Equifax Earnings Call NUGGETS: Leverage From USCIS, Increased Investment Spending

On Thursday, Equifax, Inc. (NYSE:EFX) reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Leverage From USCIS

George Mihalos – Credit Suisse: Was hoping you guys could break out for us what the overall contribution revenue was from mortgage and how much of the 14% growth specifically came from that?

A Closer Look: Equifax Inc Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: Remember, the long-term in range we’ve had for mortgage has been somewhere between say, 14% and 20%. We’re in that range. It’s somewhere over 19% for the quarter and of the total growth, over 6% of it comes from mortgage.

George Mihalos – Credit Suisse: Then, can you guys talk a little bit about the operating leverage that we saw in USCIS? I think, sequentially your operating margins there were up something like 180 basis points and you had a big contribution from mortgage which should be…

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: George, well, let me address that. Let me go back to one point. I think it’s important for those on the phone to really understand. There is no doubt that the mortgage refinancing market is a benefit to us. What is important to understand though, is not just the market environment itself. You’ve seen this story from us for a number of years. We’re out there developing a lot of new products in the mortgage marketplace, we had never had before. Dann Adams with the TALX team at Workforce Solutions is taking his team and penetrating new mortgage customers that we’ve never sold to before, gaining more share of new customers where we had lower penetration in the past. So it’s not just the market itself, its things we’re doing to become a bigger and better player in the mortgage market. So, it’s a combination of market and us, important that everyone understands that. Lee, you may want to address the leverage from USCIS?

Lee Adrean – Corporate VP and CFO: Yeah George, in USCIS mortgage products. There’s really two classes of products. One is, we do sell credit reports through resellers to other providers who provide tri-merge reports. So when we get mortgage activity in that part of tri-merge. We also have the tri-merge reporting in our Settlement Services where we have third-party expenses in our cost structure, those are relative to our average lower margin. The average of those two runs about 50% incremental margins on mortgage. So, one of the reasons you’re seeing good leverage even though a portion of our growth is mortgage driven, is we do get a slight pickup relative to our average margin, when we’re growing in mortgage. Obviously the pickup is stronger when it comes in some of our other pure information offering.

George Mihalos – Credit Suisse: Okay, got you. Just last question for me Lee, may be you can talk a little bit the corporate expense line was higher than what I was looking for at least. How should we think about that expense line over the back half of the year?

Lee Adrean – Corporate VP and CFO: I think what you’ve seen is that our corporate expenses are up, they were actually up quite a bit in the first quarter and some of that was a timing consideration. We’re up about $7 million year-over-year in the second quarter. Some of the same factors are going to play through the rest of the year. I think if you think of it as being up $5 million to $7 million a quarter over prior year, you’re going to be in the right range.

Increased Investment Spending

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: So I was just trying to back in, you said mortgage was 6% I think acquisitions were around 2% contributors and then we had a constant ex-Brazil revenue number of 15%. So that would imply if you back all that out you’re running around 7% non-mortgage constant organic number (if I saw) that right?

Lee Adrean – Corporate VP and CFO: Dan if I refined it just slightly it’s probably about equally 6.5% mortgage, 6.5% core and 2% acquisition but yeah, you’re in a ballpark.

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: So if I look at that 6.5% I think last quarter you were running at 9% prior to that was 8%, prior to that was 7%, prior to that 6% prior to that was 4%. So, this is coming the first quarter where we’ve seen this broken uptrend that you guys have had and I’m just wondering what you would call out as the cause for that?

Lee Adrean – Corporate VP and CFO: Well, one thing we’ve talked about in prior quarters is one of the drivers of our year-over-year growth were some pricing and operating steps we took in the second quarter last year and that were greater than the typical – I mean we’re always pursuing those kind of opportunities but these were a couple of things that were greater than the usual scale and that we would be anniversarying those largely in the second quarter and that is probably the biggest single impact…

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: But, Dan I think it’s also important to put it into the context what we’ve given which is our long-term models at the core, non-mortgage organic growth to be between 6% and 8%. We get our fluctuations quarter-to-quarter, I see no alarming trends anywhere, at 6.5% that’s clearly in the range we had expected and I think you’ll continue to expect to see that range going forward between 6% and 8% for the balance this year and next.

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: That’s a good number. I just want a little more clarity on the SG&A number, I know you talked about I guess sales commissions to be in up, but it was definitely a much higher number than I had anticipated, what else is driving that in the current quarter, and is that an elevated level that we need to be thinking about for the remainder of the year?

Lee Adrean – Corporate VP and CFO: Yeah. We have stepped up our investment spending in a number of corporate initiatives particularly, infrastructure investments. We have just recently done a worldwide conversion in our (HVR) information system, to one common system. We are in the process of investing in upgraded billing and financial reporting systems and are continuing to make some investments in reducing the overall risk profile through some IT investments to strengthen our overall infrastructure, so…

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: Dan these are consistent investments we’ve been making and talking about now for few quarters. It’s always important to put this in a context to these are not massive enterprise-wide better business kind of investments they are very targeted projects will make us a better more efficient business going forward.

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: Then just two quick ones. We have been hearing recently a little bit that some of the auto finance guys were moving downstream into subprime, I know that’s very good typically for kind of the velocity of applications that you guys get pulled. Is that something that you’re seeing, would you call that out, or is that kind of one-off on some of the people we’re talking about?

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: We’re seeing it, auto is strong for us across the board and going down market is a part of that contributor.

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: Then just lastly Rick, could you just comment on the congressional letters that were in The New York Times, they were all talking about it – your thoughts about what they’re asking for?

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: Yeah, it was old news. I love reading, so many times, so many different periodicals. It emanated, I’m thinking maybe a month ago, on the, it was called The Columbus Dispatch, where it was first written and what you see now is a number of different newspapers (regorging) the same the same story. It’s nothing new.

Daniel Perlin – RBC Capital Markets: Okay, so this wasn’t incremental? I got it.

Richard F. Smith – Chairman and CEO: Yes.