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CSGP > SEC Filings for CSGP > Form 10-K on 20-Feb-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for COSTAR GROUP INC



Annual Report

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

The following Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations contains "forward-looking statements," including statements about our beliefs and expectations. There are many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Potential factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in any forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those stated above in Item 1A. under the headings "Risk Factors - Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements" and "- Risk Factors," as well as those described from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

All forward-looking statements are based on information available to us on the date of this filing and we assume no obligation to update such statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The following discussion should be read in conjunction with our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


CoStar Group, Inc. (the "Company" or "CoStar") is the number one provider of information, analytics and marketing services to the commercial real estate industry in the United States ("U.S.") and the United Kingdom ("U.K.") based on the fact that we offer the most comprehensive commercial real estate database available; have the largest research department in the industry; own and operate the leading online marketplace for commercial real estate in the U.S. based on the number of unique visitors per month; provide more information, analytics and marketing services than any of our competitors and believe that we generate more revenues than any of our competitors. We have created and compiled our standardized information, analytics and marketing platform where members of the commercial real estate and related business community can continuously interact and facilitate transactions by efficiently exchanging accurate and standardized commercial real estate information. Our integrated suite of online service offerings includes information about space available for lease, comparable sales information, information about properties for sale, tenant information, internet marketing services, analytical capabilities, information for clients' websites, information about industry professionals and their business relationships, data integration and industry news.

LoopNet, our subsidiary, operates an online marketplace that enables property owners, landlords, and commercial real estate agents working on their behalf to list properties for sale or for lease and to submit detailed information about property listings. Commercial real estate agents, buyers and tenants also use LoopNet's online marketplace to search for available property listings that meet their criteria.

We also provide market research and analysis for commercial real estate investors and lenders via our Property and Portfolio Research ("PPR") service offerings, portfolio and debt management and reporting capabilities through our Resolve Technology service offerings, and real estate and lease management solutions, including lease administration and abstraction services, through our Virtual Premise service offerings.

Our service offerings span all commercial property types, including office, industrial, retail, land, mixed-use, hospitality and multifamily.

Subscription-Based Services

Our subscription-based information services consist primarily of CoStar SuiteTM and FOCUSTM services. CoStar Suite is sold as a platform of service offerings consisting of CoStar Property Professional®, CoStar COMPS Professional® and CoStar Tenant® and through our mobile application, CoStarGo®. CoStar Suite is our primary service offering in our U.S. operating segment. FOCUS is our primary service offering in our International operating segment. Additionally, we introduced CoStar Suite in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2012 and no longer offered FOCUS to new clients beginning in 2013.

Our subscription-based services consist primarily of similar services offered over the Internet to commercial real estate industry and related professionals. Our services are typically distributed to our clients under subscription-based license agreements that renew automatically, a majority of which have a term of one year. Upon renewal, many of the subscription contract rates may change in accordance with contract provisions or as a result of contract renegotiations. To encourage clients to use our services regularly, we generally charge a fixed monthly amount for our subscription-based information services rather than charging fees based on actual system usage. Contract rates are generally based on the number of sites, number of users, organization size, the client's business focus, geography and the number of services to which a client subscribes. Our subscription clients generally pay contract fees on a monthly basis, but in some cases may pay us on a quarterly or annual basis.

As of December 31, 2012 and 2013, our annualized net new sales of subscription-based services on annual contracts were approximately $10.9 million and $15.8 million, respectively, calculated based on the annualized amount of change in our sales resulting from new annual subscription-based contracts or upsales on existing annual subscription-based contracts, less write downs and cancellations, for the period reported. We recognize subscription revenue on a straight-line basis over the life of the contract. Annual and quarterly advance payments result in deferred revenue, substantially reducing the working capital requirements generated by accounts receivable.

For the twelve months ended December 31, 2012 and 2013, our contract renewal rate for existing CoStar subscription-based services was approximately 94% and 93%, respectively, and therefore our cancellation rate for those services was approximately 6% and 7%, respectively, for the same time periods. Our contract renewal rate is a quantitative measurement that is typically closely correlated with our revenue results. As a result, management also believes that the rate may be a reliable indicator of short-term and long-term performance. Our trailing twelve-month contract renewal rate may decline if, among other reasons, negative economic conditions lead to greater business failures and/or consolidations among our clients, reductions in customer spending, or decreases in our customer base.

Expansion and Development

We expect to continue software development to improve existing services, introduce new services, integrate products and services, cross-sell existing services, and expand and develop supporting technologies for our research, sales and marketing organizations. We are committed to supporting and improving our existing core information, news, analytic and marketing services.

In October 2013, we introduced technology enhancements to CoStar Suite, our platform of service offerings consisting of CoStar Property Professional, CoStar COMPS Professional and CoStar Tenant. The enhancements improve CoStar Suite's user interface, search functionality and analytic capabilities. The newly introduced CoStar MultifamilyTM information search allows access to our extensive multifamily property database. In addition, we introduced CoStar Lease AnalysisTM, an integrated workflow tool that provides users a simple way to produce understandable cash flows for any proposed or existing lease. We will continue software development on our new Lease Analysis workflow tool throughout 2014. We believe this greater functionality will make our services valuable to an even broader audience and help us increase sales of our services to brokers, banks, owners and institutional investors. Further, these technology enhancements are expected to drive continued revenue growth in 2014 and for the foreseeable future. We expect additional selling and marketing activities to promote our new service enhancements will result in increased expenses in 2014.

In October 2013, we also released CoStarGo® 2.0, the next generation of our mobile application, which was launched in the U.S. on August 15, 2011 and introduced in the U.K. on November 5, 2012. CoStarGo is our iPad application that integrates and provides CoStar Suite subscribers mobile access to our comprehensive property, tenant and comparable sales information. CoStarGo 2.0 adds powerful analytic capabilities to our comprehensive mobile solution.

We have introduced enhancements to our flagship marketing platform, For example, we added a broker advertising service that allows brokers to purchase advertisements based on geographic and property type criteria. Additionally, we introduced ProVideo, a service that enables owners and brokers to enhance their listings with high quality videos of interior spaces, amenities and exterior features. We expect to continue software development to improve the LoopNet marketing platform in 2014.

We continue to integrate, develop and cross-sell the services offered by the companies we acquired, including LoopNet, Virtual Premise, Resolve Technology and PPR. In some cases, when integrating and coordinating our services and assessing industry needs, we may decide, or may have previously decided, to combine, shift focus from, de-emphasize, phase out, or eliminate a service that overlaps or is redundant with other services we offer.

Our sales and marketing efforts have focused and will continue to focus on cross-selling and marketing our services. We recently implemented an automatic cross-selling initiative within the LoopNet marketplace. As searchers view properties within the LoopNet marketplace, a message may appear indicating that there are additional listings available within CoStar Suite with the same search criteria that they are not able to access under their current subscription. The message provides contact information, so that the customer can reach their customer service or sales representative and review the most appropriate service for their needs. Our goal is to upsell clients to the services that best meet their needs and to create further cross-selling revenue synergies. In addition, we have added a comparison feature to CoStarGo, which allows our sales force to demonstrate how many more properties a prospect could see with respect to a particular search area if that prospect were using CoStar Suite rather than the prospect's current subscription with LoopNet.

Our revenues have increased as a result of the LoopNet merger and prior acquisitions, due to revenue from the acquired businesses and from cross-selling opportunities among the customers of CoStar and the acquired companies. As a result of cross selling CoStar's and LoopNet's complementary services, we began to achieve increased revenue synergies in 2013. We also incurred increased expenses associated with the related marketing and sales campaign in 2012 and during the first half of 2013. These initiatives resulted in revenue growth, and we expect they will continue to position the company for revenue growth during 2014 and for the foreseeable future.

We continue to integrate our international operations more fully with those in the U.S. We intend to continue to upgrade the platform of services and expand the coverage of our service offerings within our International segment. To further develop those initiatives, we introduced CoStar Suite in the U.K. during the fourth quarter of 2012 and no longer offered FOCUS to new clients beginning in 2013. CoStar Suite is sold as a consistent international platform of service offerings consisting of CoStar Property Professional, CoStar COMPS Professional and CoStar Tenant and through the Company's mobile application, CoStarGo. CoStarGo 2.0 was released in the U.K. in October 2013 simultaneous with the release in the U.S. Additionally, we have upgraded our back-end research operations, fulfillment and Customer Relationship Management ("CRM") systems to support these new U.K. services. In order to implement these services in the U.K., we incurred increased development costs through 2012; however, development costs incurred by the International segment decreased in 2013. The International operating segment continues to experience improved financial performance and most recently, during the three months ended December 31, 2013, International EBITDA increased to a positive amount as a result of increased revenue and decreased operating expenses.

In 2014, we expect to expand further internationally by offering our services in Toronto, Canada. We believe that our integration efforts and continued investments in our services, including expansion of our existing service offerings internationally, have created a platform for long-term revenue growth. We expect these investments to result in further penetration of our international subscription-based information services and the successful cross-selling of our services to customers in existing markets.

We intend to continue to assess the need for additional investments in our business, in addition to the investments discussed above in order to develop and distribute new services within our current platform. Any future product development or expansion of services, combination and coordination of services or elimination of services could reduce our profitability and increase our capital expenditures. Therefore, while we expect current service offerings to remain profitable, driving overall earnings in 2014 and providing substantial cash flow for our business, it is possible that any new investments, changes to our service offerings or other unforeseen events could cause us to generate losses and negative cash flow from operations in the future. Further, our credit facilities contain restrictive covenants that restrict our operations and use of our cash flow, which may prevent us from taking certain actions that we believe could increase our profitability or otherwise enhance our business.

Market Conditions

In general, the current economic recovery has been slower than past economic recoveries. Job growth, in particular, has recovered more slowly than in past economic recoveries, and as a result, the improvement in the commercial real estate industry has been slower, especially with respect to the rental rate growth. Continuing near-term risks related to lower-than-expected job growth, government fiscal challenges, and uncertainty over U.S. and global economic issues may impede the ability and willingness of clients to purchase services from us or result in reductions of services purchased. Additionally, since many of our clients use debt to finance a portion of their real estate purchases, material changes in interest rates and risk premiums could harm their ability to complete transactions, especially if the change was relatively rapid and unexpected.

As is typical of this point in the economic cycle, business consolidations, and in some circumstances, business failures, continue to occur. If cancellations, reductions of services, and failures to pay increase, and we are unable to offset the resulting decrease in revenue by increasing sales to new or existing customers, our revenues may decline or grow at lower rates. We compete against many other commercial real estate information, analytics, and marketing service providers for business, including competitors that offer rapidly changing methods of delivering real estate information. If customers choose to cancel our services because of cost cutting, desire to access real estate information through other delivery methods, or other reasons, our revenue could decline.

Financial Matters

Our financial reporting currency is the U.S. dollar. Changes in exchange rates can significantly affect our reported results and consolidated trends. We believe that our increasing diversification beyond the U.S. economy through our international businesses benefits our stockholders over the long term. We also believe it is important to evaluate our operating results before and after the effect of currency changes, as it may provide a more accurate comparison of our results of operations over historical periods. Currency exchange rate volatility may continue, which may impact (either positively or negatively) our reported financial results and consolidated trends and period-to-period comparisons of our consolidated operations.

We currently issue stock options and/or restricted stock to our officers, directors and employees, and as a result we record compensation expense in our consolidated statements of operations. The amount and timing of the compensation expense that we record depends on the amount and types of equity grants made. We plan to continue to use stock-based compensation for our officers, directors and employees, which may include, among other things, restricted stock, restricted stock units or stock option grants that typically will require us to record additional compensation expense in our consolidated statements of operations and reduce our net income.

In February 2012, the Compensation Committee (the "Committee") of the Board of Directors approved grants of restricted common stock to our executive officers that vest based on the achievement of CoStar performance conditions. Specifically, these shares of performance-based restricted common stock vest upon our achievement of $90.0 million of cumulative net income before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") over a period of four consecutive calendar quarters, and are subject to forfeiture in the event the foregoing performance condition is not met by March 31, 2017. These awards support the Committee's goals of aligning executive incentives with long-term stockholder value and ensuring that executive officers have a continuing stake in the long-term success of CoStar. In May and December of 2012, we granted additional shares of restricted common stock that vest based on the achievement of the same performance conditions to other key employees. We granted a total of 399,413 shares of performance-based restricted common stock during the year ended December 31, 2012. There was no performance-based restricted common stock granted during the year ended December 31, 2013. All of the awards were made under the CoStar Group, Inc. 2007 Stock Incentive Plan and pursuant to our standard form of restricted stock grant agreement. The number of shares granted was based on the fair market value of CoStar's common stock on the grant date. As of March 31, 2013, we initially determined that it was probable that the performance condition for these performance-based restricted common stock awards would be met by the March 31, 2017 forfeiture date. As of December 31, 2013, we reassessed the probability of achieving this performance condition and determined that it was still probable that the performance condition for these awards would be met by the March 31, 2017 forfeiture date, subject to certain approvals under the CoStar Group, Inc. 2007 Stock Incentive Plan. As a result,we recorded a total of approximately $21.8 million of stock-based compensation expense related to performance-based restricted common stock for the year ended December 31, 2013. There was no stock-based compensation expense related to performance-based restricted common stock recorded for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2012.

Property Developments

As in the past, we expect to continue to identify new facilities and consolidate existing facilities to better accommodate the changing demands of our business and employees. As a result, we may incur additional lease restructuring charges for the abandonment of certain lease space and the impairment of leasehold improvements.

Application of Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates

The preparation of financial statements and related disclosures in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and revenues and expenses during the period reported. The following accounting policies involve a "critical accounting estimate" because they are particularly dependent on estimates and assumptions made by management about matters that are highly uncertain at the time the accounting estimates are made. In addition, while we have used our best estimates based on facts and circumstances available to us at the time, different acceptable assumptions would yield different results. Changes in the accounting estimates are reasonably likely to occur from period to period, which may have a material impact on the presentation of our financial condition and results of operations. We review these estimates and assumptions periodically and reflect the effects of revisions in the period that they are determined to be necessary.

Fair Value of Auction Rate Securities

Fair value is defined as the price that would be received in the sale of an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants. There is a three-tier fair value hierarchy, which categorizes assets and liabilities by the inputs used in measuring fair value. These tiers include: Level 1, defined as observable inputs such as quoted prices in active markets; Level 2, defined as inputs other than quoted prices in active markets that are either directly or indirectly observable; and Level 3, defined as unobservable inputs for which little or no market data exists, therefore requiring an entity to develop its own assumptions. Our Level 3 assets consist of auction rate securities ("ARS"), whose underlying assets are primarily student loan securities supported by guarantees from the Federal Family Education Loan Program ("FFELP") of the U.S. Department of Education.

Our ARS investments are not currently actively trading and therefore do not currently have a readily determinable market value. The estimated fair value of the ARS no longer approximates par value. We have used a discounted cash flow model to determine the estimated fair value of our investment in ARS as of December 31, 2013. The assumptions used in preparing the discounted cash flow model include estimates for interest rates, credit spreads, timing and amount of contractual cash flows, liquidity risk premiums, expected holding periods and default risk of the ARS. We update the discounted cash flow model on a quarterly basis to reflect any changes in the assumptions used in the model and settlements of ARS investments that occurred during the period.

The only significant unobservable input in the discounted cash flow model is the discount rate. The discount rate used represents our estimate of the yield expected by a market participant from the ARS investments. The weighted average discount rate used in the discounted cash flow model as of December 31, 2012 and 2013 was approximately 5.1% and 4.9%, respectively. Selecting another discount rate within the range used in the discounted cash flow model would not result in a significant change to the fair value of the ARS.

Based on this assessment of fair value, as of December 31, 2013, we determined there was a decline in the fair value of our ARS investments of approximately $1.5 million. The decline was deemed to be a temporary impairment and recorded as an unrealized loss in accumulated other comprehensive loss in stockholders' equity. If the issuers of these ARS are unable to successfully close future auctions and/or their credit ratings deteriorate, we may be required to record additional unrealized losses in accumulated other comprehensive loss or an other-than-temporary impairment charge to earnings on these investments, which would reduce our profitability and adversely affect our financial position.

We have not made any material changes in the accounting methodology used to determine the fair value of the ARS. We do not expect any material changes in the near term to the underlying assumptions used to determine the unobservable inputs used to calculate the fair value of the ARS as of December 31, 2013. However, if changes in these assumptions occur, and, should those changes be significant, we may be exposed to additional unrealized losses in accumulated other comprehensive loss or an other-than-temporary impairment charge to earnings on these investments.

Stock-Based Compensation

We account for equity instruments issued in exchange for employee services using a fair-value based method and we recognize the fair value of such equity instruments as an expense in the consolidated statements of operations. We estimated the fair value of each option granted on the date of grant using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model, which requires us to estimate the dividend yield, expected volatility, risk-free interest rate and expected life of the stock option. These assumptions and the estimation of expected forfeitures are based on multiple factors, including historical employee behavior patterns of exercising options and post-employment termination behavior, expected future employee option exercise patterns, and the historical volatility of our stock price. For equity instruments that vest based on performance, we assess the probability of the achievement of the performance conditions at the end of each reporting period, or more frequently based upon the occurrence of events that may change the probability of whether the performance conditions would be met. If our initial estimates of the achievement of the performance conditions change, the related stock-based compensation expense and timing of recognition may fluctuate from period to period based on those estimates. If the performance conditions are not met, no stock-based compensation expense will be recognized, and any previously recognized stock-based compensation expense will be reversed.

We do not expect any material changes in the near term to the underlying assumptions used to calculate stock-based compensation expense for the year ended December 31, 2013. However, if changes in these assumptions occur, and, should those changes be significant, they could have a material impact on our stock-based compensation expense.

Valuation of Long-Lived and Intangible Assets and Goodwill

We assess the impairment of long-lived assets, identifiable intangibles and goodwill whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may not be recoverable. Judgments made by management relate to the expected useful lives of long-lived assets and our ability to realize any undiscounted cash flows of the carrying amounts of such assets. The accuracy of these judgments may be adversely affected by several factors, including the factors listed below:

• Significant underperformance relative to historical or projected future operating results;

• Significant changes in the manner of our use of the acquired assets or the strategy for our overall business;

• Significant negative industry or economic trends; or

• Significant decline in our market capitalization relative to net book value for a sustained period.

When we determine that the carrying value of long-lived and identifiable intangible assets may not be recovered based upon the existence of one or more of the above indicators, we test for impairment.

Goodwill and identifiable intangible assets that are not subject to amortization are tested annually for impairment by each reporting unit on October 1 of each year and are also tested for impairment more frequently based upon the existence of one or more of the above indicators. We consider our operating segments, U.S. . . .

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