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Deluxe Reports Q4 and 2005 Results: Revenue Down

Friday, January 27, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 26 -- Deluxe Corporation reported fourth quarter diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.76 on net income of $39 million and full-year EPS of $3.09 on net income of $158 million. EPS for the fourth quarter of 2004 was $0.92 on net income of $47 million, and full-year EPS was $3.92 on net income of $198 million. "We accomplished a great deal in 2005, but our efforts were overshadowed by a fourth quarter that did not meet our expectations," said Ron Eilers, CEO of Deluxe Corporation. "Several challenges arose, affecting our results. For example, in Small Business Services, inventory shortages for our holiday cards resulted in higher costs and order fulfillment shortfalls. However, we do not believe these issues will have lasting effects on our business. In Financial Services, we were challenged by a shift in orders to less profitable products." Eilers added, "At the same time, we made great progress integrating the NEBS business. We are now focused on executing the strategies that will drive sustained growth in Small Business Services and all of Deluxe. In fact, we are beginning to see some of our initiatives take hold." Fourth Quarter Performance Revenue was $432 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $477 million during fourth quarter 2004. The decrease was primarily the result of the loss of a large financial institution client late in 2004, continued pricing pressure, and the overall decline in check usage. Gross margin was 63.9 percent of revenue for the quarter, compared to 65.4 percent in 2004. The impact of pricing pressure in Financial Services contributed to the decline as did increased labor and material costs within Small Business Services (SBS). Selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expense decreased $26 million in the fourth quarter, primarily due to lower performance-based compensation costs and NEBS integration-related synergies. Operating income was $75 million in the fourth quarter, down from $85 million last year, due primarily to the revenue decline in Financial Services and Direct Checks, and lower operating margins in SBS due to higher cost of goods sold. Operating margin was 17.4 percent of revenue compared to 17.8 percent in the prior year. Net income decreased $8 million and diluted EPS decreased $0.16 from 2004, due primarily to lower operating income and a reduction in the 2004 income tax provision as a result of favorable state tax settlements. Segment Performance Small Business Services' revenue was $257 million for the quarter, flat compared to 2004. The Company realized higher revenues from its financial institution referral program, customer retention efforts, and other sales initiatives. The increases were primarily offset by the loss of the large financial institution client. Operating income for the quarter decreased to $35 million, from $38 million in 2004, as integration savings and lower performance-based compensation were offset by higher manufacturing costs, a full allocation of corporate shared services costs to SBS, and investments to support key sales initiatives. Financial Services' revenue was $117 million for the quarter, compared to $151 million in 2004. The decrease was primarily the result of continued pricing pressure, and volume declines. As a result, operating income for the quarter decreased to $20 million, from $24 million in 2004. At the same time, however, operating margin improved due to lower performance-based compensation, cost management actions, NEBS acquisition-related synergies, and production efficiencies. Direct Checks' revenue was $58 million for the quarter, compared to $68 million in 2004, due to a decline in unit volume as a result of lower response rates. Operating income for the quarter was $20 million compared to $23 million in 2004. However, operating margin was higher than in 2004, primarily the result of shifting a greater percentage of corporate shared services costs to SBS, and reorders, which are more profitable than initial orders, accounting for a larger percentage of total orders. Full-Year Performance Revenue was $1.72 billion for 2005, compared to $1.57 billion the previous year. The full-year impact of NEBS resulted in a revenue increase of $308 million, offset by a decrease of $159 million from the other businesses. Gross margin was 64.6 percent of revenue for the year, compared to 65.8 percent in 2004. The primary drivers of the decline were the full-year inclusion of NEBS' lower margin business and pricing pressures in Financial Services, offset by lower performance-based compensation and manufacturing efficiencies in Financial Services and Direct Checks. Selling, general, and administrative expense increased $120 million to 46.8 percent of revenue, compared to 43.6 percent in 2004. The primary contributors were the addition of NEBS' SG&A expense and acquisition-related amortization expense, partially offset by lower performance-based compensation, synergies from the NEBS acquisition, and cost reductions in response to declining revenue. Operating income was $305 million for the year, compared to $348 million last year due to lower operating performance in Financial Services and Direct Checks. Operating margin was 17.8 percent of revenue, compared to 22.2 percent in the prior year. Net income decreased $40 million and diluted EPS decreased $0.83 from 2004, due primarily to lower operating income and higher interest expense as a result of higher interest rates and the full-year impact of the NEBS acquisition financing. Business Outlook The Company expects 2006 first quarter diluted EPS to range from $0.48 to $0.52, and full-year EPS from $2.70 to $2.90. "We expect our results in the first half of the year to be lower compared to the same period in 2005 due to revenue declines in Financial Services and Direct Checks, combined with spending on two key projects. These initiatives are to migrate to a new order capture system, and expand our SBS call centers as we transition a successful pilot to a full rollout. We believe these investments will start to yield benefits immediately and deliver more significant impact in the second half of the year," said Eilers. The Company anticipates operating cash flows to be between $240 and $260 million, up significantly from 2005, primarily due to lower contract acquisition costs and other improvements in working capital. In addition, capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $50 million in 2006. "Eilers concluded with, "We look for three factors in particular to distinguish 2006 from last year. Our strategy of helping financial institution and small business customers succeed will begin to fuel our growth. We expect our share of the financial institution channel to increase as we bring on recent contract wins. Moreover, we will deliver strongly improved cash flows compared to last year."

 

 

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