China Distance Education Holdings Limited (DL) F3Q 2011 Earnings Conference Call August 18, 2011 9:00 AM ET
Good evening and thank you for standing by for the China Distance Education Holdings Limited third quarter fiscal 2011 earnings conference call.
Today, you will hear from Mr. Zhengdong Zhu, Chairman and CEO of the company; and Ms. Ping Wei, the CFO.
During the prepared remarks, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. After that, the company’s management will be available to answer your questions.
Before we start, we would like to remind listeners that this conference call contains forward-looking statements. These statements are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Among other things, the outlook of the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011 and oral statements from management on this call, as well as the company’s strategic and operational plans, contain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risk and uncertainty. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.
Further information regarding these and other risk is included in the company’s Annual Report on Form 20-F and other documents of the company as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, except as required under applicable law.
As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. A summarized presentation can be downloaded from the company’s IR website and which we will refer to during the course of the call. In addition, a webcast of this conference call is available on the company’s Investor Relations website at ir.cdeledu.com.
I will now turn the call over to Mr. Zhu to discuss the operational highlights. Mr. Zhu, you may begin.
Thank you, everyone for joining us on our third quarter fiscal 2011 results conference call. Our operating results were released earlier and are available on the company’s website as well as our new slide services.
We are pleased to report yet another quarter of healthy performance in the third quarter with 22.7% year-over-year revenue growth exceeding our guidance range and increasing profitability on a non-GAAP basis.
Our results were driven by a steady increase in our core online education services net revenue, supported by broad based enrollment and ASP growth. Of course, our APQE and other accounting courses, healthcare and the construction engineering courses, as well as strong enrollment growth from accounting continuous education courses.
We also benefited from an increase in other revenue, resulting from offline business start-up training courses provided by Yucai, in-person courses for the “Big Four” accounting firms in addition to our online courses and services and the primary and secondary school supplementary courses. Such increase was partially offset by the decrease in revenues from courseware production services.
Our results reflect the continued execution of our strategy to provide a high-quality comprehensive life-long learning programs. Throughout 2011 we have focused on investing in our co-businesses and continuing to develop our newer initiative.
Our goal is to provide more students with comprehensive and high-quality educational content and services, by leveraging our scalable IT platform and our centralized marketing distribution network, powerful content development and the student service processes.
This investment which incur investments in our online learning platform, extensive marketing and advertising campaigns and efforts to bolster the quality of our courses and services are all aimed at further strengthening our brand name and delivering balanced top and bottom-line growth.
We believe we are successfully executing on this strategy and that our investment will lead to continued growth. We remain confident in our prospects and are committed to increasing value of our shareholders over the long-term.
Let me now walk you through our operational development for the quarter in more detail, starting on slide five. Net revenue for the quarter increased 22.7% year-over-year to $12.7 million, exceeding our guidance and the total cost enrollment was $324,400, an increase of 34% year-over-year. As noted, this result was supported by a healthy increase in online education service net revenue.
Starting with our accounting vertical on slide 7, our online accounting vertical performed well in the third quarter, with total accounting enrollment increasing 45.5% and average student payment or ASP for our accounting test preparation courses increasing by 25.5%. This quarter, we continued to deliver strong growth with our other online accounting training courses, in particular accounting certificate exam test preparation courses and accounting practical training. All-in-all, other online accounting enrollments grew by 52.4% year-over-year and ASP grew 17.5%.
Online accounting continuous education also continued its trend of strong growth with a 106.4% year-over-year enrollment increase. We continue to offer this course at a low ASP to grow our market share in this large market, which accounts for about 30 million students per year at impressive 54.9%. APQE exam was held last weekend. As this market tends to include a high level of repeat customers, we believe our relatively low pricing point is a good strategy to attract more students to CDEL’s online learning motto. And we believe our competitive pricing strategy will eventually payoff handsomely with large market share gains.
Online APQE exam enrollment increased 9% in the third quarter. In addition, ASP for APQE also increased 31.2% in the quarter as compared to the same period of last year. All-in-all for the 2011 test season which is roughly from Q4 of 2010 to Q3 of 2011, enrollment for APQE has been relatively unchanged as compared to the last year due to the relatively flat overall growth of the market. However, we demonstrated that we can grow our revenue amid a slow market as ASP for this test season increased again by 18.4%. Thanks to our diligence in delivering quality courses and services and our consistent focus on building a strong brand name. For the third quarter, online CPA test preparation course cash revenue continues to grow, even though enrollment decreased by 16%. Thanks to a strong ASP increase of 33.5%.
Let’s turn to slide eight about other non-accounting course offerings. Enrollment grew about a robust 47.1% in our steadily growing self-taught higher education vertical. As our program continue to gain traction in the [inaudible] we have signed contracts. Going forward, we will continue to focus on building brand awareness in the provinces where we offer our highly promising partial credit cards to grow enrollment. We’ll have the provinces that will have certain contract raise and we continue to introduce this program to more provinces.
Moving to slide nine, our online healthcare vertical again grew at relatively steady pace this quarter with enrollments growing 12.6% year-over-year and ASP increasing 17.7%. The growth in healthcare vertical its broad based as it would relate all of our house test preparation courses has registered revenue and ASP growth. This is primarily the result of our continued investment in offering more courses in this vertical. Continued focus in delivering end results to our existing students and continued effort in promoting awareness of our products and services to a large student base. We anticipate this vertical to continue if steady growth going forward.
Enrollments in our construction engineering courses rebounded after a relatively slow second quarter, resulting in healthy 22.5% growth in the third quarter. Enrollments was supported by continuous education courses which constitutes a large part of the total construction engineering enrollment. ASP increased to 6.8% year-over-year primarily due to the shift in revenue mix.
Moving onto slide 10, in terms of our offline businesses, this year we’re starting to test the orders by offering online and offline combined courses to further boost ASP for some of our many online type preparation subjects such as CPA and healthcare courses. We saw a decent level of interest and program participation. And as a result, potential in courses cash revenue for our professional awarding course for the fiscal year to date has already exceeded $1.1 million, while GAAP revenue for this quarter rose by a $160,000 to $510,000 as compared to the same period of last year.
We continue to offer business that have training courses and services and class payments for the training and services that were provided through our subsidiary Zhengbao Yucai. Yucai became our 60% owned subsidiary in March of 2009 through our acquisition for total of $2.4 million cash payment to its founder. We also injected $2.9 million of working capital into Yucai at the time. We had a challenging year in 2010, adjusting the management team, refining cost contents as well as stressing our partnership with the Ministry of Human Resources and the Social Security and various corporation parties.
We are happy to report to our shareholders that this year Yucai has made steady progress in growing revenues, expanding partnerships and collecting from its customers. This quarter, Yucai again generated revenue of $0.3 million. We expect Yucai to continue growing its revenue at a healthy pace going forward and to become an important revenue generator for DL.
In addition, we are very happy to report that in the quarter we were awarded the remaining 40% equity interest of Yucai for free by China International Economic and the Trade Arbitration Commission, the CIETAC. Following a year long arbitration process aiming to have the seller-owner the investment agreement we signed in 2009. In addition, we were also awarded $0.6 million of payment from the seller in compensation for loss of business suffered and the related legal cost. Such amount was paid to us subsequently to the quarter end.
As part of our original investment agreement, it was agreed that DL had a right to purchase the remaining 40% equity interest of Yucai. Such right was recorded as a purchased call option at the time of purchase. At the way we were awarded the 40% remaining equity interest by the CIETAC, we no longer have the need to exercise such purchased call option. As such, this quarter, we wrote-off the total book value of the purchased call option, resulting in a net GAAP noncash charge of $0.8 million net of income and income tax.
Finally turning to slide 11, we continued to make progress in our online K-12 after school training vertical. This quarter we reported another $0.6 million of courseware production service revenue from the Famous School Coalition program as we continued to record courses as evident to the coalition online platform. Our other K-12 initiatives such as in-person courses, case studies, digital class solutions and Educomp Smart-class are also progressing as we planned and have started to contribute to our revenue growth in the quarter.
Finally a word on our growth strategy. To date we have been very focused on growing our businesses with our co-online and professional offerings. This focused growth approach has started to payoff. For the fourth straight quarters of this fiscal year, we have already generated non-GAAP net income similar to the annual profit of fiscal year 2010. And with we have the fourth quarter to go, which is traditionally our largest revenue and the profit quarter. Such results will achieve end result of us investing more aggressively in marketing and brand building this year.
We believe that the investments will help us broaden our student base and enable us to charge a premium priced lower cost offering. As such, going forward, we will continue to invest more in this area, invest selectively and prudently, positioning the company well as a leader of our education in China and ensuring years of sustainable future growth.
This completes my update on business operations. Let me now turn the call over to Wei Ping, our CFO, to walk you through our financials.
Thank you, Chairman Zhu. As Chairman Zhu mentioned, we have maintained a balanced approach as we strive to grow our balanced top and bottom-line results. This approach has included our continuous – continued prudent investment in our marketing and growth initiatives, while maintaining a strict focus on cost control. Our investment in growth didn’t impact our bottom line, compounded by some inflationary headwind. However, we were also able to mitigate some of the cost increases by successfully controlling expenses elsewhere in the business. We will continue to maintain our focus on effectively balancing growth and investment and we believe this effort together with our share repurchase program will allow us to deliver healthy returns to our shareholders.
Let me now recap our key financial metrics for the third quarter on slide 13. Total net revenues for the third quarter were $12.7 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 22.7% from $10.3 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2010. Online education services net revenues for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 were $8.9 million, an increase of 42% from the third quarter of fiscal 2010. This increase was a result of increased revenue from accounting professional qualification exams or APQE, CPA exams, accounting certificate exams, accounting continuous education, healthcare and construction and engineering courses.
Net revenue from books and reference materials decreased by 25.1% to $1 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 from that of the same period fiscal 2010. The decrease by mainly caused by a new GAAP literature, requiring us to allocate price between study cards and books for our bundled book sales. In the quarter, about $0.4 million of book revenue was reallocated to online revenue. Excluding the effect of this reallocation, net revenue for books and reference materials would have increased by about 8.3% to $1.5 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011.
Other revenues increased 1.2% year-over-year to $2.7 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2011. The increase was a result of increased revenues in the business start-up training courses, in-person training courses to supplement online courses for the “Big Four” accounting firms and primary and secondary school supplementary courses. Such increase was partially offset by the decrease in revenues from courseware production services from our Famous School Coalition program.
Cost of sales for the third quarter of fiscal year 2011 was $5.4 million, a 23.9% increase year-over-year. Excluding share-based compensation, non-GAAP cost of sales for the third quarter was $5.0 million, an increase of 27.8% over the same period last year. The increase in cost of sales was primarily due to increased salary and related expenses, lecture fees due to further expansion of our online course offerings, and cost of our books and reference materials due to the increase in sales.
Gross profit for the third quarter was $7.3 million, a 21.8% increase year-over-year. Excluding share-based compensation, non-GAAP gross profit was $7.7 million, an increase of 19.5% year-over-year. Gross margin for the third quarter was 37.6% in line with the third quarter of fiscal year 2010. Excluding share-based compensation, non-GAAP gross margin for the third quarter was 60.5% as compared to 62.1% in the same period of 2010. The decrease in non-GAAP gross margins was primarily a result of the increased lecture fees.
Total operating expenses for third quarter were $7.0 million, an increase of 42.4% year-over-year. Excluding share-based compensation and the write-off of a purchased call option asset for acquisition of Yucai, non-GAAP operating expenses were $5.3 million, representing a year-over-year increase of 23.6%.
Selling expenses and marketing $3.1 million for the third quarter, representing a 6.8% increase year-over-year. Excluding share-based compensation, non-GAAP selling expenses were $3.3 million, a 61.6% increase from the same period last year. The year-over-year increase was the result of increased advertising and promotional activities, salary and related expenses, and commissions to our agents due to the increased in sales.
G&A expenses were $2.8 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2011, a 5.5% year-over-year decrease. Excluding share-based compensation charge, non-GAAP G&A expenses were $2.3 million, a decrease of 5.8% year-over-year. The decrease in G&A expenses year-over-year was primarily due to decreased of bad debt provision for outstanding receivables according to our accounting policy. Such decrease was partially offset by increased salary and related expenses and professional fees.
Income tax expenses for the third quarter was $0.2 million as compared with income tax expense of $0.3 million in the same period last year. Net income was $0.9 million for the third quarter compared to net income of $1.3 million in the same period of 2010. Excluding share-based compensation and the $0.8 million of write-off of purchased call option for acquisition of the additional equity interest in Zhengbao Yucai, non-GAAP net income for the third quarter was $2.7 million, compared to non-GAAP net income of $2.4 million in the corresponding quarter in 2010.
Turning onto our balance sheet on slide 14, net operating cash inflow for the third quarter of fiscal 2011 was $0.8 million as compared to a net operating cash inflow of $1.8 million in the same period last year. This is primarily due to the increase in noncash working capital in fiscal year 2011. Cash and cash equivalents, term deposit and restricted cash as of June 30th, 2011 was $58.6 million, a decrease of $5.3 million from March 31, 2011, primarily due to the repurchase of $5.5 million worth of our shares and the CapEx of about $700,000 in the quarter. The cash balance at end of the quarter represents $1.8 per ADR.
Finally, at end of June 30th, 2011 total issued an outstanding shares of the company was 129, 643,500 shares or about 32.4 million ADR. We still have $7.2 million left in the Board approved share buyback programs and we intend to continue to buyback shares to boost our shareholder value. And this completes the financial overview.
Now I will turn the call back to Mr. Zhu for the final remarks on our strategy and business update, as well as revenue guidance for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. Mr. Zhu.
Thank you, Wei Ping. In conclusion, we continue to make positive strides in our goal to deliver consistent and a profitable growth. Our core businesses remains fundamentally sound and we are seeing steadied progress from our various growth initiative.
We expect this new verticals to beginning trending up in the coming quarters, which we believe will contribute new revenue streams and to strengthen our comprehensive course and service offering. In addition, we will continue to build further brand awareness to focus advertising and marketing campaigns which addresses the high-quality end value of our service.
As such, we expect our revenue for the fourth quarter to be in the range of $12.7 million to $13.3 million as compared to the net revenue of $11.4 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, representing 11% to 17% year-over-year increase. This represents our current and the preliminary review which is subject to change.
Thank you for your time. We’d now be happy to take your questions.