Uber may not be a publicly-traded company (yet) but that doesn’t stop the ride hailing, bike sharing, scooter scattering, and ridiculously well-funded, on-demand transportation company from disclosing its quarterly 2018 financial results publicly.
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The company did just that on Wednesday afternoon this week. The bottom line? Uber continues to grow its business, but at high cost and at a slowing rate of change. Crunchbase News summarized the numbers and commentary this morning.
But like most types of data, it’s often easier to understand the situation on the ground in graphic form. So, we charted the data Uber provided to the Wall Street Journal and will present those below.1
Let’s start with Uber’s core financial performance.
Uber calculates its cash inflows in two primary ways: what it calls “Gross Bookings” and the more traditional ”net revenue” measure. Gross Bookings, according to the Wall Street Journal, is “the total value of trips before Uber takes its cut of the rides,” which “measures the overall demand” for Uber’s various services. Net revenue refers to the company’s revenue (which Uber generates by charging a market-making fee) after accounting or discounts and returns.
As various outlets have already reported, growth in gross bookings and net revenue are beginning to slow. This may spook some investors hoping for hockey stick-shaped growth charts, which may make Uber’s growth-predicated valuation difficult to defend if growth stagnates over the long run.
Next, let’s take a look at two metrics which help measure the health of Uber’s business: the ratio of net revenue to gross bookings (how much of all transaction volume Uber keeps for itself), and the ratio of gross profit to net revenue (gross margin), both presented in percentage terms.
Gross margin—derived by dividing gross profit by net revenue—is demarcated in yellow. Uber’s gross margin is up, marginally, from the same time period last year but down from the prior quarter. Uber’s cut of bookings is mostly flat.
Next, let’s take a look at the numbers Uber would like us to think are most reflective of its financial performance. Note that the EBITDA metric is subject to some financial chicanery because one can strip out some types of expenses.
Don’t let the reported profit in Q1 fool you. Uber still loses a lot of money. The profit, some $2.5 billion, is mostly the proceeds from sales of two international units—a total of $2.94 billion for selling its Russian operation to Yandex, and its Southeast Asian unit to Grab.
Finally, here’s what Uber reports as its cash reserves and long-term debt.
Since Q1 of this year, Uber added $1.56 billion to its long term debt load, growing that figure by approximately 50 percent. Uber boosted its reserves of cash, restricted cash, and cash equivalents by nearly $1 billion in that same period.
Uber just recently began reporting its financial performance publicly. The company, now under Dara Khosrowshahi’s leadership, has one foot in the private markets, and, at least with respect to financial reporting, it has a foot in the public market door. How the market will ultimately value the cash-burning transportation giant is a question for public market investors to answer in 2019 at the earliest.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
One thing to note before continuing: Uber disclosed its financials to a number of media organizations, but we found WSJ’s numbers to be the most complete.↩