Uber Technologies Inc. shares declined Friday as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative effects on the company’s ride-hailing business seemed to outweigh hope for its booming food-delivery segment.
After Uber UBER, -5.21% reported earnings Thursday afternoon, analysts wrote positively on the pivot toward food delivery with Uber Eats and the company’s cost-cutting measures. But sentiment about the Rides business — where gross bookings plunged 73% year over year — was not optimistic.
“The ride-hailing business is still a mess,” Piper Sandler analysts wrote, while increasing their price target to $34 from $33. “In a world defined by coronavirus lockdowns and false-start recoveries, it’s hard to ignore the high degree of uncertainty in Uber’s most profitable business.”
Worries about ride-hailing persist even as Uber saw improvement in ride-hailing in July and it said demand was starting to recover especially outside the United States. MKM Partners, though, said it is now projecting that bookings in the ride-hailing business in 2021 will fail to reach levels Uber hit in 2018, much less last year. The analysts reiterated a buy rating and raised their price target to $40 from $38.
Analysts were split in their reaction to the stock, with ten increasing price targets and three decreasing them, according to FactSet tracking, which did not report any ratings changes Friday afternoon. Uber stock fell as much as 6.5% in Friday trading, closing down 5.2% at $32.91, but were still up more than 10% in 2020.
Uber Eats was the bright light for analysts after Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi called the business essentially “a second Uber” during Thursday’s conference call. Delivery gross bookings soared 113% from the year-ago quarter, and Uber Eats revenue rose 103% to $1.21 billion, bringing in more than the rides business for the first time.
Food-delivery app usage is led by DoorDash, followed by Uber Eats, according to a report published by Raymond James this week, which also said that there are more first-time users of the apps as diners remain hesitant to eat at restaurants. Uber’s acquisition of Postmates, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, will boost Uber’s position in the space.
“The Delivery story is increasingly positive with user acquisition, consumer behavior, and margin benefits that should extend beyond the current environment,” Stifel analysts, who maintained their buy rating and raised their price target to $40, said in a note Friday.
As for the regulatory questions facing the company, Khosrowshahi during the conference call Thursday expressed confidence in Proposition 22, which will be on the November ballot in California and aims to maintain the classification of drivers as independent contractors. Analysts are also watching for regulatory concerns in New York and a possibility of increased rules related to food delivery.
Of 42 Uber analysts tracked by FactSet, 35 have the equivalent of a buy rating on the stock, while six call it a hold and only one labels the stock a sell. The average price target on Friday was $41.99, according to FactSet, roughly 28% higher than the going rate.