Lyft shares hit record low, adding pressure to Uber ahead of IPO

It posts $1.1 billion quarterly loss

SAN FRANCISCO — Lyft's stock slumped nearly 11% on Wednesday to a record low after the ride-hailing company posted a deep quarterly loss, putting pressure on Uber Technologies as it prepares to price its own initial public offering.

Lyft lost $1.1 billion for the March quarter, the company said on Tuesday, although analysts applauded its revenue growth. With the latest drop, Lyft shares are now down 27% from their March 28 IPO price, giving the company a market capitalization of about $15 billion.

Lyft's sharp decline since its Wall Street debut will weigh on investors considering whether to buy shares of larger rival Uber, which is slated to price its own IPO on Thursday.

Uber, which like Lyft is unprofitable, is willing to price conservatively within its stated range of $44 to $50 per share to avoid repeating Lyft's poor performance since its IPO, which was aggressively priced at the top of its range, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Uber, the world's largest ride-hailing company, is aiming for a valuation of $80.5 billion to $91.5 billion. That is as much as a third below what the startup's insiders had hoped for last year.

Uber will need to convince potential investors that it is different from the Lyft, and that could include highlighting its international operations and Uber Eats food delivery service.

Lyft's loss of $48.53 per share in the first quarter was largely due to stock-based compensation and payroll tax related to is IPO. It forecast that losses would peak this year, but did not say when it would make a profit.

Lyft's revenue rose 95% to $776 million, more than analysts on average expected, according to Refinitiv data.

Investors have struggled to figure out how much Uber and Lyft are worth, given both companies have not estimated a timeline for turning a profit. Some investors believe the eventual adoption of autonomous cars will help make the companies profitable.

Lyft did not disclose its quarterly bookings, riling some investors. Those figures include the portion of each ride's fare that goes to the driver as well as the part that goes to Lyft, a metric the company had called a key indicator in its IPO prospectus.

Twenty-three analysts cover Lyft, mostly with positive ratings, according to Refinitiv. Their median price target is $77, 44% above Lyft's record low closing price of $52.91 on Wednesday.

Lyft expects revenue growth to slow to 52% or 53% for 2019 after doubling last year. That would value Lyft's stock at 4.75 times its 2019 sales. Applying that multiple to Uber, based on revenue estimates of three analysts who have already initiated coverage, would value it at around $68 billion.

Uber was most recently was valued at $76 billion in the private fund-raising market.

Analysts from brokerages including Canaccord, Stifel, Wedbush, JPMorgan and Credit Suisse published upbeat notes reacting to Lyft's report.

"We believe Lyft will be both a catalyst and beneficiary of the growth of ridesharing and autonomous tech over the next 10+ years," Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote in a client note, maintaining his "overweight" rating and $78 price target.

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