Yext: Some Encouraging Metrics, But No Growth Still A Big Red Flag

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Alena Kravchenko

Investors person mostly abandoned tech from their portfolios, preferring to instrumentality to the information of ultra-high risk-free currency yields. The crisp portfolio rotation has wounded tiny and mid-cap tech stocks the most, those whose values are based astir wholly on merchandise and aboriginal earnings.

Against this backdrop, shares of Yext (NYSE:YEXT) person fixed up each of their YTD gains (at 1 constituent having doubled from the commencement of the twelvemonth implicit excitement connected AI innovation). But dissimilar galore different tech stocks, this crisp driblet successful stock worth has besides been accompanied by a veritable diminution successful the business, arsenic Yext's apical enactment has cranked retired hardly immoderate maturation implicit the past fewer years.

ChartData by YCharts

Earlier this year, I wrote a enactment downgrading Yext to bearish connected the ground of its unspeakable maturation rates and its seeming deficiency of direction. Since then, a fig of affirmative developments person swept in:

  • Yext has substantially improved its gross borderline profile, a effect of the institution simplifying its services enactment and slimming down its outgo structure
  • As a result, the institution has been capable to make substantially improved adjusted EBITDA and currency flow, removing a halfway interest for small-cap tech stocks successful the existent recession
  • The institution is taking vantage of its little stock prices by adding $50 cardinal to its existing buyback authorization, which astatine existent stock prices would screen conscionable implicit 6% of the company's outstanding marketplace cap

It's worthy noting arsenic good that Yext has ~$200 cardinal of currency and nary indebtedness connected its books, truthful it tin good spend this accrued buyback programme - particularly with its affirmative adjusted EBITDA/OCF profile.

In airy of the somewhat improved outlook to Yext's bottom-line results, I'm upgrading my presumption connected the institution to neutral. That being said, I'm inactive precise wary of the pursuing reddish flags:

  • Growth has stalled. Yext is hardly managing to eke retired maturation anymore, and successful the tech space, deficiency of maturation creates a vicious rhythm wherever customers commencement to suffer religion and churn (software requires support, ongoing maintenance, and diagnostic updates - nary of which companies privation to put successful if they deliberation the vendor is successful occupation of sinking).
  • High churn rates. Yext's absorption connected smaller and mid-market customers has led to precocious churn rates (holding down growth). Yext's nett gross retention rates scale acold little than adjacent bundle companies.
  • Founder exit. Howard Lerman's resignation arsenic CEO successful 2022, arsenic good arsenic the concurrent exit of longtime CFO Steve Cakebread (a erstwhile Salesforce enforcement and well-known successful the tech community), bespeak successful my sentiment a deficiency of religion successful the absorption of the business.

The bottommost enactment here: while I nary longer needfully deliberation Yext is going to pink-sheet territory anytime soon acknowledgment to its improved bottom-line profile, a bundle institution that isn't growing, to me, is hardly investable. Stay connected the sidelines present until Yext tin amusement a way to recovering its top-line trends.

Q2 download

Let's present spell done Yext's latest quarterly results successful greater detail. The Q2 net summary is shown below:

Yext Q2 results

Yext Q2 results (Yext Q2 net release)

Yext's gross grew lone 2% y/y to $102.6 cardinal successful Q2, though this came successful somewhat up of Wall Street's $102.0 cardinal (+1% y/y) expectations for the quarter. Growth mostly held gait with Q1's 1% y/y maturation rate

Management notes that portion its income team's execution is improving, buying trends inactive stay challenged successful the endeavor abstraction - which is akin commentary to what different bundle companies are reporting. Per CEO Michael Walrath's remarks connected the Q2 net call:

In Q2, full ARR grew 3% year-over-year and nonstop ARR was up 5%. Sales productivity and execution are continuing to amusement betterment and I'm pleased with the advancement we're making successful our end-to-end request procreation efforts. Our go-to-market translation remains a enactment successful advancement wherever we are executing good and opening to spot increases successful full and qualified pipeline production.

Our midmarket squad who calls connected smaller endeavor customers continues to execute good accordant with the advancement we saw from this radical successful Q1. We proceed to judge this momentum volition yet transportation implicit to larger enterprises truthful it is apt to instrumentality longer successful the existent macro environment. Customer buying trends, fund scrutiny and prolonged closed processes with aggregate determination makers are inactive the norm and the larger the enterprise, the much of these factors repetition the income cycle.

Interest successful our integer experiences solution is building. We spot measurable increases successful full pipeline year-over-year. However, we person not yet seen buying trends from larger endeavor customers re-accelerating. Our presumption is that endeavor woody cycles, fund pressures and adjacent rates volition stay challenged done the remainder of the year."

Yext remains successful a nett churn position, which is uncommon among endeavor SaaS companies. The bully news, however, is that churn is improving slightly. Dollar-based nett retention rates ticked up somewhat to 97% this 4th (indicating 3% nett churn), versus ~96% implicit the past 2 quarters successful 94% successful Q3 of past year:

Yext retention trends

Yext retention trends (Yext Q2 net release)

Margins, meanwhile, are wherever Yext excelled successful Q2. The company's pro forma gross margins lifted 530bps y/y to 78.9%, a effect of the institution improving costs successful its services organization.

Yext borderline trends

Yext borderline trends (Yext Q2 net release)

The institution besides managed to slim down full opex to 72% of revenue, a six-point betterment versus the year-ago Q2. As a result, pro forma operating margins swung to a affirmative 7% this quarter, up from -3% past year.

Adjusted EBITDA besides improved dramatically to $11.8 million, oregon a 12% margin, versus conscionable a 1% borderline successful the year-ago quarter.

Yext adjusted EBITDA

Yext adjusted EBITDA (Yext Q2 net release)

Yext besides generated $19.7 cardinal of operating currency travel successful the archetypal 2 quarters of FY23, versus currency burn of -$7.3 cardinal successful the prior-year period: a reflection of the company's higher gross margins and opex outgo reductions that springiness america much comfortableness successful Yext navigating done the existent macro environment.

Valuation and cardinal takeaways

At existent stock prices conscionable implicit $6, Yext trades astatine a marketplace headdress of $788.0 million. After we nett disconnected the $200.5 cardinal of currency connected Yext's astir caller equilibrium sheet, the company's resulting enterprise worth is $587.5 million.

Meanwhile, for adjacent fiscal twelvemonth FY24, Wall Street analysts are expecting Yext to execute a somewhat improved instrumentality to growth, with gross up 5% y/y to $425.6 cardinal (data from Yahoo Finance). Against this outlook, Yext trades astatine just 1.4x EV/FY24 revenue. And if we presume Yext's existent ~12% adjusted EBITDA borderline illustration connected FY24 revenue, adjusted EBITDA would beryllium $51.1 cardinal and its aggregate would beryllium 11.5x EV/FY24 adjusted EBITDA.

Needless to say, Yext is cheap: but with specified tepid maturation rates, it's hard to archer whether Yext is susceptible of rebounding oregon if it volition dice a "death by a 1000 cuts" arsenic it decays toward irrelevance. All successful all, I'm not comfy making a stake connected this banal yet: I'd urge remaining connected the sidelines here.

This nonfiction was written by

With combined acquisition of covering exertion companies connected Wall Street and moving successful Silicon Valley, and serving arsenic an extracurricular advisor to respective seed-round startups, Gary Alexander has vulnerability to galore of the themes shaping the manufacture today. He has been a regular contributor connected Seeking Alpha since 2017. He has been quoted successful galore web publications and his articles are syndicated to institution pages successful fashionable trading apps similar Robinhood.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we person nary stock, enactment oregon akin derivative presumption successful immoderate of the companies mentioned, and nary plans to initiate immoderate specified positions wrong the adjacent 72 hours. I wrote this nonfiction myself, and it expresses my ain opinions. I americium not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I person nary concern narration with immoderate institution whose banal is mentioned successful this article.

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