ASX fintechs in fast lane as auto sector resilience drives soaring loan activity
When Carsales.com (ASX:CAR) released its FY23 results this week, it was clear that despite higher inflation and rising interest rates the Aussie car market had shown resilience.
The CAR share price is up ~8% this week and more than 29% YTD. Among highlights of CAR’s FY23 include:
Management says proforma results are the best reflection of the underlying performance of the business as they normalise for recent acquisitions and one-off transactions.
On the Australian side of its international operations CAR saw strong revenue growth of 13%, put down to various factors including “resilient demand for used cars and increasing adoption of higher value products, particularly depth”, referring to products it offers to promote dealers’ car to the top of results.
“The car market in Australia has actually held up quite well over the last 12 months if you think about that in the context of searches on our site,” CAR managing director and CEO Cameron McIntyre told Stockhead.
“Searches have been pretty consistent year on year and demand has held up quite well and that feeds into our business when it comes to consumers buying and selling cars.
“Despite the tough economic environment, we’ve been able to perform well through it.
“There’s plenty of growth drivers that we’ve got both here and internationally to help us deliver our outlook.”
And despite costs of living pressures it seems Aussies still love their fuel-guzzling SUVs.
“But what we have seen in the last 12 months is there has been a move towards SUVs, searching less for sedans while hatches have been around the same, which was a surprise,” he says.
“The results over the last 12 months have been delivered in an environment where we’ve faced high interest rates.”
McIntyre says consumers buy and sell cars for various reasons including change in lifestyle, change in jobs, or – if a car gets to 100,000km – a preference to change them over.
“In tough times they may decide to invest less in their next car as well, but people still change cars,” he says.
“Having said that, searches and price brackets have actually remained very similar comparing year on year.”
McIntyre says new electric vehicle (EV) sales are picking up and account for ~7% of new car sales YTD. However, EVs still represent under 1% of cars for sale on carsales.com.au
“The used car market for EVs is still evolving because many people are only just buying their first EV now, the early adopters who bought them five years ago are probably starting to think about selling theirs,” McIntyre says.
“But if you look on carsales today we have about 226,000 cars for sale and only about 2,000 of them are EVs.”
And McIntyre says while pre-Covid until October 2022 used car prices were up ~40-45%, since then they have come down and over the last week or so started to stabilise. However, prices are still up considerably against pre-Covid levels.
“In terms of how consumers have thought about that, over the last 12 months we monitor traffic and price brackets in terms of the price brackets of cars that consumers are looking at on our website, and what we’ve noticed is that the price brackets are the same as what they were 12 months ago,” he says.
ASX fintech lenders are increasingly popular as an alternative funding choice to traditional banks in helping Aussies get behind the wheel of a new car.
CAR this month signed a deal with automotive digital loan comparison startup Driva.com.au enabling users to pre-qualify, apply and get pre-approved finance for privately sold vehicles in one sitting.
Here’s some of the ASX fintechs lending in the automotive sector.
In Q4 FY23 WZR positive operating cash flow of $2.6 million and EBTDA of $900k after opting to moderate its loan origination volume to prioritise profitability.
The strategic decision led to a 21% reduction in operating expenditure compared to Q3 FY23, even as revenues surged by 39% in comparison to the same quarter of the previous year, amounting to $24.6 million.
During the quarter, Wisr facilitated $53 million in loan originations, pushing its cumulative loan originations to $1.6 billion. Simultaneously, its loan book grew by 19% compared to the previous corresponding period, reaching $931 million.
WZR CFO Andrew Goodwin told Stockhead it has a secured vehicle loan product for $10-100k and 3, 5, or 7-year terms.
“Notwithstanding being launched after our personal loan product, it’s a meaningful part of the business while also representing an opportunity for us to scale,” he says.
Goodwin says the average vehicle loan amount is ~$35k.
“The risk band and corresponding interest rate are determined by a number of factors, including the age of the vehicle, the applicant’s credit score and property ownership status,” he says.
Goodwin says WZR’s customers are borrowers with strong/prime credit scores – those that traditionally would go to their bank for a car loan.
So where in Australia is demand for a WZR car loan the most?
“We’re seeing the most significant demand from New South Wales and Queensland,” he says.
“From a trends perspective, we’re seeing growth in demand despite the cash rate increasing, given people still need vehicles to replace older vehicles or get that new car for work, family, etc.
“From a supply perspective, we note that used cars no longer carry as much of a premium compared to historical Covid-19-driven new car supply constraints, and new vehicles, while supply is improving, are now being made to order versus driving off the lot.
MME’s secured vehicle finance product, Autopay, leverages AI, digital identity verification and automation to process car loans within an hour, seven days a week.
CEO and managing director Clayton Howes says since its launch in April 2019, Autopay has rapidly become one of MME’s core products.
“In FY22, it drove our highest number of new loan originations, playing a pivotal role in our substantial growth,” he says.
“Despite our strategic shift towards measured growth and profitability in FY23, the demand for our market-leading Autopay product remains strong.”
Looking ahead, Autopay will continue to be a strategic priority for MME.
“We see a number of critical trends in the car loan space. Firstly, large incumbents not competing in the secured vehicle finance sector because of poor technology have opened a significant market opportunity for fintech lenders like MONEYME,” he says
“Secondly, the car loan landscape is ripe for a digital overhaul.
“Fintech lenders hold a technological edge, delivering a contemporary customer experience that outshines the traditional process where approval and settlement can drag on for days.”
He says the growing global uptake of EVs is a critical trend to watch.
“The increasing availability of EVs in Australia is spurring local demand, which we’ve also observed in our own data.
“There is a small but clear trend towards EVs in our Autopay customer data, which MONEYME has anticipated with our recently launched discounted rate for EV loans.”
“Not only does this EV discount align with our sustainability focus, but this growing customer segment also boasts a strong credit profile, which is especially attractive in more challenging market conditions.”
He says consequently, fintechs are vying for this segment’s attention by offering discounted rates.
According to MME Autopay customer data:
The top 10 makes for FY23 Autopay loans were:
In its Q4 FY23 trading update MME pre-released some full year key headline metrics including gross revenue forecast to be more than $230 million and a loan book of $1.1 billion.
Broker Morgans recently upgraded MME from a Hold to Speculative Buy with a 12-month target price of 28 cents/share.
Morgans says its Q4 update highlighted ongoing strategic focus of the business towards maintaining profitability and tempering book growth to focus on a higher credit quality cohort.
In its Q1 FY24 results released in July PLT announced that its automotive loan book reached a $1 billion milestone as its loan portfolio rose to $1.90 billion, 32% above PCP and 8% above prior quarter.
The fintech says its achieved record quarterly loan originations of $332 million, 15% above PCP and 20% above prior quarter, driven by record renewable energy and record personal lending, combined with a strong recovery in automotive loan originations.
In June PLT announced it had completed a $406 million automotive loan asset-backed securities (ABS) transaction, increasing its total ABS issuance to more than $1.7 billion.
PLT says the ABS structure was rated by Moody’s and Fitch, with the strength of the credit performance and credit profile of the underlying borrowers reflected in the credit support required for each tranche.
PLT has been moving to boost its automotive lending, particularly in the EV space. In November 2021 the company launched EV specific lending.
“More and more Australians are recognising the clear benefits of EVs – meaning the EV market is starting to take off. Plenti’s faster, fairer EV finance and tools will help more Australians transition to an EV, making it easier than ever to research, find and purchase their first EV,” CEO Daniel Foggo said at the time.
Since then it has signed up with online automotive retailers including online EV retailer The Good Car Company.
“We keep our prices low by selling low kilometre pre-owned and new electric vehicles from the UK and Japan,” The Good Car Company says on its website.
The Australian-listed non-bank lender is backed by US global investment company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, which retains ~60% holding and is focused on the mortgage and asset finance markets in Australia and New Zealand.
PPM in 2022 acquired a 65% stake in car loan broker Stratton Finance for $78 million, bolstering its existing fast-growing asset finance business.
Meanwhile, there has been growing speculation of a buyout of PPM, including with interest from private equity firm BGH Capital.
PPM is due to release its 2023 half year results next week.
At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Wisr and MoneyMe are Stockhead advertisers, they did not sponsor this article