Uber (UBER) lost less money in the first quarter than Wall Street expected, the ride-hailing giant said on Thursday, boosted by double-digit gains in bookings and users that generated higher revenue.
In its first earnings report as a publicly-traded company, Uber posted an adjusted share loss of $2.26 per share on adjusted revenue of $2.76 billion during the first three months of the year. That compared with a profit of $1.84 on adjusted revenue of $2.4 billion in the comparable year-ago quarter.
On an operating basis, Uber losses widened to over $1 billion in Q1, up from a loss of $478 million in 2018.
It underscored the central challenge the company faces: Like other big tech companies going public this year, Uber has no immediate path to making money in a fiercely competitive sector.
Wall Street analysts generally expected Uber to post a first-quarter 2019 loss of $2.37 per share on revenues of $2.75 billion — roughly in-line with the ride-sharing giant’s estimates for the period, according to Uber’s amended S-1.
While not yet turning a profit, the ride-hailing giant saw gross bookings surge 41% year over year, averaging 17 million trips per day.
“Our global reach continues to be an important differentiator, and we maintained leadership of the ride-sharing category in every region we serve," said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
The stock, which began trading at $45 per share, closed below $40 on Thursday. In after-market trading, Uber’s shares fluctuated before soaring by more than 4% from its closing levels.
Uber is likely years away from profitability, but analysts say its fast-growing food delivery service remains a strong asset for the company. On Thursday, the company said Uber Eats revenue skyrocketed by 89%, to $536 million from $283 million.
Uber’s stock sank immediately after it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on May 10, at the low end of its initial public offering range. The stock’s crash mirrored that of its closest rival Lyft (LYFT), which began a steep decline after its rocky debut in March.
Meanwhile, Uber is spending heavily on new initiatives like autonomous driving, freight transportation and bikes. Those “other bets,” while promising in the future, are eating into the company’s bottom line.
Still, it’s not all bad news. At least a few Wall Street analysts say Uber Eats has a “natural advantage” over rivals like Doordash, Postmates and Grubhub (GRUB), mostly because of Uber’s recognizable brand.
Although Uber’s ride-hailing business is hemorrhaging cash, deliveries to food-loving urbanites and partnerships with franchises like McDonald’s (MCD) remain a bright spot for Uber as it slowly works towards profitability.
D.A. Davidson analyst Tom White projects the nearly five-year-old delivery service, will see gross bookings grow 96% in 2019 to $15.5 billion.
Uber’s food delivery service currently operates a network with more than 220,000 restaurants from over 500 cities worldwide.
On Tuesday, Wedbush analysts rated Uber’s stock as an “Outperform” in a note to clients, based largely on the strength of Uber Eats.
“Uber Eats has such a natural advantage in terms of where their app is, and where their network effects take place,” said Evan Mack, a research associate for Gartner.