MSCI's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

MSCI (MSCI)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 02, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Edings Thibault -

Henry A. Fernandez - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

David M. Obstler - Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Suzanne E. Stein - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Georgios Mihalos - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

William A. Warmington - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Jennifer Huang - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Robert Riggs - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Rayna Kumar - Evercore Partners Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the MSCI First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. And now, I'll turn the conference over to Edings Thibault, Head of Investor Relations. Please begin.

Edings Thibault

Thank you, Tyrone. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. Please note that earlier this morning, we issued a press release describing our results for the first quarter of 2012. A copy of that release may be viewed on our website at msci.com under the Investor Relations tab. You will also find on our website a slide presentation that we have prepared for this call. It's the first time that we have prepared slides for earnings call, so I hope you appreciate the additional clarity we think this will provide. We certainly welcome your feedback.

This presentation may contain forward-looking statements. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made, which reflect management's current estimates, projections, expectations or beliefs and which are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially. For a discussion of additional risks and uncertainties that may affect MSCI's future results, please see the description of risk factors and forward-looking statements in our Form 10-K for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2011.

Today's earnings call may also include discussion of certain non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS. Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS exclude the following: construction costs and nonrecurring stock-based expense. Adjusted EPS also excludes the amortization of intangibles resulting from acquisitions and debt repayment and refinancing expenses. Please refer to today's earnings release and Pages 16 to 18 of the investor presentation for the required reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures and other related disclosures.

We will be referring to run rate frequently in our discussion this morning. So let me remind you that our run rate is an approximation at a given point in time the forward-looking fees for subscriptions and product licenses that we will record over the next 12 months, assuming no cancellations, new sales, changes in the assets and ETFs licensed to our indices or changes in foreign currency rates. Please refer to Table 7 in our press release for a detailed explanation.

Henry Fernandez will begin the discussion this morning with an overview of the first quarter operating results, and then David Obstler will provide some details on our financial results.

I will now turn the call over to Mr. Henry Fernandez. Henry?

Henry A. Fernandez

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. Earlier this morning, MSCI reported first quarter 2012 revenues of $221 million, up 3% from first quarter 2011, and adjusted EBITDA of $102 million, down 2% year-over-year. MSCI's 2012 adjusted EPS rose 2% year-over-year to $0.44. Excluding our $5 million in revenue correction, which today we will discuss in more detail, revenues grew 5% to $234 million, adjusted EBITDA grew 3% to $107 million and adjusted EPS increased 9% to $0.47.

Turning now to our operating results. MSCI had a solid start to the year. Our run rate rose 6% to $919 million, driven by 7% growth in our subscription run rate and 2% growth in the run rate for our asset-based fees. The operating environment worldwide in the first quarter remained broadly unchanged compared to recent quarters. Our recurring subscription sales remained steady as the index and ESG business and risk management analytics continue to perform well and the Governance business provided a lift in the quarter. Retention rates increased in both the portfolio management analytics and Governance businesses and remain exceptionally high. We remain focused on meeting the demand from our customers for innovative new solutions to their investment problems.

During the quarter, we rolled out new strategy indices, enhanced the software and risk measurement capabilities of our RiskManager platform, introduced an upgraded version of Barra Portfolio Manager and released an innovative new Global Equity Model. We expect to maintain a high pace of innovation over the course of 2012.

During the first quarter, we opened a new sales office in Seoul, Korea, underlining our commitment to Asia. In addition to my trip to Korea for the official opening of our office during the quarter, I was also able to visit our offices and our key clients in South Africa and in Brazil. At MSCI, we often refer to the globalization of investing as one of the key themes that drives our growth. For the most part, that has meant the increased allocation of capital by developed market investors to nondomestic markets and increasingly emerging and frontier markets.

But as institutional investors in emerging markets themselves also continue to grow assets and broaden their investment horizons, I am convinced that this market can become an important source of demand for MSCI products and services, and our global footprint in all these emerging markets around the world us very well for that upturn.

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