BGC Partners (BGCP) Cuts Q3 Revenue Outlook

September 30, 2016 6:26 AM EDT
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BGC Partners, Inc. (Nasdaq: BGCP) updated its outlook with respect to its consolidated financial results for the third quarter of 2016.

The Company now expects its revenues for the period to be slightly below the low end of the range of its previously stated guidance, and for its pre-tax distributable earnings to be around the mid-point of the range.

*** The Street was looking for Q3 revenue of $674 million.

BGC plans to issue an advisory press release regarding the availability of its consolidated quarterly financial results by 8:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, October 27, 2016. Please visit for more details regarding this planned release and the subsequent conference call.

Distributable Earnings Defined

BGC Partners uses non-GAAP financial measures including, but not limited to, "pre-tax distributable earnings before noncontrolling interest in subsidiaries and taxes" and "post-tax distributable earnings", which are supplemental measures of operating performance that are used by management to evaluate the financial performance of the Company and its consolidated subsidiaries. BGC believes that distributable earnings best reflect the operating earnings generated by the Company on a consolidated basis and are the earnings which management considers available for, among other things, distribution to BGC Partners, Inc. and its common stockholders, as well as to holders of BGC Holdings partnership units during any period.

As compared with "income (loss) from operations before income taxes and noncontrolling interest in subsidiaries", and "net income (loss) per fully diluted share", all prepared in accordance with GAAP, distributable earnings calculations primarily exclude certain non-cash compensation and other expenses that generally do not involve the receipt or outlay of cash by the Company and/or which do not dilute existing stockholders, as described below. In addition, distributable earnings calculations exclude certain gains and charges that management believes do not best reflect the ordinary operating results of BGC.

Adjustments Made to Calculate Pre-Tax Distributable Earnings

Pre-tax distributable earnings are defined as GAAP income (loss) from operations before income taxes and noncontrolling interest in subsidiaries excluding items, such as:

  • Non-cash equity-based compensation charges related to limited partnership unit exchange or conversion.
  • Non-cash asset impairment charges, if any.
  • Non-cash compensation charges for items granted or issued pre-merger with respect to certain mergers or acquisitions by BGC Partners, Inc. To date, these mergers have only included those with and into eSpeed, Inc. and the back-end merger with GFI Group Inc.

Distributable earnings calculations also exclude certain unusual, one-time or non-recurring items, if any.

These charges are excluded from distributable earnings because the Company views excluding such charges as a better reflection of the ongoing, ordinary operations of BGC.

In addition to the above items, allocations of net income to founding/working partner and other limited partnership units are excluded from calculations of pre-tax distributable earnings. Such allocations represent the pro-rata portion of pre-tax earnings available to such unit holders. These units are in the fully diluted share count, and are exchangeable on a one-to-one basis into common stock. As these units are exchanged to common shares, unit holders become entitled to cash dividends rather than cash distributions. The Company views such allocations as intellectually similar to dividends on common shares. Because dividends paid to common shares are not an expense under GAAP, management believes similar allocations of income to unit holders should also not be included when calculating distributable earnings performance measures.

BGC's definition of distributable earnings also excludes certain gains and charges with respect to acquisitions, dispositions, or resolutions of litigation. This exclusion includes the one-time gains related to the Nasdaq and Trayport transactions. Management believes that excluding such gains and charges also best reflects the ongoing operating performance of BGC.

However, the payments associated with BGC's expected annual receipt of Nasdaq stock and related mark-to-market gains or losses are anticipated to be included in the Company's calculation of distributable earnings for the following reasons:

  • Nasdaq is expected to pay BGC in an equal amount of stock on a regular basis for a 15 year period beginning in 2013 as part of that transaction;
  • The Nasdaq earn-out largely replaced the generally recurring quarterly earnings BGC generated from eSpeed; and
  • The Company intends to pay dividends and distributions to common stockholders and/or unit holders based on all other income related to the receipt of the earn-out.

To make period-to-period comparisons more meaningful, one-quarter of each annual Nasdaq contingent earn-out amount, as well as gains or losses with respect to associated mark-to-market movements and/or hedging, will be included in the Company's calculation of distributable earnings each quarter as "other income."

The calculation of distributable earnings from the fourth quarter of 2015 through the second quarter of 2016 has also excluded the realized and unrealized mark-to-market gains or losses related to the shares of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. received in connection with the Trayport sale. Beginning with the third quarter of 2016, the Company intends to treat gains or losses related to mark-to-market movements and/or hedging with respect to any remaining ICE shares in a consistent manner with that of the treatment of Nasdaq shares when calculating distributable earnings.

Investors and analysts should note that, due to the large gain recorded with respect to the Trayport sale in December, 2015, and the closing of the back-end merger with GFI in January, 2016, non-cash charges related to the amortization of intangibles with respect to acquisitions will be excluded from the calculation of pre-tax distributable earnings.

Adjustments Made to Calculate Post-Tax Distributable Earnings

Since distributable earnings are calculated on a pre-tax basis, management intends to also report post-tax distributable earnings to fully diluted shareholders. Post-tax distributable earnings to fully diluted shareholders are defined as pre-tax distributable earnings, less noncontrolling interest in subsidiaries, and reduced by the provision for taxes as described below.

The Company's calculation of the provision for taxes on an annualized basis starts with GAAP income tax provision, adjusted to reflect tax-deductible items. Management uses this non-GAAP provision for taxes in part to help it to evaluate, among other things, the overall performance of the business, make decisions with respect to the Company's operations, and to determine the amount of dividends paid to common shareholders.

The provision for taxes with respect to distributable earnings adjusts the GAAP equivalent figure to reflect tax-deductible items including limited partnership unit exchange or conversion, employee loan amortization, and certain other tax deductions taken or expected to be taken.

BGC incurs income tax expenses based on the location, legal structure and jurisdictional taxing authorities of each of its subsidiaries. Certain of the Company's entities are taxed as U.S. partnerships and are subject to the Unincorporated Business Tax ("UBT") in New York City. Any U.S. federal and state income tax liability or benefit related to the partnership income or loss, with the exception of UBT, rests with the unit holders rather than with the partnership entity. The Company's consolidated financial statements include U.S. federal, state and local income taxes on the Company's allocable share of the U.S. results of operations. Outside of the U.S., BGC operates principally through subsidiary corporations subject to local income taxes. For these reasons, taxes for distributable earnings are presented to show the tax provision the consolidated Company would expect to pay if 100 percent of earnings were taxed at global corporate rates.

Calculations of Pre-tax and Post-Tax Distributable Earnings per Share

BGC's distributable earnings per share calculations assume either that:

  • The fully diluted share count includes the shares related to any dilutive instruments, such as the Convertible Senior Notes, but excludes the associated interest expense, net of tax, when the impact would be dilutive; or
  • The fully diluted share count excludes the shares related to these instruments, but includes the associated interest expense, net of tax.

The share count for distributable earnings excludes shares expected to be issued in future periods but not yet eligible to receive dividends and/or distributions.

Each quarter, the dividend to BGC's common stockholders is expected to be determined by the Company's Board of Directors with reference to a number of factors, including post-tax distributable earnings per fully diluted share. In addition to the Company's quarterly dividend to common stockholders, BGC Partners expects to pay a pro-rata distribution of net income to BGC Holdings founding/working partner and other limited partnership units, as well as to Cantor for its non-controlling interest. The amount of this net income, and therefore of these payments, is expected to be determined using the above definition of pre-tax distributable earnings per share.

Other Matters with Respect to Distributable Earnings

The term "distributable earnings" should not be considered in isolation or as an alternative to GAAP net income (loss). The Company views distributable earnings as a metric that is not indicative of liquidity or the cash available to fund its operations, but rather as a performance measure.

Pre- and post-tax distributable earnings are not intended to replace the Company's presentation of GAAP financial results. However, management believes that they help provide investors with a clearer understanding of BGC Partners' financial performance and offer useful information to both management and investors regarding certain financial and business trends related to the Company's financial condition and results of operations. Management believes that distributable earnings and the GAAP measures of financial performance should be considered together.

BGC anticipates providing forward-looking quarterly guidance for GAAP revenues and for certain distributable earnings measures from time to time. However, the Company does not anticipate providing a quarterly outlook for other GAAP results. This is because certain GAAP items, which are excluded from distributable earnings, are difficult to forecast with precision before the end of each quarter. The Company therefore believes that it is not possible to forecast quarterly GAAP results or to quantitatively reconcile GAAP results to non-GAAP results with sufficient precision unless BGC makes unreasonable efforts.

The items that are difficult to predict on a quarterly basis with precision and which can have a material impact on the Company's GAAP results include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Allocations of net income and grants of exchangeability to limited partnership units and FPUs, which are determined at the discretion of management throughout and up to the period-end.
  • The impact of certain marketable securities, as well as any gains or losses related to associated non-cash mark-to-market movements and/or hedging. These items are calculated using period-end closing prices.
  • Non-cash asset impairment charges, which are calculated and analyzed based on the period-end values of the underlying assets. These amounts may not be known until after period-end.
  • Acquisitions, dispositions and/or resolutions of litigation which are fluid and unpredictable in nature.

For more information on this topic, please see certain tables in the most recent BGC financial results press release including "Reconciliation of GAAP Income (Loss) to Distributable Earnings". These tables provide summary reconciliations between pre- and post-tax distributable earnings and the corresponding GAAP measures for the Company.

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