The incels are on the rise. That’s what you might think if you saw the latest government stats on their counter-terrorist Prevent programme. In just one year the number of incels referred to Prevent has risen from 3 to 77. Labour MP Luke Pollard has warned that “we don’t have a strategy for incels in the UK” and that “the more I look into it the darker the world of incels is”. A study at the University of Exeter claimed that degrading or violent references to women had risen eightfold in eight years, whilst the Centre for Countering Digital Hate claimed the biggest incel forum mentions rape every 29 minutes, largely positively. An anonymous counter-terrorism official said incels represent an “emerging threat”. But do they really?
Like most modern social movements, incels emerged out of the internet
Incel stands for involuntary celibate, meaning a man who would like to have sex but cannot find a willing woman, due either to his lack of attractiveness or the dynamics of the sexual marketplace. Like most modern social movements, they emerged out of the internet, where lonely men could discuss why they were failing to get laid.
They’re belong to a range of similar male movements, encompassing a range of groups from Lookism (which thinks everything is about physical attractiveness, encouraging devotees to get plastic surgery to help them find a date) to Men Going Their Own Way or MGTOW (who have given up entirely on women and now seek to pursue their own interests).
The most famous incel was the British-American murderer Elliot Rodger, who at 22 decided to take revenge on the world for his failure to kiss a girl by going on a rampage in Isla Vista, California. He killed seven and wounded more, before killing himself. In his 141 page manifesto, he chronicled his rage and frustration with the world over his sexual shortcomings.
He became the face of the burgeoning incel movement, feted as “The Supreme Gentleman”. Fans made edits from the many YouTube videos he’d posted, bemoaning his issues in the California sunshine. That dark online community suddenly became a terrorist movement in 2018 when Alex Minassian killed 10 people in Toronto by running them over with his truck. He claimed he was inspired by incel ideas and that this was the “Beta Uprising”, where the Beta sexual losers would take revenge on the Alpha sexual winners.
This then is the potential threat shown in the Prevent statistics. The April 2021 to March 2022 statistics reveal that there were 6,406 referrals to Prevent in that time, however. The 77 incels only make up only about 1 per cent of the total. Most referrals came from the education sector (36 per cent), where teachers have a public sector duty to refer those they think are a risk.
Unsurprisingly almost all of the referrals were men (89 per cent) and most were young, with 30 per cent being between 15 and 20. Almost as many were aged under 15, making up 29 per cent of referrals. Only 23 per cent of all referrals were discussed by a panel for Channel, the next stage after a Prevent referral, which tries to support those at risk of radicalisation. In total only 804 referrals, or 13 per cent of the total, were then adopted as Channel cases. That means that the vast majority of Prevent referrals weren’t considered to be radicalised.
For the second year running there were more referrals for Extreme Right-Wing radicalisation (20 per cent) than for Islamism (16 per cent), although in terms of deadliness Islamist terrorism remains the greatest threat. After these came those threatening school massacres (2 per cent) and incels (1 per cent). Curiously though, incels made up 3 per cent of those who were then adopted as Channel cases and were the most likely group to be adopted, with 23 of 34 incel-related Prevent referrals (68 per cent) ending up in Channel.
No actual incel has committed a terror attack in Britain
That might suggest that incels are especially strongly radicalised, or that they are very clear cases due to the more transparent online nature of that ideology, or that there is a moral overreaction going on.
What can be said is that incel terrorism in Britain is vanishingly rare. Jake Davidson, who in 2021 killed five people in Plymouth, has often been described as an incel. At the time counter-terrorism police said that the shootingsweren’t incel related, however. Although he did look at incel material online, the primary driver seems to have been his poor mental health.
Another case is that of Cardiff-based Luca Benincasa, who led the Feurkrieg Division group online. He recruited young men to his online-only group in pursuit of a race war. Aside from his neo-Nazi views, he also downloaded child porn and wrote Satanic messages. Although he described himself as an incel, he could equally be described as Far-Right or a Satanist.
Indeed, his range of interests will be familiar to many who browsed Tumblr back in the day. It wasn’t uncommon to come across image accounts, usually run by teenagers, who combined a fascination with violence, authoritarianism (usually Nazi but sometimes Soviet and often both) and sex (generally either virginal or sado-masochistic in nature). That’s not to say that he didn’t pose a genuine threat, just that the internet often makes for an incoherent ideology.
No actual incel has committed a terror attack in Britain, and it’s debatable as to whether they should even be considered terroristic, as they have no real political goal. If anything they resemble school shooters or the Russian nihilists of the 19th century, for whom the killing is either an end in itself or a way to gain notoriety.
For that reason, the media should be very careful about hyping up incel terrorism. The risk is that the greater the moral panic, over something almost non-existent, the more attractive it may become to unbalanced individuals, who see in it a way to gain fame or to take revenge on the world at the expense of innocent lives.
When it comes to terrorism, it is much better to focus on those with clear links to violence. In just the last few days we’ve seen a British Far-Right YouTuber (whose videos called for the “extermination of subhumans”) inspiring an American racist killer; an Islamist student nurse allegedly caught with a pressure cooker bomb which he wanted to use to bomb an RAF base; anda serving British soldier charged with counter-terrorism offences. Those kinds of threats deserve real attention. It doesn’t mean there will never be an incel terrorist in Britain — only that we shouldn’t encourage it to become a reality.
Editor’s note: The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have been a great success amid the difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic and also brought enthusiasm, strength and hope to the world. Driven by the Beijing Winter Olympics, ice and snow activities have gained popularity among Chinese people and ignited the public enthusiasm for participating in winter sports. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games were much more than a global sports event. Analyzing the Beijing Winter Games’ achievements one year later, we can safely say they were a lesson in people-to-people communication and friendship in a world which is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the tense politico-security situation in Europe.
The idea of clean competition with no antagonism — which is an Olympic tradition — is important to project the importance of amity and camaraderie onto the world of politics, because there is much we can learn about human nature when people are placed in a calm and amicable atmosphere which the organizers of the Beijing Winter Games succeeded in creating.
Through the Winter Games, China succeeded in showcasing the fruits of its peaceful economic rise. The artistic and technically amazing opening ceremony of the Games sent a message of friendship and peaceful coexistence to countries with different political, cultural and social structures, urging them to unite around the Olympic spirit. That was in stark contrast to the boycott calls given by some Western politicians and media organizations based on the dubious claims of human rights violations by China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Also, the decision of the foreign athletes and some world leaders, including those from Europe, to participate in the Winter Games conveyed a strong message that dialogue is always better than saber-rattling.
Among the fascinating achievements showcased by the Chinese side was conveying the true meaning of the green transition in all fields without jeopardizing the well-being and high living standard of the people.
Just a few months before the Winter Games, in September 2021 to be precise, China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper titled “China’s Epic Journey from Poverty to Prosperity”, which said China has achieved the first centennial goal of eradicating extreme poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Lifting 800 million people out of abject poverty in four decades is indeed an unprecedented feat in human history.
People who expected to see a “poor China” during the Winter Games were instead surprised to see an incredibly advanced China. It was the first ever “carbon neutral” Olympic Games, in which all the energy consumed was generated using environmentally friendly resources and technology. While renewable energy was used to power all the Games’ venues, the refrigeration systems in several stadiums used new carbon-neutral technologies for the first time in the Games’ history.
Also, most of the transportation vehicles were low-carbon based, and climate-compensated because over years Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the two host cities for the Winter Games, had greened their landscape by planting more trees, creating denser forests on more than 47,000 hectares and 33,000 hectares respectively, which accounted for about 530,000 and 570,000 tons of carbon sequestration, according to a report by the International Olympic Committee.
The Beijing Winter Games could also be called the “high-tech Olympic Games” since 5G technology, cloud computing, big data, satellite navigation, artificial intelligence and other high-tech were used efficiently in different fields, making information dissemination and logistics services more efficient. Most of the transport, parking and transfer operations were facilitated by AI and complex 5G networking systems, while TV transmission to the rest of the world was flawless with extremely high definition thanks to the use of high-tech.
Another very important aspect of the Games was the transportation of the athletes, international media persons and the public to the venues from Beijing and other locations through the state-of-the-art, high-speed rail system that cut travel time from Beijing to Zhangjiakou from three hours to only 47 minutes.
The development of the high-speed railway, which started just before the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games with the inauguration of the first high-speed train between Beijing and Tianjin, has made China the world leader in high-speed trains. Staring from the mere 120-kilometer Beijing-Tianjin railway, China has now built more than 40,000 km of high-speed railways, which is almost equal to the circumference of the planet at the equator.
Another fascinating aspect of China’s development is the Belt and Road Initiative, which is focused on building/improving infrastructure connectivity and fostering economic development among nations. In fact, it has already become a global phenomenon with about 150 countries joining it. The impact was seen in the decision of many leaders from Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America to defy the calls for a diplomatic boycott of Beijing during the Winter Games to meet with Chinese leaders to discuss matters of common interest, especially the Belt and Road Initiative.
This show of solidarity with Beijing proved the futility of the West’s boycott call with the aim of isolating China. Besides being an imprudent and morally questionable issue, decoupling from China is well-nigh impossible given that it is now an indispensable part of the global economy and international relations.
Between the Beijing Summer and Winter Olympics, China became the world’s second-largest economy and the biggest manufacturing country and the largest contributor to global economic growth. And the Belt and Road Initiative perfectly symbolizes China’s policy of peaceful cooperation and win-win cooperation to achieve the common goals of humankind.
Nothing symbolizes friendly competition and mutual respect better than the Olympic spirit. Similarly, there can be no better representative of a community with a shared future for mankind than China. By organizing the 2022 Winter Olympics, China proved that it is indeed a world leader when it comes to peace and friendship, and sent a clear message that it is ready to share the fruits of its epic economic rise with other countries.
Hussein Askary is vice chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden.
Cybersecurity agency says servers in other European countries, US, Canada compromised after the ransomware attack
Published: Mon 6 Feb 2023, 12:02 AM
Thousands of computer servers around the world have been targeted by a ransomware hacking attack, Italy’s National Cybersecurity Agency (ACN) said on Sunday, warning organisations to take action to protect their systems.
The hacking attack sought to exploit a software vulnerability, ACN director general Roberto Baldoni told Reuters, adding it was on a massive scale.
Italy’s ANSA news agency, citing the ACN, reported that servers had been compromised in other European countries such as France and Finland as well as the United States and Canada.
Dozens of Italian organisations were likely to have been affected and many more had been warned to take action to avoid being locked out of their systems.
Telecom Italia customers reported internet problems earlier on Sunday, but the two issues were not believed to be related.
US cybersecurity officials said they were assessing the impact of the reported incidents.
“CISA is working with our public and private sector partners to assess the impacts of these reported incidents and providing assistance where needed,” the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said.
A DDdoS attack on LG Uplus’ wired internet network caused connection errors in some areas, including the Seoul metropolitan area, at around 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 4. The internet connection failure lasted for about 30 minutes.
“A DDoS attack set off a temporary service access failure at around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday,” an LG Uplus official said. “The service was restored sequentially through attack blocking measures such as securing a bypass line. At the moment, our internet service is operating normally.” A DDoS attack causes a server to stop functioning properly by generating a huge amount of traffic, which is difficult to handle all at once.
LG Uplus’ internet service suffered connection failures due to DDoS attacks about three times during the past week, including the latest one. It was also attacked at around 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Jan. 29. They caused a connection failure for about 20 minutes each time.
Tim, Kkr’s offer evaluated by the board on February 24th. But the CDP meets on the 23rd: the scenarios
Pietro Labriola had said it in unsuspecting times, last July 7 during the Capital Market Day, that Tim had a plan B (or C) for the network. Which consists in identifying an industrial partner that enters the network. With a specific goal: bring down the debt of over 32 billion gross that weighs on Tim’s shoulders. The non-binding offer of Kkr it therefore has a double value: on the one hand, it finally allows us to give a value to the network. Because, as qualified sources report to Affaritaliani.it, it is a figure “with the 2 in front”, included among the 20 and 24 billion. To which further incentive mechanisms will have to be added.
The second reason is that it allows you to go and see the cards Deposits and Loans Fund. Which so far has never presented a formal offer for the network but which has always limited itself to leaking an evaluation among the 16 and 18 billionthe. Now even this veil falls and the ceo Dario Scannapieco, together with CEO of Cdp Equity Francesco Melewill have to decide what to do. It being understood that the government remains fundamental in this match. Someone mentioned Kkr almost like a “Trojan horse”: since the Americans have invested a lot of money to acquire the 37.5% of Fibercop’s secondary network, it is in their interest that an agreement be reached quickly.
Minister Adolfo Urso, who is responsible for the single network dossier together with undersecretary Alessio Butti, did not hide his annoyance at a surprise offer that mussel with the need for the Italian nature of the network itself. Therefore, it appears increasingly probable that Kkr with its non-binding offer is trying to flush out Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. Via Goito will have a board of directors meeting on February 23, one day before Tim’s, who will have to decide on the American offer. Rumors report to Affaritaliani.it that the board of directors of the 24 will be decisiveo: in or out. Translated, or Kkr it is “welcomed” with all the ensuing procedure (due diligence, binding offer, etc.) or we say goodbye and friends as before.
(Bloomberg) — Thousands of computer systems worldwide were exposed to a ransomware attack in VMware ESXi servers, according to Italy’s national cybersecurity agency, days after a UK derivatives trading operator was subject to a similar hack.
The Italian government said the cybersecurity agency, or ACN, will meet with top officials Monday morning to assess the situation. Countries affected also include France, Canada and the US, the agency said.
“The vulnerability being targeted is two years old and should have been patched by now, but evidently many servers are still not protected,” Stefano Zanero, full professor of cybersecurity at Italy’s Politecnico di Milano, said in an interview. Italy wasn’t specifically targeted, Zanero added.
ION’s Woes Far From Over Even If It Paid Ransom, Experts Say
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks up a victim’s files, and the hackers demand payment to provide an encryption key. LockBit, the gang behind last week’s attack on ION Trading UK that upended derivatives trading, said it received a ransom and unlocked those files. ION has declined to comment on whether a ransom was paid.
It’s not clear whether any group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack. LockBit has been active since at least January 2020 and has extorted at least $100 million in ransom demands, according to the US Justice Department.
According to public reports, a ransomware variant dubbed ESXiArgs appears to be leveraging CVE-2021-21974, a two-year-old vulnerability for which patches were made available in VMware’s security advisory of Feb. 23, 2021, according to a VMware spokesperson.
“Security hygiene is a key component of preventing ransomware attacks, and customers who are running versions of ESXi impacted by CVE-2021-21974, and have not yet applied the patch, should take action as directed in the advisory,” the VMware official said.
Following last week’s ransomware attack on ION Trading, the company issued a statement saying the cause of the issue was a cyber incident involving VMware servers.
–With assistance from Andrew Martin and Ian Fisher.
Kehlani on the red carpet at the BET Presents: 2017 Soul Train Awards in Las VegasPhoto: Shutterstock
In a recent podcast appearance, gay non-binary music artist Kehlani spoke about how a Google Doc helped them realize they are a lesbian.
On Logan Paul’s Impaulsive podcast, Kehlani said they felt “broken” because they weren’t enjoying dating men and couldn’t understand why they didn’t want sex.
That was when their therapist asked how they felt about women.
“If a girl looks at me, I’m gonna melt into a puddle,” Kehlani said they responded, saying their therapist then posited that maybe they are just gay.
After that session, Kehlani said, “what really did it” was when they received a Google doc called “Am I a lesbian?” that helped them understand the concept of “compulsory heterosexuality.”
“It’s all about how society has influenced so much heteronormativity and heterosexuality on us that a lot of us, especially women and femme-presenting people, struggle with even knowing if that’s our actual sexual orientation or if it’s what we’ve been taught and trained to be,” Kehlani explained. “And I read the f**k out of this Google Doc and was like, when I had to list and analyze why I was still dating men, none of it had to do with being in love. None of it had to do with these feelings that I’m supposed to feel, like love and care and deep emotion.”
Many have guessed Kehlani was referring to the famedLesbian MasterDoc, a 30-page document called “Am I a Lesbian?” created by a Tumblr user named Anjeli Luz, who at the time was a teenager exploring her sexuality.
Kehlani continued, “Even though I grew up with my family super open and queer and all the relationships being really different, I still had that ‘this makes sense’ thing kinda going, and as soon as I said, ‘I’m not doing that anymore,’ I came out, my relationships and my ability to feel deeply for anybody I’m romantically with it was like, oh I’ve been missing this my whole life.”
They said they had had girlfriends in the past since they’d identified as bisexual for a long time, but embracing the fact that they are lesbian was still life-changing.
“Once I completely was like, ‘yes, let me accept myself,’ it was like these floodgates opened,” they added. “I feel like I experience emotions deeper across the board now.”
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Deluxe Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2022 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode and today’s call is being recorded. We will begin by opening remarks and introductions. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to your host, Vice President of Investor Relations, Tom Marabito. Please go ahead.
Thomas Morabito: Thank you, operator and welcome to the Deluxe fourth quarter and full year 2022 earnings call. Joining me on today’s call is Barry McCarthy, our President and Chief Executive Officer; and Chip Zint, our Chief Financial Officer. At the end of today’s prepared remarks, we will take questions. Before we begin and as seen on this slide, I’d like to remind everyone that comments made today regarding management’s intentions, projections, financial estimates or expectations about the company’s future strategy or performance are forward-looking in nature as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Additional information about factors that may cause our actual results to differ from projections is set forth in the press release we furnished today and our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, and in other company SEC filings.
On the call today, we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures, including comparable adjusted revenue, adjusted and comparable adjusted EBITDA, adjusted and comparable adjusted EBITDA margin, adjusted EPS and free cash flow. To streamline discussion of our ongoing business operations, today and going forward we will discuss both revenue and EBITDA on a comparable adjusted basis which will exclude the inconsistency caused by acquisitions or divestitures in the prior periods. For purposes of full year 2022 this will exclude the partial year impact of First American and impact of the divestitures done throughout the year. In our press release, our presentation, and our filings with the SEC, you will find additional disclosures regarding the non-GAAP measures, including reconciliations of these measures to the most comparable measures under U.S. GAAP.
Also on the presentation we are providing additional reconciliations of GAAP EPS to adjusted EPS, which should help with your modeling. Now I’ll turn it over to Barry.
Barry C. McCarthy: Thanks, Tom and good morning, everyone. Deluxe delivered strong results for both the fourth quarter and full year 2022, further proving we have become a payments and data company. As I expect payments — will become our largest segment by revenue during the first half of 2023. This will be a key milestone in the company’s history. Before reviewing the results, let me take a moment to reflect on what was another strong year for Deluxe. Four key highlights from the year include; first, reporting our second consecutive year of sales driven revenue growth, an achievement not seen over a decade, showing the strength of our One Deluxe model. Second, the accelerating success of our payments and data business. In payments, First American continues to perform well in its second year as part of Deluxe and we’re expanding blended margins across the segments.
In the data business, we recorded record revenue. Third, strong performance in our print businesses Promo and Check. Promo strongly rebounded after the impacts of COVID and supply chain disruptions and Check has delivered its strongest top line performance in over 10 years. This performance shows the durability of demand for these solutions. Fourth, our ERP implementation went live with its last major release earlier this week. This key milestone marks the completion of our major corporate infrastructure modernization. We also just announced the exit of our North American web hosting business, which was a non-strategic business line allowing us to further focus on payments and data. Chip will provide more details on the transaction. We’ve also changed the name of our Cloud Solutions segment to Data Solutions to better reflect the more focused operations of that business.
Let me also take a moment to thank my fellow Deluxers for another strong year, for their endless dedication to our customers, and for their continued commitment to making Deluxe a payments and data company. The sales team gathered last week for our sales kickoff, and the energy and excitement about 2023 was palpable. Now on to the results. For full year 2022, comparable adjusted revenue was $2.1 billion, up 5.2% year-over-year. Reported revenue increased 10.7% above our guided range. Once again, this is our second consecutive year of sales driven revenue growth. This is a key milestone. We continue to demonstrate the success of our One Deluxe model. For 2022, all four segments demonstrated comparable adjusted revenue growth, an accomplishment, which has not been seen in a very long time.
So long ago it’s outside the range of available data. Total adjusted EBITDA dollars increased 2.5% from 2021 and comparable adjusted EBITDA was down 4%. Going forward, we remain focused on driving growth in revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow for the long term. All of our actions drive towards these goals, which in turn we believe will drive greater shareholder returns. Moving on to some segment revenue highlights. For the full year on a comparable adjusted basis, payments revenue grew 4.7% and adjusted EBITDA dollars grew 8.3% with margins expanding 70 basis points from 2021. Merchant services revenue increased 4.4% on a comparable adjusted basis, in line with our longer-term expectations of mid-single-digit growth. The rest of payments, which includes our receivables and payables business, grew nearly 5% with growth across our product lines, primarily in digital payments and treasury management.
Our pipeline continues to grow and we continue to gain wallet share from existing customers as we remain on track for payments to be our largest revenue segment in the first half of the year. As I said earlier this will be another key milestone for Deluxe as we’ve now become a payments and data company. Data had a strong year, growing comparable adjusted revenue 8.6% year-over-year as we continue to expand the business into non-interest rate sensitive verticals. Promo had a solid year on the top line, improving comparable adjusted revenue 6.1%. We were also pleased with the improvement in margins as the year progressed, which Chip will detail later. Finally, our Check business improved 3.7% year-over-year, an incredible accomplishment. However, we are expecting this segment to return to traditional secular decline rates this year as we’ve now lapped the growth from key wins in 2021.
As discussed on prior calls, our strategic investments in new Print-on-Demand technology will help us manage costs to match volumes, allowing us to maintain our strong margin rate in this segment as we return to normal secular declines. We’re about halfway through the implementation of this new technology. We’re proud of both our fourth quarter and full year results which highlight our progress. Deluxe is now a fundamentally different company than what we were just a few years ago with payments, a strong secular growth business soon to be our largest revenue segment. And we’ve proven our One Deluxe model delivers top line growth. This was achieved while simultaneously modernizing the company’s entire infrastructure, navigating COVID and inflation, executing significant portfolio optimization, and more.
Now I’ll turn it over to Chip who will provide more details on our financial performance.
Chip Zint: Thank you, Barry and good morning, everyone. Before we review the results for the quarter, I’d like to elaborate on the pending sale of our North American web hosting business. Last year we sold our Australian web hosting operations and upon completion of the latest transaction we will have completely exited the hosting business. As a reminder, this business has historically been largely a white label service offered through telecom partners which did not allow for material cross selling opportunities and did not fit within our overall portfolio. This pending deal also includes our logo business. For the trailing 12 months these businesses generated approximately $66 million in revenue with adjusted EBITDA margins in the mid to high 30% range.
The web hosting business was previously fully impaired due to its capital intensive nature and recurring revenue declines. This was further evidenced in the fourth quarter where revenue declined 8% year-over-year. 2023 revenue will be impacted by approximately $45 million and adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow each will be impacted by approximately $20 million. These impacts are included in our guidance, which I’ll discuss in a moment and mostly affect our data segment with a very small impact to the promo segment. I know there have been many changes to the portfolio recently, but they reflect a methodical effort to simplify and focus the business. For more information about the business exits and impact to guidance, please refer to the reconciliations in our press release and presentation.
Additional details of the transaction can also be found in our recently filed Form 8K with the SEC. Now let’s go through the consolidated highlights for the quarter and year before moving on to the segments. For the fourth quarter, total comparable adjusted revenue improved 1.2% to $564 million. On a reported basis, revenue declined 1.2% year-over-year. We reported fourth quarter GAAP net income of $19 million or $0.44 per diluted share, up from $14 million or $0.32 per share in the fourth quarter of 2021. Adjusted EBITDA came in $112 million, down $3 million or 2.8% on a comparable adjusted basis from last year. Improvements in payments, data and promo were offset by checks and employee benefit costs on the corporate segment. Comparable adjusted EBITDA margins were 19.9% and in line with our expectations.
Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash
Fourth quarter adjusted diluted EPS came at $1.04, down from $1.26 in last year’s fourth quarter. This decrease was primarily driven by interest expense. As a reminder, nearly 60% of our debt is fixed rate, which should help insulate the company from future rate hikes. For the full year, on a reported basis, we posted total revenue of $2.24 billion, up 10.7% year-over-year and above our guided range. As Barry mentioned, comparable adjusted revenue increased 5.2% year-over-year. We reported full year GAAP net income of $65 million or $1.50 per share for the year, up from $63 million or $1.45 per share in 2021. Full year adjusted EBITDA was $418 million up $10 million or 2.5% as reported from last year. Adjusted EBITDA margins were 18.7%, down from last year’s 20.2% due to business mix and the impact of pass through price increases to offset inflation.
On a comparable adjusted basis, EBITDA dollars declined 4% for the year and EBITDA margins were 18.5% down from 20.3% last year. Full year adjusted EPS came in at $4.08, down from $4.88 in 2021, primarily due to higher interest expense, depreciation, and amortization. Now turning to our segment details, starting with our growth businesses, payments and data. Payments grew fourth quarter revenue 2.5% year-over-year to $171 million, with merchant services growing 3.3% year-over-year. As we indicated on the last call, we anticipated slower growth for a few quarters as all of payments was up against tough year-over-year comparisons. We do, however, expect growth rates to improve as the year progresses. Payments adjusted EBITDA margins were 21.6%, up from last year’s 20.6%, largely driven by operating leverage in our treasury and management business.
For the year, payments grew revenue 33% year-over-year to $679 million, driven by the acquisition of First American and sales driven growth for standalone Deluxe. For the year and including First American adjusted EBITDA increased 36.9% and adjusted EBITDA margins were 21.3%, up 60 basis points. On a comparable adjusted basis for the year, payments revenue increased 4.7%, EBITDA increased 8.3%, and EBITDA margins were 21.4% up from 20.7%. For 2023 we expect to see mid-single-digit revenue growth and adjusted EBITDA margins in the low to mid 20% range. Data’s adjusted EBITDA margin in the quarter increased 340 basis points year-over-year to 27.6%, which again relates to timing as well as operating leverage from strong DDM volume. On a comparable adjusted basis, EBITDA margins improved 300 basis points.
For the year, the Data segment comparable adjusted revenue increased 8.6% year-over-year to $268 million. On a reported basis, Data grew 2% for the year. For 2022, Data’s adjusted EBITDA margins declined 130 basis points versus prior year to 25.5%, driven by business mix and the investments in our Data platform. On a comparable adjusted basis, EBITDA margins declined 170 basis points. For 2023, we expect to see low single-digit revenue growth on a comparable adjusted basis. We also expect to see comparable adjusted EBITDA margins in the low 20% range. Turning now to our Print businesses, Promo and Checks. Promo’s fourth quarter revenue was $154 million, up 3.1% on a comparable adjusted basis, driven by new sales wins and pricing actions. On a reported basis, revenue declined 1.5% year-over-year.
Promo’s adjusted EBITDA margins increased 100 basis points year-over-year to 19.3%, but improved nearly 600 basis points sequentially as we benefited from continued pricing actions, stable supply conditions, and normal seasonal upticks. On a comparable adjusted basis, EBITDA margins improved 50 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2021. For the year, Promo’s revenue was $563 million, up 6.1% year-over-year on a comparable adjusted basis or 3% on a reported basis. Adjusted EBITDA margins for the year were 14.1% and down 150 basis points and on a comparable adjusted basis were down 190 basis points. For 2023, we expect to see low single-digit comparable adjusted revenue growth and adjusted EBITDA margins in the mid-teens. Check’s fourth quarter revenue decreased 4.6% from last year to $176 million as the business returned to expected secular declines with Q4 results now lapping all the major new customer wins from 2021.
Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA margins were 42.5%, down 270 basis points year-over-year as we experienced off-cycle supplier price increases for both materials and logistics inputs, some of which are temporary seasonal base surcharges. We have factored these and future expected increases into our 2023 customer price increases. As a result, we believe the margin rate will improve in Q1. Check’s full year 2022 revenue was $729 million, up 3.7% year-over-year and adjusted EBITDA margins were 44%, down 210 basis points, but consistent with our long-term expectations of mid-40% margins. For 2023, we are expecting mid-single-digit revenue declines and adjusted EBITDA margins in the mid-40% range. As Barry mentioned, our print-on-demand technology will help maintain margins, and we are about halfway through the implementation.
Turning now to our balance sheet and cash flow. We ended the year with a net debt level of $1.6 billion, down from $1.64 billion last year, demonstrating our continued commitment to pay down debt. Our net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio was 3.8 times at the end of the year, improving from 4 times a year ago. Our long-term strategic target remains approximately 3 times. Free cash flow, defined as cash provided by operating activities less capital expenditures, was $37 million in the quarter, up from $34 million in the fourth quarter of 2021 due to improved working capital and lower cloud computing arrangement or CCA spend, partially offset by higher interest payments. This was also a sequential improvement from the third quarter. First quarter 2023 free cash flow was expected to be negative as it will be impacted by incremental interest expense, onetime expenses from our ERP implementation, and annual employee compensation payments, but should improve as the year progresses.
For the year, free cash flow was $87 million, down from $102 million in 2021 due to higher interest payments, cash taxes, and working capital. Our Board approved a regular quarterly dividend of $0.30 per share on all outstanding shares. The dividend will be payable on March 6, 2023, to all shareholders of record as of market closing on February 21, 2023. We are focused on taking a balanced approach to capital allocation and as a reminder, our capital allocation priorities are to responsibly invest in growth, pay our dividend, reduce debt, and return value to our shareholders. Turning now to guidance. Today, we are providing our expectations for 2023, keeping in mind all figures are approximate and reflect the expected impact of the web hosting and logo divestiture.
Revenue of $2.145 billion to $2.21 billion, adjusted EBITDA of $390 million to $405 million, adjusted EPS of $2.90 to $3.25, and free cash flow of $80 million to $100 million. To be clear, on a comparable adjusted basis, 2023 revenue represents a range of negative 1% to positive 2% growth. The comparable adjusted EBITDA range represents negative 2% to positive 2% growth. To further clarify, EPS is expected to decline year-over-year due to the full year impact of rising interest rates, incremental depreciation and amortization and an estimated $0.25 impact from the announced divestiture. However, factoring in the impact of the divestiture, the free cash flow guide is an increase year-over-year on a comparable adjusted basis. Also, in order to assist with your modeling, our guidance assumes the following; interest expense of $120 million to $125 million; an adjusted tax rate of 26%; depreciation and amortization of $170 million, of which acquisition amortization is approximately $75 million; an average outstanding share count of 43.7 million shares, and capital expenditures of approximately $100 million.
This guidance is subject to, among other things, prevailing macroeconomic conditions, including interest rates, labor supply issues, inflation, and the impact of other divestitures. To summarize, we are pleased with the fourth quarter and full year 2022 results. Our sales pipeline continues to expand with new customers, and we continue to see increased growth from our existing customer base. We look forward to continuing the momentum in 2023, a year which we expect to be highlighted by continued revenue growth, increased operational efficiencies, and increased free cash flow. Operator, we are now ready to take questions.
Operator: . Your first question comes from the line of Lance Vitanza from Cowen. Your line is open.
Lance Vitanza: Hi guys, thanks very much for taking the questions. A lot to unpack here. But let me start with the web hosting and logo divestiture. Did you call out the EBITDA margin on the asset sale?
Barry C. McCarthy: We did. We said that it was mid to high 30s. And as you know, Lance that is a business that was a consumer of capital, and it was in decline. We also mentioned that in the fourth quarter revenue in that segment declined 8%.
Lance Vitanza: So right. So $665 million of revenue and kind of like $25-ish million of EBITDA, something in that range, or in that general vicinity. And I guess — and that was for the trailing 12 months. Where I’m going with this, Barry, is I’m thinking about your adjusted EBITDA guidance of $390 million to $405 million, which right on the face of it, it looks like it’s down versus the $418 million that you printed this year or for 2022. But if we add the $25 million-ish, right, from the asset sales, then we’re sort of — we’re getting to that slight EBITDA positive that you talked about in the 8-K filing, is that sort of the right way to think about it?
Chip Zint: This is Chip. So as you have time to digest this, you’ll see at the back of our earnings release and slides, we have provided some information that will reconcile that for you, especially on the guidance side. But your back-of-a-napkin math is roughly right around $25 million of EBITDA for a full year. We are, of course, modeling into our guidance only three quarters of impact, that’s where we get the roughly $45 million revenue impact and approximately $20 million EBITDA impact that I just referred to on the call. But all of those things plus the impact of last year’s exits rolling forward are reconciled in the back. And that’s why we thought it was important to move just favorable adjusted dynamics so that it can be much more transparent on how the business is doing on an apples-to-apples basis.
Lance Vitanza: Okay. Great. Maybe moving on to the Data segment that continues. You mentioned during the call, continued diversification into noninterest rate-sensitive verticals. And I’m wondering how much of the data segment, again, on a go-forward basis, how much of that Data segment currently is in noninterest rate-sensitive verticals?
Barry C. McCarthy: Lance, I don’t think we’ve ever provided sort of the sources of revenue at that level. But the reason that business continues to perform well in a period of rising interest rates, I think, is because those noninterest rate sectors or categories are experiencing really attractive growth rates that are more than offsetting things that were highly sensitive like mortgage. And if you look back in our history, you can see previous interest rate cycles like this, that business was pretty significantly impacted and we’re actually showing growth. And so I think that gives you a good sort of direction that it’s increasingly about noninterest rate-sensitive categories.
Lance Vitanza: Is it possible to talk a little bit about which of those noninterest rate-sensitive verticals present the most obvious or most compelling opportunities for Deluxe? And are there any examples of recent wins to call out anything like along those lines?
The Super Bowl has come around once again, at a time when tech stocks are trying their best to reignite after last year’s rough selloff. The timing may prompt investors to not only look to the Super Bowl’s crucial role for digital sports betting firms like DraftKings (DKNG) but also at the changing and growing world of digital consumers. As eyes turn towards the Super Bowl, market watchers may want to consider a digital consumer ETF like the ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW).
Sports betting has become increasingly legalized across the U.S. in recent years, a trend that could promise a record breaking $1.1 billion in total Super Bowl-related bets. That’s a significant opportunity for firms like DraftKings (DKNG) which could be poised to take advantage, with the nationally-recognized online betting hub weighted at 4.8% in ARKW. DKNG is up about 54% over the last month, meanwhile, as it looks to rebound from a tough 2022.
More broadly, online sports betting is just one piece of the ever-growing digital content landscape defined by short-form video and recommendation engines supplanting incumbent media and AI streamlining work and getting more eyes on digital entertainment. According to ARK Invest’s Big Ideas for 2023, online sports betting in the US and Canada is likely to grow 27% in real terms at an annual rate during the next five years, from ~$100 billion in 2022 to ~$330 billion in 2027.
Each of those factors in a growing market for online leisure presents an intriguing case for a digital consumer ETF like ARKW. The strategy is actively managed, investing in companies that are poised to profit from advances in cloud computing, e-commerce, big data, artificial intelligence, mobile technology, social platforms, and financial technology.
Charging 88 basis points, the ETF has returned 44.6% over the last month, outperforming its ETF Database Category Average and its Factset Segment Average with returns of 11.1% and 23% respectively. ARKW has also added $9 million in net inflows over the last month.
The world is consuming more content online than ever, and with the biggest event in the U.S. media market coming up this month, investors may want to watch a digital consumer ETF, too. ARKW represents a notable option for exposure to the space in the weeks and months ahead.
New Delhi. With the rise in cybercrimes, online shoppers have become more aware and cautious about customer data. In order to provide more secure delivery to the customers, e-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon have introduced One Time Password (On Delivery) process. However, even after this, fraudsters have managed to break through this security and steal money from customers’ bank accounts.
Recently, there have been several cases of fake deliveries collecting OTP from the customers. Fraudsters and scammers keep an eye on customers who receive delivery packages very often and disguise themselves as delivery agents at customers’ doorsteps to ask for OTPs. Also, they ask for the order amount saying that it is cash on delivery.
Also, they ask for the order amount saying that it is cash on delivery. If customers refuse to receive a delivered package, they pretend as if they are canceling the delivery. Scammers trick customers and ask for OTP to finalize order cancellation. Ultimately after getting the OTP they hack the cell phone of the customers and steal the money. The fraudsters are also contacting the neighbors of the customers who are their targets and asking them to call the person and ask for the OTP.
How to stop fake OTP scam? To avoid fake OTP scam, first of all do not share OTP with anyone. Always verify the person who is asking for any type of OTP. Make sure to open the delivery package before paying money and confirming delivery. Do not trust links or websites that ask for any kind of personal information. Try to pay online using verified platform to avoid scanning QR code on Pay on Delivery.
Complain immediately if you are a victim of fraud Always verify order history before accepting an order. If you are a victim of cybercrime then call the helpline number. 1930 and lodge a complaint immediately with the Cyber Crime Cell of the Govt. or lodge a complaint at www.cybercrime.gov.in.
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Tags: Cyber Fraud, cyber crimes, New Delhi Police