Uber Technologies (UBER 0.33%) was one of the most popular growth stories on the stock market before the pandemic shook the world in 2020 and 2021. During those two difficult years, the company was forced to innovate as its mobility (ride-hailing) business ground to a halt because of lockdowns and social restrictions.
It shifted its focus to the food delivery industry with its Uber Eats platform, which buoyed the company through the tumultuous period. But thanks to widespread vaccinations and therapeutics, society has now mostly returned to normal.
This year, and particularly in the third quarter (ended Sept. 30) results it just reported, Uber experienced an explosive resurgence in its mobility segment. It has carried the company to record results across several of its operating metrics, and here's why it makes Uber stock a buy right now, especially given it's trading down 51% from its all-time high.
Mobility is back
Ride-hailing is where Uber began. Its goal was to disrupt the taxicab industry by using technology to give consumers the ability to call a ride with the tap of a finger, and it's safe to say the company succeeded. But Uber also evolved and adapted to many of the challenges it faced, and it now boasts multiple diverse, high-quality revenue streams.
Uber's business is split into three core operating segments: mobility, delivery, and freight. Delivery took the reins as the company's main revenue driver during the worst of the pandemic. That remained the case until the recent third quarter when mobility roared back with year-over-year growth of 73% -- though a business model change in the United Kingdom did contribute to the jump, so it wasn't entirely organic.
For context, delivery lagged behind with a more modest 24% revenue increase.
Uber Eats played an integral role in society during COVID-19 lockdowns. It extended a lifeline to local restaurants, which allowed them to continue serving customers, even though they couldn't host them physically, and on the flip side, it enabled consumers to continue enjoying their favorite meals. The platform seems to have remained relatively sticky -- despite its slowing revenue growth rate, it is still growing, which suggests demand for food delivery might be here to stay.
But there's another opportunity emerging at Uber in its freight business. It's the company's smallest segment, but it grew by a whopping 336% in Q3 with $1.8 billion in revenue. It has quickly become one of the largest logistics networks in the world, applying the usability of the flagship Uber concept to the global freight industry. With 200,000 users and $17 billion in freight under management already, this is one piece of Uber's business investors need to watch.
Uber's gross bookings set a new record
Uber had a record-high 124 million monthly active platform customers (MAPC) in Q3, up 13.7% from 109 million in the same period last year. But in the mobility segment specifically, MAPCs increased by a much faster 22%, which highlights the gradual return to normal for societal conditions.
The increase in customers led to a record high in quarterly gross bookings for Uber of $29.1 billion, up 26% year over year. Gross bookings simply measure the amount that customers spend across the platform -- the total cost of a ride or a meal, for example. It's arguably the most important metric for investors to monitor, especially while the economy is weak, because rising bookings usually lead to rising revenue.
Uber's mobility and delivery segments were tied with $13.7 billion in gross bookings each during the quarter, though mobility bookings won the growth race with a 45% jump compared to just 13% for delivery. The former should complete a convincing overtake to claim the top spot once Uber's fourth-quarter results are announced in a few months.
Uber is inching toward profitability
Like most fast-growing technology companies, Uber sacrificed profitability to invest in growth and expansion, which could reap significant rewards over the long term. But given the tough economic climate, the company challenged itself to trim its losses and run a leaner operation.
In the second quarter of 2022, Uber became cash-flow positive for the very first time, and it backed that up in the third quarter. Its Q3 net loss was still quite large at $1.2 billion, but only $212 million of that loss was attributable to Uber's core operations -- the other $994 million stemmed from a decline in value in its equity investments plus share-based compensation expenses.
Even with an improving financial picture, Uber maintained powerful growth rates across its business, which is giving investors a healthy balance between leaner operations and the potential for high returns at the same time. That's why Uber stock jumped by more than 11% the day it reported its Q3 results, and it's the reason it could be poised for long-term gains from here.
At a 51% discount from its all-time high, now might be a great time to get involved.