For Uber, black ink on the road ahead?
The ride-hailing giant, extending its platform model into adjacent businesses such as freight and food delivery, is aiming to deliver a profit earlier than might have been anticipated — as in, the end of this year.
Adjusted revenues were $3.7 billion, representing a 42 percent gain, and that number was in line with expectations.
Drilling down into the numbers, monthly active platform customers were 22 percent to 111 million.
Gross bookings of $18.1 billion were better than the $18 billion analysts had expected, up 28 percent, while within that number, ride-sharing bookings were $13.2 billion, gaining 20 percent and Uber Eats were $4.4 billion, up more than 70 percent, as measured in constant currency.
Indicating at least some progress toward profits, the company’s net loss for the fourth quarter was $1.1 billion, where consensus had that line item at $1.2 billion.
No More Growth ‘At All Costs’
With a nod toward what might have been among the key concerns headed into the latest earnings report (and beyond), CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement that “We recognize that the era of growth at all costs is over. In a world where investors increasingly demand not just growth, but profitable growth, we are well-positioned to win through continuous innovation, excellent execution, and the unrivaled scale of our global platform.”
Data provided by the company show that trips for the full year were up 32 percent, to 6.9 billion, as measured against 2018.
As measured on a GAAP basis, revenues in the United States and Canada were up 41 percent, to $2.5 billion, and marked the fastest-growing region. At the same time, sales in Latin America were up 31 percent to $553 million.
On the conference call with analysts, Khosrowshahi said that cross-platform users were up by 68 percent. And, with commentary about the drive toward profitability, he said that reaching that goal could be achieved with what he termed “only modest improvements” across the competitive landscape (though the assumptions are also that the regulatory environment would remain somewhat steady). The CEO said, too, that the company will continue to invest in other transportation businesses such as scooters and bikes. One way to boost efficiencies will come through better algorithms for its rides business.
With more granular detail in the ride segment, the launch of Uber Comfort helped drive 54 percent year-over-year growth in the premium rides segment, while the firm also said that UberX trip growth continued, notching 23 percent growth in the latest quarter.
The company also detailed that the airport focused business growth has outpaced that of rides overall. Uber said it would continue to roll out its PIN product, through which riders receive a PIN and take it to the driver that is in line, rather than being paired with a specific driver.
Uber for Business has seen gross bookings surge to $1.2 billion in the latest quarter, while managed accounts was up by 75 percent year over year. For the Freight business, Uber said that in-app bundles, which allow carriers to book multiple loads at once, have reduced “empty miles” versus non-Uber Freight matched bundles, according to presentation materials.
Feasting On Eats
Along with the triple-digit gain in adjusted net sales, Uber’s gross bookings in the Eats segment, where management has said the firm is in “early innings” in the segment were up 73 percent, and the company has said that the take rate has improved, excluding the India operations that were just sold, by 60 basis points. Management has said that Uber still is targeting the top positions in each of the markets it targets for the Eats business.
Looking ahead, Uber is guiding toward fiscal year 2020 bookings growth of between 15 percent to 23 percent — and that the final quarter of the year will be a positive EBITDA quarter.