The Playhouses A News - Promo

Paycom Software (PAYC) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript


Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Paycom Software (PAYC 0.69%)
Q4 2023 Earnings Call
Feb 07, 2024, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good afternoon. My name is Sierra and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to Paycom’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 financial results conference call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise.

After the speakers’ remarks, there will be a Q&A session. [Operator instructions] I will now turn the call over to James Samford, head of investor relations. You may begin.

James SamfordHead of Investor Relations

Thank you and welcome to Paycom’s earnings conference call for the fourth-quarter and full-year 2023. Certain statements made on this call that are not historical facts including those related to our future plans, objectives, and expected performance are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements represent our outlook only as of the date of this conference call. While we believe any forward-looking statements made on this call are reasonable, actual results may differ materially because the statements are based on our current expectations and subject to risks and uncertainties.

These risks and uncertainties are discussed in our filings with the SEC, including our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q. You should refer to and consider these factors when relying on such forward-looking information. Any forward-looking statement made speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and we do not undertake and expressly disclaim any obligation to update or alter our forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise except as required by applicable law. Also, during today’s call, we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA, non-GAAP net income, adjusted gross profit, adjusted gross margin, and certain adjusted expenses. We use these non-GAAP financial measures to review and assess our performance and for planning purposes.

Should you invest $1,000 in Paycom Software right now?

Before you buy stock in Paycom Software, consider this:

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor analyst team just identified what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy now… and Paycom Software wasn’t one of them. The 10 stocks that made the cut could produce monster returns in the coming years.

Stock Advisor provides investors with an easy-to-follow blueprint for success, including guidance on building a portfolio, regular updates from analysts, and two new stock picks each month. The Stock Advisor service has more than tripled the return of S&P 500 since 2002*.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of February 5, 2024

A reconciliation schedule showing GAAP versus non-GAAP results is included in the press release that we issued after the close of the market today and is available on our website at investors.paycom.com. I will now turn the call over to Chad Richison, Paycom’s president and co-CEO. Chad?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, James, and thank you to everyone joining our call today. We ended 2023 with better-than-expected results, thanks to the considerable coordinated efforts of our team across the organization. Before digging into the quarterly results and achievements in 2023, I’d like to discuss today’s announcements about the promotion of Chris Thomas to co-CEO. Following that, I will briefly introduce Chris, who previously served as our COO.

Craig will then review our financials and our guidance before taking questions. With that, let’s get started. As founder and CEO of Paycom, my position has provided me the opportunity to work with great leaders who have built Paycom into a world-class HR and payroll software company. One such leader is Chris Thomas. He is someone I have extreme confidence in and a leader I can share responsibilities with at Paycom.

I’ve been preparing this opportunity for Chris and myself to work even more closely together for some time now. Today’s announcement further illustrates the trust I have in our leadership. Personally, this is very exciting because it allows me to invest further in the areas that I’m passionate about, which are the ones where I can have the largest impact for our clients. In this new role for Chris, Paycom will be even stronger than ever before. A key area of my continued focus will be product innovation and strategy, and Chris will continue to focus on operating other aspects of the business.

Our collaboration has strengthened Paycom, and I’m excited for what we will do going forward. In the last several months, we continued to strengthen our leadership team with the addition of Jason Clark as chief administrative officer and Steve Sturges as chief marketing Officer. Jason was the CEO of one of the region’s largest worker’s comp insurance companies. Having worked with Jason in various capacities for about 12 years, I officially brought him into the organization last year, knowing this was an ideal fit for him and for Paycom. Steve formerly owned and operated a very successful marketing agency, and I’ve had the privilege of working with him for about 15 years.

I’m excited to see him continue to elevate our brand and engage our clients and drive further demand generation for our sales force. This evolution of our organization is exciting, and I believe it will bring significant value to our clients, employees, and investors. Now, I want to discuss our vision for 2024 and then look back on some highlights of 2023. Following a better-than-expected end to 2023, in 2024, we are primarily focused on three key areas: world-class service, solution automation, and client ROI achievement. Our continued focus is being the leading provider of comprehensive payroll and human capital management solutions in every market we serve.

We are bringing the power of Paycom to more employers and employees and showing more organizations the ROI they experience by using our single database software. On the product front, Beti has been one of the products at the leading edge of our AI and automation strategy, delivering tremendous ROI to our clients. A recently commissioned third-party study on Beti highlighted three benefit areas: on average, a greater than 80% reduction in errors; a 90% reduction in time spent processing payroll; and improved employee engagement. A leader within the restaurant industry noted that the automation from Beti took days off payroll processing time, and that as employee checkers went down, employee engagement went up. Additionally, certain organizations using Beti experienced up to 100% of their end users regularly engaging with our easy-to-use system. Solutions like Paycom’s GONE tool are expanding automation to other areas of our product suite, namely our time-off application. The rollout of GONE toward the end of 2023 has been going very well.

This new product uses AI and decisioning logic to automate all decisions for time-off requests, which further enhances both the employee and the manager experience by eliminating conflicts and resolving time-sensitive decisions. Today, clients may make between 20 and 30 decisions or more per year, per employee concerning PTO, vacation requests, and the denials or approvals that go into staffing decision. GONE eliminates those unnecessary interaction points by providing a consistent and fully automated experience for employees, managers, HR administrators, and the business as a whole. With GONE, an employee in any industry can request time off at midnight on a Friday and know immediately if it is approved or denied because GONE has automated all time-off request decisions. It’s another example of a product that’s a win for our clients and a win for their employees.

We delivered a lot of innovation on the international front in 2023,. We launched our Global HCM product, and now companies of all sizes use this product across 180 countries and in 15 languages and dialects. We developed and launched native payroll in Canada and Mexico. Now, we’ve developed and are launching our native payroll solution in the United Kingdom. Our international strategy complements our product strategy and adds to the momentum we are seeing with US-based companies that have an international presence. While still early, we are very excited about the potential impact this initiative will have on our expanded TAM.

While I’m proud of our product developments and international expansion in 2023, I’m even more excited about where we are headed with the product department. As a company, we all know and feel the excitement that is happening within our walls. Since 1998, Paycom has changed the way businesses operate through innovation and automation. Our revolutionary product road map will continue to bring new levels of value to our clients. I am glad to see both growth in our product and in the people we are elevating and bringing back into the organization. The buzz about the future of product innovation across our organization is exciting and encouraging.

The client experience is everything to us, and that all starts with our product. We are excited to release more product enhancements and innovations than ever before. To sum up, in 2024, we will continue to be hyper-focused on world-class service, solution automation, and the client ROI achievement strategies. This means we will continue our emphasis on client ROI and the user experience. I’m confident that the size of our opportunity and our track record for execution will bolster our growth trajectory.

I’d like to thank our employees for their important contributions in 2023 and commitment to Paycom. In fact, because of them, Paycom earned many top workplace accolades in 2023, most notably, Gallup’s Exceptional Workplace Award. Additionally, Newsweek recognized us as one of the most trustworthy organizations and as a top workplace for diversity for parents and families. These accolades mean a lot because it’s a reflection of our leadership and the culture we have built. Before turning the call over to Craig, I’d like Chris to briefly introduce himself and discuss his vision for the role.

Chris?

Chris ThomasCo-Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chad. I’m honored to help lead such an incredible organization. I want to personally thank you for the guidance, tools, and insights you provided me through the years. Having had the opportunity to lead approximately 10 departments over my tenure like product, service, learning, HCM, implementation, and tasks, to name a few, I feel even more prepared to help lead Paycom into the future. I’m proud of our leadership group who has strategized and built the client value achievement strategy.

We spent a lot of quality time throughout the year, especially last quarter, having meaningful engagements with our clients, and the feedback has been very encouraging. We are strengthening our relationships and relentlessly pursuing solutions that deliver high ROI for our clients. The innovations and automation and user experience are resonating across our client base. Delivering immediate and measurable value to our clients will deliver long-term value to Paycom. As a result, our service and client relations groups are working together more closely than ever before, which is driving further ROI for our clients. We’re going to continue to generate even more momentum as we engage clients to help them maximize their value when using our system.

With that, I’ll turn the call over to Craig for a review of our financials and guidance. Craig?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Thanks, Chris. Before I review our fourth-quarter and full-year results for 2023 and our outlook for the first-quarter and full-year 2024, I would like to remind everyone that my comments related to certain financial measures will be on a non-GAAP basis. We ended the year with solid results with full-year 2023 revenue of 1,694,000,000, up 23% compared to 2022. Fourth-quarter results were better than expected with total revenues of $435 million representing growth of 17% over the comparable prior-year period. Our revenue growth was driven by new business wins, partially offset by lower cross-selling to existing clients.

Within total revenues, recurring revenue was 427 million for the fourth quarter of 2023, representing 98% of total revenues for the quarter and growing 17% from the comparable prior-year period. We delivered strong net income and adjusted EBITDA in 2023. Full-year GAAP net income was $341 million, or $5.88 per diluted share, based on approximately 58 million shares. Non-GAAP net income for 2023 was $449 million, or $7.75 per diluted share, up 26% from the prior year on a per-share basis. In the fourth quarter, GAAP net income of 82 million and non-GAAP net income of 110 million represented $1.43 and $1.93 per diluted share, respectively, based on approximately 57 million shares.

Full-year adjusted EBITDA was $719 million, representing full-year margin of 42.5%, up over 30 basis points year over year. Fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA was 177 million, representing a quarterly margin of 40.6% for the quarter. During the fourth quarter, we repurchased approximately 1.2 million shares of common stock for approximately 2% of our shares outstanding for a total of 213 million, and we paid over 21 million in cash dividends. As of December 31st, 2023, we have repurchased over 6.1 million shares, and when combined with dividends, we have returned nearly $1 billion to stockholders. We still have approximately $800 million remaining under our buyback authorization as of December 31st, 2023, and the board has approved our next quarterly dividend of $0.375 per share payable in mid-March. We ended 2023 with approximately 36,800 clients, representing a growth rate of 1% compared to 2022.

On a parent-company grouping basis, we ended the year with roughly 19,500 clients, up 2% compared to 2022. Digging into client mix details and using client figures based on parent company groupings, client count for companies with greater than 500 employees was up 11% year over year, and client count for companies with greater than 2,000 employees was up nearly 18% year over year. Total number of employee records stored in our system in 2023 was 6.8 million. Paycom’s annual revenue retention rate in 2023 was 90%, compared to 91% in 2022, with attrition concentrated primarily at the low end of our market. Note that our earnings press release issued earlier this afternoon included additional information about a recent modification in our annual revenue retention rate calculation. Adjusted R&D expense was $51 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, or 11.6% of total revenues.

Adjusted total R&D costs, including the capitalized portion for $73 million in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to $52 million in the prior-year period. We continue to invest in the long-term future growth opportunity including in areas of automation, AI, and innovation. Our tax rate for the year ended 2023 was 28% on a GAAP basis. For the full-year 2024, we anticipate our effective income tax rate to be approximately 29% on a GAAP basis and approximately 25% on a non-GAAP basis. In fiscal year 2024, we expect stock-based compensation expense as a percent of revenue to be approximately 8.5%.

This does not reflect any potential one-time adjustment related to the forfeiture of the 2020 CEO performance award. We will provide details on this one-time adjustment, if any, when we report first-quarter earnings. Turning to the balance sheet. Even after the substantial buybacks and dividends paid in the quarter, we ended the year with a very strong balance sheet, including cash and cash equivalents of $294 million and zero debt. Cash from operations was $485 million in 2023, representing an increase of 33%. The average daily balance of funds held on behalf of clients was approximately $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023.

On the capital expenditure front, our fifth building in Oklahoma City is substantially complete. We estimate total capex as a percent of revenues to be approximately 12% in 2024. Now, let me turn to guidance. Our approach to guidance remains consistent with our historical approach and that we guide to what we can see and factor in relevant trends, opportunities, and potential constraints. For 2024, we are also factoring in a wider range of sensitivities such as fluctuations of interest rates and the outcomes of several near-term strategic initiatives.

For fiscal 2024, we expect revenues in the range of 1,860,000,000 to 1,885,000,000, or approximately 11% year-over-year growth at the midpoint of the range, which is consistent with the target growth range we provided on our Q3 earnings call. We expect adjusted EBITDA in the range of 720 million to 730 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 39% at the midpoint of the range. For the first quarter of 2024, we expect total revenues in the range of 494 million to 497 million, representing a growth rate over the comparable prior-year period of approximately 10% at the midpoint of the range. We expect adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter in the range of 218 million to 222 million, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 44% at the midpoint of the range. 2023 delivered solid results for Paycom. The strength of our product and the client initiatives we have in place give me confidence that 2024 will be a solid year of execution. We will continue to invest in talent, marketing, innovation, customer service, and geographic expansion to strengthen our competitive position and meet the demand of our expanding TAM.

With that, we will open the line for questions. Operator?

Questions & Answers:

Operator

[Operator instructions] Our first question today comes from Raimo Lenschow with Barclays. Please proceed.

Raimo LenschowBarclays — Analyst

OK, thank you. All the best to the new management structure for me. Two questions. One, Chad, can you just speak a little bit to retention in 2023 and customer growth in 2023? Because if I do the math right, it was like 1% growth, which seems unusual for — for you guys.

Can you talk a little bit about, like, factors we saw there and that probably kind of linked in with that 90% retention number? And then, on EBITDA guide, Craig, for you, if I look at this year, you know, we’re kind of guiding down a little bit on EBITDA margin. Can you talk a little bit maybe about some of the projects or some of the work that you’re doing there that kind of drives that? Thank you.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Sure. I’m — I’ll — I’ll take — I may take both of those, actually. You know, as it relates to retention, you know, this year, we reported 90% versus 91% from last year. You know, kind of looking at retention, we typically don’t discuss it based on client size.

But the main part of the attrition was really in that down market side. If you — you know, if you remember, we added a lot of smaller clients during COVID, where, you know, we used to have five individuals — five salespeople in that group, and we increased that to actually 10 teams of — of eight. So, we had a lot of smaller clients during that time. And that was really the — what we saw as it related to the retention and that group the pressure on that down market group.

And, you know, they’re the ones that are most impacted by the macro, you know, the higher interest rates, the higher inflation. As it relates to, you know, the — the margins, you know, what I would say is, you know, we’ve really started at that 39 to 41% for the last four or five years, and that’s really where we wanted to start this year. And it really gives us the room to invest where we — where we need to invest in the areas of innovation and sales to continue to — to drive revenue growth.

Raimo LenschowBarclays — Analyst

OK, perfect. Makes sense. Thank you.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Samad Samana with Jefferies. Please proceed.

Samad SamanaJefferies — Analyst

Hi, good evening. Thank you for taking my questions, and welcome to the new members of management. Maybe my question follows up a little bit on Raimo. I’d like to dig deeper into the retention change.

It’s gone from 94%, down to 90%, so that’s about four points. You know, is that all due to the surge in clients that you added in — during the COVID period? And I guess the question is maybe, what is causing the attrition beyond that? Is it business failure taking up? Is it noncontrollable churn? Maybe help us think through what is causing that at the low end.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yes, I mean, at the low end, it’s typically, you know, more going out of business, but that — you know, that — that group of clients are more impacted by the macro. You know, we also changed the way we marked our clients’ loss, where we’re pulling that forward a little bit, Samad, where, you know, we’re marking them quicker than we have in the past. In that way, we can get back out and, you know, really try to sell some of those as they’re still in implementation, so.

Samad SamanaJefferies — Analyst

Great. And then, maybe just, you know, as I think through the fourth quarter, it was well ahead of what the guidance was. Just trying to unpack that. With rates maybe looking like they’re ticking down, have you seen any change in either — in the employment market staying strong, have you seen any change in either pre-employment services doing better-than-expected bonus runs? Maybe help us think through the strength that you saw in the fourth quarter versus the guidance that you gave after the third quarter.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean, I would say we probably went into fourth quarter a little more conservative than what we have in the past, you know, after kind of our Q3 results. You know, we were really looking at where the downside could be or the — you know, what — what could happen in the fourth quarter. And, you know, I would say things came in better than what we expected.

Samad SamanaJefferies — Analyst

Great. Appreciate you taking my questions.

Operator

Our next question comes from Mark Marcon with Jefferies. Please proceed — or with Baird, I apologize.

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

Can you hear me?

James SamfordHead of Investor Relations

Yeah.

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

Hello, can you hear me?

James SamfordHead of Investor Relations

Hey, Mark, we can hear you. Hey, Mark, we can hear you.

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

OK. Great. Thanks. Hey, can you talk a little bit about, you know, the traction with the sales force and what you’re seeing just in terms of — of new client growth? Because I’m looking at the, you know, implied, you know, ex-flow revenue growth, for the first quarter, and you did mention the retention is is lower. So, understand part of that, but I’m wondering can you just talk a little bit about sales effectiveness and what — what you’re seeing there?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean we’ve had a lot of success with sales effectiveness. Obviously, we’re selling a differentiated solution that brings differentiated value. You know, we did mention on the call that we’ve had more success, you know, in the 500 and above. I think we called out 11% growth in that group, 18% growth in the group that has 2,000 or more. And so, you know, we have been pressured more at the lower end of our market.

And also, you know, there’s a — a resource aspect as we look to onboard clients and what we’re going through there, how we use our resources to best impact client value. And so, you know, we’re having a lot of success there in the mid-market. Oftentimes, you are trading off — you are trading off on a unit basis. Oftentimes, small units were a little bit larger-type units, and I’m talking about employee size.

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

Great. And then, can you talk a little bit about the — the specific areas of investment that you would be making? You’re starting the year out with a, you know, slightly more conservative EBITDA target. What are the specific areas where you’re going to invest a little bit more? I imagine part of that is product, which you ended up referencing, but I’m wondering if there’s any other areas that, you know, we should look to.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

I mean growth has always been first prize for us. So, I mean that’s really what we’re focused on. When we’re talking about an impact on the — you know, from an adjusted EBITDA perspective, I mean we’re focused on the three areas that we talked about with the solution automation, world-class service, and then client ROI achievement. But those don’t necessarily — you know, we’ve got the staff to do those things. Those are things we’re working through and continuing to impact the client positively.

From an additional expense perspective, that’s going to be growth initiatives-related.

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Brian Schwartz with Oppenheimer. Please proceed.

Brian SchwartzOppenheimer and Company — Analyst

Yeah, hi. Thanks for taking my question this afternoon. Chad, wanted to ask you along the lines of the sales effectiveness, what you’re seeing in terms of cycles and as well as the — the top-of-the-funnel momentum. Are you seeing any changes in that aspect of the — of the sales?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

You know, I mean that’s a good question. You know, we’ve continued to go further upmarket, I’ve mentioned it on the call. And, you know, there is a little bit different motion as we work through that process and as we’ve gotten better at it. And so, you know, as you go further upmarket, you’re going to have — you know, it might take you a little bit longer than what it would than if you’re in the mid-market.

For us, it’s still about the work of the sales Individual. I mean, it really does determine how strong a sales individual is in regards to the process that’s being worked and — and how quickly a client can see that value and then onboard — onboard onto the system. So, I would say it’s more specific to an individual salesperson. And then, I would add to that that, as you go upmarket, you know, you have more people that you talk to, more stakeholders within any company, and you want to make sure you cover all those bases as you move forward.

Brian SchwartzOppenheimer and Company — Analyst

Thank you. And the follow-up question I had on — on the project investments, just thinking about that on the — the sales and the distribution side, is there anything you can share with us how you’re thinking about the pace of either new offices or new sales rep hiring this year maybe versus what you did last year in 2023? Thanks.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

We’re heading into 2024 really well-staffed in sales. So, you know, I think that they’ll have to play itself out. But as everyone knows, I mean, our — our sales office openings are based on the capacity that we have internally to be able to do that. And all I would say is that we’re — we’re better staffed going into 2024 than what we have been in a while for managers all the way up.

And so, you know, those opportunities, as they make sense for us — as it makes sense for us to do it, you know, we’ll be looking at that throughout the year.

Operator

Our next question comes from Joshua Reilly with Needham. Please proceed.

Josh ReillyNeedham and Company — Analyst

Yeah, thanks for taking my questions. Maybe just some more color on the customers you’re seeing attrition within the cohort of those who have adopted Beti versus the remaining customers yet to adopt Beti. Are you seeing higher attrition with those that are yet to adopt Beti?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

I mean, look, we want to begin talking about our retention as one number. Whether someone’s on Beti or not, they’re a client of ours. We want them to be a client of ours. obviously, I’ve called this out in the past, it continues to hold true, those companies that use our system fully get the most value of — out of it.

And obviously, we have a lower — much much lower attrition with businesses that use Beti versus those that don’t.

Josh ReillyNeedham and Company — Analyst

Got it. That’s helpful. And then, what are you seeing in average headcount per customer? And what assumptions are you making and guidance in terms of average headcount per customer? If you — and then, just, you know, following up on that, if you expect it’s going to be flat year over year in ’24, is that somewhat of a headwind to growth versus a normal year for you guys? Thanks.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

I mean, we’ve seen, you know, the headcount per customer has been very stable, you know. And so, as we’re looking at 2024 guidance, you know, we’re — we’re, you know, expecting the same, you know, very stable as it relates to headcount per customer.

Operator

Our next question comes from Steve Enders of Citi. Please proceed.

Steve EndersCiti — Analyst

OK, great. Thanks for asking the question. Maybe for Chad, just, you know, want to get a better sense for, I guess, why now is the right time to — to — to shift to a co-CEO structure, and you know, why is the time for — for you to be focusing more on the — the product and strategic side of the business today?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, well, I mean it’s been 25 years, and you know, I have the right person to do it with. This wasn’t — and this is something that we’ve been going through, as Chris mentioned in his prepared remarks. I mean Chris is taking a tour through the company and has operated 10, you know, of our significant departments already in the company. And so, you know, it’s something that I’ve been excited about. But I mean the long and the short is I mean innovation is, you know, where I oftentimes apply my greatest gifts, and that’s where I’m best at it.

And there are new technologies and toys to build with now, it’s an exciting time. You know, I’ve had a lot of fun running special projects. But, you know, in September of last year, you know, our product department, which I mentioned at the Barclays conference, you know, began reporting to me again. So, I’ve really enjoyed working with them.

I’ve been focused on that, as well as our sales strategy. And, look, I’m not retiring. I mean, I don’t even know what that would look like. I like to compete, be part of a team, but the long and the short is Chris and I can accomplish more together than I could alone.

Steve EndersCiti — Analyst

OK, that’s — that’s helpful. And then, maybe we can get an update on — on how the Beti adoption is going, pushing that back into the base, and maybe how things have — and kind of like what the expectations are for — for this year for where that could potentially — essentially go.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean, I’m not going to say we’re pushing Beti back into the base. I think that, you know, to the extent a client sees the value and they’re ready to use Beti within their organization, we’re there to provide that. We’re meeting clients where they live in usage right now and helping them achieve value regardless of whether they use a Beti or not. I will say, though, as I continue to say, Beti drives a lot of efficiencies for businesses. It makes a giant impact for both them and their employees.

Our go-to-market strategy has been 100% Beti since July of 2021. And in regards to current clients, you know, we’re meeting them where they live, and we’re helping them achieve value because our system is very robust even without Beti. And, you know, it keeps getting missed, but GONE is a very significant product. I mean, it automated quite a lot for a business.

And so, a lot of our clients are achieving a lot of value through using that product as well right now.

Steve EndersCiti — Analyst

[Inaudible] question.

Operator

Our next question comes from Kevin McVeigh with UBS. Please proceed.

Kevin McVeighUBS — Analyst

Great. Thanks so much, and congratulations on the better-than-expected results. Just wanted to talk about that for a minute. I mean it seems like maybe the first time it’s been, you know, scale, just any thoughts around that.

And, you know, as we think about the buyback into ’24, again, it looks like the average share repurchase price of 1 78, just wanted to start there. So, any thoughts on that?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, so for the quarter, we bought back, you know, a little over 2% of the company, you know. And for the full year, I think, you know, we — we bought back 1.5 million shares. So, you know, we’ve been active buying back stock of the company. We still have a significant amount left on our buyback program. So, you know, we’ll — we’ll look to be and we’ve always been very opportunistic as we’re looking to buy shares back.

Kevin McVeighUBS — Analyst

And then, as you think about kind of the Beti adoption across existing clients and the implementation, has that kind of run its course at this point, or is there any way to think about how that flexes over the course of 2024?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Well, I believe they’ll continue to be clients that see and want to utilize the value of Beti. And so, you know, yes, we will have more clients. And as they see the value and choose to come on to Beti to actually achieve that value, you know, we’re going to be there to help them. I will say we’re meeting clients where they live with our product right now.

And that’s a good place for us, that’s a good place for clients. So, we’re meeting them where they live, and we’re helping them achieve the value available to them in the software, whether they use Beti or not. It’s a single database system. It’s very easy to use, and there’s all kinds of areas where our clients are receiving value, especially right now as we’ve even introduced GONE. You know, that’s giving us more and more conversations because everybody wants to automate time-off requests.

I mean there’s nobody that doesn’t want to automate time-off requests. So, you know, we’re having a lot of success with that as well right now.

Kevin McVeighUBS — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Siti Panigrahi with Mizuho. Please proceed.

Siti PanigrahiMizuho Securities — Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to ask about CRR strategy. I know last — last few quarters, you talked about how CRR are going to focus on, you know, cross-selling Beti. But what I understand it’s in no way focused.

So, what’s the CRR strategy right now? Are they cross-selling any other module? And how should we think about that cannibalization opportunity that earlier you talked about CRR by spending more time pushing Beti? How is that going to change and impact for 2024?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Sure, so what I would say is, even as we looked into this year, it wasn’t as much that the CRRs were out pushing Beti as much as they were out converting the Betis that had already, you know, told us they’re wanting to go. And that does take some time for the CRRs to do that. And that time they spent doing that, making sure we get appropriate usage, you know, prevented them from being able to do certain other tasks. I mean, I would say that right now, and I’ve — and I’ve been saying this, even probably mentioned this on last quarter, we’re not preventing a CRR from going out and selling. There’s just a certain criteria of usage that we look for both before you sell a client, a product, as well as after you sold a line of product to make sure that the value is being achieved. So, I would just say that there’s a a little bit different process that they go through now in regards to selling, as you’ve heard me say before.

It’s easier to sell a client a product and to get them to actually use it the correct way, to achieve value, and we’ve been very focused on both of those pieces both in last year, and that’ll continue into 2024.

Siti PanigrahiMizuho Securities — Analyst

Thanks, Chad. And then, last quarter you talked about some of the impact from macro, mainly like pre-employment checks, those kind of services. How has that been trending since then?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, I was — I would say, you know, we talked a little bit about it last quarter that it, you know, was still positive but not growing at the — at the rate that we had — had been experiencing in the past. I would say it’s still similar. I mean, you know, the market is — is tight. You’re not seeing people change jobs as much as what you may have in the past.

But, you know, it’s still up. It’s just, you know, it’s still a little soft in that area on the pre-employment services.

Siti PanigrahiMizuho Securities — Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question today comes from Jared Levine with TD Cowen. Please proceed.

Jared LevineTD Cowen — Analyst

Thank you. Just in terms of the competitive environment, have you noticed any change in 1Q or in 4Q? And if so, is it broad-based or limited to certain competitors?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

No, I mean, it’s always been a very highly competitive environment. I’ve you know — without naming them, I’ve talked to — talked about our competitors. I still think we’re primarily the new company, and we celebrated 25 years last year. So, all that’s to say, I think we’ve all known each other for a long time. We’ve all been highly competitive, and you know, that’s always been the case.

Jared LevineTD Cowen — Analyst

Got it. And then, looking at the 1Q guidance here —

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

[Inaudible]

Jared LevineTD Cowen — Analyst

Then looking at the 1Q guidance here, how does the absolute dollar form filings revenue embedded within that 1Q guide compared to the 1Q ’23 form filings revenue, just in terms of how much of a headwind year-on-year growth that represents?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean, the forms-filing is — is somewhat of a headwind in Q1. You know, we’ve seen that, you know, for several years there’s really not any new forms after the ACA forms came out. So, I mean, it’s kind of been the same type of forms that we — we typically file. You know, we talked about the number of people that we have on our system.

And that typically — that growth rate typically follows the trend of the forms — filing, growth for the — for the quarter.

Jared LevineTD Cowen — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jason Celino with KeyBanc. Please proceed.

Jason CelinoKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Maybe, Craig, you talked about a wider range to guidance this year based on, you know, different scenarios for, I think you said, interest rates and other strategic initiatives. Maybe can you just talk about what’s baked into the low end versus what you’re baking in at the high end?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

I mean, you know, there’s — there’s different things that we’re factoring in on the –you know, the full-year guide. This is much wider than what we’ve done in the past. I mean, you know, the main driver is going to be the, you know, the — the Fed’s rate and what they do with that. You know, you’ve heard anywhere from three to seven decreases in rates. So, you know, we wanted to make sure we gave a range that we could, you know, fit that in if any of those scenarios happen.

Jason CelinoKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Perfect. And then, on the — the customer growth, you know, for going forward maybe for 2024, internally, what types of initiatives like marketing, targeting do you plan to implement or do to try to really accelerate that? Thanks.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, so we’re very focused on our go-to-market strategy. You know, we focus on the revenue opportunities available to us. I wouldn’t say it’s just a unit game, but you know, you’re playing both sides of that, obviously, because it’s — the unit does help with the revenue. And so, you know, we’re not changing a whole lot when it comes to our strategy. I think our message is getting cleaner, and you know, like, we, like I said in the call, I mean, we just put out another report in regards to Beti’s value.

We do continue to have a lot of interest about, you know, businesses using Beti and then, again, just a single database system.

Jason CelinoKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

OK. Great. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Arvind Ramnani with Piper Sandler. Please proceed.

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking my question. You know, I had a couple of questions on — on — on Beti. You know, I guess, like, you know, have you seen any sort of client attrition, you know, whether it’s like attrition from existing clients or — or some clients saying, you know, prospective clients who are choosing to — to kind of go a different direction because they don’t like Beti? I mean, has there been any kind of negative or pushback on Beti from customers? Or has it largely been — been — been quite — quite positive?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Now, we’re having a lot of success with Beti. I think you’re talking about a head-to-head where someone might choose not to use Beti and continue to do it. You know, the way it’s been done traditionally, you know, that really comes down to the salesperson and having somebody that understands the value, and then also spending the time with the client and all the stakeholders and working through that. So, that you know, they can actually see the ROI available for them.

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

Great. And — and I guess like, you know, if someone is going to want to kind of — you know, kind of use the latest version of — of Paycom, you know, do they have the ability to use Beti, but say like, hey, you know, in terms of like self-certifying the payroll, if that’s something they want to give the employees, is that — are you able to turn on and off that option where you say, like, you know, you can use all of Beti except this turn on turn off option? [Inaudible] one feature.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

We have how many modules, Craig? And so, we have 31 modules, and those are chosen by the client, how they use those. Now, many of our modules are tied together, and so it’s through one module that you get the value of the other. But that wouldn’t be the case with all 31. I would say there’s some 34 — sorry, 34 modules.

I would say there’s some core modules that, you know, are going to be critical for a client to be able to actually process a payroll for tax depositing and everything else. And then, there’s some other modules, you know, that — that’s more driven at the client choice of whether or not they want to provide that solution to their organization or whether or not they have that covered in another area.

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

OK, this last question out here is, like, you know, if someone has payroll but — but they are basically not — they have the ability to — to — to kind of run — run payroll through you all. But things like employees are not required to certify their paycheck every two weeks. Is that a possibility or no?

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, that’s quite dependent on exactly what they require in that.

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

OK.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

That’s up to them.

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

Perfect. Perfect. Thank you.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, and you know, [Inaudible].

Operator

Our next question comes from Bhavin Shah with Deutsche Bank. Please proceed.

Bhavin ShahDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Chad, I think you spoke about some of your strategic initiatives kind of impacting 2024 top line. Can you maybe just provide a little bit more — further insight into which ones are having the greatest impact on — on revenue and how long do you think these kind of headwinds from these strategic initiatives last? Is it a one-year thing, or do you think it will take multiple years to play out?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, you mean in terms of our strategic initiatives for ’24, I mean obviously, you know, they could have an impact on the top line, as well as, you know, some some of the expenses as well. And you know, I would say that a lot of those are going to impact ’24 and, you know, maybe have a small tail on that.

Bhavin ShahDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Got it. And then, I guess maybe one clarification from what at least I understand, and please correct me if I’m wrong, it appears like from your messaging today that you’re perhaps a little bit less aggressive in terms of pushing Beti into the customer base versus maybe prior commentary. If that’s true, why wouldn’t this decrease some of the kind of revenue headwinds that you talked about last quarter that — that Beti might be creating in fiscal ’24?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

I mean, you know, we talked about some of the headwinds that Beti may be creating. We talked about that — that last quarter. And, you know, I mean Beti is a — has great benefit to the customer. I mean eliminates errors and those are true, has value to the customer.

And, you know, we’ve looked at that and what that as a headwind that may be to us, and really that’s from eliminating some of those services that we charge for. And, you know, we’ve estimated that to be, you know, approximately 5% of revenue, but you know, we wouldn’t expect all of that to — to go away. So, that’s kind of — you know as we’ve gone through and really looked at those areas of our business that could be impacted, that’s kind of what we looked at.

Bhavin ShahDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Got it. Thanks for taking my questions.

Operator

Our next question today comes from Daniel Jester with BMO. Please proceed.

Dan JesterBMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking my question. Just on the gross margin trajectory, I know it’s less of a focus than EBITDA, but three straight years of compression exiting 2023. As we think about 2024 and some of the investments you’re making, should we think that gross margin compresses again, or I guess how should we be thinking about that for the year ahead?

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, I mean, you know, we don’t — we don’t guide to gross margin. You know, I mean there’s several things that go into that. You know, one of the largest impacts to gross margin is really headcount on our — our service side. And so, you know, we’re well staffed going — you know, as we’re exiting 2023, and — and those costs can, you know, continue to carry on, you know, into 2024.

Dan JesterBMO Capital Markets — Analyst

OK, great. And then, on the Global HCM, great to hear about native payroll in Canada and Mexico out there. Are you actually paying people in both of those countries today? And when — and if that’s the case, can you just give us a flavor for kind of who or who you’re displacing? Is it some of your maybe US-based peers, or is it maybe local providers? Just a little more color on kind of the international trajectory. Thank you.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Sure, the Global HCM side, again, we’re talking about for Canada and Mexico. Well, Global HCM, you can use for many of the — for all the countries. But our Global HCM side, you’re going to displace, you know, more of our typical vendors that we may see. And then, I would say, on the payroll side, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s oftentimes where we’re replacing an in-country partner or an in-country vendor on the payroll side for both Canada and Mexico, which we are up and running in now.

We did announce today that we’ve added the UK to that. But as far as Canada and Mexico, we’re running in those countries right now.

Dan JesterBMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our final question today comes from Adam Bergere with Bank of America. Please proceed.

Adam BergereBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Hey, thanks for taking my question. Can you talk about sales productivity and the retention rate assumptions embedded into the 2024 guide and how that compares to what you saw in 2023? Thanks.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I’ll — I’ll take the sales productivity. I mean, you know, we’ve got a great sales organization. We always have. We’ve had a great sales strategy.

We’re continuing to get a lot of people involved with our sales organization. We’ve — we’ve done a great job training them, and you know, we’re set up to go through this year. We did a great job last year throughout the year selling. You know, we had a lot of things working with us on that as we move throughout the year.

We kind of talked about the Beti cannibalization or the displacement of certain fees. Craig talked about that being a 5% still total out there. We’ve seen portions of that 5% already down 20%. So, again, that’s a successful win for the client. I do think that it takes a — a certain skill set to be able to go in and work with the client within our industry, and we’re having a lot of success there.

So, we do expect that we’re going to sell more this year than what we sold last year. And last year was a good sales year.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yeah, and in terms of the retention, you know, as we mentioned, you know, the — the part that impacted retention the most this year was really at the — at the low end of the market, you know. And we’re exposed to the low end of the market. Very small, you know, I mean we’re less than 5% that has under 50 employees, so. And it’s, actually, I think, closer to 3.5%.

So, you know, as we’re moving into the current year, we’ve already mentioned that, you know, the initial looks are — are positive. So, that’s kind of the way we would look at that.

Adam BergereBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

All right. Thank you. And then, just a follow-up to that last point, are you investing a little less incrementally in that lower end of the market than would you say? Thanks.

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Yes, I would say we are investing a little less.

Operator

Thank you for your questions. This concludes the Q&A portion of today’s call. I will now turn the call back over to Mr. Chad Richison for closing remarks.

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Well, thanks, everyone, for joining the call today. I want to congratulate the 2023 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award winner, Trey Taylor from the US Air Force Academy. This award recognizes the most outstanding defensive back in college football and memorializes Jim Thorpe, who was one of the greatest all-around athletes in history. Jim Thorpe also happened to be an Oklahoman. We plan on participating in the KeyBanc and Morgan Stanley conferences in March and seeing many of you in person throughout the coming months.

I’d like to congratulate Chris and thank all our employees for their contribution to Paycom’s success. Operator, you may end the call.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 0 minutes

Call participants:

James SamfordHead of Investor Relations

Chad RichisonPresident and Co-Chief Executive Officer

Chris ThomasCo-Chief Executive Officer

Craig BoelteChief Financial Officer

Raimo LenschowBarclays — Analyst

Samad SamanaJefferies — Analyst

Mark MarconRobert W. Baird and Company — Analyst

Brian SchwartzOppenheimer and Company — Analyst

Josh ReillyNeedham and Company — Analyst

Steve EndersCiti — Analyst

Kevin McVeighUBS — Analyst

Siti PanigrahiMizuho Securities — Analyst

Jared LevineTD Cowen — Analyst

Jason CelinoKeyBanc Capital Markets — Analyst

Arvind RamnaniPiper Sandler — Analyst

Bhavin ShahDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Dan JesterBMO Capital Markets — Analyst

Adam BergereBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

More PAYC analysis

All earnings call transcripts



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top