National Research Corporation's (NRCIB) CEO Michael Hays on Q2 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

| About: National Research (NRCIB)

National Research Corporation (NASDAQ:NRCIB)

Q2 2016 Earnings Conference Call

August 2, 2016 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Michael Hays - Chief Executive Officer and Director

Kevin Karas - Chief Financial Officer, Secretary, Treasurer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

Frank Sparacino - First Analysis

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Second Quarter 2016 Conference Call.

During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded Wednesday, August 3, 2016.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Michael Hays. Please go ahead.

Michael Hays

Thank you, Tia, and welcome everyone to National Research Corporation's 2016 Second Quarter Conference Call. My name is Mike Hays, the Company's CEO, and joining me on the call today is Kevin Karas, our Chief Financial Officer.

Before we continue, I ask Kevin to review conditions related to any forward-looking statements that may be made as part of today's call. Kevin?

Kevin Karas

Thank you, Mike. This conference call includes forward-looking statements related to the Company that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those currently anticipated. These forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. For further information about the facts that could affect the Company's future results, please see the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With that, I'll turn it back to you, Mike.

Michael Hays

Thank you, Kevin, and again, welcome everyone. With our new sales over the past few quarters, we are beginning to see real movement from the most progressive healthcare organizations in the country and how they think about their customers and the importance they are placing on customer loyalty to drive not only fee-per-service revenue, but more progressive value-base and risk-based arrangements.

Before commenting on how we are responding to these emerging trends, I will turn the call back over to Kevin to review our financial performance for the quarter and year-to-date. Kevin?

Kevin Karas

Thank you, Mike. Net new sales of $5.8 million were added in the second quarter and those are comprised entirely of organic growth from adding new clients and increasing contract value for existing clients.

Total contract value at the end of the second quarter of 2016 was $114 million, an increase of 8% in total contract value compared to the second quarter of 2015 after adjusting for the sale of our clinical workflow tools.

Contract value growth was driven by new sales and consistent strong contract renewal rates. Subscription-based revenue agreements at the end of the second quarter of 2016 represented 90% of total recurring contract value.

Our second quarter 2016 revenue was $26.1 million, an increase of 7% over the second quarter of 2015. Revenue for the second quarter of 2016 adjusted for the sale of our clinical workflow solution grew at a 9% rate over the second quarter of 2015.

Consolidated operating income for the second quarter of 2016 was $7 million, or 27% of revenue, compared to $6.4 million or 26% of revenue for the same period last year. Our total operating expenses for the second quarter of 2016 were $19.1 million, compared to $18.1 million in the second quarter of 2015.

Direct expenses increased to $10.7 million for the second quarter of 2016, compared to $10.4 million for the same period in 2015. Direct expense as a percent of revenue for the second quarter were 41% in 2016, compared to 43% in 2015.

The increase in direct expenses on a dollar basis in 2016 is attributed to an incremental variable cost of product expenses from revenue growth from the quarter, which were partially offset by increased efficiencies in our survey operations. For the full year of 2016, direct expenses are expected to be 42% of revenue.

Selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $7.3 million or 28% of revenue for the second quarter of 2016, compared to $6.6 million or 27% of revenue for the same period in 2015. The increase in SG&A expenses is primarily the result of increased share-based compensation and marketing expenses. SG&A expenses are expected to be 27% of revenue for the full year of 2016.

Our depreciation and amortization expense for the second quarter increased from $1.1 million in 2016, compared to $1 million in 2015 as a result of increasing technology investments in 2016. Depreciation and amortization expense as a percent of revenue is expected to be 4% of revenue for the full year in 2016.

Our provision for income taxes totaled $2.5 million for the second quarter 2016, compared to $2.3 million for the same period in 2015. The effective tax rate was 35.2% for the second quarter of 2016, compared to 35.7% in the second quarter of 2015.

This decrease was primarily due to the reduction in income tax expense from the early adoption of ASU 2016-09. The effective income tax rate is expected to be in the 35% to 35.5% of revenue range for the full year of 2016.

Net income for the second quarter was $4.6 million in 2016, compared to $4.1 million in 2015. Our combined non-GAAP diluted earnings per share was $0.18 for the second quarter of 2016, compared to $0.16 in 2015.

With that, I'll turn the call back to Mike.

Michael Hays

Thank you, Kevin. The increasing importance being placed on understanding and enhancing customer loyalty has been very timely for the company given our investments over the past few years. The bundling voice of the customer use cases across service settings thus creating enterprise-wide value has shift our product mix and commanded our margins, while most importantly adding incremental value to our clients, clearly a win-win.

The outcome of more focus being placed on customer loyalty we believe will impact traditional spend for single-point solutions such as patient satisfaction measurement. That spend would be increasingly redeployed to more contemporary approaches that improves service quality, drive revenue and enhance customer loyalty for our clients’ organizations.

As this trend accelerates, we are well served by a recurring revenue business model which drives excellent cash flows for continued investment in technology, people and growth opportunities. All of this will be necessary as we shift the organization to create a very different way, healthcare listens and response to what’s most to important to its customers.

Tia, with that, I would like to open the call to questions please.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question is from the line of Rob Manings [Ph] with William Blair. Please proceed.

Unidentified Analyst

Hey guys. Thanks for taking the questions. I noticed that new sales were a bit slower year-over-year. Is there anything in particular in the end-market or is that mostly just timing?

Michael Hays

Okay, it’s mostly timing and we had a very large sale come in on a comparable quarter period. So, we are seeing actually the pipeline increase and take rates improve. So, if anything I would suggest timing.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks, that’s very helpful. And then, looking at the gross margin, I know you guys came in above target there. Is that mostly just mix shift or is there is something more specific going on?

Kevin Karas

Rob, this is Kevin. It’s both. We have some cost reductions in some of our direct costs related to postage, some rate decreases this year, which have helped along with a shift in mix. So it’s sum of both.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you. And then, would you be able to give us an updated number of clients with more than one offering? And I guess, maybe talk a little bit about the aggregate cross-sell opportunity you guys are seeing in the existing base? Thanks.

Kevin Karas

Rob, this is Kevin again. From a pure measurement standpoint, we track the number of clients that have acquired more than one product offering from us. So, that as a percent of our total client base still represents approximately 15% of our clients that have acquired more than one product. It’s growing.

And I think as Mike mentioned on the last call, we are bundling more of our products and moving in the direction of some production unification. That metric is a little less comparable over a longitudinal period of time. But to answer to your question it still represents somewhere in the 15% to 20% of our client base that have more than one product.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks. That’s all for me. Thanks again for taking the questions.

Kevin Karas

Okay.

Operator

Our next question is from the line of Frank Sparacino with First Analyst, Analysis, sorry. Go ahead.

Frank Sparacino

Hi Mike, hi Kevin. I was hoping you could just give some color, if we look at the four major solution areas that you have experienced market insights transparency and governance, maybe just give some color around how those different areas are performing?

Michael Hays

This is Mike, Frank. The siloness of the way that you are categorizing the product offering is becoming a little harder on a go-forward basis to split apart. The reason being is we are taking with the exception of governance, we are taking a very aggressive tact on taking market insights which is the voice of the customer relative to brand, behavior and needs in the marketplace along with our measurement product, which is in and about the experience in a service setting, as well as transparency and reputation management and bundling that together into a single offering.

So it’s very rare hoping never, but very rare I am sure that point-of-sale we are introducing an integrated package with bundled pricing. So, all that to say is the take rate on any individual product we aren’t necessarily focused on. So I would look at our overall growth in contract value attributed to the bundles all of which represents some component if not all of our historical offerings.

Frank Sparacino

And along those lines Mike, I would assume the average deal for a new client has been increasing. I don’t know do if you have any metrics around the relative increase today versus a year ago?

Michael Hays

It definitely is, we are seeing contract values in a bundled fashion upwards of 20% to 40% over what they may have represented on a single-point solution sale. So, there is a marked improvement or increase in the depth and breadth of the relationship which results in, obviously a greater recurring contract value.

Frank Sparacino

And if we look at net new sales this year, would you expect, I mean, based on the pipeline that on a year-over-year basis 2016 versus 2015 that we will see growth.

Michael Hays

Yes, I believe we will. We are seeing some pretty interesting traction again in and around the value proposition when we bundle our products and services together. So, historically, any particular sales endeavor for a single-point solution, say, patient satisfaction alone went up again some fairly embedded competitors, whereas in the bundled offering, the complete landscape is very different.

So hopefully that will shake loose and create more market share shifts than we’ve seen historically, perhaps even over the last few years. So, long way to answer your question, yes, we would see that improvement continue through the back half of the year and into 2017.

Frank Sparacino

And then maybe lastly, just Mike, I’d be curious on some of the anecdotal conversations with the hospitals and health systems. As you talk about moving that traditional spend into new areas. How they are thinking about it in terms of, I assume it’s not dollar-for-dollar, but just where you think people are at in those conversations along that transformation?

Michael Hays

It is healthcare, so it’s slow. But, the majority of new wins that we are getting would be reflective have been additive to the C suite level of trained to bind additional use cases of the data to which they are already collecting. So if you can imagine an organization that embarks on patient experience measurement and uses this in a historical or traditional fashion to look at nurturing and improvement in terms of service quality. Now they are saying where we are spending this money, why can’t we use this for driving the top-line of our company. Why can’t we use it to increase loyalty? Why can’t we use it to better the service experience for that same patient next time they have an interaction with our brand? So, really what we are seeing is, if we are going to spend the money, why don’t get multiple uses to leverage that investment and when you get to that type of dialogue, it’s really the intersection of real-time data over the continuum over all service settings that are creating kind of an exponential value proposition. So, in summary, it’s really we are spending the money, why not get greater use and why not look at things other than only service quality improvement.

Frank Sparacino

Great. Thank you. I’ll jump back in the queue.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] It looks like we have no further questions unless Mr. Sparacino had more questions. All right, I’ll turn the call back over to you.

Michael Hays

Thank you, Tia, and again, thank you everyone for your time today. Kevin and I, as always look forward to reporting our progress next quarter. Thank you.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines.

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