Korn Ferry FY 1Q18 Earnings Call Notes

Gary Burnison

Definitely seen an uptick in industrial energy and manufacturing

“Now, look, if you go back a year ago, we have Brexit, right? So, when you go year-over-year, clearly there was a lot of malaise last summer. And quite frankly, even I was just there, they are actually still is in the UK, companies are still reluctant to invest there. But over the last several, I would not say it’s a burst, I mean, we have definitely seen an uptick in industrial around energy and manufacturing, but I wouldn’t say it makes any kind of outline trend in terms of the talent that we are bringing in, we are up big time in terms of consultant numbers and you know you could easily subscribe $1 million or $2 million per partner.”

If there isn’t legislative progress the conversations will be different

“There is still that feeling. You are coming off a period where many people took some time off, but I am still a believer in that. That if there is not let real legislative progress other than extending a debt limit by 3 months to give relief down to the people in Texas they needed, but if there is not real legislative progress the sense that I get is that it will be a different conversation.”

KornFerry FY 4Q17 Earnings Call Notes

Gary Burnison

Washington hasn’t impacted hiring yet, but it could

“Not yet, but if this continues to go like this where no major legislation is passed. It will impact confidence, there is no question about that.”

Hope in France, steady in Germany and uncertainty in the UK

“I met with many-many business leaders in Europe last week actually, I think there’s a great hope in France, but I think we all know it’s hard to take things away from people once they’ve been given it, and in the UK specifically I think there’s uncertainty. In terms of where this is going to shake out, so I would say it’s kind of hopeful in France, steady-as-she-goes in Germany and uncertainty in the UK.”

Korn Ferry 2Q17 Earnings Call Notes

Korn/Ferry’s (KFY) CEO Gary Burnison on Q2 2017 Results

Pick up after the election

” November, in Europe, we had our best month of new business in probably two years. Asia was also incredibly strong. And when you look at North America, we did see a pause around October 2015 or so. We saw pause in kind of the level of new business. And as Bob indicated, that seem to pick-up a little bit after the election. So, overall, if you were to look at North America in November — and the level of new business was essentially, it was almost flat with a year ago which was a very strong month. And the other thing that’s encouraging is that we’ve seen an uptick in energy. And energy is today about 6% of the portfolio. And prior to the transaction, energy was about 7%; it went down to 3, 3.5%. So that’s another good sign.”

Conversations are definitely more optimistic than in May and June

“Well, I think there is certainly — it’s hard to generalize. But I would say that the conversation is certainly more optimistic than it was in May and June, no doubt about that. Now, we’ll see if that turns into increasing levels of business in early calendar 2017.”

Bob Rozek

Mixed business trends

“Now, turning to new business trends. First, for Executive Search, on a global basis, monthly new business trends in the second quarter were mixed. We saw strong August and September followed by a weakening in October. At actual foreign exchange rates global Executive Search new business in the second quarter was down approximately 3% year-over-year but up approximately 7% sequentially.”

New business ramped after the date of the election

“To start the third quarter up through the date of the election, global November new business remained slow. But after the date of the election, we saw new business ramp up in both North America and in Europe. Globally, total new business in November finished up 2% year-over-year. If historical patterns remain consistent with prior years, December new business is expected to be seasonally weaker and should be followed by a stronger January.”

Korn Ferry FY 4Q16 Earnings Call Notes

Korn/Ferry International’s (KFY) CEO Gary Burnison on Q4 2016 Results

The reality is that there are conflicting economic signals

“Now to the other side of the coin, the reality is, if you look around the world today, there are conflicting economic signals and it’s particularly tough to read given next Thursday’s vote in Britain in addition to the normal summer seasonality”

The Breaxit vote has definitely impacted clients making decisions in Europe

“It’s very difficult to reiterate now and it’s hard to say with the typical summer malaise or whether there is something that is broader than that. Certainly the vote next week in Britain has impacted not proposal activity but it has impacted clients making decisions. We have absolutely seen that in Europe and to some extent we’ve seen that in North America. Now I cannot attribute the North America directly to Brexit but it’s very difficult to read the tea leaves today.”

Robert Rozek

Seeing sluggish business globally for executive search

“So in Executive Search, new business in May was down from March and April levels, which is the consistent pattern that we see on a historical basis. However, with approximately one-half of the month of June behind us, we are seeing sluggish new business globally for Executive Search.”

Korn Ferry FY 3Q16 Earnings Call Notes

Gary Burnison

A little concerned about financial services vertical

“Look, I think there is some concern about financial services. When we look year-over-year there’s growth in the business for us that was driven by asset management, wealth management, private equity. But, yes, we certainly are hearing some concern. The flipside of that will be the energy market which has been decimated. That will be probably be poised to turn around here. It may not be this quarter, but it will happen at some point.”

February was very, very strong

“I would say February looked very good in North America. I mean, it looked very, very strong, whether it’s the Futurestep business or our Executive Search business. Asia has obviously been challenged for sure. You can see that in the numbers. Europe was in line with my expectations. So, very positive in North America. South America, very challenged, obviously. Europe was good. Asia, challenged.”

The CEO lives at the intersection of strategy and talent

“it’s hard to believe I’m really saying this, but this is a multi billion-dollar opportunity. This intersection of business strategy and talent is what a CEO lives and breathes every day. So, this is an organization that creates real impact for our clients. “

Miscellaneous Earnings Call Notes 12.11.15

Universal Health Services (UHS) Presents at Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 Leveraged Finance Brokers Conference

Steve Filton

Behavioral health business is more recession resistant

“if you’re seeking — and you’re seeking acute care treatment, you need a hip implant or you need some sort of ENT surgery et cetera, you may think about the economics of that; you may choose to postpone that because you don’t want to come out of pocket for a co-pay or deductable or because you don’t want to be out of work frankly during a tough economic climate. But if you try to commit suicide or you overdose on drugs and alcohol, you are not going to be in a position to decide whether you should or shouldn’t be admitted to the hospital. That decision is really being made generally by somebody else who is effectively economically insensitive to what your economics of the situation or concerns might be. So, I think that’s another reason why the behavioral business has generally proved to be more, I’ll call it, recession resistant.”

Optimum occupancy in behavioral care is in the low to mid 70s

“occupancy rates and our behavioral facility peaks in the mid 80s, right around 84% in about 2005-2006. What we started to do at that point because we have a view probably the ideal occupancy rate in this business is somewhere in the low to mid 70s. And so, when we were at 85% in about 10 years ago, we’re turning away a lot of patients at that point because obviously if we’re averaging 85%, it means that there’s a lot of days when we’re at 90 and 95 and even a 100% occupancy. It also means that because of some of the constraints that we have, we have put male and female patients; we don’t put adults and children together, we don’t certain diagnoses together. So, as a consequence, it’s difficult for facilities to really run at something close to full occupancy.”


Silicon Laboratories Presents at Credit Suisse Technology, Media & Telecom Conference

Tyson Tuttle

Low power for IoT requires innovation

“if you look at the energy efficiency that’s required. If you’re handset only has 10% battery life left, and I know that when mind says 10% battery life, I’m like looking for a charger. But if you imagine that amount of power needs to power an IoT device for five years. So that’s essentially the amount of energy that’s in the little coin cell and they want that device to sense the environment. Let’s say every few minutes it needs to communicate that when something happens. This type of energy consumption requires a lot of innovation. And if so this is what we are focused on doing.”

From a macro perspective, wireless markets suffering but infrastructure business doing well

“I think a lot of people that we are selling into wireless were suffering, especially in China, we were not exposed to that at least on our infrastructure business, we had a little bit of exposure on the microcontroller side and some of the optical modules that did hold back our growth in IoT in the second half. But on infrastructure we see that it’s pretty solid globally. And this is more of a reflection of core network in data center roll outs.”


Barnes & Noble’s (BKS) CEO Ronald Boire on Q2 2016 Results

Have seen increased traffic so far in Q3

“the challenges were greater than anticipated and reduced traffic as well as conversion. During the second quarter, we implemented a significant number of website fixes to increase traffic, improve the overall user experience and stabilize the site. So far during Q3, we have seen increased traffic and have stabilized the site for the holiday season. We plan to implement additional improvements after the holiday season to further upgrade the overall user experience.”


The Cooper Companies’ (COO) CEO Bob Weiss on Q4 2015 Results

Had a bumpy ride from mid September through the end of November

“August was a good month and things dropped off in October a lot, particularly in the U.S. and some of the problems we ran into in Europe exacerbated the most. We thought we’re in pretty good shape in early September, found out we weren’t in as good shape as we thought by mid-September and had a bumpy ride with our integration if you will in Europe, from mid September until pretty much the end of November. Having said that, we had what we call a very respectable November”


Toronto-Dominion Bank’s (TD) CEO Bharat Masrani On Q4 2015 Results

Mark Chauvin

Are starting to see stress in consumer credit portfolios in energy-impacted provinces, but within expectations

“Next, with respect to our oil and gas exposure, we were not surprised by the level of impaired loan formations this quarter. Ongoing analysis indicates that the oil and gas nonretail credit portfolio continues to perform within expectations, given the current level in near-term outlook for commodity prices in this sector. We are beginning to see signs of deterioration in the oil impacted provinces consumer credit portfolios, which again are well within our earlier expectations. Based on ongoing stress tests conducted against the credit portfolios, I remain comfortable that the potential impact of low energy prices on the bank’s credit losses remains well within the range of a 5% to 10% increase over 2015 levels.”

Seeing a gradual increase in delinquency rates over last 4-5 months in oil impacted provinces

“we have been watching it very closely, especially the impacted provinces, which would be Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. And what we are seeing in two categories, being the indirect auto but the non-prime segment primarily and then in the card segment, we have seen a gradual increase in delinquency rates over the last four or five months.”

Customers affected are early indicator, the type of customer that would be more challenged than the typical customer

“So in many respects we look at that as an early indicator because that would be the customer that maybe would be more challenged than the typical customer. Now, I would stress that these two categories are less than 1% of our total book and that we expected to see losses of this level.”


Sprint’s (S) Management Presents at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Leveraged Finance Brokers Conference

Tarek Robbiati — CFO

Wireless data is much cheaper in some other markets than the US

” I think the – look at the U.S. wireless market, it’s the biggest one in the world by value. And the reason why it is the biggest one in the world by value is because we have 300 million people and you have a very, very high ARPU…when you really look at some of their – the size of their bills, it’s quite extraordinary. I mean you compare this with Hong Kong which is a market that I am very familiar with. In Hong Kong you can get very, very decent data packages on 4G networks for less than $5 postpaid, which is quite extraordinary.”


Comcast’s (CMCSA) Management Presents at UBS Global Media and Communications Conference

Mike Cavanagh–CFO

No new comments on wireless plans. We believe the cheapest way to transmit data is to get it to the hardwire as soon as possible

“we have no news on this topic today. What we have decided is that it’s certainly worth at this point triggering the MVNOs that we can work on exploring what kind of offering we could bring and go deeper to learn and experiment. That’s the state of play on the MVNO. And that sits in the context of having been big believers in WiFi. So, you have seen us invest in and continue to invest in the WiFi as an extension of the value of the broadband pipe, which is still the kind of best and cheapest way to transmit data we believe is to get it to the hardwire as soon as possible. So, with the progress we have made on our WiFi product and broadband, we think it makes complete sense to be exploring on – what possibilities the MVNO offering has to add value to our customer relationships. That’s as much as we know. There is no – it will take time to draw any conclusions from what we are now going through.”


Vail Resorts’ (MTN) CEO Robert Katz on Q1 2016 Results

Our labor markets are tight

“think ensuring that we have enough, ensuring that we are providing the right employee experience, attracting enough of the right labor, retaining labor and then a part of that is obviously being able to have housing for everyone that works here, I think it is probably our number one concern right now in terms of ensuring that we can continue to drive success. And so, I mean that’s led us over the last couple of years to continue to invest to make sure that we can do that. I’d say where we feel right now is that our markets are tight. We think it is a challenge.’

Upper income US remained strong

“Colorado in particular is the strong market, continues to be a strong market given the economy here, Utah, the Bay Area and California so that obviously is the big help right there but then I would say we are seeing pretty broad based strength from all of our major destinations across the United States, I would say even places like Los Angeles, like Seattle which are not typically our strongest markets in terms of size, we’re seeing real strength there too”…

“I would say right now I think the domestic, the U.S. economy on the domestic side is very strong, the upper income portion of that remained strong ‘


AutoZone’s (AZO) CEO Bill Rhodes on Q1 2016 Results

DIY auto spending has benefitted from lower gas prices

“I think clearly we are seeing some industry strength currently. I think a part of that has to do with what’s going on with gas prices. And while gas prices initially went down, you didn’t see the initial correlation with miles driven increasing. But in more recent months, starting really strong in this summer, and continuing through September, the latest date that we have available, it’s showing nice strength. Over long periods of time we’ve seen that has a nice correlation with our DIY industry growth.”


Cisco Systems (CSCO) Presents at Barclays Global Technology Brokers Conference

Hilton Romanski

Customers are looking for a hybrid cloud

“what we’re hearing from customers fundamentally is that they want to see the benefits and the economics of public cloud in their private cloud environment. So that would suggest to us that ultimately there is a hybrid cloud solution out there for enterprises where some of those benefits across multiple types of workloads across their own environments that are private as well as those that are being hosted in a public cloud is going to co-exist.”


Dave & Buster’s (PLAY) CEO Steve King on Q3 2015 Results

Couldn’t be happier with how 2015 is shaping up

“we couldn’t be happier in terms of how 2015 is shaping up, while we’ve achieved so far as we look forward to a strong finish in the fourth quarter.”


Halliburton’s (HAL) Management Presents at Wells Fargo 2015 Energy Symposium Brokers Conference

Christian Garcia — Interim CFO

North America looks like it could be marginally better than expected, but international looks marginally worse

“North America does look like it’s going to be marginally better than what we said in the third quarter call and international looks like it’s marginally worse and in total, we’re in line with our expectations as we left the third quarter.”

2016 is clearly going to be another down year but we don’t know the magnitude yet

“2016 is still opaque. E&P the E&Ps have not announced their budgets, but clearly it’s going to be another down year. The question is the magnitude of the decline.”

Argentina had elections that could lead to positive economic reforms

“Argentina just had elections and we think that new president elect will usher in a new era of economic reforms achieved among that would be probably a potential depreciation of their over valid currency which will in the short term provide some little need to some dislocations but I think in the long term would be actually help that economy boot that economy and would invite for investors.'”


HCA’s Management Presents at Opperheimer 26th Annual Healthcare Broker Conference

Bill Rutherford, Chief Financial Officer

Seeing higher turnover of nurses as demand for nurses strong

“We think you know we are seeing higher turnover of recently than we’ve historically had. And we think there is a lot of other supply in the marketplace and demand for nurses. We’ve got a host of efforts around recruiting. We talked about on our call our efforts to hire nurse graduates and putting them in orientation and onboarding them a little bit differently so that they have — the retention is longer for those new nurses.”

See continued strong economies in the majority of our markets

“We see continued strong economies in the majority of our markets and I think that provides really fundamental momentum for the company and those trends don’t appear quickly, nor do they disappear quickly. So, we are optimistic that our market trends, we are seeing has some durability to it in the future.”


Comerica’s (CMA) CEO Ralph Babb on Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Brokers Conference

Energy reserves at 3% of total energy related loans

“if prices remain low for longer, we expect to see continued negative credit migration and losses to emerge yet we believe they will be manageable. We have increased our reserves for energy loans in each of the past four quarters, as a result of an increase in criticized loans and sustained low energy prices. Because investors have been particularly interested in the size of our energy reserve allocation note that at the end of the third quarter, we had reserves amounting to more than 3% of our total energy and energy related loans.”


U.S. Bancorp (USB) Presents at Goldman Sachs US Financial Services Brokers Conference

CFO, Kathy Rogers

Planning for three interest rate increases in the next 12 months including next week

“as we look out into 2016, I do think that we are seeing an economic environment that is somewhat similar to what we saw this year, may be slightly improved. As we think about the interest environment, we are projecting in our plan, a potential for two interest rate hikes next year, and then December 1 of this year; so a total of three if you look out over the course of the next 12 months.”

Not seeing any deterioration of credit outside of energy

“the simple answer is no. We’re really not. Outside of energy, it’s really relatively benign, no significant change.”

We’ve probably gotten to a point where reserves will start building again (but not necessarily because of credit deterioration)

“I think one of the things that you’re going to see is that we are getting to that point in the cycle where many banks, including ourselves, have enjoyed a nice outcome of reserve releases. And I do think we’re coming to the end of the cycle. And I think that you’ll start to see reserves starting to build as we move out into later quarters.”


Lululemon Athletica’s (LULU) Laurent Potdevin on Q3 2015 Results

Start of Q4 has been mixed

“In line with macroeconomic trends, the start of Q4 has been mixed. We saw lower traffic in the final weeks of Q3 and into the first couple of weeks of Q4, with steady improvement in Thanksgiving. Given the current environment, we’re taking a conservative stance with revenue in Q4, while taking the necessary actions to manage inventory and control expenses.”


Moody (MCO) Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference

Mark Almeida, who is the Head of the Moody’s Analytics Business

November was a good month from an issuance standpoint and December has gotten off to a strong start as well

“November was a good month from an issuance standpoint, and December has gotten off to a pretty good start as well. So I think things have firmed up a bit, since some of the weakness that we saw in the summer time.”


Korn-Ferry’s (KFY) CEO Gary Burnison on Q2 2016 Results

Even in a digital world, it still pays to have people housed in the same location

“I think that creating connectivity of people and clients in an environment of collaboration is incredibly important and although we live in a virtual world, I fundamentally believe that the people need, to the extent possible, need to be housed in the same location.”

Gregg Kvochak

“global demand for our Executive Recruitment services remained strong in the second quarter.”


McGraw-Hill Companies’ (MHFI) CEO Doug Peterson Presents at Goldman Sachs U.S. Financial Services Conference

Issuance is down 30% year to date

“we’ve seen a choppier market, issuance is down during the quarter and year to date overall issuance is down globally about 28% and in the quarter its down again over 30%, 35%, 37%, depending on which element of the markets that you look at. So we’ve seen some volatility in the ratings business.”


Avnet (AVT) Presents at Raymond James Technology & Communications Investors Brokers Conference

Kevin Moriarty, CFO

Our product is service

“Avnet’s product is, our product is service, has been and always will be. Models change the way we get compensated for that service. We need to continue to be nimble and agile to be able to move with that”

We feel pretty good about the environment

“I would characterize the current lead times as stable, short. We haven’t really seen any significant changes in push outs, cancelation rates. So we feel pretty good. EM, we continue to experience growth within our European business. I would characterize the Americas as sluggish overall on the component side.”


ConocoPhillips’s (COP) CEO Ryan Lance on 2016 Capital Budget and Operating Plan

We see dividend as highest priority

“Despite the tough market, our dividend remains the highest priority use of our cash. We view the dividend level as a long-term decision. And we’ve been in the current low price cycle for relatively short period of time”

Capital budget down ~25% from last year, -54% from 2014

“We’re announcing a 2016 capital budget of $7.7 billion that’s $2.5 billion lower than 2015 capital guidance and more than $9 billion lower versus 2014. In setting our budget, we’re flexing capital down appropriately for the price environment without losing opportunities or sacrificing the safety or integrity of our operations.”

Korn Ferry 2Q15 Earnings Call Notes

Korn Ferry

Compared to the first quarter year ago, growth in our Executive Recruitment specialty practices was mixed in the first quarter of fiscal ’16. Worldwide growth was strongest in our financial services practice up 19%, life sciences and healthcare practice up 17% and our technology practice up 4%, while our industrial and consumer goods practices were down 11% and 7% respectively.

Professional staff utilization fell to 68% in the first quarter from a seasonally high of 74% in the fourth quarter fiscal ’15 and 70% in the first quarter fiscal ’15.

Thanks, Gregg. After a softer May, new business awards across all of our major service lines improved in June and July. An executive search global new business in both June and July rose to new highs. This trend was especially true in North America where market conditions have remained favorable and newly hired consultants have begun their ramp up towards full capacity.

August, which is typically one of the seasonally slower months for new business due to vacations, [indiscernible] was down compared to July. And if normal seasonal patterns hold, we would expect to rebound in executive search new awards in both September and October.

we remain fairly confident and bullish in our guidance but there is noise in China. We’re seeing are they going to raise rates in the U.S. We’re seeing problems down in Latin America and so we bear all that in mind when we come back to our guidance for the quarter.

on a constant currency basis, the average fees in search are essentially flatish. So they haven’t really grown. I think when you look at where we are in the cycle and so on. I wouldn’t expect there to be enormous uplift coming from average fees at this point, especially with currency over the next quarter.

The China business is about 2.5% of the firm. So it’s relatively small percentage but you know we do have pretty good line of sight. I think it’s really too soon to tell. In terms of my channel checks, there is nothing that would kind of ring an alarm bell here per se. We haven’t seen deterioration in their appetite for talent.

But I think that this is a business that is, it’s very, very fragmented. And quite frankly, there needs to be somebody who defines a category here. And just like when CEOs turn to McKinsey or Bain for strategic advice, they don’t have a firm to turn to when it comes to people advisory. And I think that that is the opportunity to define the category to be that firm and that is a multibillion dollar opportunity for us.

Again, it’s a little bit hard because we’re only eight days into September right and people are literally just back from holiday, so it’s hard to give a clean read on that. But I would say that, no, it doesn’t. Obviously, the next 30 to 60 days, we’ll have much better visibility on that question. But no, I don’t think that the feeling is significantly different.

Korn Ferry 4Q15 Earnings Call Notes

Investment spending around the world continues

“As investments spending around the world continues, we also continue to help our clients achieve their business objectives by assisting them in the design of talent strategies that enable them to build, develop and attract the best talent for the workforce.”

Pretty robust activity in North American search

“the dollars that we saw in North America search in May were roughly flat with what we saw last year in May. But — and it was interesting last year in May we had three very large search engagements, two CEOs and one Chief Compliance, Risk Compliance Officer. But the number of units this year is up about 20 over last year that’s about 12%. And so we continue to see pretty robust activity in North American search.”

Market is not substantially different

“I don’t think the market is substantially different. I don’t think there is a huge tailwind nor do I think that there is a big headwind. It feels about the same, obviously you got softness in energy. You got the CEO confidence numbers that came out were weaker this week, we got a big jolts number which was substantially higher. So there are puts and takes but I don’t really think I haven’t seen any marked change in the last few weeks or months compared to six months ago.”

Uptick in financial services

“The financial services growth I mean you are right, we saw definitely an uptick there and it would be really spread across asset management. Even capital market to some extent I mean not like it was but even banking. So we saw kind of steady improvement there.”