Lyft forecasts strong quarterly earnings as ride-hailing demand picks up

By Yuvraj Malik

(Reuters) -Ride-hailing company Lyft projected higher-than-expected gross bookings and core profit for the current quarter on Tuesday, driven by robust demand for its services and benefits from new user and driver features.

It also reported first-quarter revenue and profit above expectations, sending its share up 5% in extended trading.

Lyft has been luring consumers with shortened wait times for some pre-scheduled rides and drivers with minimum wage guarantees while trimming costs to boost profitability.

Since CEO David Risher took charge last April, the company has cut hundreds of jobs, reduced the firm's losses, and managed to keep fare increases in check.

Lyft slashed costs by 13% and narrowed its net loss by 78% in 2023.

The company's shares rose 36% over the last year.

Lyft is benefiting from the industry-wide trend of a pickup in ride-hailing demand and its strong execution of new functionalities, Risher told Reuters in an interview.

"Our pickup times now are better than they've been in four years," he said.

The company estimated gross bookings, representing the total value of transactions on its platform, to range from $4.0 billion to $4.1 billion in the current quarter ending June, compared to estimates of $3.96 billion, per LSEG data.

Lyft forecast adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) between $95 million and $100 million, surpassing analysts' average expectations of $81.1 million.

Lyft's primary competitor, Uber Technologies, is scheduled to release its quarterly earnings before the market opens on Wednesday.

For the quarter ending March 31, Lyft's revenue increased 28% to $1.28 billion, outperforming analysts' expectations of $1.16 billion. It earned 15 cents per share on an adjusted basis, higher than a 3 cent per share estimate.

The San Francisco, California-based firm said it had benefited from heightened demand during morning work commutes and weekend evening trips. It also gained from further expanding its service in Canada and growth in its advertising business.

Lyft will host its first-ever investor day event on June 6.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)