Ambassadors Group, Inc. (EPAX)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

April 22, 2010 11:30 am ET

Executives

Jeff Thomas – President and CEO

Peg Thomas – President, People to People Ambassador Programs

Kristi Gravelle – Interim CFO

Analysts

Gregory McKinley – Dougherty & Co

Mike Roarke – McAdams Wright Ragen

James Bellessa – DA Davidson

Dan Smith [ph]

Presentation

Operator

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Q1 2010 Ambassadors Group Inc. earnings conference call. My name is Jamie Ikenberg, and I’ll be your coordinator for today.

I would like to turn the call over to your host for today’s conference Mr. Dina Presnow [ph], Director of Financial Planning and Analysis. Please proceed Ms. Presnow.

Dina Presnow

Thank you. Good morning. On the call with me today is Jeff Thomas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ambassadors Group; Peg Thomas, President of the Operating Subsidiary Ambassador Programs; Kristi Gravelle, Interim Chief Financial Officer of Ambassadors Group; Jim Kreyenhagen, President of BookRags; and

Susannah Stoltz representing Discovery Student Adventures.

First, before we proceed into the call, I will read the Safe Harbor statements regarding forward-looking statements. Statements contained in this press conference and related comments by Ambassadors Group’s management which are not historical in nature are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27-A of the Securities Act of 1933 as amended, and Section 21-E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as amended.

These forward-looking statements include without limitation, statements that relate to expectations concerning matters that are not historical facts. Word such as projects, believes, anticipates, plans, expects, intends, estimates and similar words and expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements reflect our beliefs or current expectations with respect to among other things, trends in the travel industry, our business and growth strategies,

use of technology, our ability to integrate acquired businesses, future actions, future performance or results of current and anticipated sales efforts, expenses, the outcome of contingencies such as legal proceedings, financial results and fluctuations in our results of operations.

Forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from anticipated results. These risks and uncertainties are

set forth in Ambassadors Group most recent report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Form 10-K, as it may be updated in our subsequent Form 10-Q and 8-K reports. All forward-looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by these factors and all related cautionary statements. We do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.

With that I will hand the call over to Jeff.

Jeff Thomas

Thank you. Good morning. Thank you for joining our call this morning.

We are planning to follow our regular call outline, starting with a brief overview of the company results, and Peg Thomas, Ambassador Programs, will discuss our core People to People Student Ambassador Program’s results so far and Kristi Gravelle will discuss our financial results for the first quarter of 2010.

Jim and Susannah are on the call to field questions about their respective business units should the need arise. As most of you are aware, our company has seasonal revenues and our first quarter is our least important revenue quarter of the year. Q2, our current quarter will be the most important revenue quarter of 2010. In the first quarter we posted a loss of $0.35 per share compared to a loss of $0.28 per share in the same quarter one year ago. This was driven primarily by having fewer travelers this quarter than the same quarter one year ago, and the majority of the decline in the number of travelers is driven by the Presidential Inauguration program that we operated one year ago.

Our expenses for the quarter were down slightly, although our sales and marketing expenses have increased compared to the same quarter last year, primarily driven by additional spending to acquire 2010 travelers, as well as the beginning of our marketing spend for 2011 travelers.

With our core People to People Ambassador Program’s operations, we have focused to a greater extent on our largest and most important product, the Student Ambassador Program, and are seeing some progress there. One of the key aspects of the first quarter is our traveler retention efforts, and you'll see there has been improvement in our Student Ambassador Retention results so far.

In addition, although our enrolled revenue is down over 20% this quarter compared to the same quarter one year ago, our enrolled revenues for Student Ambassador Programs is down approximately 12%. Our BookRags.com operating unit that provides book summaries, notes, and teaching materials to students and teachers through the same website experienced a slight decline in financial performance. This decrease is expected due to renegotiated agreement with an ad partner in 2009, while during the same period receipts for the sale of content on the site were up 9% over Q1 of last year.

Our monthly unique users were up 3% over the same period last year. This modest growth was expected and in spite of turning of unprofitable marketing and Google AdWords, which drove traffic but not revenue. Our revenue per 1000 unique users, which is the measurement that shows our efficiency in generating revenue from website traffic was down 16% from the comparable period last year. This decrease was also expected, and was the result of the prior mentioned ad partner contract renegotiation.

Discovery Student Adventures will also start operating its 2010 travel programs this quarter. After a slow start the team enrolled nearly 200 students, and will be having approximately 130 students after withdrawal. The number one withdrawal reason was financial hardship or the economy. Brand awareness, as expected is a key strength of our Discovery programs.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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