EverQuote, Inc. (EVER) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

EverQuote, Inc. (NASDAQ: EVER) Q4 2020 earnings call dated Feb. 22, 2021

Corporate Participants:

Brinlea Johnson — Managing Director

Jayme Mendal — Chief Executive Officer

John Wagner — Chief Financial Officer



Welcome to the Fourth Quarter and Full Year EverQuote Earnings call. [Operator Instructions]

After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions].

And now, I will turn it over to Brinlea Johnson of The Blueshirt Group.

Brinlea Johnson — Managing Director

Thank you, Operator. Good afternoon, and welcome to EverQuote’s fourth quarter and full year 2020 earnings call. We’ll be discussing results announced in our Press Release issued today after the market closed. With me on the call this afternoon is Jayme Mendal; EverQuote’s Chief Executive Officer, and John Wagner; Chief Financial Officer of EverQuote.

During the call, we will make statements related to our business that may be considered forward-looking statements under Federal Securities law, including statements concerning our financial guidance for the first quarter and full year 2021, our growth strategy and our plans to execute on our growth strategy, key initiatives, our investments in the business, the growth levers we expect to drive our business, our ability to maintain existing and acquire new customers, our recent acquisition, and interest or ability to acquire other companies, our goals for integration, and other statements regarding our plans and prospects.

Forward-looking statements may be identified with words and phrases such as we expect, we believe, we intend, we anticipate, we plan, may, upcoming and similar words and phrases. These statements reflect our views only as of today, and should not be considered our views as of any subsequent date. We specifically disclaim any obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.

Forward-looking statements are not promises or guarantees of future performance, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from our expectations. For a discussion of material risks and other important factors that could affect our actual results, please refer to those contained under the heading Risk Factors in our most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission made available on the Investor Relations section of our website at investor.everquote.com and on the SEC’s website at sec.gov.

Finally, during the course of today’s call, we refer to non-GAAP financial measures, which we believe are helpful to investors. A reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP measures was included in the Press Release issued after the close of market today, which is available on the Investor Relations section of our website at investors.everquote.com.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Jayme.

Jayme Mendal — Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Brinlea. And thank you everyone for joining us today. As most of you know, we suffered a tragic loss in November with the sudden passing of Seth Birnbaum; our prior CEO and dear friend. While we continue to mourn Seth’s passing, his legacy lives on in our work at EverQuote where we remain laser focused on building an industry defining company. I am humbled and honored to assume the CEO role, and speak with you today.

Despite unprecedented challenges that 2020 brought, our team executed remarkably well. We grew revenue rapidly, while driving greater efficiency and producing substantially more cash flow to reinvest in our future growth. In Q4, year-over-year, we reported 32% revenue growth, 46% VMM growth, and positive adjusted EBITDA expansion. For the full year, we delivered 39% year-on-year revenue growth, 48% year-on-year VMM growth, and record adjusted EBITDA of $18.4 million, up from $8.3 million in 2019.

Before diving into more detail on Q4 and 2021, I want to affirm our vision and strategy as shared with you previously. Our Company’s vision is to become the largest online source of insurance policies by using data and technology to make insurance simpler, more affordable, and personalized, ultimately reducing cost and risk.

Our strategy is based on building a unique ecosystem of insurance distribution assets, that connected by our proprietary data and technology, will enable us to emerge as the insurance shopping destination for consumers, and the distribution platform of choice for providers across all major lines of insurance. This ecosystem includes the following. On the consumer acquisition side of the marketplace, we have two platforms. Our performance marketing platform for managing traffic through our owned and operated websites, and our verified partner network, which is a fast-growing platform through which third parties can leverage and benefit from our insurance distribution.

We also have two platforms on the provider distribution side of the marketplace. Our third-party marketplace network of carriers and local agents, and our first-party Direct-to-Consumer or DTC agency staffed with EverQuote agents, which was initiated in 2020 and is focused solely on life and health. Our DTC agency is modest in scale, but growing quickly. Between traffic and distribution, fits our proprietary data and technology, which connects consumers to providers via the lowest friction and highest performing path from arrival to policy. This powers everything from traffic bidding, to site experience, to consumer provider connections.

From add to policy sale, all of our experiences are growing increasingly personalized to each individual shopper. We make investments in these assets to drive our four growth levers. First, attracting more shoppers; second, expanding non-auto verticals; third, optimizing and deepening consumer provider engagement; and fourth, growing insurance provider coverage and budget.

Our strong financial performance in Q4 resulted from investments paying off across all four growth levers. For each lever, I’ll share Q4 highlights and 2021 focus areas. Let’s begin with our first growth lever, attracting more shoppers. Our consumer acquisition teams executed well in Q4, growing volume into enhanced monetization, as reflected in our VMM expanding to 33%, revenue per quote request increasing 18%, and quote request volume growing 12% year-over-year.

In December, we welcomed the new Chief Marketing Officer, Craig Lister. Craig joins us from NortonLifeLock with extensive experience scaling data and tech powered LTV-based consumer acquisition programs, and in building a brand in performance marketing context. Looking ahead, investments in both of our consumer acquisition platforms will continue growing the volume of insurance shoppers to our marketplace.

In our performance marketing platform, we plan to drive efficiency and scale by more tightly aligning consumer intent and lifetime value to our traffic bidding and provider pricing. We plan to further personalize and align end-to-end user experiences, and to expand investment in new channels, including TV.

We are also continuing to invest in our Verified Partner Network by rolling out new products that enable verified partners to access our distribution network in different ways. Over time, we plan to build this offering into an industry standard platform for any company seeking to monetize insurance intent among its audience, making EverQuote a ubiquitous distribution platform for the industry.

The second growth lever is expanding non-auto verticals. In Q4, our non-auto verticals continued their rapid growth trajectory with revenues increasing 55% year-over-year with improving unit economics. In our health vertical, we were pleased with the team’s performance during the open enrollment period, or OEP. We closed on the acquisition of Crosspointe, a DTC agency platform in health in late September. We developed a plan with aggressive policy sale targets for OEP, and exceeded our initial plan by nearly 15%.

In addition, three health insurance providers turned to EverQuote’s DTC agency to support their OEP sales efforts illustrating the potential for partners to leverage our tech-enabled agency platform through policy sales, as a service offering. Our move into DTC agency and Life and Health has substantially increased the size of our immediately addressable market, as we now access not only digital advertising and marketing budgets, but also the much larger opportunity of commission dollars directly from carriers.

Looking ahead, we remain excited by the potential in non-auto verticals, and believe that over time, we can grow non-auto verticals to 50% of total revenue. We plan to invest aggressively in Health and Life, where our teams will leverage our DTC agency platform to drive transformational change in the EverQuote shopping experience, including by developing, enduring and multi-line relationships with consumers, which will enable us to capture greater LTV.

The third growth lever is optimizing and deepening consumer provider engagement. These initiatives reduce friction from the shopping experience, and improve performance for providers. We are pleased to share that we achieved deep integrations with all but one of our carriers, leading to lower friction shopping experiences for our consumers, and better buying performance for providers. The remaining carrier is also well along in the process of completing their deep integration with EverQuote.

In 2021, we will make a number of investments to further remove friction from arrival to policy sale. For example, we are creating a more unified shopping experience by facilitating more online to offline connections on behalf of local agents. We are also enabling online quoting and purchasing of policies in our Home, Health and Life verticals.

Finally, I’ll touch on our fourth growth lever, growing provider coverage and budget. We continued to add third party marketplace providers, and expand relationships with existing carriers and local agents. In Q4, we grew the number of marketplace carriers on the platform, as we expanded coverage in non-auto verticals, and we delivered high growth in our third-party agency business.

We also saw digital carriers emerge as a growing customer segment. Our shared D&A for leveraging technology and data to make insurance shopping more efficient, makes them a natural fit for leveraging EverQuote’s well established consumer targeting and deep integration capabilities, and for supporting innovation and testing of new, more advanced performance-enhancing features.

We are often asked if these companies are competitors. We do not see them that way. They are first and foremost, partners and customers within our inclusive provider ecosystem. Looking ahead, on the back of strong growth and improving efficiency in our third-party agency business, we are increasing investment in go-to-market and product development teams to further improve agent performance.

In summary, we delivered a strong Q4 to close out a record year. We drove progress across all four growth levers, and made key investments to drive future growth, including in our verified partner network on the consumer acquisition side of the marketplace, and in our DTC agency platform on the distribution side.

We enter 2021 with the clarity in strategy and focus on execution. We will continue to invest in new platforms, experiences and capabilities that will enhance the consumer shopping experience, improve provider performance, and ultimately, get more people the coverage they need of less cost in friction. With the ongoing shift online of the $2 trillion insurance industry, we anticipate big enduring game-changing companies to be born. I believe EverQuote is well-positioned to be one of those companies. We have the team, the execution muscle, and the strategy to become the online destination for insurance, and we’re just getting started.

Now I’ll turn the call over to John to provide more details on our financial results.

John Wagner — Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Jayme, and good afternoon everyone. I’ll start by discussing our financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2020, and then provide guidance for the first quarter and full year 2021. We’re pleased to report very strong fourth quarter and full year 2020 results across all of our key financial metrics, exceeding our revenue, Variable Marketing Margin, and adjusted EBITDA guidance provided last quarter.

We delivered fourth quarter revenue of $97.3 million, up 32% year-over-year, and full year 2020 revenue of $346.9 million, up 39% from the previous year. Fourth quarter revenue in our Auto Insurance vertical increased to $76.2 million, a growth rate of 27% year-over-year, reflecting a continued healthy auto insurance industry, and strong appetite for new customer acquisition from our carrier and agent insurance providers.

Looking at the full year, revenue from our Auto Insurance vertical increased to $283.2 million, up 33% over the previous year. Fourth quarter revenue from our other insurance verticals, which includes Home & Renters, Life, Health, and Commercial Insurance increased to $21.1 million, a growth rate of 55% year-over-year, and represented a record 22% of total revenue.

For the full year, revenue from our other insurance verticals increased 74% year-over-year to $63.7 million, and represented 18% of total revenue. In Q4, our other insurance verticals benefited from the Health & Medicare open-enrollment period. This included a more than doubling of the historic growth rate of our recently acquired Crosspointe DTC health insurance agency. This acceleration was driven by integrating our performance marketing and Verified Partner platforms with Crosspointe’s Direct-to-Consumer sales operations.

The early results of our Crosspointe acquisition provide a proof point of the acquisition strategy of leveraging our expertise in consumer acquisition to accelerate the growth of an acquired business. Q4 was representative of what we expect to be a new pattern of sequential Q4 revenue growth relative to Q3, driven by the contribution of open enrollment season within our health insurance vertical.

Turning to our metrics. Quote request from the fourth quarter increased 12% year-over-year to $6.6 million, with contributions to growth coming from both our Performance Marketing and Verified Partner platforms. Revenue per quote request increased 18%, reflecting our continued focus on attracting high performing consumers most valued by our providers. Revenue per quote request also benefited from unusually favorable end of the year provider budget capacity in our auto insurance vertical, and higher monetization associated with our health DTC agency operations in the year-end open enrollment period.

These improvements in traffic volumes and monetization led to record Variable Marketing Margin or VMM for Q4, which exceeded our guidance provided last quarter. Defined as revenue less advertising expense, VMM is our primary metric for managing the profitable growth of the marketplace. This quarter, VMM was $31.9 million, an increase of 46% year-over-year. As a percentage of revenue, fourth quarter VMM expanded to 33%, up from 30% in Q4 of last year.

This record VMM was a reflection of the aforementioned monetization improvements from strong provider demand in Q4 budget capacity in autos, as well as the open enrollment period for Health & Medicare policies. Given that these drivers were specific to Q4, we would not expect to maintain this level of VMM percentage in Q1, but do believe we’ll continue to see VMM percentage expansion over time, while we target and manage for incremental Variable Marketing Margin dollars in absolute terms. For the full year, VMM grew 48% year-over-year to $108.6 million. As a percentage of revenue, full year VMM expanded to 31%, up from 30% in the previous year.

Turning to profitability. Fourth quarter GAAP net loss was $3.8 million or a loss of $0.13 per share based on approximately 28 million diluted weighted average shares outstanding. Fourth quarter’s GAAP net loss reflected a $1.8 million non-cash charge to account for the change in the fair value of the Crosspointe acquisition earn-out based on the improved performance and outlook of that business. Full year GAAP net loss was $11.2 million or a loss of $0.41 per share. We delivered record adjusted EBITDA of $5.4 million or 5.5% of revenue for the fourth quarter, driven by our better-than-expected revenue and VMM performance.

Due to our improving performance during the quarter, we accelerated spending on operational resources to lay the foundation for growth in 2021, while still delivering favorable performance against our guidance range. For the full year, we delivered adjusted EBITDA of $18.4 million or 5.3% of revenue, up nearly 2 percentage points from the previous year. On the balance sheet, we ended the quarter with $42.9 million in cash and cash equivalents, reflecting a $3.2 million use of cash in operating cash flow during the quarter, driven by the timing of payables and receivables at year-end. For the full year 2020, operating cash flow was a positive $10.7 million.

Turning to our outlook for 2021. We expect revenue growth to continue to exceed our long-term model of 20%, with continued higher growth from our other insurance verticals. As Jayme outlined, we are making significant investments in our business driven by the massive market opportunity that we see. These operational investments support our growth initiatives in DTC agency, Verified Partner Network, and in technology and data platforms to accelerate the long-term growth of our marketplace, and continue to build our competitive moat.

We expect to be able to make these investments, while still growing adjusted EBITDA on a full year basis, consistent with the low end of our long-term model. For Q1, our guidance is as follows. We expect revenue to be between $100 million and $102 million, a year-over-year increase of 24% at the midpoint. We expect Variable Marketing Margin to be between $30.5 million and $31.5 million, a year-over-year increase of 30% at the midpoint. And we expect adjusted EBITDA to be between $4 million and $5 million, a year-over-year improvement of 18% at the midpoint.

For the full year 2021, our guidance is as follows. We expect revenue to be between $430 million and $440 million, a year-over-year increase of 25% at the midpoint. We expect Variable Marketing Margin to be between $135 million and $140 million, a year-over-year increase of 27% at the midpoint. And we expect adjusted EBITDA of between $25 million and $30 million, a year-over-year increase of 49% at the midpoint.

In summary, fourth quarter financial results capped off a year of increasing momentum and strong performance at EverQuote. Our team has stayed focused on execution, as evident in our results, and has positioned us well for continued growth in 2021.

And with that, Jayme and I look forward to answering your questions.

Questions and Answers:


[Operator Instructions]. Your first question comes from the line of Michael Graham from Canaccord. Your line is open.


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