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What's Good for Lyft Is Good for Uber

By Rick Munarriz - Aug 8, 2019 at 10:12AM

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The second-largest ride-hailing specialist beats Wall Street targets in its latest quarter, and that's good news for the top dog.

It seems as if there's more tread on Lyft's (LYFT -4.11%) tires than the bears thought. The country's second-largest car-sharing service posted financial results on Wednesday afternoon that exceeded expectations across the board, and that's good news for larger rival Uber (UBER -4.79%) that will post its results after Thursday's market close.

Lyft's revenue soared 72% to hit $867.3 million in the second quarter, well ahead of all 30 analysts that were settling for 60% to 66% top-line growth. No one is buying into Lyft for its bottom-line results these days, but Lyft's adjusted deficit of $0.68 a share was also kinder than what every single Wall Street pro was targeting. Lyft is also jacking up its full-year guidance, essentially completing the Triple Crown of a blowout quarter.

A Lyft driver and passenger laughing during a ride.

Image source: Lyft.

Shifting into a new gear

This is a booming industry, despite shares of both Lyft and Uber trading below their IPO prices. Lyft closed out the second quarter with 21.8 million active riders, 41% ahead of where it was a year ago. Engagement also keeps improving. Average revenue per user is up 22% to $39.77 for the quarter. 

Stack the increasing revenue per user on top of the spike in riders and you begin to see why overall top-line growth is so strong at Lyft. The much larger Uber will check in with a significantly smaller revenue increase on a percentage basis, but a strong showing at Lyft is welcome news for Uber shareholders. It is far more likely that that the industry is growing faster than expected than simply Lyft rocking at Uber's expense.

Another encouraging sign for Uber is Lyft taking a closer step to profitability. Contribution margin has risen from 42.1% to 46% over the past year, suggesting that the industry doesn't have to be as promotional with its riders and drivers as it's been in the past. If Lyft's pricing flexibility is improving, it's a fair bet that the same thing is happening at Uber -- at least with personal mobility in North America where Lyft presently operates. Uber is on its own relative to Lyft overseas and in restaurant delivery.

Lyft's guidance is also high-five-worthy. Revenue growth will slow to a 54% to 56% clip for the current quarter, but the $900 million to $915 million that it's now targeting is a few blocks ahead of the $807 million to $885 million range of analyst forecasts. Lyft is also boosting its full-year outlook by as much as $200 million. It now sees $3.47 billion to $3.5 billion in revenue for all of 2019 with a smaller adjusted EBITDA loss than it posted last year.

This could be the wake-up call that the industry needed -- as long as Uber delivers on its end of the bargain with its upcoming report. Your move, Uber.  

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Stocks Mentioned

Uber Technologies, Inc. Stock Quote
Uber Technologies, Inc.
UBER
$23.04 (-4.79%) $-1.16
Lyft, Inc. Stock Quote
Lyft, Inc.
LYFT
$18.91 (-4.11%) $0.81

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