Tucows' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Tucows, Inc. ( TCX)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 15, 2012, 5:00 p.m. ET

Executives

Elliott Noss – President, CEO & Director

Michael Cooperman – CFO

Analysts

Alex Grassino – Laurentian Bank Seucrities

Thanos Moschopoulos – BMO Capital Markets

Jim Kennedy – Marathon Capital Management

Aaron Fuchs – Fertilemind Capital

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman, welcome to Tucows, Inc.’s fourth quarter 2011 conference call.

Earlier this afternoon Tucows issued a news release reporting its financial results for the fourth quarter. That news release and the financial statements are available on the company’s website at  www.TucowsInc.com under the Investor’s heading. Please note that today’s call is being broadcast live over the Internet and will be archived for replay, both by telephone and via the Internet, beginning approximately one hour following the completion of this call. Details on how to access the replays are available in today’s news release as well as at Tucows’ website.

Before we begin, let me remind you that matters the company will be discussing include forward-looking statements and as such are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially. These risk factors are described in details in the company’s documents filed with the SEC, specifically the most recent report on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. The company urges you to read its security filings for a full description of the risk factors applicable for its business.

I would now like to turn the call over to Tucows’ President and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Elliot Noss. Please go ahead, Mr. Noss.

El l iot t Noss

Thank you, operator. With me is Michael Cooperman our Chief Financial Officer. Today’s call will follow our usual format. I will begin with a brief overview of the financial and operational highlights for the quarter as well as the year on the whole. Mike will then review our financial results in more detail and I will return with some concluding comments before opening the call up to questions.

Our continued strong performance in the fourth quarter concluded a year that was indicative of the consistency and reliability in our business as well as our ability to efficiently deliver growth.

Revenue for Q4 was another record, our seventh in a row, at $26.4 million, up 19% from the same quarter of last year. Importantly, we again saw growth generated in each key area of our business.

Total revenue for 2011 rose to just over $97 million, also a record. Cash provided by operating activities for the quarter was a healthy $2.7 million and adjusted EBITDA for the year was $7.4 million.

Looking at each of our service groups individually. The fourth quarter saw another record for OpenSRS domain service transactions, which were up 20% year-over-year to more than 2.1 million. Domain service revenue was also up 20%. Both new registrations and renewal registrations, continued to show strong growth, up 17% and 21% respectively, excluding the impact of the two customers that became registrars earlier in the year.

I will add that our renewal rate continues to hold steady at a level well above the industry average.

Total domains under management at the end of the quarter was also a record, at 11.8 million, up 16% from a year earlier, or excluding our EPAG acquisition, up 13%.

At YummyNames, our domain portfolio group, Q4 was another strong quarter for sales of individual names, which were up 24% year-over-year, and 31% sequentially. In addition, our focus on increasing the average selling price of brandables and gems is clearly yielding results. Again this quarter we saw another record average selling price, and had a good number of individual name sales in access of $10,000.

More importantly, over the past 12 months, the average selling price of individual names has more than doubled.

We are again pleased with the results from our new expiry steam partner who continues to make bulk purchases at a healthy rate.

During the quarter, we migrated the majority of our owned and operated domain portfolio to the platform of a new parking partner. The positive results here contributed to flat parking revenue, which as I have noted in the past, has been in a long-term period of decline.

Our retail services offering, Hover, had another strong quarter, with revenue up 22% compared to Q4 of 2010. And I will again note the underlying performance of Hover continues to masked with the deferral of revenue.

New transactions, which include new domains, transfers and email accounts were up 49% year-over-year and 22% sequentially. Hover renewal rates also remain strong during the quarter, and customer satisfaction, as mentioned by net promoter score, continues to increase.

Hover continued to see strong momentum with inbound transfers. In fact, transfers in outnumbered transfers out by almost 5 to 1 in the fourth quarter, boosted by our very public support of the open Internet and our stance against SOPA, the content industry legislation that was chased out of congress.

As a result, in the late part of Q4 and early part of Q1, we gained significantly more customers than would normally be the case, including a number of high profile clients, like Wikia, run by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

Finally, our closed beta for Ting, our mobile phone offering in the U.S., ran throughout the fourth quarter. We made a number of refinements to our service based on the input of our beta customers, and on February 1 of this year, we formally launched Ting to the public. The initial press coverage and response has been encouraging.

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