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Angled At Analytics: The New EXL Makes Three Acquisitions In Seven Months And Insures a Health-y Start to 2015

What a difference a year makes for EXL. It entered 2014 under the cloud of the loss of two contracts, including the unfortunate termination Travelers (which had accounted for nearly 10% of total revenues in 2013) because of inappropriate behavior by an employee. So it started the year facing significant revenue headwinds.

A year later, EXL delivered full year 2014 revenues that beat revised non-GAAP guidance by $11.6m, finishing the year with 9% growth in Q4, bolstered by better than expected contribution from the recently acquired Overland Solutions (OSI, $12.2m, against the anticipated $10m).

By service type,

  • The newly named Operations Management segment (formerly ‘Outsourcing’), continues to represent over three quarters of total revenue and was up 2.7% y/y, or 11% excluding disentanglement costs
  • The ‘Analytics and Business Transformation’ segment delivered double digit topline growth every quarter, and 31.9% growth in 2014 overall, reaching $110.6m. EXL’s analytics services business grew 44% in 2014, and now account for 13% of revenue, or $66m. Including contributions from its latest acquisition, RPM Direct, EXL expects its analytics business to reach over $100m in annual revenue in 2015 (or ~20% of total revenue).

Though details of the ‘new EXL’ won’t be revealed until the Investor Day next week, the journey that has been made by EXL this year has been marked by three specialist acquisitions within seven months, the third announced only this week.

  • The spending spree started off reasonably small, with Blue Slate Solutions last July for $7m. Blue Slate generates ~85% of its revenues from health insurers (including Medicare contractors) and brings with it a consulting framework that EXL is integrating into its BPO and healthcare technology and analytics capabilities. Blue Slate brought to EXL a specialist onshore staff with domain experience in the U.S. health insurance sector
  • The October acquisition for $53m of OSI further added to EXL’s onshore delivery network in the U.S. and to its BPaaS offerings for P&C, particularly in workers’ compensation premium audits
    • These two acquisitions will bring in over $105m incremental revenue in 2015, more than offsetting the headwind of ~$49m from transitioning clients. As well as onshore resources, both have developed proprietary tools and frameworks to support their service delivery
  • The third acquisition, yet to be completed, is of RPM Direct (for $47m in cash plus earn outs of up to $23m). RPM Direct will enhance EXL’s marketing analytics capabilities in U.S. insurance, across P&C, life and health segments. EXL had indicated a year ago that marketing and customer analytics are focus areas within its “Decision Analytics” services unit. RPM will broaden the range of services EXL can offer to insurance sector clients

All in all, EXL will have invested over $130m in these three acquisitions, all of which

  • Boost its onshore presence in the U.S
  • Bring in IP (tools, frameworks, marketing database)
  • Bring in specialist domain capabilities in the health payer and other insurance sectors
  • Broaden its U.S. client base.

Looking ahead to 2015, EXL has given revenue guidance of $570m to $590m, excluding any impact of RPM, a growth rate of 8.5% to 12.5%. Q1 is the last quarter where revenue headwinds from transitioning clients will have a significant effect.

EXL is developing analytics CoEs, particularly in support of healthcare and insurance and is expecting to sign a number of $10m plus annual revenue clients. Will we see further tuck-in acquisitions to further expand its capabilities in different areas of analytics for insurance and healthcare in 2015? The indications are that this is very possible.

EXL started emphasizing its analytics offerings around 18 months ago: at the time, much of the portfolio was based on India delivery. EXL today has a much richer portfolio to offer in its target verticals in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the U.K. , which accounts for over 20% of global revenues, delivered a strong year; EXL does not provide constant currency growth figures, but reported revenue growth for the U.K. in 2014 was 10%, all of which organic. Were EXL’s spending spree to continue into 2015, maybe U.K./EMEA will come higher up its investment priorities.

Finally, EXL has authorized a three-year $20m annual share repurchase program to offset share dilution from annual employee equity grants.

We note that EXL’s share price is at its highest for over two years and has surged by ~20% since the beginning of the month.

By Fiona Cox and Rachael Stormonth

NelsonHall will be producing its first ever Key Vendor Assesment on EXL in March.

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