- Lyft is Wall Street’s first shot at ride hailing.
- While the company is much smaller than Uber, it has been slowly gaining ground on its global competitor.
- Business Insider compiled numbers from Lyft’s IPO filing to compare them to Uber’s self-reported numbers from the past two years.
All eyes are on Lyft this week as its executives head out on a roadshow to court investors across the country ahead of its hotly anticipated IPO.
With the ride-hailing firm’s prospectus finally public, it’s the first time many of Lyft’s financials have been opened up beyond the internet team.
For analysts and investors, it’s also the first time the comparison to Uber, Lyft’s much larger competitor, is finally possible.
Unlike Uber, which commands a slightly bigger market share in the US, Lyft has not reported its quarterly financials.
Business Insider dug through the IPO filing to compare Lyft’s performance in recent years to those of Uber.
Compiled with other insights, like app installs and market data, they paint of a picture of a close race to dominate ride hailing in the US.
Uber is still bigger — by a huge magnitude
In the most recent reported quarter, the end of 2018, Uber generated $3 billion in revenue, it said in a release. Lyft, meanwhile, said in its S-1 filing that it brought in $670 million for the same period. But while Lyft’s revenue growth appears to be picking up steam, Uber’s rapid growth from 2016 and into 2017 shows some slowing.
There’s still plenty of room for growth, though. Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on personal transportation, according to Tom White, an analyst at D.A. Davidson, who was the first Wall Street analyst to launch coverage of the stock this week. White gave Lyft a buy rating with a $75 price target, about 15% above the company’s planned range of $62 to $68 for initial share prices.
“We are currently modeling Lyft revenue growth this year of 56%, to $3.4 billion,” White said in a note to clients Tuesday.
Both companies are losing lots of money
With the exception of one quarter for Uber — when its acquisitions of Yandex in Russia and Grab in Southeast Asia closed — both companies’ balance sheets are deeply in the red. Both companies are racing to slow those losses, while still investing enough to continue growing, to appease investors.
Uber, as one might assume, has more losses per quarter in step with its higher revenue. Both companies, as well as analysts, have pointed to gross bookings as a better way to understand ride hailing’s growth.
It all comes down to bookings
Uber and Lyft calculate bookings slightly differently, but the measure is essentially the same for both companies. In short, gross bookings is all the money that customers spend on rides (and, in Uber’s case, Uber Eats deliveries, too).
Tom White, of Davidson, expects that Lyft could get its share of total bookings in the US up to about one-third.
“Our long-term valuation framework for Lyft assumes that the company achieves a 31.4% bookings share by 2029 (vs. an estimated 14.9% share today),” White said in his initiation report.
And to continue increasing its share of booking’s Lyft will need to get more people on the app
Lyft is gaining growing in the US
Lyft has closed the new-install gap quickly, according to data from Sensor Tower. The company told investors in its IPO filing that it got a big boost from the “delete Uber” campaign that scarred the company’s image in 2017.
“The growth rate in Revenue per Active Rider increased significantly in the first and second quarters of 2017 as our brand and values continued to resonate with riders and they increased their usage of Lyft instead of competing offerings,” the S-1 said.
That gap could shrink further.
“We see Lyft continuing to expand its portion of new U.S. installs versus Uber each month,” Alex Malafeev, cofounder of Sensor Tower, told Business Insider.
“Lyft’s footprint internationally is obviously only a small fraction of Uber’s, but we are seeing the former making significant inroads against its rival in Canada during the past 18 months, growing its share of new installs from 5% to 25% over that period.”
Internationally, Uber is still the winner
That makes sense, given Lyft is only active in the US and Canada. Uber, meanwhile, is active in thousands of markets in countries all around the globe. Lyft seems focused on the US for now, and has privately pitched investors on its singular ride-hailing (and bikes and scooters) bet, as opposed to Uber’s multipronged approach to self-driving, delivery, and more.
“The rideshare industry still has plenty of growth runway,” White, of Davidson, said. “With its advantages in convenience, value, and payments expanding the scope/scale of the traditional taxi market that is being disrupted.”
In January, when Business Insider reported on Uber’s slowing app install growth, the company offered this comment:
“We continue to experience strong growth for a business of our size and global scope,” Uber spokesperson Michael Amodeo said. “As we look ahead to an IPO and beyond, we are investing in future growth across our platform, including in food, freight, electric bikes and scooters, and high-potential markets outside the US.”