Uber Technologies Inc on Monday disappointed investors with quarterly results showing lackluster gains in bookings and monthly active users, two of the metrics most closely watched by Wall Street.
The ride-hailing company beat estimates for quarterly revenue and loss, improved its annual loss forecast and pledged to turn a profit by 2021.
The San Francisco-based company is seeking to assure investors it can evolve from a ride-hailing service to a global all-in-one transportation platform.
On a conference call with reporters following the report, Uber executives said the company would spend less aggressively and turn an adjusted profit in 2021.
“We will be driving discipline across the company and only doing investments that we can afford,” chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi said.
The forecast echoed a commitment from Uber’s smaller rival, Lyft Inc, which said it would be profitable by the fourth quarter of 2021, a year earlier than expected.
Lyft, which focuses exclusively on transportation, blew past analysts’ third-quarter estimates when it reported results last week.
Khosrowshahi has sought to reign in spending, slicing about 1,200 positions from sales and marketing, engineering and product.
Like Lyft, Uber has also cut back on rider discounts and driver incentives in a bid to improve margins and narrow losses.
Uber would exit markets and dispose of assets where it was clear it could not command No. 1 or No. 2 positions within the next 18 months, Khosrowshahi said.
Uber’s business strategy hinges on convincing existing ride-hailing customers to use more services, including bikes, scooters, helicopters and public transportation, as well as food and grocery delivery. Uber’s newer initiatives, including a job matching service for gig workers in Chicago and financial services for drivers, further demonstrate the company’s grand ambitions.
The company’s shares on Monday closed at US$31.08, well below their US$45 initial public offering price, and were as low as US$29.37 in after-hours trading.
Although profitability might still be a couple years away, it is earlier than analysts expected. Uber ended the third quarter with about US$12.7 billion in cash, suggesting it can continue investing in growth where it does not expect continued losses.
Adjusted loss for the quarter widened to US$585 million, compared with US$485 million during the same period last year, but was still better than an average of analysts’ estimates of US$808 million.
Quarterly adjusted revenue increased 33 percent to US$3.5 billion, above estimates of US$3.39 billion.
Uber revised its annual loss forecast to US$2.8 billion to US$2.9 billion, an improvement of US$250 million.
It would need to do more to attract customers.
Monthly active platform users, meaning those who ordered food or a ride one or more times during the quarter, was 103 million, up 26 percent.
Analysts expected 107 million.
Gross bookings, a measure of the total value of rides, food orders and other businesses, were US$16.5 billion, compared with estimates of US$16.7 billion. Food delivery was especially disappointing.