Freightos, a digital marketplace for air and ocean freight, reported adjusted losses before accounting measures increased 83% to $5.8 million in the first quarter due to ongoing investments in R&D and customer acquisition, despite transaction levels doubling. The results suggest that transactional fees are still too thin to overcome ongoing startup costs.
A major slowdown in the shipping sector makes it unlikely Freightos will be able to materially narrow losses this year, but the company maintained 2023 guidance for revenue and other performance metrics. Management said it has instituted a hiring freeze and other steps to control spending.
The Freightos (NASDAQ: CRGO) platform has gained popularity for real-time pricing and booking of freight shipments, especially in air cargo, but investor confidence in the company’s money-making capability is low. The stock price has dropped 77% to $2.40 per share since Freightos was listed on the Nasdaq exchange in late January through a merger with a blank-check company, a move some analysts viewed as a last resort for fundraising.
The Israel-based FreighTech company on Tuesday reported an operating loss of $58 million, primarily due to a one-time listing charge of $46.7 million and other costs related to its business combination with Gersher Acquisition Corp.
Revenues increased 10% year over year to $4.8 million even with bookings reaching a record of 229,000. Unique users increased 29% to 16,000.
In March, Freightos significantly lowered its 2023 projected revenue growth rate to 15% to 21% and total revenue to about $22.5 million. Last year the company posted an operating loss of $24.3 million and adjusted negative earnings before interest, taxes and valuation charges of $14.6 million. The company reaffirmed adjusted EBITDA between negative $24.6 million and $21.2 million for 2023, with transactions growing about 60% to more than 1 million.
“Despite increased public company expenses in the second quarter relative to the first quarter, our cash burn is expected to stay roughly flat and we expect to see cash burn decline as revenues increase,” said CFO Ran Shalev in the announcement.
Carriers sell their capacity and thousands of freight forwarders conduct real-time rate comparison, book space, make payments and manage shipments on the Freightos platform. The system, which is primarily used for unplanned shipments, also enables forwarders to share pricing and service to their import and export customers.
Prices in international shipping have crashed by 90% for ocean freight and more than 40% for air cargo. As a result, Freightos downgraded the gross book value of its transactions for the year.
Founder and CEO Zvi Schreiber said during an analyst briefing that revenue expectations were unchanged because most transactions have a fixed fee. But it also makes money by capturing a small percentage of the transaction value. The decline in shipping rates means Freightos will make less money through that avenue.
Schreiber insisted the freight reservation platform is on track to become capital efficient while taking a long-term approach toward cracking open a huge addressable market.
“Our market share in the cargo booking space, the continued rapid growth in transactions, current cash on hand, together with positive unit economics, are positioning us well to execute on this vision, and I do believe that the public markets will come to appreciate our positive trajectory and huge total addressable market,” he said.
The air cargo booking platform is Freightos’ fastest-growing segment. There are now 37 airlines selling capacity on the site. The mix of offerings became more diverse during the quarter with the addition of JetBlue launching domestic cargo bookings to freight forwarders via a partner and three master loaders in China on WebCargo.
WebCargo is the portal where businesses book shipments with freight forwarders, who in turn make carrier reservations on Freightos.com.
“Four years ago airlines didn’t see us as a sales channel, but as a way to replace phone calls and as a slight efficiency thing. There was a limit on how much they were willing to pay for that. But now we’ve got quite some volume,” said Schreiber. In some European countries, Freightos represents more than 10% of total bookings and 70% to 80% of the digital market. “So we’re becoming an important distribution channel for the airlines and that makes it easier for us to negotiate a fair fee.”
Freightos is also extending its platform to international manufacturers and retailers with a feature that allows three-way instant booking. Home appliance maker Electrolux revealed this week that it is pricing and booking airfreight in real-time with FedEx Logistics. Several software providers, including CargoSoft, have embedded the Freightos digital architecture into their transportation management systems, enabling forwarders that use the technology to pull rates and book freight in one operating system. And Freightos is building a data business with a new product that provides granular pricing for specific trade lanes, access to the air and ocean indexes, and a push feed of market-moving news.
Schreiber acknowledged that ocean revenue is insignificant so far. He equated it to Freightos’ air cargo business in 2019, where there were only three participating airlines and a handful of bookings each week. “Honestly, it could take another year or two until that becomes financially significant. But in the long term it’s a bigger opportunity than air,” he said.
Freightos has about 400 employees. Schreiber said some product development could take a bit longer with the hiring freeze in place but said it wouldn’t have a noticeable impact on future growth.
The company raised $80 million by combining with Gersher, a special purpose acquisition company.