ELong CEO Discusses Q3 2010 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

eLong, Inc. (LONG)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

November 11, 2010 7:00 pm ET

Executives

Philip Yang – IR

Guangfu Cui – CEO

Mike Doyle – CFO

Analysts

Eddie Leung – Bank of America

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Michael Anthony [ph]

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you, sir. (Operator instructions) Our first question is coming from the line of Eddie Leung from Bank of America. Please go ahead.

Eddie Leung – Bank of America

Good morning, guys. I have a couple questions. The first one is regarding the deceleration in the fourth quarter, given your outlook. Could you talk about it and give us more color on how much the impact of the ending of Shanghai Expo and how much from the impact of you guys placing out the cash transactions?

Mike Doyle

Yes, sure. We can talk about our guidance. Both Expo and leisure growth has fueled our – leisure travelers fueled our growth over the last few quarters. And last quarter we did share in the call the impact of Expo and we will today as well. We believe that about 10 percentage points of our room night growth was directly attributable to the Expo. And so we have seen that portion of demand soften since the close of the event. The cash payment option on our air booking business represented anywhere from 10% to 50% of total volume depending on the branch location. And we have seen some adoption about our payment methods by our customers, but in general, much of that volume has gone away since we’ve eliminated the option.

Eddie Leung – Bank of America

Got that. And then I have one more question. We know that the decrease in commission per hotel room nights was due to the eCoupons. However, we tick away that factor. Could you also share with us the industry price trends of hotel room nights as well as any change in condition rates? Thanks.

Mike Doyle

Yes. So with our ADR growth in the quarter of about 7% year-on-year, that was impacted heavily by increased ADRs in Shanghai around the Expo and then offset by mix shift to lower ADR hotels. Since the completion of the Expo, we have seen a return to year-on-year ADR growth of low-single digits. So that’s – you can see the impact of the Expo in those numbers. We have also seen a reduction in commission and rates during the Expo period when there is – during the peak period of demand and hotels were able to increase ADR and commission rate did not always increase in proportion. So revenue per room night was increasing, but not always the rates.

Eddie Leung – Bank of America

Got that. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you, sir. Our next question is coming from the line of Fawne Jiang. Please go ahead.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Good morning, Guangfu and Mike. Two questions here. Number one, it seems like your cost of service has decreased as a percentage of revenue in the past two quarters. Just wondering whether that’s a result of you increasing online transaction. And what’s the 4Q outlook on that? Do we see a consistent improvement on the cost of services?

Mike Doyle

Thank you, Fawne. I’ll speak to the – for the gross margin. We have seen an improvement over the last few quarters year-on-year in gross margin and that is directly attributable to the growth of our hotel business and our focus in that segment of our business, as well as the migration of our demand online where we have lower settlement costs. So those areas remain our focus in the feature, but we haven’t provided any guidance on gross margin going forward.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Okay. The next question is regarding your sales and market expense. We understand that you are running promotions on the eCoupon and – like, how should we look at sales and marketing in the fourth quarter?

Mike Doyle

We are continuing to run our eCoupon promotion in the fourth quarter. We are continually optimizing that program, inviting new hotel partners in and adjusting the coupon values to have the most appeal to our customers. But our marketing focus is actually in many other channels. eCoupon is just one of many, and we continue to focus our marketing spend entirely online.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Okay. Thanks. As a last question, it seems like you guys still have a very large cash balance. I just wonder whether you have any plan to deploying the cash in the coming quarters.

Mike Doyle

So we have continued to look aggressing for M&A opportunities. We announced two, I believe, following our Q1 release. And we will be opportunistic in looking to deploy the cash to grow our business in China. We don’t have anything to share this quarter, but we’re continuing to look for new opportunities. We have put in place a plan to minimize FX loss going forward, and we will have more to share with you next quarter.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray, Carret & Co.

Got it. Thanks, guys. I’ll jump back in queue.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from the line of Michael Anthony [ph]. Please go ahead.

Michael Anthony

Yes, sir. So you are not giving any guidance for the fourth quarter?

Mike Doyle

We did give guidance of 15% to 25% year-on-year revenue growth.

Michael Anthony

And the lady just asked you, so you are not going to pay a dividend. So what you suppose is for growth in the company?

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

More from Stocks

Inside Carnival's Mind Blowing New Horizon Cruise Ship (Video)

Inside Carnival's Mind Blowing New Horizon Cruise Ship (Video)

Neel Kashkari: The Heart of Our Financial System Is More Radioactive Than Ever

Neel Kashkari: The Heart of Our Financial System Is More Radioactive Than Ever

Finding Stocks Right for You: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Friday 8/25/18)

Finding Stocks Right for You: Cramer's 'Mad Money' Recap (Friday 8/25/18)

Flashback Friday: Amazon, Chip Stocks, Memorial Day

Flashback Friday: Amazon, Chip Stocks, Memorial Day

Week Ahead: Wall Street Looks to Jobs Report as North Korea Meeting Less Certain

Week Ahead: Wall Street Looks to Jobs Report as North Korea Meeting Less Certain