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Aspen Technology, inc (AZPN) Q1 2022 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool

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Aspen Technology, inc (NASDAQ:AZPN)
Q1 2022 Earnings Call
Oct 27, 2021, 4:30 p.m. ET
Operator
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Aspen Technology First Quarter Fiscal 2022 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]
I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker host today, Brian Denyeau. Please go ahead.

Brian DenyeauInvestor Relations
Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us to discuss our financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2022 ending September 30, 2021. With me on the call today are Antonio Pietri, AspenTech’s President and CEO; and Chantelle Breithaupt, CFO of AspenTech. Before we begin, I will make the safe harbor statement that during the course of this call, we may make projections or other forward-looking statements about the financial performance of the company that involve risks and uncertainties. The company’s actual results may differ materially from such projections or statements. Factors that might cause such differences include but are not limited to those discussed in today’s call and contained in our most recently filed Form 10-Q. Also, please note that the following information relates to our current business conditions and our outlook as of today, October 27, 2021.
Consistent with our prior practice, we expressly disclaim any obligation to update this information. The structure of today’s call will be as follows: Antonio will discuss business highlights from the first quarter and our pending agreement with Emerson, and then Chantelle will review our financial results and discuss our guidance for fiscal year 2022. With that, let me turn the call over to Antonio. Antonio?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Thanks, Brian, and thanks to all of you for joining us today. We had a strong start to the year with annual spend coming in above our expectations. We saw a notable improvement in the spending environment during the quarter as the continuing economic recovery has improved end-market conditions for many of our customers. As we have discussed over the past 12 months, we have seen consistently strong demand indications from our customers about expanding adoption of AspenTech solutions to increase operational efficiency and sustainability. While the market is not yet back to pre-COVID levels, we believe the first quarter was an important indicator that spending by our customers is improving.
More importantly, the recent announcement of our transaction with Emerson is a transformational moment for AspenTech. I will discuss it in more detail later. But we cannot be more excited at the opportunity for the New AspenTech to deliver faster and greater value in sustainability, innovation and profitability to a broader set of customers. Looking quickly at our financial results in the first quarter. Revenue was $136 million. GAAP EPS was $0.58, and non-GAAP EPS was $0.77. Annual spend was $630 million, up 1.4% in the quarter and 5.6% year-over-year. And free cash flow was $33 million. Looking at our first quarter performance in more detail. We saw clear signs of normalization in spending across our owner/operator market. In particular, while the extra steps and scrutiny around the transaction approval process have remained in place, customer executives are noticeably more comfortable giving the final approval to transactions. We believe customers remain mindful of the fluidity with which market conditions can change, but the improved environment is enabling them to focus on the future, including how to deliver on their long-term strategic objectives.
We’re optimistic this will be reflected in the capex and OpEx budgets for calendar 2022 that customers are now developing. Looking at the business by vertical. We saw the most notable improvement among our owner/operator customers but especially with refining customers. Spending by these customers grew our MSC business by 3.2% sequentially and 9% in the last 12 months, just shy of its historical double-digit growth rate, which is a strong performance, especially when compared to the growth of the MSC business in fiscal year 2021 at 5.8%. As we mentioned on our last earnings call, we have seen a marked increase in the level of engagement with these customers in recent months about their future investment priorities. Our results in the quarter are an indication that improved conversations were signaling an improving sentiment from higher refining margins resulting in increased spending.
Our chemicals business also performed better and continue to improve sequentially, contributing to the acceleration of the MSC business. While overall trends are encouraging, there are still sectors of the chemical supply chain that are recovering from the lingering economic effects of COVID. We’re confident chemicals will continue to be an important growth contributor going forward. AspenTech solutions are essential to chemical customers’ ability to achieve their operational and supply chain efficiencies and sustainability targets. Our E&C business performed as expected during the quarter. Conditions remain challenging, and we have seen only modest improvements in capex and backlog trends. We expect this will be the part of the business that takes the longest to return to normal, and we anticipate modest levels of growth from these customers for the foreseeable future. Attrition in the quarter was in line with our expectations, which, if you recall from our last earnings call, was expected to be higher in the first quarter given the timing of renewals this fiscal year. While we’re optimistic about the improved spending environment and higher budget in calendar 2022, we believe it is appropriate for now to maintain our guidance for growth in annual spend in the range of 5% to 7%. We’re also maintaining our guidance for attrition in the year, which, as we’ve previously stated, is mainly a reflection of the reduction in capex in the E&C space and elevated levels of renewals in our fiscal year 2022. Following are some notable wins from the quarter. First, a global energy company in the Middle East and a longtime user of AspenTech’s engineering and MSC suite signed an agreement to standardize on the use of AspenTech’s PMSO planning solution for refining.
After a rigorous process to evaluate the capabilities and incremental value-creation opportunities of PMSO, the customer committed to standardize on the technology and executed on a global rollout of this technology. The deployment of PMSO is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars of benefit for this customer. Second, a U.S.-based multinational food processing and commodities trading company, user of our engineer and MSC suite, has committed to roll out our recently released Batch APC capabilities across their bioproducts manufacturing business. Bioproducts manufacture amino acids from corn through fermentation. After a rigorous trial of the technology, the customer recognized sufficient value from improving production yields in their bioproducts manufacturing to commit to the technology.
Our new Batch APC technology is expected to open up new use cases in batch production processes as opposed to the continuous processes found in refining and bulk chemicals. We expect our Batch APC technology to extend our reach further into specialty chemicals, bioprocesses, pharma and other industries that use batch processing. Third and final customer reference, a U.S. energy company and a subsidiary of a global Middle East energy company expanded the use of the engineer and MSC suites to execute on our comprehensive deployment of production planning and production operations optimization solutions to realize benefits in excess of $50 million loss per year in their manufacturing complex. The products involved are planning, scheduling, dynamic optimization or GDOT, multivariable process control and the engineering suite. One of the key themes you’ve heard from AspenTech in recent years is our commitment to a sustainable future.
To that end, in just a few days, AspenTech will join companies from around the world at COP26 to discuss and share solutions to address the global climate challenge. Next Thursday, November 4, I will be speaking on a COP26 panel with executives from Microsoft and Wood, discussing the digitization of the energy sector. This panel discussion will address how digital technologies are increasingly highlighted as key enablers to grow efficiencies across systems and to accelerate the technology development that is required to address demanding climate goals. Similarly, as we have mentioned before, AspenTech is an active member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, supporting innovation to build a more sustainable global plastic value change — value chain to create circularity. I’m actively involved on the Board of the alliance, and several AspenTech delegates participate in alliance work groups and committees that are focused on regional plastic waste issues and technology development.
Our contributions to the alliance will continue by providing expertise in advanced recycling and modeling with our engineering suite, and we expect to play an even greater role here as the Alliance advances toward achieving its mission of plastic circularity. I would now like to talk about the pending transaction with Emerson. We believe this agreement offers compelling value for our customers and shareholders and positions New AspenTech as the leading industrial software company. There are several compelling benefits of this combination. First, New AspenTech will have the most comprehensive portfolio of mission-critical software products that span the entire capital asset life cycle. AspenTech’s rich heritage in asset optimization will be extended and strengthened with Emerson’s grid energy management and advanced distribution management systems technology and their geological simulation software.
These software portfolios are highly complementary and provide exciting upsell and cross-sell opportunities into our respective installed bases. Second, we will significantly diversify AspenTech’s business and increase our total addressable market. New AspenTech will have an immediate leadership position in the power and utility transmission and distribution vertical and an enhanced portfolio to model the entire oil and gas supply chain and reservoir modeling capabilities for resource extraction and carbon capture and sequestration.
Third, this combination will enhance our capabilities to support our customer sustainability initiatives. We have long had a critical role to play in our customers’ efforts to operate assets safer, greener, faster and longer. The combined company will now be able to more fully support a broader array of sustainability initiatives, including electrification and carbon capture, among others. Fourth, New AspenTech will have greater scale and a compelling financial profile with more than $1 billion in revenue and more than 3,000 global customers. We believe New AspenTech can be a consistent double-digit grower with high recurring revenue, best-in-class margins and substantial free cash flow. This increased scale and broader footprint will also make New AspenTech a vehicle to pursue additional M&A in the future. Fifth, we will deepen our existing commercial relationship with Emerson, which will provide exciting new go-to-market opportunities for resell, co-sell and OEM of the entire suite of AspenTech products and solutions into all the industries where Emerson is installed, including those that AspenTech is targeting today through organic investments.
The commercial relationship will also lead to joint package solutions and the development of next-generation software capabilities. Finally, this transaction provides significant near- and long-term value for our shareholders. AspenTech shareholders will receive $6 billion in cash and will own 45% of New AspenTech. This attractive structure will give our shareholders upfront liquidity and the opportunity to benefit from New AspenTech’s increased scale, expanded growth opportunities and future margin expansion. A key aspect of this transaction will be converting the OSI and geological simulation software businesses to our token-based term license model. For those of you that were around when AspenTech first introduced our new commercial model in fiscal year 2010, you recall the significant improvement in growth, sales productivity and user adoption that we experienced. We’re confident we can deliver similar results this time as well.
During our Executive Advisory Board Meeting that we hosted in Houston following the announcement of the transaction with Emerson, we received a strong endorsement from those customer executives in attendance. They understood the synergies from the stronger relationship between the two companies, the possibilities for joint package solutions and the even stronger ability New AspenTech will have to deliver sustainability solutions that can help transform their businesses. Let me finish by reinforcing how excited we are by the recent developments for AspenTech and the future potential for New AspenTech. Our core business is beginning to show signs of improvement, and we’re executing well on the growth investments we’re making in product development and our go-to-market capabilities. When you put that together with the great software businesses that are being contributed to New AspenTech and the deeper partnership with Emerson, we believe we have all the pieces in place to generate mid-teens growth and reach $1.5 billion in annual spend in fiscal year 2026. My sentiment has only been reinforced. I’m the most excited I’ve ever been about the future of Aspen Technology. Now let me turn the call over to Chantelle. Chantelle?
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Thank you, Antonio. I will now review our financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2022. As a reminder, these results are being reported under Topic 606, which has a material impact on both the timing and method of revenue recognition for our term license contracts. Our license revenue is heavily impacted by the timing of bookings and more specifically, renewal bookings. A decrease or increase in bookings between fiscal periods resulting from a change in the amount of term license contracts up for renewal is not an indicator of the health or growth of our business. The timing of renewals is not linear between quarters or fiscal years, and this nonlinearity will have a significant impact on the timing of our revenue.
As a result, we believe our income statement will provide an inconsistent view into our financial performance, especially when comparing between fiscal periods. In our view, annual spend will continue to be the most important metric in assessing the growth of our business and annual free cash flow the most important metric for assessing the overall value our business generates. Annual spend, which represents the accumulated value of all the current invoices for our term license agreements at the end of each period, was $630 million at the end of the first quarter. This represented an increase of approximately 5.6% on a year-over-year basis and 1.4% sequentially. Total bookings, which are defined as the total value of customer term license contracts where the associated term licenses were deemed delivered in the quarter under Topic 606, was $128.2 million, a 30% increase year-over-year.
Total revenue was $136 million for the first quarter, an 18% increase from the prior year period. Turning to profitability, beginning on a GAAP basis. Operating expenses for the quarter were $81.3 million compared to $65.3 million in the year ago period. This year-over-year increase in GAAP operating expenses was primarily driven by the ramp of new investments in our go-to-market organization and product development, in addition to the timing of equity grants and M&A-related expenses. Total expenses, including cost of revenue, were $96.1 million, which was up from $80.8 million in the year ago period. Operating income was $39.9 million, and net income for the quarter was $39.4 million or $0.58 per share.
Now turning to non-GAAP results. Excluding the impact of stock-based compensation expense, amortization of intangibles associated with acquisitions and acquisition-related fees, we reported non-GAAP operating income for the first quarter of $55.4 million, representing a 40.7% non-GAAP operating margin compared to non-GAAP operating income and margin of $42.7 million and 37.2%, respectively, in the year ago period. As a reminder, margins will fluctuate period-to-period due to the timing of customer renewals and, therefore, license revenue recognized during the quarter. Non-GAAP net income was $51.6 million or $0.77 per share based on 67.4 million shares outstanding. Turning to the balance sheet and cash flow.
We ended the quarter with approximately $248 million of cash and cash equivalents and $289 million outstanding under our credit facility. In the first quarter, we generated $32.7 million of cash from operations and $33 million of free cash flow after taking into consideration the net impact of capital expenditures, capitalized software and acquisition-related payments. From a capital allocation perspective, we successfully completed our $150 million accelerated share repurchase agreement during the quarter, buying back 1.1 million shares. It is our intention to continue buying back up to $50 million of stock per quarter, subject to market conditions, until the transaction of Emerson is complete, which is currently expected to occur by the end of the second quarter of calendar 2022. I would now like to close with guidance.
With respect to annual spend, we are maintaining our target of 5% to 7% annual spend growth. We are also maintaining our bookings guidance range of $766 million to $819 million. Our expected revenue range is also unchanged at $702 million to $737 million. As a reminder, we expect license revenue in the range of $481 million to $515 million and maintenance revenue and service and other revenue of approximately $192 million and $30 million, respectively. From an expense perspective, we now expect total GAAP expenses of $389 million to $394 million. Taken together, we expect GAAP operating income in the range of $313 million to $343 million for fiscal 2022, with GAAP net income of approximately $285 million to $311 million.
We expect GAAP net income per share to be in the range of $4.19 to $4.57. From a non-GAAP perspective, we continue to expect non-GAAP operating income of $361 million to $391 million and now expect non-GAAP income per share in the range of $4.75 to $5.13. From a free cash flow perspective, we continue to expect free cash flow of $275 million to $285 million. Our fiscal 2022 free cash flow guidance assumes cash tax payments in the range of $60 million to $66 million. To wrap up, AspenTech delivered a strong first quarter performance. We are seeing positive signs of improvement in our business, and we are focused on building upon our success in the first quarter. We are also incredibly excited at the future value-creation opportunities that we believe will be possible with New AspenTech, which will have a broader product portfolio, greater end-market diversification and a deeper partnership with Emerson. We are confident that the strategic initiatives we are executing on will generate significant value for shareholders. And with that, operator, let’s begin the Q&A, please.
Operator
Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question coming from the line of Andrew Obin with Bank of America. Your line is open.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. Good morning.
Andrew ObinBank of America — Analyst
Good morning. Good afternoon. It’s been a long day you deserve about that.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Hi Andrew.
Andrew ObinBank of America — Analyst
How are you guys? So you highlighted that spend in the quarter was above expectations. What would make you guys comfortable in terms of what kind of benchmarks or — for you to get — for you to raise guidance? Is it just seeing it for a couple of more quarters? Are you looking at any specific industry events? You sound better but — I appreciate it’s first quarter, but you haven’t raised guidance. So if you could expand on that. Thank you.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. Andrew, and I’ll — Chantelle can supplement what I say as well. Look, as I like to say, one data point doesn’t make a trend. But certainly, if you look at the macro KPIs that we track, they’re all up and to the right: price of oil, refining margins, chemicals, production and chemicals margin, chemical demand and chemicals margins. And even with EPCs, while certainly there’s been a significant reduction in capex, it’s already been almost a year, and we believe that the situation there is stabilizing, but we have to work through the contract. So we’re being cautious. As I said, we’re maintaining our guidance for now. And as we see the year progress, we’ll make the appropriate decisions at the time.
Andrew ObinBank of America — Analyst
And just a follow-up question. I mean it seems there really are a lot of opportunities to integrate the channel with Emerson. How long do you think it will take to start seeing the impact in your numbers from this better integration?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Well, look, as we said when we announced the transaction, we expect to close the transaction in the second calendar quarter of 2022. And then we will start working on executing our integration plans and what’s agreed on the commercial agreement between the two companies. So certainly, if you think about timing, you’re looking now Q4 fiscal 2022 for AspenTech, July one next year is fiscal 2023. So we would expect that perhaps we start to see some of those benefits later in fiscal 2023 then into 2024, 2025, so.
Andrew ObinBank of America — Analyst
Well, good to see that things are improving. Congratulations on the deal. Thanks.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Thank you, Andrew.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Thank you. Thank you.
Operator
Our next question coming from the line of Rob Oliver with Baird. Your line is open.
Rob OliverBaird — Analyst
[Indecipherable] Thanks for taking my question. My first one is on, Antonio, your comments around some of the pockets of improvement that you’re seeing within your end markets. So I wanted to dig in a little bit deeper on that. It sounds, based on what you said, that core owner/operators are seeing the most movement, but there are pockets within chems. I’m just curious if you can elaborate a little bit more on some of that. And maybe within chems, what some of the puts and takes are there? And then, just as a corollary, we’re — certainly commodity price is up and to the right. At the same time, we’re experiencing some major global supply chain issues. So just curious how we balance those factors relative to your core customers and how we think about annual spend for the remainder of the year. And then I had a follow-up.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. Yes. Sure. Well, I mean, look, if you look at refining and the opening up of economies around the world, there’s definitely been a material change in automobile traffic, which has driven higher consumption of fuels. Refining margins in the last few months have tripled, and really, that’s put them at the low end of their historical margin range. These are not record margins, but now they are within the historical range, which is very good. And talking to our refining customers, they are very optimistic about that. So that’s been a marked change from three months ago, let’s say. And that’s why I think we’ve seen the performance in refining that we saw in our Q1 quarter.
On the chemical side, look, if you only have to look at the announcements from chemical companies, record margins and cash flow generation and certainly, there’s cautiousness within that customer sector around supply chain issues dampening demand for their products, and that’s something to keep an eye on. And there are still sectors — small sectors, but there are still sectors within the chemicals industry that are not doing as well as they were doing before the pandemic. But on the whole, bulk chemicals, which is ethylene and polymers, has done very well in this calendar year. So if you look at those 2, I mean, global economic growth continuing to drive demand and so on, I think the outlook is positive. And then EPCs — and even with EPCs — look, EPCs are going through their own transformation.
They are focusing a lot more on sustainability areas such as hydrogen, biofuels and others, which I think, over time, will make that industry a healthier industry. And Rob, I would say that now you’re starting to see the debate develop over the last week or two around whether the oil industry is spending enough capex to supply global demand over the next few years. And that’s a real issue. That was a concern. Frankly, back in 2018/2019, it got exacerbated over the last 12 to 18 months with the calls for reduced investments in oil and gas. And the real question here will be whether the sustained level of capex spend will facilitate a balanced demand-supply scenario going forward. So look, overall, good, but I think we need to be cautious, and it’s still a very fluid environment.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Yes. And if I could add –[Indecipherable] sorry, Rob, I was going to add — yes, no worries. I think that — so very much agree with Antonio’s thoughts around operating — customers operating in their day-to-day environments with the pressure of supply chain. The other thing, back to the question on annual spend, how we see it going forward, is we’re also waiting for this calendar year flip on sustainability. This is a — it’s a new topic with new funding and new importance for our customers. So that’s another signal we’re waiting to see outside our regular kind of metrics that we look at. And so that’s another thing going into our Q2 we’re looking for, just to give you some additional color.
Rob OliverBaird — Analyst
Got it. That’s really helpful from both of you guys. And I’ll just make my follow-up a quick one, even though I wanted to ask a bunch about Emerson, but it’s probably a broader discussion. But just — I know, Chantelle, Antonio, referred to the attrition number, but I just want to make sure we got the exact number because I know it wasn’t in the press release. What was the attrition this quarter? And you — what do you expect it to be for the remainder of the year?
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Well, we — what I can share with you, rob, is that we’re sticking to the guide we had in Q4 of 6% attrition for the year.
Rob OliverBaird — Analyst
Okay. That’s helpful. Thank you guys very much I appreciated.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
You’ re very welcome.
Operator
Our next question coming from the line of Matt Pfau with William Blair. Your line is open.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Hi. Matt.
Matt PfauWilliam Blair — Analyst
Hi guys. Thanks for taking my question. Wanted to first follow up on the sustainability comments. And how — is there any way to guess how many of your deals today are driven by sustainability initiatives? And then, Chantelle, your comments, was that related to maybe the anticipation of some of your customers carving out budgets specifically related to investing in technologies that help achieve their sustainability initiatives?
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Yes. Maybe I can start with the second, and Antonio, we can work on the first one together. Yes. Absolutely. When we — when Antonio referred to the executive advisory customer meeting that we had in Houston a few weeks back, you can hear customers speak of kind of two budgets that they’re working on as they go forward: one is their operating capex/OpEx, and the other is either guided from their Board or their shareholders. Their own is to spend more on sustainability, and how that rearranges in the company is yet to be seen. So we definitely see two conversations emerging in the sense of what the customers will be focused spending their funds on.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. Yes, Matt, in a way, for a lot of customers, as they’ve said, their net zero carbon emission goals, that overarching initiative and ambition is driving the thought process and prioritization of investments inside these companies. And the expectation through some of our own research surveying customers, where corporate sustainability will probably be a top influencer on software spend over the next few years, especially in the areas of analytics and benchmarking. So we’re pretty optimistic about this. And what we do every day is about creating efficiencies that reduce emissions or plastic waste or reduce the consumption of water and so on.
So we — this, coupled with the assets that we’re getting from Emerson around global electrification and the ability to model for carbon capture and sequestration will open — will just open up tremendous opportunities for Aspen Technology. And by the way, that reservoir modeling capability that we’re also getting from — in the geological simulation software business will also be able to take into mining for modeling of rock formations and resources. So very exciting stuff.
Matt PfauWilliam Blair — Analyst
Got it. And then just wanted to ask on APM and how that performed in the quarter. And related, maybe an update on what you saw in pharma and metals and mining as well.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. I mean, look, so we give an update on APM every six months. And we continue to sign APM customers, I’ll say that. We’re seeing also better progress in Asia with our APM solutions. And at the same time, look, we’ve learned a lot over the last 18 to 24 months as the market adjusted, as the solution has been implemented in our customers’ environments and what they’re looking for and how we need to add capabilities to the solution. So there’s — we’re also, well, excited about what we’re seeing in the market. We’re also working to continue to deliver innovation in the solution that we believe will strengthen that — not only strengthen the suite but also Aspen Mtell specifically, which is I know where the question is — or is focused on. So — but we’ll give an update when we report the Q2 results in January.
Matt PfauWilliam Blair — Analyst
Okay. Thanks guys I appreciated.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Thank you.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Thank you.
Operator
Our next question coming from the line of Jackson Ader with JPMorgan. Your line is open.
Jackson AderJPMorgan — Analyst
Hi guys. Thanks for taking my question guys. So the bookings number, if you net out the bookings up for renewal, if you want to call that kind of gross bookings or growth bookings or something, was up a bunch year-over-year. And I’m just curious how much that had to do with maybe some easy comparisons. I remember a year ago, you mentioned that customers in the first quarter just didn’t really want to have conversations with you in July and August versus maybe some upside in execution or net new demand or net new interest. Just what drove that growth bookings beat?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Chantelle, do you want to take that? Or do you like me to take it?
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Well, I can start, certainly. I think that — I would actually — one of the things I think that we’re proud of is the fact that it’s — we are seeing that gross growth, to your point, Jackson. So I think it’s a great point to highlight. I think that if you look at some of the areas we see the growth in, we talked about the MSC growth. And maybe, Antonio, you wanted to give some more color on from a customer viewpoint or end-market viewpoint.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. Yes. No. Well, Jackson, in a way, it’s very simple. We overperformed in Q1. We — in August, we told you, meaning investors, in general, and the market that we felt we’re going to have a quarter that was going to grow, where growth was going to be dampened by the amount of attrition that we saw coming in the quarter as a result of a number of — a larger number of engineering renewals, E&C renewals. That all happened, and there was a larger accumulation of that. But we also saw tremendous growth on the MSC side, gross growth, and that accounts for a lot of that overperformance in bookings as well. So it’s a combination of multiple factors, but certainly, the MSC overperformance helped in that regard.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Yes. And I think to that point, Jackson, it’s — what we’re triangulating is the pent-up demand that now is flowing through that our customers need to get back to their steady states. And some of that pressure is being released through this gross growth is how I would articulate it.
Jackson AderJPMorgan — Analyst
Yes. And then just a quick follow-up on the — on MSC — well, I guess, it’s really chemicals. I mean is there any way to quantify what type of a headwind the chemicals piece is at the moment, so that we can get a sense for what we would expect that normalized MSC growth might look like without the supply chain headwind?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Well, I mean, look — so at the moment, we’re not seeing — if you talk to chemical customers, they are not yet seeing a headwind. And at least anecdotally, talking to them, they will be announcing very strong results for the September quarter. There is a certain level of concern with regards to the supply chain issues getting worse and having an impact on demand for their products, but it’s not something that they have yet seen, and they are not able to quantify themselves. And that is whether it would even show up. So look, I think in the overall, I’m looking — I’m focusing a lot more on economic growth across the board and how that will continue to drive demand for all sorts of products regardless of the supply chain, so.
Jackson AderJPMorgan — Analyst
Allright. Thank you.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Thank you.
Operator
[Operator Instructions] Our next question coming from the line of Gal Munda with Berenberg. Your line is open.
Gal MundaBerenberg — Analyst
Hi. Thank you for taking my question. The first one is just in terms of the MSC part of the business clearly performing well. The question for me is, what has changed? Is the confidence the main reason here? And then you guys mentioned kind of pent-up demand is starting to kick in. Do you have an idea of how much of that pent-up demand is left for the year? In other words, this is not kind of a 1-quarter phenomenon that you’re seeing, right?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Well, I mean, look, I’ll — look, again, you can only — in a way, that’s a hard question to answer, OK, what — how much pent-up demand is left. But I can point you to the last time we troughed. In 2017, when we troughed at 4.1%, the following year was 6.4%. And when we had two consecutive years of normal budget, we went from 6.4% to 10.6% growth. And in my opinion, a lot of that is initially driven by pent-up demand, and then it normalizes at a double-digit growth. That’s my point of view. So I think what we’re — if history is an indication of the future, I think what we’re seeing is, again, back to a release of spending to do a catch-up on technology implementation that will eventually normalize at a higher level once we have two years of consecutive — two consecutive years of good budgets. And to me, that will be calendar 2022 and calendar 2023.
Gal MundaBerenberg — Analyst
Perfect. And then just on the flip side on the E&C. Obviously, you got a lot of renewals this year, so you’re still kind of guiding for this higher churn. But would you expect that to kind of work through and the budgets are also recovered based on the — based on what you’re seeing in the end market right now? Or is this more like a 2-year process that if the oil prices remain stable, then we might see more capex budgets being tied into the next year, and we’ll probably need to wait for that in order to kind of get the confidence?
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes, you know Gal, this is — look, this is a very good question. And the thing about demand and supply and macro trends is that you have to give time, time, meaning you have to let time pass to — for things to prove themselves out. And this narrative that the capex spend in the oil and gas industry was at a level that wasn’t sustainable for future demand has been a narrative. Now that narrative has been overwhelmed by certainly climate change and sustainability, the focus on renewables, which is all important and necessary.
But look, energy transitions happen over a long period of time. And in this context, there’s a sense that we could be facing a very tight supply demand balance, which could accelerate or continue to drive oil prices up, which, by the way, I don’t think is necessarily healthy because it may impact economic activity at some point. So on a personal basis, I’d rather see oil somewhere between, say, around $70 a barrel. But having said all that, what this could all mean is that some companies or countries do see an incentive to start spending — putting more capex to work because they see an opportunity to supply more to the market on the road. So we’ll see. But at the same time, look, out of the last recovery in — from 2016, 2017, what we saw was low single-digit capex growth to mid-single digit, really, 5% at the high end.
And that was enough for our growth to accelerate back to double digit with the contribution from our APM suite. Today, we have a lot more things in play, not only APM but AIoT, pharma, mining, but also the Emerson relationship. The contribution of these assets, the OSI asset and the GSS assets and this commercial relationship with Emerson, that will be so comprehensive and global that, that will support an acceleration of our growth rate. So look, I’m — all the KPIs are — look good. We’ve signed a transformational transaction that will support our growth and diversify our business going forward as well. So I said, look, my closing statement was: I’m the most excited about our future than I’ve ever been and remain so.
Yes. Yes, I just want to add — before the next — I want to highlight to Jackson’s comment or question around supply chains and chemicals. Look, one of the things that’s happened as well over the last 18 months with COVID is a reassessment of supply chains around the world, not only the onshoring of production and sites but also the reconfiguration of the supply chains and really building resiliency into supply chains in preparation for future disruptions. So we are seeing much greater interest from chemical companies on supply chain management capabilities, supply chain logistics, the concept of the control tower. And this is certainly opening up a whole — an increased area of investments by chemical companies around their supply chain, but also other companies, by the way, in pharmaceuticals and including oil companies. So I think this whole — the whole discussion around supply chains is one that actually will be a tailwind for Aspen Technology as well.
Operator
Our next question coming from the line of Jason Celino with KeyBanc. Your line is open.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Hi Jason.
Jason CelinoKeyBanc — Analyst
Hi Antonio. Hi Chantelle. A couple of questions from me. So Q1 has seasonally been the weakest growth quarter. This Q1, biggest sequential increase that we’ve seen in two years, actually. Maybe can you talk about the linearity of the strength? How it might have started, where you started seeing it, kind of any — that would be great.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. I mean, look, no doubt, Q1s by nature are the sort of lowest-growth quarters, the — or the lowest-growth quarter that we normally have. And well, we just had a very strong Q1, especially considering the attrition that we experienced. The amount of gross growth that was generated this quarter in Q1 was outstanding. Look, there was also, I’ll say, an easy comp versus Q1 FY 2021 as well. Look, Q2 tends to be a stronger quarter historically than Q1. And then you get into Q3 and Q4 normally being our strongest quarters just because it’s the end of a fiscal year. Normally, our sales cycle is nine to 12 months, and the sales organization is gearing for — to exceed their quotas and get into accelerators for commissions. So that’s — look, that’s how I would view it. But I also want to be cautious here. And — but yes, we’re happy about Q1. I’ll take this Q1 versus last year.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Yes. Yes, I think — and I think the — sorry, go ahead.
Jason CelinoKeyBanc — Analyst
Well, what I was really trying to understand is how the quarter improved throughout the quarter. I was going to…
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Oh, sorry
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Yes. Yes, I think that’s — yes, sorry, I was going to just add to Antonio’s comments. I think that you were — the attrition, most of the renewal activity, to your point, is in the same hockey stick as every other company. So that’s the third quarter. But I would say, from the beginning pipeline to the conversion through the quarter, I would say that probably mid- to later, we started to really solidify those conversations with our customers. But we were definitely out of the gate Q4 having the gross growth conversations. But it takes time, and it still has the tough approvals that Antonio referred to. So you don’t really see that momentum, Jason, until the second and third month.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Yes. No. Sorry, Jason. I misunderstood your question. Look, the one nuance about Q1, our Q1 quarter September, is that July and August are heavy vacation months and really is the first few days of September when business activity begins to accelerate. So it tends to be a quarter where that is very concentrated into four weeks in September. And it was a great four weeks.
Jason CelinoKeyBanc — Analyst
Alright. That’s very helpful. Thank you.
Operator
I’m showing no further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Antonio Pietri for any closing remarks.
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
All right. Well, thank you, everyone, for joining today’s call. And we look forward to, again, participating in events and hopefully starting to meet some of you in person, which we’ve started to do with customers. And it’s a very different experience to be meeting customers in person than over video. So hopefully, we’ll start seeing some of you in person in the future. Thank you, everyone.
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Thank you.
Operator
[Operator Closing Remarks]
Duration: 53 minutes
Brian DenyeauInvestor Relations
Antonio PietriPresident & Chief Executive Officer
Chantelle BreithauptChief Financial Officer
Andrew ObinBank of America — Analyst
Rob OliverBaird — Analyst
Matt PfauWilliam Blair — Analyst
Jackson AderJPMorgan — Analyst
Gal MundaBerenberg — Analyst
Jason CelinoKeyBanc — Analyst
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