Hudson Global, Inc.

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk00: Good morning and welcome to the Hudson Global Conference call for the first quarter of 2023. Our call today will be led by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Eberwine and Chief Financial Officer Matt Damond. Please be advised that statements made during the presentation include forward-looking statements under applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These risks are discussed in our Form 8-K filed today and with other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our annual report on Form 10-K. The company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements. During the course of this conference call, references will be made to long-gap terms such as constant currency, adjusted EBITDA, adjusted earnings per diluted share. Reconciliations for these measures are included in our earnings release and in our quarterly slides, both posted on our website, I encourage you to access the earnings material at this time as they will serve as a helpful reference guide during this call. I would now turn the conference over to Jeff Everwine.
spk02: Thank you, Operator, and welcome, everyone. We thank you for your interest in Hudson Global and for joining us today. I'll start by reviewing the first quarter 2023 highlights, and Matt Diamond, our CFO, will provide some additional details on our financial results. I'll then give an update on current business conditions. For the first quarter of 2023, we reported revenue of $43 million, down 13% year-over-year in constant currency. Adjusted net revenue was $22 million and decreased 12% year-over-year in constant currency. S&A costs were $21 million in the first quarter, 5% versus the same period last year in constant currency. We reported adjusted EBITDA of $1.1 million, down 77% in constant currency versus a year ago. In addition, we reported a net income of $0.4 million, or $0.11 per share, versus a net income of $3 million, or $0.97 per diluted share, in the same period last year. We reported adjusted net income for a diluted share of $0.22 in first quarter 2023 versus $1.23 a year ago. I'll now turn the call over to Matt Diamond, CFO, to review our financial results by region as well as some additional financial details from the first quarter.
spk03: Thank you, Jeff, and good morning, everyone. Revenue and adjusted net revenue for our America's business decreased 36% and 35%, respectively, in constant currency. Break-even adjusted EBITDA decreased versus last year's adjusted EBITDA of $3.5 million. Revenue for our Asia Pacific business decreased 8% year-over-year in constant currency, and adjusted net revenue grew 9% in constant currency. Adjusted EBITDA of $1.7 million decreased from adjusted EBITDA of $2.4 million a year ago. Our EMEA business grew revenue 16% and adjusted net revenue 31% in constant currency. Adjusted EBITDA of $0.5 million in the first quarter of 2023 increased from adjusted EBITDA of $0.3 million a year ago. Turning to some additional financial details from the first quarter, we ended Q1 with $22.3 million in cash and restricted cash. Day sales outstanding was 53 days at March 2023, up from DSO of 47 days at March 2022. In connection with the acquisition of Coit Group in the fourth quarter of 2020, Karani in the fourth quarter of 2021, and Hunt & Badge in the third quarter of 2022, our balance sheet as of March 31, 2023, reflects $4.9 million of goodwill and $4.3 million of net amortizable intangible assets. The company's working capital, excluding cash, increased significantly to $12.7 million in the first quarter of 2023 from $7.3 million at the end of 2022. The company used $5 million in cash flow from operations during the first quarter. The cash flow use was due to seasonal moves in working capital that we typically see in Q1, as well as a $2 million outflow for the final earn-out payment related to the COI acquisitions. I'll now turn the call back over to Jeff to give some more perspective on our RPO business and to review current trends in our business.
spk02: Thank you, Matt. In the first quarter of 2023, lower hiring activity, particularly in the technology sector, led to declines in revenue, adjusted net revenue, and adjusted EBITDA versus the prior year quarter. Activity in other sectors remained stable, and we've seen a number of new business wins thus far in 2023. Importantly, our experienced leadership team has a history of navigating different market cycles and continues to respond quickly to changes in the market to protect our profitability. We are confident in our ability to manage the business in this environment and remain well positioned to respond to the needs of our clients going forward. I want to thank all of our highly dedicated employees for their flexibility, hard work, and dedication to our clients and business in the challenging conditions we've been working through. Operator, can you please open the line for questions?
spk00: Yes, thank you. We will now begin the question and answer session. To ask a question, you may press star, then one on your touchtone phone. If you're using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing the keys. To withdraw your question, please press star, then two. At this time, we will pause momentarily to assemble the roster. And the first question comes from Edward Riley with EF Hutton.
spk05: You guys, thanks for taking my question. Europe looks to be doing really well. Just wondering if you could maybe uncover this a little bit for us. What's really driving the growth here?
spk02: Yeah, thanks for the question. You know, we did have a really good quarter in Q1. That was a bright spot for us. We've continued to win new business there. So we had a significant win towards the end of last year that was ramping up in the first quarter. And so if you just add new business on top of the existing portfolio, it makes for good year-over-year growth. And then a year ago at this time, the sentiment there was very poor. Everyone was talking about recession, downturn. So we think some of our clients there may be under-hired last year, and then things ended up not being so bad. From what I can tell, things stabilized and they didn't go into a recession, and hiring actually picked up. at the beginning of this year and was ahead of our expectations and showed year-over-year growth.
spk05: Okay. Gotcha. And then on some of the other new business ones that you've had, which geographic regions have these predominantly taken place in? Should we maybe expect this to ramp for the rest of the year?
spk02: Yeah, we're very excited about this year. First quarter is always the weakest quarter of the year, and Australia is largely on vacation pretty much the whole month of January, and we had a lot of instances where our clients and our own team actually took quite a bit of leave in January to make up for not... not taking their full vacation when we were coming out of COVID and everyone was super busy and stretched really thin. And we've seen improvement globally each month throughout the quarter. And April is better than March, which is encouraging. The new business wins are heavily in Australia, UK, US, and a little bit in continental Europe, India, and China.
spk05: Okay, great. Then last one for me, maybe just talk about how you've been adjusting your cost structure, just given the weekend environment, particularly in the U.S.
spk02: Yeah, that's a really good question. You know, we've talked before about how our costs, our team costs, tend to be 70% of net revenue. So not the gross revenue, but the net revenue. And we strongly believe in that trend over time. And if you look at Q1, it was significantly higher than that. If you take out the stock-based comp and the non-recurring items, I think the salaries and related line was something like 77% of net revenue over And we see a combination of revenues increasing from here. We think each quarter is going to improve as the year progresses. And costs as a percentage of that revenue will decline going forward. And I guess the issue we've had over the last nine months has been, I would just say, global uncertainty. unevenness, you know, some areas having a very sharp decline like the technology sector and other areas where we, we have one new business and have continued to, to hire. Um, and it's, you know, not so easy to take someone who was doing tech recruiting in the U S and move them to Australia because we just had a new win in the, in, in Australia. So we have some areas where we have too little, um, and other areas where we have too much, and it just takes a quarter or two to get it all adjusted. And we strongly think that the long-term trend line is going to be that 70% salary cost, 70% of net revenue.
spk05: Okay, great. Thank you very much.
spk00: Thank you. And the next question comes from Mark Riddick with Sidoti & Company.
spk05: Morning, Mark. Good morning.
spk04: Morning. I wanted to see if we could touch a little bit on maybe what you were seeing. I think in the past we've talked about maybe some of the different behaviors and actions that you were seeing, whether it was smaller tech companies, larger tech companies, things like that. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about maybe what you've seen more recently in and various differentiation, and then maybe we can sort of go into maybe what you're seeing as far as project-based actions.
spk02: Yeah. So what we're seeing in the technology sector, and also just to be clear, we do lots of technology hiring. Every one of our clients, whether it's a pharmaceutical company or a financial services company or a consumer company, does a lot of IT hiring, and we do a lot of hiring there. of IT professionals. And when we talk about technology, we're talking about the tech sector specifically. And what we've seen there, everybody can see the headlines with a lot of big tech companies doing multiple rounds of headcount reductions. And our specialty has been in that high growth, medium sized company that maybe just recently went public or it will soon be public and they're ramping, um, their team in order to, um, meet, meet the growth that's going on in the business. And, um, you know, so a lot of that has, has stopped and they've shed people. And so we, we would estimate that hiring in the technology sector is down 80% year over year, which, um, really seems like an unsustainable level to us. A lot of our clients, we have all the paperwork in place, all of the contracts, et cetera. So if they want to resume hiring again, we can turn that back on very, very quickly. And a lot of them would tell us that they've cut very, very deeply, including cutting a lot of people in HR and talent procurement and going forward, they'd like to have more of a variable cost model, less of a fixed cost model, and we'll use more RPO the next time around. So we don't know when it's going to recover. Um, but when it does, we're incredibly well positioned to quickly get back to the levels we were at previously. And, um, The areas that there is a little, I would say some green shoots are smaller down in the VC area where there are companies getting funded in AI and cybersecurity. Those are two areas where we are seeing some activity in hiring and some companies get funded. And then another area, we had a decent win in Q1 that was ramping up. of IT services. So these are companies that help other companies with their ERP systems, upgrading to the cloud version, building websites. And there's still a decent amount of work for those IT services companies. And so we did have a decent win of an IT service company, and we have been targeting that space.
spk04: So you actually anticipated a couple of things I was going to ask, particularly how this sort of lays out for future RPO opportunities and the like, as well as the AI commentary. So I thank you for that. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about maybe what you're seeing with candidate availability and how that might play out through the year. as well as, you know, sort of bill rate, wage rate, you know, opportunities throughout the year and what you're anticipating there. Thanks.
spk02: Yeah, let me just make sure I understand your question. In terms of candidate availability, are you talking about recruiters hiring for clients, or are you talking about our ability to recruit recruiters?
spk04: The first one, the former.
spk02: Yeah. It's still really tight. It depends which sector and it depends which geography. And there are pockets. I would say the tech sector and Silicon Valley, San Francisco area are the epicenter of hiring weakness. But then you have other sectors that are really struggling to find people, particularly healthcare companies. life sciences, medical devices. We have a client who has really struggled to find IT people in places like Texas and the Midwest. There's a real shortage of IT people. And so it's kind of hard to paint with a broad brush because there's pockets that are still really tight and then there's other areas of weakness or even extreme weakness. You know, I'd say light industrial equipment We've seen some weakening there. And then on the salary wage rates, it's certainly less hot than it was. But what is encouraging to us is that, and what makes us really optimistic about our margins expanding going forward, is that because of the increase in wage rates, It gives us a pricing umbrella, and so on new contracts or when contracts renew, we're getting, in some cases, significant price increases just because the cost of people is up, and we feel that immediately, and we're not able to pass that through until the contract comes up for renewal. And it's kind of an industry-wide thing, but... you know, said another way where we're under earning right now, our margins are, um, at a low point. I think this is, uh, you know, the low point of the cycle for us.
spk04: Okay. And then I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about, uh, has there been much of a change in what you're seeing as far as acquisition, uh, the, the pipeline valuations, whether you've seen much of a change in what's available out there and, and, um, whether the macroeconomic conditions have provided maybe some potential opportunities there. Thank you.
spk02: Yeah, I think that's getting better. I would say not yet. So what we saw last year is we looked at a lot of targets. It seemed like there were a higher than normal number of acquisition targets on the market. And Few of those deals did get done. Many of them did not get done, which we would chalk up to the seller wanting a peak multiple on peak earnings and just had too lofty expectations. And now for a lot of those candidates, similar to us, earnings are flat to down. Um, and, uh, you, usually their, their expectations, it takes, it takes a few quarters for them to reset. They, they, the memory of that high point is still, it's still really fresh, but I would say it's, it's the gap between bid and ask is starting to narrow. Um, you know, not, not enough in our view and we're pretty value oriented and, um, We have the luxury of not needing to do anything at all, but we're looking at things all the time. We're in the market all the time. We've benefited from looking at things. We've learned a lot from doing that. And even if we never do another acquisition, we benefit from being in the market and looking at things and just staying in touch with people who we think might want to sell at some point.
spk04: Great.
spk00: Thank you very much.
spk02: Good questions. Thank you, Mark.
spk00: Thank you. And the next question comes from Gabe Sanchez, a private investor.
spk01: Good morning. Hi, Jeff. Hi, Jeff. Thank you for taking the question. So RPO is a fragmented industry with few barriers to entry. And while I recognize that there's room for numerous players, I'm still curious how you think about long-term survivability and Hudson's competitive advantage. I know you all focus a lot on reducing corporate costs. So I'm wondering if you're looking to be the low-cost operator or if you would argue that there's a specialized or unique service offering at Hudson.
spk02: Yeah, no, really good question. You know, I would say our specialty is our big company capability but small company service level and feel we get rated really highly in the industry on our service level. And our value proposition, we really do well. Our sweet spot is clients that hire 500 to 10,000 people a year. Somewhere in that zone is our sweet spot, and most of our clients are in that range. So if it's a client that hires a lot more than that, we might not be such a great fit. So, you know, RPO is hard to break into. You know, there are some boutique firms out there that specialize in a geography or maybe they specialize in an industry. And I think they there will always be a place for small boutique firms that have that kind of specialty. But they tend to have a hard time breaking out of that. Geography or that sector. And a lot of the ones that we've talked to and looked at, even if we don't end up looking at them from an acquisition point of view, we develop a relationship with them. We had an example recently where a smaller RPO that's a regional player had a client that needed help expanding globally, and this smaller RPO provider isn't really set up. And so we're going to with them and service the client. We're looking into servicing the client together as a team where they would focus on what they do best, which is that particular region, and we would focus on all of the international roles. There are some big global firms out there that try to be all things to all people, but they don't always have the service level that we have And I would say we also specialize in white-collar professional roles where talent is absolutely everything, and company has to get that right and has to find the right people and build the right team. And the sectors that we're in line up well for that. So I think we're in a good space in the market. There's a lot of... I guess you could call them medium-sized companies in that zone where they hire 500 to 10,000 people a year that we offer the best service and the best value proposition.
spk01: Yeah, wonderful. Thank you for offering that thoughtful answer. And I'm curious because acquisitions have been mentioned several times on this earnings call. Do you consider a particular hurdle rate when you're making these acquisitions and how likely do you think it is that we leverage the full and operating loss carry forward over the years in acquisitions?
spk02: Yeah, our number one bullet point on an acquisition is, is it accretive to the business and to us financially? So does it fill a hole in our portfolio? And then can we do something more with it than they could do on their own? So in other words, Um, what's the industrial logic? Is it truly more valuable owned and managed by us than by someone else or just staying independent? And, um, you know, it's a pretty, pretty high bar and, uh, there's the people business. And so the culture, the culture has, has to fit. And if we, if we do all those things, I think the returns, uh, take care of themselves, um, If you force me to throw out a number, I think any acquisition we do, we want to look at it and say, inside of Hudson, this is going to be a 20% return on investment, and we're going to be able to grow the size of the business over time.
spk01: Awesome. Thank you. And if I could just sneak in one last question, given that 50% of sales were attributable to just two clients last year in 2022, are you willing to share any insight at all regarding those two clients? And do you think that that high client concentration will persist or do you expect to diversify the customer base over time? Thank you.
spk02: It's the second one. As we grow, we think we're in an industry that is growing 15% a year on average. That doesn't mean every single year is exactly 15%. Some years will be less than that. Some years will be higher than that. But we think we're in a high-growth industry, and we want to grow at least as fast as the industry is growing. And what you're referring to is a disclosure in our 10-K, and that disclosure is based on gross revenue. not net revenue, and in the contracting business we do, we have a huge amount of revenue. Most of it is passed through, and we make a very small margin on that. So it's less concentrated if you look at it on a net revenue basis, but those larger clients are very long-term relationships, very, very sticky clients, very interdependent. It's not something that keeps me up at night. I guess I'll put it that way. And we don't have any major contracts coming up for renewal in the next year that certainly none that I'm worried about.
spk01: Thanks so much, Jeff.
spk00: Thank you. And once again, please press star and then one if you would like to ask a question. And if there is nothing more, I would like to return the floor to Jeff Erwin for any closing comments.
spk02: Well, thank you, Operator, and thank you for your questions today. Very, very good questions. We appreciate you joining us. We appreciate your interest in the company. And feel free to contact us anytime by using the information in our press release or on our Investor Relations website. And we look forward to next quarter's update call. Have a good day, everybody.
spk00: Thank you, and thank you for joining the Hudson Glendale First Core Conference Call. Today's call has been recorded and will be available on the investor section of our website,

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