Uber pushes adjusted quarterly profit target to 2021

Uber has pushed its target to achieve a measure of profitability to a quarter in 2021, reversing a decision made just three months ago to move up the goal to the end of this year.

Uber will miss its target to reach an adjusted EBITDA quarterly profit in the fourth period of 2020, CFO Nelson Chai said during the company’s earnings call Thursday. The new target is a quarter in 2021.

“Our goal remains the same, returning our growth to business and achieving profitability for all of our stakeholders, which we are now planning to achieve on an adjusted basis, on a quarterly basis, in 2021,” Chai said.

Uber didn’t specify which quarter in 2021 it would reach adjusted EBITDA profitability — earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. However, the company did say that it would be less than a year from its original target of Q4 2020.

“Reaching profitability as soon as possible remains a strategic priority for us,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said Thursday. “We believe that disruption caused by COVID-19 will impact our timeline by a matter of quarters and not years.”

If it feels like Uber has come full circle in a span of three months, it has. Last November, Uber said it would have a profitable quarter, on an adjusted basis, by the end of 2021. Confidence in the company swelled and in early February Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi moved up the profitability target by a full year to the fourth quarter of 2020.

And then COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, swept through Europe and North America. It became a global pandemic and rideshare became another COVID-19 statistic.

Uber reported Thursday a net loss of $2.94 billion in the first quarter. Uber’s adjusted EBITDA for the quarter came to a loss of $612 million. The ride-hailing company generated $3.54 billion in revenue in the first quarter, up 14% from $3.1 billion on a year-over-year basis.

Last month, and prior to the company’s first-quarter earnings report, Uber walked back its annual guidance for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber withdrew its 2020 guidance for gross bookings, adjusted net revenue and adjusted EBITDA, which were provided on February 6, 2020 during the company’s earnings call. The company’s previous 2020 guidance was gross bookings between $75 billion and $80 billion, adjusted net revenue $16 billion to $17 billion and an adjusted EBITDA loss of between $1.45 billion and $1.25 billion. Uber did not provide new guidance for 2020.