DexOne: It’s All About Bundles
On today’s Q3 earnings call, DexOne CEO Alfred Mockett made it clear that bundles are central to Dex’s hopes of arresting its revenue declines.
The company grew its digital bookings by 26 percent in Q3 and expects to end 2012 with a 30 percent increased in online bookings, a feat that Mockett attributes to bundles.
The company reports bundle penetration is double what it was last year, and represented 66 percent of Q3 booking and 55 percent of year to date bookings. Dex CFO Greg Freiberg said a 10 percent increase in bundle penetration (the percentage of customers purchasing a bundle) equates to a 2.5 percent increase in bookings.
Mockett also said that bundles are key to arresting print declines, which continue to accelerate at Dex. The company experienced a 22 percent drop in print bookings in Q3.
“Print is under pressure but it generates the lion’s share of leads and it cannot be underestimated,” Mockett said. “Bundles extend the life of print.”
This may be particularly true of the Dex Guaranteed Ads program, which is a bundle build on a performance guarantee that Dex says has been particularly successful in retaining larger accounts. While DGA provisions both print and digital products (as does all bundles), print leads are critical to the program’s success.
For the first nine months of 2012, DexOne generated net revenues of $998.7 million, down 11.5 percent from 2011. Third quarter net revenues were down 11.2 percent, to $319.7 million.
DexOne also narrowed its guidance for 2012, saying it expected net revenues in the range of $1.275 billion and $1.3 billion, and adjusted EBITDA in the range of $535 million to $565 million.
BIA/Kelsey has forecast the entire U.S. Yellow Pages market will decline by about 14 percent in 2012 to $7.6 billion.
Mockett also discussed Dex’s efforts to transform its sales force (sales transformation is the topic of an upcoming Foundation Paper from The Kelsey Report). He noted that as a result of retraining of the sales force (which has included extensive use of new technology), there has been a 25 percent increase in the frequency of customer interactions.
The company is in the process of rolling out Salesforce.com, with half the sales force now using the CRM tool, and the remaining half expected to adopt the tool by early next year.
The overarching objective, according to Mockett, is to “Shift the selling cycle from an annual event to a year round selling opportunity.”
Mockett also discussed the impending merger between DexOne and SuperMedia.
When asked about “push back” from lenders, Mockett contended that negotiations with lenders to amend credit agreements were going well, but that they are complicated and therefore will take time to complete.
Mockett acknowledged that a managed bankruptcy might be one path to completing the merger, as has been reported. He insisted that “We are confident we will get to a satisfactory conclusion.”
One investor asked Mockett if he would stay on at Dex One should the merger be called off. He said that both sides are working to get the deal done and expected to succeed, but said that he would stay on in the event the merger isn’t completed.
Mockett has agreed to step down once the merger is completed, and SuperMedia CEO Peter McDonald will become the top executive of the new company, which will be called DexMedia, assuming the merger is completed as planned.