Lyft is expected to reveal its IPO price range as early as Monday, a move that will coincide with the start of its road show, the process of promoting the stock offering to institutional investors.
Comparisons to Uber, its larger rival also on the path to an IPO, are unavoidable.
“In this box, or quadrant, you have two guys in the market, Uber and Lyft. Both are currently losing money. They can either both win, both lose, or one wins and one loses. I want to hear how they will play this game theory and if they have a credible path to profitability,” one institutional investor said. “Lyft is gaining share in the U.S. against Uber, but Uber has four businesses and Lyft mainly one.”
“There’s been reports that Lyft is looking for a valuation of $20 billion to $25 billion. At $25 billion, I may not be interested but $20 billion is in the ballpark,” said the institutional investor, who reviewed the initial IPO filing Lyft filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 1. “What makes valuing this IPO difficult is there are no precedents to compare it with. There are no publicly traded ridesharing companies.”
Companies are allowed to begin their road show 15 days after their initial IPO documents or S-1,is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and they usually amend the S-1 with a pricing range before they hit the road, IPO experts say.
This institutional investor holds shares in privately held Uber, which, according to Reuters, is expected to go public in April. And the investor noted it may also make sense to hold shares in Uber’s arch-rival Lyft, if it means returns can be captured for the firm’s investors.
Lyft’s IPO is likely to launch between March 28 to April 2, predicts Rohit Kulkarni, senior vice president of research for secondary markets firm Forge. Companies typically begin trading eight to 10 days after they file their most recent amendment to their initial IPO filing, which in Lyft’s case the amendment is expected as early as Monday, Kulkarni said.
“Lyft would likely launch its IPO before Uber begins its road show with investors,” Kulkarni said. “It will give Uber investors a clear indicator of the market’s appetite for rideshare businesses.”
But first, Uber needs to publicly file its IPO documents with the SEC. It currently has its IPO paperwork filed confidentially with the SEC. Kulkarni noted Uber may try to file its initial IPO documents publicly during Lyft’s road show with investors.
“Uber seems all set to crash Lyft’s IPO roadshow party,” Kulkarni said. “If Uber doesn’t, then Lyft will have few distractions during its roadshow. The next two or three weeks will be pretty exciting.”
Uber, however, has already shared some of its most important financial metrics with the public. Last month, it released its fiscal year 2018 financials, excluding year-over-year figures with Southeast Asia and Russia.
Its GAAP revenue rose 43 percent from the previous year to $11.3 billion, while its adjusted EBITDA loss shrank by 15 percent to $1.8 billion from a loss of $2.2 billion in the previous year, Uber stated. The company’s gross bookings, meanwhile, rose 45 percent to $50 billion in 2018.
Uber’s revenue is generated across a larger geographic footprint across the globe, whereas Lyft is primarily in the U.S. and Canada.
“I will be evaluating whether a smaller focus that is centered in the US is better than a sprawling global business. This is what I need to understand when I meet with Lyft,” the investor said.