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UMB Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:UMBF)

Q4 2007 Earnings Call

January 23, 2008 9:30 am ET


Begonya Klumb - Director of Investor Relations

Mariner Kemper - Chairman and CEO

Peter deSilva - President and COO

Mike Hagedorn - CFO


Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities


Welcome to the UMB fourth quarter Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session for analysts will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions).

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Ms. Begonya Klumb, Director of Investor Relations. Thank you. Ms. Klumb, you may begin.

Begonya Klumb

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for our conference call and webcast regarding our 2007 fourth quarter and full year financial results.

Before we begin, let me remind you that our comments in this conference call contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1944, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such forward-looking statements rely on a number of assumptions concerning future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in our statements made during this call.

While management of UMB believes our assumptions are reasonable, UMB cautions that material changes in interest rates, the equity markets, general economic conditions as they relate to the company's loan and fee-based customers, competition in the financial services industry and other risks and uncertainties, which are detailed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, may cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in this call.

UMB has no duty to update such statements and undertakes no obligation to update or supplement forward-looking statements that become untrue because of new information, future events or otherwise.

By now, we hope most of you on the phone or listening to the webcast have had a chance to review our fourth quarter and full year earnings release dated January 22nd. If not, you will find it on our website at

Our earnings release includes both our GAAP-based income statement and a reconciliation to the non-GAAP measures discussed in the release and during this call, which includes certain pre-tax adjustments to non-interest income and non-interest expense, the tax effect of those adjustments and adjusted net income. These adjustments comprise net gains associated to the sale of the securities transfer product and a liability accrual related to Vista's covered litigation provision. The reconciliation for these items can also be found on our website at

The non-GAAP results are a supplement to the financial statements based upon generally accepted accounting principles. UMB believes this non-GAAP presentation and the elimination of these items is useful in order to focus on what we deemed to be amore reliable indicator of ongoing operating performance.

On the call today are Mariner Kemper, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Peter deSilva, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Mike Hagedorn, our Chief Financial Officer.

The agenda for today's call is as follows. First, Mariner will highlight our results and strategies. Then Mike will review the details of our fourth quarter and full year results. Peter will follow with a more detailed review of operating performance against our strategies. Following that, we'll be happy to answer your questions.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Mariner Kemper.

Mariner Kemper

Thank you, Begonya. Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today. Happy New Year to you all. As you have seen in our press release, UMB delivered solid financial performance throughout 2007. These results reflect disciplined execution against our growth strategies, which we believe without changing our risk profile even at the credit markets continue to suffer, a significant stress.

UMB achieved record net income in 2007 of $74.2 million or a $1.77 per diluted share, up 26% from a $1.40 reported in 2006. Our fourth quarter diluted EPS was $0.37 flat from the same period in 2006. The fourth quarter results reflect the impact of a $4.6 million pre-tax reported liability related to Vista's covered litigation provision. Without this expense related to Vista, UMB would have reported net income of $17.8 million resulting in diluted EPS of $0.43 or a growth of 16.3% over 2006.

Our 2007 financial performance was driven by double-digit non-interest income growth, which at nearly $289 million was also a record for UMB. Net interest income improved as well mostly due to a higher average earning assets and higher margin.

Our 2007 results demonstrate the operating leverage we have been able to achieve as our team continues to effectively implement our growth strategies, while maintaining our high credit quality standards. We achieved these results without comprising our traditional strong liquidity and asset quality. In 2008, we will continue to monitor the economy and manage our business the way we always have, for the long-term and not just for the quarter.

Now I would like to discuss our progress against our company's strategies. Our first strategy is to focus on yield enhancement. We continue to make progress and optimizing the mix of our earning assets and liabilities while growing the loan portfolio. In 2007, end of period loans increased 4% over 2006. The improvement reflects solid improvement in our commercial, HELOC and credit card portfolios, offset by a 26.4% or a $190.8 million decline in our indirect balances.

Commercial loans grew at 13.1% year-over-year as we continue to demonstrate our ability to leverage one of the strongest parts of our franchise. We are also very pleased that we achieved these results while maintaining our credit quality standards.

Credit card balances increased 17.2% year-over-year and 5.2% on a linked quarter basis. Credit cards remain an area of focus for future growth in earning asset yield improvement. Peter will cover our credit card business in more detail during his remarks.

Home equity loans are up 47.8% year-over-year and now exceed $270 million in total balances. Home equity loans now constitute 6.9% of our total loan portfolio. In addition to our branches, originations have come from our existing customer base, particularly in private banking and our commercial portfolio. Again this business has grown without compromising our credit card quality standards.

Given the relatively small base of our portfolio, as well as the low penetration within our retail customer base, we are optimistic about the potential for this portfolio. As I mentioned previously, our indirect loan balances declined 26.4% in 2007. You may remember last quarter we made a decision to allow the indirect loan portfolio to run off as a part of an overarching strategy to improve earning asset yields.

As we continue to manage our existing indirect loan portfolio, we've not purchased any new contracts through our dealer networks since August 31st, and at the end of 2007, our indirect portfolio had a balance of $531 million compared with $721 million at the end of 2006.

End of period deposits were up 3.8%, an improvement of nearly $242 million over the end of the 2006, with the largest increase coming from time deposits.

Growing core deposits remains a challenge for the entire industry. Still, a strong 32% of our deposits are non-interest bearing, compared with the industry average of approximately 14%. Despite the declining rate environment, we are still seeing very aggressive pricing on our deposits within the industry. We will continue to monitor our funding needs as our indirect loan portfolio runs off. This runoff is expected to provide more liquidity.

We believe we are in an advantageous position based on our balance sheet and funding structure. We've managed our funding costs as rates have declined, which has contributed to our margin improvement during the year. Our core investment portfolio's average life increased to 37 months at the end of 2007, up from 35.3 months a year ago. If rates continue to decline, some shortening of the core portfolio's average life could occur over the next year, since we plan to avoid locking in lower rates for longer periods of time.

We are also improving yields through a better earning asset mix. While our indirect loan portfolio runs off, it is our intent to replace it with higher yielding loans such as commercial, credit card and HELOCs. Moreover, total average loans comprise 54.9% of running asset base for 2007, compared to 53% for 2006.

Our second strategy is to continue growing our fee based businesses. Non-interest income increased 13.3% and represented 55.4% of total revenue in the fourth quarter. This improvement reflects continued growth in trust and securities processing income, and deposit service charges. Peter will cover more detailed results of our fee based business in his comments.

The third strategy is to optimize our distribution network, including continued investment in our retail business. We closed two branches and opened one in the fourth quarter leaving us at a total of 135 branches as of December 31, 2007. Repositioning and increasing utilization of our regional distribution network remains a priority. In both St. Louis and Denver we hired new leadership and sales-support to focus on asset management and corporate trust. These actions also play into our strategy to strengthen our asset management businesses.

We continue to strive for a larger presence throughout our footprint and especially in the e-markets. Our focus is to provide a broad offering of services through our existing branch network.

Our fourth strategy is to continue to strengthen our asset management business. Trust and securities processing income increased more than 17.6% in 2007 to $115.6 million, from $98.3 million in the prior year. This is primarily due to the success of our asset management business, which continues to be a key driver for UMB.

The improvement in performance in the asset management business was largely due to the $873 million or 8.6% increase in total assets under management.

Finally, our fifth strategy is to focus on capital management. Our priorities for this remain the same: Firstly, to invest in growth, either through reinvestment in businesses or through acquisitions that are a good, strategic, financial, operational and cultural fit. Secondly, to consider increasing our dividend over time. Thirdly, to repurchase stock when it makes sense to do so. In the pursuance thereof, during the fourth quarter we have repurchased more than 448,000 shares at an average price of $40.31 per share, for a total cost of $18.1 million. For the year we repurchased 1.1 million shares at an average price of $39.37 and a total cost of $43.3 million. Yesterday the Board declared the regular quarterly dividend of $0.15 per share for a total outlay of $6.2 million.

For 2007, the total dividends paid were $23.2 million, a 6.1% increase over 2006 and a payout ratio of 32%. We continue to look at several types of acquisitions, from traditional banking acquisitions within our footprint, to opportunities that would compliment our payments, technology, asset management, corporate trust and healthcare service businesses. As always, we'll be disciplined and prudent in this approach.

All told, we had a good quarter and a record year. Our results were driven by sound execution, as well as investments we've made in our core businesses. Our associates have leveraged these investments into higher revenue.

I'll come back to you with a few concluding remarks, but I would like to turn it over to Mike Hagedorn for a detailed review of our fourth quarter and full year results. Mike?

Mike Hagedorn

Thanks, Mariner, and let me add my welcome to everyone on the call this morning. First, I'll provide a review of the fourth quarter and then turn to a few brief remarks regarding the full year. As Mariner indicated, we reported diluted EPS of $0.37 for the fourth quarter, which is flat from the same period in 2006. Higher revenue in the fourth quarter was offset by higher expenses, which were primarily driven by a pre-tax accrued liability of $4.6 million related to Visa's covered litigation provision.

As Mariner mentioned, without this expense our EPS would have been $0.43, a 16.3% increase. Net interest income for the quarter increased $2.2 million in 2007 over 2006, due primarily to higher average earning assets and improved net interest margin.

Net interest margin increased 14 basis points to 3.55% for the quarter, from 3.41% in the same period of 2006. This improvement came primarily from a 4 basis point increase in our earning asset yield, and a 16 basis point decrease in the cost of interest bearing liabilities.

Net interest income benefited modestly, as we had $174.7 million roll off of our core investment portfolio at an average yield of 4.58%, and we purchased $235.7 million of securities at an average yield of 4.98%.

The fourth quarter purchases are larger than the roll off due to the pre-buying of maturities, as well as the repositioning of our portfolio mix as we swapped approximately $30 million in treasuries for agency CMOs.

As of December 31st, our public fund balances, including the seasonal inflows, amounted to approximately $1.7 billion, inline with our expectations. These funds are primarily held in higher yielding transaction accounts and repurchase agreements, and are largely indexed.

Typically, we see a greater impact on our margin in January through March, as a result of the seasonal public fund balances, and we expect this trend to hold through again. We expect public funds to start declining in late January, with the majority of the seasonal balances gone by the end of March. In 2008, $615 million in core portfolio securities should roll off at an average yield of 4.58%, of which $182 million will roll off in the first quarter at the rate of 4.56%.

In addition, approximately 63% of our loan portfolio is expected to re-price during 2008. If rates stay at current levels, or continue to decline, we anticipate a negative impact to interest income as a result of this repricing. The magnitude of this impact will be largely dependant on the Fed policy decisions and market movements.

Non-interest income increased to $7.9 million or 12.1%, for the fourth quarter, compared with the same period in 2006, due primarily to higher trust and securities processing income, and deposit service charges. Trust and securities processing fees were up 19.2%, and service charges on deposits were up 8.3% primarily due to fee increases or fee changes implemented by our consumer services division. Non-interest expense increased to $11.3 million or 11.4%, for the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with 2006. With the most significant increases in salaries, employee benefits, equipment, occupancy and processing. Without the charge related to the Visa covered litigation provision, non-interest expense would have risen 6.7% for the quarter. Visa accounted for slightly more than 40% of the increase to 11.4%.

Other drivers of the increase in non-interest expense, were higher salaries and benefit costs, which were up $4.3 million in the fourth quarter over the same period in 2006. Much of this increase was due to higher base salaries, increased commissions, and bonuses related to our improved financial performance for the year. A portion of the increase in the fourth quarter was $700,000 related to the increase we announced in profit sharing.

Given the current market conditions our credit quality metrics remains strong compared to the industry and historical trends. As of December 31, 2007, non-performing loans—including non-accrual, restructured, and 90 days past due loans— were $9.5 million or 0.24% of loans, compared to $9.3 million or 0.25% last year.

Net loan charge offs for the year continue to be stable totaling $8.3 million for 2007 or 0.21% of average loans, compared with $7 million or 0.20% of average loans last year. Net charge-offs for the quarter increased to $3.2 million, from $400,000 in recoveries in the same period last year. The higher net charge-offs in the fourth quarter were primarily due to one C&I loan charge-off.

Our allowance for loan losses to total loan ratio stood at 1.17% as of December 31, compared to 1.20% last year. We determine our provision by using a model that estimates a range of inherent risk in our loan portfolio. Given the current market liquidity and credit conditions we deem it prudent to be on the high side of this range.

Turning to the full year, we reported earnings for 2007 of $74.2 million, or $1.77 per diluted share. This represents an increase of 26.4% compared to 2006 earnings of $59.8 million or $1.40 per share. During the year two significant events occurred that impacted our earnings. The sale of our securities transfer product, and the Visa's covered litigation provision. Without these two events our EPS would have been $1.74, up 24.3% over 2006.

Net interest income for 2007 increased $14.9 million or 7.1% compared to 2006. This was due primarily to higher average earning assets and an increased in net interest margin. Net interest margin was 3.44% in 2007 compared to 3.38% in 2006. Non-interest income increased $33.8 million or 13.3% over 2006, due primarily to higher assets under management, corporate trust fees, and deposit service charges. Non-interest expense increased to $25.7 million or 6.8%, due primarily to an increase in salary and benefits, as well as the $4.6 million related to the Visa covered litigation provision.

Turning to the balance sheet, our strong financial performance for the year was driven primarily by loan growth. At the end of December, loan balances were $3.9 billion, compared with $3.8 billion, a year ago. Total average loans for the year grew by 9%. At the end of December, total deposits were $6.6 billion, compared with $6.3 billion a year ago, a 3.8% increase. The majority of the increase came from time deposits, which increased 9.2% in 2007.

Our average loan to deposit ratio for 2007 was 68.3%, up from 65.2% in 2006. This growth combined with our yield enhancement strategy resulted in healthy net interest income in 2007. For 2008, we expect this ratio to stabilize as a result of the significant run off in our indirect loan portfolio. Return on average equity and return on average assets during 2007 were 8.49% and 0.93% respectively, compared to 7.09% and 0.79% for 2006.

We are pleased with these results as they are indicators of our continued progress. Capital ratios remain strong during 2007. Tier 1, total capital, and leverage ratios at 13.74%, 14.58% and 9.63% respectively. With that, I'll turn it over to Peter for some additional comments on our operating performance.

Peter DeSilva

Thanks, Mike, and good morning everyone. I'd like to spend a few minutes providing some additional details on our operational strategies. First; let me comment on our strategy to strengthen our asset management business. Total assets under management increased 8.6% to $11 billion from $10.1 billion at the end of 2006. Leading this growth is our Proprietary Family Mutual Funds, which continue to play a key role in this success. Total assets in the UMB Scout Funds increased 16.4% from $5 billion at the end 2006 to $5.8 billion at the end of 2007.

And our UMB scout funds leadership continues to be recognized by the industry. Jim Moffett manager of the UMB Scout International Fund finished as the runner-up in Morningstar's 2007 International Manager of the year contest, for the second time in three years. We are very proud of Jim's accomplishments and, in fact, Morningstar's Christine Benz commented in their follow-up article, "Moffett was also the runner-up for our International Stock Fund Manager of the year in 2005 and he is likely to remain a contender or become a winner in the years ahead." I personally want to say congratulations to Jim and our entire international team.

We continue to leverage our talent with the fourth quarter launch of the UMB Scout International Discovery Fund. This fund invests in small and mid-size companies in various countries and has a goal of long term capital appreciation. This fund will be managed by Jim Moffett and Michael Stack, two veterans in managing international funds.

Finally we launched a new marketing campaign in Kansas City to raise brand awareness of our international and small cap funds. In 2007, Corporate Trust was the key driver within our asset management division. Corporate Trust's noninterest income increase was nearly $2.5 million or 20% over 2006. In the fourth quarter's Corporate Trust rankings released by Thomson Financial, UMB ranked fourth for the year by number of transactions of overall municipal trusteeships and paying agencies combined.

Our 2007 performance against much larger competition is a reflection of our strong reputation and superior customer service. We remain encouraged with the opportunities for growth in this segment, both organically and through potential acquisitions.

Another important part of our asset management strategy is the implementation of a customer focused wealth management business model. We are encouraged by the results from the integration of our wealth management product and service offerings we initiated more than a year ago.

With top client managers, private banking has more than 47 million homes and nearly $136 million in deposits. UMB Financial Services, our full service brokerage subsidiary was another strong performer this year, contributing $1.8 million to the year's fee income growth.

Our current businesses continue to perform well. A key driver has been our commercial card program. Commercial card holder volume increased 22.6% in 2007. The opportunity continues to be encouraging as our commercial card holder volume posted a monthly record three different times this year.

In an environment of declining credit scores, we continue to write all of our credit card products at a very high level. We closely monitored credit scores of the entire portfolio. Our underwriting standards remain strong, and our portfolio continues to score above industry standards.

UMB also continued to gain momentum in Healthcare Services. At the end of 2006, we had approximately 433,000 accounts, and as of the end of 2007 we have more than 794,000 accounts, an 83.4% increase. In the fourth quarter alone, we added more than 260,000 accounts. Total deposits and mutual fund assets were up 53.2% for the year and now exceed $100 million. These numbers are indicative of the tremendous growth potential in this business.

Typically we see large account growth in the fourth quarter as companies have their annual enrollment process for benefits, which tends to drive a large increase in accounts. We continue to see opportunity as many of the newly acquired customers began to increase their balances and withdraw for their healthcare needs using our multipurpose debit cards.

UMB Investment Services group continues to be a solid performer. Non-interest income for the year increased 15.9% over 2006. We made several key hires to strengthen the leadership team and acquire several new clients.

In addition to growing our fee businesses, we continue to focus on improving operating efficiencies. During 2007 average loans per FTE increased 10.7% to $1.15 million, and average deposits for FTE increased 5.8% to $1.68 million. A non-interest income for FTE increased a healthy 15.1% to nearly $85,000.

At the end of the fourth quarter, we had 3357 FTEs or 75 more pure FTEs than in the same period last year. Our 2007 efficiency ratio improved to 76.3% from 78.95% during all of 2006. Over the past few years, our focus on accountability and disciplinary expenses has allowed us to reduce our efficiency ratio from 83.5% in 2004 to our current level. Although we are pleased with the improvement, we recognize there are still opportunities for further improvement and remain focused on this area.

With that let me turn it back to Mariner for some concluding remarks. Mariner,

Mariner Kemper

Thanks Peter. I will end today's conference call by reminding everyone that 2007 was a great year for UMB, with both record revenue and net earnings. I truly like to thank our associates for their hard work and dedication in helping us to achieve this for our shareholders.

If the past few months are an indication of what 2008 holds, for the economy and the financial services industry, it will no doubt continue to be a bumpy ride for this sector. In challenging times we plan to run our company as always, without deviating from our time tested model and traditional of quality, liquidity and capital strength.

With that I’ll turn it over to the conference call operator for any questions.

Question-and-Answer Session


(Operator Instructions). The first question comes from the line Peyton Green with FTN Midwest Securities. Please go ahead.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Good morning. Michael, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the Fed rate cut yesterday and what effect that might have on the balance sheet, and what actions you might take to counteract it?

Mike Hagedorn

Good morning Peyton. I think it’s clear that people weren’t expecting a 75 basis point cut and especially off cycle, not during the normal meeting time. So with that said, we’re preparing for Fed cuts on our deposit cost previous to yesterdays announcement, albeit not 75 basis points. Clearly its going to reduce interest income. Whether it reduces interest margin or not remains to be seen as we try to make cuts to our interest bearing liabilities, and obviously become, I think, a little less dependent on repo income going forward. This especially applies once the Fed or the public fund dollars work their way through the balance sheet, and they’ll probably be off by March.

So I think the question really remains to be seen as far as how much can we do no the liability side, in order to offset what's obviously going to reduce interest income going forward.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

To what degree does your C&I book, or real estate loan book reprice overnight?

Mariner Kemper

It does not re-price overnight. We did talk about little more than 65% of our total loan portfolio, I think it's 68%.

Mike Hagedorn


Mariner Kemper

63%, close within a year. So it does not reprice overnight. There will be a lag impact. Many of the loans are tied to various indexes, and it will take time for those indexes, and the re-pricing characteristics, whether it'd be 30-day or 90-day T-bill, as they work their self through the system.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Okay. And then separately, the personnel expense line was up about 9% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, and I was just wondering if you could indicate what portion of that was for HR kind of plans, and how much of it was related to salary increases or bonus accruals?

Mariner Kemper

Yeah, I remember in the fourth quarter we have the full year impact, because you're comparing that to the fourth quarter of 2006, so you have the full year impact of salary increases that were planned in 2007, so that's part of it.

We also talk about the fact, and we did talk about the fact, that we had an increase in our profit sharing accrual, that was another $700,000 in the fourth quarter. We have some commission and bonuses programs related to higher performance, and this year that has gone up as well.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities


Mariner Kemper

That's a bigger driver than normal because of commissions.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities


Mariner Kemper


Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Okay, great. And then if you could comment on the credit card announcement which you made yesterday to kind of spur the growth of the credit card unit. Also, what are your expectations, is that more just on the consumer side, or is that also commercial?

Mariner Kemper

That's mostly consumer and it's sort of an offering enhancement. It's a technology company that that we are associated with, that announcement, and it allows us to customize the card on an individual basis. So, it's just an enhancement of the card offering at the retail level.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities


Mariner Kemper

If you want to go any further (inaudible) it's for some image capabilities, customers can download images on to the card and there's a bunch of other features. It's mainly an enhancement at the technology level.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

In terms of your service charges on deposit accounts, with the Fed cutting so aggressively, does that help you from an earnings credit prospective?

Mariner Kemper

Yes, it clearly does. Your timing is good we actually met on this yesterday. We were taking a look at what those rates currently are and what they are going to be, on a going forward basis, given yesterday's action. Yes, that would help, especially on the commercial side.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Good enough. And then are you seeing any signs of increased stress in any particular regions right now to add to your footprint?

Peter deSilva

They are all relatively consistent. We're watching all of them very, very closely right now, but as you know the Midwest portion of our market, which is where we live and breathe, didn't suppress some of the excesses that the coasts and other parts of the country did. It is not something that we're particularly worried about, although it's something we're watching very carefully.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Okay great. And then last question Michael. In terms of the seasonal deposit, it's the normal kind of 7 to 10 basis point drop in the margin between fourth and first quarter. Do you think that is relevant to the whole tier, or is there anything unusual about the flows this year?

Mike Hagedorn

There's nothing unusual about the flows, but remember these are indexed accounts and so they are going to reprice given what happened yesterday.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Okay. All right.

Mariner Kemper

Peyton, this is Mariner. I would like to correct something. We are making two different announcements on the credit card side and Fintura, which is the release you are talking about. I wasn't sure which one you were talking about. It's still a technology play. Largely, it's a company that helps credit card operations. They model portfolios and help with profitability and modeling. So two different announcements, so I am sorry I didn't know which one you were talking about.

Peyton Green - FTN Midwest Securities

Okay. Great. Thank you.


Thank you. (Operator Instructions). At this time there are no further questions, I would like to turn it over back to Begonya Klumb. Please go ahead.

Begonya Klumb

Thank you very much for your interest in UMB. The call can be accessed via replay at our website beginning in about two hours and it will run through February 6th. And as always, you can contact me at UMB Investor Relations with any follow-up questions by calling 816-860-7906. Again, we appreciate your interest and time.


Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today's conference. Thank you for your participation. Again, if you would like to listen to a replay of today's conference call, you can dial 303-590-3000 or toll free 1-800-405-2236 and you can access that by using the code 11104690 followed by the "#" sign. Thank you for using ACT Teleconferencing. You may now disconnect and have a pleasant day.

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