Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (RBA) Q2 2022 Earnings Call Transcript

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Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE: RBA)
Q2 2022 Earnings Call
Aug 05, 2022, 11:00 a.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Good morning. My name is Pam, and I will be your operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers’ second-quarter conference call. [Operator instructions] I would now like to turn the conference call over to Mr.

Sameer Rathod, vice president of investor relations and market intelligence to open up the conference call. Mr. Rathod, you may begin.

Sameer RathodVice President of Investor Relations and Market Intelligence

Hello, and good morning. And thank you for joining us on today’s call to discuss our second quarter 2022 results. Joining me today are Ann Fandozzi, our chief executive officer; and Eric Jacobs, our new chief financial officer. The following discussion will include forward-looking statements.

Comments that are not a statement of fact, including projections of future performance are considered forward looking and involve risk and uncertainties. The risk and uncertainties that could cause our actual and operating results to differ significantly from our forward-looking statements are detailed in our SEC and Canadian Securities Filing available at our investor relations website at investor.ritchiebros.com as well as EDGAR and SEDAR. For the identification of discussed non-GAAP financial measures, the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, and a reconciliation between the two, see our presentation slides, earnings release, and Form 10-K, all available on our website. I would like to now introduce Ann Fandozzi.

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Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Sameer, and good morning to everyone joining our call today. I am delighted to introduce our new CFO, Eric Jacobs, who has hit the ground running in his role. I’ll introduce Eric more formally when I turn the call over to him to discuss our financial results. So let’s get started.

We continue to execute and drive impressive results in the second quarter with 10% GTV growth, 13% service revenue growth, 11% adjusted EBITDA growth, and 10% adjusted EPS growth. The team is energized as we continue to build momentum on the top line, and we believe our growth initiatives are working to help us drive these results. As a strong signal of our continued confidence, we are increasing our quarterly dividend approximately 8% from $0.25 to $0.27 per quarter. Our customers remain our true north, and we continue to focus our efforts on improving their experience by working on things that we control in this unprecedented macro environment.

We are demonstrating that we can grow GTV and revenue in a tight supply environment, and regardless of whether we end up in a recession or not, our strategic efforts should position us to capitalize on that in a meaningful way. While we are still in early days in building our marketplace technology, we launched our first pilot to allow buyers to purchase an inspection on an asset. In the next phase of our thin wedge technology evolution approach, we will enable the purchase of an inventory asset through the buy-it-now functionality. The plan is to have a series of thin wedges configured between now and the end of the year, scaling functionality of the marketplace with each wedge.

We also continue to learn from our investments in local yards and new sales coverage model. Both initiatives are working well, and we will continue to scale them through the remainder of 2022 and into 2023. After our success in Texas, we have plans to roll out the new coverage model in upwards of 10 markets around the globe, starting with California and North Carolina in the US. Like many other companies, however, we continue to face challenges in finding and onboarding new talent, which we are working through.

Better sales coverage, local yards, and our marketplace technology are designed to reduce the friction for our customers and allow the flywheel to spin faster. All of this is to make it easier to do business with us and Ritchie Brothers to create shareholder value for you, regardless of what is happening in the macro environment. As most of you know, when times are good, Ritchie Brothers tends to do well as there is a lot of activity for our customers and equipment is naturally churning. Likewise, when times are tough, we also tend to benefit from increased supply, albeit at lower prices.

COVID however has brought us an unprecedented environment because despite the robust end markets over the past several quarters, the supply chain has not been able to keep up. Customers have not been able to buy new equipment to replace their aging equipment, which has resulted in a tough equipment supply environment for us. Since we are seeing the pricing of used equipment come off their all-time highs set in February, we are hopeful that supply and demand may start to come back into balance. We will talk more about this later.

What we expect for sure is that our customers will need us more than ever, if we experience a downturn. When times are tough, people need liquidity, and they need it quickly. We expect Ritchie Brothers to be at or near the top of their list. We have an omnichannel platform that will cater to all different types of disposition needs our customers will have.

Ultimately, this should allow us to highlight the historic counter-cyclicality of our business. Moving to our inventory management system or IMS. We had another strong quarter with 50% sequential growth compared to the first quarter. We define an activation on IMS as an organization that has signed an annual contract to allow equipment to be workflow digitally.

What is critical here is that the annual contract dramatically reduces friction for our customers as it eliminates the need to have contracts for each consignment throughout the year. The KPI we continue to focus on is the number of organizations. Think of organizations as the number of pipes being connected to our ecosystem. Right now without the digital marketplace fully running, there is not a lot of water flowing through those pipes.

We are fine with that. As the marketplace technology starts coming together to our thin wedge approach, we can quickly turn the tap on and ingest inventory at scale. This is why laying the pipes today with annual contracts is so important. Before I formally introduce our new chief financial officer, Eric Jacobs, let me take a moment to thank our outgoing CFO, Sharon Driscoll.

Over the past seven years, Sharon has been instrumental in the company success and has been an excellent steward of capital. She provided Ritchie Brothers, the financial flexibility to navigate not only large acquisitions, such as IronPlanet, but also the craziness of COVID. Although she is no longer in the CFO role, Sharon remains an executive vice president and a personal advisor to me. On behalf of the entire team here at Ritchie Brothers, the board of directors and our shareholders, I want to thank Sharon for her contribution to Ritchie Brothers.

Now let me embarrass Eric for a minute. When Sharon came to me and said, we should start planning for her retirement, she gave us the luxury of time, two years to ensure a smooth transition to find and recruit the perfect CFO for Ritchie brothers. I had a purpose-built spec. I wanted a highly experienced public company CFO who had digital marketplace experience, someone who has helped scale businesses while transforming them from analog to digital, someone who wants to win.

Basically, someone who has been there and done that. Oh and jerks need not apply. When the recruiter called and said the search was over, and I connected with Eric, I knew very quickly that he would be a phenomenal addition to our team. He will certainly accelerate our strategic vision to become the trusted global marketplace for insights, services, and transaction solutions for commercial assets.

Let me hand it over to Eric, who will take a few minutes to introduce himself and then talk about our second quarter results. Eric, over to you.

Eric JacobsChief Financial Officer

Thanks, Ann, let me add my welcome to everyone on the call today and a huge thank you to the entire team at Ritchie Brothers. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. It speaks volumes about the strong family like culture the company has built, owing a lot to Dave Ritchie. Let me spend a few minutes on my background.

As a public company CFO, you get a lot of calls and quite frankly, I wasn’t looking for a change, but when the recruiter told me it was for a large global marketplace and the analog to digital transformation that was widely profitable and generating a ton of cash flow, it definitely piqued my interest. Then I met Ann and the team and heard about the strategic vision of being the trusted global marketplace for insight services and transaction solutions for commercial assets. It was hard to contain my excitement about the opportunity. I was part of something very similar in the auto space, and it was transformational to that industry and wildly successful as well.

So let me start with my background in reverse. I was recruited from WheelsUp, a public company and the industry-leading marketplace for private aviation. Through organic growth in targeted M&A, the company has grown revenue from a run rate of $250 million to over $1.5 billion in four short years. And it also went public.

Before WheelsUp, I was at DealerTrack Technologies in Cox Automotive. DealerTrack also grew revenue from $250 million to over a billion dollars while I was a public company CFO for almost eight years before we sold the Cox Automotive in the transaction valued at over $4 billion. DealerTrack like WheelsUp was also an analog to digital transformation. It’s truly amazing the number of similarities between what Ritchie Brothers will do for commercial assets and what DealerTrack and Cox did for auto.

Cox had an inventory management system for auto dealers. Cox also had businesses in auctions, inspections, lean and title administration, financial services, parts and service listings, and data and analytics, including Kelley Blue Book. These capabilities were transformational to the auto industry and ultimately, I believe a successful inventory management and analytics platform like [Inaudible] would be transformational to our industry. I also have M&A experience benefiting to my career as a corporate lawyer.

I’ve been involved in over 40 acquisitions with many of them technology driven or international where I focus much of my time is on integration. Getting deals done is nice, but being able to fully integrate quickly and driving revenue and cost synergies is what helps make transactions successful. Each of my prior companies have had a large and growing international business, and at DealerTrack, I was also the President of the Canadian business and spent almost three days a week in Canada for several years. So Ritchie Brothers is a natural extension of all my professional experience.

Lastly, I’ve long believed that innovation plus execution equals success. And since my prior industry experience tells me that Ritchie Brothers strategy and playbook is spot on from an innovation perspective, it’s about execution, which is where I believe I can help the team excel. Now, let’s turn to our financial results. In the second quarter, GTV increased 10% or 13% on a constant currency basis with the strongest growth coming from Canada, with solid contributions from the US and international regions as well.

We had a few GTV records this quarter, and we are particularly proud of them. Both Canada and Australia had the largest quarters ever in terms of GTV. Congratulations to those teams. Canada was up 14% compared to last year, driven by our leveraging of our time to auction lot technology or TAL to hold more auctions more frequently.

In Australia, our investments in local yards enabled that market to hold their first national event, which greatly boosted their performance. Overall, we continue to see strong contributions from our regional sales teams, partially offset by the softness in our strategic accounts group something that the leadership team has spoken about in the past due to limited equipment supply. Although year-on-year mix-adjusted prices of equipment continue to be positive, we have been seeing sequential declines in the pricing of substantially all asset categories for most transportation assets. This was expected as it was not likely that used equipment pricing would be sustainable at these levels.

As Ann discussed, we see lower prices as a longer-term positive because it is a sign that supply and demand are starting to come back into balance. And as Ann has also stated in the past, we will take volume over price almost any day, given our ability to attach other services to volume. So overall, we are very pleased with our second quarter growth, given the very low levels of use of equipment in the market and the FX headwinds to GTV due to the strong dollar. Total service revenue increased 13% compared to last year.

On an organic basis, excluding the impact of smart equip, total service revenue increased approximately 11%. Total service revenue continues to exceed total GTV growth in line with the evergreen model laid out at the 2020 investor day. Other service revenue continued grow nicely increasing 29% of the quarter and up approximately 16% on an organic basis, excluding smart equip revenue of approximately $5 million. Ritchie brother financial services put up another amazing quarter growing its revenue 69%.

This growth was partially offset by lower ancillary revenue from logistics, refurbishment, and repair due to lower unit volumes in the overall mix of equipment. With regards to earning, our adjusted EBITDA increased 11% on strong revenue performance, even with the impact of higher SG&A costs, which was expected as we continued to prudently invest in our growth initiatives and marketplace vision. Also non-GAAP adjusted earnings per share increased 10% to $0.74. In the second quarter, effective tax rate, excluding the impacts of adjusted items was approximately 26%, slightly higher than the 25% in the same quarter last year.

We expect the effective tax rate excluding the impact of adjusted items to be between 25% to 27% for the full year corresponding to a GAAP tax rate of 22% to 24%. Turning now to our auction and marketplace segment, A&M services revenue increased 11% and our A&M take rate were A&M service revenue as a percentage of total GTV came in at a robust 14% for the quarter, up approximately 10 basis points compared to last year. The increase was primarily driven by an uplift in the buyer fee. Moving to A&M’s inventory sales, as Sharon noted in the past and as I expect to continue to note in the future, inventory sales tend to be lumpy and driven by consigner preferences.

In the second quarter, inventory sales increased 38% with strong growth contributed from all regions, particularly Canada, where the quarter inventory rate increased approximately 220 basis points year over year to 11%, which reflects excellent performance. Cost of service for selling general administrative expenses for up 25%. Note that SG&A expenses exclusive of share base payments and nonrecurring charges was approximately $128 million for the quarter. This was at the low end of the range, given last quarter.

We continue our prudent investments in our strategic growth initiatives leveraging this period of higher selling prices in the market to position ourselves for success in driving incremental unit volumes, which will be required to sustain our GTV growth as market pricing momentum slows. Also in 2022, we added smart equip to our portfolio, which was not in our prior-year results. The increase in SG&A expenses exclusive of non-recurring and share-based payments was also driven by our strong financial performance. This is resulting in higher incentive-based compensation compared to prior year.

Additionally, like many companies, we’re seeing inflationary pressures on our operating costs, as it relates to labor, durable goods, consumables, and travel. The team is working hard to offset these increases through improved productivity, and we will remain diligent in managing our costs within an acceptable range. For the third quarter of 2022, we expect our SG&A expenses exclusive of share-based payments and non-recurring expenses to be between $128 million and $133 million. Turning to cash flow and liquidity, our cash flow remains very robust with trailing 12-month operating free cash flow of $428 million, which is up 179% of our non-GAAP adjusted net income, delivering well above our stated evergreen model target.

At the end of the quarter, our adjusted net debt to TTM non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA ratio was 0.7x. As Ann also mentioned, we are very pleased to announce an 8% increase in our quarterly dividend to $0.27, delivering on our stated capital allocation priorities of growing dividends, as we grow earnings. Recall that in April, we abandoned our acquisition of Euro Options. And while we are currently below our desired levered ratio, our capital allocation priorities have not changed.

We want maximum flexibility to be able to accelerate our strategic vision, either through M&A or investing in technology or organic growth initiatives. For modeling purposes, we currently project interest expense of $10 million to $12 million in the third quarter. Overall, a very strong quarter across all financial dimensions. Thank you all for your support of Ritchie Brothers.

And with that, I will turn it back to Ann.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Thank you, Eric. Before we take questions, let me reiterate what the operating environment is today. While we are committed to driving results continuously up and to the right and have clearly demonstrated that commitment through strong double-digit growth the past two quarters, the equipment supply chain continues to be stretched. This couples with the fact that GTV in the third quarter is typically seasonally lower than the second quarter, and we will be cycling over the $100 million dollar burial deal from last year’s third quarter, we would expect our GTV growth rate to be less than the growth rate for the second quarter of this year.

In the broader market, utilization levels of equipment are high and customers are busy. The equipment is being used and it continues to age. We see this as non-destructible demand as almost all of this equipment will need disposition services in the future. Should a recession take hold, we have historically seen this translate to higher unit volumes, lower pricing, and an improvement in mix, as younger equipment comes into our channel.

In short, it should continue to translate up into the right performance. Until that time, we are focused on growth in today’s constrained environment by focusing on what we can control. Our teams are focused on providing the best solutions for our customers, continuing to test, learn, and invest in growth initiatives and executing on our vision to becoming the global trusted marketplace for insight services and transaction solutions. With that, operator, please open the line for questions.

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, we will now begin the question-and-answer session. If you have a question, please press star followed by one on your touchstone phone. You’ll hear three-tone prompt acknowledging your request, and your questions will be pulled in the order that they are received.

If you wish to decline from the pulling process, please press star followed by two. And if you’re using a speaker phone, please lift your handset before pressing any keys. One moment for your first question. Your first question comes from Michael Doumet with Scotiabank.

Please go ahead.

Michael DoumetScotiabank — Analyst

Hey, Ann. Welcome, Eric. Compared with construction, Ritchie’s generated a lot more GTV growth this quarter, and I guess since 2019 in the transportation sector. So I noted the two large inventory contracts in Canada this quarter, but any color that describes what looks to be outsized success in that end market in the last couple quarters?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Hi, Michael. I’ll start and then actually turn it over to Kari, our chief revenue officer, to take a bow. As a reminder, we have had — Ritchie Brothers is an incredible business. You guys know, and has been incredible cash flow model, cyclical, counter-cyclical, all of those things.

Really, if we had an Achilles’ heel, historically, it’s been the growth rate. Very anemic, low single digit. When this team set forward our new strategic plan in 2020 about becoming the global trusted marketplace for insight services and transaction solutions, the commitment we made in the evergreen model was to take that growth rate up, go from low single digits to mid single digits, to high single digits, to low double digits, that kind of thing, and how we got there and how we’re continuing to get there is a test and learn model. And we put a lot of those tests in 2020, early ’21, sales coverage model, satellite yard, so on and so forth.

And what you’re seeing in GTV again, in the areas that we control, is kind of the fruits of that labor. And it’s going to be — it’s never completely smooth. We learn, we reassess, we move on, but it’s just been an incredible performance. The team is highly energized, driving growth, despite the backdrop that we’re seeing from, for example, rental companies recently announcing that they’re going to be down in used equipment sale, significant double digits.

Despite all of that, we’re putting up double-digit growth numbers. So we’re super proud of the team. And, Kari, would you like to add something?

Kari TaylorChief Revenue Officer

Yeah. I would say strong execution on the Canadian front to call out the Canadian team in particular, but we also called out the Australian team. We had double digits pretty much across the board globally in the regional team. And when we talk about sales coverage, we also talk about customer focus and it’s no question, some markets are moving faster than others.

We’ve seen obviously an uptick in focus in one market versus another, and we’re watching utilization rates. But we are very focused to be sure every customer’s consistently touched and we are their first call.

Michael DoumetScotiabank — Analyst

That’s great color. Thanks. And I guess, moving to SG&A, [Inaudible] and non-reoccurring items that was up high percentage in the quarter. At the midpoint, you’re guiding for slightly higher in Q3 as a percentage increase.

I wonder if you can break down the expected increase in terms of what you would consider “pure inflation” versus investments for growth.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. So let me start, and then I’ll turn it over to Eric. So the way we think about SG&A, again, coincides with the commitments we’re making for growth, and here’s how that looks. I’m going to use Ritchie Brothers’ financial services as an example.

So again, we have a very strong point of view in the growth ability of this business, given the fact that we’re in a $300 billion industry, and today we’re kind of in that $6 billion of GTV, so a long way to go. RBFS is a great example. We started doing some tests in 2020 about different models to grow RBFS, Ritchie Brothers Financial Services, and we saw just incredible ROIs coming off of those tests. So we started putting the pedal to the metal at the end of 2020, beginning of ’21, adding resources.

Those have had incredible returns, obviously, as we’re seeing Ritchie Brothers financial services grow 70%, I mean, just incredible numbers. Similarly with satellite yards, coverage model, all of the things that we’re doing, we continue to test and learn and where we see a prudent return or prudent growth and incredible returns, we then start investing. Now, in the backdrop of the supply environment, you’re seeing some of those results incredible as they are, double digit again, still dampen by the supply environment, but we’re very proud of that. Eric, anything to add on the SG&A side?

Eric JacobsChief Financial Officer

Not that much, Ann. I think you kind of hit it. I think ultimately the growth in SG&A is really tied to investments, as well as the overperformance in GTV driving sales comp and incentive comp. I mean the comparison versus prior year of sales comp and incentive comp, we’re down.

As we look forward, it’s difficult to quantify the exact dollars of inflation, but we are traveling more. We are seeing fuel costs increase and such. We’re doing that — we’re offsetting that by managing prudently our costs, but we can’t really quantify the exact dollars for you.

Michael DoumetScotiabank — Analyst

OK. Helpful. Thanks very much, guys.

Questions & Answers:


Your next question comes from Michael Feniger with Bank of America. Please go ahead.

Michael FenigerBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. I understand you’re saying you’re trying to control what you can control. The market’s trying to figure out this spike in SG&A. You’re reporting GTV of 10%, EBITDA growth was up 11.

So the operating leverage was limited. Everyone recognizes you’re doing these initiatives. I guess the question is going into 2023, are we still scaling up this type of SG&A level? So if you, in 2023, grow GTV 10%, what’s the SG&A growth level going to be kind of looking like? That’s where I think there’s just some concern on this growth initiative, how that’s going to be scaling into next year.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. Michael, this is Ann. No. Completely understand the question.

So the first thing to note is if you take a look at a year-on-year basis and I think this is where Eric was headed at the back half of his answer to the previous question. If you take a look at year on year, we had a fairly dampen outlook in Q2 of last year, much lower curve. A bunch of noise, if you compare year on year. If you actually compare Q1 of this year to Q2 of this year, the flow through of the increased growth quarter on quarter was actually quite impressive.

So let me just tell you how we’re thinking about SG&A. We do not invest in new initiatives unless we are very confident about their returns. That’s number one. Number two, we prudently control the underlying cost kind of the steady state cost of this business.

No question, we’re not immune like anybody else to the inflation pressures of employee costs, travel, those kinds of things. We try to very much offset them with anything in our control. So we are head down focused on — we invest when there’s a positive ROI, we prudently control the costs that exists and laying the foundation. And this is the key.

We know that sooner or later the tight supply environment turns. We’re actually incredibly proud of the fact that all of the investments we’ve made actually are having very high returns. And again, you see it in the sequential flow through, if you take a look at Q1 versus Q2. Sooner or later, this supply will turn.

This equipment continues to age. And the things that we’ve put in place we are super proud of, will come to us. The one commitment we have first and foremost to ourselves and our employees, our board of directors and of course, to the investors, is that when we see the return slowing down, forget stopping, we stop the investments. We pivot, we learn, so on and so forth.

So that’s how we’re looking at 2023. That’s how we’re looking at 2022. You’re seeing the kinds of numbers we’re putting up, despite the backdrop of what you’re hearing from everybody else, which is down double-digit used equipment sales.

Michael FenigerBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

And just to follow up on that, you touched on the relationship between volumes, items versus used values. If volume and lockout does gradually pick up, how does that drive your service revenue growth? And if service revenue growth starts to really outpace GTV growth, this is just a longer-term question, what does that mean for the profitability and margins going forward for the business? Thank you.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. No, Michael. You hit the nail on the head, and Eric covered this a little bit in the prepared remarks, but let me just reiterate. We are naturally hedged.

It’s an incredible business, right? When times are tough and equipment is tight, prices go up. Great. When times are loose and equipment comes to us, prices go down, we’re naturally hedged. However, in no way, shape or form, does the pricing ever offset the volume for us because of the services.

You hit the nail on the head. Because we can’t attach — if we only have one piece of equipment to settle and its prices up, we can’t attach multiple services to that piece of equipment. The other benefit of services is that those are largely purely incredible flow through, almost pure margin in terms of the vast majority of our services. So yes, we are very, very bullish on the profile of the business that as the inventory comes up, and again, don’t forget the investments we’re making, sales coverage, satellite yard.

These are all that when the equipment comes, we are able to disproportionally benefit from the underlying equipment that comes with two incredible goodness. One, obviously GTV growth and revenue growth. The other is our ability to attach services is just really magical and incredible profit profile for this business. So you hit it exactly on the head.


Your next question comes from Gary Prestopino with Barrington Research. Please go ahead.

Gary PrestopinoBarrington Research — Analyst

Good morning, Ann, and hello, Eric. Welcome. Ann, you talked a little bit about some kind of a pilot you were doing to buy equipment, and I didn’t quite catch it and then talked about adding wedges throughout. Could you just go through that again, please?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yes, Gary. So let me start, and then I’m going to turn it over to Jim Kessler, our president and chief operating officer. So let me just talk a little bit about the marketplace that we’re building and the marketplace technology that we’re putting in place. So we’ve talked about this for a couple of quarters.

We obviously covered it at our recent investor day, but we are transforming this business to make it much more seamless and much easier for customers to do business with. So we can grow GTV as we we’re proving with or without kind of the marketplace fully operational, we can attach services, those kinds of things. We just want to do it smoother. We want to do it faster, and we want to have a higher penetration.

That’s what the technology marketplace is all about. And the way we’re building it, don’t think about it as an ERP, where I think a lot of questions I get is like, when is it going to be done? It’s never going to be done, right? This is a constant evolution. We’re constantly going to keep bringing new features, new models, but the approach we’re taking are these thin wedges where we pick off a product or service, and I’m going to use the example of the one we’ve picked off. We bring it to life, but by bringing it to life, we put in place the foundations of the digital marketplace this technology evolution that are critical for other services as well.

So the one we launched and don’t think of it as kind of a huge impact to the bottom line, but think of it as a set of capabilities that were put in place and ultimately, a new revenue stream that will come from it. We have never- traditionally we do inspection reports, and we have ironclad inspections for IronPlanet. And we have kind of much more limited inspections, if you will, when somebody drops a piece of equipment at our yard, historically, because they’ve come to live sales and they’re able to check out the equipment themselves, but now less and less people are doing that obviously since- during COVID. So what we’ve put in place is the ability for a buyer to ask for a hugely granular level of understanding about their equipment and an ability to pay for it.

And so think about once you do that, all of the pieces that have to get put in place in the digital marketplace, the connection to the physical auctions, the connection to the live equipment, the connection to the customer, all the stuff you don’t see, and again, it’s about putting these wedges in place, but really then ultimately an ability for buyers to click through, buy an inspection report. So think about almost like a car fax model. Gain more and more confidence about the equipment that they’re buying and then pay us for it. So that wedge was more about building the capability on a potentially new revenue stream.

We love that, but it was really about kind of wedging out this technology platform and getting the pieces up and running. But let me stop there and then turn it over to Jim to talk about kind of the broader context of how we’re approaching all of this.

Jim KesslerPresident and Chief Operating Officer

Ann, thank you. And, Gary, great question. And as Ann mentioned, with the inspection report and being able to monetize a new revenue, but the ability to have a platform that you can invoice across all of our platforms is super and important. And as you can imagine, we’re constantly looking at what are the ways that we can monetize and gain share in our ecosystem of services, and that goes for auction and regular services.

So a big part of what we look at are what are those areas that have a big upside that are incremental to our business that we haven’t participated in the past. So thinking about models of, if we are going to buy inventory, there’s a whole broker business that we don’t play in today. And the real reason we don’t play into it today is because of speed. But at this point with the Browse acquisition, the data that RV has, we have a unique opportunity with data to make very quick decisions and very profitable decisions for Ritchie Brothers.

And how do we start to bring all that together? So when we think about buying inventory, playing in markets that we haven’t played in, how do we gain market share? These are all the things we’re starting to pilot and look at. And really it all comes down to what are big spaces that we don’t play in. What’s incremental to our business? Is the flow through and profitability, something that we want to attack? So those are the things we’re kind of piloting in this process.


Your next question comes from Sabahat Khan with RBC Capital Markets. Please go ahead.

Sabahat KhanRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thanks. And good morning. I guess just, I think Ann’s comment earlier around if you’re seeing the returns or the opportunity when some of these investments decrease, you’ll pull back on investment, just thinking, I guess how you think about it.

Is there certain IRRs or ROI set that you’re using as thresholds, if you can just share some color on how you make those decisions?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. No. That’s a great question. The one thing I can say for the team, the thread that cuts across us, we are wildly analytical.

And so we look at — historically, this business has made a commitment to kind of returns of 15%, healthy returns on investments. We look at similar kinds of numbers. So we have not forgotten and are very, very proud of our prowess to drive those level of returns. And so when I say pull back, I mean, kind of — so one, obviously and absolutely, when we’re launching a new initiative, as Jim said in a much different way, using our technology.

We look at the returns, but what I meant is that if we’re not seeing them, we’re not seeing them to the same level, we pull back, we reassess. I mean, it allows us an ability to move very, very quickly. And here, let me just use an example of satellite yards. So we’ve said from the beginning, the magic of this business is that in some ways, it’s huge 300 billion of potential GTV, it’s also very straightforward, right? If you’re a seller, what you’re looking for is liquidity.

And what that means is you want the most money in your pocket. And if you’re a buyer, you want selection, you want confidence in the acquisition and you want a very intuitive, simple process to go through. So what we need to do is straightforward. Satellite yards, as an example, the thinking there was, hey, we put a yard closer to a seller.

The transportation costs are lower for them. The yards themselves are effectively just kind of parking lots that we rent. So it’s very low cost for us. And do we make it easier for sellers to do business with us and a lower cost model for them? And the KPI we’re measuring is incrementally — How we look at that is, however, these yards have short-term leasing so that we can continue to test and learn.

If we say, hey, this is just not the right area, or we’re hearing that consumers want it here and not there, we’re able to pivot and ebb and flow kind of continuously across the models. In the coverage model that we launched in Texas and are now going to be scaling across the globe, the same kind of thing. It’s how should we look at territories? What about the long tail and the inside sales team? The nice thing is that those people can work remotely. So if it’s not this region, it’s that region, we can still cover it.

So we look at the returns. Absolutely. We look at also flexibility, and we look at our ability to be able to pivot on the data. And as Jim said, more and more using technology to be able to get that data and pivot much quicker and find new revenue streams, bigger revenue streams, as we move along.

Sabahat KhanRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Great. Thanks for that. And then I guess, and if we look at the SG&A commentary in terms of the different initiative that you’re working on in the press release, seems to be quite a few things that are going on. I guess, from your perspective where are you looking to direct capital kind of, what are the big bucket spending items that we should expect over the next four to six quarters in terms of whether it’s investment-specific capabilities or other functions that you’re hiring so I get some perspective on that?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. So I’m going to start and then turn it over to Eric. So I think our headline is for our capital structure and our capital deployment is flexibility to drive incredible returns into this business. And so the way we think about capital deployment is obviously returns and being very, very flexible, whether they are organic growth initiatives, like the yards, like the sales coverage model, like Ritchie Brothers financial services, and I can keep going on and on, like the technology investments that we are making to ensure that this digital marketplace is robust, healthy, allows us to be even- lower the friction in doing business with our customers, but then as Jim said, open up new revenue streams for us and obviously the flexibility of M&A.

As Eric said, we’re below our kind of leverage ratio, if you will, when the Euro Option deal didn’t happen, but we remain very bullish on the ability for this business to scale through either M&A organic or technology investments. So that’s how we’re going to continue to look at the world. Eric, anything to add?

Eric JacobsChief Financial Officer

Yes. Thanks. So look, we don’t expect a step function and costs over the next couple quarters here. I think we’re continuing to make the investments that we’re seeing.

I think that from a capital perspective, you’ll probably see more capitalized software on the technology side, as we build out these thin wedges and gain more experience there. So that would step up a little bit, but you saw the strong growth from RBFS in the quarter, almost 70%. We want to continue to invest in that business and grow it. But nothing of a step function where you’re going to see a dramatically increase.

I mean, we’ve been adding some costs in the business, we’re incurring additional costs due to inflation. There’s not a step drop in the short term either, but we don’t see significant change.

Sabahat KhanRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

OK. Last one for me, I guess, around the comments around capital allocation. I guess just with the market, as volatile as it is, how actively aggressively are you considering M&A? Could transactions Euro Options be possible even over the next kind of 12, 24 months? And then on M&A, kind of, what are the specific things that you’re looking for at this point and whether it’s the market cycle or just in terms of your strategy?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. So absolutely market volatility, but we are focused on the long term. Market volatilities come and go. We are focused on kind of — we’ve had the first 60 years with Ritchie Brothers.

We’ll focus on the next 10, 20, and 60-year kinds of cycles. So the way we look at M&A is, as we’ve said, the KPI for our M&A is three things. One, we look for incredible businesses in their own rights. Two, we look at very strong management teams that can continue to drive it.

And then three, we look at step change for the underlying Ritchie Brothers’ ecosystem that these acquisitions can bring. And so whether it is something like a Euro Option where it just gave us almost overnight, a significantly enhanced coverage model on which we can then sell services, all of these kinds of things that that business wasn’t doing, or whether [Inaudible] incredible data business, allowing us to leverage the footprint of Ritchie Brothers to be able to help that business grow, but then also leverage roots in kind of helping our own understanding of the industry as we do at- risk deals or anything else, or a smart equip that allows us to tap into the parts and service ecosystem by actually making it better for our dealer partners to attach parts at the time of purchase. Again, when the marketplace is up and running, we ensure that when we look at M&A, all three of those things hold. So that’s the same focus we have today as we’ve always had, which is we have a very full M&A pipeline.

And when we see businesses that fit those three bills, we will act. So that time we will not and our balance sheet certainly gives us the flexibility to do all of the above.

Sabahat KhanRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Thanks very much.


[Operator instructions] Your next question comes from Bryan Fast with Raymond James, please go ahead.

Bryan FastRaymond James — Analyst

Good morning, and welcome. Eric. Just on IMS, while the growth metrics, I guess, are appreciated, could you give some more color on what you’re seeing when it comes to early adoption by those customers? Are you seeing examples of increased transactions through the Ritchie platform once they’ve adopted the system?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. So I’m going to turn this over to Kari in a minute, as she and her team have been really driving this initiative. The way to think about IMS and again, we covered it, is really laying the foundation and the pipes of the digital marketplace. And this is where we are now with the single KPIs, the number of organizations, and that’s what we’re focused on with an ability, so when you think about a pipe today, it’s kind of a trickle going through that pipe and then tomorrow a stream, and then a gush, and then whatever analogy you want to use.

But we’re really very, very proud of what the organization is driving in laying that foundation for the future and Kari, our chief revenue officer and her team are at the helm of that. Kari, you want to chat a little bit more about it?

Kari TaylorChief Revenue Officer

Yeah. Thanks, Ann. So before IMS, literally every transaction a customer did with us was signed deal by deal, which means contracted deal by deal. And the first real big step of unpacking, where we’d been starting to move customers to annual contracts.

And we first started by customers who can sign with us multiple times a year, and now we’re targeting step by step. We want to get many of our customers on here. So it’s business as usual. Our focus has been the number of organizations, so we can build that map.

And just like Ann said, you can’t get to the digital marketplace unless there’s enough pipes out there. So where I get excited right now is, hey, how do we rally the team quarter over quarter, who isn’t on how do we add what’s needed? And then as more capabilities are within the digital marketplace, I’m confident that we’ll be able to add share at scale.

Bryan FastRaymond James — Analyst

OK. Thanks. And then you saw a sizable jump in revenue from financial services. Could you just go into a bit more detail on the drivers there and maybe the sustainability of those levels?

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Yeah. Let me start and then I’m going to turn it over to Jim. We were very proud of the revenue growth, obviously in the quarter, which continues up into the right is our message. Our focus on the evergreen commitment of taking our — if there is an Achilles’ heel in the business, historically, it’s been the growth rate taking that higher and higher.

So kind of from that anemic, very low single digits to mid single digits, to high, to low double digits and how those pieces come together is by the various pieces that are all under Jim’s purview as president. I think Ritchie Brothers’ financial services is the perfect example of how they’re thinking about the world. So, Jim, over to you.

Jim KesslerPresident and Chief Operating Officer

Yeah. Thanks, Ann. And the great thing with Ritchie Brothers’ financial services, what gives us confidence is not only when you look at the leads we get for our transactions, it also allows anyone who wants to finance equipment to bring it with them, if they can’t find it with Ritchie Brothers. So taking full advantage of our current transactions is great.

Andwe still have plenty of upside inside of Ritchie Brothers of the buyers who win to still optimize our financial services. But what’s also great about it is if you’re the second, third bidder in any of our auctions and you still need to go out, find an equipment, because you have a job coming up, their ability to use Ritchie Brothers’ financial services in that transaction — as we’ve been going through this tough supply time, we’re seeing a lot more of that taking place. So we feel really confident that there’s still tremendous upside in the business on both Ritchie Brothers transactions and also outside of us participating in those transactions in the future.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

I love it. And, Eric, anything to add?

Eric JacobsChief Financial Officer

Yeah. Thanks. So look, the number of deals is going up. The average size of the deal is going up, and because of the way we’re structured, we can address all different credit spectrums.

So it’s a great business. When I look back at my history and Cox and what they had in terms of their ability to help dealers finance either wholesale or otherwise, there’s great opportunity here for us. It was super exciting to me when I came on board.

Bryan FastRaymond James — Analyst

OK. Thanks. Appreciate the color.


There are no further questions at this time. Please proceed.

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Thank you so much. So let me just close with thanking everybody for joining our call. On behalf of the team, we are very proud of the performance that we continue to drive and specifically drove last quarter. Again delivering on the commitments made in the evergreen model, making prudent investments and setting us up for success in the future for many, many years to come.

So thank you to everybody joining our call. And with that, have a wonderful rest of your day.


[Operator signoff]

Duration: 0 minutes

Call participants:

Sameer RathodVice President of Investor Relations and Market Intelligence

Ann FandozziChief Executive Officer

Eric JacobsChief Financial Officer

Michael DoumetScotiabank — Analyst

Kari TaylorChief Revenue Officer

Michael FenigerBank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst

Gary PrestopinoBarrington Research — Analyst

Jim KesslerPresident and Chief Operating Officer

Sabahat KhanRBC Capital Markets — Analyst

Bryan FastRaymond James — Analyst

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