National Research Corporation Announces First Quarter 2021 Results

Lincoln, Nebraska, UNITED STATES

LINCOLN, Neb., May 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- National Research Corporation (NASDAQ: NRC) today announced results for the first quarter of 2021.

As we emerge from the impact of COVID-19, our focus continues on increasing revenue growth rate and enabling human understanding for the clients we serve. Our primary emphasis is on our organic growth levers of increasing revenue from our core offerings within our existing client base, as well as adding new clients to increase market share. As a result, revenue from our Voice of the Customer offerings increased by 19% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, and we continued our momentum of winning new clients, including Wake Forest Baptist Health, San Francisco Health Network and UC San Diego Health.

In the first quarter we also executed on our M&A growth strategy by acquiring the intellectual property of PatientWisdom, whose incremental capabilities will be introduced later this year to add significant value to our clients. We have adopted a capital allocation strategy that we expect will leverage our available liquidity, along with our continued strong free cash flow to support additional M&A activity, as well as provide returns to shareholders through our dividends.

Financial Results (Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020):

  • Total Recurring Contract Value growth of 6% to $149.5 million
  • Revenue increased 5% to $35.5 million
  • Operating Income increased 7% to $12.0 million

Continued demand for our solutions resulted in a 6% increase in Total Recurring Contract Value in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter 2020. We believe our solutions are highly differentiated in our client’s eyes against competitive offerings from firms outside of the healthcare industry and legacy vendors within as we continue to add new clients. We believe that every added client deepens our moat and brings additive value to all current partners through the network effect.

First quarter 2021 revenue was $35.5 million, an increase of 5% over first quarter 2020. The increase is net of a $605,000 decrease in conference revenue in the first quarter 2021 due to the timing of conferences and a virtual format in 2021 compared to a live format in 2020. Consolidated operating income for the first quarter 2021 was $12.0 million or a 7% increase over the same period last year.

Total operating expenses of $23.4 million for the first quarter 2021 increased by 3% compared to the first quarter 2020 total operating expenses of $22.7 million.

Direct expenses decreased to $11.9 million for the first quarter 2021, compared to $12.5 million for the first quarter 2020. Direct expenses as a percentage of revenue decreased to 34% in the first quarter 2021 compared to 37% in the first quarter 2020 due to decreases in variable expenses of $103,000 and fixed expenses of $502,000. Variable expenses decreased due to less postage, printing, and paper costs, partially offset by higher contracted services primarily resulting from changes in survey methodologies and decreased conference expenses due to the timing and format of conferences. Fixed expenses decreased primarily as a result of decreased contracted services and lower travel and meal costs due to restricted travel associated with COVID-19, partially offset by increased salary and benefit costs.

Selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $9.5 million for the first quarter 2021, compared to $8.7 million for the same period in 2020, primarily due to increases in software and platform hosting expenses, higher contracted services, increased salary and benefit costs, higher accounting and legal costs and additional building lease costs. These were partially offset by lower travel and meals costs due to restricted travel associated with COVID-19. Selling, general and administrative expenses were 27% of revenue for the first quarter 2021, compared to 26% of revenue for the first quarter of 2020.

Depreciation, amortization and impairment expense increased to $2.0 million in the first quarter of 2021 compared to $1.4 million in 2020, primarily due to our transformation to a distributed workforce environment which includes building renovations in our headquarters, as well as subleasing a remote office location which resulted in a right-of-use asset impairment and increased depreciation due to shortening the estimated useful lives of certain building assets. Depreciation, amortization and impairment expense was 6% of revenue for the first quarter 2021, compared to 4% of revenue for first quarter of 2020.

Other income and expense was $408,000 of other net expense in the first quarter 2021 compared to $176,000 of other net income in first quarter of 2020. This increase in other net expense was primarily due to revaluation on intercompany transactions due to changes in the foreign exchange rate. This was partially offset by decreased interest expense due to the declining balance on our term loan.

The Company had an income tax provision of $2.4 million for first quarter 2021 compared to $385,000 tax benefit in 2020 with an effective tax rate of 20% for first quarter 2021 compared to a 3% benefit in 2020. The effective tax rate increased due to decreased tax benefits of $2.8 million from the exercise and vesting of share-based compensation awards and higher state income taxes.

Net income for first quarter 2021 was $9.2 million, compared to $11.8 million for the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share decreased to $0.36 for the quarter ended March 31, 2021, from diluted earnings per share of $0.46 for the quarter ended March 31, 2020.

For more than 40 years, National Research Corporation has been a leading provider of analytics and insights that facilitate measurement and improvement of the patient and employee experience while also increasing patient engagement and customer loyalty for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations in the United States and Canada. Our purpose is to enable human understanding by helping our clients to understand the voice of the customer with greater clarity, immediacy and depth.

This press release contains certain statements that may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and such statements are subject to the safe harbor created by those sections and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Such statements may be identified by their use of terms or phrases such as “believes,” “expect,” derivations thereof, and similar terms and phrases. Forward-looking statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of our management and are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, some of which cannot be predicted or quantified, which could cause future events and actual results to differ materially from those set forth in, contemplated by, or underlying the forward-looking statements, including those risks and uncertainties as set forth in the Risk Factors section of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 and various disclosures in our press releases, stockholder reports, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In this press release, the statements relating to future M&A activity, future payment of dividends, and the future impact of adding additional clients are forward-looking statements. We disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect actual results or changes in the factors affecting the forward-looking information.

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statements of Income
(In thousands, except per share data)

  Three months ended
March 31,
   2021   2020 
Revenue $35,464  $33,860 
Operating expenses:   
Direct  11,940   12,546 
Selling, general and administrative  9,520   8,749 
Depreciation, amortization and impairment  1,984   1,371 
Total operating expenses  23,444   22,666 
Operating income  12,020   11,194 
Other income (expense):   
Interest income  3   11 
Interest expense  (432)  (465)
Other, net  21   630 
Total other income (expense)  (408)  176 
Income before income taxes  11,612   11,370 
Income tax provision (benefit)  2,380   (385)
Net income $9,232  $11,755 
Earnings Per Share of Common Stock:   
Basic Earnings Per Share $0.36  $0.47 
Diluted Earnings Per Share $0.36  $0.46 
Weighted average shares and share equivalents outstanding        
Basic  25,414   24,97 
Diluted  25,668   25,725 

Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets
(Dollars in thousands, except share amounts and par value)

  March 31,
 December 31,
Current assets:        
Cash and cash equivalents $43,454  $34,690 
Accounts receivable, net  14,296   13,923 
Income taxes receivable  144   1,235 
Other current assets  4,341   4,264 
Total current assets  62,235   54,112 
Property and equipment, net  11,533   11,726 
Goodwill  61,614   57,255 
Other, net  11,496   10,330 
Total assets $146,878  $133,423 
Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity        
Current liabilities:        
Current portion of notes payable $4,113  $4,061 
Accounts payable and accrued expenses  4,156   4,279 
Accrued compensation  6,622   6,460 
Income taxes payable  1,037   -- 
Deferred revenue  17,614   15,585 
Other current liabilities  3,396   1,296 
Total current liabilities  36,938   31,681 
Notes payable, net of current portion  25,494   26,547 
Other non-current liabilities  11,196   10,880 
Total liabilities  73,628   69,108 
Shareholders’ equity:        
Preferred stock, $0.01 par value, authorized 2,000,000 shares, none issued  --   -- 
Common stock, $0.001 par value; authorized 60,000,000 shares, issued 30,850,131 in 2021 and 30,775,154 in 2020, outstanding 25,439,013 in 2021 and 25,390,968 in 2020  31   31 
Additional paid-in capital  172,642   171,785 
Retained earnings (accumulated deficit)  (52,143)  (61,375)
Accumulated other comprehensive loss, foreign currency translation adjustment  (2,343)  (2,399)
Treasury stock  (44,937)  (43,727)
Total shareholders’ equity  73,250   64,315 
Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity $146,878  $133,423 

Contact:Kevin R. Karas
 Chief Financial Officer