Lyft continues post-COVID recovery, but investors are far from impressed

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U.S. taxi company Lyft announced on Tuesday its financial result for the first quartera report that showed continued improvement after the loss of business it experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The former unicorn startup generated $875.6 million in revenue in the first quarter, up about 44% from last year. Contrary to forecasts, the company’s CEO, Logan Green, said in a press release that the company’s larger-than-expected revenue growth “was driven by increased demand and sustained levels of drivers.”

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According to Yahoo Finance, investors expected the company’s revenue to be $846.0 million. However, that wasn’t enough to lift Lyft’s stock, which fell more than 12% after hours. The company’s consistently declining performance, as well as the specter of driver incentives, angered investors with the company’s results.

However, Lyft’s business has improved since the deep COVID downturns. In the first quarter, for example, Lyft’s active ridership hit 17.8 million, up nearly 32% from a year ago of 13.5 million. And those riders are spending more than they did at the start of 2021: Lyft’s revenue per active rider” rose to $49.18 in the first quarter of 2022 from $45.13 last year; the latter number is about 9% more than its 2021 comparative result.

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How did the growing revenue translate into profit?

In GAAP terms (an acronym for American Standard Accounting Methods), Lyft had a very loss-making quarter with a net loss of $196.9 million. Despite an improvement from last year’s $427.3 million GAAP net loss, the company’s first-quarter 2022 net loss represents a substantial percentage of its revenue.

In adjusted terms, the news is better. Lyft’s first quarter 2022 adjusted EBITDA was $54.8 million, more than $127 million more than a year ago. In other words, the era of taxi companies operating positive adjusted EBITDA continues.

Bad news

So far, Lyft is doing well, so why did the stock drop? The following chart from the earnings presentation gives clues:

While Lyft did post significant gains in terms of active ridership and revenue per passenger compared to last year’s results, the company is seeing some softening in its recent results, including a notable decline in revenue per passenger from fourth year levels. quarter of 2021. the second quarter of a consistent decline in active passenger traffic. For investors looking for the company’s future growth, these figures are not encouraging.

Adding to the bad news, Lyft’s $502.5 million in Q1 2021 contribution—essentially its revenue minus revenue costs plus some items—was less than what was recorded in the third and fourth quarters. 2021. Clearly Lyft has done painstaking work to get out of its previous COVID-related doldrums, its short-term growth path is less clear than investors might wish.

Uber, internal rival Lyft, will report its first quarter results tomorrow. We then take a better look at the US taxi market in these numbers, as well as an early set of data on the financial health of the delivery market, something Lyft has long avoided.

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