Unicorn IPOs cap off tech's big year
(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. and DoorDash Inc. are set to report their first financial results as publicly traded companies Thursday, offering investors a glimpse of how their businesses fared during the last quarter of 2020 when COVID-19 cases were surging again.
While the fourth-quarter numbers will be important for investors to gauge how the two are managing their operations, what they’ll really be looking for are comments about the future, when coronavirus lockdowns ease, vaccines become more widespread and people begin traveling and going to restaurants again. Airbnb is expected to benefit from the waning days of the pandemic as people venture further from home while DoorDash has seen a boom from more delivery orders while people ordered in.
The two companies, which debuted on the stock market a day apart in December, have both seen their shares gain significantly since their highly publicized listings. Home-rental site Airbnb is the top-performing IPO in the past 12 months, excluding foreign companies and listings that raised below US$1 billion. Its stock is up 194 per cent, while food delivery service DoorDash ranks among the top-10 and its shares are up 73 per cent from the debut.
Those trajectories could see some turbulence in the coming days, even if the results are good. The reports might trigger early expirations for both companies’ six-month lockup periods that would release millions of shares from selling restrictions in the beginning of March.
The quarterly reports, and commentary, will serve as a key test for the run-up in shares. Airbnb is expected to report revenue of $747 million for the period, and an adjusted loss of US$3.09 billion, or US$9.66 per share, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. DoorDash is seen reporting revenue of US$926.7 million and an adjusted loss of US$265.3 million, or 80 cents a share.
San Francisco-based Airbnb was among the hardest-hit companies of the pandemic and almost shelved its IPO plans as travel shut down nearly a year ago. By April, room bookings and experiences had plunged 72 per cent. Airbnb rolled out a blanket refund policy and doled out more than $1 billion in cancellation fees. But by the summer, Airbnb was seeing signs of a rebound as people ventured out of cramped apartments and took advantage of work-from-home policies to rent homes near the beach or mountains. The company has said it anticipates a regional travel boom in 2021 as people take trips more within driving distance and explore more rural areas rather than the crowded tourist hotspots of the before-Covid era.
Exactly when people will feel ready to travel is hard to predict but vaccine distribution will play a large role in determining traveler behavior, Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said in an interview in January. People “want to travel to places that are private -- not around a lot of people -- or, in cities and communities where most people have been vaccinated.”
Loop Capital Markets is optimistic about Airbnb’s results. Analyst Rob Sanderson upgraded the stock on Feb. 21, saying he anticipates the company will top consensus estimates by a significant margin.
Truist Securities said a strong fourth-quarter performance from Expedia Group Inc.’s home-rental unit Vrbo signals significant demand for alternative lodging. However, analyst Naved Khan cautioned that a resurgence in COVID-19 cases late last year and ensuing lockdowns, particularly in Europe, will weigh on fourth-quarter and first-quarter results.
Piper Sandler analyst Thomas Champion anticipates the reaction in Airbnb shares will hinge on any 2021 guidance, as well as revenue and new host growth amid the pandemic.
While Airbnb suffered from the pandemic initially, DoorDash seized on the boom in demand for delivered meals in 2020. The company, also based in San Francisco, expanded its market share to surpass 50 per cent of the U.S. last month, up from 35 per cent in January 2020, according to data from Edison Trends. A strong presence in the suburbs helped DoorDash weather the lockdowns, as many Americans fled from cities.
With 5 million subscribers to DashPass, a delivery subscription service, DoorDash may have a better revenue stream than some of its competitors as COVID-19 restrictions fade in the U.S., said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Martino.
Investors will be looking at order totals in DoorDash’s report as signs of continued robust demand. Analysts expect total orders of US$253.7 million and marketplace gross order value of US$7.67 billion for the fourth quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Martino also said investors will be listening for details on DoorDash’s plans for expansion into new markets, noting that competitor Uber Technologies Inc. recently agreed to acquire alcohol delivery startup Drizly Inc.
Lockups to lift
Swings in Airbnb and DoorDash share prices could extend beyond the companies’ reports as lockup periods for both stocks may expire early next month.
“We see potential for near-term volatility ahead given a large lockup release shortly after the company reports results, which would meaningfully increase supply of shares in the market,” Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley said in reference to DoorDash.
Loop’s Sanderson cautions Airbnb shares could face selling pressure into lockup expirations. He compared the trading dynamics for Airbnb to those experienced by another 2020 IPO darling, Snowflake Inc., which rose through its initial quarterly report, only to moderate after lockup expirations.
Representatives for Airbnb and DoorDash declined to comment on the lockup expirations.