Lyft says drivers are coming back, but disappoints on active riders

Lyft President John Zimmer (R) and CEO Logan Green speak as Lyft lists on the Nasdaq at an IPO event in Los Angeles March 29, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Lyft reported third-quarter earnings on Tuesday after the bell. Shares rose nearly 10% in after-hours trading after it beat on revenue and said drivers are coming back, though it missed active riders estimates.

Here are the key numbers:

Earnings per share: 5 cents adjusted vs loss of 3 cents per share expected in a Refinitiv survey of analystsRevenue: $864.4 million vs $862.7 million expected by RefinitivActive riders: 18.9 million vs 19.7 million expected, per StreetAccountRevenue per active rider: $45.63 vs $43.89 expected, according to StreetAccount

Lyft reported a net loss for the quarter of $71.5 million versus a net loss of $459.5 million in the same period of 2020. The company said its net loss includes $203.3 million of stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses.

Lyft again posted an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) profit of $67.3 million. It’s a large jump compared to the prior quarter when Lyft posted its first quarterly adjusted EBITDA profit of $23.8 million. The company said in August it expected to maintain that milestone, which it met a quarter earlier than expected and before competitor Uber.

Lyft’s revenue grew 13% quarter-over-quarter to $864.4 million. That’s up 73% year-over-year thanks to easy comparables due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It also recorded record revenue per active rider at $45.63, which is up 14% year-over-year. Additionally, the company provided a fourth quarter outlook, telling investors it expects revenue between $930 million and $940 million.

The company missed Wall Street expectations on active riders. Lyft reported 18.94 million active riders this quarter, compared to the expected 19.69 million, per StreetAccount.

The company has struggled with driver supply and demand imbalances throughout the pandemic, leading to higher costs or long wait times. Investors have been attuned to the imbalance, especially as the company has invested millions in incentives to bring drivers back to the platform.

CFO Brian Roberts said on a call with investors the company plans to taper its supply investments in the fourth quarter.

Lyft CEO Logan Green said in the company’s earnings release driver supply materially improved in the third quarter, up nearly 45% year-over-year.

“Given our success onboarding new drivers and expected supply tailwinds, we anticipate our service levels will naturally improve in Q4 and lead to lower prices,” Roberts said in a release.

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