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WEX Inc. Reports Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

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WEX Inc. Reports Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

PORTLAND, Maine–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jul 30, 2020–

WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX), a leading financial technology service provider, today reported financial results for the three months ended June 30, 2020.

“Our second quarter results reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and underscore the resilience of our business, where we saw a few bright spots even in this challenged environment. We experienced recovery in spend volume trends throughout the quarter across each of our segments. Additionally, our U.S. Health business remains strong with year-over-year top-line growth, driven by an increase in the number of SaaS accounts as customers continue to rely on WEX products to pay for their essential healthcare needs,” said Melissa Smith, WEX’s Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

Ms. Smith added, “Strong execution against our strategic pillars, effective cost management, disciplined capital allocation and our recent balance sheet and liquidity enhancements all position WEX to successfully navigate the current market environment. We continued to have notable new customer wins across each of our business segments, which is an important part of our growth strategy, and have begun to realize the early benefits of our cost containment measures and capital allocation plan outlined last quarter. Looking to the back half of the year, we will continue to focus on providing best-in-class products and services to our customers, winning in the marketplace and laying the foundation for sustained long-term growth.”

Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results

Total revenue for the second quarter of 2020 decreased 21% to $347.1 million from $441.8 million for the second quarter of 2019. The $94.7 million revenue decrease in the quarter includes a $29.2 million unfavorable impact from fuel prices and spreads and a $1.7 million negative impact from foreign exchange rates.

Net income attributable to shareholders on a GAAP basis increased by $58.9 million to net income of $72.7 million, or $1.66 per diluted share, compared with net income of $13.8 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2019. The Company’s adjusted net income attributable to shareholders, which is a non-GAAP measure, was $53.0 million for the second quarter of 2020, or $1.21 per diluted share, down 47% per diluted share from $99.6 million or $2.28 per diluted share for the same period last year. See Exhibit 1 for a full explanation and reconciliation of adjusted net income attributable to shareholders and adjusted net income attributable to shareholders per diluted share to the comparable GAAP measures.

Second Quarter 2020 Performance Metrics

  • Average number of vehicles serviced was approximately 15.1 million, an increase of 8% from the second quarter of 2019.
  • Total fuel transactions processed decreased 17% from the second quarter of 2019 to 127.9 million. Payment processing transactions decreased 19% to 103.1 million.
  • Travel and Corporate Solutions’ purchase volume decreased 68% to $3.2 billion from $10.0 billion in the second quarter of 2019.
  • Health and Employee Benefit Solutions’ average number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) accounts in the U.S. grew 15% to 14.5 million from 12.6 million in the second quarter of 2019.

“We continue to look for ways to strengthen our balance sheet and enhance our liquidity position in the current uncertain environment. During the quarter, we secured a $400 million investment from Warburg Pincus, which closed at the beginning of the third quarter, and favorably amended our current credit agreement,” said Roberto Simon, WEX’s Chief Financial Officer. “These actions provide us with increased financial flexibility, improved liquidity and additional cash on hand to better focus on our strategic priorities as we navigate the pandemic. Looking ahead, we remain confident in WEX’s ability to fund growth initiatives and capitalize on the economic recovery as operating conditions improve.”

Cost Actions and Liquidity Update

In response to COVID-19 uncertainty, the Company implemented a number of actions announced last quarter to reduce discretionary capital and operating expenditures, adjust cost structure and preserve financial flexibility and a strong liquidity position. The total savings resulting from these changes are still expected to be approximately $60-$65 million for the year, compared to our original guidance. The Company believes WEX’s balance sheet and liquidity position remain strong. Second quarter 2020 leverage was 3.1x compared to 3.5x the prior quarter, and there are no significant debt maturities for over two years.

On May 7, 2020, the Company withdrew all previously-issued full fiscal year 2020 financial guidance due to COVID-19. Given the continued uncertainty related to COVID-19, the Company is not providing any further financial guidance at this time. WEX continues to carefully monitor the pandemic and the impact on its business; however, given the uncertainty regarding the pandemic’s spread, duration, and impact, the Company is currently unable to predict the precise extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will impact its future operations and financial results.

Management uses the non-GAAP measures presented within this news release to evaluate the Company’s performance on a comparable basis. Management believes that investors may find these measures useful for the same purposes, but cautions that they should not be considered a substitute for, or superior to, disclosure in accordance with GAAP.

To provide investors with additional insight into its operational performance, WEX has included in this news release in Exhibit 1, reconciliations of non – GAAP measures referenced in this news release, in Exhibit 2, tables illustrating the impact of foreign currency rates and fuel prices for each of our reportable segments for the three and six months ended June 30, 2020, and in Exhibit 3, a table of selected non-financial metrics for the quarter ended June 30, 2020 and four preceding quarters. The Company is also providing segment revenue for the three and six months ended June 30, 2020 and 2019 in Exhibit 4 and information regarding segment adjusted operating income margin and adjusted operating income margin in Exhibit 5.

In conjunction with this announcement, WEX will host a conference call today, July 30, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. (ET). As previously announced, the conference call will be webcast live on the Internet, and can be accessed along with the accompanying slides at the Investor Relations section of the WEX website, www.wexinc.com. The live conference call also can be accessed by dialing (833) 714-0940 or +1 (778) 560-2809. The Conference ID number is 3368158.

A replay of the webcast and the accompanying slides will be available on the Company’s website. A replay of the conference call can also be accessed by dialing (800) 585-8367 or (416) 621-4642, conference ID number 3368158, beginning approximately two hours after the call. The replay will be available through August 21, 2020.

Powered by the belief that complex payment systems can be made simple, WEX (NYSE: WEX) is a leading financial technology service provider across a wide spectrum of sectors, including fleet, travel and healthcare. WEX operates in more than 10 countries and in 20 currencies through more than 5,000 associates around the world. WEX fleet cards offer 15 million vehicles exceptional payment security and control; purchase volume in its travel and corporate solutions grew to approximately $40 billion in 2019; and the WEX Health financial technology platform helps 390,000 employers and more than 32 million consumers better manage healthcare expenses. For more information, visit www.wexinc.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This earnings release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding: financial guidance and potential for providing the same; assumptions underlying the Company’s future financial performance; future growth opportunities and expectations; and, expectations for the macro environment. Any statements that are not statements of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. When used in this earnings release, the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain such words. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including: the extent to which the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and measures taken in response thereto adversely impact our business, results of operations and financial condition in excess of current expectations; the effects of general economic conditions on fueling patterns as well as payment and transaction processing activity; the impact of foreign currency exchange rates on the Company’s operations, revenue and income; changes in interest rates; the impact of fluctuations in fuel prices including the impact of any continued reductions in fuel price and the resulting impact on our revenues and net income; the effects of the Company’s business expansion and acquisition efforts; potential adverse changes to business or employee relationships, including those resulting from the completion of an acquisition; competitive responses to any acquisitions; uncertainty of the expected financial performance of the combined operations following completion of an acquisition; the failure to complete or successfully integrate the Company’s acquisitions; the ability to realize anticipated synergies and cost savings; unexpected costs, charges or expenses resulting from an acquisition; the Company’s ability to successfully acquire, integrate, operate and expand commercial fuel card programs; the failure of corporate investments to result in anticipated strategic value; the impact and size of credit losses; the impact of changes to the Company’s credit standards; breaches of the Company’s technology systems or those of the Company’s third-party service providers and any resulting negative impact on the Company’s reputation, liabilities or relationships with customers or merchants; the Company’s failure to maintain or renew key commercial agreements; failure to expand the Company’s technological capabilities and service offerings as rapidly as the Company’s competitors; failure to successfully implement the Company’s information technology strategies and capabilities in connection with its technology outsourcing and insourcing arrangements and any resulting cost associated with that failure; the actions of regulatory bodies, including banking and securities regulators, or possible changes in banking or financial regulations impacting the Company’s industrial bank, the Company as the corporate parent or other subsidiaries or affiliates; legal, political and economic uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union; the impact of the transition from LIBOR as a global benchmark to a replacement rate; the impact of the Company’s outstanding notes on its operations; the impact of increased leverage on the Company’s operations, results or borrowing capacity generally, and as a result of acquisitions specifically; the incurrence of impairment charges if our assessment of the fair value of certain of our reporting units changes; the uncertainties of litigation, including the legal proceedings with respect to the purchase agreement relating to the proposed eNett and Optal acquisitions; as well as other risks and uncertainties identified in Item 1A of our Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 2019 and our Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, filed respectively with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 28, 2020 and May 11, 2020. The Company’s forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential future impact of any alliance, merger, acquisition, disposition or stock repurchases. The forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this earnings release and undue reliance should not be placed on these statements. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

WEX INC.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(in thousands, except per share data)
(unaudited)

Three months ended June 30,

Six months ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

Revenues

Payment processing revenue

$

147,461

$

214,826

$

351,498

$

401,624

Account servicing revenue

109,479

106,892

223,319

193,978

Finance fee revenue

42,711

62,912

98,638

109,285

Other revenue

47,433

57,177

105,308

118,796

Total revenues

347,084

441,807

778,763

823,683

Cost of services

Processing costs

99,991

99,481

204,908

190,600

Service fees

9,700

14,197

23,454

28,443

Provision for credit losses

20,581

14,832

54,568

32,623

Operating interest

6,504

10,693

14,889

20,257

Depreciation and amortization

25,124

21,570

49,913

42,083

Total cost of services

161,900

160,773

347,732

314,006

General and administrative

62,265

76,247

124,301

140,652

Sales and marketing

54,744

72,831

123,526

136,950

Depreciation and amortization

39,393

37,219

79,593

68,403

Operating income

28,782

94,737

103,611

163,672

Financing interest expense

(28,832)

(35,638)

(60,863)

(66,750)

Net foreign currency (loss) gain

(2,462)

6,665

(31,189)

2,780

Net unrealized loss on financial instruments

(3,842)

(21,516)

(35,889)

(33,428)

(Loss) income before income taxes

(6,354)

44,248

(24,330)

66,274

Income tax (benefit) provision

(19,747)

12,397

(25,454)

18,215

Net income

13,393

31,851

1,124

48,059

Less: Net income from non-controlling interests

675

324

2,038

398

Net income (loss) attributable to WEX Inc.

$

12,718

$

31,527

$

(914)

$

47,661

Reduction (accretion) of redeemable non-controlling interest

59,940

(17,720)

57,316

(17,720)

Net income attributable to shareholders

$

72,658

$

13,807

$

56,402

$

29,941

Net income attributable to shareholders per share:

Basic

$

1.67

$

0.32

$

1.30

$

0.69

Diluted

$

1.66

$

0.32

$

1.28

$

0.69

Weighted average common shares outstanding:

Basic

43,574

43,329

43,495

43,277

Diluted

43,779

43,761

43,896

43,667

WEX INC.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(in thousands)
(unaudited)

June 30,
2020

December 31,
2019

Assets

Cash and cash equivalents

$

1,271,523

$

810,932

Restricted cash

178,170

170,449

Accounts receivable

1,942,723

2,661,108

Securitized accounts receivable, restricted

89,636

112,192

Prepaid expenses and other current assets

78,793

87,694

Total current assets

3,560,845

3,842,375

Property, equipment and capitalized software

205,189

212,475

Goodwill and other intangible assets

3,921,450

4,016,251

Investment securities

31,224

30,460

Deferred income taxes, net

8,789

12,833

Other assets

179,242

184,024

Total assets

$

7,906,739

$

8,298,418

Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity

Accounts payable

$

833,782

$

969,816

Accrued expenses

253,013

315,642

Restricted cash payable

178,170

170,449

Short-term deposits

1,155,160

1,310,813

Short-term debt, net

119,374

248,531

Other current liabilities

50,123

34,692

Total current liabilities

2,589,622

3,049,943

Long-term debt, net

2,653,887

2,686,513

Long-term deposits

264,198

143,399

Deferred income taxes, net

182,583

218,740

Other liabilities

128,766

106,422

Total liabilities

5,819,056

6,205,017

Commitments and contingencies

Redeemable non-controlling interest

99,804

156,879

Stockholders’ Equity

Total WEX Inc. stockholders’ equity

1,976,945

1,926,947

Non-controlling interest

10,934

9,575

Total stockholders’ equity

1,987,879

1,936,522

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

$

7,906,739

$

8,298,418

Exhibit 1
Reconciliation of Non – GAAP Measures
(in thousands, except per share data)
(unaudited)

Reconciliation of GAAP Net Income Attributable to Shareholders to Adjusted Net Income Attributable to Shareholders

Three Months Ended June 30,

2020

2019

per diluted share

per diluted share

Net income attributable to shareholders

$

72,658

$

1.66

$

13,807

$

0.32

Unrealized loss on financial instruments

3,842

0.09

21,516

0.49

Net foreign currency remeasurement loss (gain)

2,462

0.06

(6,665

)

(0.15

)

Acquisition–related intangible amortization

42,478

0.97

39,814

0.91

Other acquisition and divestiture related items

7,735

0.18

7,017

0.16

Stock–based compensation

15,069

0.34

14,992

0.34

Other costs

4,695

0.11

4,746

0.11

Debt restructuring and debt issuance cost amortization

2,578

0.06

8,453

0.19

ANI adjustments attributable to non–controlling interests

(60,558

)

(1.38

)

17,298

0.40

Tax related items

(38,004

)

(0.87

)

(21,342

)

(0.49

)

Adjusted net income attributable to shareholders

$

52,955

$

1.21

$

99,636

$

2.28

Six Months Ended June 30, 2020

2020

2019

per diluted share

per diluted share

Net income attributable to shareholders

$

56,402

$

1.28

$

29,941

$

0.69

Unrealized loss on financial instruments

35,889

0.82

33,428

0.77

Net foreign currency remeasurement loss (gain)

31,189

0.71

(2,780

)

(0.06

)

Acquisition–related intangible amortization

85,016

1.94

73,702

1.69

Other acquisition and divestiture related items

15,677

0.36

16,797

0.38

Stock–based compensation

26,889

0.61

25,434

0.58

Other costs

6,935

0.16

7,501

0.17

Debt restructuring and debt issuance cost amortization

4,660

0.11

14,949

0.34

ANI adjustments attributable to non–controlling interests

(58,334

)

(1.33

)

16,725

0.38

Tax related items

(71,684

)

(1.63

)

(41,237

)

(0.94

)

Adjusted net income attributable to shareholders

$

132,639

$

3.02

$

174,460

$

4.00

Reconciliation of GAAP Operating Income to Total Segment Adjusted Operating Income and Adjusted Operating Income

Three Months Ended June 30,

Six Months Ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

Operating income

$

28,782

$

94,737

$

103,611

$

163,672

Unallocated corporate expenses

13,953

18,177

30,496

35,119

Acquisition-related intangible amortization

42,478

39,814

85,016

73,702

Other acquisition and divestiture related items

7,735

7,017

15,677

16,797

Stock-based compensation

15,069

14,992

26,889

25,434

Other costs

4,695

4,746

6,935

7,501

Debt restructuring costs

687

5,078

765

9,478

Total segment adjusted operating income

$

113,399

$

184,561

$

269,389

$

331,703

Unallocated corporate expenses

(13,953)

(18,177)

(30,496)

(35,119)

Adjusted operating income

$

99,446

$

166,384

$

238,893

$

296,584

The Company’s non-GAAP adjusted net income excludes unrealized gains and losses on financial instruments, net foreign currency remeasurement gains and losses, acquisition-related intangible amortization, other acquisition and divestiture related items, stock-based compensation, other costs, debt restructuring and debt issuance cost amortization, similar adjustments attributable to our non-controlling interests and certain tax related items.

The Company’s non-GAAP adjusted operating income excludes acquisition-related intangible amortization, other acquisition and divestiture related items, stock-based compensation, other costs, and debt restructuring costs. Total segment adjusted operating income incorporates the same adjustments and further excludes unallocated corporate expenses.

Although adjusted net income, adjusted operating income and total segment adjusted operating income are not calculated in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), these non-GAAP measures are integral to the Company’s reporting and planning processes and the chief operating decision maker of the Company uses segment adjusted operating income to allocate resources among our operating segments. The Company considers these measures integral because they exclude the above-specified items that the Company’s management excludes in evaluating the Company’s performance. Specifically, in addition to evaluating the Company’s performance on a GAAP basis, management evaluates the Company’s performance on a basis that excludes the above items because:

  • Exclusion of the non-cash, mark-to-market adjustments on financial instruments, including interest rate swap agreements and investment securities, helps management identify and assess trends in the Company’s underlying business that might otherwise be obscured due to quarterly non-cash earnings fluctuations associated with these financial instruments.
  • Net foreign currency gains and losses primarily result from the remeasurement to functional currency of cash, accounts receivable and accounts payable balances, certain intercompany notes denominated in foreign currencies and any gain or loss on foreign currency hedges relating to these items. The exclusion of these items helps management compare changes in operating results between periods that might otherwise be obscured due to currency fluctuations.
  • The Company considers certain acquisition-related costs, including certain financing costs, investment banking fees, warranty and indemnity insurance, certain integration related expenses and amortization of acquired intangibles, as well as gains and losses from divestitures to be unpredictable, dependent on factors that may be outside of our control and unrelated to the continuing operations of the acquired or divested business or the Company. In addition, the size and complexity of an acquisition, which often drives the magnitude of acquisition-related costs, may not be indicative of such future costs. The Company believes that excluding acquisition-related costs and gains or losses of divestitures facilitates the comparison of our financial results to the Company’s historical operating results and to other companies in our industry.
  • Stock-based compensation is different from other forms of compensation as it is a non-cash expense. For example, a cash salary generally has a fixed and unvarying cash cost. In contrast, the expense associated with an equity-based award is generally unrelated to the amount of cash ultimately received by the employee, and the cost to the Company is based on a stock-based compensation valuation methodology and underlying assumptions that may vary over time.
  • We exclude other costs when evaluating our continuing business performance as such items are not consistently occurring and do not reflect expected future operating expense, nor do they provide insight into the fundamentals of current or past operations of our business. This includes costs related to further streamline the business, improve the Company’s efficiency, create synergies and globalize the Company’s operations. For the three and six months ended June 30, 2020, other costs include certain costs incurred in association with COVID-19, including the cost of providing additional health, welfare and technological support to our employees as they work remotely.
  • Debt restructuring and debt issuance cost amortization are unrelated to the continuing operations of the Company. Debt restructuring costs are not consistently occurring and do not reflect expected future operating expense, nor do they provide insight into the fundamentals of current or past operations of our business. In addition, since debt issuance cost amortization is dependent upon the financing method, which can vary widely company to company, we believe that excluding these costs helps to facilitate comparison to historical results as well as to other companies within our industry.
  • The adjustments attributable to non-controlling interests, including adjustments to the redemption value of a non-controlling interest, have no significant impact on the ongoing operations of the business.
  • The tax related items are the difference between the Company’s U.S. GAAP tax provision and a pro forma tax provision based upon the Company’s adjusted net income before taxes as well as the impact from certain discrete tax items. The methodology utilized for calculating the Company’s adjusted net income tax provision is the same methodology utilized in calculating the Company’s U.S. GAAP tax provision.
  • The Company does not allocate certain corporate expenses to our operating segments, as these items are centrally controlled and are not directly attributable to any reportable segment.

For the same reasons, WEX believes that adjusted net income, adjusted operating income and total segment adjusted operating income may also be useful to investors when evaluating the Company’s performance. However, because adjusted net income, adjusted operating income and total segment adjusted operating income are non-GAAP measures, they should not be considered as a substitute for, or superior to, net income, operating income or cash flows from operating activities as determined in accordance with GAAP. In addition, adjusted net income, adjusted operating income and total segment adjusted operating income as used by WEX may not be comparable to similarly titled measures employed by other companies.

Exhibit 2
Impact of Certain Macro Factors on Reported Revenue and Adjusted Net Income
(in thousands, except per share data)
(unaudited)

The table below shows the impact of certain macro factors on reported revenue:

Segment Revenue Results

Fleet Solutions

Travel and Corporate
Solutions

Health and Employee
Benefit Solutions

Total WEX Inc.

Three months ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

Reported revenue

$

204,380

$

267,314

$

54,495

$

91,350

$

88,209

$

83,143

$

347,084

$

441,807

FX impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

1,141

$

$

153

$

$

392

$

$

1,686

$

PPG impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

29,176

$

$

$

$

$

$

29,176

$

Segment Revenue Results

Fleet Solutions

Travel and Corporate
Solutions

Health and Employee
Benefit Solutions

Total WEX Inc.

Six months ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

Reported revenue

$

454,227

$

500,096

$

138,854

$

172,998

$

185,682

$

150,589

$

778,763

$

823,683

FX impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

2,774

$

$

824

$

$

988

$

$

4,586

$

PPG impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

25,847

$

$

$

$

$

$

25,847

$

To determine the impact of foreign exchange translation (“FX”) on revenue, revenue from entities whose functional currency is not denominated in U.S. dollars, as well as revenue from purchase volume transacted in non-U.S. denominated currencies, were translated using the weighted average exchange rates for the same period in the prior year, exclusive of revenue derived from 2019 acquisitions for one year following the acquisition dates.

To determine the impact of price per gallon of fuel (“PPG”) on revenue, revenue subject to changes in fuel prices was calculated based on the average retail price of fuel for the same period in the prior year for the portion of our business that earns revenue based on a percentage of fuel spend, exclusive of revenue derived from 2019 acquisitions for one year following the acquisition dates. For the portions of our business that earn revenue based on margin spreads, revenue was calculated utilizing the comparable margin from the prior year.

The table below shows the impact of certain macro factors on Adjusted Net Income:

Segment Estimated Earnings Impact

Fleet Solutions

Travel and Corporate
Solutions

Health and Employee
Benefit Solutions

Three months ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

FX impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

710

$

$

(4,310)

$

$

(503)

$

PPG impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

18,463

$

$

$

$

$

Six months ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

FX impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

928

$

$

(4,619)

$

$

(494)

$

PPG impact (favorable) / unfavorable

$

15,919

$

$

$

$

$

To determine the estimated earnings impact of FX on revenue and expenses from entities whose functional currency is not denominated in U.S. dollars, as well as revenue and variable expenses from purchase volume transacted in non-U.S. denominated currencies, amounts were translated using the weighted average exchange rates for the same period in the prior year, net of tax, exclusive of revenue and expenses derived from 2019 acquisitions for one year following the acquisition dates.

To determine the estimated earnings impact of PPG, revenue and certain variable expenses impacted by changes in fuel prices were adjusted based on the average retail price of fuel for the same period in the prior year for the portion of our business that earns revenue based on a percentage of fuel spend, net of applicable taxes, exclusive of revenue and expenses derived from 2019 acquisitions for one year following the acquisition dates. For the portions of our business that earn revenue based on margin spreads, revenue was adjusted to the comparable margin from the prior year, net of non-controlling interests and applicable taxes.

Exhibit 3
Selected Non-Financial Metrics
(unaudited)

Q2 2020

Q1 2020

Q4 2019

Q3 2019

Q2 2019

Fleet Solutions:

Payment processing transactions (000s) (1)

103,086

121,591

126,666

135,236

127,986

Payment processing gallons of fuel (000s) (2)

2,830,265

3,123,066

3,218,466

3,338,322

3,239,703

Average US fuel price (US$ / gallon)

$

2.07

$

2.57

$

2.80

$

2.80

$

2.91

Payment processing $ of fuel (000s) (3)

$

6,135,265

$

8,412,642

$

9,417,278

$

9,737,591

$

9,755,737

Net payment processing rate (4)

1.47

%

1.35

%

1.10

%

1.29

%

1.24

%

Payment processing revenue (000s)

$

90,147

$

113,323

$

103,831

$

125,288

$

120,717

Net late fee rate (5)

0.57

%

0.56

%

0.65

%

0.58

%

0.54

%

Late fee revenue (000s) (6)

$

35,071

$

46,740

$

61,587

$

56,938

$

52,823

Travel and Corporate Solutions:

Purchase volume (000s) (7)

$

3,168,064

$

8,041,112

$

9,635,211

$

11,543,605

$

10,047,934

Net interchange rate (8)

1.37

%

0.87

%

0.84

%

0.74

%

0.77

%

Payment solutions processing revenue (000s)

$

43,261

$

70,268

$

80,986

$

85,128

$

77,273

Health and Employee Benefit Solutions:

Purchase volume (000s) (9)

$

1,017,318

$

1,592,313

$

1,047,939

$

1,126,156

$

1,374,592

Average number of SaaS accounts (000s) (10)

14,487

14,458

13,391

13,022

12,563

Definitions and explanations:

(1) Payment processing transactions represents the total number of purchases made by fleets that have a payment processing relationship with WEX.

(2) Payment processing gallons of fuel represents the total number of gallons of fuel purchased by fleets that have a payment processing relationship with WEX.

(3) Payment processing dollars of fuel represents the total dollar value of the fuel purchased by fleets that have a payment processing relationship with WEX.

(4) Net payment processing rate represents the percentage of the dollar value of each payment processing transaction that WEX records as revenue from merchants, less certain discounts given to customers and network fees.

(5) Net late fee rate represents late fee revenue as a percentage of fuel purchased by fleets that have a payment processing relationship with WEX.

(6) Late fee revenue represents fees charged for payments not made within the terms of the customer agreement based upon the outstanding customer receivable balance.

(7) Purchase volume represents the total dollar value of all WEX issued transactions that use WEX corporate card products and virtual card products.

(8) Net interchange rate represents the percentage of the dollar value of each payment processing transaction that WEX records as revenue from merchants, less certain discounts given to customers and network fees.

(9) Purchase volume represents the total US dollar value of all transactions where interchange is earned by WEX.

(10) Average number of Health and Employee Benefit Solutions accounts represents the number of active Consumer Directed Health, COBRA, and billing accounts on our SaaS platforms in the United States.

Exhibit 4
Segment Revenue Information
(in thousands)
(unaudited)

Three months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Six months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Fleet Solutions

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

Revenues

Payment processing revenue

$

90,147

$

120,717

$

(30,570)

(25)

%

$

203,470

$

228,125

$

(24,655)

(11)

%

Account servicing revenue

36,694

41,506

(4,812)

(12)

%

75,902

80,745

(4,843)

(6)

%

Finance fee revenue

42,463

62,385

(19,922)

(32)

%

97,805

108,249

(10,444)

(10)

%

Other revenue

35,076

42,706

(7,630)

(18)

%

77,050

82,977

(5,927)

(7)

%

Total revenues

$

204,380

$

267,314

$

(62,934)

(24)

%

$

454,227

$

500,096

$

(45,869)

(9)

%

Three months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Six months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Travel and Corporate Solutions

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

Revenues

Payment processing revenue

$

43,261

$

77,273

$

(34,012)

(44)

%

$

113,529

$

137,271

$

(23,742)

(17)

%

Account servicing revenue

10,183

10,717

(534)

(5)

%

21,246

21,302

(56)

%

Finance fee revenue

220

496

(276)

(56)

%

755

853

(98)

(11)

%

Other revenue

831

2,864

(2,033)

(71)

%

3,324

13,572

(10,248)

(76)

%

Total revenues

$

54,495

$

91,350

$

(36,855)

(40)

%

$

138,854

$

172,998

$

(34,144)

(20)

%

Three months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Six months ended
June 30,

Increase (decrease)

Health and Employee
Benefit Solutions

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

2020

2019

Amount

Percent

Revenues

Payment processing revenue

$

14,053

$

16,836

$

(2,783)

(17)

%

$

34,499

$

36,228

$

(1,729)

(5)

%

Account servicing revenue

62,602

54,669

7,933

15

%

126,171

91,931

34,240

37

%

Finance fee revenue

28

31

(3)

(10)

%

78

183

(105)

(57)

%

Other revenue

11,526

11,607

(81)

(1)

%

24,934

22,247

2,687

12

%

Total revenues

$

88,209

$

83,143

$

5,066

6

%

$

185,682

$

150,589

$

35,093

23

%

Exhibit 5
Segment Adjusted Operating Income and Adjusted Operating Income Margin Information
(in thousands)
(unaudited)

Segment Adjusted Operating Income

Segment Adjusted Operating Income Margin (1)

Three Months Ended June 30,

Three Months Ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

Fleet Solutions

$

77,180

$

122,577

37.8

%

45.9

%

Travel and Corporate Solutions

$

10,961

$

40,838

20.1

%

44.7

%

Health and Employee Benefit Solutions

$

25,258

$

21,146

28.6

%

25.4

%

Total segment adjusted operating income

$

113,399

$

184,561

32.7

%

41.8

%

Segment Adjusted Operating Income

Segment Adjusted Operating Income Margin (1)

Six Months Ended June 30,

Six Months Ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

Fleet Solutions

$

181,788

$

215,552

40.0

%

43.1

%

Travel and Corporate Solutions

$

32,876

$

75,225

23.7

%

43.5

%

Health and Employee Benefit Solutions

$

54,725

$

40,926

29.5

%

27.2

%

Total segment adjusted operating income

$

269,389

$

331,703

34.6

%

40.3

%

(1) Segment adjusted operating income margin is derived by dividing segment adjusted operating income by the revenue of the corresponding segment (or the entire Company in the case of total segment adjusted operating income). See Exhibit 1 for a reconciliation of segment adjusted operating income to GAAP operating income.

Three Months Ended June 30,

Six Months Ended June 30,

2020

2019

2020

2019

Adjusted operating income

$

99,446

$

166,384

$

238,893

$

296,584

Adjusted operating income margin (1)

28.7

%

37.7

%

30.7

%

36.0

%

(1) Adjusted operating income margin is derived by dividing adjusted operating income by revenue of the entire Company. See Exhibit 1 for a reconciliation of adjusted operating income to GAAP operating income.

CONTACT: News media contact:

Jessica Roy, 207-523-6763

Steve Elder, 207-523-7769

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA MAINE

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: FINANCE BANKING PROFESSIONAL SERVICES OTHER TECHNOLOGY TECHNOLOGY

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 07/30/2020 06:30 AM/DISC: 07/30/2020 06:30 AM

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Fashion

Fashion Briefing: Fashion’s emerging founder-investors are mega-influencers – Glossy

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Fashion Briefing: Fashion’s emerging founder-investors are mega-influencers – Glossy

Fashion’s OG Instagrammers are building empires and, at the same time, growing their influence beyond the industry.

After being schooled for years on the workings of the fashion industry, mega-influencers including Danielle Bernstein (2.7 million Instagram followers) and Rocky Barnes (2.5 million Instagram followers) are graduating to careers less reliant on brands. To take it to the next level, they’re leveraging their prowess and communities, driving deals with effective business partners, and evolving their focus, based on the industry’s direction and their own passions. The emerging results, for both Bernstein and Barnes, are personally-backed brands and investment portfolios set to expand based on early successes.

“The plan is to grow, in a big way,” said Bernstein. “I’m a serial entrepreneur, so I’ll always want to introduce new businesses and categories to my brand. And I’m angel investing and joining the board of advisors for so many companies. That’s the future of the creator economy: harnessing and creating community around your existing followers and then figuring out how to monetize that.”

In 2019, upon inking a licensing deal with New York-based clothing company Onia, Bernstein launched the Shop We Wore What e-commerce site, populated with her expanding We Wore What fashion collection. The collection has been at the center of much recent controversy, due to allegedly including copycat designs. According to Bernstein, she turns to vintage pieces, editorials and travel for inspiration. Bernstein’s also become an investor and advisor for hair supplement company Wellbel and CBD brand Highline Wellness. In May, she became active on Patreon, offering exclusive video content to paying members of her community.

In addition, Bernstein heads up We Gave What, a charitable arm of her company. In 2019, she launched tech company Moe Assist with a project management tool for influencers, though its social accounts have been inactive for two-plus months. When asked for comment, a spokesperson said Moe Assist is in a new fundraising stage and “should have news to share shortly.”

Barnes, meanwhile, partnered with Reunited Clothing to come out with her apparel company, The Bright Side, in December. And she recently became a first-time investor-advisor, for 6-month-old SMS shopping platform Qatch. She announced the partnership in an Instagram post on Monday.

“I feel like a grown-up,” she told me, before confirming that she’s interested in investing in more companies. “Diversifying my business has been a really big [focus] for me. I interact with so many different brands and companies on a daily basis. Using my market knowledge in ways that can help other people is fulfilling and exciting for me. And I especially love when I can be involved with a company from the beginning.”

Building on their content creator role in fashion is a natural progression, both said. And it plays into many industry shifts: On its way out is fashion’s DTC era, largely fueled by Harvard Business School and Wharton graduates using a plug-and-play, marketing-heavy business model to launch brands. More consumers are prioritizing quality, differentiated products, making industry experience and style expertise greater virtues among insiders. At the same time, consumers are increasingly taking shopping cues from relatable, platform-native celebrities, moving on from authoritative editors and more closed-off celebrities.

The school of collaborations
The collaborator-to-founder shift isn’t the newest thing. Other longtime influencers that have made the pivot include Arielle Charnas, with Something Navy; Aimee Song, with Song of Style; Rumi Neely, with Are You Am I; the list goes on. Most often, the names behind these brands don’t have formal design and business training — for her part, Bernstein said she “went to FIT for two years, but didn’t study design and production.” But, for years, they’ve worked hand-in-hand with companies to bring their visions to life. And along the way, they’ve come to know what resonates best with their vast communities, from marketing to merchandising to product.

“My most successful collaborations have led to the largest share of my business,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein’s partnership with Onia came out of her swimwear collaboration with its Onia brand, in May 2019. On the collab’s launch day, it drove $2 million in sales, and an included style was the brand’s best-selling swimsuit of the summer. Also in 2019, Bernstein collaborated with Joe’s Jeans on multiple denim collections. The launch day of the first, in March 2019, marked Joe Jeans’ best sales day to date, said Jennifer Hawkins, the brand’s svp of marketing and innovation on a Glossy Podcast in October.

Both served as learning opportunities for Bernstein, who said — as with all of her collaborations — she took full advantage: “It was never just [uploading] a post, and then I went away,” she said. “I always wanted to know how the performance was, in terms of sales, and asked questions: ‘Can you share the analytics?’ ‘What did you see on your end?’ ‘What worked and what didn’t work?’”

She added, “They provided a ton of data, in terms of what I could sell and what the market was missing.”

Likewise, she said, she always followed and shared with partner brands the Instagram Insights and Google Analytics numbers around her corresponding posts. Doing so gave all parties a 360-degree view of a collaboration’s success.

“I’ve learned what works for brands so they get the largest return on their investment,” she said.

For example, she’s learned to lean on her audience’s tastes, versus rely on her own, by allowing them to offer feedback throughout the design process through Instagram. That’s included the selection of fabrics and colors and the fit sessions with models. She only spotlights her favorite styles and what she wears in her own social posts, as a play for authenticity.

According to Bernstein, the collaborations with brands allowing her to play an advisor role — by guiding them on influencer partnerships, marketing and messaging — are always more successful. And they often turn into longer-term investment or advising partnerships.

Bernstein chose to work with Onia on the We Wore What collection based on its prioritization of quality and fit, and ability to keep to affordable retail prices. Currently, prices on the We Wore What site range from $20, for a scrunchie, to $228, for a vegan leather jumpsuit.

Barnes was also ready to go out on her own after finding the right partners. Her Reunited Clothing partnership came after working with the company to create her Express product collaboration, in early 2019. On its first-quarter 2019 earnings call, interim CEO Matthew C. Moullering said the company had seen “a strong start to [the] collection both in-stores and online and [believed] it [was] helping to introduce the brand to a new audience.”

“Having your own brand is terrifying,” Barnes said. “But I like that I’m in control and not so dependent on doing the day-to-day posts promoting other companies.”

But, she added, “One of the huge benefits of working with all these different brands on all these different projects is that we’re constantly getting introduced to new people and seeing who we like working with.”

Barnes’ internal team consists of her husband, who’s the “business brains” of the company, she said, and an assistant.

Like Bernstein, Barnes stressed the need for outside support in the production process: “I love such quirky, crazy things, but I also understand what is realistic for a buyer and a normal girl buying clothes,” she said. “The experience of taking ideas and making them work for a bigger group of people was my learning curve going into a business. It’s important to have a good, diverse team around you who can make your idea something that’s marketable.”

For its part, We Wore What has seen “200x growth in the last year,” as it’s expanded to new categories, Bernstein said. Its ready-to-wear, swimwear, resort wear, and activewear are now sold in “dozens and dozens of retailers around the world,” many of which offer style exclusives; they include Revolve, Bloomingdale’s and Intermix.

“Launching my own brand was putting the proof in the pudding for the power of influencers, when it comes to selling product,” she said.

As with her Joe’s and Onia collaborations, Bernstein sees a rush-to-buy with We Wore What product drops. “The first 10 minutes is when we see the biggest portion of our sales for the entire collection,” she said.

To build buzz, Shop We Wore What’s Instagram account (213,000 followers) features in its Stories the line sheets of the soon-to-launch styles, allowing customers to thoughtfully plan their buy. Doing so has led to lower return rates, Bernstein said. The company’s marketing mix also includes text messages and emails, VIP discounts and user-generated content.

Bernstein has a staff of four people, which include a chief operating officer and a brand coordinator. She said she prioritizes establishing partners with skills and expertise she doesn’t have, so she can learn from them along the way. Ideally, she’d have learned about tech packs, fittings and production logistics in school, but she’s training as she goes.

Moving forward, Bernstein said she plans to extend the size range of We What What styles, which are currently available in sizes XS-XXL, and launch collections with collaborators to sell exclusively on her brand’s DTC site. In addition, she aims to eventually open “experimental” physical retail, starting with pop-ups.

As for her investment-advisor portfolio, she’s currently in talks with companies centered on the concepts of “being able to sell your closet and even rent your closet.”

As for Barnes’ Bright Side, she said it will hit “a bunch of new retailers this year.”

Moving beyond fashion
Up next for Shop We Wore What is a new product category that will hit before the holiday season. Considering her passion for home furnishings and decor — based on her @homeworewhat Instagram account (7,500 followers) and recent press coverage of her new SoHo loft — it’s a safe bet that a home-related category is in the cards.

Likewise, Barnes hinted at a future Bright Side home collection, following her recent, two-year home remodel, which she’s getting set to debut on social media.

Lifestyle brands are the clear goal.

“I would love to be a combination of Rachel Zoe and Martha Stewart, just having my hands in everything and creating this really beautiful lifestyle where you can entertain and be fashionable,” Barnes said. “That’s kind of the dream.”

She added, “Fashion is where my heart has always been, but I’m growing as a person and there’s so much more in my life right now: my family, my home — and I’m getting older, so beauty [and skin care] makes sense now. Sharing all of that with everyone seems so natural; it would be weird if I only did fashion.”

As for future investments, though Quatch fits perfectly into Barnes’ world, with its fashion-tech focus, she said she’s open to investing in any company where she sees opportunity.

What’s more, she has no plans to retire from social media, though she has yet to tackle TikTok.

“People’s need for content has only increased, so I’m posting and creating content more than ever,” Barnes said. “But I’ve learned to become more of a hard-ass with brands. The companies that are willing to work with me and [facilitate] the most like authentic relationship possible are the ones I move forward with.” Reunited can attest.

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South African bowler Tabraiz Shamsi: Amateur magician; professional tweaker-trickster

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Harry Potter fans would know this as the Room of Requirement; muggle cricketers dub it backend operations. Tabraiz Shamsi is an amateur magician. He is also a professional worrier of why some googlies don’t turn as much as he’d want, in cricket.

For the Proteas chinaman bowler, the room of requirement from where he could pull out any game data, used to be the dependable ‘P Dawgg’, former South Africa analyst Prasanna Agoram combining his ken and nous and fast processing laptop. Prasanna enviably would be privy to the trial (and error) runs of Magician Shamsi’s classical Tourniquet coin-drops with the cricket ball. Which was the unglamorous, quirk-in-progress of his left-arm leg spin.

At the stroke of 1 a.m, oftener than not, Shamsi would come looking for what he called ‘shit balls’, in what Prasanna reckoned were otherwise impressive, less-than-run-a-ball bowling spells. This was that one specific delivery that went for a six to sully Shamsi’s 4-0-22-3 T20 match figures. It was the bugs, not the features, that the 29-year-old would cussedly fixate on.

“I’d never point out that he’s missing his length or the back foot was collapsing, at 12.30 in the night. Because Shamo, you see, would then take me to the nets at 1 a.m! He’s capable of calling the manager and telling him at that hour that I have to practice NOW. You had to be careful about what you told him at 1 a.m,” Prasanna laughs, underlining ungrudging admiration for the Proteas spinner’s dedication.

A series of self-recriminations in staccato would follow the ‘Bhai, can you please put on the shit-ball that went for a six.’ “He’d curse himself watching replays: ‘no good, not international class, garbage ball.’ If you try telling him it is ‘well-played’ from Jos Butler and not exactly a poor ball, he’d be hard on himself and say, ‘This is nonsense from Shamo’,” Prasanna recalls of his exacting standards.

For, the South African World No 1 spinner – who lends mystery to the Saffer bowling attack if not entirely upstaging their thunderbolt battery of pacers – knows that all sleights of hand, can come with uncontrollable twists of fate. Both in magic, and cricket.

A young boy of 15 at Paarl who tried to bowl quick like Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas, had wound up as a left arm leg spin all-sorts, after years of compulsive fine-tuning. And taken failures and omissions into his run-up’s five-strides.

***
Born in Johannesburg, Shamsi wanted to be a super quick in the land of bolting pacers. His progress though didn’t follow the regular route of being identified early for First teams at schools and playing age-groups. Also, he was told he wasn’t quick enough.

Speaking to the podcast ‘Pavilion conversations with C.S’ recently, Shamsi recalls his earliest break at age 15, bowling alone in the school nets, with the cricket coach’s office nearby. The coach would stop by and ask him what he was upto. “I said, ‘Sir, the U15 trials are coming up. I want to make the Paarl team wanna progress’. He told me – you are not gonna make it. But even there I thought he realised the type of character I am. That was just his way to push me even harder. He said ‘Don’t waste your time practicing coz you won’t get selected. And i was even more driven,” he told the host Mr. Chiwanza.

Shamsi would end up with most wickets that tournament, make the B team (“Still not A”), followed by U17 and U19s for the local side. “I didn’t get selected for SA U19s or invited to camps. My past was little different. In fact I got my opportunity at semi-pro cricket because one player got selected for U19s and went to the World Cup. A spot opened up because of him. I just knew that was my chance I had to make it work. And fortunately I performed. When he came back from the World Cup, he couldn’t get into the team,” Shamsi recalled.

It was around 2015-6 after he had zeroed in on Chinaman as his chosen bag of assorted tricks in franchise, provincial cricket, that he first sought out Prasanna, while closely following senior leggie and his ‘bruv’ Imran Tahir. Prasanna promised to compile a list of outstanding T20 spinners of that year for comparison, when Shamsi asked him: ‘Why just T20? I want to play all formats.’

Prasanna promised to revert after two days on Friday, and on Monday, he had a message from the hotel lobby at 10.30 am that Shamsi was waiting. “Normally, cricketers will turn up at 11.30, if the analyst time is 10.30. This guy made me abandon my breakfast and was ready with a list of questions. I’d prepared a presentation earlier on bowlers like Warne, Ajmal and Herath and how they bowled on unhelpful tracks, what lengths to bowl at what stage, and offered to email it to him. He tells me: “No. I’ll write it down in my own words. I don’t want shortcuts.”

Shamsi would sit and plan for every batsman – his notes diary in tow, even on matchdays when he wasn’t in Playing XI. And once he would spill the beans on why brainwaves struck him at 1 a.m – his preferred time to brainstorm with the analyst. “He once told me he eats my brain at that hour, so that he gets dreams of how to get a Kohli or Sharma out, so he can wake up next day he can execute the training plans.”

Once he came angsty about his googlies not spinning as much as Kuldeep Yadav or Brad Hogg. “When he said it’s not spinning, I told him Shamo’ you didn’t bowl any googly. That’s it. He hit the nets and bowled 1000 googlies non-stop and then said, he’s now hitting the groove.”

But nothing had prepared Prasanna for Shamsi’s mic-drop in the pink ball Test against Australia where the Chinaman was fancied as it’s tougher to spot the wrist in the Adelaidian twilight. Shamsi was instructed to block for 20 balls and support Faf as Proteas were hanging on at 210-9. Shamsi would announce he would score a 50 – against Pat Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc. Finally he was unbeaten on 18. “He came back and blustered ‘If someone had suported me, I’d have hit that 50’.”

***

This constant state of ‘upbeat’ – talking up his own abilities to score a 50 coming at No 11 against Cummins & Starc – might well be the sort of swag and sizzle that the staid South African teams need at ICC tournaments. For a large part of the last 30 years, the Proteas have entered tournaments with burdensome tags of ‘talented’ and ‘favourites’ and come up short. The tasteless mocking glee of choke-jokes has run its course, and being light-weights might well prove liberating.

For all their botched run chases in 50 overs, South Africa can stake claim to the historic highest run-rally to 438. And the innings-interval remark of Jacques Kallis, the most expensive bowler in Australia’s 434, who had quipped “Guys, I think we’ve done a good job. They’re 15 runs short.”

Shamsi likes his boisterous one-liners too. And his showboating and noisy over-the-top pantomime aggression.

After starring in a T20 win against Ireland earlier, he would tell South African journalist Telford Vice, “In my young age, I started as a seamer but was told I’m not quick enough to be a fast bowler so became a spinner. Grew up watching Andre Nel, Dayle Steyn, Allan Donald, that’s where aggression comes from.”

He knows it’s a double-edged sword and a bowler can be packed off, but it can disrupt batters too. “Whatever it takes to win. I’m in charge of making our presence felt on the ground and ensure the team never backs down from opponents,” he added.

Shamsi recently responded to Darren Sammy’s tweet on who would win the T20 World: “Come on skipper, you know the answer to this already…. South Africa of course.” Scroll down the thread, and some mocker mangles his grammar: “are you comedy me”. A good laugh was had by all. Pressure punctured.

“He’ll say things like ‘I’ll single-handedly win this,” Prasanna says, “Whether it happens or not, it gives confidence to people close to you – your team.”

***

Shamsi’s made it to the top of rankings, taking 49 wickets from 42 T20Is, at a strike-rate of 14.8 and averaging 6.6. There’s been a bucketful of wickets in franchise cricket and The Hundred. He’s 31 and has bidden his time to make it to the national team, and another 4 years into the Playing XI. The Wicket then, is an ocassion to celebrate, he reckons.

“I’m a human being and not a robot and want to make long-lasting happy memories that will live with me forever long after my career is done and that is the reason behind my celebrations,” he wrote in a social media post once. “My celebrations mean no disrespect to the opponents. They help me enjoy myself, switch on and off during the game to release some pressure, and put some smiles on people’s faces too.”

There’s the “Shoe” that got going in the West Indies, where within seconds of a wicket, he’d shrug his ankle open from the left shoe and pretend to speak on a landline receiver. Then there’s the bus driver-celebration with Carlos Braithwaite and something about a birdie’s chirp. A flying kiss to the wife and a mock punch to a fielder like a streets hip hopper. Though the untold back-stories raise anticipation of what he’ll whip up next.

Prasanna says there can be new hairdos before every game, sometimes “thrice a week”, and that magic tricks and celebrations are practiced as diligently as the googlies and top-spinners. “Not only will he say, ‘Tomorrow I’ll get Ben Stokes out.’ He’ll also ask you to watch the celebration.”

Amongst his most famous on-field triumph-trumpetings after snaring a batter is pulling a wand out of a hankey – a magician’s staple. But never in cricket, where magic’s glossary is slathered on the slow bowlers and their guiles.

T20 commentators love his name, lending it a South American football match caller’s vroom: “Shaaa-mzzziii”. But it’s the celebrations that can befuddle the most trained of raconteurs. When Shamsi got Wihan Lubbe in the Mzansi Super League, the commentator would build up to the expected celebration. “Is the shoe coming off? No. Look at that…it’s magic,” he would chortle. Cricket was momentarily put to the side, before he resumed confused: “That was a legspinner…… Beg your pardon… Offspinner… That did the trick..” Shamsi’s delivery had jagged away from the leftie and the post-celebration left the commentator’s mind in knots.

Appearing on the Dan Nicholl Show in SA, Shamsi had pulled one of those ‘I can guess the card pulled out of the deck after being shuffled’ tricks. It was ace of spades.

Magic had been his fallback option till age 16, he’d say. “So if cricket doesn’t work out… I ll practice magic for 10 years… But naa… It’s gonna work out.. I’ll bamboozle you all,” he would say, charming the audience.

At the start of the magic gig, Shamsi had handed a sealed envelope to the host. “Sealed with Proteas saliva” Nicholl had joked with whispered reverence. The distracting envelope had briefly become the centrepiece, and Shamsi would explain later:
“You satisfied you made me stop shuffling when u wanted me to? Funny thing is…You thought you were in charge of the trick… Telling me when to stop. Even though it’s your show, I’m running this party… I was controlling you and I actually made you stop at a specific point. …And to prove that I had written down something in this envelope before starting the trick..” It read Ace of Spades.

Shamsi’s assortment of Chinaman, is a bit like that: planned spontaneity. Allan Donald in a video while introducing him to RCB few seasons ago, said: “Left arm, tweaks it this way, tweaks it that way, then tweaks it the other way.” Offering attacking options in the middle overs, with his ability to turn ball both ways, and variations of top spinner, the side spinner and googly, makes him effective against both lefties and righties. The constant explosion of activity – before, right after when appealing (he once did a spot of bhangra jumps, then sat down altogether while pleading a decision) and when celebrating, is in fact the sealed envelope distraction.

Yet, bad days are not unfamiliar to Shamsi, and his role can be flexible like the magician’s wand, like in the West Indies, to keep things quiet, contain against the big power hitters. “There’s two ways to skin a cat… Not really fussed about not getting wickets in WI. That was a different role,” he told the media later.

Sometimes the magic is in not believing the flimflam and sleight. Like rankings. “I don’t lose sleep over being No 1. Obviously it’s a nice feeling to be on top. But I’ve said it before and I truly mean it. I don’t even think I’m the best bowler in our team. We have some great bowlers in the unit. Rankings don’t mean anything if a batsman gets hold of you. I don’t even know how those rankings work honestly.”

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Five great Twenty20 World Cup upsets

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Five great Twenty20 World Cup upsets | SuperSport – Africa’s source of sports video, fixtures, results and news






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