Liberty Interactive Exec Insights: Trip and Expedia Share Sales, QVC

On Tuesday, Liberty Interactive Corp (NASDAQ:LINTA) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Trip and Expedia Share Sales

Barton Crockett – Lazard Capital Markets: Two questions, if I could. First, I was wondering if you could give us a little bit more detail on the Trip and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) share sales. First in terms of the tax impact of those and then secondly, you know a little bit more about why now and where the cash will go in terms of the Ventures track road and the Interactive tracker?

Gregory B. Maffei – President and CEO: I think the reason for the Trip and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) sales is large because both of those stocks have had good rises on the back of good results. Trip in particular had a very aggressive first quarter results, good first quarter results and a resulting rise in the market and as we have said in the past this is not really common in these companies. We are not likely to be the long-term control shareholders in those companies and so our view is that the marketplace and we would be better off if we invested in things that were closer to home that we had the potential to influence more. (Though) tax leakage in those was relatively modest because we took the low vote high base of the shares in which we have the highest tax basis and therefore the least amount of tax leakage. Instead of paying 40% of our gains as we would on the very – almost free shares we have in the beginning the leakage was probably more in the 15% to 20% range of gross proceeds. Those final numbers will come out – you’ll see some of that in the quarter and some of that next quarter because one of them was transacted in the past the (indiscernible). That money will all go into Ventures and really that doesn’t change these assets were previously attributed to Ventures and all we have done is effectively move from being a asset on the balance sheet to cash on the balance sheet.

A Closer Look: Liberty Interactive Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

Barton Crockett – Lazard Capital Markets: I wanted to ask you about the fundamentals that QVC, the return rate increase in apparel, any color on how much of that is just kind of a one-time issue this quarter and how much of it feels like a sustainable change in mix and did weather have any impact on that this quarter?

Claire Watts – CEO, U.S., QVC, Inc.: This Claire, I’ll take that question. What we are seeing in the apparel is we have a little bit higher mix of our designer business. So it’s sort of a mix within the total category of apparel. It is not something that we are worried about changing dramatically but it is really just a mix of the designer business within our total basic business.

Barton Crockett – Lazard Capital Markets: And to weather, no impact there?

Claire Watts – CEO, U.S., QVC, Inc.: No. Weather was really not an impact for us. We saw seasonal (lifts) early in February and March which is a typical trend line for us different for other retailers but pretty typical for QVC.

QVC

David Gober – Morgan Stanley: One for Mike or Claire and one for Greg. Just on the core QVC business I know you talked a lot about the reduction in head count or the elimination of the Chesapeake order entry mechanism call center. But I was just wondering if you could help us with the longer term benefits there and maybe more broadly if you see potential upside for EBITDA margins as more ordering on the QVC side goes on line.

Mike George – President and CEO, QVC, Inc.: Let me frame it a couple of ways. Certainly there are some fixed costs associated with the leadership of that headcount in Chesapeake that goes away so we’ll see some modest benefit in the coming quarters, there also be little more severance hit though in Q2 as well I believe. You know more broadly what we are certainly seeing as a long term trend towards mobile and e-commerce ordering mechanisms in all of our markets. That gives us the chance to avoid a phone call. Well sometimes it’s a shift from an automated order platform like our first response unit. It also gives us shift in our commission rates, its where shifting from an on-air product to one that hasn’t recently been featured on-air where we don’t pay a commission. So the way I would think of that it is a long term shift towards ecommerce it gives us modest what I’ll call modest margin expansion primarily through lower commission rates and lower cost in our call centers. Some portion of that we need to spend back to continue to invest in our e-commerce platforms. So, that’s why I can’t describe it as modest because some of that we do need to reinvest to continue to stay on the forefront in our e-commerce and our mobile business.

David Gober – Morgan Stanley: For Greg, just wondering if you could give us an update on the investment activity at what will be Liberty Ventures – are you actually investing incremental capital right now or you’re going to hold off until the tracking stock structure is implemented and if you are investing capital today, what opportunities you are seeing?

Gregory B. Maffei – President and CEO: I guess first we are attempting to invest capital, and I think we are indifferent to whether Ventures has actually been yet – has been created or we are in the process of creating it. We are looking out to the best of our ability for investments that are attractive. It’s candidly at slow space. Cash coming in has outweighed cash going out particularly with the modernization of the Trip and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) stakes. We have made, as you know in the past, some green investments as we call them that is largely tax advantage and I think we are looking for some more of those. We also continue to look at TMT and Internet related items where we don’t think they necessarily particularly well in the other Liberty portfolios, but we have nothing of substance to announce today on any of those.

More from The Cheat Sheet