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Uber reports first annual profit

FILE – The Uber logo appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Aug. 16, 2019. PHOTO: AP

AP – Uber posted its first full-year profit since going public in 2019 and its stock hit an all-time high Wednesday as strong bookings in the final quarter of the year pushed profit and revenue beyond Wall Street expectations.

Like its final year as a private company, the last time Uber turned a profit, it got a huge tailwind from investments that helped fuel profits, USD1 billion in 2023. The difference is that Uber has started making money from operations.

“2023 was an inflection point for Uber,” said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in prepared remarks.

Uber and other ride-share companies struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic. The company, whose stock recently joined the S&P 500 index, saw its ride-hailing business stymied as government lockdowns kept millions at home.

But Uber has focused on cutting costs and, during the pandemic, building up a then-nascent food-delivery division, which has since become a major revenue driver. Uber’s ride-hailing service, meanwhile, has gradually bounced back and the numbers from the fourth quarter suggest both are trending in the right direction.

Delivery revenue grew 6 per cent, and revenue for the ride-share part of the business climbed 34 per cent.

Industry analysts also noted growth in the company’s membership platform.

“Uber One now has roughly 19 million members across 25 countries,” wrote William Blair’s Ralph Schackart. “Uber One members generate roughly 30 per cent of mobility and delivery gross bookings, up roughly 700 basis points year-over-year.”

Uber earned USD1.43 billion, or USD0.66 per share, much better than the per share earnings of 15 cents that Wall Street had expected, according to analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research. The company earned USD595 million, or USD0.29 per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue totaled USD9.94 billion, beating Wall Street projections for USD9.75 billion.

Gross bookings surged 22 per cent from the prior-year period to USD37.6 billion.

For the year, Uber posted a profit of USD1.89 billion, or USD0.87 per share, on revenue of USD37.28 billion.

“Our audiences are larger and more engaged than ever, with our platform powering an average of nearly 26 million daily trips last year,” Khosrowshahi said.

Last month Uber announced that it was shutting down alcohol delivery app Drizly at the end of March so that it could focus on its core Uber Eats strategy of helping consumers get almost anything on a single app.

Shares of Uber Technologies Inc, based in San Francisco, reaching an all-time high of USD71.90 early Wednesday.