance at this point.

Mark Kaufman - Rafferty Capital Markets, LLC

Okay. Can I have a follow-up question on how is the reserve looking on the SuperGuarantee of potential liability?

Samuel Jones

We don't, once again, provide -- for competitive reasons, provide specificity around the SuperGuarantee program, but suffice it to say that we feel that we can adequately manage any of the cost aspects of the SuperGuarantee program within our cost structure and our cost budgets.

Operator

Your next question comes from Bill Bellows [ph] of Turnberry Capital Management.

Unknown Analyst -

A couple of my questions have been answered already. But you'd referenced the Burke research report, and you said that there were 16.6 billion searches, 11 billion with print. What exactly has been the trend on that over the past 2 or 3 years, if you got that, in terms of historical percentage change?

Peter McDonald

The Burke research comes out every single year. I don't have the numbers in front of me what it was last year, but there's been a slight decline in the print over the last number of years. And while the print has been declining, the Internet Yellow Pages has been accelerating. And so at the end of the day, I think for the last 5 years between the print and the IYP, there's been the upward number of 16.6 billion to 17 billion references pretty consistently for the last 4 or 5 years. But it's shifting from print to online.

Operator

And our final question will come from Steve Hasnain of PineBridge Investments.

Steve Hasnain

Just a couple of questions. First, what percent of your labor force is currently unionized?

Samuel Jones

We've got probably about 1/2, between 1/2 and 2/3 of our sales force is unionized. We don't have a significant number of union employees in the non-sales portion of the organization, probably a few hundred.

Steve Hasnain

Okay. Are there any major contracts coming up for renewal in the near future?

Samuel Jones

We'll start discussions in the summertime with respect to a couple of our contracts. But I wouldn't say that we've got a substantial number or that we're anticipating any issues in regard to those discussions. Obviously, I have to go through them and work through that process, and we'll see how that moves. But at this point, we feel good about the relationships that we have with our unions and aren't anticipating significant events or activities.

Steve Hasnain

Okay, great. Looking at your online competitors, Google in Q1 call highlighted their focus on the local businesses. Do you see any direct -- when the sales force goes out, do they see any direct competition from Google, or let's say Groupon, or any of those companies like that?

Peter McDonald

It's interesting thinking about -- when we go to the field, and when I go, specifically, to the field and talk about competition, it's interesting that I don't know that I've ever heard Groupon or Google come up as one of the direct competitors that they see on the calls. And I think that everyone realizes how difficult it is to get to the small and medium-sized business, and I think we have an advantage with our positioning of our core business.

Steve Hasnain

Okay. And then lastly, and just looking at seasonality. I mean, I understand AT&T's [ph] now looking in the business. Can you tell us which geographical books were published in Q4 versus Q1 of 2011 so we can kind of compare the trends there?

Samuel Jones

From a sequential quarter basis, there always is a different mix of books within the period, pretty broad-based. You've got some books from just about every region. I would say the first quarter's a little bit more influenced by the Florida region and that part of the business as opposed to what we saw in the fourth quarter. So we did feel a little bit of that impact, if you're making a comparison on a sequential basis as to ad sales. But the mix, it goes across all regions to a degree. But like I said, there was probably a little bit heavier influence of the Florida market in the first quarter.

Steve Hasnain

Okay. And then just lastly, one last one. When you look at your markets, are you seeing any significant difference in terms of the ad sales trends for, let's say, large metropolitan markets versus the smaller markets?

Peter McDonald

I think that there's a correlation, I think, that -- theory out there about broadband. And I think there's a consistency there with -- the urban markets are more difficult, and we're seeing better results in the smaller, Tier 2, Tier 3 and rural-type markets.

Steve Hasnain

And are those trends changing? Meaning, in large markets, is that -- the rate of adoption of broadband and everything else that's going on, is that impacting or is this improving your ad sales trend for larger markets? Or is that getting worse?

Peter McDonald

Well, I think when you think about the large markets, there's a higher degree of our digital business in the urban markets compared to the rural markets, and a lower print in the urban markets. So it's kind of following the broadband kind of rollout. So the higher degree of penetration of broadband, the higher degree of Internet or digital sales we seem to have.

Samuel Jones

With respect to the ad sales numbers in sales, the absolute ad sales number's going from 20.4% in the first quarter of 2010, to the normalized level of the 15.9% in first quarter of 2011, adjusting for the CMR impact. That was contributed to -- or that change in the trend line, or improvement in the trend line was contributed to by essentially all size markets.

Operator

Thank you. This concludes today's teleconference. As a reminder, an archived version of this call will be available on the website at supermedia.com under the Investor Relations section. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Have a great day.

Samuel Jones

Thanks, everyone.

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