Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

ACI Worldwide Inc (ACIW) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers - Feb 25, 2021 at 12:30PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

ACIW earnings call for the period ending December 31, 2020.

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

ACI Worldwide Inc (ACIW 0.35%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 25, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

John Kraft -- Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy and Finance

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Today's call, like all of our events, is subject to both safe harbor and forward-looking statements. You can find the full text of both statements on the first and final pages of our presentation deck today, a copy of which is available on our website as well as with the SEC. On this morning's call is Odilon Almeida, our President and CEO; and Scott Behrens, our CFO.

With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Odilon.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, John. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining our call. When we discussed our preliminary 2020 results in January, I shared my excitement about our strong performance and reinforces my confidence in the significant value creation potential of ACI. Today, we'll provide you with a more detailed update on the 2020 results, 2021 outlook and growth initiatives. Let me start by providing some additional color on our financial results for 2020. Our laser focus on rationalizing costs and maximizing profitability has driven significant year-over-year EBITDA growth and net margin improvements, even against the backdrop of COVID-19.

We are also pleased to be reaffirming the outlook we provided previously, including the Rule of 40 for the first time ever in 2021. In 2020, our revenue grew 3% and our business environment highly affected by the pandemic. Our adjusted EBITDA grew 17%, and our net adjusted EBITDA margin grew more than 450 basis points. We chose our focus on shareholder value creation. Further, our consolidated new bookings grew 36%, and in particular, under Eve Aretakis's management, our Demand segment bookings more than doubled. This results positioned the company extremely well to achieve our organic growth goals in the coming years.

Turning to our strategic initiatives, we have made excellent headway, advancing the Fit for Growth, focus on growth and Step Change Value Creation initiatives we announced in November. On January 1, we launched our Fit for Growth organizational plan to become a more nimble and agile company. We have successfully flattened our organizational structure and centralized sales. We are excited about the benefits of this new structure and we are already seeing positive results, including faster decision making and increased responsiveness to our customers. We look forward to continuing to drive efficiency with activity and customer responsiveness through this flatter, linear model.

As part of our focus on growth initiatives, we have been targeting our investment spend on high growth product areas, such as real-time payments, e-commerce with large sophisticated global merchants and fast growing emerging markets. We are on track to meet our goal of increasing sales and marketing investment by 25% and increasing the number of sales associates by 35% in 2021. And we already delivered improved results, demonstrated by our recent bookings wins across the globe with both new customers and contract renewals from existing customers.

Notable, Q4 deals for our issuing and acquiring solutions include the top U.K. Retail Bank and the leading Japanese International payments brand. In our merchant and e-commerce, we expanded our relationship with a leading European retailer and pharmacy chain, and one of the largest global furniture conglomerates. In the Biller space, we signed many new customers, including a large U.S. financial services and insurance company, and a leading U.S. out of finance company, it's American. We also had an important real-time payments win as a result of our new partnership with Mastercard. It was our first one to our Mastercard alliance, and it happened in Peru.

Finally, under our third pillar of the strategic plan, we continue to sharpen our focus by evaluating and pursuing opportunities for accretive transactions, and we will undertake a complete review of our business portfolio to maximize ACI's growth profile and deliver transformation of long-term value to our shareholders.

I am incredibly proud of the work we are doing, and I'm confident that the new foundation we have built for ACI will empower us to deliver continuous profitable organic growth and Step Change Value Creation through M&A. With our strong fourth quarter performance and our continued momentum, I am confident that 2021 will be an important milestone year for ACI.

In summary, we expect to achieve, for the first time ever, the Rule of 40 in 2021 and in parallel, we are actively looking into investments and divestitures to maximize our growth profile and deliver transformational value to our shareholders. Before I turn the call over to Scott to discuss the financials, I'd like to briefly touch on an announcement we made today. Pursuant to an agreement we reached with one of our shareholders, Starboard Value, our Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, we will work with Starboard to identify two new independent directors to be appointed to the ACI Board in March 2021. This announcement builds on our Board's track record of refreshment, following the appointment of two additional independent directors over the past two years. We are pleased to have reached this agreement and expect these new directors will offer fresh and value perspectives as we continue our efforts to maximize profitability and create significant shareholder value.

With that, I will turn it over to Scott to discuss the financials. Scott?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Odilon, and good morning, everyone. I first plan to go through our financial results for 2020 and then provide some additional commentary regarding our outlook for 2021. We will then open the line for questions. For the full year 2020, total bookings were up 21%, while new bookings were up 36% compared to 2019. New bookings in our On Demand business more than doubled over last year, while new bookings in our On Premise license software business declined primarily due to COVID-related delays in purchasing decisions by our bank customers, which impacted significantly our license fee revenues.

2020 revenue was $1.29 billion [$1.294 billion], up 3% from 2019, largely due to having a full year Speedpay results, offset by declines in non-recurring license fee revenue. Recurring revenue grew 10%, significantly above the total company revenue growth, and now represents 76% of total revenue in 2020, up from 71% in 2019. Revenue from our On Premise business was down 9% in 2020 due to lower non-recurring license revenue from new sales, primarily resulting from COVID-related purchasing delays. As you know, our products are mission-critical, so it didn't impact our existing customer renewals, meaning, we are not losing customers, but it did impact license revenue from new sales, in particular, from our bank customers. Revenue from our On Demand business was up 13% in 2020, primarily due to the contribution from Speedpay. In addition, on an organic basis, we saw higher e-commerce volumes and omnichannel merchant payments, helping offset COVID-related slowing in certain verticals in our Biller solution.

Obviously, in 2020, we had little control over the macro-related headwinds impacting the purchasing behaviors of our bank customers and transaction volumes in our Biller business, but we were laser-focused on the areas we could control, including profitability and liquidity. Our efforts to improve our operational discipline helped generate significant profitability growth in 2020, with adjusted EBITDA of $359 million, up 17% from 2019.

Consolidated net adjusted EBITDA margin expanded to 37%, up from 33% in 2019. And it's important to note that this growth is not just a result of the incremental Speedpay contribution, as EBITDA also grew on an organic basis. We saw significant profitability improvement in our On Demand business from 19% in 2019 to 34% in 2020. We are very pleased with our profitability improvements in our On Demand business. And even with the revenue decline in our On Premise business, our cost control efforts were able to maintain our 55% margins in 2020, which were in line with 2019.

Our EBITDA growth contributed to strong cash flow growth in 2020, with cash flow from operating activities of $336 million, up more than double from 2019. And we ended the year with significant liquidity, including $165 million in cash and $444 million available on our revolver. During the year, we paid down $223 million in debt and repurchased 1 million shares of our stock for 2019. We ended the year with $1.2 billion of debt, representing a net debt leverage ratio of 2.8 times.

And finally, turning to our outlook for 2021. While we currently expect COVID-19-related headwinds to persist through the first half of 2021, we expect growth to accelerate to the mid-single digits in the second half of the year. For the full year 2021, we expect adjusted EBITDA to be in a range of $375 million to $385 million, which assumes net adjusted EBITDA margin expansion. This excludes one-time cost related to cost reduction initiatives we discussed at our Analyst Day in November. For Q1 2021, we expect revenue to be in a range of $270 million to $280 million, and adjusted EBITDA to be in a range of $25 million to $35 million.

So with that, I will now pass it back over to Odilon for some closing comments. Odilon?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Scott. In closing, we are pleased with the company's performance in 2020, and look forward to continuing our momentum in 2021. We are well positioned to advance our three-pillar strategy, and we are confident that we will continue to recover within our new organizational structure and increased focus on our higher growing areas. In parallel, we are actually looking into investments and divestitures to maximize our growth profile and deliver transformational long-term value to our shareholders.

I look forward to update you on our progress. We are now happy to take your questions. Thank you.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] We have our first question from the line of Mr. Brett Huff from Stephens Incorporated. Your line is now open.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning, guys. How are you.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Brett.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Just a couple of questions. Number one, congrats on the Mastercard joint win. I think it was Peru or somewhere in Latin America. Can you just give us -- unpack that a little bit? How did the sales process go? Was it competitive? Kind of what got you guys over the finish line from a decision point of view.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, well, I'll answer that. Yeah, it is Peru. We had announced last summer that more enhanced partnership with Mastercard, in particular, really targeting a specific list of countries to go to market on a joint effort, and that's really a product of that, that partnership that we announced last summer. So, it's obviously getting early traction and we're really confident in that.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Brett, its basically the national switch, and Mastercard is going to operate and we are going to be the software. So that's the summary of it.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

And so this is where you guys are doing most of the bank on ramp stuff, whereas Mastercard is due in the central hub. Is that kind of the division of labor?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Correct, correct.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. Second question is just on the guidance. I think you guys said accelerating to mid-single digits in the back half, you had mentioned sort of mid-single digits, I think, over the next three years at the Analyst Day. Is that a little bit of a shift? Or we're just feeling a little bit longer COVID negative impact in the first half? Is that what's going on, or am I misreading that communication?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Brett. We don't believe it's a shift. We continue to have the same guidance of before we continue under COVID-19 as you just said. So there is impact of COVID-19 in the first quarter, no question about that. I mean, nothing changed, yeah, versus the Q4 quarter. So we continue to see our banks delaying decisions on license revenue basically, so that's the only effect that we see. We also see some effects on the volume of bill payment that is also consistent with Q4. And so the effects of COVID-19 continues. We don't know how long they will be. We don't expect them to continue during the second half, and that's why we say mid digits by second half.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, that's helpful. And then last one on the strategic review, any purview on that? I think you mentioned reviewing the portfolio, but kind of how broad or narrow is that? Just give us -- I don't know how much you can say, now there is an 8K probably coming up soon. But just what are the kind of parameters of that? If you could give us any qualitative thoughts on it?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It's a very broad. I mean, we are -- and that's what the third pillar is about, right. So there is no news here. I mean, we -- since the beginning, we said that the third pillar is to provide Step Change Value Creation to our shareholders through M&A, that could be through divestiture of no strategic assets or buying some assets also in a highly accretive way, and we continue to that. So it's very broad and continues to be very broad, so.

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, great. That's what I needed. I appreciate the time, guys.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. Thanks, Brett.

Operator

And our next question is from the line of Peter Heckmann from Davidson. Your line is now open.

Peter Heckmann -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Good morning, gentlemen. Nice results in the fourth quarter. I wanted to see how you're thinking about both the renewal pipeline for 2021 as well as new business? If you can talk about where you might be seeing some RFP activity on country basis or a large financial institution basis that we should be keeping in mind?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I'd say. In some of the comments I made in my prepared remarks. Even with 2020, it wasn't really the renewal book that was the issue. We have a solid renewal book in 2021. I would say, really where we're seeing the growth opportunity is really going to come as those banks pick up spending in the second half of the year. And what I'm referring to there is more the net new sales versus versus existing renewals. That was really where we fell short in 2020, was to get not in renewals but in net new spend, whether new logos or cross-sell of new applications. That's where we see in our pipeline this year that picking up, and that's going to allow us here in the second half of the year to get to deliver our long-term targets of mid-single digit.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Aretakis [Phonetic] had been making calls with CEO of banks here in the United States, in Singapore. I was in meetings in Brazil also with some CEOs of some banks. And what I can tell you is that I start to see light in the tunnel for the second half of this year. So, they started to talk about the projects that they will not talk anymore about modernization, about going to the cloud. So I'm positive. I'm optimistic about the second half of the year. I think, things will get more to a normal state business wise by the second half of this year.

Peter Heckmann -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

That's great. That's great. And then can you just talk about the interplay and maybe in some of the countries that already have real-time payments, the interplay between kind of more traditional biller, direct bill pay and then real-time payments? Maybe how much of the payment volume has shifted over to a direct account to account payment versus the card-based payments?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I can tell you, for example, we are. I'll give an example so that becomes more real. I guess Brazil, the picks in Brazil, right. I mean that has just been launched and is already like making as like 5 million accounts already, like a few months. So when it starts, it starts very fast. So they're basically three rails around the globe for payments, right. And all the others are variances of this three rails. You can have physical cash. You can have cards or you can have real-time payments. And what we expect going forward is that cash will continue to be stable and going down a little bit, and cards is not going to be growing as much as they have been growing the past, right 20% plus, it's going to slow down a little bit. And -- but the bulk of the growth is really being real-time payments, and that's what we're seeing. It's a much more effective, efficient rail, and that's why everybody is looking to that and that's why it's the center of our strategy.

Peter Heckmann -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

And our next question is from the line of Mr. George Sutton from Craig-Hallum. Your line is now open.

George Sutton -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Thank you. And first my congratulations on your being responsive to shareholders with the upcoming Board as I think that's going to be well received. I wanted to ask and maybe it's worth the thing. But also in your script and in the press release you talked about long-term shareholder appreciation. And as you may know, given the history, long-term has always been an amorphous kind of an item, and I wanted to look at that up against Odilon your weekly sprints that you run in the business. Just to understand the sense of timing that everybody has in this whole process? Thanks.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I know. And thank you George for the question, because you just said. I think there is a flaw in the script, because we communicated I think did their own thing. We are here for the short-term, for the middle-term and for the long-term. So it's value creation now, it's value creation also in the long-term. And the -- I think, the most important proof for it is we are going to achieve the Rule of 40 for the first time this year. So after you know nine months, now its one year almost that I've been in company. This is going to be the first year ever that the company will achieve the Rule 40. So, and that creates value to shareholders, right. I mean, immediate revenue to shareholders. So, yeah, so great catch George. So it is about short, medium and long-term.

George Sutton -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

All right. I really appreciate that clarification. Relative to your divestitures, you're talking about the slower growing areas, as you're increasing your investment in the faster growing areas, I'm just curious how are you thinking of the investment of those areas that may or may not be targeted for a potential sale?

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, basically you have areas of high growth, you have areas that are important for us, like billers and issuing and acquiring, that are not going to be growing by double-digits, but we will be growing by mid digits -- by close to mid digits, and we call protect and grow, and we have other divesture areas that we are looking to now, assets that are not strategic. So it is a fine balance on protecting the core areas, but releasing funds to invest heavily on the high areas. Just to give you more color about that George, last year through bank, we went through the first I would say, zero-based exercise of the company, and they're real zero base. I was on top of it, Scott was very much close to it. And with zero base, the investments of the company and we came from that point to see, OK what do we really need. And that's why, by that time, we were able to find $60 million this year and $75 million next year that we were able to reinvest in the business part of it and part of it I give it to bottom line, so.

George Sutton -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

Perfect. I appreciate the thoughts.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, George.

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, George.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] There are no questions at this time, sir. You may now proceed. Thank you.

John Kraft -- Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy and Finance

Well, thanks everybody for joining us. We look forward to catching up with everybody in the coming weeks. Have a good day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 23 minutes

Call participants:

John Kraft -- Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy and Finance

Odilon Almeida -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Brett Huff -- Stephens Inc. -- Analyst

Peter Heckmann -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

George Sutton -- Craig-Hallum Capital -- Analyst

More ACIW analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

ACI Worldwide, Inc. Stock Quote
ACI Worldwide, Inc.
ACIW
$25.86 (0.35%) $0.09

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
330%
 
S&P 500 Returns
115%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/23/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.