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Edited Transcript of ECLERX.NSE earnings conference call or presentation 7-Nov-19 1:00pm GMT

Q2 2020 Eclerx Services Ltd Earnings Call

Nov 23, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Eclerx Services Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Anjan Malik

eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director

* Priyadarshan D. Mundhra

eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director

* Rohitash Gupta

eClerx Services Limited - CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Ashok Shah;LFC Securities;Analyst

* Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager

* Harit Shah

Reliance Securities Limited, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* Manik Taneja

Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst

* Nagraj Chandrasekar

Laburnum Capital Advisors Private Limited - VP

* V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, good day and welcome to eClerx Services' Limited Q2 FY '20 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions)

Please note that this conference is being recorded.

I now hand the conference over to Mr. Rohitash Gupta, CFO from eClerx Services Limited. Thank you and over to you, sir.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [2]

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Thank you. Good evening, everyone. I welcome you all to eClerx' earnings call for the second fiscal quarter of FY '20 ending September 2019.

eClerx completed Q2 with USD 50.1 million in revenue at a constant currency growth of 2.7% Y-o-Y, this being our fifth consecutive quarter to cross the $50 million mark. Our onshore business constant currency growth in Q2 continue to be double digit at 12.8% Y-o-Y, whereas offshore business dipped by 2.4% Y-o-Y. Analytics and consulting has maintained double-digit growth on Y-o-Y basis this quarter.

As of quarter end, although our overall high-quality pipeline was similar to last year, we saw an increased share in pipeline for top 5 clients, offshore as well as long-term book, all of which, if converted, will provide good support to margins in near term. We also participated in a much higher number of RFPs in Q2, most of whose results are awaited.

We anticipate our roll-offs to decrease in Q3 compared to the H1 rate, especially amongst the legacy contracts. And we anticipate recovery of volumes in few of the large managed services projects, indicating near-term growth.

Among multiple new client wins, we started work with a Fortune 500 car-making company in the area of analytics and RPA. We made an entry into American insurance client for financial markets trade reconciliation-related work and engaged with 1 of the top 3 Asian Internet companies for managing data on machine learning improvement initiatives.

We made good progress on almost all other financial metrics in this quarter. The most notable success was a margin improvement on a sequential basis. There, our EBIT stood at INR 690 million, a sharp increase of 21% over Q1. Several margin levers worked in our favor along with tighter financial discipline. Just a reminder from our last call, our Y-o-Y margins in Q2 show a drop because of sharp decline in other income, nonaccrual of SEIS incentives, increase in onshore revenue mix Y-o-Y and costs that reduced certain offshore roll-offs.

We continue to see positive margin levers playing out in H2, such as higher hedge rates, employee cost realignments, with lower offshore revenue base, improving margin in onshore business by selecting strategic and higher quality of work, client price hikes and managed services growth.

Our net profit this quarter increased by 10% on Q-o-Q basis. This is a lower growth rate than that of EBIT because of onetime adverse revaluation of deferred tax assets as the likely future tax rate under the newly proposed flat rate [will be]. We do not anticipate any material benefit of new tax rate in the current year. However, as of -- as our older SEZ units cross 10 years in FY '21, adoption of that will provide predictability of effective tax rate at around 27% at [central] level.

I want to explain a few significant changes in various P&L items of Q2 versus Q1. Number one, our other income increased marginally compared to Q1 as we have recorded a onetime loss of INR 17 million on sale of used -- unusable assets of older Pune facility that we let go eventually.

Second, our delivery cost as a percentage of operating revenue improved by 60 bps as offshore employees' base got readjusted to the lower offshore revenue and also onshore staff improved its productivity.

Number three, our facilities costs have now stabilized at lower levels after consuming the onetime impacts of adoption of AS 116 in Q1.

Number four, our selling and distribution costs decreased this quarter due to lower sales headcount, alignment of bonus provision with the revenue trajectory and reduction in the discretionary travel.

Number five, the minor increase in bad debt is caused by bankruptcy of one of the travel clients in U.K. However, the revenue impact of this event was insignificant in this quarter as the client revenue has already tapered off through the last year.

We have included an update in our release on accounting treatment within the stand-alone financials. As you know, that our ESOP Trust had acquired significant number of shares to service future ESOP exercises from our -- in July. However, there's a difference in budget price with that of exercise price of the last grant of ESOP done in August 2019. This required us to reevaluate the ability of Trust to repay the loan at preagreed terms, and we have made reasonable conservative impairment provision of about INR 445 million in the quarter as an exceptional item in our Q2 stand-alone financials. Please note that this does not affect our consolidated financials as ESOP Trust is consolidated with the group financials, eliminating the provision. We will assess loan impairment at every balance sheet date for material movements on the financial results and make further provisions or reversals accordingly.

Our cash balances were at INR 6,271 million that grew by nearly INR 1,000 million from last quarter driven by high operating cash flow generation. Our net operating cash flow conversion of nearly 200% of PAT in H1 is probably the best in the industry.

Our CapEx in the quarter was about INR 70 million and is expected to decrease in the near term. Our top 10 client conversion rate, managed services and onshore mix have all moved favorably on Y-o-Y basis this quarter.

Another success story was our DSO this quarter, which was the best in the last 4 years in a quarter at 78 days. This improvement was possible due to several factors working in favor of us, including implementation of an in-house advanced automation on our invoicing software, nonexistence of changes in vendor payment system at our top 10 clients, implementation of online national invoicing system by the [Kashmir] government and clearance of certain long outstanding dues. We will need to observe Q3 to assess which of these DSO levers are one-off versus long term, and we will update you in the next quarter.

Our staff utilization decreased both on Y-o-Y as well as Q-o-Q basis, and we feel that some of the decrease will get reversed in near term with our employee base realignment and this pickup in volumes in managed services projects.

We also had strong net client additions in our $0.5 million to $5 million revenue client buckets, majority of which were in digital.

Our overall comp headcount has dropped by 254 on sequential basis with decreases being broad based except tech and R&D where we have increased our investments in line with rapidly increasing revenue and pipeline. The high attrition is both a reflection of offshore roll-offs in high-attrition areas, seasonality and initiatives of headcount realignment with the revenue.

To summarize, we are very pleased with the overall outcome of this quarter as a result of margin improvement initiatives that were improved, cash utilization is improving and we continue to put utmost efforts to revive offshore growth.

With this, I will open up for Q&A.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) The first question is from the line of Manik Taneja from Emkay Global.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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Just wanted to understand your outlook for business within your top customers and offshore geography, as well as just, if you could, a few details as to what's driving the significant hiring on the tech and the R&D side.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [3]

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It's Anjan.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [4]

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Yes.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [5]

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I think the outlook remains as it has been. So I would use the word muted. So we've seen our large customers continue to focus more on automation, change the business, straight-through processing, digitization, digital first over and above outsourcing as a broad theme, and we're seeing that across the board. I mean we go through it business by business, but -- so I think that's part of the reason why you're also seeing a quicker offshore is because they're finding that there's more uptake for [order]/automation opportunities than there is for classic offshoring/BPO programs. That actually answers both your questions, I think.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [6]

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Okay. Okay. And you guys were actually suggesting that there is a [just] pickup in pipeline for the...

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [7]

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Repeat the question because you [kicked] off.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [8]

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Any point because of that?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [9]

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I'm sorry. Could you repeat...

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Operator [10]

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Anjan, maybe...

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [11]

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That questions?

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Operator [12]

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You're speaking a bit -- can you reframe your question once again?

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [13]

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Yes. So just wanted to understand. You guys have, since the last few months, said that there is a pickup in terms of our pipeline converted over to the business. So should we translate -- so that translates into a pickup on the offshore revenue growth versus -- or going forward?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [14]

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It's hard to tell because I think what we've definitely seen is -- so today, when you go out and speak to clients on anything that's associated with, let's say, offshore, you're not doing those deals on a pure headcount basis. You're rarely doing this on a pure headcount basis. The large deals are definitely coming in some shape or form off managed service, right, whether it's managed capacity with fixed-term givebacks or outcome-based contracts or true managed service. So some of it is replacing revenue, right? So as contracts come up for replacement, they're being recorded as managed services. So -- and the new stuff that we're winning is, by definition, managed services.

So I would say that more -- a larger percentage of our offshore business, by definition, is becoming managed service. That doesn't necessarily translate into, okay, we're really, really bullish on more offshore business, if you know what I mean.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [15]

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Okay. Okay. [The point is]...

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Operator [16]

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Sorry, Manik, but your voice is breaking.

So shall we move to the next question? Hello? Mr. Taneja, we request you -- your voice is breaking actually. It's pretty bad.

So Mr. Harit Shah -- I'm sorry. Sir, we'll move to the next question, which is from the line of Harit Shah from Reliance.

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Harit Shah, Reliance Securities Limited, Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [17]

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I just want to get a sense. In the last quarter, I think we had this hike in the Maharashtra minimum wage. So we were -- I think when we had asked a question about the impact in terms of housing security services cost, you had said that there's still to be clarity in terms of issues like the -- so have you got any clarity on that? I know it's [you're moving to a new office]. What would be the possible impact on your margins going forward? So some clarity on that would be quite helpful.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [18]

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This is Rohitash. So yes, we have got a fair bit of clarity on that. And when it was first announced, we were trying to assess the impact on our lower end of employee base, front end first. And then on the outsourced services, housekeeping, security, et cetera, what we have assessed is that there is hardly to no impact on the delivery employee cost. So the larger part of the risk is anyway gone.

The second part was on the annual services that we call them. The risk is -- the increased quantum is fairly immaterial. I don't like to call out in terms of any significant margin impact.

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Operator [19]

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(Operator Instructions) Next question is from the line of V. P. Rajesh from Banyan Capital.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [20]

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Just a question on the strategic accounts on Slide 9. This revenue was down 5.6% this quarter. So if you can just comment on where do you see this particular revenue stabilizing in the coming quarters? Or should one still expect it to be declining, let's say, over the next 4 quarters?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [21]

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Well, just to clarify, that percentage decline is of the same quarter 1 year ago, right?

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [22]

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Right.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [23]

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If you look at our top 10 clients, I mean, the good and the bad is -- I mean this level of concentration is that when -- at any given point in time, some clients are in growth mode and some clients are in, unfortunately, decrease mode, decrease. So we've had a -- we've had one large client in the last 12 months that's been in that decrease mode with a combination of work ending because of automation and/or work ending because of insourcing. And that's the reason for that sort of accelerating trend in Q2.

We -- so we continue to see in the next year not necessarily an acceleration. We may see some stability coming through, but it's hard to predict at this stage because, as I said, in any given quarter, there are some clients that are going up and there are some clients going down. But the broad background remains that there's a propensity towards moving towards more minor service, towards shorter term, more onshore solutions are in the programs. And there's the backdrop of, okay, well, clients want to automate stuff. And where -- if they feel like it's of long-term strategic importance to them, then they may have a captive bias for it.

So I think the 2 -- those 2 trends are hand-in-hand at present. And at different clients at different points in time, one takes precedence over the other.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [24]

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And on the onshore revenue, which was 25% this quarter, are you driving it towards a particular number? And relatedly, is the 5, well, sites completely ramped up or there is still capacity there?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [25]

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In recent -- so I'll answer those 2 questions. Maybe the second one is an easier question, so I'll take it first.

There is still capacity in Fayetteville, so we obviously would like to fill that out because that improves utilization and net margins. So that clearly remains a priority, and we're working towards that.

The first part of your question was, where do we see onshore revenue grow to? So there is a natural ceiling, for example, in the seats that they aren't filling. That's one ceiling. If we see demand well past that, then there's a more strategic decision to be made on whether we want to have [pay] to it. At the moment, we're not contemplating that. So that's creates a natural ceiling on that vector of onshore revenue. The onshore revenue that comes from our CLX subsidiary in Italy is clearly not capped. So it's a function of how much demand we're able to garner in that business. And then you've got -- or the 2 other vectors of onshore revenue are the consulting business that we have in financial markets and the analytics business. That's what we would call our chief marketing -- or marketing analytics business. Again, those 2 are not capped. They're just demand based. And the only constraints we're putting on those businesses is that they need to be self-sustaining from a margin perspective or more preferably be driving hybrid business, which is a combination of onshore and offshore. So -- again, so within those constraints, we're not putting any limits to what onshore needs to be.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [26]

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Right. So let me just ask a hypothetical. Let's say Fayetteville was completely ramped up. Where would this onshore revenue be looking like?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [27]

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I guess that would give us, I don't know, Rohitash, have you got a...

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [28]

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So on a single shift basis at current seating capacity of around 250 peeps, it can maybe take us to a $10 million kind of revenue.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [29]

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Okay. And where are you today in terms of the $10 million revenue capacity?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [30]

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Yes. Probably around 80% or tad less maybe.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [31]

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I see. Okay. And when you talk about double capacity, which you can -- as I understood, can take it easily to, then you are looking at a $20 million revenue kind of a number from that particular facility. Is that the right way to understand that?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [32]

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It's a little difficult thing to say because when I said single shift, I really meant almost half day, which is 12 hours, because we have staggered shifts across those [time slots] that govern the active U.S. time. So it's very hard to say whether we will get business which is 24/7. It's probably even not possible. So I would like to keep it at one shift for more practical reasons as of now.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [33]

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Okay. Understood. And then on the margin side -- sorry, one more question on the revenue. So there was a gap of about INR 5 crores -- or INR 4.8 crores of the SEIS revenues. So any commentary on that, whether it will be coming at all this year? I know you did not recognize it last quarter also. So if you can just comment on that.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [34]

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No. So we have no news at all on this front from both official or other sources. And hence, we will keep the conservative stance of not accruing it. But if it were to come for this full financial year, we anticipate that at that point of time, it could add up to INR 24 crores into operating revenue.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [35]

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I see. And would you say that your EBIT margin at 19% this quarter has sort of stabilized? Or do you foresee again going down the way it went in Q3 of last year or, let's say, Q1 of this year? I mean just directionally, if you can give some guidance on EBIT margin.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [36]

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So I think that there's one component in either, which is other income, and a large portion of that actually gets affected by the currency movements as you revalue your assets. So if I keep that aside for a moment, then I think we have a little bit of tailwind on the margin side going into Q3 for the like-for-like revenue, yes. And that's because of the headcount trend that you see on one-off supplies, and we see that continuing in the first month of Q3 also. So this is -- I think we will have a little bit of tailwind getting into Q3. So -- and further to that, there were at least 2 one-offs which we have called out in the deck. One was on the tax side, which obviously won't be there, but that's obviously below EBIT. And there is one, about INR 2 crores-item of asset sale loss which obviously will not happen next quarter.

So overall, if you package those where it is, I think margin has a little bit of tailwind going into Q3.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [37]

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All right. And lastly, a question on the capital allocation. So if I look at your EBITDA for the first half, it's around INR 160 crores. And if I were to analyze it, that becomes INR 320 crores. The EBITDA for the last 4 quarters is about INR 280 crores. So let's take INR 300 crores as the number. You're practically trading around 3x EBITDA. So my question is how are you thinking about capital allocation given that you're sitting on INR 600 crores of -- plus of cash?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [38]

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PD, do you want to take that?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [39]

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Sure, I can. So I think from a capital allocation perspective, our strategy remains the same as the past, which is to sort of target distribution of 50% of net income back to shareholders. As you know, the tax situation in India is very fluid, and there is a lot of talk in the media about proposed changes in taxation as well that might happen in the next few months. We just concluded our last buyback in June. So there's a 12-month moratorium anyway before we can conduct a further buyback.

So I think the thought process at this time would be to let some time elapse, see how the laws evolve on the taxation front and then take a call maybe 6 months from now as to what we want to do once our 12-month window for the buyback expires.

But broadly speaking, I think the goal remains to return 50% of net income back to shareholders.

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V. P. Rajesh;Banyan Capital;Managing Partner, [40]

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Okay. And the promoters are not looking to buy more because they are not restricted by any kind of regulations like that, given where the stock is trading today?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [41]

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No. At this point, there is no such plan. Of course, if there is, then we need to make regulatory disclosures and so on and so forth. So at this point, there is no such plan.

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Operator [42]

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(Operator Instructions) Next question is from Manik Taneja from Emkay Global.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [43]

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I just wanted to understand this -- the sharp reduction in terms of our headcount as well as in terms of cost. So is there some one-offs here? And how should we be thinking about it, given the fact that you've been challenged on growth for quite some time now? So how should we be reading into that?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [44]

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I think -- so that's a multimillion-dollar question, which is that is there a correlation between number of headcount and overall outcomes? And I think we've come to the conclusion, having reviewed data, that I think we want to be much more focused on what we're selling and how we're selling it. The reduction in headcount is purely what we would call quality and ROI related, right? So there's clearly no interest on our part to disinvest from onshore sales and marketing. In fact, I would argue that we hire the strongest candidates we come across at every opportunity and in every geography that makes sense. So that hasn't changed. I think we're just taking a much more critical look at what's working and what's not working.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [45]

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Okay. Okay. Okay. And if you could also talk about how our onshore operations essentially are performing now given the fact that over the last couple of years, you had some challenges around stabilizing the business and given the fact that you seem [to] subscale. So what's the progress there?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [46]

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Our ability to -- it's the -- I went through -- so I guess I gave an answer which sort of alludes to your question, which I think is break down our onshore business into a couple of vectors. So we're obviously a pure onshore delivery. From one center, we can serve them. There is consulting plus analytics work that we deliver mostly in client locations. And then there is a CLX subsidiary, which is headquartered out of Italy. In each of those businesses, I would argue that -- I would say that we've got substantially more scale than we've had in the past. And we are operating at -- on better metrics than we have done in the past. So I did talked about Fayetteville being 60% to 70% to completion, and we've talked about increased -- increase in both volume and margins in the consulting and analytics business, and we certainly continue to see growth, although it's high growth by European standard, low growth by Indian standards in our Italian subsidiary, the CLX subsidiary. So all of those are good metrics.

I think we're also finding that we're able to develop larger client footprints than we had done in the past because that onshore vector allows us to have conversations with clients or parts of businesses of our clients that we have not been able to have in the past. And so it naturally increases the stickiness and the quality of business that we can win. I mean I think we've said in the past that we look at onshore as the front end of a spear, and I think that continues to bear out.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [47]

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Okay. Okay. And if I remember correctly, there was an indication at the end of FY '19 that there was some progress with regards to larger managed services contracts offshore, and some of that were essentially expected to ramp in second half of this year. So any progress there?

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [48]

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Again, I think I alluded to this in an answer to an earlier question. I think there has been progress, and I think we are winning and converting managed services businesses. So if you look at our percentage of the book -- of our total book today that is managed service, it's the largest percentage that it's ever been. But I also caveated that by saying that in many cases, it's replacement for existing work, i.e. when something comes up for renewal, we're often having to convert it -- we will convert it to managed service and/or old business rolls-off, the new business that we win is of a managed service variety. So it's -- it isn't affecting overall trajectory for the business, but it's a necessary part of how new business is won.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [49]

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Sure. And one question for Rohitash. You talked about the levers for margin improvement in second half of the year. So any sense that you are giving us in terms of whether you can recoup our margins and probably end toward where we essentially ended up in FY '19?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [50]

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Manik, I won't go so far.

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Manik Taneja, Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [51]

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Okay.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [52]

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And what I mentioned to a previous question from V.P. is exactly what I meant, which is that we have some tailwind going into that. The only headwind, as you would have seen in the last many quarters, is that our offshore revenue has been declining, right? That's the only big headwind I see, whereas I see several, 5 to 7 different margin levers playing in our favor, some of which have already played out and some will continue to play in Q3. And on the net, I feel there is a tailwind after offsetting for these 2, and I would leave it at that.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [53]

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So actually, I think, PD, you might want to add to that margin point, right?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [54]

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Yes. I think, Manik, I wouldn't sort of say that we expect a structural uplift in margins. I think they will stay, to Rohitash's point, in the same ballpark of where they've been with an upward bias. I think that's the way I would put it.

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Operator [55]

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Your next question is from the line of Bhavin Vakil from Karvy Investor Services.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [56]

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I just wanted to understand from the commentary. What I've heard is this is the time that we are consolidating, and we'll be going forward on the right trajectory in the next maybe 4 quarters. Is that what is the right thinking?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [57]

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PD, you want to take that?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [58]

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Yes. So I think we've shared the steps that we are taking in terms of focus on managed services, focus on automation. A number of those initiatives are longer-term transformations for the business. We think, as a management team, that they are the right things for us to be focused on. The results so far have been tepid, as you can see, from the outcomes both on revenue and growth. And I think that's all that we can say at this point in time. We continue to work on those initiatives, and hopefully, they'll bear fruit in the medium term.

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Operator [59]

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Mr. Vakil?

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [60]

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Hello?

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Operator [61]

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There's disturbance on your line, sir, that's being observed.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [62]

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And can you hear me now?

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Operator [63]

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I think your mic is a bit closer to you.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [64]

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Can you hear me now?

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Operator [65]

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Yes.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [66]

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Yes. So I was saying in medium term, what is the time frame?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [67]

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Time frame for what, sorry?

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [68]

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No. No, by medium term, well, take -- is that like 3, 4 years or longer term? Or how is it?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [69]

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I think that when we say medium term, I would say in our minds probably it's a time horizon of 2 to 3 years that we are working on. I mean that -- beyond that, there's too much change in the business to build longer-term plans in that. So I think any plans we build even from a medium-term perspective would probably have 2- to 3-year horizons.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [70]

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Okay. And in terms of the area which you're focusing on, this category, will that be more margin accretive? Or how is that?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [71]

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So I think from a margin perspective, very clearly the big distinction is between onshore and offshore business because those 2 categories of delivery models come with very different margin profiles. So I think we are trying to push as much offshore work as we can. But unfortunately, at this point in time, to the comment that Anjan made earlier in the call, the -- we see client demand more for onshore services or for automation work. So there is that headwind we face, and we try and grow our offshore business. But obviously, given a choice, we want to grow more offshore. Anjan, I don't know if you want to add something to that.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [72]

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No. I sort of agree. And I think -- again, I feel that we've been pretty consistent as a management team across all the conversations that we've had over the previous 3 quarters that we look at onshore as a means to an end as opposed to an end in itself. So we clearly see we have more margins in offshore than there is onshore. I think that for the future, it's actually very important for us to continue investing in onshore because it provides the feed for growth. And I think...

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [73]

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Okay. Okay. So just one more question on the accounting side of it. So other comprehensive income, the INR 125 million. So can you be more clear? What are the data for this INR 162 million which is a part of other comprehensive income or loss potentially?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [74]

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On which release...

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [75]

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The consolidated September quarter.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [76]

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Are you looking at the press release and talking about other income?

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [77]

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No. I'm looking at your earnings, consolidated unaudited quarterly results. So that's after your profit of INR 237 million.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [78]

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That's right.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [79]

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We think that's after a profit of INR 237 million. The line item after net profit.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [80]

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Your question now, how -- what is included in other income?

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [81]

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Other comprehensive income, I'm saying. Not other income.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [82]

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Oh, other comprehensive income, that's the SEBI requirement to disclose under the new standards of accounting. And this is below the normal PAT line. So there are some discrete items which vary, and they are part of other comprehensive income. This is not to be read along with the normal payment that we discuss.

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Bhavin Vakil;Karvy Investor Services;Senior Manager, [83]

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Okay. Okay. So this relates to Canada, [specifically]. What does this relate to, INR 162 million?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [84]

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We can talk offline on that because of [the time it takes].

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Operator [85]

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Next question is from the line of Nagraj Chandrasekar from Laburnum Capital.

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Nagraj Chandrasekar, Laburnum Capital Advisors Private Limited - VP [86]

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My first question is when an existing contract of yours [should we take] offshore is replaced by a managed service contract? How did the economics change? Is it the more fixed-price, outcome-based contract where we should see a margin contraction of 500, 700 bps?

The second question is there are a couple of listed deals of yours that are mostly onshore BPO/KPO focused, and those tend to make in the mid-teens EBITDA margins. So should that be the logical evolution of a higher-margin trajectory over the next 3 to 5 years?

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Operator [87]

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Participant, it seems you've lost your line with the management. Please stay connected while we reconnect them again.

We have the management line now reconnected.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [88]

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Is PD back? Is PD on?

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Nagraj Chandrasekar, Laburnum Capital Advisors Private Limited - VP [89]

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Yes, it's Mr. Mundhra, sir.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [90]

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Okay.

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [91]

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Yes. I'm here.

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Anjan Malik, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Non-Executive Director [92]

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Yes. So we -- so in answer to the first part of the question, I would say that we're obviously very motivated to maintain margins. So when we do get invalid service contracts, typically for existing contracts, you typically don't take price reduction as a starting point. But what you may do and be committed to doing is give faster productivity better than you would otherwise have done in previous years. So some of it could you show up as margin compression over future years if we are not able to automate or provide productivity as quickly as we committed. Our experience is that's not been the case. But actually, we find that over the lifetime of a managed service contract, we actually end up in a margin-positive environment versus a margin-negative environment.

So the short answer to your question is that we haven't seen managed service have a negative immediate impact on margin as yet. Did it -- and I'll hand over the question about whether -- or what a long-term margin profile ought to look like.

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [93]

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Yes. So I think long-term margin profile is obviously a function of many different factors, most notably pricing and, in relation to that, competitive behavior as well. Assuming no significant change on that element, I would say today the blended margin that you see, an EBITDA of 22% to 24% and EBIT of 17%, 18%, is already reflecting a 75-25 split between offshore and onshore. Tying this back to the earlier comments about available headroom in Fayetteville and being limited and so on and so forth, I'm not sure I see the pace for that EBITDA declining from current levels down to 15%, 17%. I think that would be quite extreme and would require a much more significant change in the mix than what we anticipate. So again, going back to the comments we made earlier, I think we see margins, at least in the near term, being stable around this level, maybe with a little bit of upward price given the tailwinds Rohitash spoke about.

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Operator [94]

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Next question is from the line of Ashok Shah from LFC Securities.

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Ashok Shah;LFC Securities;Analyst, [95]

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So can you throw some light on AI regarding -- about different what we call how a trade is expected in future?

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [96]

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Is your question about our 3 vertical businesses?

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Ashok Shah;LFC Securities;Analyst, [97]

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Yes. Artificial intelligence being developed actively. So any trade from this part or...

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [98]

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PD will take that.

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Ashok Shah;LFC Securities;Analyst, [99]

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Yes.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [100]

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Hey, PD, do you want to take that?

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [101]

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Rohitash, this is about artificial intelligence?

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Ashok Shah;LFC Securities;Analyst, [102]

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Yes. Yes.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [103]

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How it's impacting us in general.

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Priyadarshan D. Mundhra, eClerx Services Limited - Co-Founder & Executive Director [104]

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Yes. I think at this point, I would say, to be completely honest, it has a somewhat peripheral impact on our work. It's not yet mainstream. I would say technologies like RPA, robotic process automation, are being adopted in a much more mainstream fashion by our clients. AI and machine learning, they're all dabbling in this. They're all interested to see what it can do for their businesses. But there are not too many industrial-scale commercial use cases where they've actually been able to apply the technology. On our side, we continue to experiment with it. We have a center of excellence in our R&D team working on various machine learning applications, especially in poor technology such as optical character recognition, voice analytics, computer vision and so on, so forth, which are very fundamental and where I -- we think that if we can make progress, including in areas like natural language processing, when it can have applications more broadly across our 3 businesses. So that's where it is. I would say it's an area of interest. People are exploring it, but it's not yet reached a large scale.

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Operator [105]

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Thank you very much. As there are no further questions, I now hand the conference over to the management for closing remarks. Over to you.

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Rohitash Gupta, eClerx Services Limited - CFO [106]

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Yes, thank you, everyone, for joining us for this call and look forward to talking to you over next call as well as visiting when you get the chance. Thank you.

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Operator [107]

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Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of eClerx Services Limited, that concludes today's conference call. Thank you all for joining us, and you may now disconnect your lines.