Business

Used car sales are flying, and Transaction Capital’s results prove it

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The used passenger vehicle business is thriving. Less than two years ago, at the onset of Covid-19, Transaction Capital made its first foray into the used car business when it acquired a stake in WeBuyCars, and later upped that stake to 74.2%.

It announced plans to crack a 10 000-vehicles-a-month target, which it did earlier this year. Transaction Capital CEO David Hurwitz tells Moneyweb the company has been selling north of 12 000 units a month for the last three months.

Results for the year to September 2022 show a 43% increase in vehicles sold to 125 812, with nearly a third of those via e-commerce sales.

Core earnings from continuing operations kept track with the growth in vehicle sales, rising 41% to R762 million over the year.

The three largest contributors to profits are WeBuyCars (43%), Nutun, previously known as Transaction Capital Risk Services (33%), and SA Taxi (24%).

WeBuyCars

The outlook for used car sales looks promising heading into 2023, with a used car pool of about 11 million vehicles growing by 2-5% a year and a tendency among consumers to trade down rather than buy new.

The group expects future earnings from WeBuyCars to grow faster than Transaction Capital’s historical earnings growth rates.

This is a bold statement, given the 21% compound annual growth in core earnings from continuing operations over the last decade.

“It [growth in WeBuyCars] has exceeded our expectations,” says Hurwitz.

Read: WeBuyCars buys the Dome to create enormous used car dealership [Jul 2021]

Global play

Nutun’s core business in debt recovery has taken an interesting turn with the company’s expansion into the UK and Australia, where it now offers a suite of customer experience management services – such as client onboarding, sales, customer care and retention, online follow-up, dispute resolution and debt collection.

Hurwitz says about 10% of the division’s profits came from non-debt collection services in 2022, a figure that could climb above 20% in 2023.

Nutun (pronounced Newton) also has its eyes on the US market, which presents a massive opportunity to build an international business predominantly serviced out of SA.

It can accomplish this with little capital outlay and without having to acquire overseas operations.

Nutun currently has a staff complement of over 4 700 and has offices in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Fiji and Melbourne.

Read:

SA Taxi and WeBuyCars will remain predominantly focused on the SA market, though the latter expanded into Morocco in the last financial year as part of the group’s broader international expansion.

Minibus taxi business

The SA Taxi business took a hit over the last two years due to Covid, and will likely only experience growth in 2024.

It is being repositioned as a mobility platform across the public transport and private used car markets.

This broadens its total addressable market and diversifies its revenue streams.

Read:

SA Taxi’s profit for 2022 was R365 million (2021: R413 million), while Nutun is fast catching up, achieving a profit of R336 million for the last financial year (2021: R291 million).

The taxi business, while still important to the group, is declining in importance relative to its overall business mix. The leased taxi business in SA caps out at 250 000 vehicles, versus a used car pool of 11 million, and that prompted a rethink of the business model.

“People now see the strategic opportunity to expand the taxi business into other market areas,” says Hurwitz. “The leased taxi business is very limited. In bad times, you have to take your foot off the accelerator, which we have done in the last two years.”

GoMo

In the first half of 2022, WeBuyCars launched GoMo, a proprietary vehicle finance, insurance and allied mobility product provider. GoMo has its own balance sheet and is in a position to provide financing, insurance and related services on in-house vehicle sales.

Hurwitz sees potential to scale this operation, but would need to do so in partnership with one or several banks.

Increasing the take-up of finance and insurance products adds another revenue stream to the mix, and enhances margins per vehicle sold.

“Banks don’t like lending against used cars, in part because they are difficult to value. This prompted us to step into this niche, but not in a reckless way,” he says.

“We can offer finance to people with good credit scores for deals that the banks may not finance. We’ve built a nice R200-R300 million book, and we plan to expand on this over the next few years.”

Transaction Capital has been one of the super-luminaries of the JSE, climbing nearly nine-fold since 2014.

It’s a growth story that looks like it is just getting started.

Listen to Hurwitz speaking about Transaction Capital’s latest results: 

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