17 February 2020
Uber wants investors to focus on the solid growth in gross bookings rather than the continued net loss. Photo: Reuters
Uber wants investors to focus on the solid growth in gross bookings rather than the continued net loss. Photo: Reuters

Uber revenue up 43% in 2018 but profit remains elusive

Uber Technologies announced on Friday global revenue of US$11.3 billion for 2018, up 43 percent from the prior year, but remained deep in the red even though it managed to reduce the losses.

Losses before taxes, depreciation and other expenses amounted to US$1.8 billion for the full year, an improvement over the US$2.2 billion loss posted in 2017, Reuters reports.

Releasing select financial figures on Friday, Uber highlighted the annual bookings figure, which was up 45 percent over 2017 at US$50 billion.

The number includes total bookings for its ride-service and food-delivery businesses.

Uber in December filed confidentially for an initial public offering, which may come as early as the second quarter this year.

The company is racing neck-and-neck with rival Lyft to become the first ride-hailing IPO.

“Last year was our strongest yet, and Q4 set another record,” Uber Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said in a statement.

But figures showed revenue grew just 2 percent in the fourth quarter, a sign that Uber continues to heavily subsidize rides in competitive markets, raising questions about its future growth prospects, Reuters noted.

Uber said gross bookings for the fourth quarter were a record US$14.2 billion, up 11 percent from the prior quarter.

That marks an improvement after bookings growth slowed to just single-digit percentages throughout much of last year.

Uber’s revenue in the fourth quarter reached US$3 billion, up 2 percent from the third quarter and a 24 percent increase over the previous year.

The food-delivery service, Uber Eats, accounts for more than US$2.5 billion in bookings quarterly, according to a Reuters sources.

Uber has trumpeted Uber Eats as the largest online food delivery business outside of China.

Ongoing intense competition with ride-hailing foes across the globe has kept Uber in the red. 

Uber Eats is also battling a crowded food-delivery industry, forcing it to adopt discounting tactics to compete with companies like food-delivery startup DoorDash and restaurant and grocery delivery firm Postmates.

Uber has no plans to slow investment in Uber Eats or other costly areas such as autonomous car development to show profit any time soon.

The company’s losses before interest, taxes and depreciation spiked in the fourth quarter to US$940 million, a 43 percent jump over the previous quarter and 21 percent increase from 2017.

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