Group Limited

Q1 2022 Earnings Conference Call


spk11: Thank you for standing by and welcome to the group 2022 Q1 earnings conference call. All participants are in a listen-only mode. There will be a presentation followed by a question and answer session. If you wish to ask a question, you will need to press the star key followed by the number one on your telephone keypad. I would now like to hand the conference over to Michelle Chee. Please go ahead.
spk04: Thank you. Thank you everyone for joining today. Good morning and welcome to CryptoCom Group's first quarter of 2022 earnings conference call. Joining me today on the call are Mr. Jim Flynn, Executive Chairman of the Board, Ms. Jen Sun, Chief Executive Officer, and Ms. Cindy Wong, Chief Financial Officer. During this call, we will discuss our future outlook and performance. which are forward-looking statements made under the safe harbor provision of the U.S. Private Security Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involves inherent risks and uncertainties. As such, our results may be materially different from the views expressed today. A number of potential risks and uncertainties are outlined in Group's public filing with the Security and Exchange Commission. Group does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, except as required under applicable law. James, Jen, and Cindy will share our strategy and business updates, operating highlights, and financial performance for the first quarter of 2022, as well as the outlook for the second quarter of 2022. After the prepared remarks, we will have a Q&A session. With that, I will turn the call over to James. James, please.
spk08: Thank you, Michelle. Thank you, everyone, for joining us on the call today. Two years ago into the pandemic, the travel industry still faces pandemic-related challenges. The first quarter of 2022 showed a mixed picture in which the Chinese domestic markets and the global markets have developed independently. In China, the first two months of the year were encouraging, while March was relatively uneasy due to the outrage of Omicron in multiple regions, including the first-tier cities. Such pandemic influence extended into April and May, with strict pandemic control measures and travel curbs being imposed that largely While short-term perspectives might not seem optimistic, demand for travel is still strong, which offers a brighter outlook for the long term. With sound COVID risk reduction measures and improved safety perceptions, user confidence grows and their desire for travel recovers. Global travel continues to recover at a strong pace as governments continue to open up. We anticipate to see a similar pattern in China once the restrictions are eased. In order to capture such travel demands, we continue to develop travel products to match consumers' travel aspirations. With efforts in previous quarters, we enhanced our value proposition of our customers and partners in the China market with established strengths in both long-haul and short-haul travels, through bolstering our product capabilities, service qualities, and business efficiency. In January and February, our domestic hotel bookings continued to deliver better than market performance, increased by more than 20% year-over-year. The market was again largely disrupted by outbreaks since March, but we have already seen signs of recovery following the easing of static management measures. On the international front, we are encouraged to see benefits of global recovery from the pandemic with strong travel demands in many countries, especially across Europe and especially Asia Pacific. Following these countries' decisions to largely remove travel restrictions, we have seen strengthening trends of business performance across our global platforms, with air bookings achieving triple-digit year-over-year growth and hotel booking significantly improved, especially the transatlantic and Asian articles. It has been two years since the onset of the pandemic. Fortunately, the green shoots of travel have already appeared, along with opportunities to encourage continued growth with our local focus will continue to be nimble and adaptive On the international front, we will remain global vision to be keen to build on positive signals that we are seeing so far and further fortify our global footprint. With that, I will send the call over to James for operational highlights.
spk13: Thank you, James. Good morning, everyone. I would like to start with a quick overview of our performance in the past quarter. and updates on our strategic focuses. First of all, overall performance overview. In the first quarter of 2022, our total net revenue remained largely stable year over year, which was a net result of a relatively well-performed first two months and a weaker March impacted by the latest round of Omicron outbreaks in China. In January and February, our domestic business sustained better than industry performance with domestic hotel bookings increased above 20% year over year and were close to fully recovered to 2019 level. However, since March, the whole market has been under severe impact of the pandemic related to restrictions. Overall speaking, in Q1, our hotel bookings were close to 2021 level, with same city's vacation hotels reservation grew more than 20% year over year. Our air reservation was also recovered faster than the market. In Q2, although the China domestic market was largely affected by the pandemic controls and travel restrictions, we were delighted to see that the fundamental demands for travel were still solid. The recovery was much faster in areas less affected by COVID. For instance, hotel bookings in southern China and western China have already surpassed 2019 level in the recent months. In the past two weeks, our total hotel bookings have also surpassed 2019 level following the easing of COVID situation. The global market, on the other hand, continues to make major strides towards recovery to pre-pandemic level as more and more countries have substantially dropped their pandemic-related travel restrictions. Traffic on our global platforms have already surpassed the 2019 level the world is ready for a great reopening. Overall, air ticket bookings on our global platform have increased over 270% year-over-year, in which our global brands,, have managed to increase by approximately 400% year-over-year. In the overseas market, domestic air ticket bookings on have surpassed the 2019 level with a growth more than 150% and have outpaced the industry average across all of our key markets. Overall, hotel bookings on our global platforms have also increased by more than 25% above 2019 level in the first quarter. Domestic hotel bookings in non-China markets on increased over 200% when compared to the same period in 2019, especially in the markets such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, UK, UAE, etc. The upward trends continued to gain momentum in the second quarter. We have also seen gradual recovery of international travel as more and more countries decided to lift restrictions and reopen their borders to accept international travelers. Second, operational highlights and strategic focuses. While the China market and the global market showed different paths of development, it is important for us to stick with our local focus and global vision strategy and be flexible and adaptive to make the best out of the situation and focus on the following areas. First of all, accommodation. In the China domestic market, we continue to strengthen our value propositions to hotel partners and users through product innovation such as hotel packages, and our Trip Plus program. To build a stronger user case and respond to the customer's aspirations for better services and value for money, we worked hard to further enhance the quality of our value-added hotel package products, which covers over 10,000 hotels. High-end hotel packages contributed over 40% of reservations, to these participating partners and a broad incremental upside to our hotel business partners. We also continue to strengthen our value proposition in our Trip Plus program with about 240,000 hotels joined to reward customers' loyalty with extra benefits for incremental volume. In the meantime, we have also upgraded our backend system and streamlined service procedures. As a result, our order confirmation time was shortened by 45% when compared to the first quarter last year. Second, content platform. We continue to make solid progress in strengthening our content platform to better inspire and assist users to make well-informed trouble decisions. On top of achievements in 2021, the amount of daily average user-generated content further grew by 140% sequentially. In the first quarter, the number of KOLs also increased by 10%. While the amount of the content and our fleet of content creators continue to grow, we also focus on enhancing the efficiency of our content channels as well as improving the quality of our content. We're delighted to see higher user engagement in the first quarter with the number of average daily engaging users on our content channel increased by around 40% year over year. Average number of contents viewed per user also increased by around 40%. Average view duration has also seen a double-digit improvement and continued to grow in the following months. Third, global business. On the international front, we continue to integrate and upgrade supply chain and technological capabilities of our international brands and further strengthen the reliability and efficiency of our customer services. In light of global travel recovery, we also worked on expanding our content strategy to cover our global businesses. Leveraging our successful experience in the China market, we managed to improve the daily average traffic of content channel. by 80% year-over-year. The content engagement rate increased by 150% year-over-year. This also helped to nearly double our users' retention rate. Our activity offerings in overseas markets are also seeing continuous improvements since previous quarter. In 2021, reservations of global in-destination activities on our platform have already surpassed the pre-COVID-19 level. On top of that, we continue to achieve triple-digit growth in the first quarter. We are encouraged and well prepared to further collaborate with global destinations and attractions to strengthen our market position and gain market share. Fourth, Cooperative responsibility. Following up with our rural revitalization initiative, we currently have nine group country retreats in operations, with the latest one freshly opened recently. We continued to collaborate with local authorities to provide professional training to nurture local alternative accommodations and tourism practitioners in order to support the development of rural tourism. During the recent pandemic outbreak, we also contributed to support the guarantee of supply of daily necessities in Shanghai by leveraging our resources and experience to help related company personnel with hotel reservations. In total, our corporate travel team contributed 160,000 room nights and helped approximately 6,800 daily necessity supply personnel. With the relaxation of travel restrictions in many parts of the world, we are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. For the domestic market, we may still see a relatively weak second quarter due to pandemic impact. However, we will continue to show resilience in this fast-changing market environment and be flexible with our strategies to swiftly seize growth opportunities. With that, I will now turn the call over to Cindy.
spk05: Thanks, Jane. Good morning, everyone. For the first quarter of 2022, Group reported net revenue of RMB 4.1 billion, which was sluggish compared with the same period last year and decreased by 12% quarter over quarter, primarily due to continued disruption to the travel industry from the recent wave of pandemic outbreak. Accommodation reservation revenue for the first quarter of 2022 with R&D 1.5 billion, representing an 8% decrease year-over-year and 24% decrease quarter-over-quarter, recovering to 48% of the 2019 level. This is a net result of steady recovery in the first two months, offset by the disruption of Omicron outbreak since March. Domestic hotel booking were close to last year's Q1 level, with local hotel grew by more than 20% year-over-year. Transportation ticketing revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was RMB $1.7 billion, representing a 10% increase year-over-year and 10% increase quarter-over-quarter, recovering to 50% of the 2019 level, among which China domestic recovery momentum was largely disrupted by resurgence of COVID since March, while air reservations on our international platforms saw significant increase, mainly contributed by the recovery in Europe and Asia as a result of relaxation of travel restrictions. Packaged tour revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was RMB 124 million, representing a 27% decrease year-over-year and 30% decrease quarter-over-quarter, recovering to 12% of the 2019 level. This is mainly due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in domestic China market and largely muted outbound travel tourism. Corporate travel revenue for the first quarter of 2022 was RMB 222 million, representing a 12% decrease year over year and 40% decrease quarter over quarter, recovering to 93% of the 2019 level, primarily due to the impact of pandemic-related static management in March. Excluding share-based compensation charges, our total adjusted operating expenses decreased by 11% year-over-year and was a saving of 38% compared to the same period in 2019, reflecting our effective cost control and efficient operating management across business lines. Adjusted product development expenses for the first quarter decreased by 6% from the previous quarter. It was a saving of 19% compared to the same period in 2019 as we continued to run lean and maintain a stable headcount in the team. Adjusted sales and marketing expenses for the first quarter decreased by 33% from the previous quarter. It was a saving of 62% compared to the same period in 2019 as we continue to stick with our prudent marketing protocol. Adjusted G&A expenses for the first quarter decreased by 9% from the previous quarter. It was a saving of 23% when compared to the same period in 2019. Adjusted EBITDA was RMB 91 million for the first quarter compared to negative 216 million in the same period last year and R&B 54 million in the previous quarter. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 2% for the first quarter compared to negative 5% in the same period last year and 1% in the last quarter. Diluted loss per ordinary share and per ADS were RMB 1.52, or US dollar 24 cents, for the first quarter of 2022. Excluding share-based compensation charges and fair value change of equity securities investments and exchangeable senior notes, non-GAAP diluted loss per ordinary share and per ADS were RMB 6 cents or US dollar 1 cent for the first quarter. As of March 31st, 2022, the balance of cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investment, held to maturity time deposit and financial products was RMB 63.3 billion or US dollar 10 billion. Turning to the second quarter of 2022, we would like to share some color of our recent businesses. Multiple rounds of Omicron outbreak across China, including first tier cities such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing, largely impacted the entire China domestic travel industry. In the quarter to date, the industry level air passenger volume was down by 70 to 90%. And the industry level hotel RASPA was down by 40 to 60% compared to the same period in 2019, among which a significant portion was attributable to quarantine requirements. We are encouraged, however, we are encouraged by the recent business recovery as the outbreaks are more under control starting from June. In the past several weeks, our hotel reservations have surpassed the 2019 level, mainly contributed by local staycation demands, while long-haul travel is still under pressure. Outbound travel remain muted under current conditions. And outside of China, the recovery momentum in Europe, US, and Asia remain robust. Our international brands showed further improvements in April and May, benefiting from the relaxation of travel restrictions and reopening of country borders. As the COVID threat continues to linger in the China domestic market, we will continue to adopt strict cost control protocols while remain keen to seize the growth opportunity in the global market. With that, operator, please open the line for questions.
spk11: Thank you. If you wish to ask a question, please press star 1 on your telephone and wait for your name to be announced. If you wish to cancel your request, please press star 2. If you're on a speakerphone, please pick up the handset to ask your question. Your first question comes from Alex Poon with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.
spk00: Thank you, management, for taking my questions. It's glad to see the global travel recovery. Can management share with us more about your global expansion strategy, your pure international business, given the chance for outbound travel recovery in the near term is still probably remote? Thank you very much.
spk12: Yeah, thank you.
spk08: We will continue to integrate and upgrade in the supply chain and technology of our international brands, and further strengthen the reliability and efficiency of our customer service. In Asian markets, we have been working more closely with local suppliers to address the growing needs for staycation, which helps gain market share with increasing brand awareness and app usage in the past two years. and lay strong foundation for further growth once the cross-border travel restrictions are removed. In Europe, all of our brands have been in close collaboration throughout the previous quarter, giving a strong boost to our product competitiveness in the region. As more and more countries have dropped their pandemic-related travel restrictions, we are glad to see strong recovery and synergies across our international brands. As we shared in the prepared remarks, in Q1, overall air ticket booking on our global platforms have increased over 270% year-over-year, in which our global brand,, have managed to increase by approximately 400% year-over-year. Overall hotel reservations on global platforms achieved 25% growth versus 2019, with significant contribution from domestic reservations in overseas markets. The upward trend continues to gain momentum in the second quarter.
spk05: Thank you, Alex.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Ronald Kung with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.
spk09: Thank you. I just want to ask how will the current economic situation change your expectations on the future recovery, further recovery trend, first of all domestic and then the outbound travel market? How does the current pandemic situation might have shaped your expectations for border reopening and how bound it is to help our recovery? And lastly, what is your expectation for the recovery momentum once the border reopens? Thank you.
spk05: Thank you, Ronald. We believe the demand for China domestic travel and the global travel is still very solid. In the areas with comparatively fewer travel restrictions such as southern China and western China, we are very encouraged to see the hotel reservations have already surpassed the 2019 level in the recent months. And our total hotel reservations also quickly rebounded to the pre-COVID level in the past two weeks as the outbreaks got better controlled. And our global brands also see very strong recovery momentum in their domestic international travel following the ease of travel restrictions across countries. So being very optimistic about the pent-up demand for the outbound travel, especially where we noticed that the recent quick recovery of the domestic travel during the summertime. We do not expect to see drastic changes in the inbound and outbound travel policies in the near future, but we strongly believe that the pent-up demand is there. It's just a matter of time when the country decided to open the border. Thank you.
spk01: Thank you, Jane.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Brian Gong with Citigroup. Please go ahead.
spk10: Good morning, James, Jane, Cindy, and Michelle. Thanks for taking my question. So how is the early booking situation for the summer session for domestic and international marketing respectively? And can you share more color about your overall outlook for the second half and the next year? Thank you.
spk05: Thank you. So far, we have comparatively limited visibility, given the very short booking windows happened recently. And we are cautious about the short-term perspectives of the China domestic travel, given the current COVID policies in multiple regions in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, the big cities. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic about the long-term prosperity because first, with the current healthcare measures and reportedly lower mortality rate, we are finally seeing the COVID becoming a hopefully more manageable threat. And meanwhile, we have recently seen the authority making efforts to reduce the potential disruption from Omicron cases such as relaxing unnecessary quarantine and lockdown measures and increasing the granularity of the scope of cross-province travel ban from province level to the country level. Yes, so we think it's hard to predict the trend, the growth trend for the second half, but so far, what we noticed is that when the policy eased in China, we did see the pent-up demand growth for the China domestic market. But of course, on the international front, the growth is there, and we see huge growth potentials for the whole international business, including the including the domestic market, as well as the cross-border business travel, as well as the leisure travel demand is coming back. Thank you.
spk10: Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Alex Yao with JP Morgan. Please go ahead.
spk01: Thank you, management, for taking my question. The new waves of Omicron outbreak pushed down the industry even to the level of 2020 in the toughest weeks. Can you share with us your strategies if the tight travel control situation continues or another wave of COVID research in the rest of the year? Thank you.
spk12: Yeah, so thanks, Alex. The new ways of the Omicron looks like is quite less badly. It's infectious, but the impact is minor, mild. So with the more vaccine is being taken and more data showed that the mortality rate is quite low. We look at the control procedures by the government. It's also relaxed more. So wherever we see a relaxation in the unnecessary lockdown, we see a boom in the industry. So for the western part of China and the southern part of China, business are going very well. So even with Shanghai and Beijing still being recovered, in the past two weeks, our hotel booking has already surpassed pre-COVID level of 2019. So we are hopeful that with the more effective vaccine being taken by the more population and more experience being accumulated, we will be able to handle the upcoming challenges. And hopefully, you know, with what we have seen from Q1, Q2, and ease of the It's on the uptrend for the business. Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Thomas Chong with Jefferies. Please go ahead.
spk06: Hi. Thanks, management, for taking my questions. May I ask a question about accommodation assessment? How should we think about the trend for the ADR as well as the tick rate? Thank you.
spk05: Thank you, Thomas. Because the whole travel industry was negatively affected by the outbreaks in multiple provinces, so overall our ADR were down, especially in Q2, for example, our ADR down more than 20% domestically. And in Q1, our ADR was done by high teams in the Q1. These are all compared with the 2019 level. On the international front, maybe because it's early start of the international travel, so we also see some negative impact on the ADRs. on the international front. Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Wei Zong with UBS. Please go ahead.
spk02: Good morning, management. Thank you for taking my question. My question is, if we look at longer term, some of these structural changes that we've seen since the COVID breakout, for example, the short haul travel and staycation getting more popular, do we see them as incremental opportunities longer term and how are we positioned to grab these opportunities? Also related to that, how do we think about the role that the content driven e-commerce or live streaming platforms could play in travel booking and how could that affect the competitive landscape for OTAs? Thank you.
spk05: Sure. So for the short haul travel, Over the past two years, we've worked very hard to build a very strong user case for the short-haul travel through multiple initiatives in product and marketing innovations. To date, short-haul travel has become a key contributor to our domestic recovery, especially in the days when long-haul travel is restricted. For example, in Q1, our interprovincial hotel booking grew about 20% compared with the pre COVID-19 level. With the local hotel bookings actually increased by over 60% compared with the 2019 level. For Citrus, because we are actually famous for booking for the long haul travel. So compared with the pre COVID level, we did notice that more and more customer noticed or have awareness that if you come to Ctrip site or Ctrip app, you can easily find value for money product for the local travel booking. So we believe this is part of it or significant part of this incremental business for us. With regard to the content strategy, We have achieved multiple milestones in key metrics such as content generation, user engagement, and conversion to orders. All these efforts and achievements allow us to better inspire and assist users to make well-informed travel decisions and make us more effective, attractive marketing hubs for our advertising partners. In Q1, for example, our domestic travel advertising revenue increased over 20% compared to the pre-COVID level. So far, we are happy to see that our content strategy started to help us, firstly, to increase the users' engagement, and secondly, positive contribution to our revenue. Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. Once again, if you wish to ask a question, please press star 1 on your telephone and wait for your name to be announced. Your next question comes from James Lee from Mizuho. Please go ahead.
spk07: Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Given all the on and off disruptions in the travel industry, I was hoping, James, that you can talk about maybe some of the government policies to support the tourism industry for both consumers and suppliers. Thank you.
spk05: Yeah, with the ongoing pandemic and intermittent lockdowns, the travel industry is still in need of more support from the authority. And Jane and James have made a lot of efforts talking with related government authorities, and we are glad to see that the authority is making efforts to reduce the potential disruptions from Omicron cases. Especially recently, we see a lot of relaxations of unnecessary quarantine and lockdown measures in a lot of provinces in China and increasing the granularity of the scope of the cross-province travel bands from the province level to the county level. So with the authority and industry players joining hands to improve our business environment and to stand against the challenges together, we are very confident that the travel industry will come back even stronger. Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. Your next question comes from Tan Yao with TH Capital. Please go ahead.
spk03: Morning, management. I have a question related to your cash sustainability issue. As there's COVID on and off, and China continue its zero COVID policy, And just so the company, you know, in the last several quarters is in the position of burning some cash. So how sustainable is the company's cash position under the current situation, current environment? Is there any room for the company to achieve further cost saving or You know, is this company has any plans to further to raise some capital, you know, to enrich your balance sheet? So that's the question. Thank you.
spk05: Citrip has been experienced ups and downs of the travel industry in the last almost 20 years. So we have rich experience to weather the storm. And we believe the most important part to survive or even become stronger is to have the sufficient liquidity, to keep the sufficient liquidity in place. So as of March 31st, the company had 33.3 billion RMB, or close to $10 billion out of hand in cash assets. including our how to maturity time deposit and financial products. And most importantly, our net cash was US dollar 1.9 billion as of March 31st this year. And our net working capital was US dollar 1.7 billion. And we were frequently, we actually frequently assess our liquidity positions with latest business data. and are confident to conclude that the combination of our existing cash reserve, cash flow from operations, and financing sources are sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs, including our working capital, capital expenditure, and repayment of financial obligations for the foreseeable future. With regard to the cost savings, During the past two years, we have already streamlined our operations across business lines in addition to certain adjustments related to COVID. And in addition, our improvements on content, cross-selling, and technology have further lifted our marketing efficiencies. For example, in Q1, our total adjusted operating expenses decreased 11% year-over-year, And compared with pre-COVID level, it was a saving of close to 40%, thanks to our largely flexible cost structures and very effective cost controls. Going forward, we expect to achieve further cost savings, especially in the second quarter. Our largely discretionary sales and marketing expenses will be adjusted according to the extent of business recovery and continue to be ROI-driven. And also, we are able to run lean and stay productive, especially for our domestic operations with the current team structure, and will continue to improve our operating efficiencies And for example, in the second quarter, part of the performance-based bonus may be decreased due to the negatively impacted top-line growth. However, in the international or in the overseas market, we may increase some investment to capture the pent-up demand, depending on the growth momentum and business recoveries But the impact to our group level cost structure will be pretty limited. Thank you.
spk11: Thank you. That's all the time we have for our question and answer session today. I'll now hand back to Michelle Chee for closing remarks.
spk04: Thank you. Thanks everyone for joining us today. You can find the transcript and webcast of today's call on We look forward to speaking with you on our second quarter of 2022 earnings call. Thank you and have a good day. Thank you.
spk11: That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect.

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