Broadridge Financial Solutions Earnings Call Insights: Unit Pricing Trends and Accenture

Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Unit Pricing Trends

Rayna Kumar – Evercore Partners: This is (Rayna Kumar) for David Togut. Could you please discuss the unit pricing trends in both your Investor Communications business and trade processing businesses in the fourth quarter?

Dan Sheldon – Corporate VP and CFO: This is Dan. So Rayna, when you’re talking about the pricing, are you talking about price increases, concessions, what exactly?

Rayna Kumar – Evercore Partners: Overall price increases.

Dan Sheldon – Corporate VP and CFO: Yeah, okay. So overall – by the way, in the Investor Communications business, you should be thinking that there has really never been a significant amount of pressure on pricing there because in that business, with all the new products and everything else that we’ve offered, we’ve never been forced to be in that position, and we’ve been well beyond it now, any kind of real pricing pressure inside the SPS business, where we’ve also gone out there and looked at our products sets and said, how should we be thinking about pricing going forward in a positive sense?, but there’s no real impact to our fourth quarter from any of the pricing.

Richard J. Daly – CEO: Rayna, this is Rich. I would add one other thing here. When you think about what I said in the call here, remember, the majority of revenue in SPS is not tied to the trading volumes. As we look at core services and pricing of certain core services going forward, we’re looking to be certain that the value we provide is not just tied to a transaction but that the value we provide is recognized. A good example would be regulatory change. We’ve looked at the course of the regulatory change, which in prior years where our trade volumes always went up, it was easy to absorb. Going forward, regulatory change will be looked at separately and outside of the unit cost per trade…

Rayna Kumar – Evercore Partners: Also, if you can just discuss your outlook for stock record growth for FY ’14 and FY ’15, that would be really helpful.

Richard J. Daly – CEO: Well, as you heard me say, we had a 2% increase last year, which we do feel good about. It does show that some momentum is starting to return. We are not planning on transaction growth, whether it’d be trade or stock record, as we build our model in any material way. We’re planning on new product, whether it be built or acquired. We’re planning on new services like the Eurasia activities with Accenture and Fluent to drive revenue growth as we go forward, which as I said in the call, only provides us upside if historical momentum returns to the markets.

Dan Sheldon – Corporate VP and CFO: Yes. And by the way, let me just add one other thing. If you do look at the key stats pages here, you will still see in the SPS business a little bit of degradation from what we’re calling an internal growth. But remember, we are still feeling the impact of getting out of the Penson and getting them to the APEX deal and that does carry through to Q1 next year, but then as I mentioned before, Rich said it very clearly, which is we are looking at how we price our products and we shouldn’t have those kind of threats going forward.

 

Accenture

Niamh Alexander – KBW: I wanted to ask about the Accenture deal. You mentioned in your prepared remarks this is the first transaction, and can you give me a sense of maybe where you are in the dialogue with potential other customers in the SPS segment? I mean, is it kind of past the first pitch as it were? And help me think about the length of time maybe it gets from working with Accenture on a pitch or just once you get the customer signed up even to kind of delivery because it looks like these are nice, sizable – it’s a nice, sizeable deal and it’s maybe something that you could lever to other companies, so I’m trying to get a sense of how real the other opportunities are and the timing…

Richard J. Daly – CEO: This is Rich. There are three takeaways I’d like you to have on the alliance we have with Accenture. First is brand. With Accenture now using their resources and their reach to discuss this with the top Eurasia institutions, the Broadridge brand is dramatically being better recognized and our skill set on our capabilities is becoming standard in C-suite dialogue. So we are very, very excited by that. Two, tied directly to that is if you look at our market coverage capabilities at Broadridge, we feel very good about North America. We’ve always been challenged outside of North America, covering the geography with fairly limited resources. I would argue now that our, best market coverage, because of this alliance with Accenture, is the Eurasia market just because of the number of resources they have that cover every institution on a regular basis. Specifically now going with that is the background on brand and coverage to your question. Accenture has initially targeted, to our understanding, the 50 top financial institutions in Europe and Asia, because of the partners that cover those 50 institutions, they’re naturally talking to a number higher than those 50. In their initial dialogue, there’s been over a 50% request for a follow-up dialogue with the institutions they’ve met with, so we are very, very excited about the momentum, and that’s why even on the ones that we’ve added now to our pipeline, it’s given us a dramatic increase in terms of what we anticipate will be the success of this. Let me be very clear though, whether it’d be Broadridge or Accenture, neither of us went into this to do one or two transactions. It’s not over until it’s over, but we believe there’s a clear market need. We believe we’re uniquely positioned together to provide the best proven solution, emphasis on the word proven. There’s lots of people talking about theoretical solutions. This is out there, and it really works. So, we will keep you posted, but as of this point, we are extraordinarily excited about the potential of this alliance and what it will mean to our SPS segment.

Niamh Alexander – KBW: Just help me understand a little bit better the timing, because you just find it – should we think about maybe this thing coming off the pipeline into the revenue in, like, fiscal ’15, because I’m sure it’s a lot of work. I mean, the Bloomberg project was quite a lot of work, and took a while to get off the pipeline and…?

Richard J. Daly – CEO: I’m so pleased you asked the question as well, because even the way we broke out our sales, there’s a clear recognition that the smaller transactions, which convert to revenue on a more timely basis are still critical to us, because we’re not relying, for example, on the Accenture alliance generating revenue of any material nature in ’14 or ’15, okay? As time goes on, though, I would hope that we’re going to have a meaningful backlog of larger transactions that every year, you’ll be able to predict when they flow in as we continue to close these transactions and as we get through the various stages of conversions. As of this point in time, okay, you shouldn’t anticipate any meaningful revenue from this alliance again in ’14 or ’15. I’d like to think going forward beyond that, we’re going to see a nice uptick.

Niamh Alexander – KBW: And Dan if I could, just on the financial a little bit. I mean, we’re reading that the share count guidance isn’t changing. And you did some pretty active share repurchases last year. Why no change in share count guidance there? Is it — I expect you’ll be opportunistic, but is it that deal activity has picked up a little bit. You just closed something. Seller expectations are maybe coming closer in line. And then secondarily on the dash, and forgive me, I might have missed it, but did you already kind of term out the debt? I know you have some very inexpensive short-term debt, but with spreads and things changing, you had been guiding to kind of expecting to kind of term out that debt and that it could be more expensive…

Dan Sheldon – Corporate VP and CFO: Well, let’s take the shares first. On the shares buyback, okay, I think you can look at the balance sheet and you can obviously see that from 1.25, we’re down to 1.19. And then, of course, right now, we don’t show anything in our numbers except for what we’ve already done that continues through to next year, which still lowered the share count. But we haven’t given any guidance of further repurchases. On the piece on the debt, the debt was all renegotiated a year or so back. What we did say and we continue to say is that, and you look at the numbers we gave for guidance, is that we obviously said, too, that we would look to get more permanent or fixed versus the variable we have today. So that is still in our plan, and you’ll see that $10 million to $12 million of increased interest expense for next year.

Niamh Alexander – KBW: That’s build into the guidance already, Dan, right.

Dan Sheldon – Corporate VP and CFO: Yes it is, and you’ll see that in line.

Niamh Alexander – KBW: Then just back I guess onto the deals question. You just closed one. Help me understand how are you feeling about discussions with kind of tuck in acquisitions, because the cash generation is so strong. The dividend is kind of 40% with all this cash you’re earning. So help me understand where you are in the conversations versus last year and seller expectations, things like that.

Richard J. Daly – CEO: This is Rich again. It’s really going to be a repeat of our philosophy from the past. We believe that transactions that fit well within our space for the right price with the right owner. We will not go outside of what we believe is our DNA, and we will not overpay just for the sake of getting a transaction done. Given how confident we are now in both segments our willingness and desire to expand the capabilities of both segments is as high as it’s ever been. So I would be disappointed if we were not more successful with tuck-ins over this next fiscal year, including — because we do have such strong cash flow capabilities, generation capabilities. With all that said, I think we consistently prove to people we don’t do deals for the sake of doing deals. We don’t do deals because we didn’t do a deal this year or we did a lot of deals that year. We do transactions because we believe that it will add to shareholder value and we’re confident that we’re the right owner of it.

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