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FactSet Research Systems, Inc. (NYSE:FDS)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
September 25, 2018, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Mike and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the FactSet Q4 2018 earnings call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speaker's remarks, there will be a question and answer session. If you would like to ask a question during this time, press * then the number 1 on your telephone keypad. If you would like to withdraw your question, press the # key.

I will now turn the call over to Rima Hyder, Vice President of Investor Relations. You may begin your conference.

Rima Hyder -- Vice President of Investor Relations 

Thank you, Mike. Good morning, everyone, and good afternoon to those joining us here in London. Welcome to FactSet's fourth quarter 2018 earnings conference call. We come to you today from our European headquarters in London.

Before we begin, I would like to point out that the slides that we will reference during the course of the presentation can be accessed via the webcast on the Investor Relations section of our website at the conclusion of this call. A replay of today's call will be available via phone and on our website. This conference call is being transcribed in real time by FactSet's call service and is being broadcast live at factset.com.

After our prepared remarks, we will open the call to questions from investors. To be fair to everyone, please limit yourself to one question plus one follow-up. Before we discuss our results, I encourage all listeners to review the legal notice on slide two, which explains the risk of forward-looking statements and the use of non-GAAP financial measures and slide 14, which explains the risk associated with our forward-looking guidance statements. Additionally, please refer to our Forms 10-K and 10-Q for a discussion of risk factors that could cause actual results to defer materially from these forward-looking statements.

Our slide presentation and discussions on this call will include certain non-GAAP financial measures. For such measures, reconciliation of the most directly comparable GAAP measures are in the appendix to the presentation and in our earnings release issued earlier today.

Joining me today are Phil Snow, Chief Executive Officer, Maurizio Nicolelli, Senior Vice President, Finance, and FactSet's new Chief Financial Officer, Helen Shan. And now, I'd like to turn the discussion over to Phil.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Rima. Good morning to everyone in the US and good afternoon to those joining us here in the UK. We end Fiscal 18 on many high notes and are very proud of all the accomplishments that our employees around the globe have contributed to this year.

FactSet celebrated 40 years earlier this month. Much has changed since 1978, since we started with two employees. We're now over 9,500 employees in 24 countries. What remains consistent is our pledge to our clients to be the standard for world-class solutions, the promise to employees to be the career destination for the best and brightest, and the commitment to our shareholders to continue to return value.

Very few companies can claim 38 years of consecutive revenue growth and 22 years of adjusted diluted EPS growth. FactSet has achieved these milestones by setting the global standard for how financial data is delivered, integrated, and consumed by the investment community.

Throughout 2018, we continued to diversify our suite of solutions through the integration of our acquisitions and new product investment. This resulted in a number of new landmark achievements opening up new markets to us. We deepened our relationship with many existing clients and we added approximately 400 net new clients and over 3,000 users during our fiscal year.

We won a deal to provide solutions to over 15,000 advisors at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the largest wealth managers in the world and a testament to the strength of our growing wealth offering. We enhanced our multi-asset class risk models, leading to several wins and strengthen our position in the analytics market. Lastly, we expanded our CTS business and launched a new platform to address the growing demand for alternative data.

This quarter, we reported a new high watermark for organic ASV at $39 million. Organic ASV growth came in at 5.7%, an improvement from 5.3% in the third quarter. A quick note on ASV -- in the past, we have excluded the change in professional services from our change in ASV. However, it is an important component of our sales goals.

The salesforce is incentivized both on change in ASV and the change in professional services. To be consistent internally and externally going forward, when we give guidance or refer to our topline growth rate, we will be referring to ASV plus professional services. Professional services is a relatively new area of growth for us. While it's still small, it grew at over 20% in Fiscal 2018. Including professional services, our growth rate came in at 5.9%.

Earlier this year at investor day, we provided you with our ASV breakout with growth rates for our various workflow solutions. Towards the end of the year, we realigned a few pieces within these workflows. The biggest change is that a portion of platform management and trading now fits under analytics. We believe this alignment is better-suited for delivering a comprehensive solution for the portfolio lifecycle.

Moving on to other key metrics -- organic revenue grew over 5% and adjusted operating margin for the fourth quarter and full year came in at 31.3%, a 30-basis point improvement from our third quarter. Our actions to streamline parts of our organization and optimized costs gave us some benefit this quarter, but we expect additional benefits in Fiscal 19. We remain focused on increasing margin in 2019 and plan to deliver a 100-basis point margin increase.

This fiscal year, adjusted diluted EPS increased 16% to $2.20, boosted in part by the US tax reform. The $39 million increase in ASV this quarter was across all our workflow solutions. In research, the growth in workstations fueled by seasonal banking hires was the largest contributor. Analytics was a close second, with increased sales in portfolio analytics, reporting, and risk. Additionally, our unique content data feeds propelled CTS to its highest quarter ever.

ASV from new and existing clients increased year over year, with the Americas region bringing in the most new business. Cancellations remained relatively flat this quarter versus a year ago, a trend we have observed over the last few quarters.

Turning to our geographic breakdown, our Americas organic ASV growth improved this quarter to over 5%, showing signs of stability as cancellations improved once again. Outside the Americas, ASV grew organically by 6%, with Asia-Pac growing over 11% and Europe growing at 5%. Higher cancellations this quarter versus last year weighed down the overall international growth rate. But despite this challenge, Asia-Pac had one of its biggest ASV quarters ever

In conclusion, we are pleased with our year-end results and start 2019 with strong momentum. As we look ahead to Fiscal 19, we believe we are well-positioned to capture additional market share in this challenging market. Throughout this past year, we continued to return value to shareholders through our share buyback program and increased dividend. We repurchased approximately 330,000 shares for $68 million during the fourth quarter under our existing share repurchase program.

Over the last 12 months, we returned over $390 million to stockholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends. This represents and average cash return of 91% as a percentage of free cashflow and proceeds from employee stock plans.

Before I turn the call over to Maurizio and Helen, let me first welcome Helen Shan, our new CFO, who has been with us since early September. I want to say a special thank you to our outgoing CFO, Maurizio Nicolelli, who has been an instrumental member to our leadership team and has contributed greatly to FactSet's success. During his tenure, leading finance, we have more than doubled our ASV and traveled adjusted diluted EPS.

Let me now turn the call over to Maurizio one last time to talk in more detail about our financial results, followed by Helen, who will talk you through our guidance for Fiscal 19.

Maurizio Nicolelli -- Senior Vice President, Finance

Thank you, Phil, and good morning to everyone on the call. We are pleased with our fourth quarter results, ending the year with solid metrics. Firstly, our guidance, we ended the year with 6% organic ASV growth and 11% revenue growth. Our GAAP operating margin came in below our guidance, due to certain one-time charges related to restructuring and corporate costs not accounted for in the fourth quarter.

Adjusted operating margin for the full year was 31.3%. As discussed on previous calls, with the additional cash savings from the tax reform, we made purposeful decisions to make further investments in higher growth businesses. We saw some of this momentum build up in our fourth quarter with the highest ever ASV. This increase in ASV also d rove higher compensation, which in turn impacts our near-term margins.

Let's now go through our fourth quarter results. GAAP revenues in the fourth quarter increased 6% to $346 million and 5% to $347 million on an organic basis versus the fourth quarter of 2017. Looking at our segment revenue, US revenues grew 5% and international revenues increased 6% on an organic basis. This growth comes primarily as a result of higher sales across all our business lines.

ASV increased to $1.39 billion at the end of our fourth quarter. Organic ASV increased approximately 6% year-over-year and $39 million since the end of our third quarter. This increase was primarily driven by higher research, workstation sales, and analytics.

Adjusted operating margin of 31.3% was 30 basis points higher since the third quarter of 2018 and 10 basis points better than last year as we continue to create more efficiencies in our cost structure. Looking at operating expenses in some detail now, operating expenses for the fourth quarter totaled $258 million, an increase of 5% year-over-year, primarily driven by higher compensation expense and legal costs.

Fourth quarter, cost of services expressed as a percentage of revenues decreased by 40 basis points compared with the year ago period due to stock-based compensation acceleration in the prior year. The decrease was partially offset by restructuring costs, additional employee compensation, and higher data costs.

SG&A expenses as expressed as a percentage of revenues were also up 10 basis points compared with the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2017. The increase was primarily higher compensation costs from severance and new hires and higher legal costs, partially offset by lower stock-based compensation.

Our client and workstation counts were both up this quarter versus our fiscal third quarter of 2018. In the past three months, we added nearly 170 net new clients and approximately 2,400 new users. The net new clients mainly came from institutional asset managers and wealth. We now have over 5,000 clients and over 91,000 users.

Moving on to the tax rate, our quarterly effective tax rate was 18% compared with 25.3% a year ago, primarily due to the US tax reform that we discussed earlier in the year. Our annual effective tax rate was 18%, which excludes the one-time deemed repatriation tax on historical repatriated foreign earnings, the toll tax.

GAAP EPS increased 16% to $1.77 this quarter versus $1.52 in the fourth quarter of 2017. The increase was primarily attributable to the lower tax rate from the US tax reform. Excluding intangible asset amortization, the deferred revenue fair value adjustment and other non-reoccurring items, adjusted EPS also grew 16% to $2.20 this quarter.

Free cashflow, which we define as cash generated from operations less capital spending for our fourth quarter was $91 million, an increase of approximately $2 million or 2% over the same period last year. The increase was due to a lower effective tax rate and an improvement in working capital items, partially offset by higher capital expenditures. Our CapEx grew due to the buildout of new office space and technology upgrades.

Next, we turn to our ASV breakout. As we showed you at our investor day, we think of our business in various workflow solutions. We realigned some of these workflow solutions, as Phil explained earlier. The changes to this breakout include moving a portion of PMT from research to analytics and reclassifying most of the workstation's ASV under the research business.

As you can see on the slide, the growth rates from these workflow solutions are in line with what we showed at investor day, highlighting that more than 50% of our business grew at a high single and double-digit growth rate as we continue to manage the mix in our portfolio.

Let me now turn the call over to Helen to discuss the outlook for our Fiscal 2019.

Helen Shan -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Maurizio, Phil, and Rima, and hello, everyone. I'm honored to be joining the FactSet team. I've been a beneficiary of the FactSet offerings, both as a banker and a corporate client. I've only been here a short time. I'm quickly learning about the portfolio lifecycle and the innovative solutions we are building for our clients. I believe we have a lot of opportunities ahead of us. I look forward to working with this team and to meeting many of you in the coming months.

For our 2019 outlook, our views are predicated on a number of factors. We expect that macroeconomic conditions and global trends will essentially remain the same as we've experienced in our Fiscal 2018. We anticipate continued investment to offer a seamless portfolio lifecycle solution, which we believe will provide sustainable growth in the future. We believe growth will be propelled primarily through capturing a larger share of wallet from our existing client base through both cross-selling and upselling our higher value solutions.

As Phil noted earlier, going forward, we will provide topline guidance on both ASV and professional services on a combined basis. Organic ASV and professional services is expected to increase in the range of $75 million to $90 million over Fiscal 2018. GAAP revenues are expected to be in the range of $1.41 billion and $1.45 billion. GAAP operating margin is expected to be in the range of 29% and 30%. Adjusted operating margin is expected to be in the range of 31.5% and 32.5%, reflecting the targeted improvement in operating efficiency.

The annual effective tax rate is expected to be in the range of 17.5% and 18.5%. This range incorporates a full year with a lower corporate tax rate as a result of the US tax reform. GAAP-diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $8.70 and $8.90. The year over year increase primarily reflects the absence of the 2018 toll tax charge. Adjusted diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $9.45 and $9.65. The midpoint of the adjusted EPS range represents over 12% growth compared to the prior year.

As we look to 2019, we plan to execute on our strategy to continue to grow topline, to optimize our cost structure, and to return long-term value to shareholders. With that, we are now ready for your questions. Mike, I'll turn this call back over to you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

At this time, I'd like to remind everyone in order to ask a question, press *1 on your telephone keypad. We will pause for a moment to compile the Q&A roster. Your first question is from Joseph Foresi with Cantor Fitzgerald.

Joseph Foresi -- Cantor Fitzgerald -- Analyst

Hi. I wonder if we could start by talking about the Merrill Lynch deal. Is there any way to provide any color around some of the numbers associated with that deal? How do you expect it to flow through the model? When will we begin to see it in ASV and some of the other metrics on the revenue side?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Joe. We were anticipating that might be the first question. Let me talk a little bit about the deal. We can't give you the exact numbers. But what I can tell you it's an enterprise agreement. As you would expect for a client of that size and a commitment like this, it's a multi-year deal. It includes a lot of dustups. We disclosed the number in the press release. It also includes some feeds that were providing them to go into their systems. What you should expect to see is us recognizing most of the ASV for this deal in the first half of the coming fiscal year.

Joseph Foresi -- Cantor Fitzgerald -- Analyst

Okay. So, I guess just for clarification purposes, is that included in guidance? How should we think about the seasonality and the impact to margins? I just want to make sure that we're modeling it appropriately. Thanks.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. It's included in the total guidance number.

Joseph Foresi -- Cantor Fitzgerald -- Analyst

Thank you.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure.

Operator

Your next question comes from George Tong from Goldman Sachs.

George Tong -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi, thanks. Good morning. Your guidance includes the BAML contract. Can you discuss how your outlook for the underlying business excluding the BAML contract is currently trending relative to recent quarters if it's consistent with recent growth excluding the new contract or if it's accelerating in growth?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Hi, George, it's Phil Snow. So, we may be being a little bit conservative on our overall guidance. As I have mentioned on a lot of previous call, we have pretty good visibility in halves of our fiscal year, but there are a number of large deals that we're still waiting for decisions on within the first half. Some of those are renewals. As we get closer to the end of the first half, we may be in a position to provide some revised guidance at that point, but we wanted to go out a little bit conservatively to start the year until we got more visibility on that.

George Tong -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Yeah. Makes sense. Then on margins, you're still committed to 100 basis points of annual margin expansion. Can you talk about the near-term drivers for that margin improvement and potential drivers of upside or downside versus your expectations?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Absolutely. So, we're absolutely targeting 100 basis points of margin expansion, which would get us to 32.3%. I can talk a little bit about what we're focused on there. One is continued integration of the acquisitions we did. We feel there are some efficiencies we can get there. We're looking at some of the larger parts of our business. We believe there are some efficiencies there in terms of engineering compounds. Gene, who's the new CTO, he's been looking at those areas. I think we've done a lot of work in the last half of Fiscal '18.

We were expecting to get a little bit more benefit from that in Q4, but you should see that flow through into the first half of Fiscal Year 19. I'd like to also remind people that halfway through FY18, we sort of intentionally invested more in our business as a result of the US tax reforms. So, we made some additional investments in risk. We also gave some compensation to our employees in certain locations for certain types of roles. We did invest some money in the second half of last fiscal year for this BAML deal.

So, for a deal of this size, obviously, there's a lot of work that goes into it from an engineering standpoint, but we also staffed up pretty aggressively to make sure that we'd be able to roll out to as many users as we've talked about in a way that we were comfortable with. So, we've done that. That's going to be a lot of work for us this year, but that is expense that we've made that we should get a payback from in the future.

George Tong -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Very helpful. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from David Chu from Bank of America.

David Chu -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hi, thank you. Congratulations on the deal. So, just in terms of your current outlook, if we assume 100 basis points of margin expansion in Fiscal 19 and 20 like you suggested at the investor day, how should we think about margins beyond that? Do you think that it's going to stay at your 33% to 34% range as you did historically where you managed the margins or could we see outsized growth beyond that?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

We haven't modeled that far out, David. Thank you for the question and thank you for congratulating us on the deal. As we get more information as we get closer, we'll think about that, but I think the guidance we've given is for two years at this point, and if we decide to revise that, we'll let you know.

David Chu -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Sure. Okay. Then just any update on the FactSet exchange marketplace? I just wanted to see if you're generating any revenue in earnest today and how big of a revenue contributor should we expect for Fiscal 19 and beyond?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Currently, we're expecting continued strong growth from CTS. We've gotten tremendous feedback from the marketplace for the data exchange and the solutions exchange. To remind everyone, the solutions exchange allows you to go in to the open FactSet marketplace and begin testing and programming against the data in a host of environments.

So, we're seeing tremendous interest in that. We have a lot of very large funds globally testing this out. We believe we'll begin to monetize this within Fiscal Year 19. But it's still early days. We're continuing to accelerate providers onto the platform and we're very optimistic about what it means over a multi-year period.

David Chu -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thank you.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure.

Operator

Your next question comes from Bill Warmington from Wells Fargo.

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

Good morning, everyone.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

So, for Maurizio, I just wanted to say that was the most upbeat financial presentation I've ever heard him give. So, I'm wishing you happy trails. For Helen, welcome to the show.

Helen Shan -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

So, first question is on the sell side ASV looks particularly strong this quarter. In fact, I think it's the strongest we've seen in eight quarters. I just wanted to ask what was behind that.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Bill, thanks for the question, it's Phil Snow. So, yeah, we had a very strong year in banking. A lot of it was driven in the second half by good seasonal hiring in the banking group. So, we reported we added a significant number of dustups in Q4 and a lot of those were from our banking users. I think some of this also extends from the additional focus that we have in our strategic client groups. So, we've talked about this, but we've organized our sales team in a way where we've got very high focus on our largest account, both on the buy side and the sell side. I think that's also kind of out there.

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

Okay. For my follow-up question, I wanted to ask about the key selling points in your opinion in terms of the reasons that BAML made the decision they did to move from Thomson Reuters to FactSet. What I'm specifically getting at is to try to get a sense for some of the biggest challenges you're facing in terms of winning new clients and what you're doing to overcome them.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, I think in this case, it really, I think, was a combination of the product we have, which is fantastic. We've put a lot of work into FactSet over the last two years. It's not just for this wealth product. But all of the work that we've done to modernize our platform and program things in html and have more of a web look and feel for our products really helped drive this. A big piece of that was the Google-like search functionality that we have in FactSet, which makes it very easy to use. It's very easy to discover what's on our platform.

The second thing is really our people and our service. So, we've got some of the best feedback we've had for such a large deal in terms of going to all of these offices during the trial. I think it was the combination of those two things that really gave them the confidence to make what was a big decision for them to move.

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

Well, thank you very much for the insight.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure.

Operator

Your next question comes from Hamzah Mazari from Macquarie.

Hamzah Mazari -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Good morning. Thank you. The first question is just around potential to move into other markets. You obviously moved into wealth, but curious if there's an initiative or any focus on either insurance verticals, the corporate side. As you look at your business longer term, do you see opportunity in other markets or this is largely buy side, sell side going forward?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

That's a great question, Hamzah. Historically, we've not broken out of the client sites other than buy side and sell side. We have a lot of client sites in the buy side bucket. We've done exceptionally well with insurance companies since we became more of a multi-asset class product. So, our fixed income offering combined with our risk offering, which continues to get better by leaps and bounds, that's helped us in insurance. It's a fast-growing market segment for us. We've been quietly growing our corporate business very quickly.

So, part of that is through great partnerships we have with other firms, but we also sell directly into the corporate space. These aren't massive [inaudible] today, but to your point, I think it opens up a good opportunity for us as a company as our product suite evolves. The other thing I'll point to is our open strategy.

So, we're unbundling our product in a way that is very compelling to the marketplace, not just for large banks and asset managers, but we can now deliver pieces of FactSet in lots of different interesting ways, which opens up opportunities for us at the big firms with the technology group, conversations that we wouldn't have had a few years, ago, but it also opens conversations for us with the types of firms that you mentioned in your question.

Hamzah Mazari -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Gotcha. Thank you. The follow-up question just around -- you mentioned client cancellations flattening out. You said that a few times, I guess -- I'm just curious how you're thinking about buy side consolidation. Is that a headwind that's now behind you guys? Any views how you think about that and maybe how that's impacted your business the last few years. Is it two subscriptions going to one? Is it as simple as that? Any thoughts on buy side consolidation would be helpful. Thank you.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, I think we'll continue to see some buy side consolidation. I think some what you saw in our European growth rate slowing a little bit this quarter had to do with two large consolidations that happened in Europe. So, active managers continued to be under pressure for a number of reasons. They're looking for efficiencies. Some of that is combining forces to go after the market.

So, we're here to help those clients, get them through an integration and hopefully build a good relationship and grow from there. We don't anticipate that it's over. It's something that we've been dealing with for a number of years now and feel like we're getting better at in terms of providing more solutions to clients. That's part of our whole portfolio lifecycle. If someone is consolidating and we can provide solutions all the way across from research to client reporting, we feel like we have a good opportunity.

Hamzah Mazari -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Glen Greene from Oppenheimer.

Glen Greene -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Good morning. So, first, Phil, was it helpful to get the ASV splits at the end of the year? Obviously, sort of showing the strength in CTS, analytics, and wealth. Is there any reason to think those directional growth trends, meaning high-single, low-double-digit analytics in wealth and maybe high-teens in CTS, if that persists throughout Fiscal 19, any reason to think that changes.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

I think we're anticipating very similar growth rates for the coming year. We obviously are focused on growing all of these businesses and having a strategy to grow each of them. I think the way we've organized now as we've gotten bigger really gives us an opportunity to do that. These are big numbers. They've got good momentum and I would expect to see similar growth rates for the coming year.

Glen Greene -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

And just a quick clarification on the BAML deal -- is the ASV for that included in the year-end numbers, specifically within the wealth ASV number that grew 10%? My follow-up on that would be if that's the case, I'm surprised it was only 10%.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, as I mentioned earlier on the call, we're going to recognize most of the ASV in this deal in the first half of the coming fiscal year.

Glen Greene -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

So, I read that to mean as revenue. It's not reflected in ASV currently is what you're saying?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

We did book a little bit in Q4, but the majority of it is getting booked in the first half of 2019. You'll see that in our Q1 and Q2 numbers, yeah.

Glen Greene -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for clarifying.

Operator

Your next question comes from Toni Kaplan from Morgan Stanley.

Toni Kaplan -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hi, good morning. Are there sizable wealth deals in the pipeline that you're anticipating you could actually close?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, over many years, absolutely. These are large deals. There's a number of them out in the marketplace. I think for the reasons I stated earlier, in terms of our products and people and focus, it's obviously something we're focused on. This deal has gotten us a lot of good interest, not just form the largest wealth managers globally, but the wealth market in general, I think it's really put us on the map in a different way. We do anticipate this deal will help drive the wealth business moving forward.

We've put in a tremendous amount of work in FY18 to get this deal. So, it really accelerated frankly the development of our wealth product, which means good things for every wealth manager.

Toni Kaplan -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Then could you give us what you're assuming on interest expense in the guidance?

Helen Shan -- Chief Financial Officer

We have some of, you might presume, increases in underlying interest rates, but not material. So, it's probably in line with what you've seen -- what we've reported in 2018.

Toni Kaplan -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Manav Patnaik from Barclays.

Greg -- Barclays -- Analyst

Hi, this is actually Greg calling on for Manav. I just wanted to talk about the sales cycle. I think you've talked about it in the past recently. It's getting a little bit longer as you move into the enterprise wide arrangements, just what you're seeing there in terms of closing new deals and are you seeing any lengthening of the cycle as you continue to go through these larger deals?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, there's a wide spectrum. You saw us close well over 150 new accounts in Q4 and some of those come in very quickly if they're smaller, but yes, for the larger deals, BAML is a great example. Something like that can be well over a 12-month commitment in terms of going from RFP to a signed contract. As our product gets more complicated, it can be longer. But I don't have anything meaningful to give you in terms of -- nothing has really materially changed in the last three to six months.

Greg -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. That makes sense. Then in terms of M&A interest, a bunch of the assets that you've acquired over the last 12-24 months are starting to get integrated. I'm wondering about your interest in M&A and what you're seeing over the market.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, we continue to be opportunistic. We're always interested in concept. I think the open FactSet marketplace allows us to integrate content at a much faster rate than we have historically, where FactSet doesn't actually have to own the content, but we will look at unique content that we can monetize ourselves in a better way. We're also looking at anything that's interesting from a technology standpoint that might help us with our open strategy. We're looking at some smaller stuff there. Beyond that, we feel like we have a very good lineup in terms of what we need to deliver growth over the next year.

Greg -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure.

Operator

Your next question comes from Peter Heckmann from Davidson.

Peter Heckmann -- Davidson & Co. -- Analyst

Good morning. I think my question has been answered, but could you review with us the average price increase that you saw in Fiscal 18 and what type of price increases might be contemplated in Fiscal 19.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

I think over the entire fiscal year, we've probably captured somewhere between 1% and 2%. That's typical. We don't see that changing in FY19. We think it's pretty similar.

Peter Heckmann -- Davidson & Co. -- Analyst

Okay. Humor me with a follow-up then -- within the sub-niche of wealth management for the current part of the sub-niche that you have a solution for, how would you size that total addressable market? I would assume that you would say your market share there is lower than it is across the entire data services.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

So, I'm not sure I caught all of that. The wealth market is large. Before we closed this current deal, I think we were sizing the ultra-high-net worth market we were going after close to $500 million. I think the acquisition of FDSG, which happened, I think, about a year and a half ago now, and the work we've done here makes that a much bigger number. So, we've got massive amounts of runway in terms of growing their wealth business.

Peter Heckmann -- Davidson & Co. -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Keith Housum from Northcoast Research.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Thank you. This is actually Brendan on for Keith. I just want to ask what some of these adjustments, the non-GAAP adjustments, there are a bit more of them than we anticipated and there are some for guidance for next year. I'm just wondering if you can speak to those and how exactly some of those costs are and if that's something we should anticipate as recurring down the road as something that you're seeing for next year. Thank you.

Maurizio Nicolelli -- Senior Vice President, Finance

Yeah, sure. This is Maurizio. So, in the fourth quarter, you saw a number of items come through in the non-reoccurring range. So, we went through a restructuring effort during the fourth quarter, which really will help us going into Fiscal 19 with our margin improvement. So, you saw a lot of those costs get booked during the fourth quarter. We had a number of legal matters that got concluded during the period that got expensed as one-time items during the quarter. There will be these items going forward. Our best estimate is in our guidance now going forward.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Alright. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Peter Appert from Piper Jaffray.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray -- Managing Director

Thanks. So, Phil, you haven't given us obviously the specifics on the size of the Merrill contract, but I'm wondering if ex-Merrill, the 6% growth in ASP that you're guiding to for next year would actually imply maybe a little bit of slowdown in underlying ASV growth.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

As I mentioned earlier, Peter, we're being conservative going into the first half just given that there are a number of large deals that we're aware of that we don't have full visibility on yet. Once we get through that, I think we'll be in a better position to give you some revised guidance potentially at the end of the second half, end of the first half.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray -- Managing Director

I'm wondering if sort of related to that, I guess, in the context of your win, are you seeing a more aggressive response from competitors? Your commentary on whether the intensity and the competitive environment and the pricing pressures we've seen for a while is more evident now.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

I don't think so. I think it's consistent with what we've seen over the last few years.

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray -- Managing Director

Thank you.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

And the last question comes from Tim McHugh from William Blair.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Hi, thanks. I just wanted to ask -- the professional services, the decision to include that back into the growth, I guess, I understand the comment that it's always included in the conversation, but I think that was true last year. I guess why the change in opinion on that. You mentioned it's growing 20%, I guess. What is the growth driver of that? Why is growing quickly for you guys right now?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. This is a new area for us. When we began to implement our own risk models, we began to generate a little bit of revenue from professional services. But a number of the acquisitions we did, which were more workflow and software-based than content came with groups that have professional services.

So, it's not a massive part of our business, but we think it's something that we can rationalize and as we move forward and our product becomes more multifaceted and requires longer implementation, it's something we want to build up our competence around. It is a bigger piece of what the salesforce focuses on these days.

Obviously, we want to incent and align properly with them. I think in terms of -- I believe we'll still be breaking out professional services. If you want to calculate the ASV growth rate the way we've calculated it historically, you'll still be able to do that.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks. And then just to follow-up on the margin comment, just to be clear -- when you talk 100 basis points of expansion, I guess the midpoint of the range for the full year is not at the full year is not at that level. Are you talking exit rate? Is that the comment? I guess I might understand that about the cadence of margins across the year.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

What we're talking about is a full-year margin of 32.3% that we're targeting.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Okay. Is it just because the middle of the guidance is 32%, if I'm correct?

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Correct, yeah. It's a wide range.

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

And I will now turn the call back over to Phil Snow, CEO.

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Alright. Thank you, everyone for joining us on the call today. If you have additional questions, please call Rima Hyder. We look forward to talking to you next quarter. Operator, that ends today's call.

Operator

This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 44 minutes

Call participants:

Rima Hyder -- Vice President of Investor Relations 

Philip Snow -- Chief Executive Officer

Maurizio Nicolelli -- Senior Vice President, Finance

Helen Shan -- Chief Financial Officer

Joseph Foresi -- Cantor Fitzgerald -- Analyst

George Tong -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

David Chu -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Bill Warmington -- Wells Fargo -- Managing Director

Hamzah Mazari -- Macquarie Group -- Analyst

Glen Greene -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Toni Kaplan -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Greg -- Barclays -- Analyst

Peter Heckmann -- Davidson & Co. -- Analyst

Brendan Popson -- Northcoast Research -- Analyst

Peter Appert -- Piper Jaffray -- Managing Director

Tim McHugh -- William Blair -- Analyst

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