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Edited Transcript of EDU earnings conference call or presentation 24-Apr-17 12:00pm GMT

Thomson Reuters StreetEvents

Q3 2017 New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc Earnings Call

Beijing Apr 29, 2017 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc earnings conference call or presentation Monday, April 24, 2017 at 12:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Sisi Zhao

* Zhihui Yang

New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alex Liu

Daiwa Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst

* Fan Liu

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Han Kan Chik

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Regional Head of Small and Mid Cap

* Ivy Luo

* Lin Qiu

CCB International Securities Limited, Research Division - Analyst

* Lucy Yu

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Maria Minli

* Mariana Kou

CLSA Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Terry Chen

HSBC, Research Division - Analyst

* Tianxiao Hou

T.H. Capital, LLC - Founder, CEO, and Senior Analyst

* Xiaoyu Yang

China International Capital Corporation Limited, Research Division - Associate

* Zoe Zhao

Credit Suisse AG, Research Division - Associate

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the New Oriental Third Fiscal Quarter 2017 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) I must advise you that this conference is being recorded today, 24th of April 2017.

I would now like to hand the conference over to your first speaker today, Ms. Sisi Zhao. Please go ahead.

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Sisi Zhao, [2]

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Thank you. Hello, everyone, and welcome to New Oriental's Third Fiscal Quarter 2017 Earnings Conference Call. Our financial results for the period were released earlier today and are available on the company's website as well as on Nwswire services. Today, you will hear from Stephen Yang, Chief Financial Officer. After his prepared remarks, Stephen will be available to answer your questions.

Before we continue, please note that the discussion today will contain forward-looking statements made under the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. As such, our results may be materially different from the views expressed today. A number of potential risks and uncertainties are outlined in our public filings with the SEC. New Oriental does not undertake any obligations to update any forward-looking statements, except as required under applicable law.

As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. In addition, a webcast of this conference call will be available on New Oriental's Investor Relations website at investor.neworiental.org.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Stephen Yang. Please go ahead, Stephen.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [3]

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Thank you, Sisi. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us on the call. We're pleased to report another strong quarter to which we achieved both accelerated top line growth and continued solid bottom line performance this quarter. Net revenues increased to $437.8 million, which is an increase of 26.2% in USD terms and 33.4% in our functional currency RMB, beating the high end of our expected range. Net income was $67.6 million, representing a 39.6% increase year-over-year. As you know, accelerating revenue growth through capturing opportunities across our diversified business model has been a key priority for us. Subsequently, the strong top line growth was attributable to a significant increase in student enrollment in the recent 2 quarters. It's worth noting that in this year, we started to bundle winter and spring courses registrations in Q2 and summer and autumn courses registration in Q4. As a result, we saw extremely strong year-on-year growth of student enrollment in Q2 and Q4 versus moderate growth in Q1 and Q3. We recorded a 56% year-over-year enrollment growth in the second quarter followed by 5.9% year-over-year growth in the third quarter. The combined enrollment growth for the second and third quarter reached 32%. It's also encouraging to see a continuing strong momentum in enrollments and RMB cash proceeds from student registrations in the first 7 weeks of the fourth fiscal quarter, which grew by approximately 37% and 39% year-over-year.

Our key revenue driver, K-12 all-subjects after-school tutoring business, reported a revenue growth of approximately 41% in USD terms and 49% in RMB terms. The combined enrollment growth of K-12 after-school tutoring business for the second and third quarter was 45%. This was mainly supported by U-Can business and the revamped POP Kids program, which achieved revenue growth of 36% and 52% in USD terms, respectively.

This quarter, we remained focused on strong execution of "Optimize-the-Market" strategy, which means we are continuing to expand our offline business while also investing in O2O Two-Way Interactive Education System. In the third quarter, we added a net of 10 learning centers in existing cities, opened a new kindergarten in Beijing, adding a total of approximately 71,100 square meters of classroom area, which represents approximately 6% capacity expansion.

We started to pilot a new dual-teacher model class -- new dual-teacher class model in select cities in July 2016, utilizing online live broadcasting to reach students in low-tier cities with access to high-quality teacher resources from high-tier cities. In the third quarter, we rolled out 3 dual-teacher model schools in the city of Kaifeng, Cangzhou and Qinhuangdao. We have begun to see increased market penetration in more remote areas.

Turning to pricing, per program blended ASP, which is cash revenue divided by total student enrollments, increased by approximately 10% year-over-year in USD terms or 17% in RMB terms. The increase is mainly due to a higher-than-normal cash revenue growth of 32% in VIP business in USD terms or 39% in RMB terms during this quarter. Starting from this quarter, we began to concentrate the registration for U-Can VIP classes in June and December, the first months of the first fiscal quarter and third fiscal quarter, respectively, rather than spreading evenly throughout the year with an effort to streamline the registration process. As a result, we saw very large year-on-year increase with enrollments for U-Can VIP classes in this quarter. In the fourth fiscal quarter and over the long run, we expect that growth of our VIP business will be slower than our overall revenue growth. Also in order to improve the effectiveness and results of our training offer to younger-age customers for overseas test prep, we doubled the class length of TOEFL and IELTS program, targeting middle and high school students since this fiscal year.

Hourly blended ASP, which is GAAP revenue divided by total teaching hours, increased by approximately 3% year-over-year in RMB terms. To provide a breakdown of hourly blended ASP in RMB terms, please note that U-Can increased by 1%, POP Kids increased by 10% and overseas test prep program increased by 10%, all year-over-year.

On the margin front, we continue to make great progress by improving our operational efficiency and utilization of facilities and controlling costs within the company. Operating margin increased 90 basis points and net margin increased 140 basis points year-over-year. The continued strong bottom line performance demonstrates the results of our commitments in creating sustainable, long-term value for our customers and shareholders.

Now, let's move on to third quarter performance across our individual business lines.

Our key revenue driver, K-12 all-subjects after-school tutoring business, achieved a year-over-year revenue growth of 41% in USD terms or 49% in RMB terms and enrollment growth of about 9% year-over-year.

Breaking it down, the U-Can middle school, high school all-subjects after-school tutoring business recorded a revenue increase of 36% in USD terms or 44% in RMB terms. Student enrollments grew by 10% year-over-year. Our POP Kids program revenue was up by 52% in USD terms or 60% in RMB terms and enrollment grew by 8% year-over-year. Our overseas test preps and consulting business together recorded revenue growth of 9% in USD terms or 15% in RMB terms year-over-year. Finally, VIP personalized class business recorded cash revenue growth of 32% in USD terms or 39% in RMB terms year-over-year.

Next, I will provide some updates on the progress we have continued to make with our "Optimize-the-Market" strategy. We have been focusing on maintaining a healthy balance between top line and bottom line growth while investing in the build-out of our O2O Integrated Education System, and this continues to work well.

Starting with our core offline business, as mentioned earlier, we added a net of 10 learning centers in existing cities, opened a new kindergarten in Beijing and 3 dual-teacher model schools in the city of Kaifeng, Cangzhou and Qinhuangdao. Altogether, we added a total of approximately 71,100 square meters of classroom area, representing 6% capacity expansion.

For the whole year 2017, we plan to add 70 to 80 new learning centers for K-12 business in all of our existing cities. We moderately scale up the new learning center opening plan over the course of the year. As we want to be better positioned to benefit from positive market dynamics, we also plan to enter 3 or 4 new cities while we're adding different markets with most business opportunities. We also plan to pilot the newly initiated dual-teacher class model in around 20 existing cities and enter 5 to 7 new cities, all specifically targeting lower-tier market.

Regarding our online business, we invested approximately $15 million in the third quarter to improve and maintain our O2O integrated education ecosystem. Most of the investments were reported under G&A expenses. We have been devoted to this online business build-out since 2014 with an increase in customer retention rates and addition of new customers. We fully believe this is transforming our business and investments will bring continuous and long-term benefits.

Before I go into the details, just a quick recap of our 3 levels of online platform.

The first level, also the core of our online system, is an "O2O Two-Way Interactive Education System" across all of our business lines.

The second level is our pure online learning platform, a supplementary online education product in the New Oriental brand.

The third level of our ecosystem is for New Oriental to take minority shareholdings in online education companies that complement our own online educational offerings.

Starting with the "O2O Two-Way Interactive Education System", we aim to extend New Oriental's traditional offline classroom teaching offerings to online education services. This is also an important factor that sets us apart from other key players in the market. With advanced O2O product services, we're poised to gain more market share and improve brand recognition going forward.

Since its launch in September 2014, U-Can Visible Progress Teaching system, our interactive education system, has been successfully rolled out across all existing cities in our nationwide school network. And this expansion drove positive performance.

Our newly revamped POP Kids English program, Shuang You, has also expanded its coverage to 54 cities by the end of third quarter. The interactive education system has been gradually used in more and more cities.

The O2O system for the domestic test prep program was being used in 5 cities for some classes by the end of third quarter.

And since its launch in the second quarter of fiscal year 2016, the interactive education system for overseas test prep program, including IELTS, TOEFL and SAT courses, was rolled out in 7 cities by the end of the third quarter.

For the second level of our online education ecosystem, we have seen consistent growth in our pure online learning platform and other supplementary online educational products.

As you may have known, we announced in March that Beijing New Oriental Xuncheng Network Technology Co., which operates our online educational platform, koolearn.com, has received the approval of the listing of Xun Cheng shares on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations in China. We believe this could help better strengthen its operation and further improve our online service offering.

In the third quarter, koolearn.com generated net revenue of $15 million, representing an increase of 19% in USD terms or a 26% increase in RMB terms. The number of paid users increased significantly this quarter, approximately 92% year-over-year. The number of cumulative registered users in this quarter has reached 15.8 million. Koo.cn, our own live broadcast open platform for both New Oriental and third-party teachers, achieved around 470,700 registrations in the third quarter.

DONUT, a series of game-based mobile learning apps for children, reported over 56.3 million downloads by quarter-end.

"Le Ci", an English language vocabulary training app for mobile phones and tablets app, reported over 5.8 million users by quarter-end.

For the third level of our online education ecosystem, we invest in selected online education companies with minority stake. And we continue to look for new opportunities that will not only complete our own offerings but also facilitate our own O2O integration.

Now, let me walk you through the other key financial details for the third quarter.

Operating costs and expenses were $380.3 million, representing a 24.9% increase year-over-year. Non-GAAP operating costs and expenses, which exclude share-based compensation expenses, were $372.1 million, representing a 24% increase year-over-year.

Cost of revenues increased by 26.5% to $183.6 million(corrected by company after the call), primarily due to increases in teachers' compensation for more teaching hours.

Selling and marketing expenses increased by 24.2% to $55.9 million, primarily due to increases in brand promotion expenses.

G&A expenses for the quarter increased by 23% to $140.9 million. Non-GAAP general and administrative expenses, which exclude share-based compensation expenses, were $132.6 million, representing a 20.4% increase year-over-year. This is primarily due to increased headcount as the company expanded its network of schools and learning centers by about 10% year-over-year.

Total share-based compensation expenses, which were allocated to related operating costs and expenses, increased by 86% to $8.3 million.

Operating income for the quarter was $57.5 million, a 36% increase from $42.3 million in the same period of prior fiscal year.

Non-GAAP income from operations was $65.8 million, a 40.7% increase from $46.7 million in the same period of prior fiscal year.

Operating margin for the quarter was 13.1% compared to 12.2% in the same period of the prior fiscal year. Non-GAAP operating margin, which excludes share-based compensation expenses, for the quarter was 15% compared to 13.5% in the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Net income attributable to New Oriental for the quarter was $67.6 million, representing a 39.6% increase from the same period of the prior fiscal year.

Capital expenditures for the quarter was $24 million. And this was primarily attributable to the opening of 4 new schools and 30 new learning centers and renovations of existing learning centers.

Turning to the balance sheet. At the end of the third quarter, the deferred revenue balance, which is cash collected from registered students for courses and recognized proportionally as revenue as the instructions are delivered, was $760.5 million, an increase of 29.9%, as compared to $585.3 million at the end of the third quarter of fiscal year 2016.

Before talking about our expectations for the fourth quarter, I wanted to take a moment to reiterate our overarching goals for the year, which we outlined on the 2016 Q4 and full year conference call.

During fiscal year 2017, we will continue to focus on our "Optimize-the Market" strategy. With the current success achieved, we are confident that we have the right strategy in place and that will continue to drive additional progress and help us create long-term value for all shareholders.

To give you more specifics, first, we will continue to expand our offline business. In fiscal year 2017, we plan to add 70 to 80 new learning centers for K-12 business in existing cities. This is higher than our initial target provided ahead of the fiscal year. And we're raising this because we are seeing a growing momentum for our K-12 business due to the combination of our broad product portfolio, solid market demands and effective operation. We also plan to enter 3 or 4 new cities where we identify as markets with the most business opportunities. Further, we plan to implement the newly initiated dual-teacher class model in around 20 existing cities and enter 5 to 7 new cities, specifically targeting low-tier markets.

Second, we will continue to invest in our O2O integration and the initiatives in our online education offerings, promoting the strongest products possible in the marketplace in order to continue to take more market share. While investments will continue, we believe that the total spending will begin to stabilize this year compared to the large annual incremental increases in the last 2 fiscal years when we were building a foundation.

Third, we will continue to have a top priority on improving utilization of facilities and controlling costs and expenses across the company to drive the continued margin expansion and profitability.

Looking at the near term, in terms of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017, we expect total revenues to be in the range of $465.1 million to $479.9 million, representing year-over-year growth in the range of 18% to 22%.

The projected growth rate of net revenues in our functional currency, RMB, is expected to be in the range of 25% to 29% for the fourth quarter.

Lastly, I must mention that these expectations reflect New Oriental's current and preliminary view, which is subject to change.

At this point, I will take your questions. Operator, please open the call for this. Thank you.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Tian Hou from T.H. Capital.

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Tianxiao Hou, T.H. Capital, LLC - Founder, CEO, and Senior Analyst [2]

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Two questions. One is just related to your expansion. And previously, you were planning to open like 30, 40 new learning centers. And what you just said, you're going to pretty much double it. And I wonder the impact, what's that going to be -- what's the impact going to be on your margin? And are we going to maintain our margin or if the margin is going to be impacted a little bit? That's the first question. Second question, not long ago in Shanghai, I think the government has some kind of a policy like students to stay in the school a little bit longer, so that reduce their time to go to after-school tutoring program. And do you see any impact from that? So that's the two questions.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [3]

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Okay, thanks, Tian. Your first question is about our expansion plan. Yes, we raised the new learning center opening we made this year. Originally, we planned to set up 30, 40 new learning centers. But we're seeing our K-12 business, the growing momentum is very good. And also we're seeing growing market demands. And we're quite confident about our new O2O products, not only U-Can but also in POP Kids. So we decided to open more learning centers. Even though we open about 70, 80 new learning centers within this year, that means the 10% expansion, for capacity expansion, we're seeing the margin expansion by 110 bps or for 100 bps in this year. And also next year, I think we will still open 10% more learning centers. And we expect the margin should be improved by 50 to 100 bps up in next fiscal year, so this the question for your -- the answer for question about the expansion plan. The second question is about policy. Yes, the policy changed in Shanghai several months ago, but we haven't seen any negative impacts of our business. Typically, the students spend 30 or 40 hours a week in public schools. Students only spend 4 or 6 hours a week with New Oriental. So I don't think we give a lot of burden to students. We help the students to study in more efficiency and to teach them the better study methods. So until now, I don't see any negative impact of our business. And you see our business, the trend is very good. That's it.

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Operator [4]

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Our next question comes from the line of Fan Liu from Goldman Sachs.

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Fan Liu, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Analyst [5]

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So you have mentioned that in the first 7 weeks of the fourth quarter, the enrollment grew by 37% year-on-year. May I know if this is related to registration for summer courses only or summer and autumn courses combined? And also could you please share with us the utilization and then the retention rates this quarter?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [6]

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Okay. In the first 7 weeks of the fourth quarter, we are seeing 37% growth in enrollment. I think that most of the student enrollments in the first 7 weeks of the fourth quarter is where we reported the GAAP revenue in Q4 and Q1. So we made a change of the time window for the student enrollment registration in K-12 business this year. So that means you will see the 2 windows of the whole year. The first one is in autumn. That's in November. And the second is in May. So you will see more and more student enrollment growth in the rest of the time of the Q4. And the utilization rate, this year is 21%. So that means we are seeing the 200 bps up compared to 19% utilization rate in last year. And going forward, we expect the utilization rates will go up continuously. And the -- what's your...

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Fan Liu, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Equity Analyst [7]

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Retention.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [8]

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Retention rate. Yes, in terms of the K-12 business, the retention rate is 75% to 80% this year. Last year was 65% to 70%. So that means the 10% improvement this year, okay?

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Operator [9]

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Our next question comes from the line of Wendy Huang from Macquarie.

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Ivy Luo, [10]

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This is Ivy asking on behalf of Wendy. So I just, first, want to clarify that this year, we combine our enrollment, so basically spring and summer -- sorry, basically 4Q and 1Q and 2Q and 3Q. So when did it exactly started this -- start basically in the second quarter fiscal year 2017 so that this quarter is the first quarter that we are seeing the moderate 6% enrollment growth because of the combination? And my second question is our -- there's a net loss that's attributable to the minority shareholding. Is that from koolearn? And for koolearn, after now is listing on the New Third Board, what is our strategy going forward to continue push forward the pure online learning? That's my two questions.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [11]

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Okay. Yes, we started to bundle winter and spring courses registration in Q2. So this was the first time. And we will do the same thing in Q4. That means the summer and autumn courses registrations will happen in Q4. Because we're seeing our classes are popular from students, so they want to enroll into the class as early as they can. So that means you will see very strong year-on-year growth on enrollments in Q2 and Q4 versus moderate growth in Q1 and Q3. But I suggest you guys to combine the student enrollment growth in 2 quarters or maybe 3 quarters. So I suggest you combine the Q2 and Q3 and first 7 weeks of the enrollment in a row together, so you can get more reasonable student enrollment trend. And yes, this is the answer for the first question. What's your second question?

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Ivy Luo, [12]

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It's on the...

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [13]

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Okay. Yes, we have several subsidiaries..the(inaudible), the other, extra. Some companies are still in the last, and so - but the MI is not a big deal. It's not a big number. And as for koolearn.com, our pure online platform, it's list in third board markets. I think it will help the koolearn.com to develop more rapidly. And going forward, I think we expect top line growth of koolearn.com will be 30% or 40% year-over-year. And you will see the margin improvement of koolearn.com.

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Operator [14]

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Our next question comes from the line of Alvin Jiang from Deutsche Bank.

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Maria Minli, [15]

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This is Maria Ma asking on behalf of Alvin Jiang. And we have two questions here. The first one is we know that some cities have launched this year's summer promotion campaigns. So can the management share some feedback of the promotion? And what will be the impact on our financial results? Second question is we noticed the margin improvement is quite strong this quarter. So can management give us some color on the margin growth next quarter or even the quarter going forward?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [16]

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Okay. Yes, we did large-scale promotion in last summer in order to rapidly acquire grade 7 students in 27 cities. And I think it's very successful. Because in this fiscal year 2017, the summer promotion generates 3% or 4% incremental revenues. And there's no margin impact on that. And this year, I think we will do more summer promotions. We plan to conduct a summer promotion this year in about 30 cities or more. And I think the top priority of summer promotion this year -- what I mean our job is to get higher retention rates. So we're quite confident that the retention rate in the coming autumn will be higher than that of last year. And so we hope the summer promotion will bring more and more new student enrollments and 3% or 4% or maybe 5% new student incremental revenues in fiscal year 2018. And I think, yes, as we did last year, there's no margin impact, what I mean is no negative impact on margins.

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Maria Minli, [17]

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Okay. So the second question is on the margin.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [18]

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Okay, margin. Yes, we're happy to see the margin improvement. And in the coming quarter, we expect the margin to improve continuously. And as I shared with you guys several quarters ago, our margin target is to get 17% to 18% operating margin, GAAP operating margin in the next 3, 4 years. And this year, I think the operating margin for the whole year should be somewhere between 14% to 14.5% or 14.6%. And so I think the margin will be improved gradually in the next whole year or in the next 3 years.

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Operator [19]

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Our next question comes from the line of Ms. Sheryl Yang from CICC.

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Xiaoyu Yang, China International Capital Corporation Limited, Research Division - Associate [20]

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I have two questions. Could you please share more detailed top line to roll out your dual-teacher model in the next quarter and in the fiscal year of 2018? And the second question is could you please help us to break down the operating margin by segment? And what's the target for the next quarter and the fiscal year 2018?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [21]

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Okay. As for the dual-teacher model, now we pilot the dual-teacher model in 5 cities, 3 new cities combined with the 2 cities we opened last third quarter. And also -- on the other hand, we are in 20 learning centers in existing cities to pilot the dual-teacher model. And our plan is to open, I think, 5 to 8 -- or 5 to 10 new cities in the next whole year to open the learning centers to run the dual-teacher model. And anyway, you will see more and more existing cities to run the dual-teacher model, and -- okay. And the operating margin by segment, the operating margin, what I said before the head office expenses, the overseas test prep margin is about 30%. And the U-Can business, the operating margin is 25%. And the POP Kids, the operating margin for POP Kids improved a lot in the last 2 years. And now it's between 15% to 20%. And next year, I think you will see the margin improvement in all business lines. So this is our target.

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Operator [22]

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Our next question comes from the line of Terry Chen from HSBC.

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Terry Chen, HSBC, Research Division - Analyst [23]

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You talk about capacity expansion acceleration. So I'm just wondering what kind of cities are we targeting to enter. And also what's our strategy in the maybe next 3 to 5 years? Are we entering expansionary mode for the next 3 years?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [24]

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Okay. Yes, we plan to enter 3 or 4 new cities by opening the offline schools in this year. And next year, I think almost the same number, 3 to 4 new cities. So we will enter into the low-tier cities. But even though -- I think if you see the chart where the data, I think there's a lot of cities we can enter into because there are more than 100 cities with a population more than 2 million we're not in. So I think -- but we'll do it more carefully, just to open like 3 or 4 new cities every year. But don't forget next year, we will open more and more cities by the pure dual-teacher model. So that means, we're seeing the very good momentum in our K-12 business and also that we have the best teachers and best web content. So we will open more cities and learning centers. But the key is we care about margin. So we won't let the new learning centers and the cities drag the margin. This is our top priority in terms of the strategy.

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Terry Chen, HSBC, Research Division - Analyst [25]

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Yes. I just had a quick follow-up on your summer promotion strategy. So you talk about start doing the promotion in 30 more cities. And the goal is to have higher retention rate this year. So I'm just wondering what kind of enrollment you are targeting for this year. Last year, we had 200,000, right? So what kind of enrollment number do you think will be achievable for this year?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [26]

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We don't have the specific budgets on the summer promotion enrollment. But I think we should get more students compared to the 200,000 enrollments in the last summer promotion. So yes, as I said earlier, I think we care about the retention rates. We learned a lot from the last year, that means we have more experience. So we pushed the local school to get more student retention rate for summer promotion. This is our first top priority job this year, okay?

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Operator [27]

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Our next question comes from the line of Zoe Zhao from Credit Suisse.

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Zoe Zhao, Credit Suisse AG, Research Division - Associate [28]

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I've got several questions here. First of all, like on the margin expansion, can management give us some outlook on the gross profit margin specifically? Because we noticed the absolute cost picked up a bit this quarter on a Q-on-Q basis versus the previous year. So when we talk about margin expansion, does it mainly come from operating cost savings or GPM has more upside? The second question is regarding the change of your enrollment window. Would that affect your marketing strategy? So because these selling and marketing expenses seem to have some operating leverage this quarter, so I'm just wondering how would the change of the enrollment window affect the expenses spread out. And the third question is on the enrollment growth, top 5 cities versus the others, can management give us some color?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [29]

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Okay. The gross margin, I think going forward, you will see the gross margin will be flattening or improve a little bit. So we have some leverage on the rental or the teaching cost. So the GP margin will be flattening or improve a little bit going forward. And the selling and marketing expenses, I think it's not related to the enrollment registration window change because now we rely on the word of mouth, not the selling and marketing activities. So you will see the more and more leverage on the selling and marketing expenses as a percentage of the revenue going forward. And the top 5 cities, I think your question is about the revenue contribution or the enrollment contribution?

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Zoe Zhao, Credit Suisse AG, Research Division - Associate [30]

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Yes, if you could mention both, that would be great.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [31]

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Okay. The revenue contribution, the top 5 cities, the biggest one is Beijing. So that's 24% to 25% revenue contribution. And the second is Shanghai, 7%. And the third one Guangzhou and Xi'an and Wuhan. These are the top 5 cities. So besides Beijing, each city contributes 3% to 7% revenue contribution each. Yes, that's it.

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Operator [32]

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Our next question comes from the line of Mr. Alex Liu from Daiwa.

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Alex Liu, Daiwa Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division - Research Analyst [33]

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Just a quick question on the overseas test prep business. I think the business itself has been more or less stable for the past few quarters. I'm just thinking about -- concerning the fact that we are undergoing some revamp on the course, content and structures for that business. Just how should we think about it, this segment's enrollments and revenue growth in the next 2 years?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [34]

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Okay. Actually, the student enrollment is up by 1% of overseas test prep and 2 quarters supply. So this is good news for us. And actually, the cash revenue in Q3 is up by 21%. What I mean is the cash revenue in RMB terms. So it's a good start. And, yes, we are revamping the new O2O product on overseas test prep as we did in the last 2 years in POP Kids and U-Can. So the new product will be more interactive, more diagnostic. I think it's more suitable for the young-age students.

So in the coming quarter, I think the student enrollments for overseas test prep will be flattening or low single-digit growth. And we did price increase. The revenue will grow by 10%. But for the next whole year, I think we are confident that the overseas test prep business will grow by 10% to 15% or more because the first launch of the new O2O product with this was IELTS. So we have been doing well on IELTS courses. So we're doing the same thing for TOEFL, SAT and GRE and GMAT. So this is the reason why we feel confident about the future of the overseas test business. But don't forget, we also have the overseas consulting business. In this quarter, the GAAP revenue of the overseas consulting business was 30% year-over-year growth. So I suggest that you guys combine the overseas consulting business with the overseas test prep business. And our CEO, Mr. Zhou Chenggang, ran overseas consulting business in the last 7, 8 years. He and the whole management team have done a great job. So going forward, I think the top line growth of the overseas consulting business will grow very well.

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Operator [35]

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(Operator Instructions) We will open the next line for Ms. Lucy Yu from Merrill Lynch.

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Lucy Yu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [36]

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A quick question on dual-teacher. Can we please learn some color on the revenue contribution from dual-teacher classes as far as the margins? Is it a suitable time to share more color with us?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [37]

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Thanks, Lucy. It's a great question. But we're so far so good, what I mean is for the dual-teacher model. But it's too early to make prediction of revenue contribution because we just opened 5 new cities and 20 learning centers in existing cities. So it's too early to say. So maybe in next 6 or 9 months, I will tell you the revenue contribution of the dual-teacher model.

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Lucy Yu, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [38]

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Just one quick follow-up. So how many classes can one teacher take on average at the moment?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [39]

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Okay. Until now, as I said in the last earnings call, in last November, we successfully pilot a class in POP Kids. That's 1 teacher can face to 39 classes at the same time. But this is the best. But on average, 1 teacher can face 15 to 20 classes at the same time. So that means in the low-tier cities, the students like to take the class of the top teacher from Beijing or Shanghai, the top cities. So this is a very good program. And if the one teacher can face to so many classes at the same time, I think the margin of the dual-teacher model should be higher than the offline classes.

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Operator [40]

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Our next question comes from the line of Leon Chik from JPMorgan Hong Kong.

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Han Kan Chik, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Regional Head of Small and Mid Cap [41]

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Just a simple question. I think your stock-based comp is up 80%. Just wondering like the main reason why.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [42]

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Okay. Leon, we issued the restricted shares to the management this fiscal year in last November. So we report most of the share-based compensation in Q3 and Q4. So this is the reason that you'll see the stock-based compensation increased by 80%.

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Operator [43]

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Our next question comes from the line of Eric Qiu from CCBI.

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Lin Qiu, CCB International Securities Limited, Research Division - Analyst [44]

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My question is regarding to the revenue growth breakdown. Your top line growth by like 33% in terms of renminbi. And for K-12, it grew by like 46%. I was wondering, if we divided by like ASP growth and also the enrollment utilization growth and new learning center, what's the contribution of these 3? And I know there's fourth quarter ahead, but could you give some color on these 3 factors for next year and maybe next year's top line growth? I was thinking if excluding the renminbi depreciation impact, if those 3 would be commenting like over 30% year-over-year for next year.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [45]

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Okay, I suggest that you guys use the hourly rate, as I said earlier, as the ASP. So the hourly rate in Q3 was increased by 3%. So the volume growth is 29.5%. So if you combine the 2 parts together, you get the 34% growth in RMB terms. And going forward, I think we will increase the price. What I mean is in terms of the hourly rates, the price increase will be 5% to 8%. This is our strategy. And the others will be the volume growth. But most of the revenue growth comes from the organic growth. That's why you see the margin expansion. And so going forward, in the next fiscal year -- what I mean is in the fiscal year 2018, I think we will execute the same strategy as we did in this year. So most of the revenue in the next year will come from the organic growth. And I think it's too early to give the guidance of the next year. But you see the very good student enrollment trends in this quarter and the Q4. So maybe I think in the next quarter, we will give you the guidance of the next fiscal year. You see the good trends anyway.

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Lin Qiu, CCB International Securities Limited, Research Division - Analyst [46]

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Okay. I just want to follow up on the existing schools and learning centers, which are opened like for 1 or 2 years before, what's the utilization rate of them? Is there some that are still much upside from the existing centers?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [47]

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Yes. That's why -- yes, the utilization rate overall is only 21% to 22% currently. So the maximum of the utilization rate will be somewhere between 30% and 35%. So there will be a lot of room to improve. This is the key margin improvement driver.

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Operator [48]

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Our next question comes from the line of Mariana Kou from CLSA.

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Mariana Kou, CLSA Limited, Research Division - Research Analyst [49]

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I think most of the questions have been asked. I just would ask another small question on dividends. I know we previously discussed that we don't want to have a regular dividend that would cause some withholding tax impact. But should we expect that this would still be something the management would consider on any basis or view that because of the huge cash build-out you already have on the balance sheet?

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [50]

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Okay, thank you, Mariana. It's a great question because I think the question is for me. And our policy is to be backed, that's why our board would discuss what the next year dividend policy. And also we have 1 more quarter to see how much cash we generate in the whole fiscal year. But don't forget in the last 3, 4 years, we paid 3x special dividends and did several times share buyback, so we have shown the investor strongly. And so we almost paid $350 million to $400 million in total in the last 4, 5 years. And so please wait for 3 more months, and we will discuss in the board meeting in July, okay?

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Operator [51]

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We don't have any further questions at this time, sir, so you may continue.

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Zhihui Yang, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. - CFO [52]

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Again, thank you for joining us today. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or any of our Investor Relations representatives. Thank you.

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Operator [53]

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This concludes our conference for today. Thank you all for participating. You may all disconnect.