Uber reports positive cash flow for first time

Ridesharing group has burnt through $25bn since its founding in rush towards rapid expansion

Uber has recorded its first-ever cash-flow-positive quarter, after burning through $25 billion (€24.5 billion) since its founding 13 years ago in its rush towards rapid global expansion.

The loss-making Silicon Valley group, which has relied on heavily subsidised rides to upend the taxi industry worldwide, said it generated free cash flow of $382 million in the three months to the end of June.

That is significantly higher than the $109 million analysts had been predicting, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Free cash flow is defined as cash flow from operations minus capital expenditures.

“This marks a new phase for Uber, self-funding future growth with disciplined capital allocation, while maximising long-term returns for shareholders,” said Nelson Chai, the company’s chief financial officer.

Uber’s share price jumped almost 10 per cent in pre-market trading.

The company had said earlier this year it would rein in spending to meet the goal of reaching free cash flow positivity by the end of 2022.

That included reducing driver incentives and slowing corporate hiring – it is one of several companies to ease up on recruitment in response to the downturn in the value of tech stocks.

The company still posted a quarterly net loss of $2.6 billion, $1.7 billion of which was attributable to poorly performing investments, including its shares in self-driving company Aurora, Singapore-based app Grab and Indian delivery app Zomato.

Mr Chai said Uber’s income would “see swings from quarter to quarter due to the large size of equity stakes on our balance sheet”.

‘Sufficient liquidity’

“While we intend to monetise some of our stakes at an appropriate time, we have sufficient liquidity to give us the flexibility to maintain all of these positions, with the aim of maximising value for Uber and our shareholders,” he said.

The net loss was worse than Wall Street estimates, but Uber’s earnings comfortably beat analysts’ expectations on other measures.

Overall revenue was $8.1 billion, up 105 per cent year on year, as the company benefited from people re-emerging from the pandemic. Analysts had been expecting $7.37 billion.

There were 1.87 billion trips taken on the platform in the second quarter, up 24 per cent year on year. The number of active users of Uber’s apps grew to 122 million worldwide, up 6 per cent from the previous quarter.

Revenues at the “mobility” ride-sharing business were up 120 per cent year on year, while revenues at the company’s delivery arm, Uber Eats, rose 37 per cent to $2.69 billion.

Uber’s revenues benefited from a $983 million boost due to business model changes in the UK relating to the reclassification of drivers as “workers”. It means total gross bookings in the country are counted as revenue. In most other markets, Uber counts only its cut from each fare as revenue.

Overall adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – Uber’s preferred measurement of profitability of its core businesses – came in at $364 million for the quarter, compared with a $509 million loss in 2021. The measure strips out certain expenses and non-recurring costs, such as discontinued operations and payments made to assist drivers during the pandemic.

Revenues at the company’s nascent freight arm, which handles long-distance trucking, rose to $1.8 billion, boosted by its recent $2.25 billion acquisition of Transplace, a shipping tech group. In June, Uber announced a partnership with Alphabet-owned Waymo to pilot autonomous trucking “at scale”. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022