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ACI Worldwide Inc (ACIW) Q1 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers - May 7, 2021 at 5:00PM

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ACIW earnings call for the period ending March 31, 2021.

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ACI Worldwide Inc (ACIW -1.14%)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 7, 2021, 8:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the ACI Q1 earnings announcement. [Operator Instructions] [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Mr. John Kraft. Please go ahead, sir.

John Kraft -- Vice President-Investor Relations And Strategic

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. The 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 fourth quarter 2021 earnings conference call. When we last spoke in February, we discussed our strong Q4 results and that our 3-pillar strategy was progressing and already making the difference. Today, I'm happy to report another strong quarter with results coming in, above our expectations.

Let me start by providing some color on our financial results. As expected and unlike Q1 last year, Q1 this year was impacted by COVID-19 related headwinds. Despite of these headwinds, we were very pleased with our results and execution against our 3-pillar strategic plan. Our Q1 revenue of $285 million was down slightly versus previous year, but came in above our forecasted guidance range. Importantly, our recurring revenue grew 1%, adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was $45 million up 19%, which was also above the high end of our guidance.

Our Net adjusted EBITDA margin was 23%, which despite the revenue reduction was up 400 base points from last year, as we remain focused on cost management and profitability. For the full year, we're reaffirming our guidance and as previously discussed, we expect to reach the Rule of 40 this year, for the first time ever. We had some exciting new wins in the quarter, across all segments. Note, we are pleased to sign a new speed pay deal with Cascade Financial, a home loan finance company, which we will allow Cascade's customers to benefit from more ways to pay their mortgage, including via mobile wallet, using our wallet room application.

We are also increasing our focus on securing with large, sophisticated and global merchants. In the quarter, we signed a new deal with Red Lobster to consolidate their payment infrastructure to one vendor, for both, their in-store and e-commerce businesses, creating a similar payment experience across all channels. We also signed a notable contract with a Middle Eastern payments facilitator, for our omni-channel commerce solution. In Europe, we signed an acquire agnostic e-commerce contract with a new UK based payment service provider.

In the banking sector, we signed a new real-time contract with Stax, the largest ACH processor in France as well as an expansionary contract with Union Bank of India. Importantly, we are hearing positive feedback from our customers that we affirmed the benefits of our new fit-for-growth organizational structure, which has allowed for faster decision-making and increased responses.

While we anticipate headwinds resulting from COVID related delays to continue through Q2, our strong first quarter results reaffirmed my confidence in our business. As we progress on our strategy, amid an improving economic outlook. We anticipate a strong second half performance. In addition to organic value creation, we continue to make progress on a complete strategic reveal of our business portfolio to enhance ACI's growth profile and maximize long-term value to our shareholders.

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 Q1, and then provide some additional commentary regarding our outlook for the rest of 2021. We'll then open the line for questions. As we discussed at our analyst day, last November, we are introducing a new booking symmetric that we hope will be easier for investors to interpret, and be more helpful in allowing you all to compare our results on an apples to apples basis, and model the financial impact going forward.

The metric also more closely aligns us with industry standards and peer practices and importantly, the metric better aligns with our focus on growing recurring revenue. As you know, driving recurring revenue is one of our strategic priorities. The bookings metric is called annual recurring revenue or ARR from new sales. And it's defined as the annual revenue expected to be generated from new bookings in the quarter. So new accounts, new applications, and add-on sale contract signed in the quarter. In Q1 2021, AR was $10 million, which is down compared to Q1 last year, as last year's ARR bookings were unaffected by COVID-19. The COVID-19 related headwinds really started hitting us in Q2 last year. So while Q1 was a tough comparison this year, comparison should ease up going forward.

Recurring revenue is up 1% to $246 million while total revenue came in at $285 million, which was down 2% from Q1 in 2020, again, due to the tougher COVID related comparisons. We saw strong growth on adjusted EBITDA in the quarter, which increased 19%, $45 million compared to $38 million in Q1 2020. Our net adjusted EBITDA margin increased to 23% in the quarter, compared to 19% in Q1 2020, as you see the year-over-year benefits of our cost reduction initiatives, as we continue to focus on profitability and drive toward achieving the Rule of 40.

Also new going forward, will be the reporting of our operating segments, which we believe provides increased transparency to our analysts and investors. We are going to report revenue and adjusted EBITDA separately for each of our three target markets of merchants, billers, and banks. This aligns us closer to how we manage our operations and differs from the previous delivery based reporting segments of on-premise and on-demand. In Q1, our merchant segment revenue grew 22% to $39 million, and merchant segment adjusted EBITDA more than doubled increasing 129%.

In our billers segment, revenue declined 2% to $151 million, while billers segment adjusted EBITDA actually increased 13%. Our bank segment, which continues to be hardest hit by the COVID pandemic, revenue decreased 9% to $96 million while banks segment adjusted EBITDA decreased 12%. We also saw a strong cash flow from operations, which were up 22%, $70 million. ACI ended the quarter with $185 million in cash on hand and $459 million available on our credit facility.

We paid down $25 million in debt in the quarter, and we ended the quarter with $1.1 billion of debt representing a Net debt leverage ratio of 2.6 times. Turning to our outlook for the rest of 2021, we expect COVID-19 related headwinds to persist through the first half of the year and for growth to accelerate to the mid-single digits in the second half of the year. For the full year 2021, we continue to expect adjusted EBITDA to be in a range of $375 million to $385 million. I will add here, that we are comfortable with where full year street consensus for revenue and EBITDA are lining up. And finally, for Q2, we expect revenues to be in a range of $295 million to $305 million and adjusted EBITDA on a range of $50 million to $60 million.

With that, I will now pass it 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 the first quarter, as ACI's focus on dedication continues to pay off. We look forward to accelerating our momentum during the second half of 2021, as we continue ramping our strategy and as the economic outlook improves. This will enable us to achieve the Rule of 40, for the first year ever. We remain confident that we will deliver transformational, long-term value to our shareholders.

With that, operator, we are ready to open the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions]Your first question comes from the line of Mayank Tandon from Needham.

Kyle Peterson -- BTIG -- Analyst

This is actually Kyle Peterson on for Mayank. Thanks for taking the questions. So let's see if I can get an update on, real-time payments. It seems that there's been some pretty healthy growth in the market during the pandemic. How should we think about when some of that increased interest and adoption should start to show up in the P&L, and how we should think about that moving forward?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Kyle, this is Scott. Well, a lot of the implementations that we've sold over the last call, at 18 months or so, are still in the implementation process. We've sold them with, what I call, kind of a low capacity commitment. So the key is, I guess the question you're asking is when do we start to see, critical mass in terms of adoption of those volumes? I don't think we can predict when that critical mass is going to happen.

But when it does it ultimately show up as license fee revenue and really come in at it a pure margin. Once installed, those real-time networks really do not have any incremental fulfillment costs with them. But ultimately when that volume does come, it'll come through as licensed revenue. I would say that we don't necessarily anticipate, say a tipping point in critical mass, say over the next, over the rest of this year, or at least we're not expecting it, but obviously monitoring it in many markets throughout the world.

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

And kind of just to compliment, we have a strong pipeline. Our agreement with MasterCard continue to evolve after the win in Peru. So we are very positive about real-time payments.

Kyle Peterson -- BTIG -- Analyst

Got it, that's helpful. And then I guess just, if you guys could provide an update, you guys have been looking at potential M&A opportunities, or kind of evaluating whether there's any businesses that might make sense to prune off, to better position you guys for long-term growth. Is there any update on either of those initiatives, right now?

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

It's a continuous exercise, Kyle, it's part of our third pillar, right? A step-change value-creation through M&A and it includes the divestitures and investments. So we are always considering those and more to come during the year, right?

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Peter Heckmann from Davidson.

Peter Heckman -- Davidson -- Analyst

Morning, everyone. I had a few questions. Number one, just on the new reporting methodology for the three vertical industry segments. Do you anticipate reporting those on both a license versus subscription basis to help the analysis? Or is it just going to be one number that includes everything?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, we'll, disclose that on a, by a fee type.

Peter Heckman -- Davidson -- Analyst

Okay, great. And do you anticipate putting out an AK or something with the historical numbers for these new breakdowns?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, we will.

Peter Heckman -- Davidson -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then just, in biller, looking at it, your ex interchange looks like revenue is down about 3% year-over-year. Just wanted to see if there were some other factors, potentially, maybe tougher comps with the pandemic, but what's your best guess in terms of when we can see billers start to move into the positive, mid, single-digit growth range?

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Pete, I'm very positive about billers. What happened is we saw, a volume upside by the end of the quarter, with the stimulus checks and that continues. So I'm very positive about that, and soon enough, I think we're going to see billers going to the positive part to the positive side.

Peter Hackman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay great.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Maybe I, just to add to that, I think that's where, if we look at our Q1 overachievement versus what we're expecting, when we went out with Q1 guidance. That's really where we saw the uptick, pleasantly surprised with the uptick and transaction volumes that came in the biller segment, in late March. And so that -- And that biller business is all US-based.

So not sure if that uptick was from stimulus, if it was from just the increase in economic activity. But obviously kind of that, the results for Q1 and what that means for the rest of year. I think that ultimately gives us more certainty and more confidence, about the recovery and about our outlook for the year.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of George Sutton from Craig-Hallum.

James -- Craig-Hallum -- Analyst

This is James [Phonetic] on for George. Can you give any incremental color on the progress you've made in converting licensed customers to more of a subscription model? Or just sort of how those conversations are progressing?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Again, we're this would be the first year that we introduce that new construct. And so far we haven't had any of those conversions, most did the renewal of business, and that's really where it's targeting the renewal book, is in the second half of the year. And we'll also target Net new customers that we are in conversations with, deals that we expect to close even as early as Q2. So right now we're in conversation with both existing and new customers, but a lot of the renewal business sits out in the second half of the year.

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. I think, if you look at the pipeline again, we see more deals, they prefers subscription than, one time license. So that is the trend that we are seeing, and we are managing some way that we can keep our guidance and keep growing this company, while we make that conversion. That is our commitment, right?

James -- Craig-Hallum -- Analyst

That's great to hear. And then, in terms of, some of the international growth markets, you've mentioned, sort of trying to put more boots on the ground there, are you at a level where you think you need to be at? In terms of adding reps in those, those markets, or what are you seeing in terms of productivity of those that are up so far?

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

James, that's a great question. I just had a meeting last week and we were talking about that, with the teams, the place that I'm not going to save money is boots on the ground. So I'm going to find them handling the company, in any place that we can. So if I need to continue doubling the sales force, I will, without impacting the bottom line.

I see tremendous opportunity to further increase the sales force in Asia, Pacific for example, and in Latin America. And I think that the deficiency of those increases will be very high end and we pay it back very fast. So we continue to invest. We will continue to invest without affecting the bottom line.

James -- Craig-Hallum -- Analyst

Great. One more from me, if I could, then I'll hop back in the queue. It's good to see the 22% growth in the merchant segment. Do you think that's a sustainable growth rate going forward? And is there anything you're doing strategically that could possibly cause that to accelerate?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Well, yes. We've got a number of initiatives we're working to accelerate. I'd say, that's obviously been the bright spot going back into the end of the pandemic. Obviously, it's continued here in Q1 and we don't see it slowing down. But yes, there's a number of initiatives going back to last year when we kind of did our zero-base planning process to really, take dollars from lower growth parts of our portfolio, and reinvest. This was the e-commerce merchant Omni-commerce was an area that we're reinvesting in. So we expect that to pay dividends.

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

I think, just to answer that. That would be fair to say, Scott, that also, we have some more savings planned for next year.

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Right. Oh, yes. Looking back at just the savings that goes back to the growth and EBITDA year-over-year, the growth in cashflow a year-over-year. Really a lot of the work we did last year in terms of, restructuring the cost base, really sets us up well as we exit the pandemic, and we can layer on that incremental revenue on top of that cost base. But we said going into this year, we had about $60 million of cost savings.

Those actions were affected early in the year. There's an incremental, there's certain initiatives that will roll off this yes, and we'll get an incremental full year run rate benefit next year of an additional $15 million. So we'll either redeploy that in investing in areas such as e-commerce or into the sales force and emerging markets, or that'll drop the profitability. But those initiatives are all still on track.

Operator

Your next question is from the line of Peter Heckmann from Davidson.

Peter Hackman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Hey, just a couple of follow-ups. So on the new ARR metric, that that won't include renewals. But do you anticipate providing a more regular update, like on retention, to give us a feel for Net new business?

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, we can, if there's any significant changes in retention rates. But I will say on that metric, it's really a sub-component of what was previously our new bookings, but it's just focused on the recurring revenue. And so, if you look out and say, when would this annual recurring revenue expect to, when would we expect it to start to show up in the P&L? Our products can go from anywhere to, six month implementation to an 18 month, depending on whether it's, cloud deployed, on premise. So you could probably look at, on average, us start to see a run rate of that into our recurring revenue in probably 12 months or so depending again on the mix.

Peter Hackman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Got it. Okay. And then any thoughts on the ongoing process of the Federal Reserve here in the US, looking to build their own platform for FedNow, for real-time payments? Can you talk a little bit about how ACI is working with the Fed on that?

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. No, we are very involved Peter, thanks for the question. We are very involved. We are very involved though around the globe, in every and each real-time payment initiative and the United States is no different. As you know, I mean, United States is lagging behind the rest of the other markets around the globe or the main markets like India, Malaysia, UK, even Brazil now.

So -- but we are very positive about that. We are working very close to the Fed about that, on the FedNow initiative. We have even people from our company sitting on the Board of the initiative today and we are very part of it. So our plan is to be very, very engaged.

Peter Hackman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

Okay, great. We'll look forward to additional commentary there. I mean, is that something that appears that it's on relative track for late 2023, early 2024 type roll-outs?

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

It is. I think, look, real-time payments is irreversible, right? I mean, this is something that com -- That's where -- That's the rail that's going to be growing, a good like, more than 45% next year. So you can expect the real-time payments growing around the globe, 40 plus for the next years.

And again, United States is no different. The United States understands that you have already initiatives like cell, but I think the more, this is taking more time, as I said than the rest of the countries. But when it comes, it will come really strong. So I'm very positive about that. I think we're going to see a revolution in real-time payments in the next five years in United States.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] There are no further questions at this time. Speakers, you may proceed.

John Kraft -- Vice President-Investor Relations And Strategic

Well, thank you everybody for dialing in and being interested in ACI. We look forward to catching up in the coming weeks. Have a good day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 23 minutes

Call participants:

John Kraft -- Vice President-Investor Relations And Strategic

Odilon Almeida -- President And Chief Executive Officer

Scott Behrens -- Chief Financial Officer

Kyle Peterson -- BTIG -- Analyst

Peter Heckman -- Davidson -- Analyst

Peter Hackman -- D.A. Davidson -- Analyst

James -- Craig-Hallum -- Analyst

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