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ExlService Holdings, Inc. (EXLS)

Q1 2008 Earnings Call Transcript

May 7, 2008 10:00 am ET

Executives

Jarrod Yahes – Head of IR and Corporate Development

Vikram Talwar – Executive Chairman

Rohit Kapoor – President and CEO

Matt Appel – VP and CFO

Analysts

David Grossman – Thomas Weisel Partners

Ashwin Shirvaikar – Citigroup

Joseph Vafi – Jefferies & Co.

Tim Long – Robert Baird

Joseph Foresi – Janney Montgomery Scott

Julio Quinteros – Goldman Sachs

Matt McCormack – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Cynthia Houlton – RBC Capital Markets

Tien-Tsin Huang – JP Morgan

Vincent Colicchio – Noble Financial Group

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 2008 Q1 EXL Holdings Conference Call. My name is Robin, and I will be your coordinator for today. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode and we will be facilitating a question-and-answer session towards the end of today’s conference (Operator instructions)

I would now like to turn the call over to your host for today Mr. Jarrod Yahes. Please proceed, sir.

Jarrod Yahes

Thank you, Robin, and thanks everyone for joining us today on EXL’s first quarter 2008 earnings announcement. Joining us from India today are Vikram Talwar, our Executive Chairman, Rohit Kapoor, our President and Chief Executive Officer, and Matt Appel, our Chief Financial Officer.

We hope you’ve had an opportunity to review the news release we issued last evening as well as the PowerPoint presentation that’s available for review on EXL’s website on the Investor Relations section.

Let me now quickly outline the agenda for today’s call. Vikram will first begin with an overview of some of the recent management appointments at EXL, Rohit will then talk about the performance of the company for the quarter, and Matt will take you through the financial details of the first quarter as well as provide an update for you on our outlook for 2008, and the close the presentation before we take questions.

As you know, some of the matters we’ll discuss in this call are forward-looking, and you should keep in mind that these forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements.

Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, general economic conditions as well as those factors set forth in today's press release, discussed in the company's periodic reports, and other documents that EXL has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission from time-to-time. EXL assumes no obligations to update the information presented on this call.

During our call today, we may also reference certain non-GAAP financial measures, which we believe provide useful information for investors, and you can find a reconciliation of those measures to U.S. GAAP on the press release.

So now, let me turn the call over to Vikram Talwar, EXL’s Executive Chairman. Vikram?

Vikram Talwar

Thank you, Jarrod, and good morning to everyone in the U.S. and good morning to everyone in India. I would like to start off the call by providing a bit of insight background to the recent management appointments that we have made at the company. As most of you on the call know, Rohit and I founded EXL together in 1999 with a vision of becoming a trusted provider of outsourcing services from India to our U.S. and U.K based clients. At the time, the BPO industry was very new and India was not yet a proven destination for providing Business Process Outsourcing Services outside of the captive shared service center model.

The industry has clearly evolved faster than any of us could ever imagined and the growth that EXL as well as the entire offshore BPO industry has experienced in such a short timeframe is nothing short of phenomenal. For all growth companies there is a period in their evolution where it becomes even critical to permit talent to rise within the organization, to continue to foster growth and innovation at the company for the benefit of the clients, employees, and shareholders. The management transition that we have recently announced is designed to do just that – to set the stage for EXL’s growth for many years to come.

As we make each critical management progressions, I can honestly say that I cannot be more proud to pass the CEO responsibilities to Rohit, who has been my business partner for the last nine years, and a close business associate for 17. He is uniquely qualified to lead and grow EXL for many years to come and it goes without saying that he has the full support of our Board of Directors in taking on this new challenge. As you may know, Rohit has served EXL as Chief Financial Officer, President, and most recently the additional role of Chief Operating Officer. This management succession is clearly something we have worked towards for some time, and we believe is a positive development for both our clients and the company.

Pavan Bagai, who many of you may have met while visiting us in India is EXL’s new Chief Operating Officer. Pavan most recently served as Head of Outsourcing, and has been with EXL since 2002 in various leadership roles. Both Rohit and I have known Pavan for a long part of our professional lives, and we are confident he will ensure that our clients receive the service delivery quality, focus, and attention, and process innovation that they have come to expect from EXL. We are certain that Pavan will further strengthen our operating capabilities as EXL continues to grow and scale. Pavan will work closely with Rembert de Villa, EXL’s new Head of Transformation Services.

A key element of our strategy has been to develop and closely couple our transformational capabilities with our core BPO capabilities. EXL’s Transformation Services, which include our Research and Analytics, Risk Advisory services, and Six-Sigma based Process Reengineering services businesses, focus on improving our clients’ operations through the application of sophisticated analytics and business process reengineering and risk and control expertise.

Rembert joins EXL with over 23 years of global management consulting leadership experience primarily in the financial service industry. On a personal note, as Executive Chairman of EXL, I will continue to be a full-time employee of the company, and will be focused on ensuring the growth of our major clients by further strengthening the executive sponsor activity. Existing clients provide the majority of our revenue growth, and it is our belief that senior management involvement is a critical factor in ensuring this. I will be the executive sponsor for our Aviva, British Gas, and other select clients, and help guide our overall relationship with these companies. Additionally, I will work with Rohit and other members of the executive team in setting the future strategy for the company and actively assisting with M&A opportunities.

Now, let me pass it over to Rohit to speak about our performance this quarter.

Rohit Kapoor

Thanks. Vikram, and good morning everyone. I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer for ExlService, a company that I helped co-found, and which is today a leading player in transformation and outsourcing services. This is particularly a proud moment for me as EXL enjoys a great positioning in the marketplace. We have a world-class management team, and there are terrific opportunities for us to continue to scale and build value for our shareholder. EXL’s pipeline of business is attractive and continues to grow.

Despite the economic slowdown, we have not observed any related impact on demand. The interest levels by clients and prospects in our space continue to be high. However, the sales cycle remains considerably long, and as we have mentioned before, there would continue to be a fair amount of lumpiness in our new business acquisition on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

During the first quarter of 2008, EXL derived revenues from nine new clients. Eight of these clients are in Transformation Services and one client represents an engagement that spans both Outsourcing and Transformation Services. In the past week, we have finalized contracts with three new insurance companies. One is for Transformation Services and two are for outsourcing work. While these assignments represent initial engagements that we intend to grow, it is important to note that EXL is truly the preferred provider in the insurance space as we are consistently selected over our competition. Nobody has the same breadth of process expertise in the insurance vertical as EXL, and we intend to continue to leverage this competitive advantage.

Our portfolio of existing clients [ph] in Outsourcing Services now consist of 10 customer relationships that contribute over $5 million of revenue each on an annualized basis. We also have two very significant clients that contribute over $40 million of revenue each annually – British Gas and Aviva. Our relationships with British Gas and Aviva continue to be very strong, and revenues were generally stable this quarter. The revenue from Aviva declined sequentially due to the depreciation of Sterling Pound against U.S. dollar and a reduction in certain non-production revenues.

We, however, continue to experience broad based growth in our outsourcing business across a number of our other client relationships. This quarter, EXL transitioned 20 new processes for nine different clients. We experienced meaningful revenue growth this quarter from four different insurance company relationships as well as our relationship with a U.K. based wireless provider. This allows us to continue to diversify our customer concentration.

British Gas has now become our single largest customer relationship and it demonstrates our ability to enter new industry verticals and quickly build up size and scale. Our second largest customer, Aviva, continues to evaluate its strategic options. At this point in time, we do not have any specific information to share about this relationship, and we will provide an update to the market as soon as there is information available that we are in a position to share. While the Pune BOT option by Aviva has not been exercised as of today, the entire relationship might undergo a change as and when Aviva decides on its strategic options.

We are particularly encouraged by the growing demand from clients for our transformational front-end approach to the outsourcing journey. I would like to speak about deals that we have been working on that involves taking a more consultative approach with potential clients. We continue to believe that our front-end transformational approach is just what is needed by clients today and positions us to close this type of clients opportunities more effectively than competition.

EXL’s Transformation Services group consists of approximately 400 professionals, the majority of which deliver services onshore. We believe that this a huge competitive advantage for us in the marketplace. Nobody else in our competitor set can provide this level of onshore client engagement with skills in Analytics, Six-Sigma Process Reengineering, Risk Advisory services, and Consulting, to deliver strategic enterprise-wide cost reduction.

The rapid recent growth in our Transformation Services is something that is particularly exciting for EXL. Last year, we experienced a slowdown in the early part of the year and have been successfully rebuilding the momentum in the business through a tighter integration among the business lines and closer alignment with Outsourcing Services. We believe that Rembert and the exceptionally talented team of professionals who run and manage the business, have a unique opportunity in front of them in the current economic environment.

We have successfully cross-sold these services to our outsourcing clients and are now also focusing on the integration and coupling of these service lines. We believe that and effective bundling of Transformation and Outsourcing Services will replace the traditional services business model.

On the people front, EXL added approximately 500 new professionals to our business during the quarter. EXL has now reached 10,500 employees, and we continue to focus on scaling the organization in a manner that is sustainable and built for long-term growth. Our attrition for the quarter was 32%, as compared to 30% last quarter, and 44% in the same quarter last year.

We believe that this second consecutive quarter of exceptionally low attrition is a result of two fundamental factors. The first relates to our ongoing focus on attrition management, best-in-class workforce management, and positioning and support of EXL’s brand in India. We believe that the favorable brand recognition we are enjoying today amongst our existing and prospective employees as a rapidly growing successful public company is helping us in this respect.

The second factor is that demand for our target work force slowed [ph] partly due to the slowdown in the establishment of new captives in India, and this has contributed to a less volatile workforce environment.

Appreciation of the Indian rupee, the proliferation of highly qualified, large scale third-party service providers, and the global economic environment has slowed the pace of investments in captives.

In the first quarter of 2008, we had a higher utilization of our physical infrastructure. Based on total production seats of 7450, which is the same as last quarter, our utilization rose to 94% as compared to 88% last quarter. Please note that utilization will decline substantially in the second quarter with the addition of approximately 900 seats in the Philippines.

As we announced on April 8th, we opened our new operation center in the Philippines and commenced operations with a major U.S. insurance provider. Interest appears strong amongst our existing clients for expansion into the Philippines, and there is also significant interest amongst new potential clients. We continue to position our Philippine operation as a domain-centric voice and back office capability, which differentiates us from competition. For the foreseeable future, we have focused on building volume in the Philippines, and remain on tract to reach normal operating capacity by early 2009.

Strengthening our sales and front-end capability remains a key priority. We have been successful in hiring a few experienced professionals in our sales and business development teams, and will endeavor to add further talent in this important function.

As we have discussed before, we continue to evaluate a range of opportunities to enter into other geographies around the world, and further broaden our delivery footprint. We remain actively engaged in exploring strategic acquisition opportunities. While the number of target acquisition opportunities has increased dramatically, the valuation expectations still remain unreasonably high.

Now, let me pass it over to Matt who will provide more detail on our financial performance and updated guidance.

Matt Appel

Thanks, Rohit, and good morning to everyone. Let me first take you through the income statement and provide some detail behind the numbers for the quarter. On an overall basis, the company’s financial performance in the first quarter met our expectations. Revenues for the quarter ended March 31, 2008, increased to $50.9 million, up 27.8% from $39.9 million in the quarter ended March 31, 2007. As compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, revenues for the first quarter of 2008 increased by $0.6 million, or approximately 1%. Unlike the past several quarters where Outsourcing Services were the primary driver of our revenue growth, this quarter our Transformation Services businesses, including Research and Analytics, Risk Advisory, and Six-Sigma based Process Reengineering services led EXL’s revenue growth.

The Transformation Services business grew at a 9.5% sequential growth rate as compared to last quarter, and 30% year over year. More specifically, Research and Analytics revenue of $5.0 million for the first quarter of 2008 reflects growth of 17.3% year over year, and is primarily attributable to the ramp up of several new client engagements with the global financial services customers that we have mentioned in our recent conference calls as well as increased work with existing customers. Advisory services of $4.3 million for the quarter reflects growth of 48.9% year over year, and is a result of a large engagement with a U.S. insurance client as well as new customer relationships.

In the first quarter of 2008, Outsourcing Services, or BPO as we previously referred to this segment, accounted for revenues of $41.7 million, reflecting growth of 27.3% year over year, and a decline of less than 1% on a sequential basis. Revenues for the outsourcing business were negatively impacted by approximately $1 million on a sequential basis, primarily as a result of the 3% depreciation of the British Pound.

Gross margin for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 was 36.5%, compared to 38.6% in the quarter ended March 31, 2007, and 39.3% in the quarter ended December 31, 2007. The decrease in margin from the previous quarter is primarily attributable to the depreciation of the British Pound that I mentioned previously.

Operating margin for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 was 9.9%, compared to 12.4% in the quarter ended March 31, 2007, and 9.9% in the quarter ended December 31, 2007.

SG&A expenses represented 21.3% of revenue in the first quarter, compared to 20.1% in the quarter ended March 31, 2007, and 24.0% in the quarter ended December 31, 2007.

As we indicated in our fourth quarter 2007 call, G&A included a significant amount of one-time items such as professional fees, and the significant sequential decrease confirms this. G&A declined by approximately $1 million on a sequential basis, and now represents a level that we would expect on a recurring basis.

Adjusted operating margin for the quarter, which excludes the impact of stock compensation expense and the amortization of intangibles, was 12.2% for the quarter ended March 31, 2008, compared to 15.9% in the quarter ended March 31, 2007, and 12.8% in the quarter ended December 31, 2007. In the first quarter of 2008, stock compensation expense was approximately $200,000 lower than the first quarter of 2007 due to a change in the assumptions used to compute this charge, including volatility and forfeiture rate.

With approximately one and a half years of experience as a public company, we now have sufficient historical data to better estimate such assumptions as volatility and forfeiture rate.

Our Margin performance this quarter was particularly strong when you consider the fact that we have incurred approximately $700,000 of startup costs related to our new Philippines operation center. This was worth approximately 140 basis points of margin. We expect to amortize our cost in the Philippines as we scale the facility with additional business, and would expect the impact to our margins to be minimal by early 2009

EXL’s net income for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 was $6.8 million, representing an increase of 25.9% as compared to $5.4 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2007. Net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2007 was $9.8 million, and as you may recall, included a significant tax benefit.

Diluted EPS was $0.23 per share this quarter as compared to $0.19 for the quarter ended March 31, 2007, and $0.33 for the quarter ended December 31, 2007.

To summarize the items impacting net income in the quarter ended March 31, 2008, other income and foreign currency gains were lower than in the past few quarter, but our tax rate was lower as well. Other income for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 included interest income of $0.6 million that is generated primarily by the investment of excess cash balances in investment-grade commercial paper, and other similarly low-risk investments. As everyone is aware, yields are way down in the U.S., and thus our interest income has declined by approximately 40% from the $1 million of interest income we generated in the quarter ended March 31, 2007.

In the quarter ended March 31, 2008 we recognized $1.8 million in foreign exchange gains, reflecting the expected runoff of higher rate contracts placed over 12 months ago. In addition, our effective tax rate for the first quarter of 2008 was 8.2%, which was lower than our previous expectation. This is due to lower than expected U.S. sourced income during the quarter, including interest income. Our effective tax rate of 8.2% in the first quarter of 2008 is marginally higher than the rate for all of 2007, which was 7.2%.

Over the last few months, the exchange rate environment has been quite volatile. The pound depreciated 3% in our first quarter, and has depreciated an additional 1.5% to-date in our second quarter. The rupee depreciated 1% in our first quarter, and has depreciated an additional 4% to-date in the second quarter, and stand at approximately 41.6 to the dollar today.

Let me remind everyone on the call how currency movements generally impact our profitability. With pound revenues at just over 50% of total revenues, and rupee cost at just under 70% of total costs, each 1% that the pound depreciates decreases both our gross and operating margins by 50 basis points. Each 1% that the rupee depreciates increases gross margin by 50 basis points, and operating margin by 70 basis points.

And while we will certainly not attempt to forecast exchange rates for the remainder of the year, this extreme volatility makes it understandably difficult to fine tune our estimates of financial results from operations. It also has a corresponding impact on expectations from our active hedge program. In our last call, I indicated that FX gains would fall in the range of $5 million to $6 million. Given the currency movements I just mentioned, these gains currently approximate $2.5 million to $3.5 million. And for us, this is good news as it implies that if exchange rates hold at current levels, the benefit from depreciation of the rupee will add considerably to income from operations.

From a balance sheet perspective, I’d like to comment on our – both our cash and receivables balances at the end of the first quarter. Receivables increased by approximately $8.1 million during the quarter due almost entirely to the timing of payments from a significant customer. This growth does not represent a permanent increase or trend and in fact these amounts were paid during the first week of April.

With respect to cash, please note that during the first quarter, we are required to pay approximately $3 million to the Indian government related to our ongoing tax proceedings. We steadfastly believe that we will prevail in these matters and that this cash as well as amounts totally approximately $4.3 million previously deposited will be returned to us with interest. In addition, we pay our annual bonuses during the first quarter, we made significant capital expenditures generally, and more specifically for the Philippines operations center, which resulted in a net reduction, taken all together at $16.5 million in cash for the quarter, quarter over quarter. We expect our cash balances to return to more normalized levels over the course of the year.

EXL used $8 million of cash in operations for the first quarter compared to a usage of $8.3 million in the quarter ended March, 31, 2007. Our capital expenditures for the quarter ended March 31, 2008 were approximately $6.8 million, with a significant portion of those capital expenditures related to the Philippines operations center. We continue to expect that capital expenditure for the year will approximate $20 million, with approximately half of that amount related to the Philippines

I’d like to conclude by providing an update on our guidance for calendar year 2008. Our guidance is based on exchange rates for the rupee, Pound Sterling, and Philippines peso that approximate current prevailing rates. We are maintaining our revenue guidance of between $205 million and $210 million; adjusted operating margin guidance, which excludes the impact of stock-based compensation expense and amortization of intangibles, at 12% of revenue; and diluted earnings per share guidance of between $0.80 and $0.85 per share.

For the second quarter of 2008, we are expecting that annual increments granted to our workforce as well as the opening of our Philippines operations center will create a slight headwind to margins. The second quarter impact of increments on margins is consistent with our historical experience.

So, in closing, I’d like to say that we remain enthusiastic about our business, and that we strongly believe that our company is positioned to capitalize on market opportunities in what is an otherwise difficult economic environment for some of our clients.

Now, I’d like to open the floor for any questions that you may have.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you, sir. (Operator instructions) And your first question comes from David Grossman from Thomas Weisel Partners. Please proceed.

David Grossman – Thomas Weisel Partners

Thank you and good morning. First, on Aviva, could you perhaps just elaborate a little bit more on where you saw the sequential decline in revenue, what type of business, and kind of the character of that business? And if you could, just help us understand what impact it had sequentially in terms of quantifying how much that business maybe – would have – was down in the March quarter versus the December quarter.

Vikram Talwar

Hi, David, this is Vic here. Let me take that. There has been a marginal reduction in the Aviva revenue as you know. And the reason primarily for that is two-fold, one is the pound depreciation, which Matt alluded to, which is a fairly portion of that. The second is, as you know, this is a cost plus contract, and being a cost plus contract, you always have certain amount of expenses related to non-production issues, and those are sometimes relatively volatile. There has been no real decline as such in any other business related issues, particularly FTEs. With regard to – I didn’t quite get your last part of your question, so maybe you could repeat that for me?

David Grossman – Thomas Weisel Partners

Well, I guess, two things. One, if you could maybe just clarify what non-production items are, and then secondly, I was just hoping you can help us quantify what the impact was sequentially, in other words, how much was the revenue down?

Vikram Talwar

Okay. The revenue was down roughly about $1.2 million, primarily like I said if you put the exchange element to it that’s a fairly large portion of that. The balance is – when I say non-production oriented, there are all kinds of expenses that go through, sometimes, through our books on account of Aviva’s own operations here on a reimbursable basis. And when – and those are fairly volatile in there. And they are not a very large amount. But they do have an impact when you look at the total number, particularly because we have said that there has been a decline of about $1 million. There has, and I’ve mentioned, been no decline as a result of the billable FTEs, so that’s the critical element. Bear in mind, this is a mature, large mature relationship. They are going through a reassessment of their entire operations in India, and the off-shoring operations, and as a result, there has been no real growth in this relationship, and even minor adjustments sometimes do get reflected in additions and subtractions that are not necessarily business related.

David Grossman – Thomas Weisel Partners

So, foreign currency aside, and the new BOT aside, would we expect then revenue to be flat sequentially with Aviva?

Vikram Talwar

Like I said, I mean, we are not sure when they will execute their BOT, what impact it will have on the overall relationship, but everything else being the same we don’t really expect any change.

David Grossman – Thomas Weisel Partners

Okay. And then, I know that you made a comment about utilization. I think Rohit you made that comment. Could you perhaps help us better understand how you are calculating your utilization rates and was that in fact a margin tailwind for you in the quarter offset by currency and all these other things or did it not have a material impact on the margins sequentially?

Rohit Kapoor

Sure, David. So, the way in which we have looked at the utilization of the production facilities is basically to see the total amount of seats that we are using for production purposes and taking that as a percentage over our total capacity that is available. So, at 94% we are getting pretty close to a full and complete utilization of our infrastructure in India. In the second quarter, as we add on the 900 seats in the Philippines, that will take down our overall utilization. However, there will be excess capacity in the Philippines, and we will be getting quite close to the full use of our physical infrastructure in India.

In terms of this helping us out from a margins standpoint, yes, clearly there hasn’t been any incremental investment that the company has made in infrastructure in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of last year. However, there is a normal increment in terms of the lease rentals that we experience and those do impact us negatively. So, on balance, there may be a slight tailwind that we would have picked up on account of a better utilization of infrastructure.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your next question comes from Ashwin Shirvaikar from Citigroup. Please proceed.

Ashwin Shirvaikar – Citigroup

The question I have, I guess the first question I have is looking for an update on your hedges. How far out are you going out now? What’s the duration, rate? And does that strategy change now that the rupee is actually depreciating in the last couple of months or so?

Matt Appel

Thanks, Ashwin. This is Matt, I will take that. So, we generally hedge out as long as 24 months, and with the depreciation in the rupee we have been aggressively hedging for the last 30 or 40 days to take advantage. And we are hedged into the first quarter, at this point, into the first quarter of 2010. But as of the end of the quarter that we are reporting on here, we would have been looking only at the end of 2009. But depending on the prevailing rates, we will go out as far as 24 months, at the moment.

Ashwin Shirvaikar – Citigroup

Okay. And the question on – I think Rohit you had mentioned that there is a pretty big pipeline of deals. I did not know whether you meant acquisitions or contracts. And so could you comment on the pipeline for both?

Rohit Kapoor

Certainly, Ashwin. Our pipeline for new customers remains robust and strong, and it continues to build up, so the opportunities for us to engage with potential new clients is very healthy, particularly from clients within the insurance industry vertical, which seems to be – continues to remain very, very active, and very focused in terms of outsourcing. The pipeline for acquisitions also remains very active and we are seeing an increasing number of transactions that are being brought to us either by bankers or on a private basis. However, the valuations expectations of target companies continues to remain high and we have not seen those valuations expectations come down as the marketplace conditions have changed. And as a company, we will remain very focused in terms of being very careful in terms of the types of acquisitions that we make, and make sure that these are strategic and these are attractive acquisitions for the company in the long term.

Ashwin Shirvaikar – Citigroup

Okay. And my third question is really on margins that I should expect in the second quarter. Clearly, we have the impact from the Philippines and then impact from higher pay in India. Can you help us quantify what that impact is? Is it going to be similar to maybe last year’s 1Q to 2Q impact or I would imagine much more muted given your bigger and high utilization in India.

Matt Appel

Ashwin, while it’s with a difficulty of forecasting what the foreign exchange rates will be for the rest of the quarter, I think the impact on – in terms of increments will be slightly lower than we experienced last year and the Philippines we have spoke out. But if you will recall, the second quarter of last year was the quarter in which the rupee declined something like 7% – or appreciated 7%, and so our margins in that quarter were equally impacted by that. In this case we have the rupee depreciating, and so should it maintain that level that will offset some of the impact to the increments in the Philippines. But I think that’s the best way to really characterize it and to put a number around it right now would be premature given the exchange rate environment.

Operator

And your next question comes from Joseph Vafi from Jefferies & Co. Please proceed, sir.

Joseph Vafi – Jefferies & Co.

Gentlemen and good evening. I was wondering we could discuss a little bit the pipeline again, and the conversion to revenue. We are seeing some slowdown, obviously, in the IT players here, the offshore IT players in their quarterly results, in their outlooks for Q2. And I was trying to get a feel for if – internal things going on at the clients is changing at all the conversion rates and timing from the pipeline.

Vikram Talwar

Hi, Joe, this is Vic here. Let me take that. As Rohit mentioned, our pipeline as far as potential clients are concerned remains extremely robust. However, as you know, the sales cycle in these – in this business is long. While we haven’t seen any increase in the sales cycle, there is certainly a great deal of interest that we have seen emanate as the economy tends to slow down. When that will translate into actual business based on the extended sales cycle is unfortunately anyone’s guess. But there certainly is a remarkable degree of interest, both in our new clients as well as existing ones. So, while I don’t have a number to give you of the number of people in the pipeline, it certainly is robust, and there’s certainly is a lot more interest than we have seen in the previous periods.

Rohit Kapoor

And, Joe, I will just add to that. The increase in volume of business that we are seeing in the transformation lines of business seems to be an early indicator of the kind of interest that there is amongst our clients organizations for cost reduction programs, and then therefore we would expect that while they engage with us initially in terms of select transformation projects to help them in their cost reduction, that ultimately that would also flow into the outsourcing opportunity [ph] with those same clients.

Vikram Talwar

In fact, I am sorry, I want to interrupt one more time here. In fact, the trend we are now seeing is that a large number of potential clients are actually asking us to do a lot of transformations with regard to their processes onshore in terms of readdressing the processes as they function on the onshore locations in the anticipations that they will possibly outsource those or offshore those in the years to come or months to come depending on the urgency of the situation. But this whole area of looking at processes and asking for our help in helping to transform these is certainly an area that we are very excited about because what it does is it establishes a great deal of a relationship at levels that we would not have seen in earlier days before we had the transformation capability. It also establishes an early relationship and eliminates some of the pain as we go through the offshoring process. So, that’s something that we are truly excited about and it’s a change in our ability to meet that demand is actually an exciting thing for us.

Joseph Vafi – Jefferies & Co.

It was helpful. And then I know you talked a little bit here on Aviva. I know you gave some color here on your top three clients and if we kind of maybe a little bit of a color on the outlook for the other two of your top three clients if we – in terms of volumes and if we kind of put the FX aside for a second that would be helpful as well.

Vikram Talwar

Our top client now, as Rohit mentioned, is actually British Gas. And our relationship with British Gas continues to grow. We had unprecedented growth last year, and that relationship has now matured, and we anticipate that that will remain where it is without too much growth in the months to come, primarily as we consolidate and also due to the size of that relationship.

The other top client, of course, is IndyMac, but as you know, in that particular situation they have declined, to some extent – their volumes have come down, and so the business there while it remains still an important part of our relationship and it still constitutes a fair amount of our business, we don’t anticipate any major declines at this point in time that we are aware of provided of course there are no unusual surprises that may come about.

The other two relationships that we do have, which are growing quite rapidly for us are the relationship that we established with Orange last year, and that relationship continues to grow and we anticipate further growth in that during the course of this year.

Our relationship with our major insurance companies will continue to remain extremely robust, in our opinion, which is what I meant – I think Rohit mentioned a little bit earlier in his comments.

Joseph Vafi – Jefferies & Co.

Alright. Thank you very much.

Operator

And your next question comes from Tim Long from Robert Baird. Please proceed.

Tim Long – Robert Baird

Hi guys, congratulations on the promotions. I just had a couple of quick modeling questions. So, in terms seasonality with Q1, little weaker than we thought given mostly the British Pound depreciation, but can we start to see re-accelerate sequential growth throughout the year into Q3, Q4 and so forth?

Rohit Kapoor

Right, this is Rohit. Just to address that issue of the (inaudible) growth, clearly we are seeing fair amount of growth from our existing customer relationships outside of British Gas and Aviva. And that’s actually very healthy because we are seeing that some of our customer relationships that we took on last year and the previous year are now becoming very sizable and material accounts, contributing revenues in excess of $5 million and $10 million, respectively. We would expect that our revenue growth from these businesses would continue to scale up and (inaudible). However, the one big uncertainly which we have always spoken about is the uncertainty associated with the exercise of the BOT option by Aviva for our Pune operations. And, therefore, when you factor that in for the enterprise, it’s very difficult to be able to predict at to which quarter exactly would the sequential growth really kick in because that particular option can get exercised at any point of time with 30 days notice. So, that’s the primary reason why we are somewhat circumspect about giving guidance on sequential growth of revenue on an enterprise-wide basis.

Tim Long – Robert Baird

Okay, that’s helpful, thanks. And then, Matt, could you give us gross margins by segment?

Matt Appel

Yes, I can. So, for the quarter, the gross margin on an overall basis, of course, was 36.5% as I have already indicated. For BPO, it was 36.7%, Advisory was 39.6%, and our Research and Analytics business was 31.5%.

Tim Long – Robert Baird

Okay, that’s helpful. Thanks guys.

Matt Appel

You are welcome.

Operator

And your next question comes from Joseph Foresi from Janney Montgomery Scott. Please proceed.

Joseph Foresi – Janney Montgomery Scott

Hi guys. Just first question here on the demand environment. We have heard some of your competitors talk about deals going cold and I was wondering if you could comment on that. I know that you said that you have seen a pickup in hits? Have you seen any deals go cold, or any skittishness [ph] on the part of any of your clients?

Vikram Talwar

Hi, this is Vic here again. We haven’t really seen any deals truly go cold at this point in time. Like I said earlier, the cycle is what it is, but specifically to your point whether something has gone cold and disappeared, the answer is no.

Joseph Foresi – Janney Montgomery Scott

Okay. And just I guess moving onto the June quarter, as we are looking at it right now, it looks like depreciation of the British Pound will have a negative effect, but you are getting some incremental revenues from Aviva that wasn’t included in the guidance. Is the expectation there that those two sort of net out? And how should we look at that situation if the Aviva contracts should go away?

Matt Appel

Well, it’s not clear that we’ll have that Aviva revenue for the entire quarter at this juncture, but should we and should exchange rates, should the pound rate hold where it is, they will probably come very close to offsetting. But again I think on May 7th it’s really difficult to say what the exchange rates will be in such a dynamic environment (inaudible) over the last five or six weeks against the dollar.

Joseph Foresi – Janney Montgomery Scott

Okay. And then just further on I guess staying with Aviva, I know you have kind of talked about that relationship being stable and not growing. Should we –I mean – has that been stable to being flat for a while and how should we look at that in relations to the present relationship? In other words, are they perhaps being non-committal by giving you more revenue until they make up their mind on what exactly they are going to do on the BOT side?

Vikram Talwar

Yeah, this is Vic again. The Aviva relationship has been stable for quite sometime now. We have not seen any major growth in their BPO initiatives offshore for several months now primarily because of their total reevaluation of what they want to do and with whom they want to do that. So, the net result of that is – it’s being stagnant and we don’t anticipate anything, as I mentioned earlier, to occur until there is a resolution of their overall strategy and what they wish to do with either the BOT or any other structure they may wish to consider.

Operator

And your next question comes from Julio Quinteros from Goldman Sachs. Please proceed, sir.

Julio Quinteros – Goldman Sachs

Great, hey guys. Just wanted to go back real quickly to the – and I apologize as I missed a little bit of the first part of the call here. On the BPO trajectory, quarter to quarter, it sounds like part of the March BPO revenues was related to currency. Can you just walk back through that and then again it sounds like there was some strength in the Transformation Services side. If you can just give me the break-out there in terms of what drove the flatness in the BPO and then the strength on the Transformation Services side?

Matt Appel

Sure, Julio, this is Matt. So, we’ve – we’ve been really focused on our Transformation Services business for sometime and this is really a nice result with 9.5% sequential growth rate. Not really attributable to any one specific client that would be in the group that we normally mention by name, but attributable to the ramp up a number of new engagements in the financial services sector we have talked about before that were, we believe, were coming on stream, as well as some additional work with existing customers. We have also done – then you had to do quite well on the Advisory services side where we have had almost – we have almost 50% on a year-over-year basis. And on the BPO side, the revenues were, in fact, flat. And that is predominantly due to the pound and the other things that you have been hearing on the Q&A here. 53%-54% of our revenues are denominated in GDP and so a 3% depreciation will take a good 1.5% off the top line at 50%.

Julio Quinteros – Goldman Sachs

Okay, got it. And then I guess either Rohit or Vikram, just looking at the margin trajectories, the gross margin, year-over-year comparisons, and the operating margins, it looks like you guys have really nice job on the margin side Just trying to understand, as you kind of go forward, sort of taking out the Philippines ramp and some of the normal seasonality in Margins, where are the – your best opportunities for leverage to continue driving margin and scale in this business as we kind of go forward?

Rohit Kapoor

Sure, Julio. This is Rohit, and I will take that. The biggest opportunities for us to be able to drive margins up is primarily going to be led by a couple of factors. Number one is the opportunities that we have in the transformation lines of business. Out there, we still are not at our targeted rate of gross margin and operating margin. There we are building up size, scale, and we are building up a diversification of our customer base and our capabilities, and we think that we will be able to improve our margins in the transformation line of business more effectively as we scale up the business.

The second is in our ability to be able to drive a greater amount of efficiency in our Outsourcing Services and also have a better alignment of pricing of customer contracts with our cost base. And over the last few quarters, we have been working with our clients to be able to align the pricing mechanisms along with the risk-sharing on an equal basis between the company and the client so that we can be able to deliver stable gross margins and operating margins. And as we implement and effect that change over the next couple of quarters, we will be able to drive additional margin for our business.

The third clearly is our ability to couple and integrate Transformation and Outsourcing, and we have been working very hard in terms of being able to provide our clients with an integrated service offering. And as we gain acceptance amongst our customer base of being able to provide an integrated service offering, we will be able to add additional value to our customer relationships as well as be able to make a higher margin.

So those would be the primary levers for the gross margin. And then from an operating margin perspective, right now we are so focused in term of making investments in the front end and we are not looking at gaining any real leverage in terms of our SG&A expenses. As we expand our size and scale, that’ one area where we do believe we will be able to get some financial leverage in our operating income and be able to improve margins thereafter.

Operator

And your next question comes from Matt McCormack from FBR. Please proceed, sir.

Matt McCormack – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Hi, good morning. In terms of the margin pressure you are talking about, in terms of the Philippines ramp up. Has there been any change in expectations since you first put that plan in place?

Rohit Kapoor

Yeah, Matt, I’ll take that, this is Rohit. Clearly at the time when we decided to make an investment in the Philippines, the Philippine peso has moved and it has appreciated against the U.S. dollar and therefore our investment into the Philippines in terms of building out the infrastructure has increased. At the same time, the pricing that has [ph] been customers for Philippine operations has also increased. And the one thing which we are being careful of with our Philippine operation is we are being very careful in terms of the type of customer contracts and the type of pricing arrangements that we enter into with clients that get service out of the Philippines service location as well as the kind of business that we are going to take up in the Philippines is quite different from what some of the other call center based companies might be thinking of doing in the Philippines. And therefore, from our perspective, both these factors are some things which we are very, very sharply focused on right from inception.

Matt McCormack – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Okay. 900 seats coming online, can you talk about the actual headcount ramp, the timing of that over the next few quarters and with that large insurance provider, your anchor client, are they – are you able to charge them for training or not?

Rohit Kapoor

Sure. First and foremost, the pipeline of prospects and clients we have for the Philippine operations are largely existing clients. And so we have a number of our existing customer relationships that want to utilize the skill sets and the capabilities of the Philippine location and they are partnering with us in terms of moving work to the Philippines. Clearly, in terms of the ramp up of this particular center, as we have stated before, we expect to get to normal operating volumes sometime by early 2009 and therefore this is going to be a drag on our earnings over the next couple of quarters.

In terms of pricing for this business, we are able to price these competitively and do it in structures that we are used to doing in India where we typically will charge for process training and we will share some of these startup costs with our customers and we typically do have those types of (inaudible) contractual arrangements with all of our clients.

Matt McCormack – Friedman, Billings, Ramsey

Okay. And then just my last question, I mean you have a significant amount of cash, which are not earning much of a return on, and in terms of Aviva, why wouldn’t you deploy that cash and just buy that facility back from them?

Rohit Kapoor

It is true that we have got a fair amount of cash and I think what that cash does for us is that it gives us a great amount of strategic flexibility and we absolutely will deploy that cash at the opportune time for the right kind of an opportunity . Aviva is certainly one of the opportunities that’s there, but there are other opportunities as well that the company is exploring, and we will make the best use of that capital and we do think that that’s a strategy benefit that the company enjoys vis-à-vis its peer group.

Operator

And your next question comes from Cynthia Houlton from RBC Capital Markets. Please proceed, ma’am.

Cynthia Houlton – RBC Capital Markets

Hi, could you give some commentary on the visibility of – looking at both your Risk Advisory and Research and Analytics, obviously, those tend to be a little bit more discretionary in nature. So, maybe if you could just talk about kind of visibility, client conversations in terms of the revenue streams for the rest of ’08 in those two segments?

Rohit Kapoor

Certainly, Cynthia, this is Rohit. Clearly, in terms of growing our business within Research and Analytics and Risk Advisory services, growth is coming in from existing clients as well as from new clients, and therefore we are being able to diversify our customer base as well as grow and deepen our relationships with our existing clients. The strategy that we have been adopting for the past few quarters is to try and move a portion of the work offshore and run the work in a dual shore environment as well as run it in an integrated environment with our Outsourcing Services. And we find that that strategy is gaining traction and we are being able to implement and execute on that. We are also getting to some – with some customer relationships to a stage where there is some permanency to the work that we do for them and the work out there is being structured as annuity contracts with a greater level of visibility and a greater level of repeatability and we layer on top of that some of the project-based work that we do for these clients. So, this business for us is becoming an extremely valuable and a very successful business line for us.

Operator

And your next question comes from Tien-Tsin Huang from JP Morgan. Please proceed.

Tien-Tsin Huang – JP Morgan

Hi thanks. I think you talked a little bit about pricing, but I wanted to ask again, have you seen any changes here, have you changed the outlook around pricing?

Rohit Kapoor

On the pricing, we are seeing that there is a greater acceptance by clients to be able to share some of the risk associated with wage inflation as well as currency movements. At the same time, we are seeing certain Tier 2 providers, and even some large providers lower their pricing and try and build volume as they struggle to get growth in their businesses. So, frankly, it’s really some of the Blue Chip Tier 1 player that we compete with maintaining stable pricing and clients accepting a model where they will be willing to share the risk with us, and at the same time there are constant undercutting of pricing, which takes place by Tier 2 providers as well as other provider that are unable to get volume growth and providers which are unable to achieve their strategic objectives.

Tien-Tsin Huang – JP Morgan

Okay. Good to know. Any change in your win rate as a result of this?

Rohit Kapoor

Our win rate, again, it’s based on transaction history which is of a limited number of transactions. Each year typically we add three to five strategic customer relationships in the outsourcing business and therefore the number of deals and the volume of deals is generally low. We haven’t seen anything noticeable as a big trend out there, which has shifted the win rate either way. And we think that our positioning in the marketplace continues to help us. Our experience with existing clients and the kind of referencability [ph] that we have from them continues to help us as well as the high levels of customer satisfaction that we have with our existing clients. So, no real change there.

Tien-Tsin Huang – JP Morgan

Okay, great, and congrats on all the title changes.

Rohit Kapoor

Thank you.

Operator

And your last question comes from Vincent Colicchio from Noble Financial Group. Please proceed, sir.

Vincent Colicchio – Noble Financial Group

Hi, apologies if I missed this one, but what – the top five and top ten, what percentage of revenue where they in the quarter?

Matt Appel

Sure. The top five in the quarter were 67%, top 10 81%, and just to round it off, the top three were 58% – excuse me – I am giving you slightly wrong numbers. The top three were 52%, the top five were 64%, and the top 10 were 80%.

Vincent Colicchio – Noble Financial Group

Thanks. Any update on what your plans in Eastern Europe?

Rohit Kapoor

On Eastern Europe, we continue to explore opportunities for expanding there. We are looking at different types of strategic options and we haven’t had any definitive transaction or an investment decision that we have taken there. It continues to remain a high priority for us and it’s merely a question of being able to balance out the investment that the company needs to make given the fact that we’ve already made a very significant investment in the Philippines right now.

Vincent Colicchio – Noble Financial Group

So, do you expect something to happen this year or is it more of an ’09 event?

Rohit Kapoor

It is something which – certainly the desire of the company is to try and do something this year. However, it’s also based upon certain opportunistic situations and it really depends on the opportunities and transactions that we might be able to conclude to gain us an entry into Easter Europe.

Vincent Colicchio – Noble Financial Group

Okay. And my other questions were answered. Thank you.

Vikram Talwar

Once again, guys, thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to speaking with you again next quarter and with this I’d like to put a close to this earnings call. Thank you very much.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes your conference. You may now disconnect. Good day.

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