Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Other Industries, Technology

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

CTSH Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation  (NASDAQ: CTSH) Q2 2021 earnings call dated Jul. 28, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Tyler Scott — Vice President of Investor Relations

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Analysts:

Lisa Ellis — MoffettNathanson — Analyst

Ashwin Shirvaikar — Citi — Analyst

Bryan Bergin — Cowen — Analyst

Rod Bourgeois — DeepDive Equity Research — Analyst

Brad Clark — BMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Tien-Tsin Huang — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Mike — SIG — Analyst

James Faucette — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Presentation:

 

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Cognizant Technology Solutions’ Second Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

Thank you. I would now like to turn this conference over to Mr. Tyler Scott, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir. You may begin.

Tyler Scott — Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you, operator and good afternoon, everyone. By now you should have received a copy of the earnings release and investor supplement for the Company’s second quarter 2021 results. If you have not, copies are available on our website cognizant.com.

The speakers we have on today’s call are Brian Humphries, Chief Executive Officer; and Jan Siegmund, Chief Financial Officer. Before we begin, I would like to remind you that some of the comments made on today’s call and some of the responses to your questions may contain forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to the risks and uncertainties as described in the Company’s earnings release and other filings with the SEC. Additionally, during our call today, we will reference certain non-GAAP financial measures that we believe provide useful information for our investors. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures where appropriate to the corresponding GAAP measures can be found in the Company’s earnings release and other filings with the SEC.

With that I’d like to turn the call over to Brian Humphries. Please go ahead, Brian.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Tyler. Good afternoon, everybody. Against the challenging labor market backdrop and the recent humanitarian crisis in India, we executed well in the second quarter allowing us to deliver significant upside to our revenue guidance. Second quarter revenue of $4.6 billion represented growth of 15% year-over-year or 12% in constant currency. And grateful to our teams across the world for their unflagging dedication to consistently meeting our promises to clients. Thanks to the professionalism of all our associates. We had no major disruption to client service delivery from the second wave of the pandemic in India.

We continue to execute against our previously announced Operation C3 which includes our vaccination drive across the 11 cities where cognizant has operations in India. To date, we’ve administered or reimbursed over 160,000 vaccines to associates or their families and dependents. I’m pleased with the strength of key commercial metrics. Bookings growth accelerated to 12% year-over-year in the second quarter and our book-to-bill ratio is now 1.2 in a trailing 12 month basis. Qualified pipeline is significantly up and our win rates are also up year-to-date positioning us well for continued bookings momentum. Digital revenue growth accelerated to 20% year-over-year in the quarter.

Moving to industry segments, we posted strong double-digit year-over-year constant currency growth in communications, media and technology; products and resources; and healthcare. We’ve achieved a double-digit CAGR over the past four years in communications, media and technology and remain optimistic on our growth prospects. This industry is now home to some of our largest clients. within products and resources, we continue to post excellent growth in manufacturing, logistics, energy and utilities. Meanwhile, both retail and consumer goods and travel and hospitality posted their fourth successive quarter of sequential revenue increases and are now close to pre-pandemic revenue levels.

Our healthcare business had a strong quarter with double-digit year-over-year growth in both the life sciences and US payer and provider businesses. I’m delighted with our sustained momentum in life sciences which will allow us to cross the $2 billion annualized revenue threshold later this year. As we strengthen our relationship with existing biopharma and medical device companies, our strong client references and delivery excellence are positioning us well to expanded to new logos. For example, we partnered with Viatris, the newly formed company resulting from the merger of Mylan and Upjohn, a legacy division of Pfizer to support their integration readiness for day one. We are now continuing our collaboration and post merger integration services.

We will continue to invest to support our clients’ digital needs in the life sciences business. Last week, we agreed to acquire TQS Integration, a privately owned Ireland-based global industrial data and intelligence company that will enhance our smart manufacturing offerings and build upon our successful acquisition of Zenith Technologies from 2019. And earlier this month, we announced the strategic alliance with global health technology leader, Philips to develop end to end health solutions that will enable healthcare organizations to improve patient care and accelerate clinical trials.

Over the past two years, we focused significant effort on reinvigorating the US payer and provider businesses. These efforts have started to bear fruits. During the second quarter, we expanded our existing partnerships with large payer clients and added new logos into provider markets. The TriZetto product business is highly strategic to our healthcare business. Following some weakness post the 2014 acquisition, we spent considerable energy soliciting client feedback and refreshing the product roadmap over to the last two years. We are now seeing growing momentum in the business. Annual growth rates in the TriZetto product business doubled in 2020 over 2019 and are on track to double again in 2021 following double-digit revenue growth in the first half of the year.

Turning now to financial services, which grew 5% year-over-year in constant currency. Both the banking and insurance businesses grew year-over-year and sequentially. In banking, which is most of the financial services business, we have sharpened our focus on the highest potential client relationships over the past 18 months. We’ve refreshed now about half of our client facing teams bringing in seasoned industry talent with an emphasis on executive engagement and selling and delivering business outcomes in collaboration with the financial services partner ecosystem. While we are making progress in our client engagement strategy and have seen sustained momentum in regional banks, banking results continue to be hindered by ongoing revenue erosion in large global banks.

As such, while we expect full year financial services revenues to grow modestly, the repositioning of the business continues. Before discussing the macro-demand environment, I would like to acknowledge the progress we’ve made in our BPO business which we call Digital Business Operations. Two years ago, we made the decision to exit certain non-strategic elements of the content moderation business that had been a meaningful contributor to growth. This decision impacted the growth trajectory of DBO and required us to reposition the business. Two years on, we’ve now successfully completed the exit of the content moderation business. And as of the third quarter revenue compares will be like-for-like. I’m pleased with the revised strategic direction of Digital Business Operations which focuses on automation, analytics and consulting as well as platform-based and core business process operations.

Year-to-date, we’ve seen double-digit revenue growth in Digital Business Operations and we expect to sustain this growth in the coming years driven by strong results in modern BPO segments like digital natives and intelligent process automation. And by our leadership position in BPaaS within the healthcare segment. A recent example of our client momentum is John Hopkins Healthcare, who turned to us to transition their Medicaid and commercial lines of business from legacy platforms and operations to our leading BPaaS solution. We’ll be providing a modern scalable cloud-based platform to enable John Hopkins Healthcare to be a more robust flexible organization that can deliver better, more affordable patient outcomes.

Let’s turn now to macro demand, which is particularly robust as clients modernize their legacy environments, embrace the cloud and invest in innovation. We continue to believe that the next phase of digital is about transforming processes to become agile, intelligent and automated and always with an eye on customer experience. Hyper personalization is fueling significant demand in analytics, AI and ML. Given strong demand on our bullish outlook in the industry, we are committed to meaningfully scaling our head counts over the coming quarters. However, this macro demand backdrop has also created a demand-supply imbalance in key skills and has meaningfully increased industry attrition.

As we noted in last quarter’s remarks, we expected attrition to go up sequentially and it did. Second quarter voluntary attrition reached 29% on an annualized basis or 18% on a trailing 12 month basis. As a reminder, our attrition metric captures the entire Company including trainees and corporates across both IT services and BPO. Against this backdrop, we continue to take a series of actions to reduce attrition including compensation adjustments, job rotations, reskilling and promotions and a host of associated engagement activities. Fortunately, we meaningfully increased our recruiting capacity over the last six months, as we anticipated the spike in attrition following the V-shaped demand recovery in the second half of 2020.

Our human resources team has done a remarkable job helping us mitigate the impact of elevated attrition through comprehensive hiring, onboarding and skilling programs. In fact, we now expect to hire approximately 100,000 laterals in 2021 and to train close 100,000 associates. In addition, we expect to on board approximately 30,000 new graduates in 2021 and make 45,000 offers to new graduates in India for 2022 onboarding. Over recent years, we’ve been methodically shifting our revenue mix to digital which now accounts for more than 44% of our revenue. Since 2019, we’ve invested more than $2 billion in mergers and acquisitions to accelerate our digital capabilities while the impact of recent acquisitions has reduced Q2 Company margins given diligence and integration costs and acquired Company margin dilution, it has nonetheless been the right thing to do.

These investments have changed the growth profile of Cognizant by shifting our businesses to higher growth categories and reducing our exposure to non-digital categories that have declined in recent years. Today, I wanted to spend a moment addressing some of our progress against our targeted digital battlegrounds including IoT, digital engineering and cloud. Our IoT business has scaled rapidly and revenues are now expected to exceed $600 million in 2021 almost twice the size of what it was in 2019. Cognizant was recently ranked number 1 in the managed IoT services category in ISG’s 2021 IoT services evaluation for both the US and Europe.

Our digital engineering business is now at a $1.2 billion annual run rate growing 30%, making it one of the largest digital engineering businesses in the world. In June, Cognizant was named a leader in Everest Group’s PEAK Matrix for software product engineering services 2021 report. We’ve also made tremendous headway in our cloud business. Seven of our acquisitions over the past 18 months have been cloud related. As you may know, Gartner in its Magic Quadrant for public cloud infrastructure managed services providers elevated Cognizant from a niche provider player in 2018 to challenger in 2019 and to leader in 2020.

We now have three cloud focus business groups, one from Microsoft and other for AWS and the third most recently for Google. Each supported by specialized class experts and solution architects. For example, we’ve been recently engaged with Microsoft’s industry clouds in areas like financial services, healthcare and retail. In the past two years, thanks to our ongoing market momentum, the acquisitions of New Signature, Contino and 10th Magnitude and the formation of our Microsoft business group. We’ve meaningfully changed our ranking to become one of Microsoft’s leading global system integrator partners.

Our commitment to the partnership and focus on technical intensity, it’s demonstrated by more than 100% year-over-year growth in our Microsoft cloud certifications. Our success in expanding our portfolio has not only made us more competitive, but has encouraged more clients to engage us to execute their transformation agendas. This positions us to take full advantage of our client base by enabling us to up-sell and cross-sell in our existing accounts and enables us to get new logos by leading with digital. For example, Gilead Sciences selected us to lead a body of work related to IT business transformation as well as development of an enhanced security and compliance posture. We will utilize our deep life science industry knowledge augmented by recent acquisitions like Zenith Technologies and collaborative solutions. Along with our proprietary legacy modernization framework and robust automation capabilities to support this work, our aim is to accelerate the Company’s technology transformation and further enhance its digital capabilities.

In another example, given our advanced capabilities in digital automotive engineering R&D and smart connected mobility, Qualcomm Technologies, one of the world’s foremost semiconductor and connectivity solutions companies turned to us to build a reliable cloud agnostic connected vehicle management solution. The aim of this integrated platform is to connect vehicular onboard applications, manage car-to-cloud [Phonetic] operations and work across nearly every OEM vehicle platform and its cloud infrastructure.

Lastly, building exceptional digital experiences is of increasing importance to clients who sometimes struggle to connect the dots between the experience itself and the underlying business functions. With our extended portfolio, we’re now able to orchestrate software, data platforms and programs to transform high value interactions into personalized experiences that drive business results. A great example of this is, how we’re now partnering with NBC to reimagine their customer experience. Creating direct to consumer commerce strategies, driving attendance to their theme parks and supporting their marquee event, the 2021 Summer Olympic Games.

In closing, I’ve been in the CEO role now for more than two years. And I see a new Cognizant taking shape. Our solution portfolio is stronger than at any time in our history. This has changed the way clients and partners perceive us and helps us deliver differentiated business outcomes. We are bullish on the industry and our prospects within it. We are well positioned to capitalize on digital transformation market trends which are accelerating and we have an enormous opportunity in our international markets. We are in one of the hottest job markets in many years and expect elevated attrition to remain a factor across the industry in the coming quarters. Our recruitment and skilling programs as well as targeted actions to offset margin headwinds stemming from the industry’s talent shortage provide us confidence in our outlook for the year.

With that, I’ll turn the call over to Jan, who will cover the details of the quarter and our financial outlook before we take your questions. With that, over to you, Jan.

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Brian and good afternoon, everyone. Our Q2 revenue was $4.6 billion, representing growth of approximately 15% or 12% in constant currency. Revenue was $125 million above the high end of our guidance range driven by continued demand for digital, which grew 20% and represented 44% of total revenues. Year-over-year revenue growth also includes approximately 390 basis points of growth from our recent acquisitions and benefited from an easier compare to Q2 2020 where our revenues were impacted in the early months of the pandemic, and by the ransomware attack in April 2020.

Moving on to segment results were all growth rates provided will be year-over-year and constant currency. Financial services revenue increased approximately 5% in line with our expectations. We continue to make progress as we reposition this business and observed a strong improvement in the pipeline. We still expect the pace of recovery through the remainder of the year. Healthcare revenue increased approximately 13%, again driven by strong performance in both our healthcare payer and life sciences businesses.

Revenue growth within our healthcare business was primarily organic and we continue to see strong demand for our integrated payer software solutions and improving fundamentals in our provider business. As Brian mentioned, will remain very pleased with the growth in our life sciences business. Products and resources revenue increased approximately 18% driven by the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in manufacturing, logistics, energy and utilities.

Segment growth included approximately 600 basis points from inorganic revenue. As Brian mentioned, we also experienced growth in retail consumer goods and travel and hospitality driven in part by the lapping of the pre-pandemic compares. There are early signs of stabilization within these sectors most impacted by the pandemic, but we continue to monitor closely.

Communications, media and technology revenue grew 18% of which approximately half of the growth was attributable to recent acquisitions. This growth was partially offset by a negative 190 basis points impact from our exit of certain portions to our content services business. Overall, we are very pleased with the growth of our core portfolio.

Now moving on to margins. In Q2, our GAAP and adjusted operating margin were both 15.2%. On a year-over-year basis, adjusted operating margin improved approximately 110 basis points, primarily reflecting the savings from our cost initiatives in 2020 and the impact from the pandemic and ransomware attack in Q2 2020. This year-over-year benefit was offset in part by SG&A investments including those intended to drive and support organic revenue growth as well as the negative impact on margins, our recently completed acquisitions and costs related to the modernization of our IT core and security infrastructure.

In addition, we anticipate continued cost pressure from our elevated attrition, which includes higher recruiting costs lateral higher wages and subcontracted costs. Our GAAP tax rate in the quarter was 26.5% and our adjusted tax rate was 25.4% in line with our expectations. Diluted GAAP EPS was $0.97 and adjusted diluted EPS was $0.99.

Now turning to the balance sheet. We ended the quarter with cash and short term investments of $1.9 billion or $1.2 billion net of debt. Free cash flow in Q2 was $466 million. This included a payment from the settlement with two of the three customers that were part of the proposed customer engagement exit, we announced in our fourth quarter 2020 earnings. Excluding this one-time payment, free cash flow would have been approximately 100% of net income. The payments made this quarter were in line with our prior expectations and resulted in no impact to our earnings in Q2. Overall, we were pleased with the outcome of the settlement, which includes a continued commercial relationship with both customers.

Negotiations with the third client are ongoing and constructive. DSO of 71 days increased by one day sequentially and has improved from 77 days in the prior year period. During the quarter, we repurchased 4 million shares for $296 million at a weighted average price of approximately $74 per share. At the end of June, we had $2.3 billion remaining under our share repurchase authorization. We also spent cash of approximately $350 million on acquisitions and a $127 million for our regular quarterly dividend.

Turning to guidance. For Q3, we expect revenue in the range of $4.69 billion to $4.74 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 10.6% to 11.6% or 10% to 11% in constant currency. Our guidance assumes currency will have a favorable 60 basis points impact and inorganic contribution of approximately 320 basis points. For the full year, we now expect revenues of $18.4 billion to $18.5 billion representing 10.2% to 11.2% growth or 9% to 10% in constant currency. This compares to our prior guidance of 7% to 9% growth as reported or 5.5% to 7.5% in constant currency.

Our outlook assumes currency will have a favorable 120 basis points impact and includes approximately 320 basis points contribution from inorganic revenue. Our outlook assumes continued momentum across healthcare, CMT and products and resources while we continue to expect the pace recovery in financial services over the next couple of quarters.

Moving on to margins. We expect full year adjusted operating margin to be approximately 15.4%, the midpoint of our prior guidance of 15.2% to 15.7%. As I mentioned earlier, elevated attrition is leading to increased costs in certain areas. We are also continuing to fund investments in our people, including compensation, quarterly promotions, retention and training. We expect these costs will weigh on our results for the next several quarters as management remains keenly focused on addressing our higher attrition levels through the comprehensive –through a comprehensive set of initiatives.

We continue to expect SG&A growth for the remainder of the year driven in part by the impact from our M&A activities. However, we are slowing the pace of growth in some areas not directly related to our strategic initiatives to mitigate some of this cost pressure. This leads to our full year adjusted EPS guidance which is $4 to $4.06 compared to $3.90 to $4.02 previously. Our full year outlook assumes interest income of $25 million to $30 million compared to $20 million to $30 million previously. Our outlook assumes average shares outstanding of approximately $528 million compared to $530 million previously and the tax rate of 25% to 26%, which is unchanged from our prior outlook.

Finally, we continue to expect free cash flow will represent approximately 100% of net income for the full year. We remain committed to our balanced capital deployment strategy and returning at least 50% of our free cash flow to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Before opening the call for questions, I wanted to let you know that we are planning to hold an investor briefing in the fall, during which Brian and I will provide a review of our strategy and an update on our progress over the last two years. We will also provide our multi-year financial framework. Please keep an eye out and save the date in the coming weeks.

With that, we will open the call for your questions.

Questions and Answers:

 

Operator

Thank you. We will now be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Lisa Ellis with MoffettNathanson. You may proceed with your questions.

Lisa Ellis — MoffettNathanson — Analyst

Good afternoon. Thanks. Thanks for taking my questions. Good stuff here, follow-up question, if I’m sure you’ll get 20 of them related to the attrition and headcount dynamics. One maybe Jan, can you just elaborate on what gives you confidence in your ability to expand margins in the second half of the year, while you’re still to battling through this attrition environment like so for example, are you given the high demand environment? Are you able to take price, etc. Just a little bit more color there.

And then I’ll just ask my second one kind of related is just around employee health. I’m just wondering like how employee satisfaction, it’s faring at cognizant. I know that’s something that you watch pretty closely. So what’s your confidence level on being able to bring attrition down over the next couple of quarters? Thank you.

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. Thank you, Lisa. And somehow I anticipated questions around our margin guidance being of interest. It’s a complex situation Lisa that we have actually quite a few dynamics going on that impact the margin dynamic for the second half. And so you’re rightly concluded that for the second half, we are expecting really on the average margin development around 15.6% to meet our midpoint of our guidance. And as you also are aware, we have a little bit of a quarterly dynamic towards the year end. So margins in the third quarter, we’re thinking are going to be slightly higher than towards the fourth quarter due to typical end of season dynamics, including the merit increase that will fully filter in the fourth quarter when we administer and implement the merit things.

So that’s kind of all the general margin dynamic. What we have seen, I want to point out a few other elements of the margin here dynamic. We had seen in this quarter a fairly healthy margin dynamic on the gross margin side and we reported a shift in our digital revenue mix which comes actually with higher gross margin than our traditional business, which is part of the strategic rationale of why we are of course in the transformation of the business and that margin effect was accelerated actually be shifted share, but we also improve that relative margin in our second quarter. So we anticipate to continue to have some benefit from that mix shift also in the second half.

And then of course we will see pressure from the compensation measures coming into our P&L, and we are offsetting that by controlling the growth of certain SG&A components that have been growing kind of largely I would say to and bring that more to a controlled or flattish outcome towards the end of the year. And so it’s a number of factors that we have to keenly execute in order to keep of course the overall structure of our P&L in place, but that’s the principal dynamic that we are following. And I hand over the employee engagement question to Brian.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jan. Hi, Lisa. Look, it’s very much top of mind as you can imagine. Voluntary attrition in the quarter was 29%, but on a trailing 12-month basis, which is more heavy industry trends to look at it was 18% and we’ve been primarily the attrition in the more junior levels of the organization or mid levels in India, but it’s also a global phenomenon. It’s really one of the hottest markets, we’ve seen our team has seen over the last 10 plus years. So we’re all dealing with it. As it happens in the last month, we had the results of our annual engagement survey. We’re actually very pleased with our results there at or above in many cases, industry benchmarks and really pleased to see the delivery organizations, engagement scores are actually above the Company average and they’re very much as a total Company in the same range as what we’ve been from 2016 and beyond.

Last year, we actually had a particularly strong year as many companies did because of the pandemic when people were pleased when they had to secure jobs or whatnot. So from one perspective, I feel very, very good about it, but in the same vein of course, I don’t feel very good about the attrition and so that’s top of mind and it’s got a lot of management focus. I’m pleased that we executed well in the quarter. We exceeded our revenue guidance despite elevated attrition. But my great hope is over time, we can reduce attrition and yet continue to hire at the pace we have been hiring at, which is something we’re very pleased with the throughput of our recruitment team has really been terrific.

So what are we doing to reduce attrition and to continue to drive employee engagement is the next obvious question? Well look, annual merit-based increases have been announced here in the last few weeks. They’re effective October 1. That’s on top of a whole host of our hub measures, we played through in the course of the last year. Out of cycle increases, promotion, retention dollars. We’ve announced a shift in the last few months to quarterly promotion cycles per billable resources. We’ve really fast tracked job rotations and re-skilling initiatives across the Company, then a host of things with Cognizant Academy, which is our training capability as well as higher education programs for select employees as well.

And we put an enormous effort behind our employee value proposition celebrating delivery success, big wins, etc. So more work to be done, but I’m confident we’re doing the right things. And as I said, well, I’m pleased we executed through at this quarter. The reality is 15% revenue growth this quarter also give the organization a little bit of energy that locate growth coming back and with growth comes, good things in terms of career path opportunities, mutations and promotions and whatnot. So I’m sure today’s top line story will help broader employees feel better and we’ll keep doing all the other things we’re doing.

Lisa Ellis — MoffettNathanson — Analyst

Yeah, great to see the revenue acceleration. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Ashwin Shirvaikar with Citibank. You may proceed with your question. Ashwin, you may proceed with your questions.

Ashwin Shirvaikar — Citi — Analyst

Hi. Sorry. Can you hear me now?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Yes.

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

Ashwin Shirvaikar — Citi — Analyst

Good quarter, guys. I wanted to follow-up also on attrition. Could you talk a little bit more about what you expect for 3Q, 4Q attrition and what’s been the client feedback in the face of this attrition?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

So, look, from my perspective, the first thing I would think about our associates and our clients, you can’t be client-centric unless you’re associate-centric. And so as we start thinking about this, of course it gets into how we engage with clients and how we think about the demand signal that will help us facilitate the right resources at the right time. Communication is important in a time like this, setting appropriate expectations regarding resource availability timelines, entity prioritization, Ashwin, as you can imagine, getting the right resources on our most strategic accounts is very much top of mind and part of our execution rigor we do that on a day in day out basis, regrettably, we just, despite growing 15% in the quarter, we’re yet unable to meet the full expectations of our own potential and what is out there in the market.

So we’re working through that as best we can and do our best. As I’ve said to minimize attrition was at the same time to maximize employee engagement and to maximize boarding. As I said in my remarks, we’ll bring on about a 100,000 lateral hires this year alone. We’ll train about a 100,000 people and we will on board about 30,000 freshers and we make offers to 45,000 pressures regardless of our attrition rate, we will still go through with those numbers because there is enough market demand for us to get after that opportunity. And that’s what we’re quite excited about the portfolio is more compelling than ever before. And we’ve made huge progress in the last year to get after that market opportunity. So we’re feeling pretty good about that. But you know it’s a hot market and I think you’ve heard that through the earnings cycle. So we’re all dealing with the same problem.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Bryan Bergin with Cowen. You may proceed with your question.

Bryan Bergin — Cowen — Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon. Thank you. I’ll just ask two upfront here. So as it relates to bookings and the growing commercial momentum you called out, can you comment on how well distributed the bookings contribution has been across the sales force? So how much of your sales force would you say is optimized and converting versus those that are still building pipeline and will convert over the balance of this year into next? And then just to clarify on attrition, have you continued to see the trend of declining resignations month-to-month?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Well, I’ll deal with that first. Look, we look at net resignations. It went through — actually, at the end of last quarter, we thought we’d hit an apex and then it went up modestly, but it’s — we’re expecting, and it’s inherent in our guidance, elevated attritions remain in the coming quarter and we’ll see what happens thereafter. It’s a very — as you can imagine, a hot market out there and so it’s very difficult to call. I think we’re doing the right things to mitigate that. But rest assured, these levels of attrition and slightly beyond our inner guidance. With regards to bookings, look, I feel really good about our bookings, to be very honest. It’s important to look at bookings not just on a weekly or a quarterly basis, but really on a trailing 12-month basis. And now we have rounded that one-year period, so we have a good book-to-bill ratio over the last 12 months of 1.2 times, which I think is very, very healthy.

We look at it in terms of geographic. We look at it in terms of business mix. We look at it in terms of new and expansion versus renewals. And it’s pretty solid across the board. And the pipeline is solid across the board as well. So I feel good about the market opportunity. Candidly, I don’t think demand is the problem for this industry. I think it’s a great time to be in services. It’s more of a supply constraint at this moment in time. With regard to the sales, our commercial teams we brought on board. Look, they’re ramping. I don’t think we have full productivity. At this stage, we’ve got a lot of exercises underway to make sure we get true gearing ratios. But in the same vein, I feel as though we’ve got a client-facing team now that is better able to walk the corridors if and when we get back from COVID, virtually for now, and to cross-sell the entire portfolio.

And if you think about our installed base, it’s a huge asset for us and the opportunity is real. About four out of 10, or 40%, of our accounts, we only sell one of our practices into those, and we have 10-plus practices. So think about cross-sell as a huge opportunity for us. And of course, the M&A that we have conducted in the last two years, which is 100% aligned to our digital strategy, enables that cross-sell more than ever before. And indeed, cross-sell is core to the business case of those acquisitions.

So we’re pretty excited about what we can do there, both in terms of our installed base, which, of course, is a big priority for us. But we also have opportunity through this extended portfolio to get after new logos. And the Qualcomm example I cited in my script is a good example of that, where we’re leading with digital. And accordingly, we’ll try and cross-sell the non-digital business as well.

Bryan Bergin — Cowen — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Rod Bourgeois with DeepDive Equity Research. You may proceed with your question.

Rod Bourgeois — DeepDive Equity Research — Analyst

Okay. Thank you. Hey, Brian, so when you consider your pipeline and your inorganic growth plan going forward, are you in a position to further substantially increase your digital mix over the next year? I’d love any color to help dimension the remaining mix shift potential over the next year or so, that would be really helpful. Thanks.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Hey, Rob. So as you know very well, one of our biggest priorities when I joined the Company was to accelerate our digital mix. It was 28% or less than 30%, certainly at the end of 2018 for the year. And it’s been very much part and parcel of what we’re setting out to achieve. It’s 44% of our mix today. Candidly, a numerator denominator comes into play. We actually had very good success this quarter, driving growth as well in our non-digital business, which has declined in 2019 and 2020. So candidly, that has slowed the digital mix ramping further, the share growth of non-digital this quarter.

But overall, the digital business will continue to grow. I’d like to think as we get to the latter part of this year, we’ll be up closer to 50%, and it will start becoming a bigger portion of our overall business over time. That’s important for us because, a, it helps us be exposed to higher growth categories; but b, it increases our intimacy with the broader C-suite in our installed base of accounts, and that enables us to sell beyond the CTO organization into the CMO into the line of service leader, etc.

Of the accounts that we have added in the first half of this year versus the first half of last year, the vast majority of the bookings exactly in what we would term digital. So Rod, that mix shift to digital will continue, and I’m pretty optimistic that we’ll continue to see a nice ramp there. That is not just good for revenue or client intimacy, it’s actually also very good for our margin rate as a company as well. So we feel as though we’re doing the right things. Our M&A strategy is 100% behind this, and it puts us in a position to actually get after our installed base to cross-sell and upsell and actually get new logos and really become a challenger in the digital arena.

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Rod, if I add one comment on the dynamic of the digital organic revenue growth, we very carefully monitor the organic growth that our M&A is generating within itself, but also, of course, as a cross-sell into our client base, and we have seen a very robust organic growth from that portfolio that is kind of, in most cases, meeting our business case assumptions. So we’re very pleased that actually, the shift is not only of M&A, it’s not only adding the incremental acquired revenues to the portfolio, but that portfolio also is accelerating and growing faster than the average in its growth trajectory.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

And Rod, I meant to — you explicitly asked around the pipeline. Look, the digital pipeline has grown at multiples of the non-digital pipeline. And actually, our win rates in digital are higher than our win rates in non-digital. So there’s a lot of good leading indicators.

Rod Bourgeois — DeepDive Equity Research — Analyst

Great. And Jan, you kind of read my mind. My follow-up was related to the acquisitions. And looking for an update on your progress in being able to cross-sell the newly acquired offerings into your existing accounts, that’s a muscle that tends to take time to develop. So maybe just give us some thinking on where you are in that journey? Are you well into that journey? Or is there still some juice left on the cross-selling into existing accounts with these newly acquired capabilities that you have?

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

I would say we’re still in the early and mid-parts of our journey. We made really good outcomes happen for acquisitions that have examples where we haven’t even closed the acquisition. We started to think about cross-selling the product already prior to the close, so there’s plenty of excitement in our sales force to bring these solutions to our clients. And as we now focus to fully integrate this acquired portfolio of digital capabilities into the fold of Cognizant, many other benefits of pipeline management will become easier, the learning for the acquired companies will grow, so I’m optimistic that we will continue to reap really good benefits out of the M&A regarding to the organic growth that they are generating, which is what I’m really keenly focused on.

Rod Bourgeois — DeepDive Equity Research — Analyst

Great. Thank you, guys.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Keith Bachman with BMO Capital Markets. You may proceed with your question.

Brad Clark — BMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Hi. This is Brad Clark on for Keith. Thank you for taking my question. I would like to ask if there was any way to quantify either the impact or size of the planned wage increases for employees. And then secondly, given ongoing employee and market pressure on margin throughout the remainder of the year, how do you view future M&A strategy compared to the past 12 to 18 months? Is the pace of M&A sustainable? What are your views on that going forward? Thank you.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Jan?

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, thank you for your question. We don’t disclose really the elements of our compensation moves externally, so I can’t help you with that. It is clearly reflecting the market dynamics. We are orienting our compensation, obviously, on market data and reflect — our compensation moves really reflect an assessment about keeping Cognizant a competitive employer and recruiter in the marketplace. And we are very pleased actually with that. The ability to attract associates into the Cognizant family is great. We’ve been ranked in a variety of publications as really employer of choice, and particularly, in the critical market of India for us. So it will feather through country-specific and market-oriented based on wage developments in those countries.

On the M&A program, we just talked about, I think, at the end of last year, about a capital allocation framework for the Company, which about — dedicates 50% of our cash flow to M&A for a reminder, about 25% used to offset the dilution of our equity compensation and 25% for dividends. And we use this framework not to position, but as a really good framework for us to execute our strategy. So going forward, I’m anticipating to spend within the range of that capital allocation framework to support the execution of our strategy.

We remain focused in that M&A program on our strategic objectives and focus on our digital battlegrounds. You have seen in some of the acquisitions in the beginning of this year, that we may have, and it’s with few transactions, hard to describe the trend, but there is a keen focus on executing and using the strategy also to help the globalization of Cognizant.

And so you have seen with Servian earlier in the year, an acquisition in the Australian marketplace. We acquired ESG Mobility in the fatherland, my home country, which I was very happy about, really a leading provider on the Internet of Things, IoT, with keen leadership positions in the automotive sector. So there is more geographic diversion still needed for us. And so we’ll adapt as we make progress on the positioning of our practices and our industry groups to the needs of the strategy. And so this is a long answer for you, but yes, we anticipate to continue our acquisition-driven strategy execution.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Tien-Tsin Huang with J.P. Morgan. You may proceed with your question.

Tien-Tsin Huang — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Hey, thanks so much. I’ll mix it up and ask about TriZetto. I think I heard that your repositioning is driving better growth, double digits. I was a little surprised by that. I’m curious, can you elaborate on that? What are you doing differently? And could this kind of change be extended or apply it to other areas as well?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

So our product business in healthcare, Tien-Tsin, is something that we inherited through the TriZetto acquisition at the end of 2014. To be very honest, I think we didn’t execute the integration of that optimally. And in the last few years, we’ve really tried to get after that opportunity because I think it’s a crown jewel that I felt we could do a better job on. And so starting with that, we got off to the road map that we had, tried to understand, solicit customer feedback to make sure we had something that in the eyes of clients was in line with their needs that the user interface and the code was appropriate and fit for purpose. And in the meantime, we had some competitors that had emerged that frankly, I didn’t think had the right to beat us given our heritage in this space. Fortunately, now, we’ve had three quarters in a row of double-digit growth in the product business.

And as I said, our growth in 2020 versus 2019 doubled, and we’re on track to double growth rate year-over-year again and we’re getting some fantastic logos. And this is a great business in itself. It’s software-centric, higher margins. But of course, the stickiness of that enables us to pull through a rich services suite thereafter. So the team has done a fantastic job. I view it as highly strategic for us, and we’re 100% committed to that business, and you’ll see us scale in that over time.

Tien-Tsin Huang — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Okay. No, it’s encouraging to hear. I’ll ask quickly, if you don’t mind, just on the supply side, just with more lateral hires. Can we just infer that’s indicative of more digital work, so you need to go out there and grab some of the lateral hires? Or is it just purely out of necessity, given what you said about demand and the timing of university hiring or maybe more work needs to be done on the training side to meet the type of work that needs to be done? I’m just trying to understand what’s structural versus cyclical there.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

If you think about the lateral hires, it’s really with a view to doing two things. One is addressing the attrition that we have and also getting after the market potential that we see. And so you go back to where is attrition greatest, it’s at the mid-junior levels of the pyramid, particularly in India. But it’s also in hot skills. And if you think about hot skills, think about hyperscalers, think about leading SaaS players, think about digital engineering, full stack engineers or across data, AI and ML.

And so you find yourself in a situation where you’ve got a demand-supply imbalance, and that’s an area as well where we’re also going after lateral skills and trying to get them in as quickly as we can, whilst also trying to train and promote our internal employees as well. So it’s a race for talent in a red hot market. And I anticipate, given how bullish I am in the market, and my sense is we’ll have a resilient services, the main feature for the foreseeable future, I anticipate elevated attrition across the industry.

Tien-Tsin Huang — J.P. Morgan — Analyst

Yeah. Makes sense. Thank you, Brian.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of James Friedman with SIG. You may proceed with your question.

Mike — SIG — Analyst

Hey, guys. This is Mike [Phonetic] on for Jamie. Thanks for taking my questions. So my first one, can you guys talk a little bit about your updated perspective on 5G? And this quarter with CMT growing so well, has 5G offered any tailwinds there?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Look, from my perspective 5G is still in its very early days, both in terms of asset — handset proliferation and the use cases that probably, given the need for latency security and other considerations, will be more B2B or B2B2B rather than B2C. I don’t think B2C is a huge inflection point for the telco industry, albeit many people will talk about it to justify capex outlays. With regards to our CMT industry vertical, it has not been a major driver of the business to date. We’re very intrigued around autonomous driving. As Jan said, we acquired ESG Mobility in Germany. We’ve got a big emphasis on the automotive vertical and indeed on the CMT vertical, but 5G has not been a massive factor to date. I think IoT will be unlocked by the benefits of 5G and different cellular technologies, but it’s premature at this stage.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of James Faucette with Morgan Stanley. You may proceed with your question.

James Faucette — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Great. Thanks. I wanted to ask on pricing. I mean you touched a bit on that earlier. But how has pricing trended in the quarter, particularly given some of the pure commentary around pricing stability? And I guess what we’re really trying to get at is are you able to pass on some of the wage costs? And how are clients responding to that?

Jan Siegmund — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. We have observed pricing trends by segment. And I implied in my comments that we have been expanding our gross margins on the digital business and we have seen an ability to the tight labor market, allowing us to get good pricing for our services. We see also continued pricing pressure in the more traditional services that we have been talking about in past quarters, where clients are seeking additional cost benefit, and that pricing pressure in those more traditional type of services haven’t changed at this point in time.

James Faucette — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Thanks for that, Jan. And just on digital quickly, we’re big believers in your acquisition strategy, and I appreciate the early color around digital battlegrounds. But are there any digital battlegrounds where you’re currently under-indexed relative to the demand that you’re seeing that you could take a better advantage of?

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Hey, James. This is Brian, I’ll address that. Look, the digital arena more holistically for us, it goes well beyond the four digital battlegrounds that I focused on when we joined, which were notably around cloud, around digital engineering, around applications and IoT and data and analytics, rather. The — if you think about other areas that are not included in those so-called battlegrounds, things like digital experience continue to grow rapidly for us, and I’m very optimistic that, that becomes a core part of the sale, the whole user experience as you think about digital workflows. So it’s broad-based. Digital engineering is something we prioritize. It is growing rapidly. As I said, it’s one of our biggest growth potential units in the years ahead.

Something that has scaled meaningfully in the last two years, and we’re now one of the largest digital engineering companies in the world. We’ve complemented our capabilities with the acquisition of Softvision in 2018 and then in more recent years, Magenic and Tin Roof. I just feel very good about our potential there, but more broadly, there’s just a lot of demand in this arena, and I just feel good about our potential because we’re scaling, it’s still a smaller portion of our mix. The more we scale, the higher company average CAGR. And as Jan has implied, it’s good for our margin rate as well. So we’re full speed ahead after the digital opportunity.

James Faucette — Morgan Stanley — Analyst

Thanks for the color, Brian and Jan.

Tyler Scott — Vice President of Investor Relations

All right. I think with that, we’ll wrap it up. Thank you, everybody for joining and look forward to speaking with everyone next quarter.

Brian Humphries — Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

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.

© COPYRIGHT 2021, AlphaStreet, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, redistribution or retransmission is expressly prohibited.

Most Popular

Stitch Fix (SFIX) Stock: Will the innovative biz model survive virus-led slump?

The business world is still struggling to come out of the virus-induced slowdown, but it seems almost every retail segment benefited from the pandemic at some point. The vaccination drive

General Mills (GIS): Three factors that are expected to help drive growth for the food company going forward

Shares of General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) were up 3.2% on Wednesday after the company delivered better-than-expected results for the first quarter of 2022. Net sales rose 4% year-over-year to

IPO Alert: Allvue Systems sets IPO terms, to raise around $290 million

It is estimated that the alternative investments industry has expanded at a compound annual rate of 10.2% over the past ten years and had $11 trillion in assets under management

Add Comment
Loading...
Cancel
Viewing Highlight
Loading...
Highlight
Close
Top