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360 Finance Inc. (QFIN) Q2 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

QFIN Earnings Call - Final Transcript

360 Finance Inc. (NASDAQ: QFIN) Q2 2020 earnings call dated Aug. 24, 2020

Corporate Participants:

Mandy Dole — Investor Relations Director

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Daphne Poon — Citi Research — Analyst

Jacky Zuo — China Renaissance — Analyst

Steven Chan — Haitong International Research — Analyst

Ethan Wang — CLSA — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 360 Finance Second Quarter 2020 Earnings Conference Call. Please also note, today’s event is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference call over to Ms. Mandy Dole [Phonetic], IR Director [Phonetic]. Please go ahead. Mandy.

Mandy Dole — Investor Relations Director

Thank you, Shane. Hello, everyone, and welcome to our second quarter 2020 earnings conference call. Our results were issued earlier today on the IR website. Joining me today on the call are Mr. Wu Haisheng, our CEO, Director; Mr. Alex Xu, our CFO; and Mr. Zheng Yan, our CRO.

Before we begin prepared remarks, I would like to remind you of the company’s Safe Harbor statements. Except for historical information, the material discussed here may contain forward-looking statements. These statements are based on our current plans, estimates and projections, therefore you should not place undue reliance on them. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties. We caution that a number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements. For more information about potential risks and uncertainties, please refer to the company’s filings with the SEC.

Also this call include discussion of certain non-GAAP matters. Please refer to our earnings release for a reconciliation of the non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable GAAP ones.

Plus, unless otherwise stated, all figures mentioned are in RMB.

I will now turn the call over to our CEO, Mr. Wu Haisheng.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

Thank you, Mandy.

[Foreign Speech]

Hello, everyone. I’m very proud to report strong financial and operating results for the second quarter. While the macro environment remain challenging, we still set a number of records in key operational metrics. Total loan origination reached RMB58.9 billion during the quarter, up 21.8% year-on-year. Outstanding loan balance increased to RMB78.5 billion from RMB74.1 billion a quarter ago. For the second quarter, total revenue reached RMB3.34 billion and non-GAAP net income reached RMB942 million. This is the most outstanding quarterly results since our IPO.

[Foreign Speech]

Solid performance under the still uncertain macro backdrop further demonstrate the effectiveness of our prudent operational strategy as well as the resilience of our customer base and our risk management system. We believe we have built a structural advantage over our peers, which enables us to successfully navigate through previous market uncertainties such as the P2P crackdown, the regulatory changes, and the pandemic. In each of those cases, we further strengthened our leadership position. With the macro environment economy recovers, we see continued improvement in our operational metrics and we feel confident in our future prospects.

[Foreign Speech]

Our take rate for the quarter improved noticeably, driven by our continued efforts to boost operational efficiency and to refine our risk management system funding structure and the customer acquisition channels. Average pricing during the quarter was 27.2% on IRR basis, which is equivalent of 15% to 16% on the APR basis. Day one delinquency decreased to 6.2% at the end of Q2. This was even better than the pre-pandemic level of 6.5%. Moreover, our funding costs further decreased to 7.2% from 7.7% in the prior quarter, well below the peer average. In the first half of 2020, we issued total RMB1.1 billion ABS’ and ranked Number four behind [Indecipherable] JD and Xiaomi, in terms of the total issuance size. We acquired 1.6 million new customers with approved credit lines in the second quarter, which is 200,000 more than in Q1. And the average acquisition cost for those new customers was about RMB167, modestly higher than in Q1. As a market gradually consolidate toward leading platforms, we have increasingly become the preferred fintech partner for many consumer focused Internet companies. So far we have connected our service with 11 partners, including Xiaomi, [Indecipherable] ICE, and many others including JD, [Indecipherable] 58.com and Weibo are in the pipeline.

[Foreign Speech]

Our new product initiatives also tracked very well in Q2. Daily transaction volume of our virtual credit card products, V-pocket reached RMB15 million at the end of second quarter, connecting 2.5 million accumulated users with about 2 million merchants and processing 450k daily transactions. Intelligent credit engine, which connects institutions with our vast inactive user base add another RMB20 million daily transaction volume to our platform. We expect the momentum to continue and greatly enhance the stickiness and activity level of our user base.

[Foreign Speech]

We made further progress in strategically upgrading to a technology powered digital platform. During the quarter, capital light model and other tech powered solutions account for over 26.9% of total loan origination. And we remain committed to increase the capitalized contribution to 35% to 40% exiting this year. In addition to a capital line model, we are also working on to standardize our risk management capability into SaaS modules, and offer them to financial institutions. As of now six institutions have already used this service and 20 more is in the pipeline. In the long run, we will continue to invest more in our fintech capabilities and further strengthen our competitive advantage. By our calculation, tech enabled revenues and platform service revenues are already nearly 50% of our total revenue. Recently, we have proposed to our Board of Directors and shareholders to change our name to 360 DigiTech, which will better reflect our current business dynamics and long-term strategies.

[Foreign Speech]

Last week, the Supreme People’s Court or PRC announced a new guideline to reduce court protected interest rate cap for private lending. We have anticipated and prepared for this prior to the release. Shortly after the official announcement of the guideline, we held a conference call to communicate our point of view with the capital market. While it is greatly — as is generally believed that the new guideline are only applicable to private lending, we are prepared for possibility that the financial regulators may refer to this guideline as well.

In addition it is widely believed that the 15.4% interest rate cap refer to — referred in the guideline is the nominal APR basis, which is equivalent to roughly 27.3% on IRR basis. This is more or less in line with our current average pricing. As a result, we expect this impact to our operations to be manageable. Recently, we test some experimental pricing structure with certain group users, essentially offering loans to them at a lower rate than they otherwise would get. The result indicates that carefully managed pricing discount could potentially lead to a higher customer LTV to the company, as users may become more active and sticky. In the intermediate term, we believe that the regulators will likely encourage gradual downward trend in the interest rate and is consistent with our long-term strategy of serving a much broader user base at a relatively lower price.

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In early May, our affiliate company 360 Group has committed significant resource in becoming the controlling shareholder of National Bank, KTB. This will provide strong and vital support for us to further reduce funding cost, diversify product offering and strategically upgrade to a technology powered digital platform.

[Foreign Speech]

Finally, let me introduce our newly appointed CFO, Mr. Alex Xu. He was the CFO of Qihoo 360, when it was listed in the US. Many of you may have already know him. Our former CFO, Jiang Wu, has been appointed as our CSO. I would like to thank Jiang Wu for his great effort in building up a prudent internal financial system and presenting our company in the capital market well.

Now I will pass the floor to Alex Xu to dive into the details of financial performance.

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you Haisheng. Good evening and good morning everyone. Welcome to our quarterly earnings call. For the interest of time, I will not go over all the financial line items on the call. Please refer to our earnings release for those details.

Q2 marked a sharp rebound for our business momentum from Q1. As concerns over COVID-19 gradually faded, the country entered recovery mode and economic activities gradually picked up during the quarter. Benefiting from such micro trend, we have experienced robust rebound in our operations, particularly in the second half of the quarter.

Total net revenue for Q2 reached RMB3.34 billion versus RMB3.18 billion in Q1 and RMB2.23 billion a year ago. The year-over-year comparison is somewhat distorted by the accounting standard change earlier this year. Total operating expenses, excluding the provisions increased 12% Q-on-Q, but decreased 27% year-on-year. The sequential increase were in part driven by our deployment of resources to support business growth in the quarter. In particular, we further strengthened our collection operations and on the ground customer acquisition team. The year-over-year decline reflects significant improvement in customer acquisition cost.

Non-GAAP net income was RMB942 million versus RMB255 million in Q1 and RMB692 million a year ago. Once again, the year-over-year comparison was impacted by the accounting standard change. On an apple-to-apple comparison basis, under the old accounting standard, non-GAAP net income would have been approximately RMB1.3 billion, representing approximately 87% year-over-year increase. With growing contribution from capital light model and the standard — and the sizable increase in shareholders’ equity, leverage ratio declined meaningfully to 8.3 times in Q2 compared to 9.9 [Phonetic] times in Q1.

Again leverage ratio were also impacted by accounting standard change. Under the old standard, leverage ratio in Q2 would have been 6.3 times versus 9.8 times a year ago. While leverage ratio may vary from quarter-to-quarter, we expect to see overall downward trend going forward as capital light model, continue to grow and we continue to create shareholders’ equity. Meanwhile our provision coverage ratio remained at a healthy 3.2 times in Q2 compared to 4.0 times in Q1. The sequential decrease in provision coverage ratio was mainly because loans originated in previous quarters performed better than expected and the previous — and the provision for those loans were lowered by approximately RMB300 million many in Q2. For risk bearing loans originate in Q2, we took similar conservative approach to Q1 to estimate the potential losses and provisions with contingent liability.

Free cash reached record high of RMB1.8 billion in Q2. This work was largely driven by strong operating results and effective management of working capital. Total cash and cash equivalents was RMB7.4 billion at the end of Q2. Majority of our cash was allocated to security deposit with our financial institutional partners and also the registry capital of different entities to support our daily operation. We also leave a sizable buffer for any market uncertainties in the cash reserve. We believe that such sufficient cash position will not only enable us to compete in ever changing market, but also position us to capture potential growth opportunity in the market recovery.

Finally, let me give you some color about our outlook for the third quarter and full year. The strong positive momentum we experienced in the second half of Q2 has continued into current quarter, both in demand and asset quality. However, with global pandemic still lingering and the impact of the recent regulatory change still somewhat unclear, we will continue to take prudent and conservative approach in our business planning. Therefore, we would like to maintain our full-year loan origination guidance of RMB 200 billion to RMB220 billion.

With that, I would like to conclude our prepared remarks. Operator, we can now take some questions.

Questions and Answers:

 

Operator

Thank you very much. We will now move on to the Q&A session. For who could speak in Mandarin, please kindly ask your question in Mandarin first followed by your English translation. Thank you. [Operator Instructions] We have the question from Ms. Daphne Poon from Citi. The floor is yours Ms. Daphne.

Daphne Poon — Citi Research — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

So, I will translate the question. So mainly two questions. The first question is regarding your loan pricing. Just want to get a sense from the management how — given the latest regulation coming out from the Supreme Court, how fast and how much you expect your APR to come down say in the coming few quarters or next one year to two year time? And also whether you have some — [Indecipherable] even interest rate would be? And the second question is follow the intelligence credit engine that you mentioned earlier. You mentioned is for activating some — your existing users. So can you elaborate more in terms of the product features such as long-term pricing, bigger size etc. and how is that different from your current capital light model? Thank you.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

[Foreign Speech]

Okay, in terms of the trend of interest rate or the pricing, actually quite a while ago we already determined that the overall interest rate trend will gradually trending down both from our understanding with the regulatory environment and also from actually internal assessment. We believe that with a gradually lowered interest rate or pricing, we can reach a broader base — a much broader user base and basically increase the overall size of the business in the long run.

[Foreign Speech]

And also we looked our current structure in terms of take rate, I think we have pretty reasonably good take rate of our current operation, which means that there is plenty of room to maneuver in the new interest environment and also our overall operational efficiency probably among the best in among our peers. And that again give us room to kind of a profit of getting growth in the new interest environment. And then with the KCB joined in our — as our partner, we have a further advantage in terms of low cost funding and that also will help us dealing with a relatively lower pricing environment.

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[Foreign Speech]

Yeah and in terms of a breakeven point to your second part of the first question, there obviously is a little bit too early to do the detailed calculation, but roughly speaking it’s just back of an envelope kind of a calculation, the right now, we look at it is about 16% on the IRR basis. That’s somewhere around that number is our breakeven point, based on current model. That point by the way, we haven’t really considered any sort of incremental volume that associated with the lower rate environment.

[Foreign Speech]

In terms of intelligent credit engine, really the purpose for that is to activate power, you can call it CP users. As you know, we have nearly 30 million users with approved credit line, but on any given quarter, organic given time, the one actually use the credit line is only less than 10 million. So there is close to 20 million users we can call it inactive user. For those users we link them with the financial institutions, the product itself were based on the bank’s brand as opposed to the 360 brand. And also we use a differentiating pricing to attract those users. So for many users they may have a better kind of impression to the bank’s brand in this case that’s how we can activate [Phonetic] those users from a sleepy kind of a stage.

[Foreign Speech]

Okay, and the difference between this intelligence credit engine and the capital light model is that, under the intelligent credit engine like I said earlier, the brand is under the bank’s brand, not our brand. And also in this model, we don’t do after loan management. The bank will do that after loan management there, whereas the capital light model we do the after lending management work. So — but we do have — helped the Bank to do the customer acquisition and also some pre-screens in terms of risk management prior to the lending activity. So the pricing or the take rate between the intelligent credit engine and the capital light, the intelligent credit engine side is slightly lower than the — than cap light model, but not much — too much difference there. Yeah, exactly.

Daphne Poon — Citi Research — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

So just a follow-up question regarding the longer-term take rate and the outlook at what levels you think it will decline to or you feel more comfortable in the long term? Thanks.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

[Foreign Speech]

So we really don’t set a target for the take rate in our daily operation. Really what we look at this dynamic is that in the — in this so called the new interest environment, we want to serve a broader user base. As the environment drive the overall take rate probably for the entire industry, gradually lower then we just follow that. And in that trend so we don’t — we don’t foresee or we don’t expect to take rate to see dramatic decline in any short period of time is more like a gradual with overall industry environment kind of scenario there.

Operator

Thank you very much. For those participants, ask your question — you can ask in Mandarin and followed by your English translation. [Operator Instructions] Next, we will have Mr. Jacky Zuo from China Renaissance to ask your question. The floor is yours, Mr. Jacky.

Jacky Zuo — China Renaissance — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

So I will translate. Congrats on the results. So my main question is about the asset quality. So just want to ask, what is the trend — in July and August regarding D1 delinquency rate, 30 days collection rates and what is our estimates for the vintage loss ratio for new loans issued in the first half? And lastly, what is the D7 [Phonetic] delinquency rate, if you can disclose that? Thank you.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

[Foreign Speech]

Okay. Jacky, the overall improvement of asset quality continued in to current quarter. And Mr. Haisheng basically mentioned that the exiting the second quarter, our day one delinquency was about 6.2% and now if you look at the current number it is already for a few weeks, it is already consistently below six in terms of day one delinquency. And then for the 30-day collection rate, exiting the second quarter, we were at about 88%, right now this number is already between 89% and 90%. So it continue on a very positive trend line there. In terms of the vintage loss, expect vintage loss for the current portfolio, range we were given was between 2.5 to 3.5. Right now this number or I would say the second quarter end in this number sitting about 3% given the delinquency leading indicator trend we look at it. It’s possible down the road, the actual vintage loss probably will be lower than that number. In terms of the FPD 7 and the delinquency there, pre-pandemic we were running at about 0.9% to 1%. At the peak of the pandemic.

Jacky Zuo — China Renaissance — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

A simple follow-up on this. I observe that given the improved asset quality, we should have the provision write back in the second quarter. So what is it — is the number? And that we expect for the write back in the third quarter? Thank you.

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Sure Jacky. I will take this part of question. If you look at the financial statement for the first quarter we booked a RMB1.7 billion provincial — provision for contingent liability. Of that RMB1.7 billion, RMB1.4 billion is for the loans issued in the Q1 and then RMB300 million was for the loan issued prior to Q1. And then in the second quarter, the total provision for contingent liability was about RMB1 billion. Within that RMB1 billion, the provision for the loan issued in Q2 was actually RMB1.3 — I believe RMB3.2 billion, but at the same time, because the loans we issued in previous quarter actually performed better than we initially thought so there will be a write-back about RMB300 million in Q2 for those provisions numbers there. That’s gave you the net provision for contingent liability for Q2 at about RMB1 billion.

Jacky Zuo — China Renaissance — Analyst

Thank you. So do we expect for write-back in third quarter?

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Sorry. The — if you look at the way we took the provisions there, for the first quarter and second quarter for the new loans we took pretty much similar number of amount of provision. One is RMB1.4 billion, the second quarter it is RMB1.3 billion. So both on only — I would say very conservative approach to estimate the provision there. If the trend we’re looking today continued meaning the asset quality continued to improve, you should probably continue to expect to see this right back on the provisions in the coming quarters.

Jacky Zuo — China Renaissance — Analyst

Got it. That’s very helpful. [Foreign Speech]

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

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Operator

Thank you very much. Now, I’d like to call upon Mr. Steven Chan from Haitong International. Mr. Steven, the floor is yours.

Steven Chan — Haitong International Research — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

So I will translate. After the change of the name from 360 Finance to 360 DigiTech, I just want to understand whether there will be any change in the business strategy? Especially, are we going to change from a fintech company to a tech fin company? Especially, are we going to introduce — we have introduced this intelligent credit engine, which is very similar to capital light model. And if we’re really going to change from a fintech company to a tech fin company, which bigger player should we compare us with? Should we compare with OneConnect or Qingdong? Thanks.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

[Foreign Speech]

Okay, Steve. Thanks for the question. So yes, we proposed to change our name from 360 Finance to 360 DigiTech because if you look at the history of the company, the founding team of the company, as you know, is coming from 360 Group, which by itself is more a tech based team. Our resources, at least in the initial founding, the resourcing and capabilities are all coming from the technology side. We just apply those resource and technologies to the financial service industry there. In the short term, we still have a lot of things we can do for the financial service segment of the market. And — for example, the customers we’re serving today are more or less focused on the mid to higher end in terms of interest range. Down the road, we are looking for a much broader user base to cover the lower end or mid to lower end, the interest rate. In particular, with the help of the KCB, that will enable us to reach that goal. So, eventually, we’ll find ourselves build a — whether you call it a tech fin or fintech platform, it’s very unique one compared to most of others because we become probably one of the only that can serve a broader — I would say, full range of interest range of a customer base down the road.

[Foreign Speech]

Sure. And then also Steven from the institutional side, as you know, right now, we already have a relationship with over 100 financial institutions. And many of those institutions have the different sort of service scenarios that we can work on and to develop — in the future to develop more like standardized products to achieve our sort of a tech enabling capability there. And in the long run, we can help those institutions from both technology and risk management and customer acquisition front to serve them to become really a major tech platform for those players. From that perspective, we probably — to your question — looks a little bit similar to OneConnect there, but at the same time we also have this loan facilitation business there and also the lending business that to some degree, looks like a combination of [Indecipherable] GFA plus OneConnect. And further beyond that, as you know, we tapped one of our affiliates’ insurance kind of a broker license. That can be in the future become part of our kind of listing company’s portfolio. So, we can expand that business into — beyond the current lending plus tech service, adding additional elements in there.

Steven Chan — Haitong International Research — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

Alex Xu — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you very much. In the essence of time we would like have the next — last question from Mr. Ethan Wang from CLSA. The floor is yours Mr. Ethan.

Ethan Wang — CLSA — Analyst

[Foreign Speech]

My question is on customer acquisition channel. Just wondering what is the split of the customer acquisition channel now compared to pre-pandemic? And I hope management can share some more data on V-credit product, so we can understand more about its growth? Thank you.

Haisheng Wu — Chief Executive Officer and Director

[Foreign Speech]

Okay. In terms of the customer acquisition from — given the current market uncertainty still lingering — uncertainty in the market, our customer acquisition strategy are more focused on the existing or old users, as you can call that as opposed to the new users. That basically give us the good handle in terms of a control of the customer acquisition cost. In addition to focus on all the existing users, we also take some approach in technology, as well as in the way or the format we acquire our users to control the customer acquisition cost. For example, we have the partnership with the one we mentioned, like the Xiaomi [Indecipherable]. Those kind of internet platform that we connect to our service and we get a certain type of a revenue sharing model during the — with them to do the customer acquisition. That also help us to enhance our overall user acquisition cost there. And there is still — given our current focus on existing user, meaning there is still quite a bit room for us to acquire new users down the road when we feel the overall market condition is right and we will basically adjust our strategy with time.

[Foreign Speech]

So I want to spend some time emphasizing on this new customer acquisition strategy in terms of partnership with the so-called Internet platforms out there. In the past, they have many partners they can choose from, meaning the other fintech platforms. But as time goes, they realize both from the asset quality as well as the customer service perspective, in particular the customer complaint ratio and all these metrics, we are way ahead of our peers. So, we essentially become the default or the best partner for those so-called Internet platforms there. That’s why, since recently, we start to accelerate the connecting our service with these Internet partners there. As we mentioned in the prepared remarks, we had to connect 11 in total already, and then there’s still quite big numbers out there in the pipeline. Right now, the total customer acquisition from these kind of partnership already accounted for about 20% of our total new customer acquisition.

[Foreign Speech]

And also secondly, I want to also refer to our relationship or our potential partnership with the bank, with KCB because, relatively speaking, the banks have better branding or brand recognition or brand quality as well as low cost capital there. So, we can design — by partner with KCB, we can design a lot of different kind of low-priced products offered to our customers. And also, with the bank joined our efforts, we can connect this kind of platform with more scenario based situations there and, eventually, cover a much broader user base in terms of the different interest range or different pricing range. That’s again back to our goal — eventually, we want to serve a much broader — I will say full range, interest range customer base, from low to high down the road.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Disclaimer

This transcript is produced by AlphaStreet, Inc. While we strive to produce the best transcripts, it may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies. This transcript is provided as is without express or implied warranties of any kind. As with all our articles, AlphaStreet, Inc. does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company’s SEC filings. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed in this transcript constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of securities or commodities. Any opinion expressed in the transcript does not necessarily reflect the views of AlphaStreet, Inc.

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