Grab's soft delivery sales overshadow improving bottomline

Grab's soft delivery sales overshadow improving bottomline
The helmet of a Grab bike rider is seen during rush hour traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 18, 2016.
PHOTO: Reuters

Grab Holdings Ltd said on Thursday (May 18) that an early Ramadan weighed on sales at its delivery business, taking the shine off an otherwise positive quarter and sending the Southeast Asian company's shares down 10 per cent.

Total platform sales at Grab's delivery business - its biggest - fell 9 per cent in the March quarter due to the early start of the Ramadan fasting period and the first Chinese New Year without mobility restrictions since the pandemic.

But the company's finance chief, Peter Oey, struck a positive tone for the unit in an interview, saying that he expected "the second half of the year to be stronger for the delivery business."

The super-app operator has in the few months embarked on a cost-cutting drive, with measures including a slashing of its cloud bill and hiring freeze for some roles. It has also lowered expenditure on consumer and worker incentives.

The lower incentives helped the delivery business triple its revenue to US$275 million (S$370 million), which beat Visible Alpha consensus estimates.

Total revenue more than doubled to $525 million, also above expectations of $504.3 million.

Oey said Grab, which operates in eight countries, bumped its marketshare in both rideshare and delivery services "across core markets".

Revenue at the rideshare business - Grab's second-largest - rose 72 per cent to $194 million in the March quarter but it missed the $195.2 million consensus estimate, according to Visible Alpha.

Grab posted an adjusted operating loss of $66 million in the period, compared with a year-ago loss of $287 million.

It also narrowed its forecast for annual adjusted operating loss to $195 million to $235 million, from $275 million to $325 million.

"Grab results supports our thesis that the mobility segment is reaping the rewards from the reopening. We expect the company to enhance its value proposition through a possible acquisition," said Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, head of consumer and Internet at Alētheia Capital.

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