Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB)
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Nov 05, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Sylvia, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to Dun & Bradstreet’s third-quarter 2020 conference call. [Operator instructions] With that, I would now like to turn the call over to Deb McCann, treasurer and senior vice president of investor relations.

You may proceed.

Deb McCannTreasurer and Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you. Good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us for Dun & Bradstreet’s financial results conference call for the third quarter ending September 30, 2020. On the call today, we have Dun & Bradstreet’s CEO, Anthony Jabbour; and CFO, Bryan Hipsher. Before we begin, allow me to provide a disclaimer regarding forward-looking statements.

This call including the Q&A portion of the call, may include forward-looking statements related to the expected future results for our company and are, therefore, forward-looking statements. Our actual results may differ materially from our projections due to a number of risks and uncertainties. The risks and uncertainties that forward-looking statements are subject to are described in our earnings release and other SEC filings. Today’s remarks will also include references to non-GAAP financial measures.

Additional information including reconciliation between non-GAAP financial information to the GAAP financial information is provided in the press release and supplemental slide presentation. This conference call will be available for replay via webcast through Dun & Bradstreet’s investor relations website at investor.dnb.com. Anthony will begin with highlights from the third quarter including the progress we are making with our growth strategies and transformation. Bryan will then take you through a review of the financials before we proceed to Q&A.

With that, I’ll now turn the call over to Anthony.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Deb. Good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us for our third-quarter earnings call. This was another solid quarter that finished in line with our expectations, putting us on track to meet the full year 2020 outlook provided on the second-quarter call. Our company’s financial results demonstrate that despite experiencing impacts of COVID-19 and other near-term headwinds, the core fundamentals of our business are strong.

Our continued focus on efficiency is reflected in our improved EBITDA margins and annualized run rate cost savings to date of $225 million which is up $5 million from the second quarter. We continue to progress toward our revised target of $250 million, and we’ll continue to update you on future calls. Overall, our team continues to make great strides in executing on our strategy, and we are building significant momentum. During today’s call, I’ll update you on some notable progress against both our growth strategy and ongoing transformation and then turn the call over to Bryan for a financial review.

After that, we will take your questions. So let’s start with some of the announcements and successes that occurred during the third quarter. First is the announcement we made last month that we entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Bisnode, a longtime Dun & Bradstreet Worldwide Network member. The acquisition represents a key investment in support of our international growth strategy.

During our October 8 call, we described how Bisnode had several strategic and financial benefits including a significantly expanded footprint across the DACH region which is Germany, Australia and Switzerland, Scandinavia and Central Europe, allowing us to better serve our clients operating in the region and globally. We are busy with the integration planning in anticipation of the transaction close which is still expected in January 2021 and plan to share incremental financial and strategic details on Bisnode during the next quarter’s earnings call. Now, turning to our sales and operations execution in the third quarter. Our year-to-date retention rate remained strong at 96%, and 32% of our business was sold in multi-year deals.

One deal that exemplifies both of those metrics is the expansion of our strategic relationship with Microsoft to a multiyear contract for enterprise data management with use cases spanning both finance and risk and sales and marketing. This is an important example of our ability to not just retain but expand the scope and duration of strategic relationships which is a key element of our growth strategy. Other third-quarter renewals include a multiyear enterprise license deal with HSBC supporting their data and analytics strategy, a Global 500 office supply retailer who turned to Dun & Bradstreet to help them manage fraud risk and an expanded multiyear relationship with a multibillion-dollar private shipping supplies company. We also renewed business with insurance solutions provider, T&A, and financial technology solutions provider, WEX, who both use our finance and risk solutions.

Plus, we expanded our relationship with Greensill, a British market-leading provider of working capital finance. These renewals are examples of where we are able to build off of an existing set of use cases within the enterprise and cross-sell and upsell solutions to broaden our penetration into different parts of their global organizations. Turning to new business. Among others, we recently signed a Fortune 500 manufacturer of coatings and paint who turned to our United Kingdom and United States teams for a cross-border solution that provides an end-to-end view of their customers’ and suppliers’ master data using our latest API, Direct+, offering.

Now we also won back an industry-leading Fortune 1000 global specialty chemicals and performance materials company who turned back to Dun & Bradstreet from a lower-cost alternative to consolidate its credit processes. As you can see, client engagement is strong, and we continue to see high demand across our existing portfolio of solutions, giving us confidence that we have listened to our clients and that our ongoing transformation of technology, data coverage and analytics is delivering what they need. In addition to our existing portfolio of solutions, we recently announced a new sales and marketing solution, D&B Connect, a highly configurable plug-and-play, self-service data management platform. D&B Connect helps our clients assess, clean and enrich their customer data against category-leading data in the Dun & Bradstreet data cloud.

With D&B Connect, time spent on data management is reduced from days to hours so that our clients can focus on what’s most important, growing new business. This is particularly important for small and medium-sized businesses who do not have the resources of a large enterprise and who need to quickly make sense of the data they have and gain additional insights to safeguard and grow their business. Next, I’ll update you on our technology transformation, starting with our progress on Project Ascent. As we described in the second-quarter call, Project Ascent will modernize our data supply chain, allowing us to rapidly expand our traditional and nontraditional data sets, simplify connectivity to the end user solutions and enhance our overall throughput.

In the quarter, we began investing in global shipping manifest data which is a new nontraditional data set that is complex to curate and in high demand for use in supply chain fraud and risk analytics. We’re already using the data to fulfill a finance and risk use case for our customer engagement and are pleased with the initial performance. In the fourth quarter and beyond, we plan to enhance the operational user interface, reporting capabilities and most importantly, add new nontraditional data sets and convert our existing data sets over to the new supply chain process. Our ongoing enhancements to our API technology allow us to expand our latest D&B Direct+ offerings globally including the United Kingdom and Ireland, China and to our Worldwide Network which has been met with strong market reception.

Consolidating and progressing our API solutions enable simplification, scalability and the ability to deliver integrated data solutions with speed at lower cost. As we connect deeper and deeper within the core workflows of clients through our technology enhancements, it is clear to us that organizations are seeking more effective ways to grow revenue, improve their margins and mitigate their risk. Our transformation also includes the expansion and enhancement of our data which has led to significant growth of our data cloud which today includes over 400 million public and private businesses worldwide. This is 85 million or 27% more coverage of our businesses than we had when we took the company private in February of 2019.

We frequently hear from customers who want more and better data coverage, especially in international markets including Asia and Europe. In February of 2019, we have increased our coverage of businesses in the Asia Pacific region by 57%, fueled by our proprietary AI engine that addresses local language translation. We also remain focused on the expanding coverage of small and emerging businesses in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland, increasing the pace of small business data accumulation, growing from 56,000 per month in the first half of the year to 174,000 per month in the third quarter. We are listening to our clients and delivering which is translating into sales and ultimately, revenue and profit.

Another key element of our transformation is the strengthening of our analytics and insights. Last quarter, we told you about D&B analytics studio, our cloud-based analytics platform which allows clients to combine their data with third-party data and the scale, diversity and accuracy of our constantly expanding data cloud to achieve broader insights that could not be achieved on their own. It puts the power of analytics directly in the hands of the user and gives them a glimpse of the power of our data and could translate to future cross-selling into different solutions. For example, one of the largest global management consulting firms piloted our analytics studio using Dun & Bradstreet data and insights, combined with their data and insights to build derivative B2B analytics for improved customer engagement.

Being able to rapidly ingest third-party internal and customer data is a key advantage for consulting engagements, and we believe that the analytics studio gives our clients differentiated capabilities. The studio is gaining fast momentum, and we have 13 proof of concepts under way with clients. We signed five deals in the quarter including a global financial software company who is studying its total addressable market as well as to analyze its customers’ product purchasing behaviors. And with a government client who turned to D&B analytics studio to research and understand the impact of federal funding on small and medium businesses.

With continued strong interest from clients and a growing pipeline, we will continue to evolve the studio with alternative data sources, services and commercial-use solution sets to meet more use cases. Overall, we are pleased with the extraordinary effort of our team and are excited about the continued progress we are making in our transformation. We look forward to closing out the year strong. With that, I’ll now turn the call over to Bryan to discuss our financial results for the quarter.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Anthony. And good morning, everyone. Today, I will discuss our third-quarter 2020 results and our full year guidance. Turning to Slide 1.

On a GAAP basis, third-quarter revenues were $442 million, an increase of 8% compared to the prior-year quarter. This includes the net impact of the lower purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustment of $38 million. We had a net loss of $17 million for the third quarter or a diluted loss per share of $0.04 compared to a net loss of $89 million for the prior-year quarter primarily driven by the lower purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustment, lower transition-related costs, preferred dividends included in the prior-year period and lower interest expense partially offset by the call premium related to the partial redemption of the senior secured notes. Turning to Slide 2.

I’ll now discuss our adjusted results for the third quarter. Third-quarter adjusted revenues for the total company were $442 million, an increase of 8%. The increase was driven by the net impact of the lower purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustment of $38 million. This increase was partially offset by known headwinds as previously communicated.

These headwinds include lower usage revenues driven by the impact of COVID-19 of approximately $6 million, lower royalty revenues from the wind down of the Data.com partnership of approximately $6 million, a decision we made in the second half of 2019 to make structural changes within the legacy credibility business of $3 million and the shift of a government contract from Q3 to Q4 of $4 million. The total impact of these known headwinds was approximately $19 million. Excluding these unique items, revenues grew approximately 3% primarily from growth in our subscription-based revenues in our finance and risk solutions. Adjusted EBITDA for the total company was $197 million, an increase of 27% primarily driven by the lower purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustments reflected in the corporate segment along with lower overall operating costs driven primarily by lower net personnel expenses due to ongoing cost management initiatives.

Adjusted EBITDA margin was 44.6%. We had an adjusted net income of $101 million or adjusted diluted earnings per share of $0.24. Turning now to Slide 3. I will now discuss the results for our two segments, North America and international.

In North America, revenues for the third quarter decreased 3% to $363.3 million. finance and risk revenues decreased $1.8 million or 1% to $206.6 million. The decrease was primarily driven by lower usage volumes, the structural change in credibility and the shift of the government contract from Q3 to Q4 partially offset by an $8 million increase in our subscription-based revenues in our risk and government solutions. Sales and marketing revenues decreased $9.6 million or 6% to $156.7 million.

The decrease was primarily due to lower royalty revenue of approximately $6 million from the Data.com legacy partnership along with lower usage revenues. Adjusted EBITDA for North America decreased $5.4 million or 3% primarily due to lower revenues partially offset by lower operating costs primarily from ongoing cost management efforts. Adjusted EBITDA margin for North America was 50.7%. Turning to Slide 4.

In our international segment, third-quarter revenues increased 10% and or 7% on a constant-currency basis to $79.8 million. finance and risk revenues increased $8 million to $66.3 million. Excluding the positive impact of foreign exchange of approximately $1 million, the $7 million increase was driven primarily by Worldwide Network alliances from higher cross-border data sales of approximately $5 million and higher revenue from our U.K. market of approximately $2 million partially offset by lower usage volume in our Asian market of $0.6 million.

Sales and marketing revenues decreased $1.1 million to $13.5 million. Excluding the positive impact of foreign exchange of $0.4 million, decreased revenue was primarily attributable to lower revenue from our U.K. market of approximately $2 million, lower usage volume in our Asian market of $0.5 million partially offset by increased revenue from Worldwide Network alliances of $0.6 million primarily a result of increased product loyalty. International adjusted EBITDA of $28.2 million increased $2.7 million or 10.6% primarily due to higher revenues, with adjusted EBITDA margin of 35.4%.

Adjusted EBITDA for the corporate segment increased $44.7 million primarily due to the net impact of lower purchase accounting deferred revenue adjustments of $38 million. Turning to Slide 5. I’ll now walk through our capital structure. At the end of September 30, 2020, we had cash and cash equivalents of $311.3 million which when combined with the full capacity of our recently upsized $850 million revolving line of credit through 2025 represents total liquidity of approximately $1.2 billion.

On July 6, 2020, we completed the initial public offering and concurrent private placement which raised net proceeds of $2.2 billion after deducting underwriting discounts and IPO-related expenses. We used the majority of these proceeds to redeem the full amount of preferred stock and 40% or $300 million of our senior unsecured notes. Shortly after the IPO, we paid down our revolving line of credit balance, and on September 26, we partially redeemed 40% or $280 million of our senior secured notes. As of September 30, total debt principal was $3,387 million, and our leverage ratio was 4.7 times on a gross basis and 4.2 times on a net basis.

This compared to 5.6 times gross and 5.5 times net at the end of the second quarter. As a result of our decreased leverage, during the third quarter, our credit rating was upgraded to B+ from B- by S&P Global with a positive outlook, to a B2 from a B3 by Moody’s and to a B+ and subsequently to a BB- from a B by Fitch. We are happy with the progress we are making to deleverage our balance sheet and improve our credit ratings, allowing us more financial flexibility to further support our growth initiatives. Regarding our recent announcement to acquire Bisnode for approximately SEK 7.2 billion or $818 million, upon close, 75% of the consideration for the equity value will be paid in cash and the remaining 25% will be paid in newly issued shares of common stock of the company in a private placement.

The cash portion will be funded through cash on hand and debt financing. Once funded, we anticipate that we will maintain net leverage in the range of low to mid four times Turning now to Slide 6. I’ll now walk through our outlook for full year 2020. Full year guidance is unchanged since our last call.

Revenue on a constant-currency basis is expected to be in the range of $1,729 million to $1,759 million. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be in the range of $704 million to $724 million. Revenue and adjusted EBITDA include a negative $21 million impact from deferred revenue purchase accounting in both the low end and high end of the range. Adjusted EPS is expected to be in the range of $0.89 to $0.93.

Adjusted EPS includes a negative $0.04 impact from deferred revenue purchase accounting in both the low end and high end of the range. Additional modeling details underlying our outlook are as follows. These estimates include an additional $2 million of public company costs per quarter, with the largest component being corporate insurance. We expect interest expense of approximately $255 million, reduced from $265 million primarily due to partial paydown of the secured notes, and depreciation and amortization expense of approximately $60 million excluding incremental depreciation and amortization expense resulting from purchase accounting, adjusted effective tax rate of approximately 24%, weighted average shares outstanding of 367 million and finally, capex of approximately $120 million.

Overall, we are pleased with the progress we are making in our transformation and the core performance of the business. With that, we’re now happy to open the call for questions. Operator, will you please open up the line for Q&A.

Questions & Answers:

Operator

[Operator instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Gary Bisbee from Bank of America.

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Good morning, Gary.

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

I guess the first question, when you add new alternative data, and you mentioned a few things on the call and I know that’s a focus, how does that play out in your business model? Do you get immediate price or volume lift from adding new data sets or is this more a long-term play to drive innovation and attract new customers?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Sure, Gary. It’s a great question. And a bit of all of that, obviously. Number one, the future is moving to looking at new alternative data sources, and so that is future-proofing our business and showing to our clients how innovative and forward-thinking we are.

But it also has short-term implications for us as well in terms of clients buying that data from us and leveraging maybe analytics studio as well as combine their data with our data in addition to this alternate data and collaborate with it to look for new insights and new signals. So it gives us benefit short term on the buying side and also future-proofs our business and client relationships.

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

OK. So if you add a data set and a customer wants to use it I guess maybe it depends on the product, but they actually have to pay more for that or is it hard to generalize?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yes. No, they traditionally would pay more for that.

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

OK. All right. That’s helpful. And then maybe one on just the numbers.

As I look at the revenue growth over the last few quarters, I know there’s moving parts with COVID and all the other things you called out, but it seems like there’s a lot of volatility in growth rates, both across your businesses and quarter to quarter within the business. Given the highly recurring nature of the revenue I guess it’s puzzling a little bit as to why. I certainly know timing of deliverables plays into it, but is there any way you can help us understand if, for example, you’d expect more consistent growth rates once you work through some of these issues or is this just how the business works and really quarter to quarter, when customers take the data, it can have a pretty big impact on the revenue growth rate. Thank you.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Sure, Gary. So if we kind of start with the $442 million, right? And as you said, you added back the $1.4 million for the foreign exchange. And then the — in essence, we’re down to only $1 million a quarter from the deferred revenue impact.

And so when — you’re thinking about that from the $444.5 million, right? What you saw is that it’s generally relatively consistent in Q2 and in Q3. We still have a little bit of — and as we transform into the multiyear contracts, as Anthony had mentioned, and kind of smooth out, as you said, some of that movement between quarters, we still have a fourth quarter that is a step-up from that perspective. And what happens a lot of times, and we talked about this prior to, is that we’ll have committed amounts in some of these legacy contracts of the amount of usage that the customer is leveraging throughout the year. And there is some revenue recognition that ends up with a forfeiture amount at the end of the contract for any unused polls or unused data sets from that perspective.

And so that is the one thing that can cause a little bit of variance between quarters. We’ve gotten away from a lot of kind of onetime data delivery deals and things like that. So it’s a continued evolution. It’s definitely a lot more consistent.

As you heard, we increased the subscription-based revenues by $8 million again on a quarter-over-quarter basis. So we’ll continue to drive from that perspective. But I think this year specifically, just because of some of the impacts of COVID, there was some movement of usage volumes from quarter to quarter, but that ends up catching up by the end of the year.

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

OK, thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Hamzah Mazari from Jefferies.

Ryan GunningJefferies — Analyst

Hey guys. This is actually Ryan Gunning on for Hamzah. Just wondering if you could talk about your Worldwide Network similar to Bisnode and how those deals are structured in terms of royalties. And then are there larger assets there that you could buy back similar to what you did on that deal?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Sure, Ryan. Yeah, we’ve got — we’re very proud of the Worldwide Network arrangement that we have to really get the global capabilities. From a contractual perspective, we’ve got royalties in place where as they use some of our products, there’s a royalty fee that we would get. We also have data sharing that goes back and forth where we receive data from them, they receive data from us and obviously, both sides compensate.

So I think it’s fairly traditional as you’d expect in that regard. In terms of other potential acquisitions in the space similar to Bisnode, we do think that that’s a possibility. And as we talked consistently about our growth strategy, one of the growth tenets was international markets, and we’re excited with what we think we can do there. We’ve got — in addition to the whole universe of acquisition potential that we have and some of the Worldwide Network partners, these are companies we’ve worked with for a very long time, understand them well, using our products.

The relative risk is very low on doing anything there. So if there’s an opportunity there, we’re certainly going to look at it.

Ryan GunningJefferies — Analyst

Great. Thanks. And then for my follow-up, could you comment on, after the remaining cost takeouts taken out, just how to think about margin expansion annually in like a normal year, how it should look like with either a low or a mid- single-digit organic revenue growth?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, sure. So if you look at it, we run at about a 60% to 70% all-in contribution margin. Certainly on an individual deal, right, it could be much higher than that. But when we think about netting against investments, etc., from that perspective, you’re looking at 50 to 100 bps of margin expansion in a normalized year.

Now that being said of course we’re always thinking about continuous improvement from that perspective. But Ryan, that’s pretty much the standard.

Ryan GunningJefferies — Analyst

Great. Thanks guys.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Manav Patnaik from Barclays.

Manav PatnaikBarclays — Analyst

Good morning, guys. You mentioned 4Q is particularly strong quarter for you guys, and I was just wondering the visibility levels you have in the face of — like we have obviously rising cases, uncertainties. I’m just wondering if there can be risk that clients pull back on some of those commitments.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Manav, you broke up just at the beginning. Were you asking on COVID? With the rising COVID cases, how that impacts?

Manav PatnaikBarclays — Analyst

Yeah and specifically to the fourth quarter, since it’s so important to you guys. If there’s any risk of pulling back last minute.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Well, I’ll start, then I’ll pass on to Bryan. I’d say with COVID, there certainly is uncertainty introduced to all companies out there. And we’ve shown our impact from it on the revenue side has been relatively small for the size of the company that we are. But still, I mean, we’re — we hold ourselves accountable to the last dollar.

And so we’re very focused on what we commit to The Street and how we execute upon it. And what I’d say is we’ve seen great engagement with our clients. We’ve seen strong interest in the new innovations that we’re coming out with, the focus that we have. All of that, it feels very positive.

And we do see from clients, a little more guarded on their budgets on certain parts of the industry and certain parts where they are spending as it ties to COVID, kind of feel their way through it. So that’s some color that I could share with you on that. Bryan, I don’t know if there’s anything else you’d add to that.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Manav, I think as you saw too, we reiterated from that perspective. So we’re quite confident in where we’re coming in, in Q4. As Gary mentioned earlier, this year, we did have a little bit of movement, right, from the usage timing.

But again, based upon the subscription nature of our contracts, that revenue ultimately flows through right by the end of the year regardless of that perspective. So the other pieces, as I mentioned, clearly, is that while it was a headwind in Q3, that government contract will fold in, in Q4. So that’s $4 million from that perspective. But overall, I think COVID impact, generally, we talked about it being up $6 million this quarter.

And we expect something similar in the fourth quarter. But that’s all built into the guidance Manav.

Manav PatnaikBarclays — Analyst

Got it. And then the low 4s leverage level, I know you’re comfortable with that. But I was just hoping you could talk to us — like let’s just say another Bisnode-sized deal comes along, like how much are you willing to extend yourself. And just how you would essentially fund that?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Well, I’d say the deal specific, Manav, based on the — if there’s an average deal, an average opportunity, we wouldn’t — if we’re very excited about what it can do in terms of creating value for our shareholders, then we would look to go after it. But I’d really say it’s on a deal-by-deal basis. Being very — we’re very thoughtful on our leverage, and at the same time, we want to make sure there’s some really great opportunities for creating long-term shareholder value that we’d go after it aggressively.

Manav PatnaikBarclays — Analyst

All right. Thank you guys.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Manav.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Seth Weber from RBC Capital Markets.

Seth WeberRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning. I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to ask about the international business specifically.

I mean the margin was significantly better than what we were looking for. Do you feel like — and it’s up considerably from the second quarter. So do you feel like that this sort of mid- to — mid-30% range is sort of the right level to be thinking about it going forward? And then I guess there were some call-outs in the press release about softness in Asia, COVID related and stuff like that. Have you seen any improvement there or is that continuing to be a headwind? Thanks.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, sure. So 2.1 — we had called out in our last call that we were lapping some of those Worldwide Network onetime revenues which were clearly high margins from that perspective. So this is a relatively clean quarter for international. And you saw again as the revenues increase from that perspective, there was that contribution margin and flow-through which ultimately drove the margin expansion.

And so that business in and of itself is lower, right, than the overall company, but the good thing is we don’t have a lot of mix issues from that perspective and the contribution margins are overall accretive. When we talk about the headwinds from Asia again those have subsided I would say compared to where they were, especially in the first and second quarter. And so of the $6 million, you’re talking about maybe $1 million, right, in those — in that segment, so very limited overall.

Seth WeberRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

OK, that’s helpful. Thanks. And then just as a follow-up, you continued to add more multiyear contracts. Can you just talk to the type of price escalators that you’re putting in those contracts and how we should think about pricing going forward relative toward spend? Thanks.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, absolutely. So on the multiyear contracts, the way we really think about it is twofold, right? We think about — the first page that goes in there is, in essence, the cost of living adjustments. And so think about that as kind of a low single digit, call it three-ish percent from that perspective. When we look about the broader portfolio and as renewals come up, we’re certainly doing further elasticity studies, further studies from a market comparability perspective and really applying what I would describe as a strategic price increase where it’s necessary, so in essence, a customer that may be out of line from that perspective.

And so that’s what ultimately is driving the overall price increase. We’re — again, we had talked about it being quite limited before, starting to grow up to something to be more like two to two and a half percent over the next year or two.

Seth WeberRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Thank you very much guys.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yeah. So just with our standard — our new standard contract language, even if we don’t have multiyear, if it’s an annual contract, the auto renewal provision in that will have for an increase as well. So we’re being thoughtful in all areas in addition to what Bryan has just mentioned.

Seth WeberRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Terrific. I appreciate guys. Thank you very much.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you Seth.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Kevin McVeigh from Credit Suisse.

Kevin McVeighCredit Suisse — Analyst

Great. Thanks. Hey, you talked about what I thought was really a sizable step-up in clients. I think the number is like 400 million more worldwide, up from 85 million.

Any thoughts on just the aggregation process? Because it seems like you’re doing that in a more efficient manner given where kind of the cost leverage is coming in. Just any thoughts on that?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yeah. No, we’re really excited about it. It was one of the areas that we knew we needed to really improve for us to fulfill our ambitions. And so it started with what we had talked about with you before in terms of executive changes and approaches and technology.

And as you constantly see with the work that we’re doing around improving just our technology stacks, enabling us to do more and go faster, Project Ascent as an example, all that is really put in place to enable us to be able to do more at a cheaper price. And specifically, as we think about alternative data sources, there’s a tremendous amount of data there that you need to churn through to get nuggets or signals of information. And so the efficiency of the technology initiatives that we’re under are really important to us because, ultimately, they’ll keep costs down and they will for really driving value out of these alternative data sources than they will for the other more traditional data approaches that we’ve been taking in terms of business coverage, etc.

Kevin McVeighCredit Suisse — Analyst

That’s helpful. And then just some of the client wins like HSBC, Microsoft definitely seem like — or HSBC may have been a renewal, but just is that just maybe some of the data coming in a little bit cleaner and just more evidence of where you are operationally I guess from a historical perspective?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Well, I think it’s a couple of things. Again, when we talk about transformation, we’ve always been very specific about talking, in a well-rounded sense, of all the things we’re doing transforming the company. So we certainly transformed the data and analytics and the technology. We’ve also transformed our go to market.

So I think we’re really engaging with our clients well. And so as we’re in these renewal discussions, really showing them some of the new innovations that we’re coming out with, listening more, bringing executives in as part of the deals and the renewals. So those two, for example, I was involved in myself with Microsoft and HSBC. Steve Daffron, our president, is involved in a number of them.

So we’re really bringing — our go-to-market approach is really, I’d say, key differentiator from what we used to be doing in addition to all the improvements that we’ve been making in the business. And I think that is manifesting itself in these types of renewals and expansion of existing deals.

Kevin McVeighCredit Suisse — Analyst

Awesome. Thank you.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question is from the line of Brett Huff from Stephens Inc.

Brett HuffStephens Inc. — Analyst

Good morning guys.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Good morning, Brett. How are you?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Brett HuffStephens Inc. — Analyst

Good. How are you? Thanks for the data on the call as usual. First question is the conversations you’re having with your clients, the sales seem to be coming in pretty well. I know some of the usage is down just because of the virus and things like that.

But can you characterize the conversations you’re having with the clients? What is the — what are the drivers of their buying even in the face of a difficult business environment? What’s kind of getting them over the hump?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Well, I’d say the key thing, Brett, is every business is trying to improve, right? I mean they’re trying to leverage data in some way, their operations in some way to improve, right? And I think everyone realizes where things are at, especially while the pandemic is on, but they’re looking for ways and creative ideas and partners who will come to them with suggestions on how they can improve their business but also with the solutions that they can install for clients and be held accountable to the results. And that’s the approach that we’re taking. We’re collaborating a lot with our clients. We’re creating new capabilities for them.

There’s countless ones I could walk you through here, but really, what I’d say from a client perspective, at times like this, everyone is looking for leadership. And what I’m proud of our team is we’re stepping into that void with confidence, with — consulting on what we’re seeing working in the market and with solutions that are helping drive those results. So very warm receptions, having lots of meetings, good meetings like even in this new paradigm that we’re in. Lots of online selling, remote selling is going on.

And so I am excited about that. And at the same time, like I said, I do see some clients concerned obviously from a budget perspective, if their type of business has been impacted dramatically.

Brett HuffStephens Inc. — Analyst

That’s great. And then follow-up, sort of a more detailed question on that front. We know that you guys have a lot of great, high value-add products where you have pricing power and things like that. But there’s a couple where it seems like it’s going to be more of a dog fight, specifically in the SMB area and then in some of the sales and marketing.

Any thoughts specifically on the competitive environment, how you’re stacking up against the SMB competitors, especially here in the U.S.? And then also, lots of data on corporate — people within corporations, newly public companies and things like that. How’s that sort of street fight going?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Well, you know, as in the past, we are street fighters. And we’re bringing our best to the fight. We’ve made lots of improvements, I’d say, specifically in both those areas, SMS as well as SMB, in terms of bringing additional data. And fortunately for us, it’s not — we don’t have a tremendous market share of the SMB space.

So we look at that as having more opportunity versus risk for us from a competitive perspective. I’d say from an SMS perspective, there’s a number of things that we’re doing. One is we’ve made a shift to account-based marketing, where instead of just being transactional, bringing in more of our solutions to our clients in an integrated manner to show them how it all works with the data that could help them achieve what they want. We’re improving our contact data significantly.

We recently launched D&B Email IQ which allows clients to get some free data from us — a number of free data contacts per month again to get models that we’re still using if they give us some data. And so again, there’s a lot of work, great work I’d say, that we’re doing in that regard. And so we feel really good about how we’re positioned on a long-term basis here in both those segments.

Brett HuffStephens Inc. — Analyst

That’s great. Appreciate the color.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thanks, Brett.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Andrew Jeffrey with Truist Securities.

Unknown speaker

Hi. Good morning everybody. This is Tom Blakey on for Andrew. Maybe on the heels of that last question, our question was also around SMB and the large opportunity there.

You guys have solid retention and expansion in large customers. Just wanted to double click a little bit on the SMB opportunity. Any metrics you could share with us to highlight near-term traction there? Maybe expand a little more on that in terms of your go-to-market strategy you were just speaking of. And what would be the overall kind of like margins of this business as it reaches scale relative to the overall corporate average? That’d be helpful.

Thank you.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Sure. I’ll start, and I’ll pass it on to Bryan to answer the second part. I think from an SMB perspective, we’ve talked about how we’ve built capabilities for that segment. We’ve reorganized our go to market for that segment.

The other area that we’ve been focused on is from a digital perspective, and we’re very excited with the trends. They’re early but what we’re seeing in terms of clients coming to us and buying from us directly through our digital channels. So one of the benefits that we have from an SMB perspective is we have over 1,000 of them coming to us every day for one of our products or solutions, right, for CreditSignal, right, for DUNS number. They weren’t vetted as a supplier from one of our clients, and we’re going to help them be an improved supplier.

For whatever reason — there’s many reasons they’re coming to us. We have the great benefit of not trying to attract traffic to our website but to redirect the traffic that’s already coming and directing into our solutions. And so that is an area where we’ll continue to build on from a digital perspective. And obviously, it’s great for SMB clients, many who are self-navigators, and it’s a great business for us as well.

Bryan, I don’t know if you want to add to the second part of that.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah. When you look at overall, I mean, clearly, we’re driven by our, what we call, either strategic or mega accounts and then our national accounts. So when we look at the SMB space, it’s a place that we are, as Anthony said, making strong inroads in, especially through digital means. That business in and of itself now is call it roughly 15% the overall revenue of the company, that’s kind of in that SMB space, right, depending on how you define it.

But — so yes, I think we’re pretty excited about taking our current solutions, right, and as Anthony said, extending them down, doing product and packaging from that perspective. Because — as we talk about the Microsofts of the world, right, they have certain levels of sophistication and use cases that they need and, therefore, have a larger budget and larger appetite to pay from that perspective. For us, it’s been quite mindful in being targeted to have differentiation but also to make sure that we’re not selling a Ferrari, right, when we need to be a selling more of a Toyota. And so that’s been something that with the technology team’s evolution and the product team’s evolution, we’ve been able to package and price more appropriately to address the lower end of the market.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

And you see that Tom with some of the new products like our D&B Connect product, as an example, where before it would take IT teams from our large clients to work and combine data, etc. Whereas now, it’s really simple to use. I could use it myself, great user interface, highly configurable. So we’re being thoughtful about going more down market as we build this capability.

And that’s something where an internal IT team is not needed to benefit from the data through D&B Connect.

Unknown speaker

All right. And then maybe as a follow-up more toward the mega and more strategic clients, just directly on analytics studio. I know it’s early days, but it’s an exciting product. And I was just curious about how this will be priced, kind of longer-term contracts, all you can eat to kind of incent usage or will this be more of a capacity-based opportunity pricing?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah. So we start with a basic license from that perspective. And then they can build up by the amount of — they’re bringing in their data, right, they’re bringing in our data and they’re bringing in, in some circumstances, even other kind of third-party data from that perspective. So in essence, what we end up doing is kind of building like a tiered pricing model where they’re paying a base rate that, in essence, is covering kind of the infrastructure and then they’ll scale up, right, as they leverage the analytics.

And so in a sandbox kind of methodology, you allow them to be quite creative and drive new and thoughtful analytics. But once they want to operationalize them, right, that’s when they’re engaging and again, upsells of incremental alternative data sets, incremental analytics or larger kind of broader use case, right, that drives increased price from that perspective. And so that’s really the model that is kind of creating that fixed layer. But as they want to scale up and use more and more and more, they pay increased economics from that perspective.

Unknown speaker

Very helpful. Thank you again.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you Tom.

Operator

[Operator instructions] Your next question comes from the line of George Tong from Goldman Sachs.

George TongGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Hi. Thanks. Good morning. On the sales and marketing front, you indicated that 32% of business that’s now sold in multi-year deals.

Can you talk about how pricing and economics change for multi-year deals versus annual deals and what your targeted mix is for multi-year deals?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Sure.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yeah. I’ll start, Bryan, again. So the beauty with multi-year deals is obviously we have annual price escalators in there when you have a multiyear deal. And so that helps drive revenue growth.

And where that may be an obvious benefit of it, there’s some other benefits that may not be as obvious. And one of the key ones that I found throughout all my years in the industry is when you’re close to a renewal, you’re focusing on the renewal, you’re not focusing on expanding business relationships. So you’re posturing — that’s what happens typically. And when you got an annual contract, you’re constantly going through that churn.

So one of the big benefits that I see is, as we have these multiyear contracts, we’re now married for a number of years, let’s focus on all the ways we can help. You’re not thinking about a renewal. You’re just thinking about new solutions, new ways. And the new sales that we’ll add to an existing contract will be significantly higher when we have a multiyear agreement in place versus an agreement that’s about to expire in a year.

Bryan, I don’t know if you want to add anything more to that.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yes. The one thing, George, I would add to that is, if you’re going to ultimately enter into a one year contract from that perspective, when we look at our base rate increases, that’s going to be a little bit higher than what a coop — a basic price escalator will be from a multiyear contract. And so as we think about kind of the balancing of those perspectives, as you extend out, a three year deal or a four year deal, right, we can do a little bit less of a price escalator from that perspective. But if you’re going to do a shorter deal, right, a one year deal, two year deal, then it’s going to be a bit above the average from what we’ve discussed.

George TongGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Got it. That’s helpful. You talked about the increased pace of cross-selling and upselling in the quarter. Can you provide some ballpark metrics that track this progress such as percentage of customers that are buying multiple products or average number of products sold per customer and how that’s expected to trend over time?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, George. So we’ve continued to kind of dig into the separation from that perspective. I think a great example that Anthony walked through earlier was Microsoft, right? That was a business, as they renewed into this, that was leveraging, in essence, pretty heavily on the sales and marketing side. And as we talk to them about the power of the DUNS and the connectivity, they ultimately were able to leverage that broader data set and extend use cases more into the risk base, for instance, splitting into the finance and risk side.

And so again, what we tend to see, George, is at the top end of the customer base, they’re using eight, now closer to nine solutions per. It’s really the metrics in the midsized companies and the smaller where they’re using kind of, on average, like 1.7, right, to 2 from that perspective. And then in the SMB,that’s where it’s really down in the ones. But maybe, Anthony too, the digital aspect of that and how we expect the smaller businesses to now be able to come to us, have that experience and be exposed to both sides of the business is interesting.

George TongGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Got it. That’s helpful. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ashish Sabadra from Deutsche Bank.

Ashish SabadraDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. I just wanted to drill down further in the strength that we saw in the international finance and risk business. I was wondering if you could talk about what’s driving that elevated Worldwide Network sales. Are there any regions or particular companies, in particular which are driving it? And then on the U.K.

sales as well, what’s driving the strength in the U.K. business? Thanks.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, sure. So on the Worldwide Network Ashish, as Neeraj has come in and looked at some of these legacy agreements, we’ve certainly been updating them to make sure that we’re positioning ourselves in the right place. And so in the finance and risk space, for instance, we do a lot of facilitation in coordination, right, between the Worldwide Network partners. And so as we saw demand for our data and demand for our solutions being sold through Europe on the finance and risk side, that’s where we saw the step-up from that perspective.

The UKI was a great example. You heard about Greensill and HSBC. Both are customers that I think Anthony can expand upon, but again, saw the relationships, all the opportunity to take a much broader view of finance and risk and sales and marketing from that perspective. So definitely, we’re seeing some strong momentum in those regions.

And certainly, it’s a positive into Bisnode, right? And maybe, Anthony, if you can talk about Bisnode and how we’ve seen the — their ability to sell our Dun & Bradstreet products and the successes I think that they’ve reported, it would be great.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yeah. It was one of the things we’re excited with Bisnode, like I said, by being in partnership with some of these companies and seeing the actual volumes that they’re driving and getting an inside look at their business. With Bisnode, especially in the DACH region, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where they had a lot of Dun & Bradstreet product there, they were growing faster than they were throughout the rest of the business significantly. So we look at these signals and examples and overlay our solutions on top to see what do we believe the outcome would be through acquiring them and bringing more of our products into those markets and taking those products into other markets now that we own them all directly, and we’re excited about what that could look like.

Ashish SabadraDeutsche Bank — Analyst

That’s great. Very helpful color. And maybe just a follow-up to this, just around the diffusion of IP in international market and also launch of new localized products. Can you just provide any update on that front? Thanks.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

So Ashish, the first part, you said the IPs and the international markets?

Ashish SabadraDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Yes. What I was — if you could talk about how you are rolling out the products which are currently in the U.S. market, like the analytics rollout in the U.K. and Ireland and the plans to roll that out in the international market.

Thanks.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Yeah. No, it’s a — again, as we look at transforming the business, that’s an area we looked at and said, well, we’ve got these great products. It’s just about getting more shelf space for them. And in the international marketplaces, we weren’t doing enough of that historically.

And so we really put our foot to the pedal on that and have localized a lot of solutions, localized a lot of the SMS solutions in our Asia Pacific region, our API solutions in the UKI, China, India. So it really is a priority for us because again as we look at what’s low-hanging fruit, what’s a birthright for us, right, some of these things are — they’re out there just waiting to be made available. And historically, we hadn’t done that. So it really is a great priority for us.

It’s where we’re directing some of our capital to make sure we’re doing these, and they’re relatively quick and easy. We’ve got a great technology team in place helping enable it and great local business expertise, knowing which ones will be the highest probability winners out there. So we feel really good about that, and we’ll continue on that path.

Ashish SabadraDeutsche Bank — Analyst

That’s very helpful color, and good momentum in the international front. Thanks.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ashish.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Judah Sokel from JP Morgan.

Judah SokelJ.P. Morgan — Analyst

Hi. Good morning.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Good morning.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Hi, Judah. Good morning.

Judah SokelJ.P. Morgan — Analyst

A quick question. I don’t know if I missed it, but did you quantify the amount of M&A contribution in the quarter?

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Judah, the organic and inorganic were the same this quarter. We lapped Lattice in the second quarter of last year. And so we had talked the other — Orb and coAction were de minimis from that perspective.

So Lattice was lapped, so the numbers were the same.

Judah SokelJ.P. Morgan — Analyst

Got it. And then my other question is just in terms of sales and marketing. I know you guys have done a great job in terms of smoothing out the seasonality, really getting it across the four quarters rather than being a large fourth quarter outsized impact from Optimizer. But I know you can still get a boost from a strong Optimizer in some years.

So after a weaker third quarter for sales and marketing, how do you think Optimizer will do in the fourth quarter given that that’s a quarter that customers often commit to Optimizer more? Thanks.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Yeah, Judah. So from that perspective, I would say less Optimizer this year, more about the timing of some of the usage that’s just flowing through, right? And so from that perspective, that’s where part of the sales and marketing backup has been throughout the year. That being said, we do continue to look for sales, right, in the fourth quarter from that perspective. And so the master data has certainly been a continued growth area, along with what we call Audience Solutions which is our digital offering from that perspective.

And so that’s a business that’s continued to have strong double-digit growth on a year-over-year basis and will continue to expand from that perspective. But unlike kind of the old days, Judah, from that perspective, we still see a lot of demand for Optimizer. We’re still going to see continued demand for what’s now D&B Connect, kind of the next step, right, from a data management solution perspective. But really, some of that timing that will fall through into the fourth quarter will just be more of a release of some of those pent-up usage values that have built through the year.

Judah SokelJ.P. Morgan — Analyst

OK, thank you.

Operator

Your final question comes from the line of Jake Williams with Wells Fargo.

Jake WilliamsWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Good morning, everyone.

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Good morning, Jake.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Hey, Jake. Good morning.

Jake WilliamsWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Can you expand on what characteristics or qualities that might lead you to acquire a global network partner versus continuing just to maintain that partnership?

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Sure. I think one, do we believe it’s a well-run organization? Do we believe the amount of effort we would need to put into it or capital put into would be relatively small relative to the output that it would help us deliver in terms of new markets, new solutions, new revenue and ultimately, new value for our shareholders? But that would, I’d say, generally be one of the areas that we would look at. Are they open to selling? I mean that’s obviously a critical part of this as well. And you saw with Bisnode, where they were very open, they’re excited.

They took 25% in equity to help ensure the outcomes from it. So a number of factors I think that kind of roll into it, but those will be the highest ones I’d say.

Jake WilliamsWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

Got it. Thank you very much.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jake.

Operator

And we have reached the allotted time for questions and answers. I will now turn the call to Mr. Anthony Jabbour for any closing remarks.

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Thank you. In summary, we’re pleased with our progress to transform Dun & Bradstreet. We have a great company, and we’ll continue to focus on maximizing shareholder value. As always, I’d like to thank my Dun & Bradstreet colleagues for their exceptional efforts and our clients for the strong relationships.

Thank you for your interest in Dun & Bradstreet and for joining us on the call today. Take care.

Duration: 64 minutes

Call participants:

Deb McCannTreasurer and Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Anthony JabbourChief Executive Officer

Bryan HipsherChief Financial Officer

Gary BisbeeBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Ryan GunningJefferies — Analyst

Manav PatnaikBarclays — Analyst

Seth WeberRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Kevin McVeighCredit Suisse — Analyst

Brett HuffStephens Inc. — Analyst

Unknown speaker

George TongGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Ashish SabadraDeutsche Bank — Analyst

Judah SokelJ.P. Morgan — Analyst

Jake WilliamsWells Fargo Securities — Analyst

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