Categories Earnings Call Transcripts, Other Industries

Yelp Inc. (YELP) Q1 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

YELP Earnings Call - Final Transcript

Yelp Inc.  (NYSE: YELP) Q1 2022 earnings call dated May. 05, 2022

Corporate Participants:

James Miln — Senior Vice President, Finance And Investor Relations

Jeremy Stoppelman — Co-founder And Chief Executive Officer

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

Jed Nachman — Chief Operating Officer

Analysts:

Colin Sebastian — Baird — Analyst

Shweta Khajuria — Evercore ISI — Analyst

Dan Salmon — BMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Justin Patterson — KeyBanc — Analyst

Stan Velikov — Jefferies — Analyst

Presentation:

Operator

Good afternoon. Thank you for attending today’s Yelp First Quarter 2022 Earnings Call. My name is Hannah, and I’ll be the moderator for today. [Operator Instructions].

I would now like to pass the conference over to our host, James Miln, SVP of Finance and Investor Relations of Yelp. Please, go ahead.

James Miln — Senior Vice President, Finance And Investor Relations

Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us on Yelp’s first quarter 2022 Earnings Conference Call. Joining me today are; Yelp’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Stoppelman; Chief Financial Officer, David Schwarzbach; and Chief Operating Officer, Jed Nachman. We published a shareholder letter on our Investor Relations website and with the SEC and hope everyone had a chance to read it. We’ll provide some brief opening comments and then turn to your questions. Now I’ll read our Safe Harbor statement. We’ll make certain statements today that are forward-looking and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. Please note that these forward-looking statements reflect our opinion only as of the date of this call and we undertake no obligation to revise or publicly release results of any revision to these forward-looking statements in light of new information or future events.

In addition, we are subject to a number of risks that may significantly impact our business and financial results. Please refer to our SEC filings as well as our shareholder letter for a more detailed description of the risk factors that may affect our results. During our call today, we’ll discuss adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin, which are non-GAAP financial measures. These measures should not be considered in isolation from or as a substitute for financial information prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. In our shareholder letter released this afternoon and our filings with the SEC, each of which is posted on our website, you will find additional disclosures regarding these non-GAAP financial measures, as well as historical reconciliations of GAAP net income to both adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin.

And with that, I will turn the call over to Jeremy.

Jeremy Stoppelman — Co-founder And Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, James, and welcome, everyone. Yelp had a great first quarter. We continue to see strong momentum from our product-driven growth strategy as net revenue increased quarter-over-quarter and by 19% year-over-year to a record $277 million. Advertisers across both categories and channels showed increased demand for our expanded portfolio of ad products and paying advertising locations reached a pandemic high. Advertising revenue from services businesses increased 14% year-over-year to a quarterly high of $160 million, reflecting record revenue per location. At the same time, advertising revenue from restaurants, retail and other businesses continued to recover, increasing 27% year-over-year.

We also made further progress on our initiative to drive sales through our most efficient channels, driven by record acquisition and strong retention, self-serve channel revenue increased by more than 30% year-over-year to reach a new high in the first quarter. At the same time, we saw robust demand for our expanded portfolio of ad products for multilocation advertisers. Multilocation channel revenue increased by more than 35% year-over-year. Together, these channels represented 46% of advertising revenue in the first quarter. Beyond these results, our team remains focused on advancing our strategic initiatives, which are designed to drive sustainable and profitable growth in the long term through an elevated pace of product innovation.

We made early progress in the first quarter as we work to advance our 2022 priorities: to grow quality leads to monetization and services, drive sales through the most efficient channels, deliver more value to advertisers and enhance the consumer experience. In summary, our first quarter results reaffirm the strength and breadth of both our platform and initiatives amid a volatile environment, providing us with continued confidence in our ability to deliver on our plan and drive profitable growth in 2022. We’re excited about the opportunities ahead to connect people with great local businesses and remain committed to delivering long-term shareholder value.

With that, I’d like to turn it over to David.

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Jeremy. Defined historical seasonal trends, net revenue increased by $3 million from the fourth quarter and 19% year-over-year to $277 million, $7 million above the high end of our range. This strong growth was driven by year-over-year increases in both paying advertising locations and revenue per location. Paying advertising locations increased by 3% from the fourth quarter and by 9% year-over-year to reach $546,000. As Jeremy mentioned, we are also accelerating year-over-year advertising revenue growth across categories, with services up 14% and restaurant, retail and other up 27%. Ad clicks increased by 4% year-over-year, while average CPC increased by 17% over the same period. Growth in average CPC outpaced growth in ad clicks due to higher advertising demand and consumer engagement particularly in services.

We believe this was driven by a combination of macro factors, including inflation. We enjoyed another quarter of record non-term contract retention rates, reflecting the value that we continue to deliver to advertisers. Overall, we see Yelp’s diversified local ad platform and dynamic auction system is enabling us to respond to shifts in consumer demand across categories as they occur. And we remain focused on delivering value to advertisers through our portfolio of initiatives. Turning to expenses. Our flexible operating posture and disciplined focus on ROI has positioned us to lean into a broad set of growth opportunities. For example, in the first quarter, we increased our marketing efforts, which contributed to record self-serve customer acquisition. We also invested in driving incremental growth through our off-platform solution Yelp Audiences, an approach that has expanded our total addressable market to include non-location-based advertisers.

Even as we increase these strategic investments in the first quarter, net loss improved by $5 million year-over-year to a loss of $1 million or adjusted EBITDA increased by 10% year-over-year to $48 million, $3 million above the high end of the range. Returning capital to shareholders through share repurchases remains an important element of our overall capital allocation strategy. In the first quarter, we repurchased $50 million worth of shares at an average purchase price of $344. Turning to our outlook. In the second quarter, we anticipate net revenue will increase from the first quarter to be in the range of $280 million to $290 million as our initiative stack. In addition, following strength in the first quarter, we currently expect net revenue to fall towards the higher end of the range of our previously disclosed outlook of $1.16 billion to $1.18 billion for the full year.

We continue to see attractive long-term growth opportunities and plan to further invest in product development and marketing in the second quarter. As such, we expect second quarter expenses will increase modestly from the first quarter. We anticipate that adjusted EBITDA will be relatively flat compared to the first quarter and in the range of $45 million to $55 million. We expect adjusted EBITDA will meaningfully increase in the second half of the year and currently expect a range of $260 million to $280 million in adjusted EBITDA for 2022. In closing, Yelp’s first quarter results demonstrate a great start to the year. While the macroenvironment remains complex, we are confident in our team’s ability to overcome challenges by staying focused on our strategic priorities. We’re excited about the opportunities ahead and plan to continue prioritizing investment in areas that we believe will drive profitable growth and shareholder value over the long term.

With that, operator, please open up the line for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] The first question is from the line of Colin Sebastian with Baird. Please proceed.

Colin Sebastian — Baird — Analyst

Thanks. Good afternoon. Good quarter. I guess I have a couple of questions related to the dynamic between the growth in clicks and pricing. One hand that speaks to the value you’re providing advertisers. But I’m also wondering if this could turn into a headwind for growth overtime. And on that note, I guess, given that Request a Quote. Requests remain relatively flat year-over-year, I guess, is increasing that a priority looking forward, as far as the consumer-facing side of the app is concerned? And I guess more broadly, what initiatives are underway? What are you prioritizing otherwise to improve the consumer-facing side that could increase the number of users and engagement? Thanks.

Jeremy Stoppelman — Co-founder And Chief Executive Officer

Hi Colin, this is Jeremy. I think I can take that one. Yes, so on the click side, we saw 4% year-over-year growth there. And we noted that retention looks healthy, really healthy for us. And I think we that’s representative of the value we continue to provide for advertisers. So, we do feel good about that. With clicks, there’s a lot under our control. So, there’s obviously the consumer engagement side. And we talked about in Q4 that there’s a whole set of initiatives that we’ve got for unfolding across the year around driving additional consumer engagement, as well as audience. There’s also a lot that we can do on the ad matching side and the ad tech side. And as you may remember, for years now, we’ve been investing in that area and it continues to be very high ROI for us. So as the ad system gets more efficient, it can essentially create inventory out of thin air because using the same traffic and doing it more efficiently. And so that can drive additional opportunity as well. So, we feel pretty good about that portfolio.

And then on the Request a Quote side, you’re correct, flat year-over-year. What we are seeing is a bit of a shift from the consumer away from home services, which was at elevated levels, you could say, over the past couple of years. But as a reminder, we’re a very broad-based platform. So, we’ve got all sorts of categories, restaurant, retail and other had benefited from that — some of that shift. And that said, again, we’re not just going to let the market happen to us or let those shifts happen to us. We still have plenty of opportunity ahead of us. There’s a really big TAM in services and particularly home services and plenty of opportunity to continue to innovate and improve both increasing monetization as well as continuing to drive that Request a Quote volume over the long haul.

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

And Colin, if I can just add on to that. On the CPC side, one of the things that we were really pleased to see in the first quarter was the strength of advertiser demand. We believe that’s driven because of our high-intent traffic. And what we are able to do because of the actions that we run each time a consumer enters a query and is looking at a search result, that lets us obviously match supply and demand efficiently. And just to underscore what Jeremy is saying, we think that we have a broad set of initiatives underway that will enable us to continue to deliver value to advertisers and on the theme of delivering, valued advertisers, we think that the strong non-term contract retention rate being a record once again in the first quarter, reflects the fact that we’re delivering value.

Colin Sebastian — Baird — Analyst

Great. Thank you

Operator

Thank you, Mr. Sebastian. The next question is from the line of Shweta Khajuria with Evercore ISI. Please proceed.

Shweta Khajuria — Evercore ISI — Analyst

Okay. Thank you for taking my question. I’ve got two. One is you’ve done a great job with product changes in terms of new product launches and driving growth through that over the past 1.5 years. When we think about all the products that you’ve launched and perhaps those that may be in the pipeline. Could you point to that, a couple of them that you are most excited about in terms of the magnitude of the impact of those products over the next 12 months, which ones do you think could have an outsized positive impact on the business over the next year? And then the second question is, if you could please comment on the overall trends that you’re seeing — macro trends that you’re seeing with the multilocation advertisers. Any color on the ad spend sentiment across different verticals perhaps? And how you see that trend this quarter and in the back half? Thank you.

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

Hi Shweta. I’ll take the first part here. Thank you first off for noting all of the great progress we’ve been making on the product and innovation side. I think if you look at over the past few years, where has there been impact? And this momentum, I think, is largely – will continue to carry, it’s really on the ad system side. We’ve made huge strides in improving the ad system, making it more efficient, driving value to our advertisers and we’ve really improved the quality of our click [Phonetic]. And it’s just so high leverage when we make improvements there because as I mentioned in the earlier question, it really is creating additional inventory every time you make the system more efficient. And everybody is getting happier. So the consumer is getting matched with a business that is more appropriate, more likely that, that match is going to result in a down funnel transaction.

And so, the more opportunities we can take advantage of there, the better. I think we can be over the long term as a business. One of the other areas that we’ve just started to highlight again, obviously, it’s been something that we’ve worked on in the past, but we’re finally able – now that the company is just simply on a different footing, we’re able to return to the consumer experience. And as we look around, one area that we see has been particularly lagging just because frankly, we haven’t had the resources to keep up, is on Android. We see a low-hanging fruit there, an opportunity to improve the consumer experience, bring it up to parity with iOS. We made over the quarter, a simple improvement, bringing the map experience to and/or a map experience that we didn’t have on Android that we did have on iOS. And we did see significant improvement in ad tech. I think it was up 20% on that particular platform.

So that just gives you — it’s meant to be kind of a very concrete, easy to understand, look there are low-hanging fruit here and we’re going to go after it with the same energy and rigor that we have on things like the ad tech stack that we’ve made huge strides on. And beyond Android, there’s lots of opportunities on the consumer side whether it’s from SEO or continuing to enhance the feature set, driving more reviews, driving more photos contributes to all of those things are on the table, and we have a wide portfolio that I’m particularly excited about and looking forward to keeping you posted on. I guess the other area where we continue to see a lot of opportunity for investment is improving on self-serve and multi-location. We have new portfolios in those areas as well, improving the flows, driving up conversion, like that creates a positive feedback loop where the better we get at driving customers through our funnel, our self-serve funnel, the more we can spend on advertising, making that go even faster.

And I think you’re seeing some of the benefits as you look at the performance in Q1, where revenue was up 19%. On multi-location, a big driver has been on attribution. That is absolutely critical to getting an unlocking larger advertising budget from our most sophisticated customers. And we’ve created a Yelp store visits product. And so even though a lot of these customers we live on third-party attribution partners which we work with, that area has been challenged by some of the privacy things going on in the space. But our Yelp store visits attribution product is first-party data. It’s looking at our users, to the ads work, do they drive incremental store visits. And that’s been a really fantastic tool to have in the tool chest for our sales team as they go out and talk to these very sophisticated enterprise customers.

Jed Nachman — Chief Operating Officer

This is Jed. I can take the second part of the question, which was around kind of macro trends within multilocation advertisers. I guess stepping back, we’ve been really pleased with the performance of the multilocation channel, up 35% year-over-year. It’s something we’ve been working on for multiple years now. We made investments in the team first and as well as simultaneously kind of in the product portfolio. If you look at our portfolio today versus where it was a couple of years ago, we have a much broader offering that we can bring out to those multi-location customers. In terms of specific verticals that we’ve been successful in, it’s been largely broad-based, and you see it go from shopping to restaurants, retail and other and services as well. So I don’t think there’s something that stands out.

Certainly, when you look at kind of the panel [Phonetic] number and the increase that we saw year-over-year in the panel number at 546,000 paying advertiser locations, multi-low contributed that in a big way in the restaurant, retail and other categories. So, things are resonating with our customers. We’re really happy with the progress of Yelp audiences, although it’s still very small compared to kind of the overall revenue pie. It’s resonating with different types of customers that maybe we were not able to touch in the past, and you can think of things like DTC or CPG or alcohol brands, that want to be able to reach that Yelp audience, but hadn’t been able to do so with our traditional advertising product kind of Yelp. So bottom line is we’re focused on up and down the funnel off and on Yelp and those are resonating with those large multi-location customers.

Shweta Khajuria — Evercore ISI — Analyst

Thanks Jeremy. Thank you, Jed.

Operator

Thank you, Ms. Khajuria. The next question is from the line of Dan Salmon with BMO Capital Markets. Please proceed.

Dan Salmon — BMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Good afternoon everybody. I have two questions. First, I would love to hear an update on the traction of Yelp Connect with both users and with advertisers just broadly. And then second, I think probably more than ever, we’re hearing your confidence and happiness with the improvement in the ad tech and the ad system, and that continues to build and a lot of that’s been organic work pretty much so far. Just curious if you’re going to lean in here more, do you feel like you have the engineering capacity is the hiring market okay or do you start to maybe look at an M&A market to tuck-in acquisitions, acqui-hires [Phonetic] to reel in a little bit more and maybe lean into the success you’ve had on the ad platform? Thanks gus.

Jeremy Stoppelman — Co-founder And Chief Executive Officer

Yes. So I guess I’ll tackle the ads piece first. I was alluding to some of the earlier questions, we’ve had really great impacts working on this area, great ROI. And as a result, we have an annual planning process where we’re looking at the overall portfolio and trying to make trade-offs across the business, where do we want to make bigger bets. And Yelp, ad tech has been like a winner in that process consistently for Yelp, but definitely for years, especially with 2022 been one of our bigger areas of investment. Certainly, those are valuable folks. They can be very hard to find. But I think we do have a great team in place. We have been able to fill many of the roles, I’m sure there are probably open reps out there. Given the initiatives that we set out to do, we’re making great progress and we’ll keep you updated there.

On Yelp Connect, don’t have any stats in front of me. I do know we bundle that as part of our ad upgrade package. And so, consumers do – sorry, business owners do have the opportunity to do more social like post with the idea being taking an image and some additional text and being able to promote that to consumers, especially ones that have shown an interest in their area. But geographically as well as relevance because they’ve looked at that business in the past or looked at relevant categories. So that’s all I’ve got.

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I guess, Jeremy, I would just add on that. Yes, I would just add on the Connect side. We’ve also seen some traction on the multi-loc side in bundling that with our other products. And so as I mentioned kind of in the previous answer, when you kind of take the totality of what we can offer, whether that’s CPC ads on Yelp, audience ads off of Yelp. Connect is just another way that those multi-location advertisers are used to advertising. And so oftentimes, they have the assets ready and as part of an overall package, it’s certainly something that is attractive to that in multi-locations set.

Dan Salmon — BMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Okay. That’s great. That’s helpful. Thanks guys.

Operator

Thank you, Mr. Salmon. The next question is from the line of Justin Patterson with KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Justin Patterson — KeyBanc — Analyst

Great. Thank you and good afternoon…

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

.Next question.

Justin Patterson — KeyBanc — Analyst

You’ve done an excellent job…

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

It will…

Operator

We are experiencing some technical difficulties. Please hold. Again please remain holding. [Technical Issues]

Please proceed with the presentation. The next question is from the line of John Colantuoni with Jefferies. Please proceed.

Stan Velikov — Jefferies — Analyst

Hi everyone. This is Stan Velikov for John. Thank you for taking my question. Actually, I have two. First one, you mentioned earlier on the call, product development and marketing being areas of investment, but the sequential margin improvement implied in your guidance, looking at the midpoint is notably the overall what we’ve seen historically. Can you provide more color on the various puts and takes in that guidance? And question number two, are you seeing any signs of slowdown from the macro environment or the consumer sentiment turning negative?

David Schwarzbach — Chief Financial Officer

Thanks for the question. So starting with the first one on expenses. What we have done over the course of the past number of quarters is invest, particularly in increasing hiring in product and engineering, and we’ve also had an opportunity to increase investment in marketing. We’ve seen ROI from both of those investments and overall, the dynamic as we came into the year was reflecting that increase in headcount. We also have our Yelp audiences product, our Yelp audiences product actually has expense related to it as we syndicate ads across the Internet on behalf of the advertisers. And you’ll see that increase in expense showing up in our cost of sales line.

Overall, as we look at expenses coming into the second quarter, what we intend to do is to continue to invest for that longer-term since we do see an opportunity to earn return on it. And clearly, we were very pleased with the 19% growth that we delivered in the first quarter and then, of course, the sequential guide on revenue as we come into the second quarter. Broadly, what we saw in the first quarter from a macro perspective again, was a very complex backdrop where we see consumers certainly very focused on inflation. One of the things that we think makes Yelp particularly valuable is our core mission of enabling consumers to make better decisions by being able to learn more about businesses.

And as things are more expensive, whether that’s eating out or hiring a services Pro, we think that’s even more relevant. So we think that, that trusted content is quite important for consumers. And I think as we said earlier, we were certainly pleased by the strength of advertiser demand over the course of the first quarter. And we think that’s a reflection both of the expanded portfolio of products that we’re providing as well as obviously the opportunity for those advertisers to reach high-intent consumers who come more than 50% of the time from households with income of over $100,000.

Stan Velikov — Jefferies — Analyst

Great. Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. The next question is a question from the line of Justin Patterson with KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Justin Patterson — KeyBanc — Analyst

Great. Thank you and good afternoon. You’ve done a really great job with non-term contract retention rates. How much more room for improvement do you have around that metric? And as retention improves, how do you think about adjusting the pace of advertiser acquisition? Thank you.

Jed Nachman — Chief Operating Officer

Hi, Justin, this is Jed. I can take the retention question. Yeah. Bottom line is we think that there is a long runway for improvement on the retention side. I think the improvements that you’ve seen have stemmed from kind of delivering more value to our customers. As Jeremy mentioned before, improvements in the ad system better matching, more efficient matching, making sure we’re lining up the right opportunity with the right consumer, with the right lead, with the right business owner, at the right time that they’re able to service it. And there is a deep well of initiatives in the portfolio that we’re looking to kind of continue down that path on. We were pleased with the continued progress on the retention side in Q1, where we did see record retention.

In terms of the acquisition side, we’re also very pleased with the pace there. I think we — with half the sales people, we were able to go deliver very, very, very healthy acquisition during Q1, and that just kind of speaks to the efficiency of the engine. And as we see opportunities to invest more on the marketing side and particularly on the B2B marketing side, we’re going to take advantage of those when there’s kind of compelling ROI there. But overall, we’re really pleased with the progress on both acquisitions as well as the retention side.

Justin Patterson — KeyBanc — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you, Mr. Patterson. [Operator Instructions]. There are no additional questions waiting at this time. [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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