10-K 1 nrci20141231_10k.htm FORM 10-K nrci20141231_10k.htm

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

[X]

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014     

or

 

[ ]

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

For the transition period from _______________ to _______________

 

Commission file number: 0-29466

 

               National Research Corporation               

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Wisconsin

 

47-0634000

(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)   (I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
     
1245 Q Street    
Lincoln, Nebraska   68508
(Address of principal executive offices)   (Zip code)

 

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (402) 475-2525

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Class   

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Class A Common Stock, $.001 par value  

The NASDAQ Stock Market

Class B Common Stock, $.001 par value   

The NASDAQ Stock Market

                      

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes ☐    No  ☒ 

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.

Yes ☐    No  ☒ 

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes  ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes  ☒  No ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ☒

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.  

Large accelerated filer ☐

Accelerated filer ☒

Non-accelerated filer ☐

Smaller reporting company ☐

           

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act.) Yes ☐    No  ☒ 

 

Aggregate market value of the class A common stock and the class B common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant at June 30, 2014: $268,643,360.

 

Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the issuer’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.

Class A Common Stock, $0.001 par value, outstanding as of February 20, 2015: 20,955,678 shares

Class B Common Stock, $0.001 par value, outstanding as of February 20, 2015: 3,505,352 shares

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the Proxy Statement for the 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III.

 

 
 

 

 

          TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

   

Page

 

PART I

 
     

Item 1.

Business

1

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

8

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

13

Item 2.

Properties

13

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

13

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

13

     
 

PART II

 
     

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

14

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

16

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

17

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

27

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

28

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

54

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

54

Item 9B.

Other Information

54

     
 

PART III

 
     

Item 10.

Directors and Executive Officers of the Registrant

56

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

56

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

56

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions

57

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

57

     
 

PART IV

 
     

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

58

Signatures

 

61

 

 

 
 i

 

 

PART I

 

Item 1.     Business

 

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

 

Certain matters discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements can generally be identified as such because the context of the statement includes phrases such as National Research Corporation (“NRC,” the “Company,” “we,” “our,” “us” or similar terms) “believes,” “expects,” or other words of similar import. Similarly, statements that describe the Company’s future plans, objectives or goals are also forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or outcomes to differ materially from those currently anticipated. Factors that could affect actual results or outcomes include, without limitation, the following factors:

 

 

The possibility of non-renewal of the Company’s client service contracts;

 

 

The Company’s ability to compete in its markets, which are highly competitive, and the possibility of increased price pressure and expenses;

 

 

The effects of an economic downturn;

 

 

The impact of consolidation in the healthcare industry;

 

 

The impact of federal healthcare reform legislation or other regulatory changes;

 

 

The Company’s ability to retain its limited number of key clients;

 

 

The Company’s ability to attract and retain key managers and other personnel;

 

 

The possibility that the Company’s intellectual property and other proprietary information technology could be copied or independently developed by its competitors;

 

 

The possibility that the Company could be subject to security breaches or computer viruses;

 

 

Regulatory developments; and

 

 

The factors set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

Shareholders, potential investors and other readers are urged to consider these and other factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements, and are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included are only made as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update such forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

 

General

 

The Company is a leading provider of analytics and insights that facilitate revenue growth, patient, employee and customer retention and patient engagement for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations. The Company’s solutions support the improvement of business and clinical outcomes, while facilitating regulatory compliance and the shift to population-based health management for its clients. The Company’s ability to systematically capture, analyze and deliver to its clients self-reported information from patients, families and consumers is critical in today’s healthcare market. NRC believes that access to and analysis of its extensive consumer-driven information will become even more valuable in the future as healthcare providers increasingly need to more deeply understand and engage patients and consumers in an effort towards effective population-based health management.

 

 
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The Company’s portfolio of subscription-based solutions provide actionable information and analysis to healthcare organizations and payers across a range of mission-critical, constituent-related elements, including patient experience and satisfaction, community population health risks, workforce engagement, community perceptions, and physician engagement. NRC partners with clients across the continuum of healthcare services. The Company’s clients range from acute care hospitals and post-acute providers, such as home health, long term care and hospice, to numerous payer organizations. The Company believes this cross-continuum positioning is a unique and an increasingly important capability as evolving payment models drive healthcare providers and payers towards a more collaborative and interactive healthcare system.

 

NRC’s expertise includes the efficient capture, interpretation, transmittal and benchmarking of critical data elements from millions of healthcare consumers. Using its portfolio of solutions through internet-based business intelligence tools, the Company’s clients gain insights into best practices to drive improvements across key performance metrics. The Company’s clients are also able to access networking groups, on-line education and an extensive library of performance improvement material that can be tailored to each of their unique needs.

 

NRC has achieved a market leadership position through its more than 33 years of industry innovation and experience, as well as its long-term, recurring revenue relationships (solutions that are used or required by a client each year) with many of the healthcare industry’s largest organizations. Since its founding in 1981, the Company has focused on meeting the evolving information needs of the healthcare industry through internal product development, as well as select acquisitions. The Company is a Wisconsin corporation headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

Industry and Market Opportunity

 

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health expenditures in the United States were approximately $2.9 trillion in 2013, or $9,255 per person. In total, health spending accounted for 17.4% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2013. Addressing this growing expenditure burden continues to be a major policy priority at both federal and state levels. In addition, continued high unemployment rates and lower incomes for many Americans coupled with increased co-pays and deductibles in healthcare plans have focused even more consumer attention on health spending and affordability. In the public sector, Medicare provides health coverage for individuals aged 65 and older, while Medicaid provides coverage for low income families and other individuals in need. Both programs are administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”). With the aging of the U.S. population, Medicare enrollment has increased significantly.  In addition, longer life spans and greater prevalence of chronic illnesses among both the Medicare and Medicaid populations have placed tremendous demands on the health care system.

 

Driven by escalating costs and a growing recognition of the challenges of chronic care and unnecessary hospitalizations, Medicare reimbursement for healthcare providers is shifting from a volume-based approach (fees paid for each element of service rendered, independent of outcome) to a more value-based model, where reimbursement is based on the value (or quality) of the healthcare service delivered. This shift has been enabled, in part, by the establishment of standardized quality-focused datasets and the requirement that providers capture and transmit these data to CMS.

 

 
2

 

  

An increasing percentage of Medicare reimbursement (and, in all likelihood, reimbursement from commercial payers as well) will be at risk for hospitals, based on factors such as patient readmission rates and provider adherence to certain quality-related protocols. At the same time, many hospitals and other providers are creating new models of care delivery and reimbursement to reduce cost and enable more effective delivery of care. These new models are based on sharing financial risk and managing the health and behaviors of large populations of patients and consumers. Certain of these new models are known as accountable care organizations, or ACOs, and medical homes, in which multiple provider organizations are coordinated in providing care and bearing shared financial risk in serving a defined patient population. This transformation towards population-based health management, value-based purchasing, and an increased engagement of healthcare consumers is resulting in a greater need for providers to deliver more customer-centric healthcare.

 

NRC believes that its current portfolio of solutions is aligned to address this evolving market opportunity. The Company provides tools and solutions to capture, interpret and improve the data required by CMS as well as enhanced capabilities that capture insights about patient health risks, behaviors and perspectives. The information and analytics provided through these solutions enable payers and providers to better tailor offerings to the populations they serve. Meanwhile, the Company’s portfolio of engagement solutions helps providers address and impact the types of behaviors that could result in reduced hospital re-admission rates, resulting in a direct and measurable impact on providers’ revenue.

 

Finally, the Company believes that its ability to offer these insights across the entire care continuum is particularly relevant as new reimbursement models force collaboration amongst different types of providers. Bundled payments, medical home, ACOs and other models of reimbursement for population-based health management all require an understanding of healthcare both within and outside of the traditional acute care setting.

 

NRC’s Solutions

 

NRC’s portfolio of solutions address specific market needs around growth, retention, engagement and thought leadership for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations. While each distinct solution provides discernible value on a stand-alone basis, the Company believes that in combination, its solutions provide a comprehensive view of healthcare consumers both within healthcare settings and outside of those settings—creating a differentiated solution set to address the emerging needs for population-based health management.

 

Growth Solutions - NRC’s growth solutions are subscription-based services that include measurement of community perception (Market Insights), brand tracking (BrandArc), advertising testing (AdVoice) and physician reputation management (Reputation). Market Insights is the largest online U.S. healthcare survey, measuring the opinions and behaviors of 270,000 healthcare consumers in the top 250 markets across the country annually. Market Insights is a syndicated survey that provides clients with an independent third-party source of information that is used to understand consumer preferences and optimize marketing strategies. BrandArc is a solution that enables clients to measure brand value and build brand equity in their markets. AdVoice is a solution that helps NRC’s clients evaluate and optimize advertising efficiency and consumer recall. The Reputation offering provides a five star rating metric and patient comments derived from actual patient survey data to complement online physician information and, in turn, drive new patient acquisition and grow online physician reputation. The Company’s growth solutions have historically been marketed under the Healthcare Market Guide and Ticker brands.

 

Retention Solutions - NRC’s retention solutions include patient and resident experience, physician engagement and employee experience measurement and improvement tools. These solutions enable clients to comply with regulatory requirements and to improve their reimbursement under value-based purchasing models. Additionally, clients use these applications to positively impact patient experience through utilization of the Company’s prescriptive analytics to enable improvement planning and implementation of best practices. Finally, with a growing body of research linking employee and physician satisfaction levels to provide quality and patient experience, NRC’s retention solutions also measure satisfaction from those constituents and integrate that data into prescriptive analytics for improvement.

 

 
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The Company’s retention solutions are marketed under the NRC Picker, My InnerView (“MIV”), and NRC Canada brands and are provided on a subscription basis via a cross-continuum platform that collects and measures data and then delivers business intelligence that the Company’s clients utilize to improve retention, experience and reimbursement. NRC provides these performance results and prescriptive analytics to its clients via the Company’s Catalyst improvement planning and business intelligence portal. In addition, clients have an option of more immediate feedback via the Company’s real-time mobile data collection platform.

 

Engagement Solutions - NRC’s engagement solutions include its health risk assessments (Payer Solutions), patient outreach and discharge call program (Connect Transitions) and post-acute analytics (Outcome Concept Systems, or OCS). These solutions enable the Company’s clients to understand the health risks associated with populations of patients, analyze and address readmission risks and efficiently reach out to patients to impact their behaviors outside of the healthcare provider settings. The Company’s health risk assessment solutions enable its clients to effectively stratify and manage care for those who are most at-risk, engage individuals, increase preventative care and manage wellness programs to improve patient experience and outcomes. NRC’s patient outreach and discharge call solutions are provided to healthcare organizations on a subscription basis. Through preference-based communications and real-time alerts, these solutions enable organizations to identify and manage high risk patients to reduce readmissions, increase patient satisfaction and support safe care transitions. NRC’s post-acute analytics solutions provide business intelligence for home health and hospice providers that enable the improvement of patient experience, operational performance and clinical outcomes.

 

The Connect Transitions solution is provided by Customer-Connect LLC (doing business as Connect). Connect was formed in June 2013 to develop and provide patient outreach and discharge call solutions. NRC has a 49% ownership interest in Connect, NG Customer-Connect, LLC holds 25% interest and the remaining 26% is held by Illuminate Health, LLC.

 

The key proprietary components of NRC’s engagement solutions include a real-time electronic medical records integration platform; a portfolio of risk assessments for individual patient populations and care settings; and post-acute predictive models and algorithms based on proprietary datasets.

 

Thought Leadership Solutions – NRC’s thought leadership solutions include national conferences, publications and an on-line portal, and are integrated at various levels into NRC’s growth, retention and engagement solutions. NRC also offers a specific thought leadership service branded as The Governance Institute (“TGI”). TGI is a membership organization that offers subscription-based governance information solutions and educational conferences designed to improve the effectiveness of hospital and healthcare systems by continually strengthening their boards, medical leadership and management performance. TGI conducts conferences, produces publications, videos, white papers and research studies, and tracks industry trends showcasing emerging healthcare trends and best practice solutions of healthcare boards across the country.

 

NRC’s Competitive Strengths

 

The Company believes that its competitive strengths include the following:

 

A leading provider of patient experience solutions for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations. The Company’s history is based on capturing the voice of the consumer in healthcare markets. With survey solutions that span the healthcare continuum, in 2014, 2013 and 2012 the Company was recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the nation’s largest patient experience survey providers. Its solutions build on the “Eight Dimensions of Patient-Centered Care,” a philosophy developed by noted patient advocate Harvey Picker, who believed patients’ experiences are integral to quality healthcare. NRC has extended this philosophy to include families, caregivers, employees and other stakeholders.

 

 
4

 

  

Premier client portfolio across the care continuum. NRC’s client portfolio encompasses leading healthcare organizations across the healthcare continuum, from acute care hospitals and post-acute providers to healthcare payers. The Company’s client base is diverse, with its top ten clients representing approximately 16% of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2014 and no single client representing more than 5% of the Company’s revenue.

  

Highly scalable and visible revenue model. The Company’s solutions are offered to healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations primarily through subscription-based service agreements. The solutions NRC provides are also recurring in nature, which enables an ongoing relationship with its clients. This combination of subscription-based revenue, a base of ongoing client renewals and automated platforms creates a highly visible and scalable revenue model for the Company.

 

Comprehensive portfolio of solutions. Since NRC offers solutions encompassing growth, retention, engagement and thought leadership, its clients can engage with the Company at multiple levels and, over time, increase their commitment and spend.

 

Exclusive focus on healthcare. The Company focuses exclusively on healthcare and serving the unique needs of healthcare organizations across the continuum, which NRC believes gives it a distinct competitive advantage compared to other survey and analytics software providers. The Company’s platform includes features and capabilities built specifically for healthcare providers, including a library of performance improvement content which can be tailored to the provider based on their specific customer feedback profile.

 

Experienced senior management team led by NRC’s founder. NRC’s senior management team has extensive industry and leadership experience. Michael D. Hays, the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, founded NRC in 1981. Prior to launching the Company, Mr. Hays served as Vice President and as a Director of SRI Research Center, Inc. (now known as the Gallup Organization). The Chief Financial Officer, Kevin Karas, CPA, has extensive financial experience having served as CFO at two previous companies, along with healthcare experience at Rehab Designs of America, Inc. and NovaCare, Inc.

 

Competition

 

The healthcare information and market research services industry is highly competitive. The Company has traditionally competed with healthcare organizations’ internal marketing, market research and/or quality improvement departments which create their own performance measurement tools, and with relatively small specialty research firms which provide survey-based healthcare market research and/or performance assessment. The Company’s primary competitors among such specialty firms include Press Ganey, which NRC believes has significantly higher annual revenue than the Company, and three or four other firms that NRC believes have less annual revenue than the Company. The Company, to a certain degree, currently competes with, and anticipates that in the future it may increasingly compete with, (1) traditional market research firms which are significant providers of survey-based, general market research and (2) firms which provide services or products that complement healthcare performance assessments such as healthcare software or information systems. Although only a few of these competitors have offered specific services that compete directly with the Company’s solutions, many of these competitors have substantially greater financial, information gathering, and marketing resources than the Company and could decide to increase their resource commitments to the Company’s market. There are relatively few barriers to entry into the Company’s market, and the Company expects increased competition in its market which could adversely affect the Company’s operating results through pricing pressure, increased marketing expenditures, and market share losses, among other factors. There can be no assurance that the Company will continue to compete successfully against existing or new competitors.

 

 
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The Company believes the primary competitive factors within its market include quality of service, timeliness of delivery, unique service capabilities, credibility of provider, industry experience, and price. NRC believes that its industry leadership position, exclusive focus on the healthcare industry, cross-continuum presence, comprehensive portfolio of solutions and relationships with leading healthcare payers and providers position the Company to compete in this market.

 

Growth Strategy

 

NRC believes that the value proposition of its current solutions, combined with the favorable alignment of its solutions with emerging market demand, positions the Company to benefit from multiple growth opportunities. The Company believes that it can accelerate its growth through (1) increasing sales of its existing solutions to its existing clients (or cross-selling), (2) winning additional new clients through market share growth in existing market segments, (3) developing and introducing new solutions to new and existing clients, and (4) pursuing acquisitions of, or investments in, firms providing products, solutions or technologies which complement those of the Company.

 

Selling additional solutions to existing clients. Less than 25% of the Company’s existing clients purchase more than one of its solutions. NRC’s sales organization actively identifies and pursues these cross-sell opportunities in order to accelerate the growth of the Company.

 

Adding new clients. NRC believes that there is an opportunity to add new clients in each of the acute care, post-acute care and health plan market segments. The Company’s sales organization is actively identifying and engaging new client prospects in each of the segments noted above, with a focus on featuring its comprehensive cross continuum portfolio of solutions.

 

Adding new solutions. The need for growth, retention and engagement solutions in the market segments that NRC serves is evolving to align with emerging healthcare regulatory and reimbursement trends. The evolving market creates an opportunity for the Company to introduce new solutions that leverage its existing core competencies. The Company believes that there is an opportunity to drive sales growth with both existing and new clients, across all of the market segments that it serves, through the introduction of new solutions.

 

Pursue Strategic Acquisitions. The Company has historically complemented its organic growth with strategic acquisitions, having completed seven such transactions over the past fourteen years. These transactions have added new capabilities and access to market segments that are adjacent and complementary to the Company’s existing solutions and market segments. NRC believes that additional strategic acquisition opportunities exist for the Company to complement its organic growth by further expanding its service capabilities, technology offerings and end markets.

 

Sales and Marketing

 

The Company generates the majority of its revenue from the renewal of subscription-based client service agreements, supplemented by sales of other solutions to existing clients and the addition of new clients. NRC sales activities are carried out by a direct sales organization staffed with professional, trained sales associates. As compared to the typical industry practice of compensating sales associates with relatively high base pay and a relatively small sales commission, NRC compensates its sales staff with relatively low base pay and a relatively high commission component. The Company believes this compensation structure provides incentives to its sales associates to surpass sales goals and increases the Company’s ability to attract top-quality sales associates.

 

 
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In addition to prospect leads generated by direct sales associates, the Company’s integrated marketing activities facilitate its ongoing receipt of prospect request-for-proposals. NRC uses lead generation mechanisms to add generated leads to its database of current and potential client contacts. The Company also maintains an active public relations program which includes (1) an ongoing presence in leading industry trade press and in the mainstream press, (2) public speaking at strategic industry conferences, (3) fostering relationships with key industry constituencies, and (4) the annual Consumer Choice Award program recognizing top-ranking healthcare organizations.

 

Clients

 

NRC’s clients include many of the nation’s largest healthcare systems. The Company serves over 2,400 acute care facilities. It also provides solutions to over 69 payer health plans and over 8,100 acute and post-acute facilities. These clients utilize NRC’s reporting platforms that capture, self-reported customer data from over 15 million unique healthcare episodes annually.

 

The Company’s ten largest clients accounted for 16%, 19%, and 22% of the Company’s total revenue in 2014, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Approximately 7% of the Company’s revenue was derived from foreign customers in 2014 and 2013, and 8% in 2012.

 

For financial information by geographic area, see Note 13 to the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

 

Intellectual Property and Other Proprietary Rights

 

The Company’s success depends in part upon its data collection processes, research methods, data analysis techniques and internal systems, and procedures that it has developed specifically to serve clients in the healthcare industry. The Company has no patents. Consequently, it relies on a combination of copyright and trade secret laws and associate nondisclosure agreements to protect its systems, survey instruments and procedures. There can be no assurance that the steps taken by the Company to protect its rights will be adequate to prevent misappropriation of such rights or that third parties will not independently develop functionally equivalent or superior systems or procedures. The Company believes that its systems and procedures and other proprietary rights do not infringe upon the proprietary rights of third parties. There can be no assurance, however, that third parties will not assert infringement claims against the Company in the future or that any such claims will not result in protracted and costly litigation, regardless of the merits of such claims or whether the Company is ultimately successful in defending against such claims.

 

Associates

 

As of December 31, 2014, the Company employed a total of 363 persons on a full-time basis. In addition, as of such date, the Company had 34 part-time associates primarily in its survey operations, representing approximately 17 full-time equivalent associates. None of the Company’s associates are represented by a collective bargaining unit. The Company considers its relationship with its associates to be good.

 

Executive Officers of the Company

 

The following table sets forth certain information as of February 1, 2015, regarding the executive officers of the Company:

  

Name

Age

Position

Michael D. Hays

60

Chief Executive Officer

Kevin R. Karas

57

Senior Vice President Finance, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary

 

 

 
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Michael D. Hays has served as Chief Executive Officer and a director since he founded the Company in 1981. He also served as President of the Company from 1981 to 2004 and from July 2008 to July 2011. Prior to founding the Company, Mr. Hays served for seven years as a Vice President and a director of SRI Research Center, Inc. (n/k/a the Gallup Organization).

 

Kevin R. Karas has served as Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary of the Company since September 2011, and as Senior Vice President Finance since he joined the Company in December 2010. From 2005 to 2010, he served as Vice President of Finance for Lifetouch Portrait Studios, Inc., a national retail photography company.  Mr. Karas also previously served as Chief Financial Officer at CARSTAR, Inc., an automobile collision repair franchise business, from 2000 to 2005, Chief Financial Officer at Rehab Designs of America, Inc., a provider of orthotic and prosthetic services, from 1993 to 2000, and as a regional Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Operations at Novacare, Inc., a provider of physical rehabilitation services, from 1988 to 1993.  He began his career as a Certified Public Accountant at Ernst & Young.

 

Executive officers of the Company are elected by and serve at the discretion of the Company’s Board of Directors. There are no family relationships between any directors or executive officers of NRC.

 

Available Information

 

More information regarding NRC is available on the Company's website at www.nationalresearch.com. NRC is not including the information contained on or available through its website as part of, or incorporating such information by reference into, this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Company's Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to those reports are made available to the public at no charge through a link appearing on the Company's website. NRC provides access to such materials through its website as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing such material with, or furnishing it to, the Securities and Exchange Commission. Reports and amendments posted on the Company’s website do not include access to exhibits and supplemental schedules electronically filed with the reports or amendments.

  

Item 1A.     Risk Factors

 

You should carefully consider each of the risks described below, together with all of the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, before making an investment decision with respect to our securities. If any of the following risks develop into actual events, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected and you may lose all or part of your investment.

 

We depend on contract renewals for a large share of our revenue and our operating results could be adversely affected.

 

We expect that a substantial portion of our revenue for the foreseeable future will continue to be derived from renewable service contracts. Substantially all contracts are renewable annually at the option of our clients, although a client generally has no minimum purchase commitment under a contract and the contracts are generally cancelable on short or no notice without penalty. To the extent that clients fail to renew or defer their renewals, we anticipate our results may be materially adversely affected. Our ability to secure renewals depends on, among other things, our ability to gather and analyze performance data in a consistent, high-quality, and timely fashion. In addition, the service needs of our clients are affected by accreditation requirements, enrollment in managed care plans, the level of use of satisfaction measures in healthcare organizations’ overall management and compensation programs, the size of operating budgets, clients’ operating performance, industry and economic conditions, and changes in management or ownership. As these factors are beyond our control, we cannot ensure that we will be able to maintain our renewal rates. Any material decline in renewal rates from existing levels would have an adverse effect on our revenue and a corresponding effect on our operating and net income.

 

 
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Our operating results may fluctuate and this may cause our stock price to decline.

 

Our overall operating results may fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors, including the size and timing of orders from clients, client demand for our services (which, in turn, is affected by factors such as accreditation requirements, enrollment in managed care plans, operating budgets and clients’ operating performance), the hiring and training of additional staff, expense increases, and industry and general economic conditions. Because a significant portion of our overhead is fixed in the short-term, particularly some costs associated with owning and occupying our building and full-time personnel expenses, our results of operations may be materially adversely affected in any particular period if revenue falls below our expectations. These factors, among others, make it possible that in some future period our operating results may be below the expectations of securities analysts and investors which would have a material adverse effect on the market price of our class A common stock and/or our class B common stock.

 

We operate in a highly competitive market and could experience increased price pressure and expenses as a result.

 

The healthcare information and market research services industry is highly competitive. We have traditionally competed with healthcare organizations’ internal marketing, market research and/or quality improvement departments that create their own performance measurement tools, and with relatively small specialty research firms that provide survey-based healthcare market research and/or performance assessment. The Company’s primary competitors among such specialty firms include Press Ganey, which we believe has significantly higher annual revenue than us, and three or four other firms that we believe have lower annual revenue than us. To a certain degree, we currently compete with, and anticipate that in the future we may increasingly compete with, (1) traditional market research firms which are significant providers of survey-based, general market research, and (2) firms which provide services or products that complement healthcare performance assessments, such as healthcare software or information systems. Although only a few of these competitors have offered specific services that compete directly with our services, many of these competitors have substantially greater financial, information gathering, and marketing resources than the Company and could decide to increase their resource commitments to our market. There are relatively few barriers to entry into the Company’s market, and we expect increased competition in our market which could adversely affect our operating results through pricing pressure, increased marketing expenditures, and market share losses, among other factors. There can be no assurance that the Company will continue to compete successfully against existing or new competitors.

 

Because our clients are concentrated in the healthcare industry, our revenue and operating results may be adversely affected by changes in regulations, a business downturn or consolidation with respect to the healthcare industry.

 

Substantially all of our revenue is derived from clients in the healthcare industry. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations are influenced by conditions affecting this industry, including changing political, economic, competitive and regulatory influences that may affect the procurement practices and operation of healthcare providers and payers. The 2010 Federal comprehensive healthcare reform plan, which includes provisions to control healthcare costs, improve healthcare quality and expand access to affordable health insurance, could result in lower reimbursement rates and otherwise change the environment in which providers and payers operate. In addition, large private purchasers of healthcare services are placing increasing cost pressure on providers. Healthcare providers may react to these cost pressures and other uncertainties by curtailing or deferring purchases, including purchases of our services. Moreover, there has been consolidation of companies in the healthcare industry, a trend which we believe will continue to grow. Consolidation in this industry, including the potential acquisition of certain of our clients, could adversely affect aggregate client budgets for our services or could result in the termination of a client’s relationship with us. The impact of these developments on the healthcare industry is difficult to predict and could have an adverse effect on our revenue and a corresponding effect on our operating and net income.

 

 
9

 

  

We rely on a limited number of key clients and a loss of one or more of these key clients will adversely affect our operating results.

 

We rely on a limited number of key clients for a substantial portion of our revenue. The Company’s ten largest clients accounted for 16%, 19%, and 22% of the Company’s total revenue in 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively.

 

We cannot assure you that we will maintain our existing client base, maintain or increase the level of revenue or profits generated by our existing clients, or be able to attract new clients. Furthermore, the healthcare industry continues to undergo consolidation and we cannot assure you that such consolidation will not cause us to lose clients. The loss of one or more of our large clients or a significant reduction in business from such clients, regardless of the reason, may have a negative effect on our revenue and a corresponding effect on our operating and net income. See “Risk Factors Because our clients are concentrated in the healthcare industry, our revenue and operating results may be adversely affected by changes in regulations, a business downturn or consolidation with respect to the healthcare industry.”

 

We face several risks relating to our ability to collect the data on which our business relies.

 

Our ability to provide timely and accurate performance measurement and improvement services to our clients depends on our ability to collect large quantities of high-quality data through surveys and interviews. If receptivity to our survey and interview methods by respondents declines, or, for some other reason, their willingness to complete and return surveys declines, or if we, for any reason, cannot rely on the integrity of the data we receive, then our revenue could be adversely affected with a corresponding effect on our operating and net income. We also rely on third-party panels of pre-recruited consumer households to produce Ticker in a timely manner. If we are not able to continue to use these panels, or the time period in which we use these panels is altered and we cannot find alternative panels on a timely, cost-competitive basis, we could face an increase in our costs or an inability to effectively produce Market Insights (formerly Ticker). In either case, our operating and net income could be negatively affected.

 

Our principal shareholder effectively controls the Company, and holders of class A common stock are not able to independently elect directors of NRC or control any of the Company's management policies or business decisions because the holders of class A common stock have substantially less voting power than the holders of the Company's class B common stock, a majority of which is beneficially owned by our principal shareholder.

 

The Company's outstanding stock is divided into two classes of common stock: class A common stock and class B common stock. The class B common stock has one vote per share on all matters and the class A common stock has one-one-hundredth (1/100th) of one vote per share. As of February 20, 2015, the class B common stock constituted approximately 94% of NRC's total voting power. As a result, holders of class B common stock are able to exercise a controlling influence over the Company's business, have the power to elect its directors and indirectly control decisions such as whether to issue additional shares, declare and pay dividends or enter into significant corporate transactions. A majority of the class B common stock is owned by Michael D. Hays, our Chief Executive Officer.

 

 
10

 

  

As of February 20, 2015, approximately 56% of the outstanding class B common stock and approximately 29% of the outstanding class A common stock was owned by Mr. Hays, and that collectively constituted approximately 55% of the Company's total voting power. As a result, Mr. Hays can control matters requiring shareholder approval, including the election of directors and the approval of significant corporate matters such as change of control transactions. The effects of such influence could be to delay or prevent a change of control of the Company unless the terms are approved by Mr. Hays.

 

Our business and operating results could be adversely affected if we are unable to attract or retain key managers and other personnel.


Our future performance may depend, to a significant extent, upon the efforts and ability of our key personnel who have expertise in gathering, interpreting and marketing survey-based performance information for healthcare markets. Although client relationships are managed at many levels within our company, the loss of the services of Michael D. Hays, our Chief Executive Officer, or one or more of our other senior managers, could have a material adverse effect, at least in the short to medium term, on most significant aspects of our business, including strategic planning, product development, and sales and customer relations. Our success will also depend on our ability to hire, train and retain skilled personnel in all areas of our business. Currently, we do not have employment agreements with our officers or our other key personnel. Competition for qualified personnel in our industry is intense, and many of the companies that compete with us for qualified personnel have substantially greater financial and other resources than us. Furthermore, we expect competition for qualified personnel to become more intense as competition in our industry increases. We cannot assure you that we will be able to recruit, retain and motivate a sufficient number of qualified personnel to compete successfully.

 

If intellectual property and other proprietary information technology were copied or independently developed by our competitors, our operating results could be negatively affected.

 

Our success depends in part upon our data collection process, research methods, data analysis techniques, and internal systems and procedures that we have developed specifically to serve clients in the healthcare industry. We have no patents. Consequently, we rely on a combination of copyright, trade secret laws and associate nondisclosure agreements to protect our systems, survey instruments and procedures. We cannot assure you that the steps we have taken to protect our rights will be adequate to prevent misappropriation of such rights, or that third parties will not independently develop functionally equivalent or superior systems or procedures. We believe that our systems and procedures and other proprietary rights do not infringe upon the proprietary rights of third parties. We cannot assure you, however, that third parties will not assert infringement claims against us in the future, or that any such claims will not result in protracted and costly litigation, regardless of the merits of such claims, or whether we are ultimately successful in defending against such claims.

 

Our business and operating results could be adversely affected if we experience business interruptions or failure of our information technology and communication systems.

 

Our ability to provide timely and accurate performance measurement and improvement services to our clients depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our information technology and communication systems, and those of our external service providers. Our systems and those of our external service providers, could be exposed to damage or interruption from fire, natural disasters, energy loss, telecommunication failure, security breach and computer viruses. An operational failure or outage in our information technology and communication systems or those of our external service providers, could result in loss of customers, damage to customer relationships, reduced revenue and profits, refunds of customer charges and damage our reputation and may result in additional expense to repair or replace damaged equipment and recover data loss resulting from the interruption. Although we have taken steps to prevent system failures and have back-up systems and procedures to prevent or reduce disruptions, such steps may not prevent an interruption of services and our disaster recovery planning may not account for all contingencies. Additionally, our insurance may not adequately compensate us for all losses or failures that may occur. Any one of the above situations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation.

 

 
11

 

  

Security breaches or computer viruses could harm our business.

 

In connection with our client services, we receive, process, store and transmit sensitive business information electronically over the Internet. Computer viruses could spread throughout our systems and disrupt operations and service delivery. Unauthorized access to our computer systems or databases could result in the theft or publication of confidential information or the deletion or modification of records or could otherwise cause interruption in our operations. We cannot be certain that the technology protecting our networks and information will successfully prevent computer viruses, data thefts, release of confidential information or security breaches. A compromise in our data security systems that results in inappropriate disclosure of our associates', customers' or vendors' confidential information, could harm our reputation and expose us to regulatory action and claims. Changes in privacy and information security laws and standards may require we incur significant expense to ensure compliance due to increased technology investment and operational procedures. An inability to prevent security breaches or computer viruses or failure to comply with privacy and information security laws could result in litigation and regulatory risk, loss of customers, damage to customer relationships, reduced revenue and profits, refunds of customer charges and damage our reputation, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation.

 

Our growth strategy includes future acquisitions which involve inherent risk.

 

In order to expand services or technologies to existing clients and increase our client base, we may make strategic business acquisitions that we believe complement our business. In October 2014, NRC made investments in two strategic technologies to advance the Company’s commitment to empowering consumer-centric healthcare across the continuum. The first, a $2.6 million acquisition of Digital Assent LLC (“Digital Assent”), creates a Center of Excellence in Atlanta, Georgia, responsible for developing novel solutions to enhance consumer decision-making in the selection of healthcare providers. The second, an $800,000 investment, includes an option for a $4.1 million potential acquisition of a partner company that has developed a talent-matching solution to accelerate the formation of high-performing teams. Acquisitions have inherent risks which may have material adverse effects on our business, financial condition, or results of operations, including, among other things: (1) failure to successfully integrate the purchased operations, technologies, products or services and maintain uniform standard controls, policies and procedures; (2) substantial unanticipated integration costs; (3) loss of key associates including those of the acquired business; (4) diversion of management’s attention from other operations; (5) failure to retain the customers of the acquired business; (6) failure to achieve any projected synergies and performance targets; (7) additional debt and/or assumption of known or unknown liabilities; (8) dilutive issuances of equity securities; and (9) a write-off of goodwill, software development costs, client lists, other intangibles and amortization of expenses. If we fail to successfully complete acquisitions or integrate acquired businesses, we may not achieve projected results and there may be a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

 
12

 

 
Item 1B.     Unresolved Staff Comments

 

The Company has no unresolved staff comments to report pursuant to this item.

 

Item 2.     Properties

 

The Company’s headquarters is located in an owned office building in Lincoln, Nebraska, of which 62,000 square feet are used for the Company’s operations. This facility houses all the capabilities necessary for NRC’s survey programming, printing and distribution, data processing, analysis and report generation, marketing, and corporate administration. The Company’s term note is secured by this property, among other things.

 

The Company is leasing 4,000 square feet of office space in Markham, Ontario, 3,900 square feet of office space in San Diego, California, 3,300 square feet of office space in Lincoln, Nebraska, 8,100 square feet of office space in Seattle, Washington, and 1,500 square feet of office space in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Item 3.     Legal Proceedings

 

The Company is not subject to any material pending litigation.

 

Item 4.     Mine Safety Disclosures

 

Not applicable.

 

 
13

 

  

PART II

 

Item 5.     Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

In May 2013, the Company consummated a recapitalization (the “May 2013 Recapitalization”) pursuant to which the Company established two classes of common stock (class A common stock and class B common stock), issued a dividend of three shares of class A common stock for each share of the Company’s then existing common stock and reclassified each then existing share of common stock as one-half of one share of class B common stock. Following the May 2013 Recapitalization, the Company’s class A common stock and the Company’s class B common stock are traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbols “NRCIA” and “NRCIB,” respectively.

 

The following table sets forth the range of high and low sales prices for, and dividends declared on, the Company’s pre-May 2013 Recapitalization common stock and the post-May 2013 Recapitalization class A common stock and class B common stock for the period from January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2014:

 

Pre –May 2013 Recapitalization (a):

 

High

   

Low

   

Dividends Declared Per Prior Common Share

 

2013 Quarter Ended:

                       

March 31

  $ 61.58     $ 50.00     $ 0.31  

April 1 to May 22

  $ 64.36     $ 53.45       --  

 

   

Class A

   

Class B

 

Post –May 2013 Recapitalization:

 

High

   

Low

   

Dividends Declared Per Common Share

   

High

   

Low

   

Dividends Declared Per Common Share

 

2013 Quarter Ended:

                                               

May 23 to June 30

  $ 21.31     $ 12.36       --     $ 46.52     $ 18.24       --  

September 30

  $ 18.84     $ 15.36       --     $ 42.48     $ 26.61       --  

December 31

  $ 19.00     $ 15.69       --     $ 36.88     $ 27.25       --  

2014 Quarter Ended:

                                               

March 31

  $ 19.59     $ 13.64       --     $ 43.88     $ 33.31       --  

June 30

  $ 17.20     $ 13.04       --     $ 44.95     $ 36.05       --  

September 30

  $ 15.01     $ 12.70       --     $ 41.95     $ 36.01       --  

December 31

  $ 18.40     $ 12.41     $ 0.06     $ 39.30     $ 30.20     $ 0.36  

 

 

(a)

Sales prices and dividends have not been adjusted to give effect to the May 2013 Recapitalization described above.


Cash dividends of $2.1 million in the aggregate were declared and paid during the twelve-month period ended December 31, 2013. In August 2013, the Company’s Board of Directors decided to suspend the payment of cash dividends through the year 2014. Cash dividends were declared in December 2014 and paid in January 2015 in the aggregate amount of $2.5 million. The payment and amount of future dividends, if any, is at the discretion of the Company’s Board of Directors and will depend on the Company’s future earnings, financial condition, general business conditions, alternative uses of the Company’s earnings and other factors.

 

On February 20, 2015, there were approximately 19 shareholders of record and approximately 942 beneficial owners of the class A common stock and approximately 20 shareholders of record and approximately 1,016 beneficial owners of the class B common stock.

  

In February 2006, the Board of Directors of the Company authorized the repurchase of 2,250,000 shares of class A common stock and 375,000 shares of class B common stock (on a post-May 2013 Recapitalization basis) in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. Unless terminated earlier by resolution of the Company’s Board of Directors, the repurchase program will expire when the Company has repurchased all shares authorized for repurchase thereunder. As of February 20, 2015, 1,831,251 shares of class A common stock and 305,208 shares of class B common stock have been repurchased under that authorization. No stock was repurchased during the three-month period ended December 31, 2014.

 

 
14

 

  

The following graph compares the cumulative 5-year total return provided shareholders on the Company’s common stock relative to the cumulative total returns of the NASDAQ Composite Index and the Russell 2000 Index. An investment of $100 (with reinvestment of all dividends) is assumed to have been made in our common stock and in each of the indexes on December 31, 2009 (or on May 23, 2013 for our class A common stock which was the first day it was traded), and its relative performance is tracked through December 31, 2014. In accordance with Securities and Exchange Commission guidance, in calculating the cumulative 5-year total return on our class B common stock, we gave retroactive effect to the May 2013 Recapitalization (i.e., as if it had occurred on December 31, 2009).


COMPARISON OF FIVE-YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN DATA

 

The stock price performance included in this graph is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

 

   

12/09

   

12/10

   

12/11

   

12/12

   

5/23/13

   

12/13

   

12/14

 
                                                         

National Research Corporation - Class B

    100.00       125.23       145.69       214.12       ---       250.71       357.27  

National Research Corporation - Class A

    ---       ---       ---       ---       100.00       94.10       70.25  

NASDAQ Composite

    100.00       170.58       171.30       199.99       ---       283.39       223.74  

Russell 2000

    100.00       161.32       154.59       179.86       ---       249.69       205.95  

 

 
15

 

 
Item 6.     Selected Financial Data

 

The selected statement of income data for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, and 2012, and the selected balance sheet data at December 31, 2014 and 2013, are derived from, and are qualified by reference to, the audited consolidated financial statements of the Company included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected statement of income data for the year ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, and the balance sheet data at December 31, 2012, 2011 and 2010, are derived from audited consolidated financial statements not included herein. The Company acquired Digital Assent on October 28, 2014 and Outcome Concept Systems on August 3, 2010.

 

   

Year Ended December 31, (a)

 
   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

   

2011

   

2010

 
   

(In thousands, except per share data)

 

Statement of Income Data:

                                       

Revenue

  $ 98,837     $ 92,590     $ 86,421     $ 75,767     $ 63,398  

Operating expenses:

                                       

Direct

    41,719       38,844       35,461       28,667       24,635  

Selling, general and administrative

    25,018       25,208       23,542       23,300       20,202  

Depreciation and amortization

    3,804       3,732       4,699       5,065       4,704  

Total operating expenses

    70,541       67,784       63,702       57,032       49,541  

Operating income

    28,296       24,806       22,719       18,735       13,857  

Other expense

    (204 )     (318 )     (512 )     (575 )     (542 )

Income before income taxes

    28,092       24,488       22,207       18,160       13,315  

Provision for income taxes

    9,936       9,004       7,139       6,596       4,816  

Net income

  $ 18,156     $ 15,484     $ 15,068     $ 11,564     $ 8,499  

Earnings per share common stock:

                                       

Basic Earnings per share:

                                       

Class A

  $ 0.44     $ 0.37     $ 0.37     $ 0.29     $ 0.21  

Class B

  $ 2.62     $ 2.25     $ 2.22     $ 1.73     $ 1.28  

Diluted Earnings per share:

                                       

Class A

  $ 0.43     $ 0.37     $ 0.36     $ 0.28     $ 0.21  

Class B

  $ 2.57     $ 2.20     $ 2.17     $ 1.69     $ 1.26  
                                         
Weighted average share and share equivalents outstanding:                                        

Class A - basic

    20,764       20,677       20,325       20,016       19,912  

Class B - basic

    3,473       3,447       3,388       3,336       3,319  

Class A - diluted

    21,076       21,099       20,854       20,526       20,207  

Class B - diluted

    3,536       3,514       3,476       3,421       3,368  

 

   

December 31,

 
   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

   

2011

   

2010

 
   

(In thousands)

 

Balance Sheet Data:

                                       

Working capital surplus (deficiency)

  $ 25,262     $ 12,784     $ (11,483 )   $ (2,262 )   $ (8,809 )

Total assets

    129,510       111,088       100,046       100,676       95,770  

Total debt and capital lease obligations, including current portion

    8,386       10,546       12,763       14,912       16,599  

Total shareholders’ equity

  $ 87,748     $ 71,755     $ 56,742     $ 55,554     $ 48,584  

 

 

(a)

All share and per share data have been retroactively adjusted to give effect to the May 2013 Recapitalization as further described in Note 1 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 
16

 

 

Item 7.     Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

Overview

 

The Company is a leading provider of analytics and insights that facilitate revenue growth, patient, employee and customer retention and patient engagement for healthcare providers, payers and other healthcare organizations. The Company’s solutions support the improvement of business and clinical outcomes, while facilitating regulatory compliance and the shift to population-based health management for its clients. The Company’s ability to systematically capture, analyze and deliver to its clients self-reported information from patients, families and consumers is critical in today’s healthcare market. NRC believes that access to and analysis of its extensive consumer-driven information will become even more valuable in the future as healthcare providers increasingly need to more deeply understand and engage patients and consumers in an effort towards effective population-based health management.

 

The Company’s portfolio of subscription-based solutions provide actionable information and analysis to healthcare organizations and payers across a range of mission-critical, constituent-related elements, including patient experience and satisfaction, community population health risks, workforce engagement, community perceptions, and physician engagement. NRC partners with clients across the continuum of healthcare services. The Company’s clients range from acute care hospitals and post-acute providers, such as home health, long-term care and hospice, to numerous payer organizations. The Company believes this cross-continuum positioning is a unique and an increasingly important capability as evolving payment models drive healthcare providers and payers towards a more collaborative and interactive healthcare system.

 

Acquisitions/ Investments

 

In October 2014, NRC made investments in two strategic technologies to advance the Company’s commitment to empowering consumer-centric healthcare across the continuum. 

 

The first, an acquisition of Digital Assent, a company with a healthcare technology platform, creates a Center of Excellence in Atlanta, Georgia, responsible for developing novel solutions to enhance consumer decision-making in the selection of healthcare providers. The all-cash consideration paid at closing was $2.6 million.

 

The second, an investment, includes an option for a potential acquisition of a partner company that has developed a talent-matching solution to accelerate the formation of high-performing teams.  The cash consideration paid was $800,000, of which $657,000 was allocated to the purchase option and the remaining $143,000 to a license and work to be performed. The option provides NRC with the right to acquire the partner company for $4.1 million on or before March 31, 2015.

 

Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect amounts reported therein. The most significant of these areas involving difficult or complex judgments made by management with respect to the preparation of the Company’s consolidated financial statements for 2014 include:

 

●     Revenue recognition;

 

●     Valuation of goodwill and identifiable intangible assets;

 

●     Income taxes; and

 

●     Business combinations

 

 
17

 

  

Revenue Recognition

 

The Company derives a majority of its operating revenue from its annually renewable services, which include performance measurement and improvement services, healthcare analytics and governance education services. The Company provides these services to its clients under annual client service contracts, although such contracts are generally cancelable on short or no notice without penalty. The Company also derives some revenue from its custom and other research projects.

 

Services are provided under subscription-based service agreements. The Company recognizes subscription-based service revenue over the period of time the service is provided. Generally, the subscription periods are for twelve months and revenue is recognized equally over the subscription period.

  

Certain contracts are fixed-fee arrangements with a portion of the project fee billed in advance and the remainder billed periodically over the duration of the project. Revenue and direct expenses for services provided under these contracts are recognized under the proportional performance method. Under the proportional performance method, the Company recognizes revenue based on output measures or key milestones such as survey set-up, survey mailings, survey returns and reporting. The Company measures its progress based on the level of completion of these output measures and recognizes revenue accordingly. Management judgments and estimates must be made and used in connection with revenue recognized using the proportional performance method. If management made different judgments and estimates, then the amount and timing of revenue for any period could differ materially from the reported revenue.

  

The Company’s revenue arrangements with a client may include combinations of performance measurement and improvement services, healthcare analytics or governance education services which may be executed at the same time, or within close proximity of one another (referred to as a multiple-element arrangement). Each element of a multiple-element arrangement is accounted for as a separate unit of accounting provided each delivered element is sold separately by the Company or another vendor; and for an arrangement that includes a general right of return relative to the undelivered elements, delivery or performance of the undelivered services are considered probable and substantially in the control of the Company. The Company’s arrangements generally do not include a general right of return related to the delivered services. If these criteria are not met, the arrangement is accounted for as a single unit of accounting with revenue generally recognized equally over the subscription period or recognized under the proportional performance method.

 
Revenue is allocated to each separate unit of accounting based on relative selling price using a selling price hierarchy: vendor specific objective evidence (“VSOE”), if available, third-party evidence (“TPE”) if VSOE is not available, or estimated selling price if VSOE nor TPE is available. VSOE is established based on the services normal selling price and discounts for the specific services when sold separately. TPE is established by evaluating similar competitor services in standalone arrangements. If neither exists for a deliverable, the best estimate of the selling price (“ESP”) is used for that deliverable based on list price, representing a component of management’s market strategy, and an analysis of historical prices for bundled and standalone arrangements. Revenue allocated to an element is limited to revenue that is not subject to refund or otherwise represents contingent revenue. VSOE, TPE, and ESP are periodically adjusted to reflect current market conditions. These adjustments are not expected to differ significantly from historical results.

 

Valuation of Goodwill and Identifiable Intangible Assets

 

Intangible assets include customer relationships, trade names, technology, non-compete agreements and goodwill. Intangible assets with estimable useful lives are amortized over their respective estimated useful lives to their estimated residual values and reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable. The Company reviews intangible assets with indefinite lives for impairment annually as of October 1 and whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of an asset may not be recoverable.

 

 
18

 

  

When performing the impairment assessment, the Company first assesses qualitative factors to determine whether it is necessary to recalculate the fair value of our intangible assets with indefinite lives. If the Company believes, as a result of the qualitative assessment, that it is more likely than not that the fair value of the indefinite-lived intangibles is less than their carrying amount, the Company calculates the fair value using a market approach. If the carrying value of an intangible asset with an indefinite life exceeds its fair value, then the intangible asset is written-down to their fair values. The Company did not recognize any impairment related to our indefinite-lived intangible assets during 2014, 2013, or 2012.

 

Goodwill is an asset representing the future economic benefits arising from other assets acquired in a business combination that are not individually identified and separately recognized. All of the Company’s goodwill is allocated to its reporting units, which are the same as its operating segments. Goodwill is reviewed for impairment at least annually as of October 1 and whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of goodwill may not be recoverable.

 

The Company reviews for goodwill impairment by first assessing qualitative factors to determine whether any impairment may exist. If we believe, as a result of the qualitative assessment that it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, a quantitative two-step test is required; otherwise, no further testing is required. Under the first step of the quantitative test, the fair value of the reporting unit is compared with its carrying value (including goodwill). If the fair value of the reporting unit exceeds its carrying value, step two is not performed. If the fair value of the reporting unit is less than its carrying value, an indication of goodwill impairment exists for the reporting unit and the Company performs step two of the impairment test (measurement). Under step two, an impairment loss is recognized for any excess of the carrying amount of the reporting unit’s goodwill over the fair value of that goodwill. The fair value of goodwill is determined by allocating the fair value of the reporting unit in a manner similar to a purchase price allocation and the residual fair value after this allocation is the fair value of the reporting unit goodwill.

 

In instances when a step two is required, the fair value of the reporting unit is determined using an income approach and comparable market multiples. Under the income approach, there are a number of inputs used to calculate the fair value using a discounted cash flow model, including operating results, business plans, projected cash flows and a discount rate. Discount rates, growth rates and cash flow projections are the most sensitive and susceptible to change as they require significant management judgment. Discount rates are determined by using a weighted average cost of capital, which considers market and industry data. Management develops growth rates and cash flow projections for each reporting unit considering industry and Company-specific historical and projected information. Terminal value rate determination follows common methodology of capturing the present value of perpetual cash flow estimates beyond the last projected period assuming a constant weighted average cost of capital and low long-term growth rates. Under the market approach, the Company considers its market capitalization, comparisons to other public companies’ data, and recent transactions of similar businesses within the Company’s industry.

 

The Company performed a qualitative analysis as of October 1, 2014, which did not indicate that it was more likely than not that the carrying values of the reporting units exceeded fair value. No impairments were recorded during the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013 or 2012.

 

Income Taxes

 

The Company uses the asset and liability method of accounting for income taxes. Under that method, deferred income tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases using enacted tax rates. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date. Valuation allowances, if any, are established when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount that is more likely than not to be realized. The Company recognizes the effect of income tax positions only if those positions are more likely than not of being sustained. Recognized income tax positions are measured at the largest amount that is greater than 50% likely of being realized. Changes in recognition or measurement are reflected in the period in which the change in judgment occurs. Management judgment is required to determine the provision for income taxes and to determine whether deferred income taxes will be realized in full or in part. Such judgments include, but are not limited to, the likelihood we would realize the benefits of net operating loss carryforwards, the adequacy of valuation allowances, the election to capitalize or expense costs incurred, and the probability of outcomes of uncertain tax positions. It is possible that the various taxing authorities could challenge those judgments or positions and reach conclusions that would cause us to incur tax liabilities in excess of, or realize benefits less than, those currently recorded. In addition, changes in the geographical mix or estimated amount of annual pretax income could impact our overall effective tax rate.

 

 
19

 

  

Business Combinations

 

The Company uses the acquisition method of accounting for acquired businesses. Under the acquisition method, the financial statements reflect the operations of an acquired business starting from the completion of the acquisition. The assets acquired and liabilities assumed are recorded at their respective estimated fair values at the date of the acquisition. Any excess of the purchase price over the estimated fair values of the indentifiable net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. Significant judgment is required in estimating the fair value of assets acquired, especially intangible assets. As a result, in the case of significant acquisitions we typically engage third-party valuation specialists in estimating fair values of tangible and intangible assets. The fair value estimates are based on available historical information and on expectations and assumptions about the future, considering the perspective of marketplace participants. While management believes those expectations and assumptions are reasonable, they are inherently uncertain. Unanticipated market or macroeconomic events and circumstances may occur, which could impact the accuracy or validity of the estimates and assumptions.

 

Results of Operations

 

The following table sets forth, for the periods indicated, selected financial information derived from the Company’s consolidated financial statements, expressed as a percentage of total revenue and the percentage change in such items versus the prior comparable period (please note that all columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding). The trends illustrated in the following table may not necessarily be indicative of future results. The discussion that follows the table should be read in conjunction with the Company’s consolidated financial statements.

 

 
20

 

  

   

Percentage of Total Revenue
Year Ended December 31,

   

Percentage

Increase (Decrease)

 
   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

   

2014 over 2013

   

2013 over 2012

 
                                         

Revenue

    100.0 %     100.0 %     100.0 %     6.7 %     7.1 %

Operating expenses:

                                       

Direct

    42.2       42.0       41.0       7.4       9.5  

Selling, general and administrative

    25.3       27.2       27.2       (0.8 )     7.1  

Depreciation and amortization

    3.8       4.0       5.4       1.9       (20.6 )

Total operating expenses

    71.4       73.2       73.7       4.1       6.4  

Operating income

    28.6 %     26.8 %     26.3 %     14.1 %     9.2 %

  

Year Ended December 31, 2014, Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2013

 

Revenue. Revenue in 2014 increased 6.7% to $98.8 million, compared to $92.6 million in 2013, which was driven primarily by a combination of continued gains in market share and vertical growth in our existing client base. Revenue from subscription-based agreements comprised 82.3% of the total revenue in 2014, compared to 81.9% of total revenue in 2013.

 

Direct expenses. Direct expenses increased 7.4% to $41.7 million in 2014, compared to $38.8 million in 2013. This was mainly due to increased variable costs of $2.7 million from postage and printing, contracted survey-related costs and internal labor costs, offset partially by less conference, publication and video production fees. Fixed expenses increased $171,000 mainly due to increased payroll and benefit costs due to the Digital Assent acquisition and contracted service costs in the service and analytical areas. Direct expenses increased as a percentage of revenue to 42.2% in 2014 from 42.0% in 2013 primarily due to the higher survey volumes for the subscription based products.

 

Selling, general and administrative expenses. Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased 0.8% to $25.0 million in 2014, compared to $25.2 million in 2013, mainly due to a decrease in legal and accounting fees of $518,000 that were associated with the May 2013 Recapitalization. In addition, non-cash share-based compensation expense, primarily associated with the forfeitures of certain stock options and restricted share awards, decreased by $213,000. These decreases were partially offset by increased payroll and benefit costs and legal and accounting costs related to the October 2014 Digital Assent acquisition and investment. Bad debt expense, recruiting fees, contracted service costs and building/equipment lease expense also partially offset these decreases. Selling, general, and administrative expenses decreased as a percentage of revenue to 25.3% in 2014, from 27.2% in 2013, due to the leveraging of these costs over revenue.

 

Depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization expenses increased 1.9% to $3.8 million in 2014 compared to $3.7 million in 2013 primarily due to increased depreciation from investments in computer software and increased amortization from the October 2014 acquisition. Depreciation and amortization expenses as a percentage of revenue decreased to 3.8% in 2014 from 4.0% during in 2013.

 

Provision for income taxes. Provision for income taxes was $9.9 million (35.4% effective tax rate) in 2014, compared to $9.0 million (36.8% effective tax rate) in 2013. The effective tax rate for 2014 is lower than the rate in 2013 primarily due to lower projected state tax rates due to legislative changes, as well as non-deductible fees associated with the May 2013 Recapitalization that were incurred during 2013, partially offset by $179,000 increase in the liability for unrecognized tax benefit .

 

 
21

 

 
Year Ended December 31, 2013, Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2012

 

Revenue. Revenue increased 7.1% in 2013 to $92.6 million from $86.4 million in 2012 which was driven by a combination of continued gains in market share and vertical growth in our existing client base. Revenue from subscription-based agreements comprised 81.9% of the total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 compared to 76.0% of the total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2012.

 

Direct expenses. Direct expenses increased 9.5% to $38.8 million in 2013 from $35.5 million in 2012. Direct variable expenses are costs that vary with volumes and consist mainly of printing, postage, hourly labor, and contracted survey work. Direct fixed expenses consist mainly of salaries and benefits, and contracted services for client service, analytical, research, and information technology development functions. The increase included postage and contracted survey-related costs to service the higher volume of business, and an increase in fixed expenses of $1.8 million from additional investments in technology, research and service resources. Direct expenses increased as a percentage of revenue to 42.0% in the year ended December 31, 2013, from 41.0% during the same period of 2012. Variable expenses as percentage of revenue were 0.2% of the change due to higher survey volumes for the subscription-based products, and fixed expenses were 0.8% of the change due to investments in technology, research and service resources.

 

Selling, general and administrative expenses. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 7.1% to $25.2 million in 2013 from $23.5 million in 2012 mainly due to additional expense in share based compensation, increases in annual software license fees and costs from the May 2013 Recapitalization, which were partially offset by decreased incentive payments and marketing costs. Selling, general, and administrative expenses remained constant as a percentage of revenue at 27.2% for each of the years ended December 31, 2013 and 2012 due to the leveraging of selling, general and administrative expenses against increased revenue.

 

Depreciation and amortization. Depreciation and amortization expenses decreased 20.6% to $3.7 million in 2013 from $4.7 million in 2012. This decrease was a result of a large software development project becoming fully depreciated and intangibles associated with an acquisition becoming fully amortized. Depreciation and amortization expenses as a percentage of revenue decreased to 4.0% in 2013 from 5.4% in 2012.

 

Provision for income taxes. The provision for income taxes totaled $9.0 million (36.8% effective tax rate) for 2013, compared to $7.1 million (32.1% effective tax rate) for 2012. The effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2013, is higher than the rate in the same period of 2012 primarily due to an adjustment to income taxes of $575,000 for decreases in deferred state tax rates resulting from legislative changes in 2012 and nondeductible fees associated with the May 2013 Recapitalization that are part of the annualized effective rate.

 

Inflation and Changing Prices

 

Inflation and changing prices have not had a material impact on revenue or net income in the last three years.

 

Liquidity and Capital Resources

 

The Company believes that its existing sources of liquidity, including cash and cash equivalents, borrowing availability, and operating cash flow will be sufficient to meet its projected needs for the foreseeable future.

 

The Company made capital contributions to Connect totaling $2.8 million through December 31, 2014 and will make additional capital contributions up to $1.3 million on an as-needed basis as determined by the Board of Directors of Connect. Additionally, the Company has a future obligation to purchase the other equity units in Connect when certain targeted events have been achieved. If, at any time, Connect has at least $12.5 million of annual recurring contract value, including the NRC contracts being serviced, and the members have approved a financial statement showing a pro forma minimum 35% EBITDA margin for revenue on a going-forward basis, then within 90 days thereafter NRC is required to purchase from the other members, and the other members shall be required to sell to NRC, all of their equity units not owned by NRC. As of December 31, 2014, the price at which the other members had the obligation to sell their equity units to NRC was $0.

 

 
22

 

  

As of December 31, 2014, our principal sources of liquidity included $40.0 million of cash and cash equivalents and up to $6.5 million of unused borrowings under our revolving credit note. Of this cash, $9.9 million was held in Canada. All of the amounts held in Canada are intended to be indefinitely reinvested in foreign operations. The amounts held outside of the U.S. are eligible for repatriation, but under current law, would be subject to U.S. federal income taxes less applicable foreign tax credits. The Company estimated at December 31, 2014, that an additional tax liability of $609,000 would become due if repatriation of undistributed earnings would occur. The amount of unused borrowings actually available under the revolving credit note varies in accordance with the terms of the agreement.    

 

Working Capital

 

The Company had a working capital surplus of $25.3 million on December 31, 2014, compared to a $12.8 million working capital surplus on December 31, 2013. The change in the working capital balance was primarily due to the suspension of dividends in latter half of 2013 in order to maximize cash for investment opportunities. Investments were made in Connect in June 2013 and for two strategic technology investments in October 2014. The first investment in 2014, was an acquisition of Digital Assent, that creates a Center of Excellence in Atlanta, Georgia and the second, an investment, includes an option for a $4.1 million potential acquisition of a partner company.  The deferred revenue balances as of December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013, were $15.1 million and $13.9 million, respectively.

 

The deferred revenue balance is primarily due to timing of initial billings on new and renewal contracts. The Company typically invoices clients for performance tracking services and custom research projects before they have been completed. Billed amounts are recorded as billings in excess of revenue earned, or deferred revenue, on the Company’s consolidated financial statements, and are recognized as income when earned. In addition, when work is performed in advance of billing, the Company records this work as revenue earned in excess of billings, or unbilled revenue. Substantially all deferred revenue and all unbilled revenue will be earned and billed respectively, within 12 months of the respective period ends.

 

Cash Flow Analysis

 

A summary of operating, investing, and financing activities are shown in the following table:

 

   

For the Year Ended December 31,

 
   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

 
   

(In thousands)

 

Provided by operating activities

  $ 26,197     $ 19,315     $ 19,132  

Used in investing activities

    (5,723 )     (2,188 )     (2,348 )

Used in financing activities

    (1,730 )     (2,824 )     (16,687 )

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash

    (794 )     (497 )     107  

Net increase in cash and cash equivalents

    17,950       13,806       204  

Cash and cash equivalents at end of period

  $ 40,042     $ 22,092     $ 8,286  

 

 

 
23

 

  

Cash Flows from Operating Activities

 

Cash flows from operating activities consist of net income adjusted for non-cash items including depreciation and amortization, deferred taxes, and the effect of working capital changes.

 

Net cash provided by operating activities was $26.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2014, which included net income of $18.2 million, plus non-cash charges (benefits) for deferred tax expense, depreciation and amortization, reserve for uncertain tax positions, loss on disposal of property and equipment, tax benefit from exercise of stock options, and non-cash stock compensation totaling $4.9 million. Changes in working capital increased 2014 cash flows from operating activities by $3.1 million, primarily due to increases in trade accounts receivable and timing of billings on new or renewal contracts increasing cash flows provided from deferred revenue and unbilled revenue. The increase was partially offset by timing of payments on accrued expenses, wages, bonus and profit sharing and income taxes.

 

Net cash provided by operating activities was $19.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, which included net income of $15.5 million, plus non-cash charges (benefits) for deferred tax expense, depreciation and amortization, tax benefit from exercise of stock options, and non-cash stock compensation totaling $4.8 million. Changes in working capital decreased 2013 cash flows from operating activities by $1.0 million, primarily due to timing of billings on new or renewal contracts decreasing cash flows provided from deferred revenue and unbilled revenue offset by increases in trade accounts receivable. The cash flows decrease was partially offset by timing of payments on accounts payable and accrued expenses, wages, bonus and profit sharing.

 

Net cash provided by operating activities was $19.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2012, which included net income of $15.1 million, plus non-cash charges (benefits) for deferred tax expense, depreciation and amortization, tax benefit from exercise of stock options, and non-cash stock compensation totaling $5.3 million. Changes in working capital decreased 2012 cash flows from operating activities by $1.2 million, primarily due to timing of initial billings on new or renewal contracts decreasing cash flows provided from trade accounts receivable and deferred revenue and timing of payments on accounts payable and prepaid expenses, partially offset by increases and timing in payments of accrued expenses, wages, and bonus and profit sharing.

 

Cash Flows from Investing Activities

 

Net cash of $5.7 million was used for investing activities in the year ended December 31, 2014. Purchases of property and equipment totaled $2.5 million. The Company paid $2.6 million in cash for the October 2014 acquisition of Digital Assent and $657,000 for the option to purchase a partner company before March 31, 2015.

 

Net cash of $2.2 million was used for investing activities in the year ended December 31, 2013. Purchases of property and equipment totaled the $2.2 million.

 

Net cash of $2.3 million was used for investing activities in the year ended December 31, 2012. Purchases of property and equipment totaled the $2.3 million.

 

Cash Flows from Financing Activities

 

Net cash used in financing activities was $1.7 million in the year ended December 31, 2014. Proceeds from the exercise of stock options and the excess tax benefit of share-based compensation provided cash of $408,000 and $622,000, respectively, partially offset by repurchases of shares for payroll tax withholdings related to share-based compensation of $348,000. Cash was used to repay borrowings under the term note totaling $2.3 million and capital lease obligations of $156,000.

 

 
24

 

  

Net cash used in financing activities was $2.8 million in the year ended December 31, 2013. Proceeds from the exercise of stock options and the excess tax benefit of share-based compensation provided cash of $840,000 and $755,000, respectively, partially offset by repurchases of shares for payroll tax withholdings related to share-based compensation of $55,000. Cash was used to pay dividends of $2.1 million. Cash was also used to repay borrowings under the term note totaling $2.1 million and capital lease obligations of $110,000.

 

Net cash used in financing activities was $16.7 million in the year ended December 31, 2012. Proceeds from the exercise of stock options and the excess tax benefit of share-based compensation provided cash of $1.3 million and $2.1 million, respectively, partially offset by repurchases of shares for payroll tax withholdings related to share-based compensation of $527,000. Cash was used to pay dividends of $17.4 million, including a special dividend of $10.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. Cash was also used to repay borrowings under the term note totaling $2.1 million and capital lease obligations of $108,000.

 

The effect of changes in foreign exchange rates increased (decreased) cash and cash equivalents by ($794,000), ($497,000), and $107,000 in the years ended December 31, 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively.

 

Capital Expenditures

 

Capital expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2014 were $2.5 million. These expenditures consisted mainly of computer software, computer hardware, furniture and other equipment. The Company expects similar capital expenditure purchases in 2015 consisting primarily of computer software and hardware and other equipment, to be funded through cash generated from operations.

 

Debt and Equity

 

The Company’s term note is payable in 60 monthly installments of $212,468. Borrowings under the term note bear interest at an annual rate of 3.12%. The outstanding balance of the term note at December 31, 2014 was $8.1 million.

 

The Company also has a revolving credit note that was renewed in June 2014 to extend the term to June 30, 2015. The maximum aggregate amount available under the revolving credit note is $6.5 million, subject to a borrowing base equal to 75.0% of the Company’s eligible accounts receivable. Borrowings under the revolving credit note bear interest at a variable annual rate, with three rate options at the discretion of management as follows: (1) 2.5% plus the daily reset one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) or (2) 2.2% plus the one-, two- or three- month LIBOR rate, or (3) the bank’s one-, two, three, six, or twelve month Money Market Loan Rate. As of December 31, 2014, and throughout 2014, the revolving credit note did not have a balance. According to the borrowing base requirements, the Company had the capacity to borrow $6.5 million as of December 31, 2014.

 

The term note and revolving credit note are secured by certain of the Company’s assets, including the Company’s land, building, accounts receivable and intangible assets. The term note and the revolving credit note contain various restrictions and covenants applicable to the Company, including requirements that the Company maintain certain financial ratios at prescribed levels and restrictions on the ability of the Company to consolidate or merge, create liens, incur additional indebtedness or dispose of assets. As of December 31, 2014, the Company was in compliance with the financial covenants.

 

The Company has capital leases for computer equipment, office equipment, printing and inserting equipment. The balance of the capital leases as of December 31, 2014 was $318,000.

 

 
25

 

  

Contractual Obligations

 

The Company had contractual obligations to make payments in the following amounts in the future as of December 31, 2014:

 

Contractual Obligations(1)

 

Total

Payments

   

Less than

One Year

   

One to

Three Years

   

Three to

Five Years

   

After

Five Years

 

(In thousands)

                                       

Operating leases

  $ 2,102     $ 703     $ 1,003     $ 396     $ --  

Capital leases

    345       173       139       33       --  

Uncertain tax positions(2)

    --       --       --       --       --  

Long-term debt

    8,512       2,550       5,099       863       --  

Total

  $ 10,959     $ 3,426     $ 6,241     $ 1,292     $ --  

 

  (1) Amounts are inclusive of interest payments, where applicable.

 

(2)

We have $367,000 in liabilities associated with uncertain tax positions. We are unable to reasonably estimate the expected cash settlement dates of these uncertain tax positions with the taxing authorities.

 

The Company generally does not make unconditional, non-cancelable purchase commitments. The Company enters into purchase orders in the normal course of business, but these purchase obligations do not exceed one year.

 

Shareholders’ equity increased $16.0 million to $87.7 million in 2014, from $71.8 million in 2013. The increase was primarily due to net income of $18.2 million, $1.4 million of related share-based compensation and $1.3 million from the exercise of options, partially offset by dividends declared of $2.5 million, share repurchases of $1.2 million and changes in the cumulative translation adjustment of $1.1 million.

 

Stock Repurchase Program

 

In February 2006, the Board of Directors of the Company authorized the repurchase of 2,250,000 shares of class A common stock and 375,000 shares of class B common stock (on a post-May 2013 Recapitalization basis) in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions. As of December 31, 2014, the remaining number of shares that could be purchased under this authorization was 418,749 shares of class A common stock and 69,791 shares of class B common stock.

 

Off-Balance Sheet Obligations

 

The Company has no significant off-balance sheet obligations other than the operating lease commitments disclosed in “Liquidity and Capital Resources.”

 

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

 

In May 2014, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606)” (“ASU 2014-09”).  ASU 2014-09 requires an entity to recognize the amount of revenue to which it expects to be entitled for the transfer of promised goods or services to customers. The ASU will replace most existing revenue recognition guidance in U.S. GAAP when it becomes effective. The updated accounting guidance is effective for annual and interim reporting periods in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2016.  Early adoption is not permitted.  An entity may choose to adopt this ASU either retrospectively or through a cumulative effect adjustment as of the start of the first period for which it applies the standard.  The Company is currently in the process of evaluating the impact that this new guidance will have on our consolidated financial statements and our method of adoption.

 

 
26

 


Item 7A.     Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

 

The Company’s primary market risk exposure is changes in foreign currency exchange rates and interest rates.

 

The Company’s Canadian subsidiary uses as its functional currency the local currency of the country in which it operates. It translates its assets and liabilities into U.S. dollars at the exchange rate in effect at the balance sheet date. It translates its revenue and expenses at the average exchange rate during the period. The Company includes translation gains and losses in accumulated other comprehensive income (loss), a component of shareholders’ equity. Foreign currency translation gains (losses) were ($1.1 million), ($822,000), and $217,000 in 2014, 2013, and 2012, respectively. Gains and losses related to transactions denominated in a currency other than the functional currency of the countries in which the Company operates and short-term intercompany accounts are included in other income (expense) in the consolidated statements of income. A portion of our cash in our Canadian subsidiary is denominated in foreign currencies, where fluctuations in exchange rates will impact our cash balances in U.S. dollar terms. A sensitivity analysis assuming a hypothetical 100 basis point movement in the value of the U.S. dollar would impact our reported cash balance by approximately $1.0 million. We have not entered into any foreign currency hedging transactions. We do not purchase or hold any derivative financial instruments for the purpose of speculation or arbitrage.

 

We are exposed to interest rate risk with both our fixed-rate term debt and variable rate revolving line of credit facility. Interest rate changes for borrowings under our fixed-rate term debt would impact the fair value of such debt, but do not impact earnings or cash flow. At December 31, 2014, our fixed-rate term debt totaled $8.1 million. Based on a sensitivity analysis, a one percent change in market interest rates as of December 31, 2014, would not have a material effect on the estimated fair value of our fixed-rate debt outstanding at December 31, 2014.

 

Borrowings under our revolving credit note bear interest at a variable annual rate, with three rate options at the discretion of management. Borrowings under the revolving credit note may not exceed the lesser of a calculated borrowing base or $6.5 million. There were no borrowings outstanding under our revolving credit note at December 31, 2014, or at any time during 2014. A sensitivity analysis assuming a hypothetical 100 basis point movement in interest rates applied to the average daily borrowings and the maximum borrowings available under the revolving credit note indicated that such a movement would not have a material impact on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

 

 
27

 

 

Item 8.     Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

Quarterly Financial Data (Unaudited)

 

The following table sets forth selected financial information for each of the eight quarters in the two-year period ended December 31, 2014. This unaudited information has been prepared by the Company on the same basis as the consolidated financial statements and includes all normal recurring adjustments necessary to present fairly this information when read in conjunction with the Company’s audited consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto.

 

   

(In thousands, except per share data) (1)

 
   

Quarter Ended

 
   

Dec. 31, 2014

   

Sept 30, 2014

   

June 30, 2014

   

Mar. 31, 2014

   

Dec. 31, 2013

   

Sept 30, 2013

   

June 30, 2013

   

Mar. 31, 2013

 
                                                                 

Revenue

  $ 25,124     $ 23,682     $ 24,001     $ 26,030     $ 22,923     $ 22,407     $ 22,354     $ 24,906  

Direct expenses

    10,848       9,769       10,773       10,329       9,648       9,452       9,498       10,246  

Selling, general and administrative expenses

    6,863       5,805       5,984       6,366       6,305       6,019       6,391       6,493  

Depreciation and amortization

    994       949       926       935       944       907       931       950  

Operating income

    6,419       7,159       6,318       8,400       6,026       6,029       5,534       7,217  

Other expense

    (43 )     (52 )     (52 )     (57 )     (82 )     (81 )     (71 )     (84 )

Provision for income taxes

    2,276       2,555       2,215       2,890       2,177       2,135       2,029       2,663  

Net income

  $ 4,100     $ 4,552     $ 4,051     $ 5,453     $ 3,767     $ 3,813     $ 3,434     $ 4,470  

Earnings per share of common stock:

                                                               

Basic earnings per share

                                                               

Class A

  $ 0.10     $ 0.11     $ 0.10     $ 0.13     $ 0.09     $ 0.09     $ 0.08     $ 0.11  

Class B

  $ 0.59     $ 0.66     $ 0.58     $ 0.79     $ 0.55     $ 0.55     $ 0.50     $ 0.65  

Dilutive earnings per share

                                                               

Class A

  $ 0.10     $ 0.11     $ 0.10     $ 0.13     $ 0.09     $ 0.09     $ 0.08     $ 0.11  

Class B

  $ 0.58     $ 0.64     $ 0.57     $ 0.77     $ 0.54     $ 0.54     $ 0.49     $ 0.64  

Weighted average shares outstanding – basic

                                                               

Class A

    20,773       20,771       20,771       20,742       20,692       20,672       20,672       20,669  

Class B

    3,474       3,474       3,474       3,469       3,452       3,445       3,445       3,445  

Weighted average shares outstanding - diluted

                                                               

Class A

    21,075       21,035       21,073       21,134       21,137       21,111       21,085       21,063  

Class B

    3,529       3,536       3,539       3,541       3,514       3,514       3,516       3,511  

 

 

(1)

All share and per share data have been retroactively adjusted to give effect to the May 2013 Recapitalization as further described in Note 1 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 
28

 

 

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

  

The Board of Directors and Shareholders
National Research Corporation:

 

We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of National Research Corporation and subsidiary (the Company) as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, and the related consolidated statements of income, comprehensive income, shareholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2014. In connection with our audits of the consolidated financial statements, we also have audited financial statement schedule listed in Item 15(2) of this Form 10-K. These consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedule are the responsibility of the Company’s management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these consolidated financial statements and financial statement schedule based on our audits.

 

We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States). Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. An audit includes examining, on a test basis, evidence supporting the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. An audit also includes assessing the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.

 

In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of National Research Corporation and subsidiary as of December 31, 2014 and 2013, and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2014, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Also in our opinion, the related financial statement schedule, when considered in relation to the basic consolidated financial statements taken as a whole, present fairly, in all material respects, the information set forth therein.

 

We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2014, based on criteria established in Internal Control – Integrated Framework (1992) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), and our report dated March 4, 2015 expressed an unqualified opinion on the effectiveness of the Company’s internal control over financial reporting.

 

 

/s/ KPMG LLP

 

Lincoln, Nebraska
March 4, 2015

 

 
29

 

  

NATIONAL RESEARCH CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARY

Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In thousands, except share amounts)

 

 

 

2014

   

2013 

 
Assets                

Current assets:

               

Cash and cash equivalents

  $ 40,042     $ 22,092  

Trade accounts receivable, less allowance for doubtful accounts of $201 and $183, respectively

    8,116       11,043  

Unbilled revenue

    1,169       1,282  

Prepaid expenses

    1,418       1,310  

Income taxes receivable

    1,100       357  

Deferred income taxes

    349       53  

Other current assets

    994       429  

Total current assets

    53,188       36,566  
                 

Net property and equipment

    12,143       11,898  

Intangible assets, net

    5,456       4,840  

Goodwill

    58,489       57,593  

Other

    234       191  
                 

Total assets

  $ 129,510     $ 111,088  
                 

Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity

               

Current liabilities:

               

Current portion of notes payable

  $ 2,328     $ 2,256  

Accounts payable

    830       654  

Accrued wages, bonus and profit sharing

    4,365       4,319  

Accrued expenses

    5,047       2,462  

Current portion of capital lease obligations

    151       114  

Income taxes payable

    110       92  

Deferred revenue

    15,095       13,885  

Total current liabilities

    27,926       23,782  
                 

Notes payable, net of current portion

    5,740       8,068  

Deferred income taxes

    7,432       6,939  

Deferred revenue

    123       243  

Other long term liabilities

    541       301  

Total liabilities

    41,762       39,333  
                 

Shareholders’ equity:

               

Preferred stock, $0.01 par value, authorized 2,000,000 shares, none issued

    --       --  

Class A Common stock, $0.001 par value; authorized 60,000,000 shares, issued 25,475,662 in 2014 and 25,285,029 in 2013, outstanding 20,894,286 in 2014 and 20,768,784 in 2013

    25       25  

Class B Common stock, $0.001 par value; authorized 80,000,000 shares, issued 4,251,889 in 2014 and 4,220,117 in 2013, outstanding 3,494,865 in 2014 and 3,467,410 in 2013

    4       4  

Additional paid-in capital

    44,864       42,192  

Retained earnings

    73,686       58,042  

Accumulated other comprehensive (loss) income, foreign currency translation adjustment

    (773 )     302  

Treasury stock, at cost; 4,581,376 Class A shares, 757,024 Class B shares in 2014 and 4,516,245 Class A shares, 752,707 Class B shares in 2013

    (30,058 )     (28,810 )

Total shareholders’ equity

    87,748       71,755  
                 

Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity

  $ 129,510     $ 111,088  

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

 
30

 

 

NATIONAL RESEARCH CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARY

Consolidated Statements of Income
(In thousands, except for per share amounts)

  

   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

 
                         

Revenue

  $ 98,837     $ 92,590     $ 86,421  
                         

Operating expenses:

                       

Direct

    41,719       38,844       35,461  

Selling, general and administrative

    25,018       25,208       23,542  

Depreciation and amortization

    3,804       3,732       4,699  

Total operating expenses

    70,541       67,784       63,702  
                         

Operating income

    28,296       24,806       22,719  
                         

Other income (expense):

                       

Interest income

    83       63       32  

Interest expense

    (305 )     (397 )     (541 )

Other, net

    18       16       (3 )
                         

Total other expense

    (204 )     (318 )     (512 )
                         

Income before income taxes

    28,092       24,488       22,207  
                         

Provision for income taxes

    9,936       9,004       7,139  
                         

Net income

  $ 18,156     $ 15,484     $ 15,068  

Earnings per share of common stock:

                       
Basic earnings per share:                        

Class A

  $ 0.44     $ 0.37     $ 0.37  

Class B

  $ 2.62     $ 2.25     $ 2.22  
Diluted earnings per share:                        

Class A

  $ 0.43     $ 0.37     $ 0.36  

Class B

  $ 2.57     $ 2.20     $ 2.17  
Weighted average shares and share equivalents outstanding                        

Class A - basic

    20,764       20,677       20,325  

Class B - basic

    3,473       3,447       3,388  

Class A - diluted

    21,076       21,099       20,854  

Class B - diluted

    3,536       3,514       3,476  

  

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

 
31

 

  

NATIONAL RESEARCH CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARY

Consolidated Statements of comprehensive income
(In thousands)

  

   

2014

   

2013

   

2012

 
                         

Net Income

  $ 18,156     $ 15,484     $ 15,068  
                         

Other comprehensive income (loss):

                       

Cumulative translation adjustment

  $ (1,075 )   $ (822 )   $ 217  

Other comprehensive income (loss)

  $ (1,075 )   $ (822 )   $ 217  
                         

Comprehensive Income

  $ 17,081     $ 14,662     $ 15,285  

 

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

 

 

 
32

 

 

NATIONAL RESEARCH CORPORATION AND SUBSIDIARY

Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity
(In thousands except share and per share amounts)

  

   

Common
Stock A

   

Common
Stock B

   

Additional
Paid-in
Capital

   

Retained
Earnings

   

Accumulated

Other
Comprehensive
Income

   

Treasury

Stock

   

Total

 

Balances at December 31, 2011

  $ 24     $ 4     $ 31,060     $ 46,995     $ 907     $ (23,436 )   $ 55,554  

Purchase of 324,093 A and 54,015 B shares of treasury stock

    --       --       --       --       --       (5,168 )     (5,168 )

Issuance of 786,303 class A common shares and 131,051 class B shares for the exercise of stock options

    1       --       5,967       --       --       --       5,968  

Tax benefit from the exercise of options and vested restricted stock

    --       --       2,078       --       --       --       2,078  

Issuance of restricted common shares, net of forfeitures (10,074 class A and 1,679 class B)

    --       --       --       --       --       --       --  

Non-cash stock compensation expense

    --       --       388       --       --       --       388  

Dividends declared of $0.42 and $2.54 per A and B common share, respectively

    --       --       --       (17,363 )     --       --       (17,363 )

Other comprehensive income, foreign currency translation adjustment

    --       --       --       --       217       --       217  

Net income

    --       --       --       15,068       --       --       15,068  

Balances at December 31, 2012

  $ 25     $ 4     $ 39,493     $ 44,700     $ 1,124     $ (28,604 )   $ 56,742  

Purchase of 11,445 shares of class A and 1908 B shares of class B treasury stock

    --       --       --       --       --       (206 )     (206 )

Issuance of 155,253 class A common shares and 31,876 class B shares for the exercise of stock options

    --       --       990       --       --       --       990  

Tax benefit from the exercise of options and vested restricted stock

    --       --       755       --       --       --       755  

Non-cash stock compensation expense

    --       --       955       --       --       --       955  

Fractional share cashed out

    --       --       (1 )     --       --       --       (1 )

Dividends declared of $0.05 and $0.31 per A and B common share, respectively

    --       --       --       (2,142 )     --       --       (2,142 )

Other comprehensive loss, foreign currency translation adjustment

    --       --       --       --       (822 )     --       (822 )

Net income

    --       --       --       15,484       --       --       15,484  

Balances at December 31, 2013

  $ 25     $ 4     $ 42,192     $ 58,042     $ 302     $ (28,810 )   $ 71,755  

Purchase of 65,131 shares of class A and 4,317 B shares of class B treasury stock

    --       --       --       --       --       (1,248 )     (1,248 )

Issuance of 140,595 class A common shares and 23,432 class B shares for the exercise of stock options

    --       --       1,308       --       --       --       1,308  
Tax benefit from the exercise of options and vested restricted stock     --       --       622       --       --       --       622  

Issuance of restricted common shares, net of forfeitures (50,038 class A and 8,340 class B)

    --       --       --       --       --