(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc’s initial public offering (IPO) filing on Thursday will draw inevitable comparisons to its smaller ride-hailing rival Lyft Inc, which completed its initial public listing last month.
Following Lyft’s poor stock market performance of late, investors will be scrutinizing Uber’s financial results and projections closely.
Not only is Uber much larger than Lyft, but it is also more complex, with operations that go beyond its core ride-hailing business and extend into areas such as food delivery and freight transit.
The following are four key financial metrics which investors will be watching for:
Uber is a much larger company than Lyft, with operations in markets ranging from the United States to Latin America to North Africa. Lyft operates entirely in North America.
Uber also has a broader array of business lines, including a food delivery service and a platform for commercial freight.
As a result, Uber clocks much higher revenues than Lyft. Uber reported net revenues of $11.4 billion in 2018. That is in comparison to $2.2 billion for Lyft during the same year.
If one considers revenue growth, however, Uber may take a back seat to Lyft. Lyft has been rapidly gaining market share relative to its larger rival, meaning that its revenue growth has been outpacing Uber’s.
Lyft’s revenue more than doubled between 2017 and 2018, from just over $1 billion to more than $2.1 billion. Uber’s, meanwhile, grew 43 percent, to $11.4 billion.
This common measure of profitability will look similar to Lyft’s in one major respect: both Uber and Lyft are loss-making companies.
Uber reported an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) loss of $1.8 billion in 2018, compared to around $950 million for Lyft.
But expect Uber to argue to investors that its scale will give it a significant advantage in terms of profitability over the long run, allowing it to more effectively hold down costs.
It will also likely point out that its year-over-year losses are down, from $2.2 billion in 2017. Lyft’s ticked up over the same timeframe.
This lesser-known financial metric will likely play a big role in Uber’s pitch to investors. It is designed to show whether Uber’s operations in individual markets are profitable on a standalone basis by ignoring company-wide costs like marketing or technology investment.
Expect Uber to make a case that positive contribution margins in many of its markets mean that, fundamentally, its business model works.
Uber has a different method of calculating contribution margin than Lyft, so the two companies’ figures cannot be directly compared, a person familiar with the matter said.
Uber generates more rides than Lyft in large part due to its wider, global presence. Lyft had 18.6 million monthly active riders as of the fourth quarter of 2018.
Reporting by Carl O'Donnell in New York, editing by G Crosse