Uber’s revenue jumps as riders venture out after Omicron surge

Uber’s fortunes have ebbed and flowed along with COVID-19 infection rates and restrictions.

Uber signage on a vehicle
In the three months ending December 31, Uber reported $25.9bn in gross bookings, which encompass ride-hailing, food-delivery and freight, a 51 percent increase from the same period last year [File: Bloomberg]

Uber Technologies Inc. reported revenue in the fourth quarter that beat analysts’ estimates as it recorded the most active users in its history, helping mute disruptions from omicron in ride sharing and boosting gains in delivery.

Revenue rose 83% to $5.8 billion, the San Francisco-based company said Wednesday in a statement. That beat the $5.4 billion analysts had projected, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“While the Omicron variant began to impact our business in late December, mobility is already starting to bounce back,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in the statement, noting that gross bookings are up 25% in the most recent week from a month earlier. The shares rose about 4% in extended trading.

In the three months ending Dec. 31, Uber reported $25.9 billion in gross bookings, which encompass ride-hailing, food-delivery and freight, a 51% increase from the same period last year. Monthly active platform users reached an all-time high of 118 million.

Like it’s rival Lyft Inc., Uber’s progress toward reaching pre-pandemic ridership was thwarted by omicron, which kept people away from offices, schools and social events. The companies’ fortunes have ebbed and flowed along with Covid-19 infection rates and restrictions, which impact demand for rides as well as meal delivery. Lyft Inc. reported fewer riders than analysts expected in the fourth quarter, but also recorded its highest ever revenue per rider.

Uber graph

“Our results demonstrate just how far we’ve come since the beginning of the pandemic,” Khosrowshahi said.

While Uber’s gross mobility bookings grew 67% from a year earlier to $11.3 billion, in line with analysts’ expectations, they are still about 16% lower than pre-Covid levels.

Uber offered a tempered forecast to account for an impact from omicron, projecting gross bookings of $25 billion to $26 billion in the first quarter. Analysts expected $27 million.

The pandemic fundamentally changed Uber’s business composition, forcing it to bolster its delivery unit when demand for rides plummeted. The company expanded offerings to include grocery, alcohol and convenience items, which have contributed to bookings in the delivery segment, eclipsing mobility. Uber said its delivery business recorded its first profit on adjusted Ebitda basis of $25 million during the quarter.

A key challenge to a recovery in for Lyft and Uber has been a shortage of drivers to meet customer demand. The imbalance has resulted in higher wait times and fares.

Uber has increasingly focused on refining its membership service to increase user retention rates across meal-delivery and rides. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization was $86 million in the fourth quarter. Analysts expected $63.6 million.

Uber’s unrealized gains from stakes in Grab Holdings Ltd. and Aurora Innovation Inc. reaped $1.4 billion, which contributed to net income of $892 million.


Source: Bloomberg