Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:ICE), or ICE, has been growing its earnings at a double-digit rate for so long that it has apparently lost track. Last quarter, CEO Jeffrey Sprecher boasted in the company's earnings release that "our solid top-line growth combined with our strong expense management, including the acceleration of synergies, resulted in our seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth." However, this quarter the company's earnings press release was titled "Intercontinental Exchange Reports Seventh Consecutive Quarter of Double-Digit Earnings Growth." That said, it really doesn't matter the exact length of the streak. Instead, what is important is that it projects to continue delivering double-digit earnings growth for the foreseeable future.
By the numbers
ICE reported revenue of $1.1 billion, which is up 42% year over year. Its most recent acquisitions of Interactive Data and Trayport drove the bulk of this new revenue, providing $265 million of the $332 million increase. In fact, its data service revenue more than doubled to $497 million due to the company's latest transactions.
Earnings increased to $357 million, or $2.98 per share, which is up 17% year over year. Meanwhile, on an adjusted basis (which strips out acquisition-related items), profits were even higher at $411 million, or $3.43 per share, and up 18% over the year-ago period. Accelerated expense synergies drove the company's robust earnings growth.
Cash flow generation was strong at $1.1 billion through the first half of the year and is up 43% versus the first half of last year. That enabled the company to pay off $800 million of the debt it used to acquire Interactive Data. In addition to that, it returned more than $200 million to shareholders via dividends. Further, given its robust cash flow generation, and the progress it is making on debt reduction, ICE has authorized a new $1 billion share repurchase program. Its board also approved a 5-for-1 stock split.
A look at the outlook
ICE is off to a great start in 2016. Not only has its recent acquisitions grown data revenue, but the company is capturing organic growth via increased trading and clearing revenue. Further, it is doing an exceptional job integrating acquisitions, with the company capturing accelerated expense synergies. Because of that, it is reducing its full-year expense guidance from $1.97 billion to $2 billion down to $1.94 billion to $1.97 billion. Driving this reduction is the company's projection that it will capture $100 million in expense synergies this year, which is up from its prior outlook to achieve $85 million to $90 million in cost synergies this year.
With its costs going down and its revenue continuing to grow, Sprecher said that the company is "positioned to continue delivering double-digit earnings growth even as we invest to build our business and generate industry leading returns."
ICE turned in the type of quarter investors have come to expect. With its hallmark being double-digit earnings growth driven by its ability to push down costs by integrating acquisitions faster than anticipated. This has allowed it to generate robust cash flow, which it is using to both repay acquisition-related debt and boost shareholder returns.