More commutes, summer travel propel Lyft’s results — but stock gives up gains

Ride-hailing service Lyft Inc. on Tuesday reported a surprise second-quarter adjusted profit, helped by summer travel and a return to offices, and offered a better-than-expected third-quarter forecast.

But shares slid 5.8% after hours on Tuesday, after initially rallying on the results.

During Lyft’s
quarterly earnings call, management said its “preliminary view of the fourth quarter suggests revenue will grow low to mid-single digits quarter over quarter.” FactSet estimates called for fourth-quarter growth of between around 3% to 4.8%, when measuring Wall Street analysts’ fourth-quarter forecasts against Lyft’s third-quarter outlook.

The company also said “fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA margin as a percentage of revenue will be in line to slightly lower than the level in Q2 2023.”

Ebitda — or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — is already an adjusted financial figure. It is often used by companies to strip out other items that affect profit or losses.

Lyft reported the results as some analysts see the ride-sharing industry’s post-pandemic recovery evening out, and as recession fears fade in some corners of Wall Street despite higher prices. Lyft, however, said suggested inflation hadn’t hurt demand.

“We’re actually not seeing any real signs of cutting costs,” Chief Executive David Risher said in an interview with MarketWatch.

The company reported a second-quarter net loss of $114.3 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with $377.2 million, or $1.08 a share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 3% to $1.021 billion from $990.7 million in the prior-year quarter.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at 16 cents.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected Lyft to report an adjusted per-share loss of 1 cent, on sales of $1.02 billion.

The company said it expected third-quarter sales of around $1.13 billion to $1.15 billion, compared with FactSet expectations for $1.09 billion.

“We saw momentum across use cases, however commute and early-morning trips were standouts, growing by just over 20% year over year,” Lyft said. “And we had our highest volume of quarterly airport rides since 2019.”

So-called active riders — broadly, riders who take at least one ride during a quarter — rose 8% to 21.5 million. However, revenue made per ride fell during the quarter, after Lyft cut prices in an effort to attract riders.

Lyft has faced executive shakeups and layoffs, as well as tensions with its drivers over benefits and safety concerns. Shares of the company have lagged those of its larger rival, Uber Technologies Inc.
so far this year. Analysts have been focused on profitability under Risher, who took the job as chief executive in April.

Ahead of the results, BTIG analyst Jake Fuller said the ride-share industry had moved into a “post-recovery mode,” after being upended by pandemic restrictions. Fuller said Uber could still put up solid growth as the economy’s rebound evens out.

While Risher has said Lyft’s price cuts had helped the platform pick up a bigger piece of the ride-share market, a D.A. Davidson analyst said some data showed that the lower prices hadn’t helped demand all that much. However, Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co. analyst Brian White said that since April, “we’ve noticed a meaningful improvement in Lyft’s value proposition, driven by more competitive pricing.”

“We are curious to see how riders responded to this initiative and the associated financial implications for Lyft, along with the sustainability of the program,” White added.

Risher also said that the back-to-school season brought other opportunities, as students return to college, or arrive for the first time, and parents restructure their days as their children return to class.

“It’s really one of those times of year when people form new habits,” he said.

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