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Duck Creek Technologies, Inc. (DCT) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript | The Motley Fool

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Duck Creek Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:DCT)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Jul 08, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Duck Creek Technologies third-quarter and fiscal year 2021 earnings conference call. [Operator instructions] After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator instructions] As a reminder, today’s program may be recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today’s program, Brian Denyeau, investor relations.

Please go ahead. 

Brian DenyeauInvestor Relations

Good afternoon, and welcome to the Duck Creek’s earnings conference call for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021, which ended on May 31. On the call today are Mike Jackowski, Duck Creek’s chief executive officer; and Vinny Chippari, Duck Creek’s CFO. A complete disclosure of our results can be found in our press release issued today, which is available on the investor relations section of our website. Today’s call is being recorded and a replay will be available following the conclusion of the call.

Statements made on this call may include forward-looking statements regarding our financial results, products, customer demand, operations, the impact of COVID-19 on our business, and other matters. These statements are subject to risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, which are based on management’s current expectations as of today and may not be updated in the future. Therefore, these statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date. We also will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures to provide additional information to investors.

A reconciliation of non-GAAP to GAAP measures is provided in our press release, with the primary differences being stock-based compensation expenses, amortization of intangibles, change in fair value of contingent earn-out liability, and the related tax effects of these adjustments. With that, let me turn the call over to Mike.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Brian, and good afternoon, everyone. I’m pleased to report that Duck Creek continues to perform at a high level in the third quarter, underpinned by the growing demand of our SaaS platform, Duck Creek OnDemand. The global P&C industry continues to embrace the move to the cloud, and our SaaS market leadership puts us in a great position to disproportionately benefit from this trend. I’ll begin with a quick overview of our financial results for the third quarter, which were well ahead of our guidance for all metrics.

We reported total revenue of $67.9 million, up 26% year over year. And this was underpinned by subscription revenue, which is our revenue derived from SaaS, of $33.6 million, which grew 56% year over year. And we were also profitable in the quarter with adjusted EBITDA of $5.5 million. We continue to see strong demand across all segments of the P&C market.

Some of the deals we signed during the quarter included a meaningful win with AXIS Insurance, a leading global provider of specialty lines insurance and reinsurance. As an existing Duck Creek on-premise customer, AXIS is expanding its investment with us, choosing Duck Creek OnDemand to drive growth in their business by bringing new products to market faster than they could if they launch these products with their on-premises installation. With this new deal, AXIS is taking the important first steps toward the cloud and is utilizing Duck Creek OnDemand as its SaaS platform of choice. We also had a significant Duck Creek OnDemand buy-up with an existing Tier 1 customer who is expanding the scope of their deployment on our OnDemand platform.

This builds on the great success of this Tier 1 carrier who rapidly deployed a new product line on our SaaS platform in under six months. This important expansion is an example of Tier 1 insurers continuing to adopt SaaS technology and of the open-ended opportunity in front of us that we have with our larger customers. Also, during the quarter, we announced that Argo Group, an underwriter of specialty insurance products, is currently engaged in the implementation of Duck Creek OnDemand’s policy, billing, claims, industry content, and insight solutions. Argo is deploying Duck Creek OnDemand as a component of its multiyear initiative to integrate and simplify its technology and application stack to improve productivity and reduce expenses.

Our partner ecosystem has been leveraging the power of Duck Creek’s open architecture to enable customers to easily integrate with partner solutions. We’ve built an extensive collection of productized integrations to the most widely utilized P&C industry data and service solutions, which helps to reduce time to market and deliver compelling industry capabilities for our customers. During the quarter, we had several upsell wins where customers opted to take advantage of these new capabilities. Two I would note are Builders Mutual and Core Specialty Insurance.

Additionally, we had two new carriers adopt Duck Creek stand-alone ancillary OnDemand products in the quarter. Texas Mutual, a Tier 2 leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance in the state of Texas, selected Duck Creek Distribution Management to manage the onboarding, compliance, and compensation of their more than 9,000 agents. Topa Insurance, a specialty insurance carrier writing business in 34 states, will leverage Duck Creek Reinsurance Management to manage their ceded reinsurance. We look forward to working with both these carriers to support their respective business strategies.

Each of these wins represents a carrier that is looking for the right tools to help them deliver more value to their customers quicker than ever. This type of thinking was front and center at our recent annual vFormation users conference, which was held virtually in early June. Since moving to a virtual experience last year, we have built a vibrant community of more than 3,000 attendees that are engaging with one another on an ongoing basis to share best practices and learn more about Duck Creek’s ability to improve their business. The theme of this year’s event was creating the new standard, which focused on the emerging transition to a flexible business approach that enables carriers to reinvent their businesses to meet the needs of customers now and in the future.

We don’t view the new standard as a technical document or a checklist of tasks. Instead, it is a demonstrable ability for carriers to move from existing static business strategies to flexible and predictable service models. The consistent feedback we get from customers is that their current IP stack and rigid hard-coded business rules prevent them from responding to the accelerated pace of the change in their markets. Some eye-opening steps that I discussed in my keynote speech included nearly 40% of all premium dollars in the U.S.

are being consumed annually by operating and loss adjustment expenses. This hasn’t materially changed in a decade, which means carriers are no longer driving efficiency gains from their current technology solutions. Sixty percent of legacy IT system upgrades ended up disrupting some aspect of the carrier’s business during the modernization process. Sixty-one percent of carriers indicated it is taking them six to 12 months to take a new product from idea to implementation, which is simply too long in today’s dynamic market.

And three-quarters of insurers believe they need to reengineer customer experiences to bring technology and people together in a more human-centric manner. Simply put, the status quo in core systems is not sustainable. Carriers increasingly recognize that their core systems must provide them with the flexibility and ease of use needed to respond to new customer preferences and behaviors quickly and at scale. Carriers will take different approaches to digital transformation.

And we designed Duck Creek OnDemand to make it easy for them to follow the path that best fits their specific circumstances. Our local platform is designed to externalize process rule development and let carriers establish a repeatable, customizable, end-to-end product factory, which allows them to iterate product rules and quickly and seamlessly. A great example of this approach in action is UPC Insurance who has used Duck Creek OnDemand to not only launch a new digital platform with new products for their core agency business but has announced the launch of a new insurance start-up, Skyway Technologies. Skyway is an entirely new sales channel for UPC, selling direct to consumer through an omnichannel experience that takes a consumer through a streamlined, easy-to-use digital buying process that can issue a findable quote within two minutes.

By leveraging Duck Creek’s modern digital platform, UPC has able to launch its new business model in a matter of months. This is a great example of how customers are able to quickly find new ways to drive value from their existing investments made on top of Duck Creek. We’re also very pleased with the continued adoption and customer success that we’re seeing on our Duck Creek OnDemand platform. During the quarter, we had 20 customers successfully go live with Duck Creek products, including notable industry leaders like IAT, Auto-Owners Insurance, American National, and The Doctors Company.

I’d like to highlight some specific examples that demonstrate our insurance technology leadership. We are proud to announce that GEICO, the second-largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States, completed the rollout of their auto and motorcycle business on Duck Creek across all 50 states. GEICO has executed a very ambitious strategy to modernize their core platforms for policy and billing to support their ongoing focus to deliver exceptional customer service. GEICO licensed Duck Creek policy and billing and deployed our solution in the [Audio gap] Microsoft Cloud as a foundation to deliver a customized yet simplified user experience for their customers and their policyholders.

And GEICO has continued to expand their use of Duck Creek since they started in 2017. This commitment builds on our ongoing partnership and proven success with GEICO. Today, GEICO has tens of billions of dollars of written premium deployed on Duck Creek, which we believe sets a new benchmark among large Tier 1 personal lines insurers for deploying a new course system across the enterprise. This successful rollout positions GEICO to react quickly to future changes in customer demands and provide exceptional customer service.

We also continue to show success outside of the United States as a successful deployment at Lawcover, a provider of professional indemnity insurance to law firms. As we announced in our fourth-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings call, Lawcover selected the full Duck Creek OnDemand suite for their core system modernization effort. We’re proud to announce that Lawcover has successfully gone live on our core suite, policy, billing, and claims in just 11 months. Finally, during this past quarter, we hit a significant milestone with The Hartford as they successfully deployed their new personal auto product in two states on our Duck Creek OnDemand SaaS platform.

This new modern technology platform, combined with The Hartford’s product design, is critical to improving The Hartford’s growth in personal lines by providing a contemporary digital and flexible experience for their customers. We are proud to partner with The Hartford, and their product launch represents an important step in our journey together. It’s not only our customers that are recognizing the power of Duck Creek’s platform. We were pleased to have recently won two awards from Celent, the leading independent industry analyst, for Duck Creek claims as a leading claims technology and service in the EMEA property and casualty sector.

Celent cited discussions with Duck Creek claims users who praised the functionality and speed of the system and our overall approach to partnering with customers as key differentiators. As good as our solutions are today, we continue to invest in our platform and products to increase the value that we deliver to our customers. One example is the investment we are making in OnDemand operations and development capabilities that provide our customers with tools and solutions aimed at streamlining and improving their IT operations and DevOps processes. We recently announced the availability of our OnDemand Control Hub, a utility that enables our customers’ IT operations teams to independently deploy changes, monitor, and control their Duck Creek SaaS applications, as well as the extensions and integrations they built around those applications.

The Control Hub serves as a one-stop-shop for operators to manage their SaaS environments and see the status and health of their Duck Creek applications in one central location. We also continue to focus on expanding the functionality of our products and deliver incremental capabilities specific to some common insurance lines of businesses. We recently released several incremental enhancements aimed at the workers’ compensation market that allows insurers to more effectively approve medical invoices, calculate injured worker benefits, and report data to regulatory bodies. As we look to the fourth quarter and beyond, we are incredibly excited about the opportunity ahead for Duck Creek.

Interest in moving to the cloud has never been higher among P&C insurers, and Duck Creek has established itself as a SaaS platform of choice in the industry. We will continue to make investments in our local platform that will further extend its value to carriers and enable them to deliver the product innovation and service experience that their customers require. We remain early in this multibillion-dollar market opportunity, so we feel very good about our ability to deliver high levels of profitable growth for the foreseeable future. I will now turn it over to our CFO, Vinny Chippari.

Vinny, over to you.

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Thanks, Mike. Today, I’ll read you our third-quarter fiscal 2021 results in detail and provide guidance for the fourth-quarter and full-year fiscal ’21. Total revenue for the third quarter was 67.9 million, up 26% from the prior-year period. Within total revenue, subscription revenue, which is comprised solely of subscription to our SaaS products, was 33.6 million, up 56% year over year.

In Q3, subscriptions represented 79% of our software revenue and 49% of our total revenue. Revenues from on-premise software licenses of 2.5 million and maintenance of 6.3 million are showing modest growth as expected and are down to 13% of total revenue. Services revenue was 25.6 million, up 6% year over year. Services revenue was in line with our expectation and reflects a notable step up from the prior quarter with the launch of several large service engagements.

SaaS ARR, which we calculate by annualized and recurring subscription revenue recognized in the last month of the period was $124 million as of May 31, 2021, up 64% from the prior year. SaaS ARR continues to show strong momentum and reflects the strength of our SaaS business. As a reminder, SaaS ARR is a snapshot in time of subscription contracts that are generating revenue during the last month of a period and can be impacted by timing. For example, our largest deal in the quarter did not begin generating revenue within the quarter and was not included in our ARR number as of May 31.

SaaS net dollar retention as of May 31, 2021, was 133% well above our recent historical range. Over the preceding eight quarters, our quarterly SaaS net dollar retention has been in the range of 113% to 121%, driven by a combination of high gross retention rates, sales of new products to existing customers, and growth of DWP for products already operating on our SaaS platform. This quarter, SaaS net dollar retention was well above this range, driven primarily by several large sales to existing customers in recent quarters, and the core system upsells to a customer who initially bought distribution management. As mentioned on our prior calls, while our sales over time include a relatively balanced mix of land-and-expand opportunities, it can vary period to period based on pipeline progression.

We currently expect that net dollar retention will return to historical levels in Q4. Now, let’s review the income statement in more detail. These metrics are non-GAAP unless otherwise noted and we provided a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financials in our press release. First, on a GAAP basis, our gross profit for the quarter was $40.2 million and we had a loss from operations of $544,000.

We had a net loss in the quarter of $357,000 or $0.00 per share based on weighted average basic shares outstanding of $131.6 million. Turning to our non-GAAP results, gross profit in the quarter was $42.2 million or a gross margin of 62.2%, compared to 59.2% in the third quarter of fiscal ’20. Subscription margin in the quarter was 68.5%, driven by certain timing items and scale benefits as we continue to generate strong subscription revenue growth. Gross margin favorability from the timing of new hires and resourcing for new deals is expected to diminish in Q4.

We are pleased with the continued strength in subscription margin, but I want to remind you there can be quarterly variation due to the timing of when revenue recognition begins for certain contracts, and the timing of expenses at the early stages of new deployments. We believe our subscription margins are an important demonstration of the scalability and performance of our SaaS platform. Service margins of 45% in the quarter came in ahead of our expectations, driven by a combination of sequential growth and professional services revenue, and the timing of headcount additions in this group. We remain committed to bringing down our services margin by several points in the near term and longer term, into the high-30s, which we believe reflects the sustainable utilization rate for our professional services team.

Turning to operating expenses. R&D costs were $12.5 million or 18% of revenue, down slightly year over year as a percentage of revenue. The 22% growth in R&D costs from the prior year reflect our continued investment product solutions and features that will generate additional value for customers. Sales and marketing expenses were $10.9 million or 16% of revenue, down slightly with the prior year as a percentage of revenue.

Expense growth of 20% from the prior year reflects continued expansion of our go-to-market resourcing in both U.S. and international markets, while travel-related costs and certain marketing programs continue to run below normal levels due to COVID-19 impacts. G&A expense was $14.1 million or 21% of revenue, up from 18% in the prior-year period and in line with expectations. The growth in G&A expense year over year is related primarily to public company costs that we began incurring following our IPO in August.

Over the course of this fiscal year, our G&A expenses have begun decreasing as a percent of revenue and we expect this to be a highly leverageable cost area moving forward. Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter was point $5.5 million, which was well ahead of our guidance due primarily to a combination of better-than-expected revenue and lower-than-estimated costs and expenses tied to the pace of new hires. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 8% for the quarter, up from 7% in the prior-year period. This represents our 10th consecutive quarter of adjusted EBITDA profitability, an important indication of our ability to profitably generate high levels of subscription revenue growth.

Non-GAAP net income per share for the quarter was $0.03 based on approximately 135.2 million fully diluted weighted average shares outstanding. Turning to the balance sheet and cash flow, we ended the quarter with $372 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments, and we remain debt-free. Free cash flow for the quarter was $6.6 million, which was in line with our expectations. I’d like to finish by providing guidance for the fourth fiscal quarter.

We expect total revenue of $68.5 million to $69.5 million, subscription revenue is expected to be $32 million to $32.5 million, adjusted gross margins are projected at 59% to 59.5%. We expect adjusted EBITDA of $3.5 million to $4.5 million and our non-GAAP net income is expected to range from $1.5 million to $2.5 million or $0.01 to $0.02 per fully diluted share. For the full-year fiscal ’21, we are increasing our outlook to the following: total revenue of $258 million to $259 million; subscription revenue is expected to be $124 million to $124.5 million; adjusted gross margins are projected at 60.5% to 61%; we expect adjusted EBITDA of $15.6 million to $16.6 million, and our non-GAAP net income is expected to range from $9.6 million to $10.6 million or $0.07 to $0.08 per fully diluted share. Please note that our fourth-quarter guidance reflects the impact of the contract that we have been excluding from our SaaS ARR calculation coming to an end.

We’ve long known this contract was winding down and has been incorporated in our guidance throughout fiscal ’21. In the near term, it will have an impact on our year-over-year subscription revenue growth rates as we comp against prior-year periods that include this. To finish up, Duck Creek delivered another strong quarter. We’re pleased with how the business is performing and how we’re positioned for the future.

We are benefiting from broad-based adoption and interest in Duck Creek OnDemand as the move to the cloud by the P&C insurance industry gains momentum. We are in the early stages of this replatforming and believe we’re in a great position to deliver strong subscription revenue growth and improving profitability for years to come. We’d now like to open up the call to Q&A. Operator?

Questions & Answers:

Operator

Certainly. [Operator instructions] And our first question comes from the line of Sterling Auty from JPMorgan. Your question, please.

Sterling AutyJPMorgan Chase & Co. — Analyst

Yeah, thanks. Hi, guys. I’m kind of curious how well-known through the industry is the GEICO deployment? And if it is well-known, have you started to see an increase in inbound call volume similar to what Guidewire experienced when Nationwide went live, you know, all those years ago?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Hey. Thanks, Sterling. Yeah. I would say that it is well-known.

We did do a public press release. I can’t remember the exact date several years ago. I would say that when we started this journey, you know, it was not well-known because, you know, GEICO wanted to wait to have some proven success on our platform before we were allowed to disclose it publicly, but then we did make the announcement. But we are very proud and very excited to be announcing that they’ve completed the rollout across all 50 states.

You know, when I go look at what other top Tier 1 carriers in the person line space have done, relative to our ability to get this full deployment done in under a five-year period with GEICO, you know, we think this is industry-leading and we think it’s really demonstrable of what’s capable on the Duck Creek platform. So, we’re very, very proud of it.

Sterling AutyJPMorgan Chase & Co. — Analyst

That makes sense. One follow-up. You’ve announced that as — has Guidewire — there’s been a number of companies that have used you guys to launch new products into the market on the cloud platform. How should we think about the increasing revenue contribution that could potentially come from those contracts as those businesses grow themselves?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think when we look at the revenue contribution of those new start-up businesses, sometimes, Sterling, they’re anatomic, you know, autonomic or a line of businesses is running with full autonomy. So, the initial subscription opportunity starts relatively small and then grows over time. But most of the time, we’re doing this with large Tier 1 carriers that are starting with a smaller book of business and they’re trying to get experience in the cloud, and then we know that the real opportunity is to eventually convert or, you know, migrate existing books of businesses over to our OnDemand platform.

So, you know, again, I think I’ve highlighted this in the past but, you know, we’re seeing a lot of Tier 1 carriers start with new start-up lines of businesses or smaller blocks of books of businesses to get experience with the cloud and then we know that those will lead to larger opportunities for us here at Duck Creek.

Sterling AutyJPMorgan Chase & Co. — Analyst

That makes sense. Thank you, guys.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Tom Roderick from Stifel. Your question, please.

Tom RoderickStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Great. Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate the chance to ask a question. I actually wanted to kind of piggyback on Sterling’s question on GEICO.

Because just the point about it being across, you know, deployed on multiple lines but, you know, across all 50 states, it brings up the regulatory question and the challenge carriers have in moving from state to state. Can you talk a little bit about some of the complexities that you worked your way through and how that might scale to other carriers that are thinking about such expansions? And then, you know, how does the cloud kind of play into that angle?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Oh, thanks for the question. And, you know, I don’t want to get into the specifics of the GEICO deployment, but what I will do is highlight the advantages of Duck Creek and how we can execute on state-to-state deployments faster than, I think, our competitors can. And we talked a lot about a low-code platform and one element of our low-code platform underneath it is a technical term called inheritance. And what it allows carriers to do is take a whole product set in a product set of rules, inherit from it, and then derive kind of just small changes so that they can launch either new derivative products or launch into new states.

So on legacy technology, what we find, as carriers have a lot of hard-coded logic if-then logic, if you will, state by state. If it’s the state of New York, then do this and issue this document. If the state of California, then, you know, issue this document. And in our overall platform, what we can do is more seamlessly reuse a common ruleset so that carriers can launch across multiple states very, very quickly and with minimal effort.

So, it reduces that launch time and I think that’s a true advantage of our low-code platform.

Tom RoderickStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Yeah. That’s great. That’s excellent detail. And then Vinny, you highlighted in the guidance and the discussion point here one of the sort of long-anticipated contracts that’s rolling off the books is in fact doing so next quarter.

Seems like the subscription revenue guidance, you know, certainly bakes that in. How would you encourage us to think sort of directionally about net dollar retention and ARR, some other ancillary metrics that go into that as you kind of work your way through that? And then with that particular customer, is that, you know, now kind of off the books or are there still opportunities ongoing to, you know, to maintain and extend that relationship in the future with different product lines?

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Yeah. So, Tom, I’ll address the first part of the question and ask Mike to jump in on the customer relationship end of it. So, you know, since we knew from the time we carved out of Accenture that this was ultimately going away. We’ve always purposely excluded that account from both our ARR and net dollar retention metrics.

So, the departure of that, you know, that revenue stream for that particular contract won’t impact the two reported metrics. What it will do is, you know, the gap that has existed between ARR growth and subscription revenue growth, that will start coming together over the course of the next year or so as that contract, you know, the impact of that contract winds off. So I think, you know, as you suggested, you know, it has been, you know, it has been considered in our guidance, of course. It will, you know, and won’t be impacting the other two metrics other than subscription revenue itself.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yep. And then Tom, to jump in on the second half of your question, I’ll say that they’ve not renewed or rolled off of this because they had a change in strategy and this was consumed as a larger part of an Accenture contract we carved out. But we do maintain a strong relationship with this customer and they continue to use other Duck Creek products in other areas of the business. And we’re very hopeful of expanding the relationship within the account, so we do think there’s future opportunity.

Tom RoderickStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Wonderful. Great detail. Nice job in the quarter. Thank you, gentlemen.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Chris Merwin from Goldman Sachs. Your question, please.

Chris MerwinGoldman Sachs — Analyst

OK. Thanks so much for taking my question. I just wanted to ask one as it relates to the decision-making process of your larger customers. You know, obviously, with the GEICO deal, you sort of mentioned the expansion there.

For some of these larger logos, are you starting to see a more centralized process around picking vendors to migrate systems to the cloud as opposed to, I think, what it’s historically been more of a very decentralized approach with certain owners of lines of business making their own decisions about which systems to use? Is that pattern changing at all or how best to think about the success you’re having in large logos like GEICO? Thanks.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. Chris, I would say that we see both. I think there’s a trend to have a bit more of centralized decision-making. Obviously, insurance companies as long — as much as all companies are investing more in procurement and getting organized across the enterprise, but then also remember there are some insurance carriers, especially some large Tier 1s that very much pride themselves around having P&Ls or distributing operating businesses that can make their own decisions.

So I think in those types of carriers, we’ll find that there is distributed decision making and they have their own decision-making rights. They may share information across the enterprise in that case. But I think with some larger Tier 1s where we are expanding, it’s because, you know, we are working with their group leadership or their enterprise leadership, and they see the success on Duck Creek and in making broader commitments in a more centralized manner. So I think that’s boding well for some of the expansions that we’re undertaking right now.

Chris MerwinGoldman Sachs — Analyst

OK. Perfect. Thank you. Then maybe as a follow-up for a Vinny on the ARR.

You know, it’s like it improved, I think, about 6 million sequentially, and actually was a big win in the quarter, given sequential improvement was a little less than a year ago. Just wondering, you know, how best to think about the seasonality here, any other puts and takes around deals moving it out of the quarter, just anything else to note as it relates to ARR? Thanks.

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Chris, I think the other thing I’d kind of reiterate is, obviously, on a one-quarter basis, we don’t get too focused on the sequential changes just because of the, you know, large-deal sizes and small-deal volume. That said, Q3 is typically a little bit seasonally low for us, Q2 and Q4 are strong seasonal quarters. And in Q3, in particular, if you remember we had a pretty strong quarter last quarter in Q2 when our large Q2 deal actually made it into Q2 ARR, and our larger Q3 deal did not make it into Q3.

So I’d kind of chalk it up to timing, and just continue to encourage people to look at the ARR changes over a longer period than just one quarter.

Chris MerwinGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Understood. Thanks a lot. 

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Sure.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Saket Kalia from Barclays. Your question, please.

Saket KaliaBarclays Investment Bank — Analyst

OK. Great. Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my questions here.

Mike, maybe first for you. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about sort of the ebb and flow of conversion activity over the last couple of quarters. You know you’ve been pretty clear to say that conversions are going to be customer-driven but not necessarily Duck Creek-driven. But I’m curious if you’ve seen any change in the pace of those conversion conversations at all this quarter.

Does that make sense?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

It does make sense, Saket. And I would say that I’m not sure that I would say that there’s a change in pace. But I will say that I’m glad that you highlighted our strategy, which is really for us to focus on our customers’ strategy, what are the business objectives that they have, and really align our efforts to perhaps move them from on-premise into the cloud or into Duck Creek OnDemand when they have a strategic inflection point, where they want to bring a new thing to market or do a digital transformation in a different way or launch in a new channel. And we’re finding that that strategy is working well.

We’re having very meaningful conversations with our customers about them adopting the cloud. We’re having very meaningful conversations with our customers about their business strategies and how we can help accelerate those business strategies like we did with this case that we just announced with Access Insurance. And I would say that we’re making meaningful progress. With the announcement of Access, we now have seven on-premise core customers that are now migrating or adopting Duck Creek OnDemand core solutions in a meaningful way.

So we think it’s showing good progress. But just note that because of this approach, we’re not in control of the timing. Our customers are in control of the timing. And I think that’s the way that we’re going to continue to drive our strategy.

Saket KaliaBarclays Investment Bank — Analyst

Got it. Got it. Vinny, maybe for my follow-up for you. Obviously, a lot of focus on that GEICO contract.

It’s great to sort of see it across 50 states, but I think Mike mentioned earlier that it was, I think, under a five-year sort of rollout. So can you just talk about how the ARR contribution there sort of works? I understand you want to get into detail on a particular customer, but is — does the completion of a rollout mean a meaningful ARR contribution this quarter, or have we seen most of that ARR contribution sort of happening in the past as the rollout was happening?

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Well, first, this specifically relates to GEICO. Second, I would point out that that was a licensing deal back in 2017, so that’s not in our ARR number. But more generally speaking, you know, the way we’ve seen continual increases in our larger Tier 1 — in a lot of accounts, particularly our Tier 1 account, as they add either new products or more DWP onto the system. So one is, you know, another point of reference on that happens to be net dollar retention, and a lot of times when you see net dollar retention moving up, it’s based on a continued rollout or, you know, a continued increased deployment in a large account.

So I think you see it both add ARR dollars over time in large accounts as they grow and contribute to the net dollar retention.

Saket KaliaBarclays Investment Bank — Analyst

Got it. Very helpful. Thanks for taking my questions here.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Brad Sills from Bank of America. Your question, please.

Sherry GuoBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Hi, this is Sherry Guo on Brad Sills. Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to ask about the international opportunity, particularly in Europe and APAC. Can you share any insights on the demand environment there or any notable activities in these geographies in the quarter? Thank you.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Hi, Sherry. Thanks for the question. You know, we continue to make good progress on our international investments. I will still say that as a result of COVID and the lack of business travel still not ticking up, we’re still cautious in terms of seeing progress in continental Europe, although we are seeing continued success in Asia-Pacific as we talked about the go-live at the Lawcover, and the pipeline is strengthening quite a bit in Asia-Pacific.

And then across Europe, we’re also very pleased with some of the discussions with some of our Tier 1 enterprise customers that are looking for new opportunities to launch the new products enable and do digital transformations in European regions. And we think that will help us as we enter fiscal year ’22 as well. So there’s more to come, and we know that with our current investments, we knew that we weren’t going to get results right away, and some of these results would start to take hold in fiscal year ’22 and beyond.

Sherry GuoBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Great. Thank you. And in terms of the — your new wins or upselling, can you talk about how much the noncore assets represent the product split, and where do you envision this trend in the near and long term? Thank you.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yes. What I would say on the noncore product split is, you know, we don’t give quarterly numbers or details on it, but when we look over the last year or two or a period of time in our bookings, roughly speaking, about 75% of our bookings are from our core systems, policy billing claims, and then the noncore additional assets about 25% of our bookings. And that’s really what we have been seeing. You know, I think right now, I think that trend is going to hold for a while.

You know, we’re looking at some opportunities to expand some of our noncore offerings so that may change over time. But I think right now, that’s a safe assumption for us.

Sherry GuoBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Bhavan Suri from William Blair. Your question, please.

Bhavan SuriWilliam Blair & Company — Analyst

Great. Thanks, guys, and nice job again. I want to touch a little bit on the expansion in Europe but focus on it from a product side. So historically, we’ve seen Europe typically lag the U.S.

in terms of cloud acceptance growth. And as you look at the wins, you’ve had some good wins, but that’s an area of investment growth. I guess how much of the sale there is evangelicals still like the idea of cloud, but also the idea of low code, no code, right? So low code, no code for getting above the U.S. You’re having a whole new way of deploying and letting customers measure on rules, workflows, templates, etc.

How is that sort of conversation happens with clients in Europe, and is there a lag or are they starting to get it and sort of, you know, starting to see them — the flywheel action there starts to play out a little bit? Help us sort of think through how that’s playing out when you’re seeing the demand and acceptance perspective as you invest in Europe.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Great question. And I would definitely say that there is a lag, and I think it is one reason why we’re advancing more of these conversations with our larger global Tier 1 customers because they have experience with the local platform, they have confidence in SaaS. Now, I will say that if the flywheel is starting to spin in Europe though. So if I went back four or five years ago, I would say that in Europe, you know, they would entertain SaaS, but they really wanted an on-premise offer.

Bhavan SuriWilliam Blair & Company — Analyst

Right.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

When I fast forward today and I look at our pipeline, they are very open to SaaS, but they also want an on-premise offer. So they’re balancing the two of which we will not provide an on-premise offer. So we will not, you know, even give them an option with an on-premise installation for a new customer in Europe. And I think that is, you know, a little bit of a headwind for us.

But I think, you know, the market is going to move fairly quickly, especially as we start to get beyond the pandemic, start traveling, start meeting in person, start building our brand more effectively in Europe. I think that’s going to help because I really think our success here at Duck Creek has helped accelerate the acceptance of SaaS here in the U.S. And I look forward to an opportunity of getting some momentum and traction in Europe. And I think once we get several proof points, I think the market conditions will change considerably.

Bhavan SuriWilliam Blair & Company — Analyst

Gotcha. Gotcha. That’s kind of what I sort of expect you would be playing up a little bit on the lag part. I just want to talk about the cyber opportunity.

You and I have talked about in the past, but I love to get an update here. You know, it’s becoming more and more common to hear about these cyberattacks, ransomware, etc. And again — I guess, two-parts question. One, are you seeing your customers say we need to have a cyber insurance product? And then two, like how do you address that, do they have the algorithm, the data, the actuarial work done for that because it feels like that’s really early? We don’t know what the drivers are like exposure to how the network security-based, how much we invest in security.

I don’t know how you think about that, but I love to understand — say, are your customers think about products you offer their small DWP, obviously, today but that could be an area of growth, and then how does Duck or Duck Creek OnDemand fit in from a product perspective in that in that scope?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. And I think — look, we work with several very large and successful cyber writers that have cyber products and cyber coverages on Duck Creek, and we’re very, very proud of our success in the space. When we work with those carriers, we really focus and occupy the space of the product definition, the pricing of the product, the selling of the product through distribution because every carrier, if you look at how they look at analyzing the risk of cyber, they use very, very different techniques, different data, different providers, some very — quite often you’ll find different mindsets in terms of how they think about cyber. It is a rapidly growing product, and I think, you know, our product configuration capability gives a lot of carriers confidence that they can tailor their products to fit their unique needs and how they want to go to market, and I think that’s a strength of Duck Creek.

And then they’re just looking to the insurance tech community, you know, there is a lot of providers that really provide data and analytics in this domain, and some of them are very compelling, some of them, you know, carriers will try, and then move on to something else. So for us, we’re going to be about embracing — continuing to embrace the ecosystem. Easy to plug these providers in, you know, similar to the way you would plug in a pay-as-you-drive provider as well for usage-based insurance to make sure that carriers can use the advanced algorithms for pricing. So that’s going to be our strategy is to really maintain an open architecture approach to all these insurance tech providers.

Bhavan SuriWilliam Blair & Company — Analyst

Gotcha. Gotcha. That’s super helpful. Thanks, guys.

I appreciate you taking in the questions.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Alex Zukin from Wolfe Research. Your question, please.

Alex ZukinWolfe Research — Analyst

Hey, guys, thanks for taking the question. Maybe just the first one around — kind of piggybacking on Sterling’s question around new customers launching — new logos launching new brands when they adopt Duck Creek. Roughly, what — when you think about the percentage of your new logo wins or lands, how many of those are resulting from that type of activity versus maybe like a core system transformation or replacement?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Well, Alex, it would be difficult for me to put a percentage to it because we’re just seeing that a variety of carriers are taking on, you know, different strategies, and we’re very pleased. So, for instance, you know, this work that we announced with AXIS, you know, we’ve been working with them with this on-premise relationship for many years. And, you know, they have a new strategy of getting something new to the market very quickly, and they saw OnDemand as a very, very, you know, rapid way of which they can, you know, get something done. So with that, that’s an example of us working with an existing customer that had a lot of experience with our on-premise products.

But in terms of new logos, I would say the majority of our new logos is not launching a new business opportunity. It’s really replatforming what they have. So, when I go look at our pipeline and what’s coming through our pipeline, which I’m very excited about, I would say a lot of the new logo opportunities are digital transformations. You know, we want to replace our policy, billing, or claims system.

We want to have a new channel or distribution front-end and a digital capability. And I would say that’s still the vast majority of the opportunities that we’re seeing. 

Alex ZukinWolfe Research — Analyst

Got it. That’s super helpful. And then, Vinny, maybe just kind of digging in a little bit on two metrics. Is it possible to just get maybe a little bit more sizing or kind of some just rough financial impact on SaaS ARR this quarter from that comment about the larger — the largest deal in the third quarter not being in the number this quarter? Roughly what type of an impact, you know, had it been in? Would it — how that number would have changed? And apologies for the 2a question, but if you look at the guidance, maybe just a rough reminder of how much of the, you know, deal that’s coming off the books in subscription revenue.

If that — you know, like for like, if that wasn’t the case, what would the sequential kind of guide represent in terms of a growth rate? 

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Alex, on the second question, you know, we are — you know, we really are not in a position, from a confidentiality perspective, of giving any details on the dollar value of that contract that’s rolling off. So, I can’t really do that. You know, I can tell you that, you know, that the impact on the growth rate, if you’re looking at recent growth — quarterly growth rates versus the Q4 guide, you know, that’s the majority of the change.

But we’re, you know, we’re not in a position where we can give you any specific details on the dollar value. As it relates — sorry, can you remind me the first part of the question?

Alex ZukinWolfe Research — Analyst

SaaS ARR market.

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Quarterly ARR growth. Yeah. Again, I don’t want to — you know, we don’t want to comment on the value of any one particular deal. But I think if you look at kind of over, you know, a longer time period than a quarter and, you know, two, three, four quarters and look more in terms of what we’ve been averaging over the quarters, you can kind of get the sense of how a deal can swing from quarter to quarter, what the impact of that might be.

So, you know, we have said before, you know, a core system deal tends to run into the millions, you know, low to mid-single-digit millions. And, you know, a deal like that moving from quarter to quarter, you know, can make it a little lumpier. You know, that’s why we had, you know, the big quarter in Q2 and not as much in Q3.

Alex ZukinWolfe Research — Analyst

Makes sense. Thank you, guys.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes the line of Mayank Tandon from Needham. Your question, please.

Kyle PetersonNeedham & Company — Analyst

Hey, good afternoon, guys. It’s actually Kyle Peterson on for Mayank. Just one for me, but just wanted to see in terms of the upsell progress you guys have been making, you know, has been really strong. I was wondering if you guys could give any more detail, you know, in terms of how much of some of the upselling with existing clients is coming from, you know, clients adding additional products versus, you know, adding — bringing more DWP on the platform, just so we could get a little bit of sense for what’s driving that growth. 

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. I would say that — well, first off, we’re very, very pleased with our ability to upsell and cross-sell, and continue to show expansion, particularly, in these large Tier 1 accounts. And I think it really demonstrates the success that they’re having on Duck Creek and then upon that success, going across and buying more. You know, we don’t have the information to give you a percentage around how we grow within an account and whether it’s new product, more premium, or a new division or line of business.

But what I will say is in order that I would rank it is, you know, really a new division within a company. You know, licensing a new geography or a new division is probably our primary upsell opportunity. Then very close second would be cross-licensing a major core product. And I would say those are the two big drivers.

And then, you know, we get more revenue, subscription revenue, quite often if carriers grow, obviously, their premium. But because that is a stair-step manner, that would probably be third in line in terms of revenue contribution. So, that’s really the rough order that I would give it.

Kyle PetersonNeedham & Company — Analyst

Great. That’s really helpful. Thanks, guys.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Robert Simmons from RBC Capital Markets. Your question, please.

Robert SimmonsRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Hi. Thanks. I’m on for Rishi. So, could you talk to what’s baked into your gross margin guide for 4Q? It seems like a pretty steep decline quarter over quarter.

Is that just from the timing of hires? Or is there something else there to be aware of?

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Well, thanks for the question. The Q4 margin decline is a stepdown. It’s more about Q3 being, you know, unusually high than it is about, you know, whether Q4 is, you know, is kind of more typical. So we are — you know, baked into that is an assumption that subscription margins, which have been running very high, largely based on pace of hiring, do come down in Q4 to a more normalized range, you know, in the mid-60s, and it’s been running closer, you know, to more in the high 60s of late.

And in addition, you know, we’ve built in a slight anticipated decline in services margins in Q4. But I would say that, you know, while we’re still committed to bringing down service margins over the long term because our utilization rates are running so high right now, Q4 will remain, you know, reasonably, you know, pretty strong. Might come down a little but won’t come down much from Q3.

Robert SimmonsRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Got it. OK. And then, can you talk about in gross margins, how do we think about the difference between single-tenant and multitenant? And how big of a driver can that be over the next few years?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think right now, we are pleased with the success of our multitenant offering and the take-up of our multitenant offering. However, many customers are still opting for a single-tenant approach. And we’ve decided as a company, what we’re not going to do is, you know, force an issue where a customer is not comfortable yet at committing to our multitenant platform.

So, that puts us in a position that we’re, in essence, running in mixed mode, right? We have some customers on multitenant. We have some on single tenant with a lot of dev ops and a lot of automation. And when we’re in mixed mode, we don’t get, you know, the full-on efficiencies of multitenancy. So, right now in our long-term plans, there’s not a commitment to improved margins because of multitenancy.

You know, I’ve stated this in the past, but I think as we look at buying behaviors and we look at migrations, mostly tied to the maturity of the IT operations of the carriers that we’re serving. And if that starts to shift and we think we can get more progress on multitenancy, we’ll, of course, revisit our margin profile. But right now, there’s no commitment that we’re ready to make on that. 

Robert SimmonsRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thank you very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Alex Sklar from Raymond James. Your question, please.

Alex SklarRaymond James — Analyst

Great. Thank you. Mike, a bigger picture industry question here. But what have you seen in terms of broader IT budgets? And have those grown at all with premiums this year? And then within that, are you seeing any increased wallet share of IT budgets going toward core modernization products? Thanks.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

I’m glad you’re asking about the industry. It’s important for me. And I would say that we’re seeing that IT budgets are holding strong. It’s hard to tell if they’ve grown, but, you know, I think they’re holding strong just because, you know, a digital transformation and core system replacement, especially as the industry makes its way through the pandemic, is still a top priority for, you know, large insurers that are out there.

Now, when we go look at the industry and the effect of the pandemic, I would say that the growth rate of the overall industry has dropped a little. Historically, it’s averaged, in the U.S., about 4.5% to 5.5% growth in premium. When you look at 2020, it grew about 2.5%. And that was mostly driven by the decline in personal lines auto premium.

It declined about 10%. Now, what we are seeing in those carriers is they’re not aggressively changing their budgets. They’re still investing in digital transformations, and they’re really channeling investments into core transformations. And the way that, that has resulted for us is a strengthening in our overall pipeline.

So our pipeline is as strong as we’ve ever had it, and it continues to grow quarter over quarter. So, we’re quite pleased with the way the industry continues to look at digital transformations and technology investments.

Alex SklarRaymond James — Analyst

OK, great. Thank you. And, Vinny, one more SaaS ARR question for me. But specifically, the delta between subscription revenue annualized and SaaS ARR looks like it’s the largest it’s been since kind of four quarters ago.

So, we know the one aspect is that expiring contract. But can you elaborate if there’s anything else that might be impacting that spread?

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Nothing really other than deal timing. Obviously, the largest impact is the legacy contract impact, and anything else is just simply timing-related.

Alex SklarRaymond James — Analyst

OK, great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our final question for today comes from the line of Peter Heckmann from Davidson. Your question, please.

Peter HeckmannD.A. Davidson Companies — Analyst

Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my questions. Just to go to that last point, Michael, on historical growth in DWP. Given the pricing in the market is hardening or is certainly getting quite a bit harder in certain lines, would you expect DWP to grow at a rate perhaps greater than that 4% to 5% over the next couple of years?

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Well, it’s tough to say if the whole industry will, Peter. You know, I will expect commercial lines to grow and, you know, think of commercial lines as roughly half the market, maybe a little bit less. Now, there has been a drag on growth rates on the commercial side because of workers’ comp. Workers’ comp has shrunk about 5% over the last two years because it’s directly tied to payroll.

But I do think in the hardening of the market, we’re going to see commercial lines premiums grow at a higher rate over the next year, but it’s tough to say. Now, the good news for Duck Creek is — you know, I’ve said this in the past, but in a hard market, carriers are trying to get more surgical in terms of where they take rate and how they take rate and increase rates. And they want better technology to help them do that, more flexibility in their product design, more flexibility in their use of data, and visualization of data to drive their pricing algorithms. And that always leads back to, you know, a technology conversation.

And I think, you know, this hard market is definitely helping with some of the conversations that we’re having with carriers on their technology backplane and how we can help them deliver on their strategies as they react to the hardening of the market.

Peter HeckmannD.A. Davidson Companies — Analyst

OK, that’s helpful. And then just as a reminder, just as we see travel, T&E, start to ramp back up post pandemic and we go back to doing marketing, would that represent maybe about 100 basis points to get back to normal? Or might that even be larger given increased marketing efforts internationally?

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

No, I don’t think it would be, you know, necessarily larger. I think we had commented a quarter or two ago that we thought the impact, you know, was probably roughly a point of revenue. And, you know, as that kind of builds back up, it’s almost all contained within the sales and marketing line. So, I think as we kind of get through fiscal ’22, we’ll see that start coming back up a little bit as a percentage of revenue.

Peter HeckmannD.A. Davidson Companies — Analyst

OK. Thank you. 

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Yeah. The one thing to add to that is, you know, there will be a small effect on professional services, as well as we bake back in rebuild expenses, which is a kind of a zero-margin line item, but that will be a small impact as well.

Peter HeckmannD.A. Davidson Companies — Analyst

OK. Makes sense. Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. And this concludes the question-and-answer session of today’s program. I’d like to hand the program back to Mike Jackowski for any further remarks.

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

OK. Thank you, everyone, for participating in our Q3 earnings call. And let me wrap up by, again, highlighting that we’re very pleased with our current results and our market success that’s been demonstrated by our substantial growth in our subscription revenue of 56%, which we think continues to reflect the growing customer interest in our Duck Creek OnDemand products. Not only are we well-positioned as the insurance industry continues to transition to run core systems in the cloud, we believe we are enabling and leading the migration across the industry, allowing insurance carriers to leverage the cloud and innovate faster.

Again, I appreciate everyone joining today. Thank you, and please be safe and healthy, and well. Take care.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 62 minutes

Call participants:

Brian DenyeauInvestor Relations

Mike JackowskiChief Executive Officer

Vinny ChippariChief Financial Officer

Sterling AutyJPMorgan Chase & Co. — Analyst

Tom RoderickStifel Financial Corp. — Analyst

Chris MerwinGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Saket KaliaBarclays Investment Bank — Analyst

Sherry GuoBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Bhavan SuriWilliam Blair & Company — Analyst

Alex ZukinWolfe Research — Analyst

Kyle PetersonNeedham & Company — Analyst

Robert SimmonsRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Alex SklarRaymond James — Analyst

Peter HeckmannD.A. Davidson Companies — Analyst

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.



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