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Edited Transcript of FLT earnings conference call or presentation 6-Nov-19 10:00pm GMT

Q3 2019 Fleetcor Technologies Inc Earnings Call

NORCROSS Nov 11, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Fleetcor Technologies Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 10:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Eric R. Dey

FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary

* James P. Eglseder

FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Head of IR

* Ronald F. Clarke

FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Ashish Sabadra

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Damian Justus Wille

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst

* David Mark Togut

Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD

* Jennifer Catherine Dugan

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Associate

* John Kimbrough Davis

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - Research Analyst

* Robert Paul Napoli

William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division - Partner and Co-Group Head of Financial Services & Technology

* Ryan Allen Cary

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani

Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD

* Trevor Ellis Williams

Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Associate

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Greetings, and welcome to the FLEETCOR Technologies Third Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. As a reminder, this call is being recorded. I would like to turn the conference over to our host, Mr. Jim Eglseder, Head of Investor Relations for FLEETCOR Technologies. Thank you, sir. You may begin.

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James P. Eglseder, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Head of IR [2]

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Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for our third quarter 2019 earnings call. With me today are Ron Clarke, our Chairman and CEO; and Eric Dey, our CFO. Following comments from both Ron and Eric, the operator will announce your opportunity to get into the queue for a Q&A session. It is only then that the queue will open for questions.

Please note, our earnings release and supplement can be found under the Investor Relations section of our website at fleetcor.com. Throughout this call, we will be presenting non-GAAP financial information, including adjusted revenues, adjusted net income and adjusted net income per diluted share. This information is not calculated in accordance with GAAP and may be calculated differently than non-GAAP information at other companies.

Reconciliations of historical non-GAAP financial information to the most directly comparable GAAP information appears in today's press release and on our website as previously described. We are also providing updated 2019 guidance under the GAAP and non-GAAP basis with reconciliations.

Now before we begin our formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that part of our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. This includes forward-looking statements about our guidance and outlook, new products and fee initiatives and expectations regarding business developments and acquisitions. They are not guarantees of future performance, and therefore, you should not put undue reliance upon them. These results are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from what we expect. Some of those risks are mentioned in today's press release on Form 8-K and on our annual report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These documents are available on our website and at www.sec.gov.

With that out of the way, I would like to turn the call over to Ron Clarke, our Chairman and CEO. Ron?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [3]

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Okay. Jim, thanks. Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining our third quarter earnings call. Upfront here, I'll plan to cover 3 subjects. First, I'll provide my perspective on our Q3 results and outlook for Q4. Second, I'll share our continued progress on our Beyond initiative. And lastly, I'll update you on the acquisition front.

Okay. So on to Q3. We reported Q3 revenue of $681 million, up 10%, and $3.10 in cash EPS, up 16%. On a constant macro and constant scope basis, or what we call like-for-like basis, revenue was up 11% and cash EPS up approximately 17%. So right in line with our targets.

Overall, organic revenue growth was 11% in Q3, with fuel card organic revenue growth finishing at 10% in the quarter. Our global fuel card revenue represented about 42% of our overall consolidated Q3 revenue. Our 3 nonfuel lines of business performed quite well, with lodging and toll revenue both up 17% and corporate pay revenue up 24%. The volume growth, quite strong in all 3 nonfuel lines of business. In lodging, our SMB room nights were up 10%. In toll, our active tags, up 8%. In corporate pay, our virtual card spend, up 14%. So healthy volume growth in each business.

Our trends in the quarter, also quite good. Our new sales or new bookings, up 14% versus the prior year, and once again, we signed up over 30,000 new business accounts to our various programs. That represents over $100 million of new annualized recurring revenue, so real demand for our offerings.

Same-store sales rebounded quite nicely into the plus column, plus 1%. Inside of that number, various puts and takes. Our trucking business, quite soft really everywhere, here in the U.S., in the U.K. and even in Brazil. That was offset by strength in our Mexico and Russia fuel card business and within our corporate payments business.

Our client or business retention continued quite steady at 92%, so obviously, pleased with that. Our balance sheet, in a very good place. Leverage finished below 2x, and we now have approximately $1.3 billion available on our revolver, so well positioned to allocate capital to buybacks and/or acquisitions. And given the -- some recent weakness with tech IPOs, maybe valuations will come down.

So in summary, Q3, another clean, solid quarter. Organic revenue growth, 11%; profit growth, 16%; strong volume growth on our 3 nonfuel businesses; continued positive sales, retention and same-store sales trends; and lastly, Q3 profits finishing at the top of our guidance range.

Okay. Let me make a turn to our outlook for Q4. We're confirming overall organic revenue growth guidance of 9% to 11% for Q4, with fuel card organic revenue growth in the 7% to 9% range. That's on tougher comps. We're raising full year 2019 cash EPS guidance to $11.73 at the midpoint. That reflects our $0.05 Q3 beat to guidance.

Just as a reminder, our initial 2019 full year guidance from February was $11.55. The assumptions within our updated rest of year guidance versus the last time we spoke, slightly less favorable macro primarily due to FX weakness in Brazil. But that will be offset by a higher acquisition contribution, the TA deal which closed on October 1.

Okay. Let me transition to an update of our Beyond strategy initiatives. Just as a reminder, our Beyond strategy idea is really twofold: first, to offer our existing clients the opportunity to spend more with us by expanding the network in which they can make purchases; and then second, to attract new customers and/or new customer segments to which our expanded network appeals, so for example, offering urban or city drivers in Brazil the option of using our RFID parking and fueling sites in the city.

So let's start off with Beyond fuel here in the U.S. Another good quarter. We activated approximately 1,500 new Beyond fuel clients in Q3. That's out of roughly 100,000 existing U.S. fuel card clients that we're targeting. These companion card clients, those that purchase both fuel and nonfuel, spend about 50% more and generate 25% more revenue per account than pure U.S. fuel clients.

In addition, 20% of all new Q3 fuel card sales in the U.S. were to Beyond fuel or 2 for clients, those choosing the option to purchase nonfuel items in addition to fuel.

Moving on to Beyond toll. In Brazil, Q3 continued further adoption of our 5 million existing toll users there. The fuel transactions grew nicely, up 60% in Q3 versus the prior year. The McDonald's transactions, crazy, reached 460,000 in the quarter, up sequentially from Q2, and we estimate on track now to reach 3 million next year in 2020. But maybe more importantly is the impact of Beyond toll in attracting these new urban or city users. So the new urban sticker users added in Q3 was 58,000. That's up from 3,500 in Q1 and 18,000 in Q2. So the idea of attracting some of the potential 20 million Brazil city drivers to our Beyond toll offering is starting to materialize.

Okay. In our corporate payments business, historically, we've relied on the virtual card as our primary go-to-market offering. But now with the recent Nvoicepay acquisition, we plan to broaden our go-to-market approach with 4 offerings. So one will be plastics, offering simple P-Card programs as an initial entrée in the accounts payable space; two, virtual cards for clients who want to digitize some but not all of their payables; third, full AP for clients who want to transform their entire AP process and make 100% of their payables electronic; and then lastly, cross-border payments for clients who have some international payments, who want a simple and integrated way to make those payments from the same user interface.

In Q3, about 14% of our overall payables revenue, excluding cross-border, was from full AP, so up from a fraction earlier in the year. So we expect this 4-prong payables product line to dramatically strengthen our market position as we move into 2020.

So to us, the Beyond strategy initiative is now working on both fronts. It's increasing the spend and revenue that we get from existing fuel, toll and virtual card clients. And maybe more importantly, the Beyond offer is attracting new types, new kinds of clients to our programs. Again, as I said, 20% of all new U.S. fuel card clients sold in Q3 with the Beyond offer and 20% of all new Brazil tag users in Q3 to the Beyond toll offer. So starting to become material.

Okay. Last up is acquisitions. We're delighted to announce the acquisition of Travelliance in early October. This is one of the deals we mentioned on our last call that was closed in, and we're pleased to have completed that deal. TA broadens our existing lodging business into the airline segments, cruise, distressed passengers, even the airline personnel. And because it's global, it adds international hotel coverage and feet on the street capabilities. This reflects our strategy of entering adjacent lodging segments, so in this case, airlines. But there's others like corporate apartments or corporate meetings that could expand the TAM of our hotel line of business.

We paid about $120 million for TA, annualized revenue approximately $50 million, with 20% EBITDA margins. Looking for TA to be accretive in 2020.

In terms of pipeline, still quite active. Currently, we're working 4 or 5 tuck-in opportunities in our fuel, lodging and corporate pay spaces. And as I mentioned earlier, plenty of liquidity to pursue them.

So in closing, we had a very good Q3, double-digit revenue and profit growth and continued good trends. Q4 outlook is maintained despite the less favorable FX in Brazil. Our Beyond strategy, gaining more traction. We're capturing additional spend from existing clients and again, extending the TAM and the new prospect base for our services. We continue to close tuck-in deals and have additional opportunities in the works.

So with that, let me turn the call back over to Eric to provide some additional details on the quarter. Eric?

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Eric R. Dey, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary [4]

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Thank you, Ron. For the third quarter of 2019, we reported revenue of $681 million, up 10% compared to $619.6 million in the third quarter of 2018. GAAP net income increased 43% to $225.8 million from $157.7 million, and GAAP net income per diluted share increased 46% to $2.49 from $1.71 in the third quarter of 2018. As a reminder, included in the third quarter of 2018 results was a $23 million true-up charge to income taxes related to the transition tax liability originally recorded at the end of 2017 in connection with the U.S. tax reform, which reduced the GAAP net income and GAAP net income per diluted share in the quarter.

Non-GAAP financial metrics that we'll be discussing are adjusted net income and adjusted net income per diluted share, for which the reconciliation to GAAP numbers is provided in Exhibit 1 of our press release. Adjusted net income for the third quarter of 2019 increased 14% to $280.6 million compared to $246.6 million in the same period last year. And adjusted net income per diluted share increased 16% to $3.10 compared with $2.68 in adjusted net income per diluted share in the third quarter of 2018.

Third quarter results reflect a negative year-over-year impact from the macroeconomic environment of approximately $7 million in revenue. The macro impact was primarily due to lower foreign exchange rates when compared with the third quarter of 2018, which we believe negatively impacted revenue by approximately $7 million due primarily to unfavorable foreign exchange rates in Brazil and the U.K.

Fuel prices were also slightly worse year-over-year in the third quarter. And although we cannot precisely calculate the impact of these changes, we believe it negatively impacted revenue by approximately $3 million in the quarter. This negative impact was partially offset by a $3 million favorable impact in fuel spreads.

Organic revenue growth after adjusting out the impact of the macroeconomic environment and the Chevron deconversion was approximately 11% for the third quarter of 2019, and all major product categories performed well during the quarter. Organic growth in our fuel card business was 10%, excluding the deconversion of the Chevron portfolio driven by solid growth in most of our fuel card businesses. And our Beyond fuel initiative contributed about 1 to 2 points of growth during the third quarter.

The corporate payments category continues to perform well and was up 24% organically during the quarter. The growth in corporate payments was driven by both our cross-border business, which grew in excess of 30% again in the quarter and our Comdata Corporate Payments business, which grew in the upper teens. Both our toll business and our lodging business were up 17% organically. So all in all, another very good quarter for our nonfuel businesses, resulting in very strong organic growth performance in the quarter.

Same-store sales also improved sequentially from a decrease of approximately 1% in the second quarter, to an increase of approximately 1% in the third quarter. There are a lot of puts and takes between our businesses around the world. But generally, our Mexico and Russia fuel card businesses and our corporate payments businesses were strong in the quarter. That was partially offset by our trucking business in the U.S., in the U.K. and Brazil that were a bit soft in the quarter.

Now moving down the income statement. Total operating expenses were up 4% percent for the third quarter of 2019 to $351.9 million compared with $338.5 million in the third quarter of 2018. The increase was primarily due to acquisitions and normal growth in our operations. As a percentage of total revenues, operating expenses were approximately 51.7% compared to 54.6% in the third quarter of 2018. Included in operating expenses are credit losses of $15 million for the third quarter or 5 basis points versus $17 million or 6 basis points in the third quarter of 2018.

As expected, we've begun to see the reduction in losses as a result of some new AI tools and processes we put in place earlier this year. And we continue to expect more improvement as the fuel stations implement EMV card terminals through 2020. Depreciation and amortization expense was flat at $67.3 million in the third quarter of 2019 compared to $67.3 million in the third quarter of 2018.

Interest expense increased 1% to $36.5 million compared to $36.1 million in the third quarter of 2018. The increase in interest expense was due primarily to the impact of acquisitions closed in 2019 and higher LIBOR rates compared with last year.

Our effective tax rate for the third quarter of 2019 was 22.9% compared to 33.6% for the third quarter of 2018. The 2018 third quarter tax rate included a $23 million true-up of our provisional transition tax liability originally recorded at the end of 2017 in connection with U.S. tax reform. If we exclude the impact of the transitional tax adjustment, the tax rate for the third quarter of 2018 would have been 23.4%.

Now turning to the balance sheet. We ended the quarter with $1,470,000,000 in total cash. Approximately $412 million is restricted and consists primarily of customer deposits. As of September 30, 2019, we had about $3.5 billion outstanding on our term loans and revolver and approximately $1,285,000,000 of undrawn availability. We also had $992 million borrowed in our securitization facility at the end of the quarter.

In the third quarter of 2019, we repurchased approximately 184,000 shares of our stock for $55 million, and we have $489 million remaining under our current authorization. The Board has authorized an additional $1 billion increase in the share buyback authorization, and we now have nearly $1.5 billion in total capacity. As of September 30, 2019, our leverage ratio was 1.98x EBITDA as calculated under our credit agreement, which is well below our covenant level of 4x EBITDA. Given our leverage ratio and current liquidity, we believe we have ample dry powder to pursue both our M&A objectives and share buybacks. We intend to use our future excess cash flow to temporarily pay down the balance on our revolving credit facility and securitization facility and maintain liquidity for acquisitions and other corporate purposes. And as a reminder though, our first use of liquidity will continue to be M&A. Finally, we spent approximately $16.7 million on CapEx during the third quarter of 2019.

Now on to the update for 2019. First, we are raising our adjusted net income per diluted share guidance by $0.05 to $11.73 at the midpoint to reflect our third quarter results compared to our expectations. As always, we expect a few moving parts in our balance of the year guidance. For the balance of the year, we expect the macro impact to be approximately $10 million worse than our prior guidance due primarily to lower fuel prices and unfavorable foreign exchange rates. However, the impact of the Travelliance acquisition will offset the impact of the unfavorable macro. So taken in total, these puts and takes net to 0 in terms of financial impact for the fourth quarter.

Please refer to our third quarter earnings call supplement for additional information regarding our guidance.

So with that out of the way, our guidance is as follows: total revenues to be between $2,640,000,000 and $2,660,000,000; GAAP net income to be between $880 million and $900 million; GAAP net income per diluted share to be between $9.80 and $9.90; adjusted net income to be between $1,050,000,000 and $1,070,000,000; and adjusted net income per diluted share to be between $11.68 and $11.78.

And some of the assumptions we have made in preparing the guidance includes the following: weighted fuel prices equal to $2.73 per gallon average in the U.S. for the fourth quarter; market spreads well below the fourth quarter of 2018 average; foreign exchange rates equal to the month of September 2019 average; interest expense of $150 million to $155 million for the full year; approximately $90.3 million fully diluted shares outstanding for 2019; and adjusted tax rate of approximately 23% for the full year; and no impact related to acquisitions or material new partnership agreements not already disclosed.

And with that said, operator, we'll open it up for questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question is from Sanjay Sakhrani with KBW.

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Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [2]

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Ron, thanks for the comments on the M&A pipeline. I'm just curious if there are any larger-sized deal that you're interested in the market in the pipeline. And then specifically, the Travelliance, could you maybe just walk through the synergy pieces there?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [3]

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What's larger, Sanjay, to you?

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Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [4]

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Not a bolt-on, more transformative.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [5]

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Yes. So I would say of the list in front of me, we have 2 out of the 5 things we're working on, where the number would start with a b, with a billion. So I don't know if you call those large, but they're more than tuck-ins.

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Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [6]

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And when we think about the probability of that type of deal happening sooner than later, I mean, is it the valuations are still quite high?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [7]

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Yes, the valuations are, I think we said a million times, for us, it's really the conviction around the forward numbers. And so in those cases, we are working to see if we can get the conviction to have forward numbers where we can make returns. So I'd say those deals that are bigger are earlier than some of the other things we're looking at.

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Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [8]

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Okay. Great. And then as far as the Travelliance sort of synergies that you might be able to extract, could you just maybe talk through sort of time frame and the thesis there? And then just a quick question on gift. The -- I know it's a smaller part of the total, but the weakness there in terms of revenues, could you just talk about what's driving that?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [9]

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Yes. Let me start with TA. So at the headline level, I'd say that our early view is we'll double the profits of that business in 2020, and I'd say the 2 key synergies are, first, the hotel arbitrage. So we share, I think, about 8,000 hotels that we have in common. And we have much larger volumes in a lot of those hotels and so we have better rates. So we'll pick up arbitrage based on our rate versus TA's. And then second, I'd say the whole back office. Like we got a lodging business that's got a decent back office around finance, HR and IT, and so we got a bunch of synergies planned on the back office. So those 2 things will drive the doubling of profits next year.

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Sanjay Harkishin Sakhrani, Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division - MD [10]

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Great. And the weak -- gift...

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [11]

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Yes. Gift is really just timing. As you know, the -- one of our least favorite things about that business is the seasonality and the bumpiness of orders. There's a number of pretty large clients, and they make orders of significant size. So sometimes, those orders come in, in a quarter or get pushed. And so in this case, fundamentally, we're moving forward into Q4 some of the revenue we expected in Q3.

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Operator [12]

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Our next question is from Trevor Williams with Jefferies.

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Trevor Ellis Williams, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Associate [13]

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One for me on Beyond fuel. Ron, I appreciate the color on the Q3 uptake, and I'll just ask first my questions upfront. So first, do you mind reminding us what percentage of the 100,000 U.S. fuel customers that you guys had marketed the program to? And then second, I was just curious more on the trend that you've seen from the Q1 and Q2 cohorts. I know you guys have said in the past you've seen an average initial uplift in spend around 40%. But I was just hoping you could give us some color around how that growth has trended in the quarters that follow.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [14]

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Okay. Good -- both good questions. So of the 100,000 kind of credit-worthy targets, I think we're in the about 2/3, call it, 65,000 that we've marketed to kind of year-to-date that we keep adding 10,000 or 20,000 every quarter to target. I think we're up to an attach rate in the 6,000 to 7,000 clients now. Two, the book in total is spending about 50% more. That 7,000 out of the 100,000 that are going Beyond fuel and buying nonfuel spend, about 50% more with us, which trends at about 25% more revenue. But the hope, the idea that we're working now is whether the nonfuel spend could be dramatically higher, multiples of 5 or 10x what the fuel spend is. And really, we limited it, artificially going in by creating credit lines and credit limits proportionate to fuel rather than credit limits proportional to the clients' ability to repay. So we're actually in tests now with a subset of those 7,000 accounts, increasing the credit line and seeing if we can expand the nonfuel spend by again multiples of 5 or 10x.

So the early view of that is positive, but I'd say that could drive the 2020 success really as much as they continue to saturate.

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Operator [15]

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Our next question is from Bob Napoli with William Blair.

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Robert Paul Napoli, William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division - Partner and Co-Group Head of Financial Services & Technology [16]

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The corporate payments business, Ron, is -- you had a 30% revenue growth, and your revenue per transaction was up quite a bit. I think your -- you lapped the Nvoicepay acquisition in the first quarter. But what is the outlook for that? What do you expect for that business? Now I generally think of the accounts payable piece to be a big market but lower revenue per transaction. Your revenue per transaction was up 20% year-over-year. So just some thoughts on that business, on maybe the mix of revenues, cross-border versus virtual card and the long-term growth in how AP fits into that.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [17]

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Yes, Bob. I mean as you know, it's a great line of business with a huge TAM. That Nvoicepay deal, I believe, closed April 1, so we're not close yet to lapping that. And frankly, all the components, all the offerings there, Nvoicepay with full AP, our core virtual card business, our plastics business and particularly, our cross-border, all of them are growing really well year-to-date, 2019.

I think, again, our plan for that business, although not baked, is to try to guide that stuff still into the mid-teens, which again, for us, is really a function of, like I say all the time, sales investments relevant to the base because the base keeps getting bigger, which it does. We have to modulate up our sales investment to keep that base growing 15%. So we kind of design or engineer our way. If we thought we could invest a bit more and not have too many new people or too many new marketing programs, we might try to step it up some. But we want to maintain quality, right, in terms of the onboarding and the client service that we're trying to, I don't want to say, do it in a controlled way, but effectively grow the business in a controlled way.

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Robert Paul Napoli, William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division - Partner and Co-Group Head of Financial Services & Technology [18]

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Where are the risks? There's a lot of investment going into that market and a lot of innovation. Where do you have -- where are you most paying attention to the competitive front? And where could it affect your business? And...

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [19]

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Yes. I think I've said this before. We love the breadth now of our game. There are people fighting at it. Niche, right? There are some pure, full AP players. There's obviously some pure plastics players. There's banks that are subcontracting, virtual card processing. So the first thing I'd say is I like the fact that we've got a broader solution set than most of the others that play in the game. And then second, I say it over and over again, it's a distribution game, right? These are relatively new services and require education and communication. And so having the sales force that can go out and communicate and brief prospective accounts, I think, is still our main advantage. And then third is because we get out earlier than other people, our merchant network and the quality of the data and the ability to fulfill payments, the high degree of accuracy is a huge part of the game. So those advantages, I think, bode well. It's not that there are other people chasing, but we really like how we're set up.

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Operator [20]

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Our next question is from Ryan Cary with Bank of America.

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Ryan Allen Cary, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [21]

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We heard WEX call it a weaker demand environment in the quarter, particularly in the fleet business. And while I know you called out some headwinds in U.S. trucking, it doesn't sound like the headwinds that you're seeing are quite as meaningful. So first, are you modeling any slowdown in demand in the fuel business as compared to your prior expectations? And second is there anything you can provide on-demand trends quarter to date?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [22]

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Yes, Ryan. Hey, it's Ron. So you got it right. I'd say in terms of our same-store base, I think, globally, we reported a plus 1% back into the plus column. And I did call out trucking soft here, in the U.K. and Brazil. I'd say other than that, the trends look relatively consistent for us year-to-date through the first 3 quarters. I think year-to-date, we had a, I can't remember, a 0, a minus 1% and a plus 1%, so it's kind of flat on same-store through the first 3 quarters. And I think, last year, we did a bit better. We were plus 1% or 2%. But no, I wouldn't say, per your WEX comment, that we're seeing other than the trucking callout, anything different than what we've seen.

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Ryan Allen Cary, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Research Analyst [23]

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Got it. And then just moving to the toll side. It's interesting to hear how Beyond toll has driven the acceleration in new urban sticker users. How has that growth impacted merchant imbalances? Is there anything stopping you from meaningfully expanding the acceptance footprint? And what does it take for the merchant themselves to kind of introduce the payment capability of accepting one of the toll tags?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [24]

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Yes. I mean frankly, I think we're a bit blown away by the pace. I don't know if you picked up the numbers from my opening remarks. But we turned and basically went after these urban users who are not obviously heavy toll users, right? But they're a huge group. And to go from focusing on one channel, we started in the gas station channel, trying to add these people, added 3,500, stepped that up to 18,000. And when I saw the number for Q3 that we had gotten to 58,000, and they're out looking again another 50,000 at quarter -- this quarter, I mean, the distribution channels, we've opened up more of our traditional store, retail, digital channels to now target these urban people. So that's what's causing a significant step-up.

You're right. It is a chicken and an egg. The bigger the network that we can offer urban people, the more attractive our offer is, right? If we had fueling station twice as many parking, twice as many fast-food, that would be even more appealing. But I think we've obviously got enough is what the data tells me to attract people. And so we're going to chicken and egg it. We're going to keep trying to add urban users to generate revenue. We're going to keep expanding each one of those 3 networks, which we have over the last couple of years. And so I think again as you look into the midterm in that network, it's more built out. Our returns will get better, right? We'll be spending less money building out the network and obviously, more money, hopefully, turning the crank.

In terms of digits and stuff, I'd say the fueling challenge is higher than the parking or the fast-food. The nature of having multiple lanes and the vehicles moving and the way the equipment and stuff sets up is a bit more complex in that gas station environment. So it's not particularly difficult at stationary, like the fast-food, where it then comes through one line, one lane the whole way. So tougher in fuel and easier in parking and fast-food.

And clearly, as I've said before, there are additional merchants in every one of those areas now interested in joining the program. So once we show people are coming to Shell, then the other fuel guys want to be in. And once we show them McDonald's is working, the other fast-food people want to come in. Once we sign up the next-biggest parking operator, then we get calls for the next set of parking operators. Once we get the first rental car company in, in line, now the other rental car companies are calling. So once you prove out that your client base will go to those merchants, you attract yet more merchants. So it's really, I keep telling you, guys, it's a great model. The question is really just the pace at which we can do it.

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Operator [25]

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Our next question is from Ashish Sabadra with Deutsche Bank.

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Ashish Sabadra, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [26]

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Congrats. Congrats on such a solid quarter. Particularly if I'm going to exclude the gift card, the growth was even stronger. Just one question on the corporate payments side. So I was wondering if you could share what the bookings growth was there. And then thanks for classifying out that -- how big the full AP is. I was just wondering if you could share some -- what's driving the growth and like how you're going to market in the full AP solution space, how -- what kind of traction you're seeing on cross-sell as well as new wins and how you're using the data or existing relationship to sell more into that customer base.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [27]

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Yes. Ashish, it's Ron. Were you looking for the sales in corporate pay? Is that what your first question was?

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Ashish Sabadra, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [28]

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Yes. It's the bookings -- yes, bookings growth in corporate pay or sales bookings growth in corporate pay.

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Eric R. Dey, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary [29]

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You guys have that? Do you find it anywhere? Hold on, we're just taking a peek for it.

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Ashish Sabadra, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [30]

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I can get that off-line. I was just more interested in how you're driving new sales and what learnings you've had and how we can see that -- this potential same process actually going forward.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [31]

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Yes. I mean the marketing, I'd say, is evolving, right? So we had a number of separate pieces. As I mentioned earlier, the core Comdata business, Ashish, we owned 5 years ago, pushed basically plastics, P-Cards and virtual cards. And obviously, Nvoicepay had been, 10, 15 years, building itself up as a full AP provider. And obviously, Cambridge, we bought, whatever, 2 years ago, has been a cross-border specialist. And so I'd say the main change we're going through is trying to integrate that package and that marketing message so that we can take the power of having lots of ways to help a company, a corporation, make payments and make them aware of all the different programs that we've got. They want to start super simple, we can compete with P-Card guys. They want to get rid of their paper, we can give them a virtual card. They want to transform. So I'd say that the integration and the consolidation is the biggest change.

With that said, we still have field specialists behind each one of those products. So we have people that are obviously super trained in virtual cards, super trained in full AP and super trained in cross-border. And so what we're trying to figure out is the account manager lead, if you will, and the marketing lead that provides the consolidated set of solutions and then still have specialists that can go deep in terms of presenting our particular solution. So that's what's going on now. We're trying to make a turn from effectively peddling one program, one service at a time, to marketing something more comprehensive.

And I think when we do that, if we do that, the returns will be way better and bigger because you can generate more interest from a prospect, right, offering a broader set of solutions for them.

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Ashish Sabadra, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Research Analyst [32]

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Yes. No, that's helpful. And maybe just a preliminary look at next year going into 2020, is this kind of accelerated 9% to 11% organic growth sustainable just given that you'll be hearing some difficult comps going into next year? And the same thing on fuel cards, any thoughts how we think about the growth there?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [33]

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Yes. It's still early days for us for 2020, where, in fact, we had a couple of budget reviews today and yesterday. So I'd say we're in the middle, Ashish, of our 2020 planning. I guess what I would say is that we go into this every year with the same aspiration, which is to build plans across these businesses that can hit the goals that we've set out, which are kind of 10% and 13%, and then using our free cash flow and capital to produce profits to the 15% to 20% range. And so what I'd tell you is that Eric and I are coming in, trying to build plans, making trade-offs that can hopefully stay on that same track, but it would be, I think, premature because we don't have the stuff consolidated to really give you any other guidance. I mean obviously, Eric, we'll be back in 90 days, correct?

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Eric R. Dey, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary [34]

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Yes. I agree, Ashish. So I mean, we are, we're kind of right in the middle of a process and we'll have, obviously, a lot more to say when we get to the Q4 earnings call.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [35]

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But remember, Ashish, which you know well, the beautiful thing about this business is the recurring model. And so if you have a good '19, it helps you already have a good '20. So just to repark that in your guy's mind that the modeling that we do is based off of exit rates. And if you look at our 4 quarters stacked up, you'll see sequential acceleration obviously in revenues right in our business. So obviously assuming our trends, like retention which we quoted, stay in line, that obviously creates built-in growth as we roll into next year.

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Operator [36]

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Our next question is from John Davis with Raymond James.

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John Kimbrough Davis, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - Research Analyst [37]

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I just wanted to follow up a little bit on the same-store sales commentary, Ron. I think you called out U.S. trucking softness. It sounds like the good guy this quarter was corporate payments. Any insights to macro trends just from that business and what you're seeing the business' macro, slightly better, getting slightly worse, any insights there would be helpful.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [38]

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Yes. I think the magic in the payables or corporate payments business is in the model. Again, it's not so much if the clients are healthier or not than in fuel cards. If you went into a client, let's say, that had 1,000 invoices and we went in and paid 20% of them, we paid 200 of them, first of all, their number of invoices and expenses tend to grow every year, and then second, our share, the 20%, can grow. So effectively, the model, if you will, is built to grow, to step up, if you will, quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year. So I'd say that's the difference, if you will, between the fuel card business where they've got to go from 10 drivers, to 11. Their revenues have to go up. They have to decide if they're going to spend more on drivers and stuff. And so I think the model just lends itself, if you will, to a bit better same-store sales. And as the mix of that business is growing a bit faster, so as that becomes a bigger part of our mix, it obviously helps our overall consolidated same-store number.

But again, I think we feel comfortable. We're happy with plus 1%. It's pretty balanced other than the trucking callout. And per earlier, we don't really see anything even through October here that's any different than what we have experienced kind of year-to-date.

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John Kimbrough Davis, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - Research Analyst [39]

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Okay. And then just a -- that's helpful. Just a quick follow-up on M&A landscape and specifically kind of around corporate payments. Appreciate your comments about valuations. We'll see what the impact is there. First thing that came to mind for me is maybe some of these high-flying B2B payment companies, maybe you're having a little bit of a reality check with what's going in the public markets. So are there any specific capabilities or geographies that you view is attractive or kind of top of the list as you look at M&A opportunities and corporate payments?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [40]

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Yes. I mean again, the good news is we kind of have a lot, again, of the products that we now have, a full AP, even though there are other people that do that. We have virtual card processing, even though there's a few people that do that. We have a merchant network. So we have a lot of the capabilities. I'd say we're always on the lookout for either complementary market segments or verticals. So for example, we've got a pretty big position in construction. I think it's 1/4 or 1/3 of our corporate payments business. So if there were another company that had 1/3 in media or 1/3, I was going to say in health care, but no thanks for health care, 1/3 in something else, 1/3 in property management, some other kind of complementary vertical, we would like that, or b, some of it has some different kind of selling capacity. It's found some way to crack digital selling, for example, or just figured out some kind of a new partner channel, those would be, I think, the couple of things that we would look for.

Again, this -- the core AP business is most attractive here at old, good, old U.S.A. because we're the world's slowest in getting off the paper as you know, still kind of have paper. The rest of the planet seems to have done a better job than us. So I'd say that, for now, most of our focus is still on targets in that corporate pay segment that are U.S.-based.

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Operator [41]

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Our next question is from Andrew Jeffrey with SunTrust.

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Jennifer Catherine Dugan, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Associate [42]

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It's Jenny Dugan on for Andrew. Just thinking about the macro impact on fuel. Is it a -- is the headwind more from pricing, or is it miles driven? What metrics should we be watching there?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [43]

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Ask that Jenny one more time. Is the headwind...

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Jennifer Catherine Dugan, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Associate [44]

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Is the headwind coming more from pricing or for miles driven?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [45]

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Yes. I don't think it's from pricing. I think it's softness in the, just in the channel of trucking, right, the loads, the capacity, the drivers, just what they're delivering. And then second is what you're saying, is it's vehicle or fuel efficiency. Those would be the couple of things creating the slowdown.

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Jennifer Catherine Dugan, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Associate [46]

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Okay. And then do you anticipate us getting to a point soon where it's going to start hitting -- like loss rates will go up and start hitting segment profitability?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [47]

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Loss rates in what, in the trucking business?

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Jennifer Catherine Dugan, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Associate [48]

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Yes.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [49]

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Yes. Our loss rates are -- in that business are low single digit. And I'd say at least half of whatever we lose there is credit, is us exiting some more challenged kind of trucking companies for credit. So I don't think so. I mean even though the thing has slowed, it's clearly a necessary U.S. way of delivering. And so I think it -- maybe it could continue to slow, and the vehicle efficiency is probably a point or 2 drag as we roll forward. But no, I don't -- we don't see anything in the numbers that suggests a spike in attrition.

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Eric R. Dey, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary [50]

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Yes. Hey, Jenny, also to add onto that, from a loss perspective, I mean, we have lots of tools that we've implemented over the last couple of years that helps us to kind of manage credit losses and manage the creditworthiness of the accounts. And we tend to manage our losses through lots of different things, including payment terms. So think of accounts that would be probably less creditworthy would have more frequent payment terms and less days to pay because we want to manage the amount of our credit exposure through that. So we're constantly looking at it and evolving the way we build those type of accounts.

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Operator [51]

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Our next question comes from Ramsey El-Assal with Barclays.

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Damian Justus Wille, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [52]

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It's Damian on for Ramsey. I'm just hoping to take a step back here on the B2B business. Obviously, Visa and MasterCard are intensifying their focus on B2B payments. Just I want to get your take on how that changes the dynamic in your business, presumably better at sort of rising tide, lifts all shifts. But then maybe then you could break out the growth rates of the various products or channels within corporate payments. For example, I'm assuming the partner channel is probably growing a little bit faster than the direct, given the fast growth of some of the AP automation startups. But I just want to get your take on those couple of things.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [53]

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Yes. Damian, hey, it's Ron. So I would say yes to the first point, to have Visa and MasterCard be big fans of this corporate payments or B2B space. It's great. I mean I think it helps both PR and marketing and awareness and stuff. So I think it certainly softens the beaches as we go out. And they're just obviously both super helpful to us, both in research, and they're working on some products and some ways to hopefully make us more effective in it. So I'd say that that's all good.

In terms of the components, yes, I'd say that the reason the channel thing can grow faster is there's 2 things going on. One is the channel partners that we already have are pouring more money in. So take Abbott, who's been a client of ours for a while, they're continuing to ramp up sales and marketing spending. So they grow. And then b, we had new channel partners. And so in the direct business, we mostly just do the second thing, right? We had new clients that we don't have. But in the channel business, for example, we brought on Bill.com as a partner, and they're beginning to ramp up. So we -- it's a 2 for power of they invest more and grow and then we find new partners in the channel space.

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Damian Justus Wille, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [54]

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Yes. That's great. And then just separately here on the lodging business, you guys rolled out the new network of hotels for the "gray-collared workers." Maybe if you could just give an update on that and maybe if it helps revenue per trend. And then I'll just slip in the sort of perennial question on gifts, just if there's any update on strategic alternatives there.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [55]

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Yes. That's an interesting one. I think it's been less impactful with the existing base than we thought. So when we first launched, and I think we got a 2% or 3% percent lift in room nights as clients saw, hey, hey, there's a bunch more places I can go. What I think it is, is existing people kind of go -- existing accounts go to where they went. They're harder to switch or change where they're going. I think where maybe it's helping more is on the selling side, attracting new people and having a larger hotel coverage and network to attract people so they feel like if they join the program, they got plenty of coverage. So we thought, initially, it was going to help more with the base, but I think the answer is it's probably going to help more with new accounts.

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Operator [56]

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Our next question is from David Togut with Evercore.

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David Mark Togut, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD [57]

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I apologize if you called this out earlier. But did you give the growth rate on the MasterCard fuel card in the quarter?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [58]

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I don't know. Did we, Eric, or not?

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Eric R. Dey, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - CFO & Corporate Secretary [59]

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I don't think we did, David. I think we've given just the total of it. But I don't have it right in front of me, but we can circle back to you on this.

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David Mark Togut, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD [60]

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Okay. As a follow-up, where do you stand in terms of building out the cross-border corporate pay capability connecting domestic corporate pay through the Nvoicepay acquisition to Cambridge? That seems to be where a lot of the world of payments is focused and you've got some unique assets there.

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [61]

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Yes. We've -- again, as I mentioned earlier, we're doing that stitching, David, now, right, that it's funny that Nvoicepay and even Bill.com, both full AP guys, had reached out to Cambridge even before we had done the Cambridge transaction, trying to have capability for the, whatever, the 4% or 5% of cross-border payments that those client bases have. So they were already trying to integrate it even before we did.

So I'd say it's still early days. We're trying to figure out how to speak to both clients we have that are only on one of those products or prospects that may be interested across all 3 or 4 of those products and yet keep some specialization, people that really know the particular area well. So I'd say it's a work in process. But I think it's a huge advantage for us, right, to have all the different ways to be able to help an AP department versus going in with just one. But I'd say, I think next year, we'll probably be in a better place to articulate how we're going to do it.

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David Mark Togut, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - Senior MD [62]

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Got it. Just a quick final one for me. Any update on the growth at AllStar in the U.K.? And are you completely done with the shift to chip cards there?

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Ronald F. Clarke, FleetCor Technologies, Inc. - Chairman, President & CEO [63]

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Yes. We're done with the shift to chip cards. I'd say that we're still pushing the Beyond fuel. Like of all the markets who are in the fuel cards, I'd say the U.K. is the most mature, right? We have the highest market share as a company, not only with AllStar, but the other product lines we have there. So I think for that thing to continue to be a decent grower in the midterm, we've got to get the Beyond fuel numbers up. So that thing is improving. I'd say not going as well yet as the U.S. There are some subtleties there. But I'd say that's still our best idea for leveraging. It's a very big client base that we've got in the U.K., so getting them to spend more with us seems like the easiest way to step up growth there.

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Operator [64]

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This concludes the question-and-answer session and today's conference call. You may disconnect your lines. Thank you for participating, and have a pleasant day.