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Uber’s latest earnings report is less catastrophic than last quarter

Uber reported its third quarter earnings on Monday, in which it posted a net loss of $1.2 billion. It was not quite as stunning as the previous quarter, which saw Uber lose a jaw-dropping $5.2 billion in just four months. Most of that amount, around $3.9 billion, was attributable to stock-based compensation related to the company’s initial public offering. Today’s report beat Wall Street’s expectations, which assumed the company would lose $1.5 billion.

Uber said it brought in $3.8 billion in revenue over the four-month period ending in September. Gross bookings, or total customer payments to Uber before payments to drivers and other fees or discounts, grew to $16.5 billion, representing 29 percent year-over-year growth.

Uber has been under pressure from investors to stem its enormous losses and show how it can achieve profitability. Uber and Lyft, which both went public this year, have set records for the amount of money lost in the run-up to their respective IPOs. Since going public, both companies have continued to lose money. Last week, Lyft reported losing $463 million, or $121.6 million after adjusting for so-called EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization).

Uber’s losses also look a little bit better when you subtract those expenses. The company’s EBITDA loss was $631 million for the quarter compared to a $656 million adjusted net loss for the second quarter.

Still, it’s likely to be a volatile week for Uber’s stock price. Major investors in the company weren’t allowed to sell their shares at the IPO, a contractual obligation that ideally lets the share price find its balance without insiders’ influence. That lockup period ends on November 6th, and it could mean early investors may decide to dump the stock aggressively until the end of the year. Analysts estimate that 1.7 billion shares will become eligible for sale, roughly 90 percent of the total, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In response to a question about the expiring lockup period, Uber says its in “active dialogue” with long-term shareholders. “Obviously there’s a lot of supply that’s going to hit the marketplace,” Uber Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said in an earnings call with investors.

In the quest to rein in costs, Uber is slashing staff. The company has cut over 1,000 employees over the last quarter, or 2 percent of its entire workforce.

Uber’s largest growth market is still North America where revenue grew by 39 percent compared to the third quarter of 2018. And the company’s rewards program for riders reached 20 million members, setting up a potential revenue driver once Uber begins to allow participants to redeem points with its food delivery service, Uber Eats.

Uber announced a major overhaul of its app right before the end of the quarter. The company said that it would merge its ride-hailing and food delivery apps, add a raft of new safety features, and boost alternate modes of travel like bikes, scooters, and public transportation, as part of a bid to become, as Khosrowshahi says, “the operating system for your everyday life.”

Meanwhile, Uber is under increased pressure following Lyft’s earnings report last week when the company’s executives revised expectations on becoming profitable. Lyft’s co-founders said they now expect the company to become profitable on an adjusted earnings basis at the end of 2021, which is a year ahead of its original projection.

Previously, Uber has said it will start earning money within three to four years, and wants to achieve EBITDA profitability for the full year of 2021. “I would be very disappointed if Uber isn’t profitable in three years,” Khosrowshahi told CNBC last summer. “The investors are expecting profitability going forward. I think our rides business is the most mature business, so it is going to enter in an area of profitability sooner than our other businesses. With Eats, we’re looking to get into number one or two position in every market that we compete with. And I think our investors expect us to deliver.”

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