Acxiom earnings miss Wall Street targets; shares slide 9% in afterhours trading

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 181 views 

Shares of Acxiom Corp. stock were off more than 9% in after-market trading Wednesday (May 16) after the Conway-based data marketer missed Wall Street targets with its fourth quarter and yearly results.

For the period ended March 31, Acxiom reported operating income of $5 million, or 6 cents per share, compared to a loss of $9 million, or 10 cents per share, in the same quarter in the previous year. Total revenue was up 9% to $245 million, compared with $224.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Acxiom’s fourth quarter earnings fell well short of Wall Street expectations of 21 cents per share on revenue of $239.9 million, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Acxiom shares (NASDAQ: ACXM) closed Wednesday up 18 cents at $27.56. However, shares were down $2.49 or 9.03% in afterhours trading following the release of the firm’s fourth quarter and 12-month financial statements.

For the full year, Acxiom’s earnings from continuing operations rose to $11 million, or 29 cents per share, compared to $16 million, or 5 cents per share, in the year ago period. Total revenue for the fiscal year rose to $917 million, up 3.5% from $880 million in fiscal 2017.

Acxiom closed out the year by announcing plans to realign its entire operations into two distinct divisions — LiveRamp based in San Francisco, and Acxiom Marketing Solutions in Conway. At the time, Acxiom said it was also exploring options for that traditional marketing business following a comprehensive operations review by the company’s board of directors.

Acxiom CEO Scott Howe said the company began reporting its results for those two business segments on April 1, the beginning of the data marketer’s fiscal year 2019.

“Our fourth quarter performance reflects solid global execution,” said Howe. “LiveRamp continues to drive the ubiquity of its identity solution across the open ecosystem, as evidenced by strong new client adoption, progress with the people-based programmatic consortium, the launch of IdentityLink for Television and the acceleration of its B2B efforts. At the same time, Marketing Services had its strongest bookings quarter in over five years driven by several meaningful new logo wins.”

Howe said the company was excited about the future prospects for the two core business units. Those two businesses will center around data augmentation, people-based marketing, data management and strategies, and analytics services.

Following a comprehensive review by the company’s board and executive team late last year, Acxiom said it will explore options for its Marketing Solutions Business, which apparently includes some of its traditional data and direct mail business that has long been conducted in Arkansas.

“We are well down the road in looking at potential strategic alternatives for Acxiom Marketing Solutions and are confident in a successful outcome that will benefit our clients, partners, associates and shareholders,” said Howe.

Following are other key items in the fourth quarter and yearly earnings report.
• LiveRamp added approximately 30 new direct clients during the quarter and added several new partner integrations. Marketers can now onboard and activate their data across a growing network of 575 publishers and marketing technology providers.

• LiveRamp acquired Pacific Data Partners to accelerate its ability to power peoplebased business-to-business (B2B) marketing. Pieter De Temmerman and Grant Ries, co-founders of Pacific Data Partners and former Oracle and BlueKai veterans, will lead LiveRamp’s efforts to expand IdentityLink to the world’s largest B2B marketers.

• LiveRamp launched IdentityLink for Television to transform the world’s largest marketing medium. For the first time, brands, agencies, programmers and technology platforms will be able to execute people-based TV media planning, buying and measurement that is scalable and secure across the TV ecosystem.

• Marketing Services posted its largest new bookings quarter in the last five years, driven by new logo wins with Toyota, Santander Bank and American Life.

• Acxiom repurchased 1.7 million shares for approximately $49 million during the fourth quarter. Since March 31, 2018, the Company repurchased an additional 1.9 million shares for approximately $46 million. Since the inception of its share repurchase program in August 2011, Acxiom has repurchased a total of 21.9 million shares for $420 million, with $80 million remaining under the current authorization.

For fiscal 2019, Acxiom said it expects to report a yearly loss of 18 to 23 cents per share on total revenue in the range of $935 million to $955 million.

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