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Apr 12, 2021

Uber reports record month for rides on vaccine boost

Uber's Q4 revenue misses expectations

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Uber Technologies Inc. said gross bookings last month were the highest in a year as vaccination rates increase in the U.S., encouraging more people to get out of their homes.

The company’s mobility unit, which handles ride-hailing services, passed US$30 billion in annualized gross bookings run rate in March, Uber said in a securities filing Monday. Average daily bookings rose 9 per cent from February.

At the same time, Uber’s delivery service grew more than 150 per cent from a year earlier, crossing a US$52 billion annualized run rate in March. The shares were up about 3 per cent Monday at noon in New York.

The San Francisco-based company was hard hit when the pandemic struck last year and people stopped going in to work and school and avoided most communal transportation. Its food-delivery service, Uber Eats, benefited, however, with restaurants shuttered and more people ordering takeout. The filing showed that Uber is seeing strong demand for both offerings.

Demand for rides is recovering faster than Uber’s ability to find drivers, the company said, and demand for meal delivery continues to exceed courier availability. Last week, Uber said it would spend US$250 million to get drivers back on the road and recruit new ones as the coronavirus pandemic eases in the U.S.

“We are absolutely looking to balance supply and demand, and if we need to continue to lean in to bring drivers out into safe earnings opportunities, we will do what we need to,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said Monday in an interview on CNBC.

Uber said that as a result of a recent ruling in the U.K. that will require it to classify its drivers as workers, the company expects to record a significant accrual related to these historical claims and other related costs in its first quarter 2021 results.

The company said it’s still on track to reach profitability in quarterly adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2021. “We think we’re going to have a combination of profitable businesses, and we’re going to have a combination of businesses that are very, very early in their growth trajectory,” Khosrowshahi said. “But first, we want to get to overall profitability, and we’re confident we will this year.”

One possible future business Khosrowshahi alluded to in the interview Monday: marijuana delivery. “When the road is clear for cannabis, when federal laws come into play, we’re absolutely going to take a look at it,” Khosrowshahi said.