First Advantage Corporation

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk09: Good day, everyone. My name is Todd, and I will be your conference operator today. I would like to welcome you to the First Advantage first quarter 2023 earnings conference call and webcast. Hosting the call from First Advantage is Stephanie Gorman, Vice President of Investor Relations. At this time, all participants have been placed in a listen-only mode to prevent any background noise. After the speaker's remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session If you would like to ask a question during this time, please press star 1 on your telephone keypad. If at any point your question has been answered, you may remove yourself from the queue by pressing star 2. Please note today's event is being recorded. Lastly, if you should require operator assistance, please press star 0. It is now my pleasure to turn the call over to Stephanie Gorman. You may begin.
spk03: Thank you, Todd. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to First Advantage's first quarter 2023 earnings conference call. In the investor section of our website, you will find the earnings press release and slide presentation to accompany today's discussion. This webcast is being recorded and will be available for replay on our investor relations website. Before we begin our prepared remarks, I need to remind everyone that our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are not guaranteed future performance. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors. These factors are discussed in more detail in our filings with the SEC, including our 2022 Form 10-K and our Form 10-Q for the first quarter of 2023 to be filed with the SEC. Such factors may be updated from time to time in our periodic filings with the SEC, and we do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements. Throughout this conference call, we will also present and discuss non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations of our non-GAAP financial measures to their most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, to the extent available without unreasonable effort, appear in today's earnings press release and presentation, which are available on our investor relations website. I'm joined on our call today by Scott Staples, First Advantage's Chief Executive Officer, and David Gansey, our Chief Financial Officer. After our prepared remarks, we will take your questions. I will now hand the call over to Scott.
spk10: Thank you, Stephanie, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining our first quarter 2023 earnings conference call. I would like to start by thanking our First Advantage team members across the globe for their ongoing dedication to helping our customers truly put their applicants first. We have a great team who is constantly helping our clients hire smarter and onboard faster as they navigate these uncertain times. Since we became a public company, we've highlighted many aspects of our business that underpin the resilience of our operating model and the confidence we have in our ability to weather any economic environment and generate superior profitability. We had a solid first quarter delivering as expected. We successfully leveraged our flexible and efficient cost structure as we remain laser focused on operational excellence. Our approach to innovation and differentiated technology continue to win in the marketplace. Our customers value expertise in human capital, our focus on automation and quality, and our successful track record of innovation. This is a winning formula for First Advantage. Our gross retention rate of 97% remains near record levels, and our 13-year average tenure for our top 100 customers are impressive metrics we pride ourselves on. These are big reasons we have been able to deliver consistent results. Our customer base is strong, broad-based, and continues to expand. We booked seven new Logo Enterprise customers in the first quarter and 30 new Logo Enterprise customers in the past 12 months. As a reminder, We define new logo enterprise customers as those with $500,000 or greater in annual expected revenues. Turning to our first quarter results, revenues came in just above the upper end of our expectations and adjusted EBITDA was in line with our expectations despite the ongoing uncertainty from the economic environment that began to impact hiring demand in late November 2022. In the first quarter, we generated revenues of just over $175 million and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $49 million. You'll recall that we grew revenues by 44% and adjusted EBITDA by 46% in Q1 of 2022, making our Q1 2023 results more difficult on a comparative basis. Much of our first quarter moderation came from our international markets, driven primarily by a disproportionate decline in India, given the region's exposure to BPO and IT services, and APAC, given regional market dynamics. Verticals, including transportation and healthcare, continue to see stable hiring demand. while other verticals saw moderation primarily attributable to macro factors, which continue to impact hiring trends. Despite varying levels of demand across our verticals, we remain energized and focused on serving our customers and driving strong and sustainable outperformance in our markets over the long term. Our first quarter adjusted EBITDA margin performance was in line with our expectations and prior year trends, Remember that Q1 is historically our seasonally lowest quarter, as large retail and logistics companies annually reduce their holiday season staffing. We believe our profitability remains best in class in our industry, and we continue to expect that our adjusted EBITDA margins will return to above 30% levels in Q2 and for the balance of the year. These results speak to the adaptability of our operating model. our cost discipline, and the strong execution by our team members across our markets. I'd also like to remind you that we have a robust, very well capitalized balance sheet, which includes over $400 million in cash. We continue to generate significant free cash flow, and our leverage is a modest 0.7 times. This gives us significant flexibility during these difficult times. David will provide additional color on our financial performance and full-year outlook in a moment. Turning now to key highlights from the quarter, which are summarized on slide five. The overall U.S. labor market continues to show some pockets of resilience, and while activity has moderated relative to the extremely strong levels from a year ago, and the degree of uncertainty remains elevated, overall hiring remains generally stable. We are also encouraged by our monthly revenue progression through the first quarter, particularly in our America's business, where we observed modest month-over-month improvement throughout the quarter. However, the U.S. labor market continues to be broadly impacted by macro headwinds, which has forced companies to look at areas to reduce costs and prune headcount. These actions, along with current expectations for these headwinds to continue, are already reflected in our guidance. We continue to believe meaningful structural tailwinds remain in place to support a return to our long-term organic revenue growth target. We are excited about our long-term prospects given the systemic changes we are seeing in employment dynamics. Preferences toward greater flexibility, work-life balance, working multiple jobs and higher pay are expected to continue to drive increased churn and structural changes which result in increased hires and quits. Recent macro jobs data, specifically related to new hires and quits, while modestly down in March, has remained relatively stable, which supports the ongoing generational shift in how people work and apply for jobs. Additionally, We interact with our top enterprise clients on a frequent and ongoing basis. While they are monitoring the economic impact from inflation and rising interest rates, they tell us that the demand for their products and services remains robust, and they are looking to capitalize upon opportunities in the current market environment. Many of these clients have already put cost control measures in place, reduce headcount to appropriate levels, and do not anticipate additional changes to their adjusted hiring plans. As our customers continue to navigate the ongoing macroeconomic challenges, it has become even more imperative for them to invest in products that lead to higher productivity, improved accuracy, and faster results in the hiring process as they place an even greater emphasis on efficiency in hiring and attracting the best talent. At First Advantage, our success in meeting these needs is a result of our dynamic product offerings, which are enabled by our investments in differentiated technology, machine learning, and automation. We provide a compelling value proposition for our customers who depend on the speed and quality of our solutions to help them succeed in today's dynamic and fast-moving hiring environment. Even during these challenging times, we continue to selectively invest through the cycle and capitalize on opportunities to further strengthen our business. In April, we held our annual customer conference called Collaborate, which is the only background screening user conference of its kind, bringing together customers, partners, and thought leaders. We were pleased to have Johnny C. Taylor Jr., Join us as our keynote speaker, where he led a fantastic session on the future of the workforce. Mr. Taylor is the president and CEO of the Society for Human Resources Management, also known as SHRM, and is highly regarded as a leading industry expert in human resources. He is renowned global authority on the future of employment, culture, and leadership, and is nationally recognized bestselling author. During the conference, we also discussed some of our new and evolving products and solutions and engaged in very positive discussions with our customers. One offering we launched was our new product bundles and capabilities powered by our mobile-first, next-generation Profile Advantage technology. These product bundles are designed to align with industry best practices and vertical expertise and are delivered within Profile Advantage providing a seamless applicant experience. These offerings also provide additional opportunities for do business and upsell cross-sell growth. Additionally, we continue our commitment to providing our customers with the latest in market leading technology with the ongoing rollout of our digital identification product in the UK in partnership with Yoki. We are pleased to share that we have contracted with over 125 customers of which more than 75 are now live in the UK market with a strong pipeline of additional opportunity. This product provides an innovative and much needed solution in the UK market that allows applicants to use a seamless and fully digital process, replacing what was previously a manual procedure and reducing turnaround time from days to hours. We are well positioned as an early mover in this important and attractive space. particularly as other international markets adopt similar digital identity standards. Last quarter, we discussed the incredible traction we are getting in our employment and education verification space with our smart hub technology, which leverages machine learning and our proprietary algorithms to quickly search across multiple data sources to determine the optimal verification source based on speed, data quality and cost effectiveness. A key component of the success of SmartHub is leveraging our proprietary verified database, which now has over 80 million records. In aggregate, our proprietary databases have now surpassed 700 million records, including our national criminal record file database which maintains around 625 million records making it one of the most robust criminal date record databases in the industry at first advantage we continue to innovate and deliver new solutions which is a key differentiator to maintaining and growing our competitive advantage over time in the future we look forward to sharing updates on our progress and how we are helping our customers stay on the leading edge of hiring and providing the best applicant experience in the industry. Turning to slide six, I want to take a moment to talk about the progress we've made around our sustainability initiatives, which are detailed in our second annual sustainability report published yesterday. Our corporate culture and values drive our approach to sustainability, which is a fundamental part of our business. Our board and leadership team are firmly committed to our responsibility as a global corporate citizen and advancing even higher ethical standards. Our talented global workforce is inherently diverse, and each employee brings their unique strengths and experiences to bear, which is key to our long-term success as a company. We provide ourselves on fostering a culture of inclusion that helps our employees maximize their potential. We are excited about the collective progress we've made at First Advantage with our sustainability efforts. We believe embedding these considerations throughout our business is not only the right thing to do, but also drives stronger and more resilient performance and ultimately maximizes shareholder value. I'll now turn the call over to our Chief Financial Officer, David Gamze, for more details on our financial results. David?
spk12: David Gamze Thank you, Scott, and good morning, everyone. Let's begin our financial review on slide eight. Versus the prior year, our first quarter revenue decreased 7.6% to $175.5 million, or 6.4% to $178 million on a constant currency basis. It is important to note this is versus very robust revenue growth of 44% in the comparable quarter of 2022, and was slightly better than we originally expected. This results in a three-year revenue CAGR of just over 18%, substantially higher than our long-term targets. In our America segment, revenues of $152 million were down a modest 5% from Q1 2022, as our customers continue to hire, although at a slightly lower rate than Q1 of last year. Our Americas segment held up relatively well given overall market conditions, which is attributable to our broad-based, resilient enterprise customers. In total, our Americas segment represented 86% of consolidated revenues in the quarter. In our international segment, revenues of $25 million were down 22% from Q1 2022. On a constant currency basis, revenues would have been $27 million or down 15% year over year. The decrease in revenue is due primarily to weakness in India, given the region's exposure to BPO and IT services related businesses. In APAC, while still down, we're starting to see positive signs of trends moving in the right direction across China, Hong Kong, and Singapore as lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Additionally, we are cycling over very strong double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2022. Our EMEA operations have proven more resilient in the face of macro headwinds, with the new digital identity products contributing to their sustained success. In total, international represented 14% of consolidated revenues in the quarter. In the first quarter, the year-over-year revenue decline from existing customers was $22 million net of upsell-cross-sell, which contributed $9 million, or 5%, to our revenues. Revenues from new customers contributed an incremental $8 million, adding 4% to our results. Contributions from new customer sales and upsell cross-sale are encouraging and remain consistent. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $49 million, a decrease of 9% compared to Q1 of 2022 and during which we grew adjusted EBITDA by a very high 46%. FX had a half-million-dollar negative impact on our adjusted EBITDA dollars. Our adjusted EBITDA margin of 27.7% was in line with our expectations and was consistent with the prior two years. And we continued to maintain a very high quality of earnings. We expect adjusted EBITDA margins to return to over 30% starting in Q2. Also, just to note, our three-year adjusted EBITDA CAGR was nearly 25%. Adjusted net income decreased 15% to $28 million from $33 million in Q1 2022. This was primarily attributable to lower revenues, higher interest expense, and higher DNA associated with investments in our proprietary platform, partially offset by interest rate swaps and higher interest-bearing deposits. Adjusted diluted EPS was 19 cents for the quarter. Our adjusted tax rate of 25.3% was in line with the prior year period. I'd like to remind you that one of our most significant differentiators is our unique and highly flexible cost structure. The majority of our costs to perform our core background screening services are variable, so we have a very high degree of confidence in our ability to successfully align our operations with the demand environment while meeting our customers' needs. Approximately 70% of our cost of sales are third-party costs, which are essentially 100% variable and usage-based. This means we do not incur these third-party costs if we do not perform a search. We can also flex their staffing levels by adding or removing shifts or overtime. prior investments across geographies technology and automation have structurally reduced our cost base we are laser focused on profitability and believe we are well positioned to successfully navigate future macroeconomic environments due to the efficiencies we have driven across the organization in addition We remain focused on productivity and reducing controllable costs, such as reducing our facilities footprint, lowering our overall insurance costs, and selectively lowering headcount throughout the organization to match demand. We have demonstrated our ability to act quickly in the past to preserve margins, and we will continue to do so in the future if the situation dictates. Our rock-solid balance sheet, strong cash position, free cash flow generation, and low leverage give us the flexibility to continue to selectively invest in the business. Turning now to capital allocation and our balance sheet on slide nine. We are committed to maintaining our strong balance sheet and conservative capital structure. Our low leverage and ample dry powder provide tremendous flexibility to further our strategic priorities. Our philosophy around capital allocation is to take a balanced approach between M&A, disciplined internal investments, returning capital to shareholders, and maintaining our attractive leverage profile. We continue to actively evaluate M&A opportunities and are starting to see more activity. Our available cash, cash flow, and strong balance sheet provide us with substantial flexibility to pursue attractive opportunities. Our internal investment priorities remain focused on technology, automation, product innovation, and sales initiatives that drive highly profitable organic growth. During Q1, we repurchased $25 million of common stock, or 1.9 million shares, under our share repurchase program, and we still ended the quarter with over $400 million of cash on our balance sheet. Since its inception on August 2, 2022, through May 4, 2023, we have repurchased 7.4 million shares for $97 million. This consistent capital deployment approach allows us to drive sustainable, long-term value creation for our shareholders. In the first quarter, we continued to deliver strong and consistent cash flow generation with operating cash flows of approximately $39 million. Keep in mind, Q1 is historically our lowest cash generating quarter, and we were still able to generate robust cash flow. During the quarter, we spent $6 billion on purchases of property and equipment and capitalized software development costs. We ended the quarter with total debt of $565 million and cash on our balance sheet of over $400 million. We also have $100 million in untapped borrowing capacity under a revolving credit facility with no outstanding balances. Based on our last 12 months adjusted EBITDA of $244 million, we had a net leverage ratio of just under 0.7 times as of March 31. Our debt structure has us well positioned for today's higher interest rate environment. We have an interest rate collar with approximately 50% of our long-term debt capped at 1.5% one-month LIBOR rate through February of 2024, and we have no principal payments due before 2027. Recall, we strategically hedged another $100 million of long-term debt in the first quarter, so we now have 70% of our long-term debt hedged. Our interest rate exposure on the remaining unhedged portion of our debt is currently more than offset by our interest income on interest-bearing cash deposits. Now, moving to slide 10. Macroeconomic conditions, including hires and quits, proceeded in line with our expectations during the first quarter. This is outside of the regional bank failures, which had no direct impact on our business. We expect the Fed to stay diligent on their fight against inflation and the unemployment rate to increase, which will temper near-term growth. This has already been factored into our guidance, including that the current environment continues. Given our current visibility, ongoing dialogue with customers, the diverse nature of our client base, and our strategic vertical coverage, we are reaffirming our full year guidance. As a reminder, we expect to generate full year 2023 revenues in the range of $770 to $810 million, resulting in approximately flat to negative 5% year-over-year revenue growth. As a reminder, we have lapped all acquisitions, so this guidance and the associated growth rates are organic figures. All assumptions, including our expectations for foreign currency and typical seasonality for the remainder of the year, are unchanged. This includes our expectations shared last quarter that in Q2, we expect sequential revenue growth, though it will still be negative on a year-over-year basis. We will also still be cycling over double-digit revenue growth in Q2. Our outlook for adjusted EBITDA is also unchanged. We anticipate organic adjusted EBITDA to be in a range of $240 million to $255 million, representing approximately negative 4% to positive 2% year-over-year growth. This represents margin expansion to around 31% for the year. with adjusted EBITDA margins above 30% starting in Q2 and improving in the second half of the year, following a similar pattern to 2022. We continue to expect our 2023 adjusted net income to be between $145 and $155 million in adjusted diluted EPS of $1 to $1.07. Our adjusted diluted EPS guidance assumes we maintain a similar run rate of share repurchases for the remainder of the year. As we progress further into 2023, we remain focused on controlling what we can control and on our commitment to creating value for our customers and shareholders. We are in an incredibly strong financial position and a resilient operating model and track record of navigating challenging times underpins our confidence and ability to execute on our strategy in this dynamic environment. Scott, I'll now turn the call back over to you.
spk10: Thank you, David. I will conclude our prepared remarks today by reiterating my confidence that the future of First Advantage is as bright as it has ever been. We have our playbook to navigate the challenges that are ahead. We are a global leader in a large market with significant long-term growth potential, and our employees continue to work tirelessly to enable us to better serve our customers. Our strategic investments in technology, machine learning, proprietary databases, automation, and the actions we've taken to enable our customers to hire smarter and onboard faster will continue to drive our success in the future. Thank you very much for your time and your ongoing support. At this time, we will ask the operator to open the call for your questions. Thank you.
spk09: We will now begin the question and answer session. At this time, if you have a question, please press star 1 on your telephone keypad. If at any point your question has been answered, you may remove yourself from the queue by pressing star 2. If you were using a speakerphone, we ask that you pick up your handset while asking your question to provide optimal sound quality. Thank you. Our first question comes from Shlomo Rosenbaum with Stiefel.
spk07: Good afternoon, Shlomo. With regards to the 2023 guidance, what are your expectations for existing client volumes, new client volumes, cross-sell, up-sell, and attrition?
spk12: So, Shlomo, it's very consistent with what we've been saying all along. Upsell cross-sell has averaged 4% to 5%. It was 4.9% in Q1. Our new logo sales tend to run between 5% and 6%. It was slightly below that at 4% in Q1. Air attrition was at 3.1%, so that remains very positive. And our existing base, which was down slightly over 13%, excluding up-cell, cross-cell, we expect that to get better throughout the year.
spk07: Okay, thanks. And how are you thinking about the high cash balance given the current insured environment and the high cash levels due to continued interest in M&A?
spk12: M&A is a very high priority of ours. We remain actively looking at transactions. There are a lot of quality opportunities that we have seen lately, several that are not going through a process that have called us directly. It remains a very high priority, but we will continue to be selective, and we're going to be very prudent from an evaluation perspective.
spk09: Thank you. Our next question comes from Ashish Sabhadra with RBC.
spk01: Hi, this is David on for Ashish. I just wanted to get a little bit more color. You mentioned the prepared remarks about controlling what you can control. Is there anything on the cost side that you're monitoring to help increase margins throughout the year and maybe an early look into 2024? Anything you should be thinking about there? Thank you.
spk12: From a cost perspective, we do a lot of contingency modeling, and we know which levers to pull. We've demonstrated that now pretty consistently over the past three years. We do have the highest margins in the industry. We have a very variable and flexible cost structure. As we said in the prepared remarks, a substantial portion of our cost of sales are third-party costs. If we don't do searches, we don't incur those costs. We also have the opportunity to flex headcount within our operations. Plus, we can run two or three shifts and we can manage overtime. We continue to automate. We continue to rationalize facilities. We will and have selectively reduced headcount to keep it in line with demand. And we will continue to prioritize and selectively make new investments. We were fortunate in the fact that upon our insurance renewal on March 1, we were able to lower some of those costs. And, in fact, on the other side of that, we have selectively been able to pass on some price increases. So there are a lot of levers, and we're managing all of those.
spk09: Thank you. Our next question will come from David Togut with Evercore ISI.
spk08: Thank you. Good morning. Scott, could you dig into the India weakness in greater detail, particularly given your background in India IT services?
spk10: Yeah. Hi, David. Happy to. So, yeah, if you think about our customer base in India, as we mentioned in the prepared statement, our large customer in India tends to be the large BPO and IT services companies. And, you know, our theory is that those companies, the demand for their services has been scaled back a bit. So they're hiring less people. In general, we feel the India market for us will lag the U.S. recovery by a quarter or so. So as the U.S. recovers, the India market will also recover. But keep in mind, international revenue for us was only 14%, so it's not a huge exposure. India is about a third of that 14%. But that business obviously will come back when the demand for those services and products for those companies comes back. And, again, those companies are primarily servicing the large M&Ts around the world, and that's where the softness is in the Indian market.
spk08: Got it. Thanks for that. And then just as a follow-up, you've long used robotics process automation in your business, over 3,000 bots in Q1. I mean, to what extent would incorporating artificial intelligence help you reduce the labor intensity even more, and particularly lift margins going forward?
spk10: Yeah, I think... You know, AI can probably be used in multiple places. You know, we're actually seeing the bigger impact more on the front end of our technology. So using, you know, AI when it comes to the applicant experience. And we're starting to now to, you know, research some generative AI opportunities in our customer success and customer care offerings, because that's where I think the AI impact will be more on the applicant and the customer versus the backend, which is where RPA automation, you know, and, and ultimately APIs will dominate the landscape. And that's obviously we've been investing in, in the backend automation and APIs and robotics for, you know, for years and years and years, we started that journey about seven years ago. So we continue to invest on that backend. So that's giving us, You know, the automation, which leads to lower headcount, higher margins, you know, faster turnaround times. So it's a little bit of both, AI on the front end, automation on the back end. Thank you very much.
spk09: Thank you. Our next question comes from Stephanie Moore with Jefferies.
spk02: Hi, good morning, and thank you. Maybe following up on an earlier question, you know, I'd love to get a sense of what you're hearing from your customers or what you're seeing in your channels that, you know, gives you confidence that the base business will start to turn around or get better throughout the year. Thanks.
spk10: Yeah, I think, first of all, you know, it's important to know that we're in constant dialogue, you know, with our large customers and, you know, with our managed enterprise accounts. These are discussions we're having daily, weekly, monthly, formal QBRs. And so we're getting some good input from the field directly from customers. And the general sense we're getting is that they've done all the actions that they had planned to do primarily in 2022, and they're kind of in a holding pattern. And so I think what we're seeing from the macro standpoint is is that, and certainly in regards to the labor market, in regards to what we're hearing from our customers, the word that we keep coming back to is stability. We're seeing a lot of stability in our customers' ordering and in their hiring plans. And I think that's a good thing for us because they're starting now to plan the rest of 2023, and there's some positive signs there. And so while I think the macro and certainly the labor market have shown signs of stability, I think what it means for us is that we've remained busy.
spk11: So while that's stable, we've been very busy with product innovation, new product launches, and investments in sales so I think we're you know hopefully timing it right where our clients are you know coming back in terms of a higher order volumes and we're ready with new products and additional sales strength and etc great now that's certainly you know really helpful color and amazing as you look
spk04: at your new logo wins and kind of what you're seeing there, where do you feel like you're taking the lion's share of some of those wins? Is it from first-time kind of outsourcers here that are going more so, I'm sorry, first timers that are moving from smaller regional players, or where do you think you're seeing the majority of those wins?
spk11: Thank you. I love the question because we've been actually tracking this for quarters and quarters. And it's the exact same data that's been playing out for the last couple of years is when, as we've been announcing our quarterly wins, we analyze where those wins have come from. And it's really three equal buckets. It's, you know, a third from the mom and pops out there. It's a third from the midsize players, and it's a third from the large players. And that trend has not changed over the last, you know, year. year plus, you know, since we started really analyzing that and reporting that data. So we think that trend will continue. And obviously, if there's changes to it, we'll let you know. But it's really what I think is a good sign because it means that, you know, it's a healthy, competitive landscape and that and that our products, services, and offerings are attractive in all three of those competitive buckets.
spk02: Great. Thank you so much.
spk09: Thank you. Our next question comes from Andrew Steinerman with JP Morgan.
spk06: Yes, hi. This is Alex Hess on for Andrew. I just want to maybe return to the subject of base growth. My recollection is that you guys had indicated that base growth would be negative in the first half of 2023 on your previous call. Maybe can you tell us where the first quarter shook out versus your expectations?
spk12: Yeah, Alex.
spk11: It was very consistent with what we with the guidance that we had previously provided, base was down about 13%.
spk12: That's what we had anticipated. It was actually not as bad as we had anticipated.
spk11: And then, again, as I mentioned earlier, we got positive contributions from upsell, cross-sell, and new logo of about 90%. nine percent and attrition was three percent got it that's very helpful and then maybe be more on a strategic question you guys have leading margins in the background screening industry and you guys a very very strong balance sheet I know there have been some questions about maybe some levers you can pull on margins, but maybe why not pull some levers to accelerate investments at this juncture, given your financial position? So any thoughts around why maybe not accelerating or putting more foot to the – pedal to the gas in this environment will be helpful. We can continue to invest back into the business, particularly in product development and automation. As Scott mentioned just a few minutes ago, we see
spk12: This kind of lull in the business is a great opportunity to internally focus and get ready for the surge that will be coming back.
spk11: So we are investing in our business, but we're also balancing margins and profitability at the same time. So we're being selective, but we are reinvesting. Alex, I'd add, just keep in mind, as we continue to drive the automation journey, we are getting increased margins and savings from that. And we actually are turning that and putting that back into product, tech, You know, we are increasing our pod strength. We're increasing our sales headcount. It's just not visible to you, you know, because we don't detail it out like that. But we're able to do that and produce the numbers that we're producing. So we're actually doing both at the same time. Thanks so much for the color. Thank you. As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press star 1. Our next question comes from Kyle Peterson with Needham. Hey, good morning, guys. Thanks for taking the questions. has given some pretty good color specifically on some of the Indian IT services, headwinds you guys are experiencing.
spk05: It seems like America's does seem to be holding up better, but I wonder if you could give some more color, at least on the vertical side, maybe kind of what is coming in, you know, as good or maybe even a little better than expected? Is offsetting some of these headwinds internationally?
spk10: Yeah, so I'd say, you know, no verticals coming in better than expected. But certainly, you know, verticals are coming in as expected. As we mentioned in our prepared statements, transportation and healthcare, you know, continue to drive, you know, good volumes for us. We're not going to go into, like, vertical by vertical, you know, breakdown. But at the end of the day, you've got, you know, a handful that are doing, you know, pretty well.
spk11: You've got a handful that are sort of flat, and you've got others that, you know, are negative. And the net result is, you know, exactly what we've, you know, put forward here in our earnings releases and in our guidance. So it's a bit of a mixed bag, and you've got some offsetting others, but it's actually exactly where we thought it would be. Got it. That makes sense. And maybe just to follow up on proprietary data, I mean, it seems like you guys have been making a lot of efforts to, you know, kind of use your own data and cut out the middleman, say, in some different areas. But, you know, maybe if you could give some more color on where you're seeing, you know, some of the most progress, you know, whether that's, you know, around, you know, verifications or on the criminal side or maybe somewhere else completely. Yeah, no, those are the two big buckets. That's where we're seeing the most progress. But the criminal side is really not about margin. That's more about the quality of the check and being able to use that data to increase efficiency accuracy and turnaround times and things like that. The margin impact is really on the verification side. And it's not just only using our proprietary data, which certainly helps. But we're starting to be seen in the market as the place to go for alternative verification sources. And that's where the smart hub technology shines. I mean, I would tell you right now, the smart hub is actually the best tech we have in the entire company. It is a phenomenal piece of technology that's got proprietary algorithms in it that enable us to go to the market and say we are the place. enable us to go to the market and say we are the place for alternative verification sourcing. And it doesn't mean, you know, that we're just using our database or we're just using our database or we're using somebody else's database. We're able to search multiple databases, you know, with that technology, and that's driving the total cost of ownership of doing a verification down at our customers, and it's helping us win business. All right. That's a good color. Thanks, guys. Thank you. Our next question comes from Heather Balsky with Bank of America.
spk04: Hi. Thank you for the time. Just one question for you.
spk02: Can you talk about the upsell cross-sell, where you're kind of seeing the strength that's driving that, and has it changed this year versus last year just as the macro environment has shifted? Thanks.
spk09: And Heather, it actually has changed a bit.
spk10: So you may have seen a press release from us recently where we released our annual trend data. So every year we look at the previous year's ordering volume trends. What are customers thinking about? What are they ordering? So we did 100 million searches in 2022. So that's a lot of data. And what's come out of that data is that customers are now valuing risk or risk mitigation or risk aversion as their top priority or as one of their top priorities.
spk11: And I think you could probably guess that if you just turn the news on at night. You know, we're clearly living in unprecedented times when it comes to, you know, violence. And customers are worried about that. So what's driven upsell, cross-sell probably the most is what we call package density. density. So package density is where customers are buying more and more protection. So this would go probably against what you would think about in a down macro or in a challenging macro where you would think customers are looking to save costs and things like that, but they're actually buying more more from us. So wallet share is increasing as customers look to protect themselves. So it's really driven a lot by risk.
spk04: That's really helpful. Thank you.
spk09: Thank you. There are no further questions in queue at this time. I will now turn the call over to Scott Staples for closing comments.
spk10: Thank you, Operator, and thanks, everyone, for your participation. Have a great day.
spk11: Thank you. This concludes the First Advantage First Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference call and webcast. Thank you all for your participation at this time. You may disconnect your line.

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Q1FA 2023