Ambassadors Group, Inc (EPAX)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call

July 22, 2010 12:00 am ET

Executives

Jeff Thomas - President and CEO

Kristi Gravelle - Interim CFO and Controller

William Sennet - Director of Market Research

Peg Thomas - President, People to People Ambassador Programs

Jim Kreyenhagen - President of BookRags

Susannah Stoltz - Discovery Student Adventures.

Analysts

Mike Roarke - McAdams Wright Ragen

Greg McKinley - Dougherty & Co

James Bellessa - DA Davidson

Operator

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Q2 2010 Ambassadors Group Inc. Earnings Call. My name is Christine, and I'll be your coordinator for today.

I would like to turn the call over to William Sennet, Director of Market Research. Please proceed sir.

William Sennet

Thank you, Christine. 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.

These risks and uncertainties are set forth in Ambassadors Group's most recent report filed with the SEC 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, William. 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, will discuss our core People to People Ambassador Program results and Kristi Gravelle, interim CFO, will discuss our financial results for the Q2 2010.

As mentioned we have two other officers on the Jim Kreyenhagen, President of BookRags and Susannah Stoltz with Discovery Student Adventures. They are in the call to field questions about these respective business units should the need arise.

From our perspective there's not been much movement up or down in our business since our last conference call. We travelled approximately the number of delegates that we expected. We are realizing approximately the margin that we expected and the summer travel season has been relatively benign so far.

More specifically for the second quarter we travelled 13,400 delegates compared to 16,000 one year earlier. The decrease is 16%. We have been able to maintain our margin expansion from last year, which enabled us to post a 14% year-over-year net revenue decrease.

Earnings per share came in $0.78 for the quarter and $0.40 for the year. These numbers compared to $0. 99 and the $0.72 for the quarter and for the year one year ago. Cash remains the strength of the company with $108 million in cash and short-term investments on the balance sheet at the end of the quarter, compared to $109 million one year ago.

At the end of the quarter we reactivated our share buyback and purchased approximately $1.8 million worth of our shares, which represents 162,000 shares.

Our Discovery Student Adventure Programs are underway. Although the number of traveler is small we are disappointed in the number. We can say that the quality of the programs is outstanding. At roughly half way point in their travel season, our net promoters score for these programs in the 90s. To provide some perspective, a score of 65 is considered world-class.

Looking ahead to 2011 for Discovery Student Adventures, we believe that there are reasons to expect better sales results for this program, although we are obviously too early to say anything definitive. We made changes that should help our sales and marketing efforts. First, we started our selling efforts earlier than last year. Second, we hired a national sales manager with eight years of experience in [Ad back] sales channel.

We also improved our lead generation flow both in terms of quantity and quality with BookRags, the BookRags operating unit, which provides book summaries, notes and teaching materials to students and teachers through the same website. BookRags experienced a slight decline in financial performance.

As I mentioned last quarter this decrease was expected due to a renegotiated agreement with an Ad partner vide 2009. While this has a short-term impact in Ad revenues this year, long-term we're investing in direct Ad sales, which will offset this decline and result in Ad sales growth in the next year.

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