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Full Truck Alliance (NYSE: YMM)
Q2 2023 Earnings Call
Aug 23, 2023, 8:00 a.m. ET


Prepared Remarks Questions and Answers Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Ladies and gentlemen, good day, and welcome to Full Truck Alliance’s second-quarter 2023 earnings conference call. Today’s conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mao Mao, head of investor relations. Please go ahead.

Mao MaoInvestor Relations

Thank you, operator. Please note that today’s discussion will contain forward-looking statements relating to the company’s future performance, which are intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability as established by the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Such statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors.

Some of these risks are beyond the company’s control and could cause actual results to differ materially from those mentioned in today’s press release and discussion. A general discussion of the risk factors that could affect FTA’s business and financial results is included in certain filings of the company with the SEC. The company does not undertake any obligation to update this forward-looking information, except as required by law. During today’s call, management will also discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures for comparison purposes only.

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For a definition of non-GAAP financial measures and a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financial results, please see the earnings release issued earlier today. Joining us today on the call from FTA’s senior management are Mr. Hui Zhang, our founder, chairman, and CEO; and Mr. Simon Cai, our CFO.

Management will begin with prepared remarks, and the call will conclude with a Q&A session. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. In addition, a webcast replay of this conference call will be available on FTA’s investor relations website at I will now turn the call over to our founder, chairman, and CEO, Mr.

Zhang. Please go ahead.

Hui ZhangFounder and Chief Executive Officer

[Foreign language] Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us today on our second-quarter 2023 earnings conference call. In the second quarter, we continued accelerating the industry’s digital and intelligent evolution while maintaining our vision, user-centric, value-oriented to fortify our business and boost our market share gains. These efforts have considerably paid off by solidifying our market-leading position and giving us the ability to make a series of important advancements. During the quarter, our intent focus on the long haul full truckload business enabled us to further enhance the segment market penetration centered around our core value proposition of better, faster, and more economical shipping.

We assisted enterprises to reduce logistic costs and improve efficiency, which help to strengthen our users’ competitive edge in logistics. Furthermore, we made significant developments in broadening our user base through our relentless product upgrades and effective online and offline operations, which drove our revenue growth to new levels. These critical accomplishments are attributed to our efforts in deeply cultivating the industry’s digitalization, our unique business model, and our team’s outstanding execution capabilities. [Foreign language] As a result of our hard work and commitment, we achieved several new milestones in the second quarter.

In regard to our user scale, both our professional shipper users and direct shippers recorded stellar growth with the average shipper MAU jumping to a historical high during the quarter, growing by 30.5% year over year to 2 million. The growing number of our high-quality direct shippers elevated our overall fulfillment rate. Additionally, we rolled out a series of new product functions including a streamlined shipping process, standardized [Inaudible] shipment services, a comprehensive truckers’ rating system, and more efficient order recommendation strategies for truckers, which significantly improved the shippers’ experience, particularly direct shippers, as well as strengthened truckers stickiness, driving the number of field orders to 40.2 million, an increase of 44.5% year over year. On top of our outstanding operational highlights, we achieved strong growth momentum in both our top and bottom lines, which increased by 23.5% and 170.8% year over year, generating revenue of RMB 2,062 million and non-GAAP adjusted net income of RMB 722.7 million respectively, surpassing market expectations once again.

However, when looking at the millions of SMEs in China and the trailing RMB logistics sector, our online penetration rate remains relatively low in terms of both user and order scale. Moving forward, along with our expanding market share gains in FTL, we expect to continue to reap additional benefits as we consistently improve both monetization and operational efficiency through digital and intelligent advancements. [Foreign language] Looking ahead at the second half of the year, we firmly believe that, by building on our strategic position as the leading one-stop freight platform empowered by innovative technologies, we are advantageously situated to continue creating value for our users and the whole industry. With our users at the heart of FTA’s growth, we remain committed to our user-oriented value proposition as we continually optimize our services on all fronts while simultaneously elevating user satisfaction by offering superior services and products that better cater to users’ needs and preferences.

In line with this commitment, we are stepping up our investments in technology to propel FTA’s transition toward a more digitally empowered platform so that we can proficiently manage our teams and achieve a higher level of operational efficiency. Going forward, we are proactively responding to the changing market dynamics as we turbocharge our growth momentum across our platform through cutting-edge innovation. We will also keep an eye out for potential growth opportunities that fit FTA’s one-stop business model, as well as more effective approaches to acquire and retain users. As we further expand our user base and revenue scale, we aim to build additional value for our different stakeholders.

[Foreign language] Thank you, everyone. Let me pass the call over to our CFO, Simon, who will share our operational progress and the financial results for the quarter.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Mr. Zhang, and thank you to everyone for joining today. I’ll, first, go over our highlights for the second quarter of 2023 followed by a brief overview of our operational and financial results before opening the call to questions. For the past quarter, we delivered an impressive year-over-year growth in fulfilled orders of 44.5%.

Despite challenges from high temperatures and extreme weather in June, there was no clear sign of a slowdown in order volume. Our average daily order volume during the quarter surged to a historical high benefiting from improving [Inaudible] user scale and activities, as well as enhanced matching efficiency. In addition, the recovery from the pandemic, combined with a series of new structural changes in the industry over the past two years, contributed to a larger number of users meeting their shipping needs through online platforms, which is faster, safer, and more convenient. Building on this momentum, we continued to expand our market share in the quarter.

With the industry continuing to normalize, our average fulfillment rate grew by roughly 10 percentage points year over year and two percentage points quarter over quarter in the second quarter to 30%. It is worth mentioning that the average fulfillment rate of our 688 members exceeded 50% this quarter. This continued improvement in matching efficiency was driven by both sustained growth in [Inaudible] user scale and the ongoing optimization of shipper composition. We also successfully improved our products by strategically integrating technologies and using algorithms, along with strength — along with strengthening our efficiency and accuracy of freight matching.

Looking at the transaction types, with rising demand from direct shippers, the proportion of nonnegotiation-based transactions, such as tap and go and entrusted shipment models, continue to increase reflecting our platforms’ pricing power and users’ enhanced reliance. In regard to our users, we have made remarkable strides in broadening our user base with our average shipper now exceeded 2 million for the first time in history, increasing by 30.5% year over year. The increase was mainly from 688 members and nonmember shippers, which were up 25% and 40% respectively. The majority of which are direct shippers.

The continued growth of shipper miles year to date is mainly driven by the increase in stickiness and activity of existing users, as well as effective new user acquisition strategies. During the second quarter, as the supply of truckers increased, our average trucker miles responding to orders increased quarter over quarter with 3.78 million active truckers fulfilling orders through FTA over the past 12 months. This shows that more truckers are choosing our platform for finding cargo rather than relying on offline models of trading. Meanwhile, our 12-month rolling retention rate of shipper members and next month’s retention of truckers who responded to others remain stable quarter over quarter, once again confirming our platform’s high-user stickiness.

Going forward, we will continue to focus on the livelihoods of truckers and shippers, as well as local industry developments across different region nations — regions nationwide for further market penetration by verticals. We’ll also explore and capitalize on our platform’s benefits in addition to strengthening our connection with the real economy in SMEs. By refining our user composition and increasing the fulfillment rate and user retention, we’re successful — we’re successfully building a thriving platform ecosystem that generates long-term value. As Mr.

Zhang just commented, we have built our foundation by — by creating value for shippers and truckers. Since our inception, we have been committed to cracking down on maliciously low-priced shipments and maintaining a fair and normal transaction order in the market. Recently, the platform has launched a targeted product that utilizes big data and algorithms to predict, identify, analyze, and automatically adjust low-priced offers. This has significantly improved truckers’ efficiency in finding cargo and enable shippers to dispatch their goods faster.

In addition to addressing control and governance of militias’ low prices and other behaviors, we have also carried out a series of measures, product functions, and are actively guiding the freight rate. For example, when shippers’ bid is low, the user page will automatically remind the shipper to increase the price before placing an order. It will also send a reminder of the price increase in case there is no transaction within a certain period of time. In order to help some of the new shippers offer reasonable prices, the platform will also display around 90 days of similar sources of historical transaction prices for the shippers’ reference.

Although currently, there is an oversupply of truckers, we still thrive thrive to find a dynamic balance between truckers and shippers through the combination of providing price range control and pricing guidance. This approach is gradually addressing the industry’s pain point of low freight rates. Before going over the quarters’ financial results, I will quickly review the progress of our transaction commission model. We’re very delighted to report revenue from online transaction service surged 59.6% to RMB 555.2 million.

This is driven by our solid increase in the number of fulfilled orders and commission per transaction. With our user base and other volume continue to grow, we expanded our commission models coverage. In the second quarter, around 59% of the transactions fulfilled through us were closed under our commission model as compared with roughly 53% a year ago, generating an average commission per transaction of around RMB 23.4. As we further optimize revenue streams, transaction commission will remain a major growth driver of our revenue.

Now, I’d like to provide a brief overview of our 2023 second-quarter financial results. Our total net revenues in the second quarter were RMB 2,062 million, representing an increase of 23.5% year over year. This increase in revenue was primarily attributable to an increase in revenues from freight matching services. Revenues from freight matching services, including service fee from freight brokerage models, membership fees from listing models, and commissions from online transaction services were RMB 1,731.2 million in the second quarter, representing an increase of 22.8% year over year, primarily due to an increase in revenue from freight brokerage service, as well as continued growth in transaction commissions.

Our revenue from freight brokerage service in the second quarter were RMB 948.9 million, up 11.6% year over year, primarily attributable to continued growth in freight volume as a result of expanded user coverage. Our revenues from freight listing service in the second quarter were RMB 227.1 million, up 7.3% year over year, primarily due to an increase in total paying members. Revenues from transaction commissions amounted to RMB 555.2 million in the second quarter, up 59.6% year over year, primarily driven by an increase in order volume, as well as an improvement in take rate. Our revenues from value added service — services in the second quarter were RMB 330.8 million, up 27% year over year, mainly attributable to an increase in revenues from credit solutions and other value added services.

Cost of revenues in the second quarter was RMB 975.3 million, compared with RMB 925.9 million in the same period last year. The increase was primarily due to an increase in VAT-related tax surcharges and other tax costs net of tax refunds from government authorities. These tax-related costs net of refunds totaled RMB 879.3 million, representing an increase of 4% year over year, primarily due to a continued increase in transaction activities involving our freight brokerage service. Sales and marketing expenses in the second quarter were RMB 281.8 million, compared with RMB 196.2 million in the same period last year.

The increase was primarily due to an increase in advertising and marketing expenses for user acquisitions. General and administrative expenses in the second quarter were RMB 201.7 million, compared with RMB 344.8 million in the same period last year. The decrease was primarily due to a lower share-based compensation expenses. R&D expenses in the quarter were RMB 223.7 million, compared with RMB 216.4 million in the same period last year.

The increase was primarily due to higher salary and benefits expenses. Our income from operations in the second quarter was RMB 333.8 million, compared with a loss of 46.4 million in the same period last year. Net income in the quarter was RMB 609 million, compared with RMB 12.7 million in the same period last year. On the non-GAAP measures, our adjusted operating income in the second quarter was RMB 450.7 million, an increase of 113.4% from RMB 211.3 million in the same period last year.

Our adjusted net income in the second quarter was RMB 722.7 million, an increase of 170.8% from RMB 266.9 million in the same period last year. Basic and diluted net income per ads were RMB 0.57 in the second quarter, compared with basic and diluted net income per ADS of RMB 0.01 in the same period last year. Our non-GAAP adjusted basic and diluted net income per ADS were RMB 0.68 in the second quarter, compared with RMB 0.25 in the same period last year. As of June 30, the company had cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, short-term investments, and long-term investments of RMB 27.4 billion in total, compared with RMB 26.3 billion as of December 31st last year.

In the second quarter of 2023, net cash provided by operating activities was RMB 707.7 million. For our business outlook for the third quarter this year, we expect our total revenue to be between 2.16 billion and RMB 2.2 billion, representing a year-over-year growth rate of approximately 19.2% to 21.6%. This forecast reflects our current and preliminary views on the market and operational conditions, which are subject to change and cannot be predicted with reasonable accuracy as of the date hereof. Lastly, I would like to provide a brief update on our share repurchase progress.

From May 22nd to August 22nd, we have repurchased approximately 13.8 million ADS shares amounting to approximately $87 million. And since the — since the announcement of our repurchase program, we have repurchased a total of around 19.4 million ADS shares on the open market with a total value of approximately $124 million. In the future, we’ll continue to use — utilize prudent repurchase method to reward our shareholders. That concludes our prepared remarks.

We would now like to open the call to Q&A. Operator, please go ahead.

Questions & Answers:


Thank you. [Operator instructions] For the benefit of all participants on today’s call, if you wish to ask your question to management in Chinese, please immediately repeat your question in English. Today’s first question comes from Ronald Keung with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.

Ronald KeungGoldman Sachs — Analyst

[Foreign language] Thank you, management, [Inaudible] and Simon. I want to ask, as the fulfillment order growth was very strong at 44.5% and at a rate that has been much faster than the overall freight market. So, please share the reasons behind and how should we anticipate for order growth into the third quarter. Thank you.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Ronald. As you know, we’re — we’re a leading digital freight platform. We continue to gain market share in the full truckload market since the beginning of the year, driving the rapid growth of our freight volume. Excluding the low base effect from last year’s lockdown in eastern part of China and impact of the Chinese New Year in the first quarter, we see the main reason for the substantial year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter growth in other volume in the second quarter as follows.

The first, the fact that we further enhanced our transportation supply was critical in driving the growth in other volumes in the second quarter. In addition, to the removal of last year’s travel restrictions, our operation, marketing, and product team worked extensively on a series of operational activities. We also refined rules within the trucker rating system and introduced incentives to enhance the engagement of fulfillment and fulfillment rate for truckers. These efforts ensure the transportation capacity and quality resulting in a continuous increase in order volume.

The second point I want to make is the expansion of our user base. Our average shipper miles, as I said, exceeded 2 million for the first time in history. This is a significant milestone for us. And this achievement was driven by implementing two key strategies.

The first is on user acquisition through targeted promotional campaigns to strengthen our brand awareness. We also continue to gain traction with new users, especially high-quality direct shippers. As a result, we saw a continued increase in order volume, and our market share further expanded. The second point for this, I want to make is on the product experience improvement.

We remain focused on refining operations and providing customized services, which are centered around our core values of speed, quality, and cost-effectiveness and further enhancing shippers recognition and dependence on our platform. These two activities resulted in the increase in frequency and activity — and activity of our shippers. And, yeah. The — both the — the activity and shipping frequency of shippers of various types reached a new level compared with the previous quarter.

Looking ahead to the coming quarter, we maintain an optimistic outlook for the growth in order volume despite the potential impact of extreme weather conditions such as typhoons and heavy rainfalls. We noted that the effects are limited in June in terms of duration, and the provinces affected in August contribute relatively less to the platform’s overall order volume. So, we’re confident that through ongoing enhancement in user operations and services, we will continue to improve our market share and sustain our position as a market leader.

Ronald KeungGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Thank you, Simon.


Thank you. And our next question comes from Eddy Wang with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Eddy WangMorgan Stanley — Analyst

[Foreign language] Thank you, management, for taking my question. In the second quarter, the fulfillment rate have exceeded 30% for the first time with significant year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter growth. What are the main driving factors behind this growth, and how do you expect the trend in the fulfillment in the future? Thank you.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you. The — first, the improvement in the fulfillment rate is primarily attributed to the enhancement of our transportation capacity. As mentioned earlier, we have significant alleviated the shortage of truckers as the pandemic is behind us. This lead to a comprehensive recovery in the matching efficiency.

Building on this momentum, we have implemented various operational strategies, including the trucker rating system, introduced in the first quarter, to increase the engagement and stickiness of high-quality truckers, consequently raising the overall fulfillment rate. In the second quarter, the daily active truckers seeking to take orders increased at a rate of high teens year over year and reached over 1 million. This is the daily active trucker, which provides the platform with ample quality carrier capacity. The second point I want to make is the enhancement in fulfillment rate also resulted from ongoing optimization of our shipper composition.

In the past quarter, we continued to attract a substantial number of high-quality direct shippers to our platform. Among the approximately 2 million shipper MAUs, around 1.7 million of them are low- and medium-frequency 688 members and nonmember shippers. The average fulfillment rate for both these shippers exceeded 50% in the second quarter, and most of them are direct shippers who have an inherent tendency toward high-fulfillment rates, which contributed to the overall fulfillment rate improvement. Looking ahead, we anticipate a gradual increase in fulfillment rates, primarily driven by the growth of direct shippers.

While we might encounter some challenges from extreme weather such as high temperatures and heavy rainfall seen in the third quarter, we will continue to optimize our operational strategies, strengthen our transportation capacity management, and provide incentives and support to high-quality truckers so that we can maintain our efficient and high-quality supply. And furthermore, we will remain focused on enhancing user-oriented products and services to increase user satisfaction and engagement.

Eddy WangMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Thank you.


Thank you. And our next question today comes from Charlie Chen at China Renaissance. Please go ahead.

Charlie ChenChina Renaissance Securities — Analyst

[Foreign language] Can you, please, provide some update on the progress of shipper membership in the second quarter, which has very robust growth? And what are the main reasons for this growth? And also, how do we envision the growth of member users and membership fee revenue in the future? Thank you.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Charlie. Since our new-user registration only resumed last year, we have been consistently attracting more shipper users, particularly those direct shippers, to join our platform. Through a combination of online branding efforts, multichannel promotions, and offline campaigns, we have successfully converted a portion of these accumulated new users into new shipper members. Simultaneously, our existing shipper members showed high retention rates and stickiness with 12-month retention rates surpassing 80% this year.

For us, the primary advantage of the shipper membership mechanism lies in enhancing user stickiness and engagement, which, in turn, attracts more truckers and fuels healthy growth in both user members and order volume. Monetization through membership fees comes as a secondary benefit. The majority of our new shipper users are direct clients characterized by their high engagement, low frequency, and higher service expectation compared to professional shippers. As a result, our membership conversion strategy focused on optimizing user experience and providing value added services that appeal to direct clients such as priority matching, expedited shipping, and discounts on freight insurance to incentivize new shipper users to become members.

In the future, we will continue to refine our user acquisition and membership conversion strategies. We believe that China’s extensive community of small- and medium-sized enterprises will contribute to our potential user pool and thus further increasing the number of shipper members. From a monetization standpoint, there’s still room for improvement in membership conversion rates, taking into account the impact of new-user subsidies. We anticipate a single-digit year-over-year increase in membership fee revenue for this year.


Thank you. Our next question today comes from Brian Gong at Citigroup. Please go ahead.

Brian GongCiti — Analyst

[Foreign language] I will translate myself. I have a very quick question on our margin. Our gross margin for second quarter improved significantly, rising to 53% from 45% a year ago and also from 50% in the first quarter of this year. Could you, please, elaborate more on the main drivers behind the GP margin improvement? Thank you.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you, Brian. On a year-over-year basis, the improvement in our gross margin primarily stems from the ongoing optimization of our revenue structure. Notably, the contribution from commission based and value add-based services to total revenue continue to rise, and these two segments tend to have much higher gross margin compared to that of freight brokerage business — and driving the improvement in the company’s overall gross margin. In the second quarter, after excluding the impact of freight brokerage business, the approximate gross margin increased to 85.6%, compared with 84.4% in the same period last year.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, the change in gross margin is mainly impacted by the timing difference in tax rebates due to variations in the processing time of tax procedures and different tax rebate policies in various regions. This factor could lead to short-term fluctuations in the gross margin. However, it is important to clarify that the timing difference in tax rebates does not affect the company’s overall profitability. It simply causes slight variations in the gross margin within a certain time frame.

Brian GongCiti — Analyst

Thank you. That’s very helpful.


Thank you. And our next question comes from Jiulu Li with CICC. Please go ahead.

Jiulu LiCICC — Analyst

[Foreign language] Thanks for taking my question. I have one question about the recent announcements from several freight platform companies about lowering the maximum commission fees or membership fees on business. What are your views on the impact of this announcement? Thank you.

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Thank you. Through our — throughout our whole operation in history, we have maintained a very prudent approach and attitude toward commission rates, and our current commission rate is still low and far from reaching any limits. The recent regulatory guidelines issued by authorities, like Ministry of Transportation, can be seen as more of a positive development for our platform. Instead of suppressing commission fees, these regulations are intended to encourage platforms to adopt a more transparent and reasonable practice in their commission structures.

We welcome this regulatory measures and view them as a positive step toward providing a stable and sustainable operating environment, enabling us to operate with greater confidence in the future. In regards of our business, the recent adjustments to the maximum commission fee have not had a negative impact on our platform. For instance, the upper limit of commission for our entrusted shipping model has been lowered by roughly 10% from the original RMB 199 per order, yet it still remains significantly higher than the actual average commission per order we charge at the moment. In the future, we will introduce various type — types of products and value added services for shippers, thereby diversifying our revenue streams.

We believe that by optimizing fee composition and expanding service offerings, the platform economy will embrace more opportunities, as well as creating more room for growth. Additionally, our ecosystem and strategic position in the industry provide us with inherent competitive advantages. We’ll continue to strengthen the development of our ecosystem, introduce innovative services and solutions to bring greater value to our users. And this approach will further drive the development and advancement of the freight transportation industry as a whole.


Thank you. And, ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the question-and-answer session. I’d like to turn the conference back over to Mao Mao for any closing remarks.

Mao MaoInvestor Relations

Thank you. Thank you, operator, and thank you, everyone, for joining us today. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at Full Truck Alliance directly or TPG Investor Relations. Our contact information for IR both China and the U.S.

can be found in today’s press release. Have a great day.


[Operator signoff]

Duration: 0 minutes

Call participants:

Mao MaoInvestor Relations

Hui ZhangFounder and Chief Executive Officer

Simon CaiChief Financial Officer

Ronald KeungGoldman Sachs — Analyst

Eddy WangMorgan Stanley — Analyst

Charlie ChenChina Renaissance Securities — Analyst

Brian GongCiti — Analyst

Jiulu LiCICC — Analyst

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