DoubleDown Interactive Co., Ltd. (DDI) Q1 2022 Earnings Call Transcript - The Motley Fool

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DoubleDown Interactive Co., Ltd. (DDI -10.71%)
Q1 2022 Earnings Call
May 10, 2022, 5:00 p.m. ET
Operator
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to DoubleDown’s earnings conference call for the financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2022. May name is Livia and I will be your conference operator this afternoon. Prior to this call, DoubleDown issued an audited financial results for the first quarter 2022 in a press release, a copy of which has been furnace in a report on Form 6-K filed with the SEC and is available on the investor relations section of the company’s website at www.doubledowninteractive.com. You can find a link to the investor relations section at the top of the homepage.
Joining us on today’s call are DoubleDown’s CEO, Mr. In Keuk Kim, and his CFO, Mr. Joe Siegrist. Following the remarks, we will open the call for questions.
Before we begin, Mr. Grampp, the company’s outside investor relations advisors, will make a brief introductory statement. Mr. Grampp?
Jeff GramppInvestor Relations
Thank you. Before management begins their formal remarks, we need to remind everyone that some of management’s comments today will be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as amended, and we hereby claim the protection of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are statements about future events and include expectations and projections, not present or historical facts, and it can be identified by the use of words such as may, might, will, expect, assume, believe, intend, estimate, continue, should, anticipate, or other similar terms. Forward-looking statements include and are not limited to those regarding our company’s future plans, mergers and acquisition strategy, strategic and financial objectives, expected performance and financial outlook. Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from what the company expects. Therefore, you should exercise caution in interpreting and relying on them.
We refer you DoubleDown’s annual report on Form 20-F, filed with the SEC on April 4, 2022 and other SEC filings for a more detailed discussion of the risks that could impact future operating results and financial conditions. These forward looking statements are made only as of the date of this call. The company does not undertake and expressly disclaims any obligation to update or alter the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law. During the call, management will discuss non-GAAP measures, which are believed by management to be useful in evaluating the company’s operating performance. These measures should not be considered superior to in isolation or as a substitute for the financial results prepared in accordance with GAAP. A full reconciliation of these measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure is available in the earnings release and on our Form 6-K filed with the SEC prior to this call.

I would like to remind everyone that this call is being recorded and will be made available for replay via a link available in the investor relations section of DoubleDown’s website. Now I would like to turn the call over to DoubleDown CEO, Mr. In Keuk Kim.
IK KimChief Executive Officer
Thank you, Jeff. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us on the earnings call for our first quarter 2022 results. Our first quarter results for 2022 continue to demonstrate the attractiveness of our business model.
While revenue was down sequentially on the first quarter of 2021, this was primarily due to our decision to scale back sales and marketing costs for our first non-social casino app, and that was so vital that they make certain product changes to improve the app’s monetization metrics. Its reduction in sales and marketing requirements led to a corresponding increase in revenue generated from that work during the period. Despite the revenue decrease, our adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin improved sequentially with a reduction in cost illustrating the adaptability of our business model to varying industry and macroeconomic conditions. We also continue to generate positive operating cash flow, ending the quarter with a cash and cash equivalents balance of $268 million, and have — and we hope to continue generating positive operating cash flows in the future. Our decision to scale down sales and marketing calls on that [Inaudible] in the years to come also demonstrates our commitment to being that steward of capital.
While we continue to focus on growing our business, we will not sacrifice or [Inaudible] the importance of generating returns on our investment for our shareholders, but they serve purpose of achieving goals. By selling back our investment for — on that word, in the year come to revisit our monetization strength for the app, we have been able to introduce [Inaudible] of several improvement for the app. If they want to pay decent KPIs for the game trend positively, we may increase marketing spending on that word during the current second quarter and beyond. As a leader in the social casino download through our project titled DoubleDown Casino, we believe that we have the team in place to achieve successful monetization strategy of gaming app adjacent to social casino. Now I will turn it over to our CFO, Joe Siegrist, to walk you through our financial year before providing my closing remarks.
Joe?
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Thank you, IK. And good afternoon, everyone. Let me start with revenues. Revenues for the first quarter of 2022 decreased 11.6% to $85.5 million, from $96.7 million for the first quarter of 2021. It is important to note that the prior year period benefited from the continuation of stay at home or work from home COVID prevention initiatives, which have significantly abated since then compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.
Compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, revenue in the first quarter of 2022 declined by only 0.9%, primarily due to a decrease in Undead World revenue based on our intentional reduction in user acquisition spending for the app. Our key monetization metrics for the first quarter of 2022 include average revenue per daily active user or ARPDAU was $0.97 in the first quarter, down slightly from $0.99 in the first quarter of 2021, and up sequentially from $0.96 for the fourth quarter of 2021. Average monthly revenue per payer was $225 in the first quarter, a year-over-year increase from $212 in the first quarter of 2021, and up sequentially from $216 in the fourth quarter of 2021. Lastly, payer conversion, which is the percentage of players who pay DoubleDown, was 5.5% in the first quarter, compared to 5.7% in the first quarter of 2021 and remained stable sequentially. Operating expenses in total for the first quarter of 2022 decreased 14.4% to $60.8 million, from $71.0 million for the first quarter of 2021.
The decrease was primarily due to decreases in cost of revenue, sales and marketing expenses, and depreciation and amortization expenses. Of note, sales and marketing expenses in the first quarter of 2022 were $19.8 million, essentially flat over the first quarter of 2021, but representing an over $2 million sequential decrease compared to the fourth quarter of 2021. This sequential reduction was primarily due to the aforementioned decrease in sales and marketing spending for Undead World: Hero Survival. Going forward, we expect our overall sales and marketing expenses to rise incrementally as we increase investment in acquiring and retaining players and our new apps as well as for DoubleDown Casino.
It is also worth noting that depreciation and amortization expenses in the first quarter of 2022 were $2.2 million, compared to $7.5 million in the first quarter of 2021, and essentially flat sequentially. The decrease from the year ago quarter was due to the completed amortization of certain identifiable, intangible assets for which we used purchase price allocation at the time of the 2017 DoubleDown Interactive acquisition. Net income for the first quarter of 2022 decreased to $18.5 million or $7.46 per diluted common share, compared to $19.4 million or $8.77 per diluted common share in the first quarter of 2021. Next, I want to discuss adjusted EBITDA.
Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin, our non-GAAP measures, which we believe are useful in evaluating our operating performance. A full reconciliation of these measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure is available in the earnings release. Adjusted EBITDA for the first quarter of 2022 was $26.9 million, compared to $33.1 million in the first quarter of 2021. Adjusted EBITDA margin for the first quarter of 2022 was 31.5% lower than the adjusted EBITDA margin of 34.2% for the first quarter of 2021.
The year-over-year decline in adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA margin is primarily attributable to the lower revenue in the first quarter of 2021, which I previously discussed. I’ll note that as I came mentioned earlier, adjusted EBITDA increase sequentially from $25.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 to $26.9 million in the first quarter of 2022. And adjusted EBITDA margin also increased sequentially from 22.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 31.5% in the first quarter of 2022, primarily due to the reduction in sales and marketing costs. The overall reduction in our operating costs compared to the first quarter of 2021 illustrates the variable and discretionary cost structure.
We have our most significant costs, our cost of revenue, which is comprised mostly of platform fees and royalties that are directly correlated to our revenue and sales and marketing costs, which are to a great extent discretionary. This gives us a highly adaptable business model that can generate relatively consistent adjusted EBIDTA and cash inflows across many different industry and macroeconomic cycles. Cash flow from operations for the first quarter of 2022 was $28.4 million, compared to $22.0 million for the first quarter of 2021. We did not incur any material capital expenditures during the first quarter.
Finally turning to our balance sheet. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, we had $268.2 million of cash and cash equivalents and short term investments, compared to $242.1 million of cash and cash equivalents at the end of 2021. Our total debt at the end of the first quarter of 2022 was $41.3 million, compared to $42.2 million at the end of the 2021 full year. Our cash position continued to improve as we continue to generate positive cash flows from operations.
This completes my financial summary. Now I’ll turn the call back over to IK for closing remarks. 
IK KimChief Executive Officer
Thank you, Joe. As we move forward in 2022, they’ll try to DoubleDown to profitability, go out of business. It starts with our continued effort to improve the performance of the casino through a combination of product enhancement, marketing, and labor optimization. The social casino gaming business is still the backbone of our company and has whether we are able to implement and realize such improvements remain crucial for our success.
We also see opportunities to grow our business outside of traditional social casinos, and as such, we tap into a distinct adjacent mobile gaming app remains a high priority. In addition to the introduction of Undead World: Hero Survivor in Fall 2021, we are planning to launch additional non-social casino games this year. For example, we have been working very hard on a new hyper casual game, Save My Zombies which just began on beta in April 2022. Also, as previously discussed, we have been working on filling a space which had both casino and non casino elements that we think can be attractive to both our existing switch extremely demographic and new demographics that may be more attractive to non casino casual gaming.
Spinning space remains on track to start [Inaudible] this summer. We are continuing to work on having a robust pipeline of new games to launch, and it is also important to note that if new games are being developed using our existing R&D budget. We, backed by our strong balance sheet position, of course, have also considered pursuing growth through potential M&A opportunities. In this regard, they will continue to look at potential opposition target using our key assessment criteria.
These criteria include the strength of a target, gaming and creative assets, our ability to create synergies using our product development, marketing and labor capabilities, and attractive pro forma financial model. We are now happy to take your questions. Operator?
Operator
[Operator instructions]. The first question is coming from the line of Greg Gibas from Northland Securities. Your line is open.
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
Hi. Good afternoon, IK and Joe. Thanks for taking the questions. I was just wondering if you could maybe discuss your expectations for the remainder of the year and when you would expect to see a return to year-over-year growth out of the core portfolio?
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Yes. Greg, thanks. Thanks for joining us and thanks for the question. As as we all know, the impact of the reduction, let’s say, in people staying at home and staying away from work has meant that the comps associated with our quarters have have been difficult and they will continue to be difficult.
If you look at year-over-year comps for the next — at least couple of quarters. As as we look forward, the social casino business is, as we’ve discussed, fairly flat or very low growth business as a whole. And that is why it’s so very important for us to not only optimize the presence we have in social casino with DoubleDown casino, but also most importantly to expand with non social casino apps. So our expectation is that the ability for us to grow is really tied to our ability to have success with the non social casino apps.
And that obviously starts with Undead World, but also the new hyper casual game, Save My Zombies that IK just mentioned, as well as spending in space and the other games that we have in our portfolio. And that’s where the the growth will really come from if we look at the comparisons to previous year-over-year quarters. And that’s also finally why the M&A work that we’re doing in our evaluation of targets is so very important as well.
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
Got it. Very helpful. Yes. I was just going to ask if you could discuss those upcoming titles.
But I think IK — and thanks for going over them again. But sounds like the Saved My Zombies — April is when that beta begins, then I think you said Spinning In Space, the open beta was this summer. Are you anticipating additional launches, I guess, in the second half of the year? They’re just trying to kind of get a sense of the slate for the remainder of the year.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Yes. We have some games in the pipeline beyond Save My Zombies and Spinning In Space. But at this point, I think those are the two that we’re tracking most closely as far as being launched this year or at least transitioning from beta to full release. And certainly, as we have more progress in getting closer to at least open beta with other games in the pipeline, we’ll keep you updated.
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
OK. Perfect. And just going back on Undead World. What enhancements, I guess, specifically are you going to be making to the game? You said trying to improve the monetization, and maybe when would you expect those to be completed? 
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
I’m sorry, Greg, could you repeat?
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
Yes, sorry. The enhancements I think you were making to Undead World. I think primarily on the monetization front. I was just wondering if you could discuss what those are, and maybe when they would be completed.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Yes, sure. So I can start. And if IK wants to provide some detail, I’ll let him give some specifics. But it’s really around payer retention.
I mean, we were quite — as we said from the beginning of our discussion about the app last fall, we were quite happy with player retention. And then, of course, as monetization continue to ramp, we were very interested in payer retention and, of course, how much each, each payer pays as well. But we have been more recently, as we’ve added enhancements to the app, been very focused first and foremost on payer retention. And, IK, why don’t you give an example perhaps of the kind of enhancements that we’ve been adding to the app. 
IK KimChief Executive Officer
Yes, right. For example, you have seen season pass features and some kinds of [Inaudible] ability. It’s — were very helpful for payer retention increase.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Yeah. And it’s so if you look at the season, the one that — the first one that IK mentioned, the season pass enhancements, which obviously provide benefits to payers and — players and payers assuming that they opt for the season pass feature. We started those enhancements several weeks ago and we’re very closely watching the impact on payer retention KPIs. And that’s one of the most important things that we’re observing is as we determine when and how much to increase our marketing investment.
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
Got it. Very helpful. And I guess just the last one for me. I’m not sure how much you can share, but I was just hoping for an update on those potential M&A opportunities that you are seeing.
Any sense of timing, whether things are getting close and maybe what multiples you expect to pay?
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Yes. Well, I’ll start with the last question first. The most interesting one, obviously, is valuations. I mean, we have an active process going on and we are looking at a range of different opportunities in the gaming various gaming sectors.
And relative to valuations, obviously, as public market valuations have declined, we believe and we’ve heard that expectations by private companies have have moderated. That being said, I don’t think that’s consistent across all gaming categories. Certain categories have valuations that, at least based on the feedback we’ve received, still are quite high. So we’ll just have to continue to wade through those and see what makes sense for us.
As far as timing, I mean, I guess all I can say, Greg, is that we have a very active process. We’re very engaged. And so we — given the importance of growth outside of social casino, it’s something that’s of the highest priority for the company.
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
Understood. Thanks, guys.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Thanks, Greg.
Operator
Our next question coming from the line of David Bain with B. Riley. Your line is open.
David BainB. Riley Securities — Analyst
Hey, thanks. I mean, my primary question was just asked on the valuations that you’re seeing, particularly in the private markets. Maybe building on Greg’s question, can you provide kind of the mix that you’re looking at private versus public? And what’s the dynamic, generally speaking, when you look at synergies, taking out public costs? I’m sure you’re balancing a lot of different factors there. I’m just trying to understand size and really what you’re seeing out there generally, if you can give a little bit more detail, since that’s a big piece of the thesis, it looks like.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Sure. Sure. Thanks, David. And hopefully you’re doing well.
Well, certainly. I mean, as as you would probably believe, most of the companies that we building at our private companies. But as it relates to size and what we can bring, I think as we’ve said we’re not shy. And certainly if we find something private or public, whatever that is even — I’ll use the word transformational for DoubleDown.
We’re we’re — if it makes sense for us, it’s something that that we will embrace. And so, again, we’re not shy. Obviously, it has to work for us however. And  work for us includes what you mentioned about our belief that we can bring synergies to what we acquire.
And in many cases, that’s the the parts of of this company that we now have that were brought to bear to improve DoubleDown, and that includes our technology platform, the great engineering talent, and product development talent that we now have in Korea, our ability to acquire new users. So our sales and marketing discipline and processes, relationship with partners, the things that we have learned as we’ve continued to improve the metrics relative to user acquisition with DoubleDown casino and the things that we kind of wrap around those functions as it relates to business intelligence and data analytics. These are the things that we know we can bring to improve a target and a business. And that’s something that we continue to use to to evaluate potential targets.
David BainB. Riley Securities — Analyst
OK. Awesome. That was really helpful. The I guess the other one I would ask would be last on the last call, you and IK kind of teased us with blockchain and any kind of opportunity there.
Are you ready to give us a little bit more detail on what you could be working on or looking at at this point?
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
At this point, I can’t give you anything more on that. And certainly that’s part of the — I can’t mention the criteria by which we’re — at the end of the formal remarks by which we are looking at companies. That’s certainly another one of those criteria that we’re very interested in. And I think that’s that’s about all I can say at this point. 
David BainB. Riley Securities — Analyst
OK. Fair enough. Thanks so much.
Operator
[Operator instruction]. Our next question coming from the line of Ricky [Inaudible] with [Inaudible] Capital. Your line is open.
Unknown speaker
Hey, good afternoon. Congrats on another very strong quarter of free cash flow generation. So my question is on return of capital to shareholders. If my math is correct, more than half of your market cap is in cash and you have a wonderful business that doesn’t require much of capital expenditure, so you’re back to cash out.
You’re probably trading at 60% free cash flow yield, which makes me believe that the market isn’t really appreciating what’s going on and strong free cash flow characteristics of this business. So while you’re considering acquisitions, what is your strategy in terms of maybe accelerated buybacks, tender offers, or dividends that could return some of this capital to shareholders that have been there? Just curious about that. Thank you.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Great. Thanks. So much for the question, and thanks, Ricky. Well, I guess, first acknowledgment, which is the incredible cash generative nature of our business.
And certainly it’s something that we continue to promote as we talk to investors. I will reiterate what what we have said on on at least the last couple of earnings calls, which is — well, we certainly are focused on M&A and what we do with our cash. The ability to maximize shareholder value is our top priority. And, first and foremost, you know, we we believe that doing that means to create growth for the company.
And that’s where the focus of our strong balance sheet is currently. That said, assuming that that strategy is delayed and or is not something that we’re able to pursue in the in the short to medium term, we definitely will look at other alternatives and other ways touse our balance sheet. 
Unknown speaker
And thank you for your answer. I strongly encourage you to do that, and maybe there is a way to do both, because every day that passes you generate more cash and maybe there is a way to acquire to not just to companies, but also provide an exit to people that doesn’t really understand your business in a very creative way for those that stand with you. Thank you. 
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Great. Thank you.
Operator
[Operator instructions]. And at this time, this concludes our question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Siegrist for any closing remarks.
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Thanks, Olivia. And thank you all for joining our call today and your interest in DoubleDown. We look forward to sharing future updates with you as we continue to innovate and grow within the global digital gaming industry. And have a great rest of your evening.
Operator
[Operator signoff]
Duration: 45 minutes
Jeff GramppInvestor Relations
IK KimChief Executive Officer
Joe SiegristChief Financial Officer
Greg GibasNorthland Securities — Analyst
David BainB. Riley Securities — Analyst
Unknown speaker
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