Singapore's Online Portal PropertyGuru Remains in the Red Even as Fourth Quarter Revenue Jumped

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  • PropertyGuru delivered a net loss of $5 million Singapore dollars ($3.7 million) while revenue improved 17% in the fourth quarter of 2022.
  • The company cited challenges such as rising interest rates, government credit intervention in Vietnam and residual political uncertainty in Malaysia.
  • "I believe the stock is going to face some challenges in the near-term, especially with the cooling measures by governments across the Southeast Asian region, but I think it's going to have a major turnaround once PropertyGuru shows an early signs of trajectory towards positive net profit after tax," said Maximilian Koeswoyo, research analyst at Phillip Securities.

SINGAPORE — Singapore's online real estate portal PropertyGuru posted a net loss of 5 million Singapore dollars ($3.7 million) in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The loss comes as global interest rates continue to rise, and as Vietnam, one of its key markets, tightened borrowing in real estate.

Net loss for the three months to December 2022 came in at SG$5.2 million. That's nearly a 30% improvement from the previous quarter's net loss of SG$7.4 million.

Full year net losses in 2022 amounted to SG$129.2 million, better than a net loss of SG$187.4 million the previous year.

The firm has yet to post a full-year profit since launching in 2007. It currently dominates the Southeast Asian market.

"Although it is difficult to say when PropertyGuru is able to be back in black in terms of net profit after tax, its 30% improvement in net loss is commendable," said Maximilian Koeswoyo, a research analyst at Phillip Securities.

Meanwhile, revenue in the fourth quarter came in at SG$40 million, about 17% increase from a year ago. Full year revenue jumped 35% to SG$136 million.

Shares of PropertyGuru closed 1.68% higher on Wednesday.

"An increased product adoption, improved pricing and the continued integration of the iProperty acquisition all helped to offset challenging market decisions. That said, macro and fiscal policy uncertainty continues to test our customers," said Hari Krishnan, CEO and managing director of PropertyGuru, during the earnings call on Wednesday.

"We believe that the headwinds our core markets now face are largely temporary, and the longer term runway and underlying prospects for economic performance in Southeast Asia have not changed," said Krishnan.

Adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the quarter was a positive SG$5 million, up from an adjusted EBITDA loss of SG$4 million in the same period in 2021. 

Krishnan said higher borrowing costs and uncertainty around Malaysia's national elections in November impacted sales, while the Singapore market remained resilient. In Vietnam, the government continued to tighten credit to manage debt levels resulting in a drop of property listing.

After acquiring its Southeast Asian competitors — such as iProperty and brickz in Malaysia, thinkofliving and Prakard.com in Thailand in 2021, as well as Batdongsan in Vietnam in 2018 — the firm remains a dominant player in the region.

"PropertyGuru is definitely still in a growth-stage mindset as it is still actively looking for further merger and acquisition opportunities and focusing on how it can provide a more complete service offerings on its platform," Koeswoyo told CNBC in an email.

"PropertyGuru's stock has lost about 50% of its value since its listing in March 2022 and its daily volume is on the low side as well, so I think the stock has not garnered significant attention from the investors," said Koeswoyo.

"I believe the stock is going to face some challenges in the near-term, especially with the cooling measures by governments across the Southeast Asian region, but I think it's going to have a major turnaround once PropertyGuru shows an early signs of trajectory towards positive net profit after tax," said Koeswoyo.

PropertyGuru expects the integration and scaling of the Sendhelper acquisition "to negatively impact profitability by SG$3 million to SG$4 million in 2023," the earnings release said.

Sendhelper operates an app that offers home services such as cleaning and pest control and was acquired by PropertyGuru last year, marking the latter's foray into the market.

The online property portal is maintaining a "conservative outlook in 2023" amid challenges, and expects full year 2023 revenue of between SG$160 million and SG$170 million and adjusted EBITDA of between SG$11 million and SG$15 million, it said in the release.

PropertyGuru began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Mar. 18 last year.

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