Southeast Asia-based superapp Grab could achieve adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) breakeven in the third quarter this year (3Q23), according to research house CGS-CIMB.

“Layoff exercise in June leads us to believe Grab can achieve adjusted EBITDA breakeven in 3Q23F (forecast), one quarter ahead of guidance,” CGS-CIMB analysts Ong Khang Chuen and Kenneth Tan wrote in a research note on Thursday.

“We expect Grab’s on-demand gross merchandise value (GMV) to re-accelerate to $3.8 billion as deliveries segment returned to GMV year-on-year (y-o-y) growth while mobility’s GMV recovery continued,” they noted.

Given the healthy competitive landscape for on-demand service players in Southeast Asia, the analysts believed Grab was able to further scale back on its incentive levels and increase monetisation in 2Q23.

“We estimate Grab’s mobility segment GMV and adjusted EBITDA rose 25 percent and 30 percent y-o-y respectively in 2Q23F, with tailwinds from the economic reopening and tourism recovery in Southeast Asia. Tight driver supply in the Singapore (due to high certificate of entitlement prices) enabled Grab to raise its platform fee by S$0.40 per ride in May 2023,” the analysts noted.

Trans-Cab’s acquisition expands driver base, enables synergies

Grab announced on Thursday it has acquired Trans-cab, the third largest taxi operator in Singapore with a fleet size of 2,500 taxi or cars at a consideration of about S$100 million/ $75.23 million, according to The Straits Times.

“Aside from expanding Grab’s driver base, we believe Trans-Cab’s street hail licence could enable synergies including lower procurement costs. The transaction is minimally earnings accretive and expected to close by 4Q23, according to Grab,” the analysts wrote.

“We estimate a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) net loss of $213 million, taking into account one-off restructuring costs with regards to its layoff exercise in June of about circa $35 million,” the report added.

CGS-CIMB forecasted that Grab deliveries’ GMV to be at $2.5 billion in 2Q23F, riding the demand recovery post Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

“We think Grab likely gained GMV market share versus Gojek in Indonesia as the latter guided for moderation of GMV in 2Q23 on the back of cost cutting measures. We expect Grab’s adjusted EBITDA to GMV ratio further expanded to 3.0 percent in 2Q23F, but forecast a more gradual pace of margin expansion in second half of 2023 (2H23) given strategic shift back towards growth as it nears adjusted EBITDA breakeven,” the analysts wrote.

“We lift our FY23F to FY25F adjusted EBITDA forecasts as we factor in cost savings from Grab’s recent layoff exercise. We expect Grab to achieve adjusted EBITDA breakeven by 3Q23F,” they said, adding that the research house reiterated “Add” rating and sum-of-parts (SOP)-based target price of $4.50, as they still see a healthy competitive landscape enabling Grab to continue on its path to profitability.

Grab acquires Singapore’s third largest taxi operator Trans-cab through its GrabRentals arm