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CNFinance Holdings Limited (CNF) Q2 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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CNF earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2019.

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CNFinance Holdings, Ltd. (CNF -1.95%)
Q2 2019 Earnings Call
Aug. 20, 2019, 8:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


CNFinance second quarter half year 2019 earnings conference call all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Should you need assistance please signal a conference specialist by pressing the star key followed by zero on your telephone keypad. After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. To ask a question you may press star, then one on your telephone keypad. To withdraw your question, please press star, then two. Please note, this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Tip Fleming. Please go ahead.

Tip Fleming

Thank you, operator. Hello everyone and thank you for joining us today. CNFinance's earnings release was distributed earlier today, and is available on the IR website, at ir.cashchina.con, as well as on Purewire services. On the call, today from CNFinance are Mr. Bin Zhai, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Mr. Ning Li, Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Zhai will review the business operations and company highlights, followed by Mr. Li, who will discuss the financials. Both will be available to answer your questions during the Q&A section that follows.

Before we begin, I'd like to remind you that this conference call contains forward-looking statements, within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and defined in the US. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as will, expects, anticipates, future, intends, plans, believes, estimates, target, going forward, outlook, and similar statements. Such statements are based upon management's current expectations, and current market and operating conditions, in relation to incident, involve known or unknown risks, uncertainties, or other factors, which are difficult to predict, and many of which are beyond the company's control, which may cause the company's actual results, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.

Further information regarding these and other risks, uncertainties, or factors, is included in the company's filings with the SEC. The company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise, except a required under applicable law. It is now my pleasure to introduce Mr. Zhai. Please go ahead.


Bin Zhai -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you all for joining us today. On today's call. I'd like to cover some business and operational developments and reveal our strategies and future plans for building shareholder value, despite the softening economy. We will then be happy to take your questions. During the second quarter of 2019, revenue came in at 800 million RMB, while we were able to generate net income of 160 million RMB. We recorded a probation for credit losses of 95 million RMB, in accordance with U.S. GAAP, and our recovery rate during the quarter remained at 104%. During the quarter, while we certainly faced a number of challenges, we also tried to take advantage of some opportunities.

First, the People's Bank of China and China Securities Regulatory Commission tightened regulations for property developers, who are looking to the credit markets for financing. These, along with the 131 policy mandate, largely served to drive down selling prices and contracted sales for property. The tighter market conditions and lower liquidity allowed us to test our capabilities against fluctuations in the economic cycle.

As a home equity loan service provider that has been in the market for over 10 years, we have extensive experience in facing market fluctuations. In such an environment, where mortgage and liquidity began to shrink in some cities, we decided to put further control on our LTV ratio. With our overall LTV ratio decreased, from 62% in 2018 to 59%, as of the end of second quarter 2019, our risk is also lowered. Second, the China-US trade friction and the softening economy impacted operation of our primary target borrowers, which are micro-and small business enterprise owners, MSE owners. Their ability to service debt has indeed been affected, which was reflected by the increase of our delinquency ratio.

However, our recovery rate remained at 104% this quarter, demonstrating that our efforts to control loan quality and LTV ratio have paid off. We plan to maintain our stringent approach, going forward. Since the beginning of the year, we have continued to dispose of non-performing assets by selling them on our own, and we have also been cooperating with asset management companies, to explore opportunities to offload non-performing assets in bulk, all in an effort to increase or efficiency at disposing non-performing assets. When facing these opportunities and challenges, our management team has always been hyper-conscious of our commitment to shareholders, and we are actively exploring different strategies that are stable, effective, and sustainable. As part of our efforts to enhance shareholder value, we will continue to partner with financial institutions, to examine ways for lower financing costs.

On the other hand, leveraging our competitive advantages, we have shifted our business toward a collaboration model, in an effort to help strengthen collusive financial systems, by promoting the loan partnership services platform that we discussed on our conference call last quarter. Under this collaboration model, we can operate with a literal local loan originators, to act as our sales partners, who source and recommend clients to us.

Our standardized risk-control system assesses and recommends these clients to specific trust company partners, who then facilitate the loans. In order to guarantee the quality of loans, sales partners are required to pay up to 20% of the recommended loan amount to our platform, as a credit risk-mitigation position. Consequently, the sales partners are motivated to bring high-quality assets, as they stand to gain from the position they have to put up.

We are pleased to see that our loan partnership services platform has been well-received by the market, since its launch in early 2019. As of June 30th, 2019, we have signed cooperation agreements with about 550 sales partners, 470 of which have already facilitated loans, by recommending borrowers to us. Total loan origination volume reached 2.7 billion RMB during the second half of 2019.

More importantly, our platform is highly valued by our sales partners, 150 of which continue their efforts from the preceding quarter, to refer quality borrowers to us during the second quarter. These new borrowers contributed a total of one billion RMB of loans, by the end of June. This shows us that our new strategy is already on the right track. Our goal is to reach 3000 sales partners, and total loan origination volume of 30 billion RMB in the coming three years.

By continuing to recommend more clients to our platform, and expand the loan origination volume, our excellent sales partners have shown that they have been able to successfully adapt to our platform, and their acceptance motivates us to keep optimizing our platform services. Since the beginning of this quarter, in order to provide, excellent, effective, and convenient services to our sale partners, we have established a sales partner service center and launched a series of supporting programs.

I'd like to discuss three areas in particular. First, training. Through outlying training and conference call consolation on a regular basis, we are able to better educate our sales partners about the standards of our products, customer choices, and risk criteria. These helping hands raise awareness among sales partners and ease their loan facilitation process.

Second, IT systems. We hired a top financial system developing company, who is currently developing a mobile app that helps sales partners acquire clients, upload due diligence files, track risk assessment processes, as well as reveal the award amounts. This application could quickly enhance their confidence and compatibility with our platform and should help us establish a strong foundation scale in the future.

And third, follow up after loan approval. We will follow up with borrowers through phone calls and site visits, which help us to effectively monitor sales partners, to stay compliant to regulations about growing the business, as well as to ensure the rights of MSE owners who borrowed from us. This initiative is vital in building our platform to become a benchmark in the industry. As our collaboration model continues to develop and expand, providing tailor-made services to our sales partners is becoming an integrated and increasingly important part of our business. We expect to attract more high-quality sales partners to our platform, and better serve the financing needs of micro and small business owners.

At the end, I want to tell you that management will consider a dividend plan, based on our operations, financial results, and liquidity. When condition allows, we will submit it to the board for discussion and reveal. And with that, I will hand the call over to our CFO, Mr. Li Ning, who will walk through our financial results for this quarter, and first half of 2019.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks again for everyone joining us today. I'm Li, CFO of the company. I will walk you through our second quarter and the first half of 2019 financials. Briefly, year-over-year comparison is the best way to review our performance. Unless otherwise stated, all percentage changes I'm going to give will be on this basis.

Let's reveal the financials. We will go through the figures for second quarter of 2019 first, followed by the first half of 2019. As of June 30, 2019, total ascending loan principal decreased to 13 billion RMB, compared to 16 billion RMB, as of December 31st, 2018. Total loan origination volume was 1,667 million RMB, compared to 3, 598 million RMB in the same period of 2018. Interest and financing service fee on loans was 798 million RMB, a decrease of 25%, primarily due to the decrease of the loan origination volume, which is a result of the company's strategic work around ensuring loan quality over loan growth and devoting its resources on the new collaboration model. This slows down the loan facilitation and led to a decrease in the interest and the financing service received on loans.

Interest expenses was 369 million RMB, compared to 484 million RMB in the same period of 2018. Finally, due to a decrease in the amount of funding, resulting from a generous decrease of the loan origination volume, collaboration costs for sales partners increased to 32 million RMB for the second quarter of 2019, compared to nil in the second quarter of 2018. Finally, due to the development of the new collaboration model, started in 2019. Provision for credit losses was 95 million RMB, an increase of 17% from 81 RMB in the same period of 2018. Total operating expenses were 118 million RMB, a decrease of 41%, compared with 200 million RMB in the same period of 2018.

Income tax expenses was 56 million RMB, a decrease from 70 million RMB in the same period of 2018. Net income was 161 million RMB, a decrease of 33%, from 241 million RMB in the same period of 2018. So, the second part, let's move on to our financials for the first half of 2019. Again, our initial origination awarded was 2,665 million RMB, compared to 5,799 million RMB in the same period of 2018.

Interest and financial service fees on loans was 1,686 million RMB, a decrease of 21%, primarily due to a decrease of the loan origination volume, which is a result of the company's strategic focus on ensuring loan quality over the growth of the loan warrant, and devoting its resources to the new collaboration model. Interest expenses was 778 million RMB, compared to 962 million RMB in the same period of 2018, primarily due to a decrease in the amount of funding, resulting from a standard decrease of the loan origination warrant.

Collaboration costs for sales partners increased to 41 million RMB for the first half of 2019, compared to nil in the same period of 2018, primarily due to the development of the new collaboration model. Provision for credit losses was 268 million RMB, an increase of 19%, from 225 million RMB in the same period of 2018, primarily attributable to the combined effect of first, the decrease in our funding principal of non-delinquent loans, and loans within 90 days, which has resulted in a decrease in collectively assessed allowance.

And the second, an increase in the model of NPLs. "NPL" refers to a loan being delinquent for over 90 days. Total operating expenses were 255 million RMB, a decrease of 33%, compared to 380 million RMB, in the same period of 2018. Income tax expenses was 101 million RMB, a decrease from 149 million RMB in the same period of 2018, primarily due to an increase in taxable income in the first half of 2019. Net income was 296 million RMB, a decrease of 32%, from 438 million RMB in the same period of 2018.

As of June 30, 2019, the company have cash and the cash equivalent of 2 billion RMB, compared with 3 billion RMB, as of December 31st, 2018. The aggregate delinquency rate for loans originate by the company, which represents total balance for outstanding loan principal for which any installment payment is past-due, as a percentage of the aggregate total amount of loans we originated since 2014, slightly decreased from 7.6% as of December 31st of 2018, to 7.5% as of June 30, 2019.

That's all for the financials for this quarter and the first half of the year. So, we now like to open up the call for the Q&A section.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. To ask a question, you may press *, then 1 on your telephone keypad. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing the keys. If at any time your question has been addressed, or you would like to withdraw your question, please press *, then 2. At this time, we will pause momentarily to assemble our roster.

The first question today comes from Zhao Bin Yang, from Shenwan Hongyuan. Please go ahead

Zhao Bin Yang -- Shenwan Hongyun -- Analyst

Yes, yes. Just a brief translation of the question, so, it's a question from Shenwan Hongyuan Securities, and the first question is, how is marketing to sales partners, and how big is the new collaboration model gonna be in the next three years. And the second question is, we actually mentioned that our LTV ratio is lower than 60% this quarter, and how has the company managed to stay competitive in the market, and is this going to be a long-term behavior. And the answer is going to be answered by our CFO.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

So, if there is any compliment, our CEO will follow up after our CFO answers the question. First question about how we acquired our sales partners. First, the home acting loan market is a very scattered market, as I mentioned before. There are not really many big companies that are doing the business in China. If you look into the market, there are only two, we can say, nationwide companies. One is us, the other is [inaudible], and there are many, many small companies in the market, that's only doing localized business. Since we had over 40 branches scattered across China, our first batch of sales partners were actually peers who were competing with us in the local markets.

So, there are a huge number of loan originators in each local market. We transferred to the collaboration model so that we can acquire those people who used to compete with us, and make them our sales partners, and work with us. And why becoming partners is attractive to those people who used to be competing with us, I think there are two folds. First, think through our platform, they can leverage their business, and expand the business scale. Second, since we are providing them with pre-, middle-, and post-loan services, we can help those sales partners to lower their operating costs. So, just to sum up, our platform can attract those people to become our sales partners, because we can help them expand their business scale, and lower, without raising their operating costs at the same time. And I think there are two positive points to us as well. First of all, we can, by collaborating with the sales partners, we can also expand our business scale. And also, like we have mentioned in the CEO's script, since they are putting up a credit risk mitigation position, they're actually bearing risks with us, and we are able to lower our risk.

So, also to sum up, by collaborating with other sales partners in the market, we can not only expand our business scale but also lower our risk. Say we are taking 100% risk in the past, now, it's actually much, much lower. About the LTV ratio, I want to first make a clarification. So under 60% of LTV is actually average LTV ratio, which contains both the collaterals from the old model and the new model.

Okay, so, since there is a uncertainty of the economic conditions, we have chosen to control our risks, just by using a more sophisticated evaluation system. We are also taking a [inaudible] consideration of both the credit status of borrowers, and the credit quality of their collaterals, and also which city they're in. We haven't changed our upper limit of the LTV ratio. It's still 70%, however, if they are in some of the tier three cities, we are considered to give them a lower percentage of LTV.

I hope this answers your question.


The next question today comes from Simon Tong, with a private investor. Please go ahead.

Simon Tong --Private Investor -- Analyst

Can everyone hear me?

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, yeah, we're good.

Simon Tong --Private Investor -- Analyst

Hi, I'm Simon. I'm a private investor from mainland China, and I have three questions. The first one would be why would borrowers choose to borrow from CNFinance, seeing as a CNFinance loan charges a much higher interest rate, compared with the rate at Kimoto Bank. And second one would be, would this model lower your liability, since you only contribute 5% of the total loan amount? And the last one, you had mentioned that you guys are developing a new app for the sales partners. And how much is the company planning to invest in system development?


I will just do a brief translation to our CFO, and then we will answer your question, OK? So, this question is going to be answered by our CFO, and then be complemented by the CEO.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

First off, we want to admit that our product does have a higher interest rate than the commercial banks. However, most of our business, most of the loans we granted are secured by a second lien interest. And as for the second mortgage market, even though there are some banks that is participating in it, but the number of banks participating in the second mortgage market is far not enough. So, those borrowers who come to me looking for a second mortgage, they usually do their first mortgage with the bank, and the banks usually give them a longer tenure.

And we, as we grant them loans secured by a second mortgage, we are actually supporting their liquidity by giving them a so-called liquidity facilitation. As for the borrowers, when they come to us looking for a second mortgage, we are actually providing them a more flexible choice, to satisfy their imminent need for finance. And their credit worth is actually rising from loaning through us. So, they don't have to service their first mortgage in full and then come to us, and our tenure offered to the borrowers is actually very short, averaging from one year and a half to two years, which will better suit their needs for liquidity.

So, even though, if you just solely look at our interest rate, it's a little bit higher than the commercial banks, but if you look at comprehensively, and to take a more synthetic point of view of both first mortgage and second mortgage, it's actually not that high, our interest rate. Our interest level in the market is actually in the middle. I hope that answers your first question, and we'll move into your second question. Okay, so, like we have mentioned before also, by doing the collaboration model, we are actually bearing risk with the sales partners, because they have to put up a credit risk mitigation position, ranging from 10% to 20% of the total loan amount that they recommend. When there is an MPL, we will collect the position they put up, so that's actually lowering our risk.

However, thinking of the contract we signed with our founding partners, which are the trust companies. So, we set up trust plans with them, and they still subscribe to sending their trenches. We still subscribe to subordinate trenches, however, they are still considered as our VIEs, since we have to neither replace or repurchase, or just put up a sufficient ground to recover any losses, when there is, say, there is an MPL. So, we are still consolidating those trust plans into our consolidated financial statement. However, even though the liability amount does not reduce, but the risk it represents is actually a lot lower, comparing to under the old model.

I hope this answers your second question. And the third question, also just a brief translation. About our technological developments, we actually have two prospectives. One is aimed at our sales partners. We want to allow them to just work on their phone, to be able to facilitate loans and do their business just using a mobile app. For sales partners, this mobile app will allow them to track where they're at of their recommended loans. Since our functions will include upload due diligence files, track risk assessment processes, reveal, even reveal word of mouth. And then can get information now of, have their borrower that they recommend ever been held responsible for any past-due loans?

And the second prospective is actually aimed for us. So, we are also just upgrading our system, and we want to be able to just check the creditworthiness of the candidates, of borrowers, and also we wanna see if we can get more data from the third-party data providers, just to collect credit information of candidates, and just get a rough estimation of the worth of their collateral, using big data or even high technologies, and to better control risk. So, since we are talking about two prospectives, one for the sales partners and one just for upgrading our system, I think that's now a one-step work. It will take time from steps to steps. I think our investment in the first step won't really be over 100 million RMB. And the app for our sales partners is available for use right now, and the upgraded system will be online in the end of this year, we are hoping.

I hope this answers your third question.

Simon Tong --Private Investor -- Analyst

Yeah, those were good answers, thank you so much.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.


Or Next question comes from Neil Gagnon, with Gagnon Securities. Please go ahead.

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Good evening, everyone. Thank you for the call. On switching to sales partners versus doing it direct, I have two questions. Can you talk about the cost of acquisition of the original plan versus the new one? And two, talk about the quality and type of loans that you're bringing in, versus what you originally had, please. And then, I have another question.


I'm sorry, by asking the cost of acquisition, are you asking for the acquisition of sales partners, or the founding?

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Actually, the product itself. If you get a new loan in, and let's call it 100RMB, did it cost you 10 RMB before, direct, and now 15 RMB in the general, or vice versa? I don't have a good feel for the effectiveness of the cost of you bringing in this new business.


Just a brief translation.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Under the old model, we're relying solely on our sales force to acquire customers. At our peak, the sales personnel we employed was about 2,000 to 3,000. Okay, so the cost will include the basic salary of our sales force, as well as a commission we give them, which is about 1 1/2% to 2%. Under the new model, we are actually cutting off our sales force. The sales founders we are employing now is just a couple hundred, and mainly just for maintaining the customer relations and customer service, all those. And also under the new model is our sales partners, who will go out and look for business on their self, and then recommend them to us. Therefore, we barely pay anything as an acquisition cost.

So, since we're having less people, and we are not paying salaries and commissions, our cost for acquiring customers can be really, really low under the new model. So, we mentioned before, so sales partners, many of them used to be our peers, so in the home-acting loan market, the actually had their connections, they had their sales force, so they can acquire customers on their own cost. So, by transforming to a collaborative model, we are saving a lot of the cost used to acquire customers than we used to be in the old model.

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Okay, on the quality of the new product that you're getting with partners, I guess you're telling us you get a 10 to 20% deposit by them. Does that ensure that the quality will be the same as you had it before? Might it be higher or might it be lower?

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

First off, I can assure you that the quality of their collaterals and the borrowers is on the same level as in the old model. And no matter what the sales partners recommend to us, they will still have to go through our risk-control system, and if they don't meet our risk control criteria, we can just always reject their business. They will always have to wait on our final approval to just facilitate the loan. So, no matter if the credit check of the customers, or we do a on-site visit to see how much their collateral is worth, is still done by us. All the investigation is still done by our workforce.

So, just to sum up, if the borrowers that they recommend to us meet and exceed the quality of our risk criteria, we'll approve them. If not, they'll just be rejected, so looking to that, we're actually having a higher quality of collaterals and borrowers than we used to have, under the old model. And just again, we are asking the sales partners to put up a credit risk mitigation position which is worth 10% to 20% of the total loan amount, is that we want them to bear risks with us, and they'll consider that when they recommend clients to us and just do a better risk check and credit check on those.

I hope you find the answer helpful

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Those are good answers. A second question area, you had projected for this quarter, in your guidance earlier, 100 to 150 RMB, and you actually came in 160 RMB. Can you lead us through what gave you the upper range of your guidance this quarter, versus what your range of expectations were?

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Okay, so first off, there sure is uncertainties about our business. That's why we are offering our range from 100 million RMB to 150 million RMB as our estimation. And since there's still aloan amount that's under our old model, we have to consider the change of the market. Say there is MPLs and stuff. And for the upper limit of our profit estimation, we are holding a more optimistic view. That's why we are citing it at 150 million RMB. And for the lower limit, we're actually taking a more conservative view of it. That's why we're setting it at 100 million RMB. And also, we talked about the recovery rate. In a good quarter or a good period of time, we'll just set it higher. We are setting it this quarter, we are setting it at 104%. We are setting it as high as 205% when the business runs good and our operation works good and the market is good, everything is in a good condition. But, when there are outside influence on our business, we'll just take a lower rate, lower to 95%.

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Good, thank you very much.

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.


The next question today comes from Dexter Hsu with Macquarie. Please go ahead.

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Hi, it's Dexter from Macquarie. I have only one question, regarding the asset quality. Can maybe you can briefly talk about the [inaudible], especially [inaudible]. The company had hired to education course, and coming from the delinquency loans. And, can maybe you share your view on what's a trend, and if the worst is over? Thank you.


I'm sorry, could you repeat your question again? I wasn't so clear about the last part. So, were you asking about our...

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Asset quality.


So, are you asking how we are disposing the non-performing asset, or...

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

What I would like to know, actually, what's the delinquency train, is it getting better, and so last year, and actually this year also, the probation cost is higher. And we'd like to know that the worst of the trend is over.


Were you asking about the provision? Just to make it clear.

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst



So, you're saying the provision expense, you want to hear the example to explain that?

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

We would like to know, actually, do we think the trend, will we see higher or lower provision going forward?

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

So, since our outstanding loan amount is actually reducing, so if you just look into the rate, yes, it is increasing. However, the absolute value of delinquent loan amount is actually in a very steady level.

So, under the old model, since we are just transforming to the new, collaborative model. So, the outstanding amount under the old model is actually reducing. Also, we have made our calculation. The most low-incentive delinquent is in the range from 8 months to 12 months. So, with our estimating now, we have passed the period of time. So, the delinquent loan under the old model will decrease as time passes by. So does the MPL, under the old model

Oh, OK. It will remain rather stable.

And talking about the new, collaboration model, just again, since the sales partners are putting up the credit risk mitigation provision, bear risks with us, when there is a MPL happening, they are actually, they will actually repurchase them.

As for now, under the new collaboration model, we have only seen one case of MPL, and it's already been purchased by the sales partner. Even the loan that is delinquent for over 60 days is very low.

So, overall, looking into both the old model and the new model, since the MPL under the old model is going to remain stable in the future, we are assuming that the provision expense is going to be lower in the future. Does that help you with your question?

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Yes, very clear, thank you.


Thank you. This concludes our question and answer session today. I would like to send the conference back over to Tip Fleming for any closing remarks.

Tip Fleming

Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us directly. Thank you for joining. Bye.


The conference is now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 70 minutes

Call participants:

Tip Fleming

Bin Zhai -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Ning Li -- Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer

Simon Tong --Private Investor -- Analyst

Niel Gagnon -- Gagnon Securities -- Analyst

Dexter Hsu -- Macquarie -- Analyst

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