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Edited Transcript of PCMI earnings conference call or presentation 6-Feb-19 2:00pm GMT

Q4 2018 PCM Inc Earnings Call

TORRANCE Feb 8, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of PCM Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, February 6, 2019 at 2:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Brandon H. LaVerne

PCM, Inc. - CFO, Treasurer, CAO & Assistant Secretary

* Frank F. Khulusi

PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO

* Robert Miley

PCM, Inc. - President

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Conference Call Participants

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* Kara Lyn Anderson

B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group

* William Tennent Gibson

Roth Capital Partners, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Research Analyst

* Kimberly Rogers

Hayden IR, LLC - MD

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2018 PCM Inc. Earnings Conference Call. My name is Kevin, and I will be your coordinator for today. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. For opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Kim Rogers of Hayden IR. Please go ahead.

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Kimberly Rogers, Hayden IR, LLC - MD [2]

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Thank you, Kevin. Good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today to discuss PCM's fourth quarter 2018 financial results.

Joining me on the call today are Frank Khulusi, PCM's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Jay Miley, President; and Brandon LaVerne, Chief Financial Officer. Following their prepared comments, we will open the call to your questions.

At this time, I'd like to refer to the safe harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. During this conference call, management may discuss financial projections, information or expectations about the company's products or markets or otherwise make statements about the future, which statements are forward-looking and subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from statements made. These risks and uncertainties are detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Now I'd like to turn the call over to Frank Khulusi. Please go ahead, Frank.

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [3]

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Thank you, Kim. Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for joining us today. We finished the year with another fantastic quarter of profitable growth, while continuing to improve our balance sheet and deliver shareholder value. These results confirm the effectiveness of our strategy to leverage our investments, further optimize our sales mix, while managing our costs.

I'm very pleased with our -- with how our team executed in the fourth quarter and throughout 2018, further moving us up the value chain with our customers. Much like we saw in the first 3 quarters of the year, we drove solid results in the fourth quarter in our areas of strategic focus, such as managed services, advanced technologies and cloud and security solutions, and again walked away from some nonstrategic low-margin volume business we identified as unprofitable.

Listing some fourth quarter highlights, our sales grew 4%, and our gross profit, which continued to grow faster than sales, increased 6% year-on-year. Our gross margin was a solid 15%, an increase of 40 basis points over last year, and a fourth quarter record. Coupled with cost discipline, this resulted in strong operating leverage, and we achieved a record $0.57 per share in adjusted EPS for the quarter. For the year, our gross profit grew 6% to a record $343.9 million and we grew our gross margin by 90 basis points to an annual record of 15.9%. Our strong operating leverage profile resulted in us driving significant improvement in our adjusted EPS, which grew 157% to a record $2.36 per share, exceeding the high end of our guidance.

Along with our increased profitability, we continued to drive strong operating cash flow by delivering an additional $45.8 million in cash from operations in the fourth quarter. This brought our total cash provided by operations for the year to $133.7 million, which helped reduce our net debt by $125.8 million since 2017.

I'm also pleased that during 2018 we made significant progress on our journey to upgrade and consolidate our ERP systems. During the fourth quarter, we significantly accelerated our migration to our new SAP environment, and we exited the year with 32% of consolidated billings occurring in the new environment. We have been and intend to continue executing this migration in a very careful manner in order to minimize any negative customer impact. This year, we expect to have the vast majority of our business operating on the new platform. Once completed, we will begin to focus on optimizing the new environment, which over the next few years, should allow us to become more efficient and nimble, increase productivity and drive greater operating leverage.

At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to our President, Jay Miley, for some more specific details on the quarter. Jay?

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Robert Miley, PCM, Inc. - President [4]

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Thank you, Frank. As demonstrated in the financial results just released and as highlighted in Frank's opening remarks, we remain focused on optimizing our cost structure. In Q4, on a 6% increase in gross profit, our operating expenses or SG&A declined by $6.6 million or 8% and was down 170 basis points year-on-year as a percentage of net sales. In addition to the surgical focus on reducing our cost structure, we remain committed to the transformation of our business and are continuing to invest in cloud, managed En Pointe and field services and advanced solutions in the hybrid data center and security categories.

Our solutions first approach in these fast growth markets is helping us to expand our gross margins and contributed to the better-than-anticipated sales performance in the quarter. As an example, security solutions grew year-on-year 29% for the quarter and 16% for the full year, while collaboration solutions grew year-on-year 9% for the Q4 quarter and 24% for the full year. We expect the growth in sales of these solution sets to continue to outpace our overall growth rate in 2019 and beyond.

From a category perspective, as measured based on gross book revenues net of returns, software is continuing to be our largest category at 29% of our mix in Q4 and grew 19% year-on-year. We remain committed to evolving our SaaS partnerships and remain a leader in Microsoft's cloud service provider model, where we are seeing significant year-on-year growth.

Networking represented 9% of our mix in Q4 and grew 48% year-on-year. Our services category, which does not include revenue from manufacturer service and warranty contracts or agent fees represented 8% of our sales mix in Q4 and grew 6% year-on-year. On the full year 2018, this business grew 11%. And manufacturer service and warranty contracts represented 5% of our mix and grew 12%.

In Q4, the notebooks and tablet category and desktop category represented 18% and 7% of our mix, respectively, and were down 15% and 5% year-on-year. The performance of these categories were impacted by 2 things. First, we continue to walk away from several nonstrategic customer deals based on our focus on profitable growth that we participated in, in last year's Q4, primarily in our commercial space. And second, processor supply shortages from a major player in the semiconductor industry hampered industry supply for finished goods in the quarter, impacting our commercial segment the most.

I'd like to end by saying that I'm proud of the results that stem from the hard work the team put in around the world. In particular, I'd like to congratulate our team in Canada for a fantastic Q4, they not only grew the business 23% year-on-year, they also hit their Q4 stretch target. Thank you, Team PCM Canada.

I'd also like to say that I'm very encouraged by the progress I'm seeing in our Public Sector business, where new leadership is bringing fresh and innovative ideas in how we approach the public sector markets.

And last, but definitely not least, I'd like to thank all of our teammates around the world who have been immersed in our ERP transition, because of your hard work and energy, we have made significant progress in 2018. I look forward to your continued progress throughout the remainder of 2019 as we transition the remaining businesses.

I'd now like to turn the call over to Brandon LaVerne, our Chief Financial Officer, who will discuss our fourth quarter results in more detail. Brandon?

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Brandon H. LaVerne, PCM, Inc. - CFO, Treasurer, CAO & Assistant Secretary [5]

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Thanks, Jay. Detailed information about non-GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation of those non-GAAP financial measures are provided in our current report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC earlier today, and also available on our website.

As I review the results for the quarter, all comparisons will be relative to the fourth quarter of 2017, unless otherwise noted.

Consolidated net sales were $564.1 million, an increase of 4% or $19.3 million from last year. Our commercial segment net sales declined by $2.2 million, primarily due to a $4.3 million increase in sales reported on a net basis and a focus on profitable growth, meaning that we elected not to pursue several nonstrategic customer deals similar to the last couple of quarters. We also believe we are negatively impacted by integrated circuit supply shortages from a major chip manufacturer due to their high demand, which shortages continued from the third quarter of 2018 and affected finished goods supply of certain notebooks and desktops in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Our Public Sector segment sales increased $7.4 million or 14%, primarily due to a 16% increase in our federal sales and an 11% increase in our state and local educational institution business.

Our international businesses collectively grew $14.2 million or 28%, with a 23% increase in Canada and a 50% increase in the U.K. Overall, our consolidated sales of services grew 6% in the quarter and represented 8% of sales. Our top partners by billed revenues in the fourth quarter of 2018 were Microsoft, HP Inc., Dell EMC, Cisco, Apple, Lenovo and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Collectively, these top 7 partners represented approximately 55% of gross billings.

I'm pleased to say we reported a 6% increase in consolidated gross profit, which grew to $84.8 million in the quarter, which continued to outpace sales growth with gross margin also improving to 15%, up 40 basis points. The increase in gross profit was primarily due to the shift in mix towards higher-margin solutions and service sales, partially offset by the decline in vendor consideration. The increase in gross profit margin was primarily due to the increase in gross profit margin associated with the shift in mix towards higher-margin solutions and services and the increase in sales recorded on a net basis, partially offset by a decrease in vendor consideration as a percentage of net sales.

As Jay mentioned, despite a 6% increase in gross profit, consolidated SG&A expenses decreased by 8% or $6.6 million, significantly improving our profitability. This was primarily due to a decrease in personnel costs of $2.2 million, a $1.1 million reduction in contingent consideration related to our Provista acquisition, a decrease in restructuring charges of $900,000, and $800,000 decrease in credit card related costs, $700,000 decrease in telecommunication expenses, and a $600,000 decrease in outside service costs.

Interest expense increased by $100,000 to $2.4 million due to higher variable interest rates over the prior year period that offset lower average daily borrowings during the quarter.

Income tax expense was $2.6 million or 29.9% and benefited from the decrease in enacted U.S. federal income tax rates from 35% to 21%. Our effective tax rate for the year was 28.9% and included about $200,000 associated with an adjustment related to the foreign income transition tax. We are currently expecting an effective tax rate of approximately 29% for 2019.

As a result of the increased gross profit and lower SG&A expense, operating profit increased $11.8 million to $10.8 million in the quarter, up from a loss of $1 million in the prior year.

On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted EBITDA increased $9.6 million or 174% over the prior year to $15.1 million for an adjusted EBITDA margin of 2.7%. This pushed our diluted earnings per share to $0.48 per share compared to a loss of $0.27 per share last year. Adjusted EPS increased to -- $0.57 from $0.03 last year.

Looking at the full year, our 2018 consolidated net sales were essentially flat at $2.164 billion. Consolidated sales of services in 2018 grew a 11% to $178.2 million and represented 8% of consolidated net sales compared to 7% in 2017.

By segment, our commercial sales decreased 4% to $1.647 billion and represented 76% of consolidated net sales in 2018 compared to 79% in 2017. Our 2018 commercial sales were impacted by an increase of $35.2 million of sales reported in a net basis, a couple of large lower-margin enterprise customer projects that did not reoccur and several specific nonstrategic customer deals we elected not to pursue based up on our focus on profitable growth. In addition, we believe we were negatively impacted in the second half of the year by the integrated circuit supply shortages, I discussed earlier.

Our Public Sector business decreased 6% to $258.9 million, primarily due to a 20% decrease in our federal business, reflecting the loss of a single federal contract we were unwilling to rebid at a loss, and the rollout to a different federal agency that did not reoccur in 2018. Public Sector represented 12% of our consolidated net sales during 2018 compared to 13% in 2017.

I'm pleased with the 14% growth in our Canadian segment, an increase of $24.6 million to $195.8 million, which represented 9% of our consolidated net sales in 2018 compared to 8% in 2017. Our U.K. segment generated $62.4 million in net sales and represented 3% of our business, up from 1% of consolidated sales last year.

Our top partners by billed revenues for all of 2018 were Microsoft, HP Inc., Cisco, Dell EMC, Apple, Lenovo and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Collectively, these top 7 partners represented approximately 57% of gross billed revenues for 2018.

Consolidated gross profit for 2018 increased $19.2 million or 6% to $343.9 million, despite revenue being essentially flat. Gross margin improved to 15.9% from 15.0%, reflecting the increase in sales recorded on a net basis and the increased mix of higher-margin solutions and service sales, partially offset by a decrease in vendor consideration as a percentage of net sales.

Consolidated SG&A expenses declined $10.9 million or 3% to $303.2 million or 14.0% of net sales compared to 14.5% last year. The decrease in consolidated SG&A expenses was primarily due to a decrease in outside services of $4.9 million, which was primarily related to the termination of a service contract with our prior BPO service provider in Pakistan and a decrease in third-party logistics costs. Also, $3.3 million decrease in restructuring related costs, a $2.2 million decrease in credit card related costs, $1.8 million decrease in telecommunications costs, $1.3 million decrease in advertising costs and $1.1 million reduction in contingency consideration liability associated with the Provista business. These items were slightly offset by a $1.2 million increase in personnel costs, of which $6.9 million relates to our new U.K. segment, offset by a $5.7 million reduction across North America.

Interest expense for the year increased by $1.6 million to $9.5 million due to higher variable interest rates during the year, partially offset by lower average borrowings during the year.

Income tax expense was $9.3 million, and our effective tax rate was 28.9% compared to 20.4% in the prior year. As I stated earlier, we're expecting an effective tax rate of approximately 29% in 2019.

Net income on a GAAP basis was $22.8 million compared to net income of $2.6 million last year, which produced GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.83 compared to $0.20 last year. On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted EPS was $2.36 compared to $0.92 last year.

Turning to the balance sheet and cash flow, we stated at the beginning of the year that we expected an improvement in our cash flow in 2018 resulting not only from our increased net profits, but also from the normalization of our working capital metrics. I'm happy to report that in Q4, we generated an incremental $45.8 million of operating cash flow, totaling $133.7 million of operating cash flow for the year. In addition to the cash flow from our profits, we realized significant working capital improvements for the year-to-date period.

Accounts payable increased by $68 million, inventory was reduced by $41.9 million. It was partially offset by $23.8 million increase in accounts receivable. We also indicated previously that we would see a reduction in capital expenditures, which were only $5.7 million in the 2018 year-to-date period compared to $17.3 million last year. We are targeting a similar level of capital expenditures in 2019 as we saw in 2018.

As a result of these improvements, our net debt declined by $125.8 million since the beginning of the year.

Looking ahead to 2019, we expect continued improvements in certain working capital metrics and combined with cash flows from our profits and other opportunities, we are targeting an additional reduction in debt of approximately $50 million by the end of 2019 as compared to our 2018 year-end balance.

At this point, I'll turn the call back over to Frank to discuss our outlook. Frank?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [6]

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Thank you, Brandon. On the back of a stellar 2018 and reflecting a strong outlook for 2019, we are targeting gross profit growth in the mid-single digits over 2018 on low single digit sales growth. We're also targeting adjusted EPS in the range of $2.55 a share to $2.75 a share. These results reflect a continuation of year-on-year reductions during the first half of the year of nonstrategic lower-margin volume business we have identified as unprofitable, while we continue to execute in our areas of strategic focus.

As a result, we expect year-over-year growth in sales and gross profit to accelerate throughout the course of the year, with Q1 being our seasonally lowest quarter in sales and profitability. We strongly feel that the future for PCM is very bright, and we're better positioned than ever. I'm extremely grateful to our PCM team who through their hard work, dedication and unwavering commitment to our vision are making our success possible.

At this time, I'll turn the call over for questions. Kevin?

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Kara Anderson with B. Riley FBR.

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Kara Lyn Anderson, B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group [2]

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Yes, so just a couple of questions for me. The gross profit growth outpacing revenue growth, that's notable, but it does still seem like you outperformed on the gross sales in the fourth quarter, which maybe offset some gross margin you might have been expecting. Can you talk about what surprised you relative maybe to your previous gross margin sort of expectations that you provided?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [3]

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Yes, we had some stronger sales in non-netted down areas, including our areas of strategic focus and consistent with our desire to continue to move the company up the value chain in those areas, for example, include the areas that Jay mentioned in his prepared remarks portion as well, such as networking.

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Kara Lyn Anderson, B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group [4]

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Got it. And then on the U.K. business, it was a little lighter than we modeled. Just can you talk about the profitability of that segment at this point? And then how that newer geographies tracking versus your internal expectations and what you think the outlook looks like for 2019?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [5]

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I'm sorry. I was talking at the same time as you were. So I didn't get the area of the business that you were asking the question about?

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Kara Lyn Anderson, B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group [6]

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The U.K.

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [7]

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The U.K. Well, like I mentioned earlier on my previous calls on previous quarters, we're still learning about that business. We don't know what we don't know. There is a little bit of uncertainty around Brexit at this point. But primarily our ability to participate in the Public Sector component, which is a pretty significant piece of business in the U.K. as a startup has been muted. This is the fact that we're not on the major contract when I -- and as I disclosed before. We're very busy, trying to add our costs to those contracts, and we continue to expect that we'll be able to do so on a few. And as that takes place, our sales will accelerate there, although some of these sales will come at lower margins. So our margin will probably go down some in that area of the business. And also from a corporate perspective, with a larger account, it does take a while to enter into contracts with the larger accounts, and we're making a lot of progress and securing some nice wins. So we continue to be very optimistic about that business as we continue to watch what happens with Brexit very carefully. And let's not forget also that our main strategic area for that business has been the synergy with the United States and the synergy with customers, and we continue to be very optimistic in that regard and the opportunity continues to be rather significant.

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Kara Lyn Anderson, B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group [8]

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Got it. And then on the supply shortages that continued from the third quarter, from the seat that you're sitting in, do you see an end in sight and do you ultimately recruit maybe some of those lost sales?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [9]

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It's a mixed answer. First of all, yes, we do continue to see it in the first quarter. We are forecasting, at this point, that it will start to subside at some point in the first quarter and into the second quarter. If that point moves, we don't control. From a -- from an impact to sales perspective, as happens with anything else when there is a protracted shortage, it does affect the demand in 2 ways. Number one, there are orders that just completely disappear. And number two, there are orders that, that push. And we have experienced both of those things at this time.

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Kara Lyn Anderson, B. Riley FBR, Inc., Research Division - Senior Analyst of Discovery Group [10]

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And then the last one for me. With a strong improvement in cash flow and the debt reduction, which is pretty great this year, with an additional, I guess, outlook for next year, can you provide an update on how you're thinking about or approaching M&A today?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [11]

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It's very consistent with the way we've approached it in the past. We continue to be very opportunistic. We're not a high priced payer because we don't know what we don't know about the future and to forecast something at a very high multiple and say that we're going to count on nothing changes on our business. There's one thing that we count on in our business is that it's always going to change. So that is something that -- that is always a factor for us as well as the fact that we always look for incrementality to our business whether it's new geographies, new areas of business, new capabilities that we don't have. All of those things have to be a part of what we do in order to accommodate our needs for us to be serious about a particular transaction. And I was saying at the same time as you were asking your last question, that from a sales perspective, we did exceed our expectation by a very wide margin, I would say. But also on the gross profit side, we did overachieve as well. So as from a gross margin perspective, it went down sequentially. We were very pleased with our results.

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Operator [12]

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On next question comes from William Gibson with Roth Capital Partners.

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William Tennent Gibson, Roth Capital Partners, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Research Analyst [13]

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Frank, I'd like to follow-up a little bit on the U.K. side of the business and potential expansion into more of Europe. Any thoughts on that front?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [14]

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Yes. So it depends on what deal ends up being struck. There's always been a wish on the table from both sides, both the EU side and the U.K. side to continue to have trades very open. But we don't know what we don't know about where that's going to land. And we hope that it's going to land in an area where we can continue to transact very openly within Europe. Our results so far as well as our more immediate expectations only count on most of the business being transacted in the U.K. So we almost don't care for results as to what happen unless that has a significant effect on the U.K. economy. Because as I mentioned before, most of our business is in the U.K. and the synergies that we are counting on are synergies with the U.S. business, not with the rest of Europe. And then from a longer-term perspective, with respect to Europe, there are some things that we can do in Ireland, for example, and other places that will allow us to continue to leverage any opportunities in the rest of Europe. So we're not terribly worried about what happens. Did that answer your question, Bill?

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William Tennent Gibson, Roth Capital Partners, LLC, Research Division - MD & Senior Research Analyst [15]

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Yes, it did. And just one follow-up on software, which has been growing nicely. Do you think those trends continue, that software continues to be a bigger part of the mix this year?

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [16]

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Yes. And I would let Jay add any color to that.

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Robert Miley, PCM, Inc. - President [17]

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Yes, Bill, I'd echo his comment, yes. And I think what you will find is that many of these solutions that we sell include a software component to them. And as you know, a solution typically is a component of hardware, some applications in software as well as services that we provide. And I do believe that you will continue to see our software business, especially, as we focus on categories like security and collaboration to continue to expand.

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [18]

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And from a macro perspective, Bill, these are areas of -- from an industry-wide perspective that are forecasted to continue to outpace the rest of the industry in terms of growth. So we're very well positioned with the chips being in the right place when it comes to taking advantage of this opportunity.

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Operator [19]

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(Operator Instructions) And I'm not showing any further questions at this time. I'd like to turn the call back over to Mr. Khulusi.

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Frank F. Khulusi, PCM, Inc. - Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO [20]

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Thank you for joining us this morning. And we look forward to updating you on our progress in the coming quarters. Until then, goodbye.

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Operator [21]

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Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's presentation. You may now disconnect and have a wonderful day.