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Latent View Analytics Ltd (LATENTVIEW) Q3 FY23 Earnings Concall Transcript

LATENTVIEW Earnings Concall - Final Transcript

Latent View Analytics Ltd (NSE:LATENTVIEW) Q3 FY23 Earnings Concall dated Jan. 24, 2023.

Corporate Participants:

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer


Asha Gupta — EY LLP Investor Relations — Analyst

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Pankaj Murarka — Renaissance Investing Managers — Analyst

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst



Ladies and gentlemen, good day, and welcome to the LatentView Analytics Limited Q3 FY ’23 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I now hand the conference over to Ms. Asha Gupta from E&Y Investor Relations. Thank you, and over to you, ma’am.

Asha Gupta — EY LLP Investor Relations — Analyst

Thank you, Faizan. Good evening to all participants in this hall. Welcome to the Q3 FY ’23 Earnings Call of LatentView Analytics Limited. The results and presentation have already been mailed to you, and you can also view them on the website at In case, anyone does not have the copy of press release or presentation or you are not in our mailing list, please do write to us and we will be happy to send you the same.

To take us through the results today and to answer your questions, we have the CEO of the company, Mr. Rajan Sethuraman, who we will be referring to as Rajan; and we also have CFO of the company Rajan Venkatesan, whom we will be referring to as Raj to avoid the confusion while doing transcription.

We will be starting the call with a brief update of the quarter, which will be given by Rajan, which will be then followed by the financials given by Raj. As usual, I would like to remind you that anything that is said on this call that reflects any outlook for the future or which can be construed as forward-looking statement, must be viewed in conjunction with the risks and uncertainties that we face. This risk and uncertainties are included but not limited to what we have mentioned in the prospectus filed with SEBI and subsequent annual report that you can find it on our website.

Having said that, I will now hand over the floor to Rajan. Over to you, Rajan.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Asha. Thank you all for joining the call. Want to start-off by wishing everybody a Happy New Year. We are very happy to report another very strong quarter for LatentView Analytics. I will give you some of the business highlights, and then after that I will pass it on to Raj to talk about some of the financials.

Starting off with client addition. This quarter we added five new accounts. And the good news for us was that one of these was in the in the European region. You would remember that I have talked about adding more people on the front-end as well as capability and delivery, right, for the European practice as that’s one geography that we intend to double down on. And since the on-boarding of our new Europe Business Head, this is the first new accounts that we have won in the Europe region and this is in the BFSI space in the asset management investments area and we are very happy that we were able to bring this client on-board.

We also on-boarded under the new client in the India-APAC region. And this is an experiment that we had kicked-off at the start of the year to look at the India market and we have a smaller core team which is looking at India. And interestingly this worth engagement is also a consulting exercise that we have done, helping the clients with their analytic strategy and roadmap of initiatives and we have now concluded the consulting exercise and we are on the way to commencing the implementation, right, of the initiatives that have emerged from this initial piece of work. So I’m pretty happy that we’ve been able to open up India account as well in this quarter.

In addition to this, we had three accounts that we talked about in Europe. One in the — two of them, one of them in the media and entertainment space, one of them in the banking/financial services industry, and one in the CPG space.

In addition to the new account, we also had strong growth in our existing accounts. Our top two accounts continue to grow for us and we are also very happy that two of the accounts that we added in the previous quarter, we were able to expand the scope of work. One of them was reported in the earlier quarter as the first $2 million plus that we had won. Since then, we have expanded the scope of work that we’re doing for them even further and we are very happy to note that our engagement is progressing very well.

At this point in time, we have a fairly healthy pipeline of opportunities that we’re chasing. However, I didn’t want to point out that given the current economic uncertainty, recent sluggishness on two accounts, one is the fact that in general, many of the organizations are adopting a little bit of a wait-and-watch mode with respect to how the uncertainty unfolds and is resolved. So there is a general delay in decision making with respect to new initiatives.

The other trend we are also noticing is that the initiatives are getting larger and more complex. I have mentioned this in the past earnings updates and we see good evidence of that right now. As we speak, there are five big opportunities. All of which are in the $2 million plus range, that we are currently in discussions with. Two of them are on a sole source basis at this point in time. And while there are a few hurdles that we need to sort out and we need to get the right contracting principles in place, three of the other opportunities, they are all competitive RFP driven processes. So the initiatives are getting larger, but it also means that more competitors are in the freight. And the good news for us is that we are getting invited to the party, right, on this RFPs as well.

In the past we have indicated that 80%, 85% of our business comes through sole sourced type of situations where we are co-creating the opportunity along with our stakeholders. We are seeing a trend where the opportunities are getting larger, which means that the client and the profit will take an RFP in a competitive route. But we are very happy to get invited to the party on the back of the business perspective on the analytics orientation that we are able to bring to the table.

So overall, at this point in time, we are expecting that the next quarter will actually result in plenty of on rotation, somewhat similar nature and we are expecting that some of the opportunities that are currently in flight will also get closed out before the end of the fiscal year.

A few other updates on the business side. We on-boarded three new people to our Advisory Council. So with that, our advisory council has now gone passed the half a dozen mark and we are in the process of putting in a framework in-place to ensure that the advisors are aligned and are contributing to the growth of the organization. We are expecting that we’ll bring on-board people as part of that Advisory Council in the coming quarters as such.

We also won the Great Place to Work ITES award. In the last quarter we were listed at one of the certified companies. In this quarter we got listed amongst the top 100 companies to work for us in the ITES space, and that’s another interesting initiative that happened in this quarter.

We have been partnering with campuses in India for quite some time. We have now expanded that partnership to cover a few select campuses in the US as well. So currently we have a relationship development program going on at North Carolina State University, Carlson and with the Santa Clara University and we have hired over half a dozen people in this last quarter. The expectation is that we will significantly ramp-up on that front and have very strong campus relationship on a campus hiring programs in the US as to take care of the growth we are expecting in terms of roles in the United States.

We also continue to add people to the sales and business development team as well as the clients servicing organizations. So this quarter, we on-boarded a few client partners in the technology space and also in retail. We also on-boarded growth heads for the industrial practice and growth leads in other areas. The intention is that we will continue to focus on hiring people into the content-based client servicing and sales and business development in the US and then Europe as well.

On the people front, our attrition has come down significantly. In fact, it came down by 9 percentage points quarter-on-quarter. And we believe that this trend will continue. We are expecting that the supply-demand mismatch scenario that was there earlier, will get tempered significantly, right, on account of this.

Our onsite offshore ratio came down a tad because of some of the newer engagements that we took up, but we are expecting that this ratio will again improve significantly in the coming quarters on the back of some of the larger RFP driven opportunities that I talked about.

And finally, our internal processes for filling roles through the internal Job portal and the rotation mechanism has also improved quite a bit in the last quarter. We have been now able to stop 14% more roles through internal rotation as opposed to finding people for any new growth through the lateral channel. The intention is that with every large opportunity we will have a one-third, one-third, one-third mix where one-third of the people come from inside the organization whose tenure with later view, one-third of the people will come through lateral hiring and one-third through the campus hiring that we’re doing.

So broadly, those are the business updates that I had. I will now pass it on to Raj to touch upon the financial highlights.

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Rajan. Good evening, everyone, and wish you all a Very Happy New. We are very happy to announce another strong quarter.

Like Rajan mentioned, Q3 has traditionally been a fairly strong quarter for us and this Q3, which was no exception. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, we reported revenue growth of about 10% on a sequential basis and 35% on a year-on year basis. We closed the quarter with revenue of INR145 crores, which is the highest that we ever clocked in, in the company’s history. The growth was broad-based, but was primarily driven through our tech verticals which is our strongest vertical, industrial then BFSI. Both those verticals contributed to the strong growth that we witnessed.

During the current quarter, what we’ve also witnessed is our order book grew — expanded significantly. Some of the sluggishness that the Rajan was alluding to, has not really trickled-down to our order book. In fact, a lot of the clients — that the client set that we work with typically work in a Jan to December type of budgeting cycle. And therefore a lot of the renewals or extensions that happened, typically happened at year end and we are happy to announce that most of those in across — most of our largest clients, we’ve been able to extend or renew our contracts and there is no substantial cut at least in our existing order book. So that’s a fairly positive sign for us.

The long-term trajectory, again, continues to be good. The pipeline continues to be strong. There are several large opportunities within the pipeline today, which could be transformational in nature. But what that also means is there is a slightly longer sales cycle for some of these pipeline deals, as well as there is a procurement angle that we have to go through. There is a RFP route in some of these deals.

But the good news is that analytics as a space is now witnessing some of these large-size transformational deals and this could be some — in some sense, like a watershed moment for the industry itself. So, — see, many more of such deals coming through in the future. That’s something that we are very excited about.

Coming to the profitability, you would see that other income for the current quarter was at INR22.1 crores, which grew significantly compared to the INR8 crores-odd of other income that we had in the last quarter. Just wanted to let you know that, of course, interest rates — or rising interest rates helped us expand the interest income on the treasury portfolio that we have, but besides that, last quarter, we had a forex loss of about INR1 crore. Compared to that, in the current quarter, we actually have booked a forex gain of INR6.5 crores or close to INR7 crores in the quarter. So, there is a swing of almost INR7.8 crores between last quarter and this quarter on account of forex. So, that’s helped the other income.

The second factor that contributed to the higher other income was the service export incentive scheme, income of about INR2 crores. This is, again, related to the year FY’15-’16. The way we account for some of these export incentives is, we only book them as income when we — as and when we collect the duty scripts associated with the export incentive itself and not on an accrual basis. Therefore, this is something that is related to the year ’15-’16 and to that extent, may not be sustainable or it’s more like a onetime income that we had in the current quarter.

From a profitability standpoint, EBITDA margin, as well as on an absolute term, continues to be healthy. For this quarter, we clocked EBITDA of almost close to about INR43 crores, reflecting a growth of 14% — 15% on a Q-o-Q basis and — so, almost 33% on a year-on-year basis. The EBITDA margin for the quarter came in at 29.5%. Of course, strong execution coupled with the rising dollar or appreciating dollar, all of that helped us.

But also, Q3, while from a revenue standpoint, is traditionally strong for us, some of the marketing events or marketing related travel that we do is typically lower in Q3. We typically — the events — our marketing events that we do are either in Q2 or we’re going do one in Q4 and, therefore, marketing spends are typically a little muted as far as Q3 is concerned.

So, all these three factors, strong execution coupled with favorable exchange rate, coupled with slightly lower marketing spend, all of that helped us expand our EBITDA margin significantly over the last quarter.

We’ve — I know we’ve been guiding the market that we will maintain EBITDA margins in the range of 25% to 28%, and we continue to maintain that stand. And we will continue to invest in growth, as well as capability building in the coming quarters.

Our PAT for the quarter currently stood at INR52.5 crores, reflecting a growth of 40.8% on a Q-o-Q basis. It’s again, say, very, very strong. In the current quarter, one of the other benefits that we got was also on account of the exercise of ESOP in the US. So, there was a fairly large ESOP exercise that happened for our — some of the US employees. And in the US, we tend to get a tax benefit on federal taxes. This is counted as payroll and, therefore, we are able to sweat this entire expense in the US and claim a deduction. So, that is what has resulted in a tax benefit in the US and this — we believe this particular exercise will help us maintain the same ETR for the next few quarters, before which we’ll be able to exhaust this entire deduction.

Coming to our nine-month performance. Operating revenue stood at INR397.7 crores. We were just INR10 crores shy of the full year number that we achieved for the last year. Last year, full year revenue was at INR408 crores. We are about INR10 crores shy of that number. Fairly happy with the level of growth that we’ve achieved in the nine months.

EBITDA margin for the nine months stood at 28.9% and PBT came in at 33.6%.

In terms of geographies, US still continues to be the dominant geography, contributing 95% of our revenues. Europe, while it is still at 4%, the good news is that in the current quarter, like we mentioned, we added one new logo in Europe, and a couple of the large RFPs that we spoke about are, again, emanating from the European region, which is, again, a fairly positive sign for us that this region will start firing in the coming quarters.

In terms of our balance sheet, our cash levels continue to be fairly healthy. Overall cash balance, including the IPO balance stands at about INR1,057 crores. Of course, there is this impending question that we always have on M&A. At this point in time, we are in fairly advanced stages of discussion with two to three targets. Hopefully, we should be able to push one or two of these to the next stage and come out with an announcement fairly soon. But there is a lot of activity, as well as a work that is happening on the M&A side and you should hear some news on that front fairly soon from us.

In terms of headcount, we added about 80 odd people on a net basis in the current quarter compared to the closing end count for last period. We continue to invest in the front end as well. In the current quarter, we onboarded our Head of Growth for the Industrial Practice in the US. He is someone who comes with a very strong industry background again.

Overall, we continue to witness good momentum on the organic side. There is good deal flow, a fairly healthy order book, fairly healthy cash balance at this point in time. We also believe that our campus intake last year has also helped us augment our capacity to deliver for the future.

And as far as the revenue growth outlook is concerned, at least for the next few quarters, what we would like to maintain is, we would like to maintain the current momentum, although in the most immediate quarter. There could be some impact on account of the sluggishness that Rajan alluded to. But the next few quarters, we hope to replicate the performance that we’ve delivered through the current year.

With that, I — we would like to hand it back to the operator and we can open the floor for Q&A.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you very much. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] This question is from the line of Vimal Gohil from Alchemy Capital Management. Please go ahead.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

Yeah. Thank you for the opportunity, sir. So, my first question is on the large — some of the large accounts that you spoke about that are sort of sluggish. Firstly, just wanted to clarify, these are amongst the top 10 accounts, right? I’m sorry if you already highlighted this, because I came in a bit late. But yeah, this — these are a part of your top 10 accounts, right?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. That’s correct.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst


Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

So, we sense some sluggishness in terms of starting of new initiatives within these accounts. We have renewed all of our ongoing work, and there has been no issue with respect to the renewals. Typically, the renewals happen in the November/December timeframe, given that that is the end of the financial year for most of these accounts. All the renewals have been completed. We don’t have any issues on that front.

But some of the newer initiatives that these organizations are contemplating, there is some amount of sluggishness on that.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

Right. But there is — I’m — there is nothing — there is no issue in terms of the work being shelved or a permanent business loss or anything like that? You do expect the work to come back in subsequent quarters wherever?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Correct. Yeah. There is no business loss at all at this time. All the work that we’re currently contracted, they’ve all been renewed for the next year. Where we sense some slowness is in signing up new initiatives, right, expanding scope of work, right, adding to the managed services construct. That’s where there is some sluggishness.

But as I mentioned, there are large opportunities in the pipeline as well. With many organizations — many of these are new accounts. We are sensing that the current ongoing economic uncertainty with the budget cuts and other constraints is propelling them to look offshore to a larger extent and setup capability centers in India if they already do not have one. So, I mentioned about five big large opportunities. Most of them are in the nature of creating and setting up an India capability.

So, we see some traction on that. But obviously, these are large opportunities. In some cases, this might be the first time that they might be doing. So, we expect that this will take a little bit of time to close out.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

Understood. Sir, my next question was on your growth prospects that you are alluding to in the European region. Given the fact that most of the engagements that you will enter into will be new or fresh engagement. There is a possibility that all these engagements might start onsite. Do you expect your onsite ratio to sort of continue to increase and that could have a momentary impact on profitability?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

So, Europe is still a very small operation for us at this time and we are perfectly fine with kicking off new engagements in Europe with a larger than normal onsite contingent. In fact, it should be substantially offset by the large opportunities that I talked about, right, in the context of US.

One of these large opportunities is actually with a European prospect. And even in that case, they are talking about a large offshore contingent as well. So, I’m not particularly worried about the onsite/offshore ratio getting skewed. In fact, I would expect that in the coming quarters, the ratio should actually improve for us. So, no concern on profitability because of that account.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

Understood, sir. And sir, if you could just quantify what is the attrition right now in absolute basis? In percentage terms, what would be the number?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

So, it’s kind of like come down. As of the last couple of months, it’s come down to the 20% range.

Vimal Gohil — Alchemy Capital Management — Analyst

20% range? Got it. Got it. And sir, just…


Mr. Gohil, may we request that you return to the question queue for follow-up questions?

We’ll move on to the next question from the line of Krishna Thakker from Anand Rathi. Please go ahead.

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Hello, sir. Thank you for the opportunity, and congratulation on the great set of numbers. Sequentially, I want to know what happened in the CPG/retail vertical, because it declined again? We saw some uptick in Q2, but then, now, it’s back down in Q3. And relating to that only — relating to verticals only, what happened in the industrials vertical? What is performing well out there?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

So, I’ll take the question on retail specifically — CPG and retail. So, this — the sluggishness that you see is all attributable to one fairly large project. This has impacted data engineering projects that we are doing for a fairly large retail account in the US.

And as far as the project is concerned, there is — while we went through — we started this project in Q2 of FY’23, the project itself went through some bit of scoping changes, as well as, there was overall rethink on what the project requirements were. And therefore, what happened essentially in Q3 was, we had to go back and sit with the client and really rescope and all — redo some of the contours of the contract itself.

So, what that meant was, delivery to some extent on this particular project was put on hold and we started reengaging them — with them towards the end of the fiscal. So, we started work on this project again towards the end of December. So, for bulk of Q3, we had put the project on hold, because we were rescoping and — as well as re-contracting with the client. And that’s the reason why you see this sluggishness in CPG and retail.

Just to update you, the contract is back on track and we are on track to deliver the project in Q4 of FY’23.

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

And on the industrials vertical?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

So, on the industrials, there are — of course, there are a couple of accounts, where we see — yeah, so there is a food distribution company in the US, where we’ve seen increased volumes. Again, there is a fairly large automobile manufacturer, where the — this is a client that we’ve been engaging for a fairly extended period of time. There again, we’ve seen additional volumes and additional work that has been coming our way, and that is what has led to the growth in the industrial practice.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

So, Krishna, it’s on the back of work that you’re doing with existing clients that’s driving the action.

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer


Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Understood. Understood. Thank you for the color. And regarding attrition, so you call out 20%. Is that on an LTM basis?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

No, no. It’s not on an — on an LTM basis, it will probably be in the 25%, 26% range. I was referring to the last two, three months. It’s trending down significantly. Most of you will also be hearing similar commentary from others, right? In general, the supply-demand situation seems to be moderating quite well on the back of some of the hard news that you have been hearing in the market.

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Yeah. And regarding the utilization, I believe our utilization had dipped little bit last quarter. Has it moved up again this quarter to the 78%, 80% range that we intend to operate at?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We are at the 80% range. I mean, in fact, this morning, when I took a look at it, our unbilled has come down to under 20%. Our preference in the past has been to operate at a 15% unbilled — or 85% utilization kind of levels. We are expecting some of those big ticket items that I talked about — I mean, even if a couple of them come through, even if one of them comes through, we will be in need of a good number of people. So, we are not worried about carrying a little extra buffer at this point in time. So, we are currently at the 80% mark.

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Understood. Understood. And Raj, this one’s more for you. The ETR, so I believe you said it’s going to continue to stay around 15% for the next two or three quarters. And then where should it move to? Should it move to, like, 24%, 25%?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

That is correct. Yeah. So, you will see the benefit of this ESOP exercise that happened, and there will be another round of that ESOP exercise that might happen in March of next year — March of this fiscal. Again, that will result in a further tax benefit that will come in the US geography predominantly. And therefore, our ETR will be — will — we expect that at least for the next two to three quarters, we will have similar ETR.

Although, just to let you know, for our SEZ unit in Chennai, which is the larger one — so, we have two SEZ units, SEZ 1 and 2. The tax benefit for the first SEZ unit will come to an end in March of ’23. So, this will be the last fiscal year where we’ll be eligible for the Section 10 benefits for the SEZ unit 1. There will still be an SEZ 2, where we will continue to get the tax benefits, and that will accrue for another year. But SEZ 1 was the larger amongst the two units.

And therefore, like I mentioned, we will have this benefit of the lower ETR for the next couple of quarters. And thereafter, we will start seeing the ETR inching up back to the normal levels of 24%, 25%.

Krishna Thakker — Anand Rathi — Analyst

Sure. Thank you so much for that.


Thank you. The next question is from the line of Hitesh Malla from Steinberg India Advisors. Please go ahead.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Yeah. Hi, thanks for taking my question. And Rajan and Raj, congrats on a good set of numbers. My first question was on bill rates. We’re hearing — we are hearing a lot of chatter around hi-tech clients requesting for reduction in bill rates given their own cost savings initiatives. Is that something that you’re seeing with your contract as well?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

Not really. So, like I mentioned, a lot of our large customers, we just went through a round of extensions and renewals and we’ve not heard of any negotiations on billing rates. In fact, we’ve been able to renew and extend on the same rate as last year. In fact, we’ve been — right through the whole of last year, we were actually pushing for 3%, 4%, 5% increases across most of our clients. And that’s what we’ve witnessed in — within our client set.

We’ve not had any instances where the customers come back or the clients come back and ask for lowering the billing rates. We are not witnessing any billing pressure at least — or billing rate pressure at this point in time.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

And Hitesh, to add to that, I mean, in general, when we look around the industry, right, the data analytics space and other pure-play companies and we get market intelligence on that, we see that the billing rates continue to be fairly strong even with other organizations. So, we are not an exception. But I believe that data analytics, that way continues to command premium, and we are witnessing that as well.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Understood. And then wanted a clarification on the statement that you’ve made in your opening remarks, Rajan. And you said you are getting invited to these RFP-based contracts. Just wanted to understand, were these contracts always happening in RFP-based and, like, you didn’t have the scale to sort of bid for them? Or is it that a lot of the analytics projects themselves are moving away from a sole source contracting to a RFP-based contracting?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, it’s more of the latter, Hitesh. However, I wouldn’t say that a whole lot of it is moving away. I have been mentioning this in the past that analytics — data analytics, in general, is moving from being fringe initiatives to becoming more mainstream and, obviously, the more mature organizations are starting to do that. We also see that in the context of first-time movers.

So, I mentioned these large opportunities, right? A couple of them are about organizations that had a fledgling onsite in-house analytics capability earlier. But now they realize that they need to get a lot of things done and they have impending budget cuts and other challenges and they believe that going the offshore route, partnering with somebody who knows how to do this for them, is probably the best route. So, we are seeing this at both ends of the spectrum.

Mature organizations looking at consolidating their analytics initiatives and deriving the benefits of working with fewer partners, but to understand the entire spectrum, all the way from consulting to data engineering to look back to advanced analytics, right? That’s one kind of trend.

The other trend being first-timers and early adopters saying that let us leapfrog, right, and then directly go to an offshore capability center kind of a model, right. And both kinds of — at both ends of the spectrum, there are opportunities.

However, having said that, I would say that this is still only a small percentage of all of the analytics work that is happening. The bulk of the analytics work, at least in our context and in the context of many other pure-play data analytics companies, 70% of that would still be in the co-creation model, right, that I have talked about earlier.

In the coming quarters, I’m expecting though that this trend will continue, right, because of the factors that I’ve talked about.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Got it. That’s helpful, Rajan. Thanks a lot. I’ll get back in the queue.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, sure.


Thank you. The next question is from the line of Pankaj Murarka from Renaissance. Please go ahead.

Pankaj Murarka — Renaissance Investing Managers — Analyst

Yeah. Can you give me some more insights for me to get a better understanding that when you reach out to clients, whom do you compete against? Is it large companies, which are into consulting, or is it niche data analytics-focused companies? And what’s the competitive landscape for your business?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Pankaj, it’s a mix of both, right? We see competition from other pure-play, niche data analytics companies like us, right? That’s one segment.

We see competition from some of the large strategy consulting firms, including the likes of a BCG or a McKinsey, for example, right? And many of them are talking about their analytics capabilities that they are building. So, we see them in the context of some of the opportunities.

We see competition also from traditional large IT systems integrators, right, and IT services organizations, like Accenture and Infosys and TCS, for example, right? So, it’s a mix of all three.

And then sometimes, we also have product companies with very niche products or platforms that they have built. So, it’s a mix of all of them.

As I have said in the past, all of them, I mean, they have their vantage points. Large systems integration firms come from a very strong technology orientation and an infrastructure vantage point. Strategy consulting firms come with a very strong business and domain understanding as their vantage point. And analytics companies could come with very deep math specialization and statistical skills.

The niche area are the sweet spot for us, is the ability to bring all the three, right, in good measure to the problem at hand and see whether we can craft value propositions that hit hard on the particular pain points, trends, and opportunities, right, that a client might be experiencing. And as I’ve mentioned in many instances, these have been about co-creating those opportunities, sitting down with the a prospect with a client and then understanding what is the data ecosystem they have, what problems are they trying to solve, and what is the odd or the possibilities, right, with the use of data analytics.

So, that’s been the kind of construct. But this will evolve in the coming quarters, coming years, right, because all of these type of segments, they are looking to build muscles which they might currently lack or which they may not be the — be their best exercised muscles, right, in some sense. So, it will be a question of how we can also play up, right, on that advantages, on the vantage point that we have built and how we can continue to stay relevant, right, in the context of the evolving scenario.

When I said earlier that we are getting invited to the large RFP processes that are coming about in the data analytics space, I believe — and this is my theory and hypothesis that this is because of the very strong combination of the domain expertise, analytical capabilities, and the technology expertise, right, that we are able to bring to the table.

Much of our statistical, mathematical, analytical orientation, as well as our technology prowess and design architecting skills are business-led and business-first. I have stated this in the past. In the last 15 years of our existence, much of the work that we have done has been in working with business stakeholders, right, in the CMO, on the CFO, on the Chief Supply Chain Officer, and the Chief HR Officer organizations, right, their direct throughput, solving very specific decision-making and optimization problems, right, that they experience on a day-to-day basis.

So, it is that orientation that gives us the edge at this point in time, and this is the edge that we’ll want to continue to hone in the coming quarters as well.

Pankaj Murarka — Renaissance Investing Managers — Analyst

That was very detailed. Thanks a lot for that. Just one more question I have related. If you can throw some more light — you talked about acquisitions. So, what kind of these acquisitions? Are these adjacencies or capabilities or geographical expansions in terms of what they will add to our this thing?

And secondly, obviously, all of this is to accelerate or fuel our growth. The question I understand is, how you transition from being a small company to be a mid-sized company? And as you understand that better that the landscape itself is evolving. Over a medium term, would you also consider getting into SI, because given the relationships that you have with client level, those are some of the low-hanging fruits to build scale from a slightly more medium term to longer-term perspective.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Sure, Pankaj. So, let me address the first question in terms of the type of targets that we are interested in. We are interested in opportunities that are very aligned with the main strategic pillars that we have, right, for driving growth — for driving organic growth, because we believe that our inorganic strategy has to be aligned with the organic growth strategy.

So, on the three dimensions, right, that you mentioned, from a geographic standpoint, we are very clear that we will focus on the US, Europe — and within Europe, very specifically, the three geographies, right, where we are active, UK, Germany, and Netherlands, and in India, right, at this point in time. So, that’s really the geographic perspective.

From a vertical perspective, at this point in time, given the additional focus that we are putting on BFSI, retail and CPG, those would be the sweet spots for us from a acquisition standpoint as well.

And from a horizontal type of work capability standpoint, we are really looking at supply chain, data engineering, and advanced analytics, right? These are the three areas. Within advanced analytics, we are particularly looking at image analytics, graph and NLP and NLG, right? These are the specific areas of focus.

So, an ideal acquisition candidate for us would be something that can tick on more than one of these dimensions. So, for example, if you find a company that has built a very strong data engineering and modeling capability for retail supply chain problems in Europe, then it will tick a lot of these boxes, okay? Then you’ll be particularly interested, right, in that kind of the capabilities.

So, we are evaluating on these dimensions. And obviously, we do not expect that all candidates will tick on all these dimensions. But the more that they tick on, right, the better aligned they would be, right, with our organic growth strategy as well. So, that’s the plan from an acquisition standpoint.

With respect to your second question, believe that there is enough headroom for growth within the data analytics space itself for the next three to five years at least. In fact, in response to an earlier question, I had mentioned that organizations also, they are pegged in a spectrum, right, from very mature to organizations are — that are just getting started on their data analytics journey.

And even with the most mature of organizations, if you scratch the surface and you dig deep, you’ll find that there is so much more that they can do, even with the data that they already have access to within their own organization. Most organizations are still only doing what would be called low-hanging fruit and getting the easier things done.

So, with that, we believe that there is a lot of runway ahead us and there is enough headroom for growth. And our intention is to stay close to our knitting at this point and time, right? Maybe we will add a few adjacencies. In fact, the entire data engineering space was something that we have gotten into only in the last two, three years, right, in a serious fashion. Before that, most of the work that we did, it presupposed that the data was already in place and we just had to come and do the analytics.

But as we do the more complex initiatives, we find that the data that is needed might be scattered across the organization within and without and it might be structured, unstructured, right? So, we got into the data engineering piece. So, we might do a few adjacencies like that, but we are not, at this point in time, planning to stray very far from the base.

Pankaj Murarka — Renaissance Investing Managers — Analyst

This is very insightful. If I can just squeeze one more. So, how susceptible are client spends on what you are doing to the economic environment? I’m saying, because data is just emerging as the core and clients have just started spending on it. We understand some of the other verticals when client spends on in terms of discretionary and keep the lights on kind of so thing or on the product Engineering side and so on and so forth.

So, in terms of your understanding, your discussion and — with your clients in terms of how — what part of business that you do with clients is, like — is a must need for clients to keep their show on kind of thing, and what part of the discretionary which is susceptible to economic environment?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So, again, this is a — this is an interesting question, because what is — what you constitute as lights on, right, and basic operational stuff, will have a very specific definition, right, depending on which organization you are talking about.

If you talk to a company like Netflix, for example — I mean, Netflix is not a client of us at this time. But if you talk to them or if you talk to a company like Capital One, right, data analytics is their main stay, right, because that is what they use day in and day out in order to drive market share, in order drive action, growth, customer experience, cost reduction, right, all of those things. So, for them, data analytics can be very core and important.

So, it depends on where the organization is in terms of their digital evolution or transformation journey and how much they are able to use data and digital channels, right, to connect with their customers, with their employees, with their ecosystem, right? So, it’s dependent on that.

But having said that, in general, Pankaj, one point I would note is that, it is typically in resource-constrained scenarios, when budgets are being cut, when there is a lot of uncertainty on the horizon that you need to use the power of data and analytics to take calls, even on prioritizing, right, which initiatives you want to undertake and which initiatives you want to shelf.

Marketing budgets are being cut, right, in the light of what is happening, and a Chief Marketing Officer and their organization will need to decide where do they want to spend the money, which campaigns to run, which of them to shut down, which media to advertise in and which of them not to. And those are exactly the kind of questions that data analytics can help answer in a very structured and scientific fashion.

So, it is our hypothesis and belief that even in a tough economic scenario, data analytics will be a fairly important aspect of how organizations make decisions. Maturity of the organization will, however, determine, right, whether they would want to go into the dark with guns firing, right, from their hips or whether they would want to take a more targeted approach, right, to what they want to do.

At this point in time, at least the organizations that we are working with, we do hear from our stakeholders on how this is very important. But obviously, they do need to navigate what is happening on the economic front, right, and I believe personally that when some of the uncertainty resolves and dust starts settling down, at least in terms of the uncertainty coming down, data analytics will be a fairly strong contender for budgets that are available.


Murarka, may we request that you return to the question queue for follow-up questions? [Operator Instructions]

The next question is from the line of Karan Uppal from Phillip Capital. Please go ahead.

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst

Yeah. Thanks for the opportunity. Couple of questions from my side. Firstly, on the order book, which Raj spoke about, you mentioned that order book has expanded significantly. So — and also, you mentioned that there are five large deals in the pipeline. So, any quantification in terms of the order book or deal wins, or anything you can share in terms of book-to-bill ratio, which will help us understand and forecast the overall growth rate better?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

So, the order book itself, see, at this point in time, Karan, we — as a number, we are not giving out order book numbers at this point in time. All that I can say is, like I mentioned, typically, a lot of the extensions that happen within our clients, they happen in the December and January timeframe, which will typically give us revenue visibility for the next three to four quarters, right?

So, all the extensions that we have within our clients side has come through, and that is what is resulting in a fairly healthy order book. We will not be able to give you an exact number at this point in time.

But coming to your question on the pipeline, each of these deals is greater than $2 million and some — the largest deal amongst these RFPs can go up to almost $8 million, right? So, historically, if you see, and Rajan also spoke about this, the initiatives used to — the initiatives that we would typically start with used to be in the $500,000 to $800,000 type bucket.

So, that — what we are witnessing is the newer deals that we are participating in. The starting size itself is $2 million and going up to $8 million. So, that’s the range that we are talking about.

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst

So, are these deals — you expect them to close maybe in Q4, or it may take a while?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. The decision-making itself on these deals should happen in Q4 and we should — if we land a few of these deals, we should start revenue — or start seeing revenue booking come from Q1 of next year.

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst

Okay. So, given these deals, as well as the order book, which you have — and also, you spoke about some sluggishness in your top 10 accounts — two of the top 10 accounts. So, given everything, do you think that you will be able to maintain the 25% to 30% kind of a growth rate in even FY’24?


Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

So, at this point in time — this is Rajan here. At this point in time, the medium-term perspective remains fairly strong. I mean, as I mentioned, there are a few of these large deals in the pipeline. That, plus the fact that our front-end investments, right, are starting to work and they will start kicking in, I’m optimistic about the growth rates that we can have, right, in the next year.

I don’t want to put a exact fix on what that percentage would be. I mean, this year, you would see that the general industry percentages — growth percentage, if you take IT services as a whole and even data analytics, would have moderated downwards because of the economic uncertainty. And we have done better than that.

So, as in the past, I would — my guidance would be that we will continue to do much better than what the industry growth rate would be. But personally, I’m — I believe that the growth rates will start coming back in a quarter or two, right, as some of this uncertainty resolves, or alternately, even if there is uncertainty, as I said earlier, that they will start looking at how they can better make use of the data analytics ecosystem, the offshoring capability centers, right, to drive more of the action.

Budgets are being cut. Uncertainty is there. But the stakeholders are still being demanded to deliver on their initiatives, right, on their promise to their internal clients. So, definitely, they will want to make use of the skills and capabilities, right, that a partner like us can bring to the table. So, I’m expecting that the growth rates will remain fairly strong.

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst

Right. Thanks for the detailed answer. The other question was on M&A. So, you spoke about the areas which you will focus on to — for the candidates. I want to ask about the size of the M&A in terms of your scale right now, you are at around $80 million run rate. So, would — your scale is — is — there a bottleneck for you in terms of the size for acquiring candidates?

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Not really, Karan. This is a very fragmented space, and the 30-odd opportunities that we have evaluated, right, in the last 12 months or so, we see a fairly broad spectrum. I mean, there are companies with a revenue of even $1 million, right, that might be in the market. And then there are, obviously, organizations that are even at a $30 million, $35 million. And then there are some, which are even larger, right, that are looking for either investment, funding or other kind of merger-acquisition opportunity.

So, there is a fairly broad spectrum. It’s also a very fragmented space with many players, right, take that, all these different levels in the spectrum. Our sweet spot will be organizations with $5 million to $20 million, $25 million kind of revenue, because in two — from two standpoints, right, one is, what that would mean for us in terms of the cash outflow that we will need to have for that acquisition. But more importantly, given that this will be a first acquisition, we also want to take on something that manage you and integrate well and realize the synergies. So, that will be our sweet spot.

But within that spectrum, we are fairly flexible. Right now, for example, out of the three, four candidates that we are evaluating at the second, third level of scrutiny, I mean, we do have that spectrum. I mean, there is one, which is at a $4 million kind of annual revenue and there is another one, which is at a $14 million revenue point. So, that will be the kind of spectrum that we’ll be looking at.

Karan Uppal — Phillip Capital — Analyst

Okay. Thanks a lot for answering my questions, and all the best.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Karan.


Thank you. The next question is from the line of Hitesh Malla from Steinberg India Advisors. Please go ahead.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Yeah. I just had a quick follow-up for Raj. Can you give us some guidance in terms of your capex requirements in the medium term? I understand that right now, you guys are operating from a single location in Chennai. So, as you scale up, would you be needing a newer facility, and how would that put pressure on your balance sheet?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

To be honest with you, we’ve never had — I mean, capex, while yes, it’s true that we’ve been operating out of a single facility. We also have a co-working facility in Bangalore apart from our own premises that we have — our own leased premises that we have in Chennai.

Given our growth ambitions and targets for the next year, if assuming people — there is a situation, where 50% of our workforce starts coming back to work. At present, we are still following a hybrid model, where about, on an average, 25% to 30% of our workforce comes into the office on any given day. Now, if that were to materially change, where we have about 50% of our folks coming in, it’s only at that point in time will we evaluate if there is a need for us to rent further space.

At this point in time, we believe that our current office space in Chennai, plus the new space that we are looking for in Bangalore — Bangalore, we might look for some bit of additional capacity. Both of these should be enough for us to serve the increase in demand for the next year. However, if the remote working situation changes and there is higher footfall in the office, that’s when we will look to evaluate.

And even then, on an average, based on the rentals that we’ve managed to negotiate — just to let you know, we’ve renegotiated our current lease in the Chennai — primary Chennai office, we’ve also got a clause, which helps — which would enable us to lease any additional new space within the facility at the same rates for the next one year.

So, even if we do need additional space, we’ll be able to contract it for the same current commercials, right? And therefore, we don’t believe that there’s going to be any significant outflow on account of either rentals or the capex spends that we would have to take.

I think our balance sheet today, we’re sitting on INR1,000 crores plus of cash. So, we are well capitalized for us to be able to support any capex requirements.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

Yeah. So, then a follow-up on that would be — since you said you have INR1,000 crores of cash in the balance sheet. So, that’s around, like, $120 million, $125 million. And the asset that you are looking to acquire, you said, is in the range of $5 million to $25 million. So, that would still leave you with a big chunk of cash on the balance sheet. So, how should we think about usage of that cash?

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer

So, it will — I mean, obviously, the — while the intent is to, obviously, acquire one asset, we will not stop at one. So, we will look at a series of fairly small to mid-sized acquisitions. There will be — there could be two to three potentially in the next 12 to 18 months. So, that’s the sort of target that we have internally. We will not stop at one.

And also, in terms of the multiples, I think this is a guidance that we’ve given in the past. So, typically, what we’ve seen is analytics companies, depending on the IP that they own, the quality of people, quality of management, plus the quality of customer logos that they have, and the billing rates that they’re able to command in the market, the premiums or the valuation multiples tend to range between 3 times to 5 times of revenues, right? So, the current cash that we have on our balance sheet, should be sufficient for us to be able to accommodate two to three acquisitions.

Hitesh Malla — Steinberg India Advisors — Analyst

That’s helpful, Raj. Thank you.

Rajan Venkatesan — Chief Financial Officer



Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, that was the last question for today. I would now like to hand the conference over to the management for closing comments.

Rajan Sethuraman — Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Faizan, and thank you all for joining the session today. I just wanted to leave you with a little bit of a feel-good. We are pretty excited about some of the action that we are seeing on the CSR front as well.

While there are many initiatives that we are partnering with, one of the flagship programs that we are driving is called as a Chennai Kaalpandhu League. Kaalpandhu stands for football in Tamil. So, you can equate it with Chennai Football League. This is an initiative that we kicked off prior to the pandemic, but which went into a pause mode because of all the challenges related to the pandemic. We are very happy that we could revive it this quarter, and we have partnered with a set of government institutions, schools in Chennai and identified — it’s talent scouting program for football. We actually identified an initial cohort of 300 plus students, split equally between boys and girls, and we took them through a six week long training program, as well as league matches. And it culminated us in identifying seven or eight kids who have a natural talent, right, for the game.

And we are now looking at partnering with them and helping nurture their talent, both on the sport front, as well as on the education front, right, in the coming year with the intention that can we create a pool of football talent and players, right, that can participate and play for the country, right, in the coming year. So, that’s a bit of a long-term aspiration and ambition that we have.

It’s a — it’s an initiative that many of our young employees are particularly excited about, and they have contributed, right, to the design and the execution of that initiative as well. And we believe that there’ll be more to come, right, in the coming quarter. We’ll keep you posted, right, as this progresses. Watch out for our updates on the social media on the Chennai Kaalpandhu League, or CKL, right, as we call it.

The other initiative that we have been partnering with, again, on the CSR front, though it doesn’t come under the formal CSR umbrella, because we are an India-registered company and CSR initiatives are limited to what we do in India, we have been partnering with the International Myeloma Foundation in the US. They are an NGO, and they are focused on research related to treating and curing myeloma. And this is a condition that affects many people, known more so in the United States, but I’m sure that there are people suffering from these conditions in India and other parts of the world as well. We are helping them by bringing our data analytics capabilities to look at how they collect data and how the organize the data, understand so many different aspects of the disease progression, the treatment protocol, right, and whatnot.

So, this is, again, a matter of pride for our employees who are participating and for us, as an organization, that we are helping solve a fairly critical health problem, right, that plagues the world today. So, pretty exciting kind of things and opportunities for us as an organization, but also for our talent and our employee base. So, fairly kicked about it.

So, I’ll leave you with that. Thank you all for joining the call today, and look forward to connecting again when the next quarter results are out. Take care.


[Operator Closing Remarks]


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