The impact of Uber Inc.’s long legal battle about the classification of its drivers in the U.K. — which it ultimately lost — came to light: $600 million.
The California-based ride-hailing company revealed in its Q1 earnings report Wednesday that complying with the court’s decision comes with a massive price tag. The U.K.’s highest court ruling made drivers employees rather than independent contractors and entitled to benefits like any other full-time worker.
Overall, the rest of the report was a mixed bag, resulting in a drop in the stock price of about 5.6% after the results were revealed, closing at $51.18. The decline continued Thursday, sliding another nearly 9% to $46.65.
Hits and misses
The company beat analysts estimates in some areas, such as posting just a 6 cent loss compared with the 54 cents expected. However, it fell short in revenue generated where it was expected to bring in $3.29 billion during the quarter but generated just $2.9 billion.
Uber’s Q1 net loss was $108 million, which looks impressive when compared with the $968 million it lost last quarter. One might suggest that the 24% jump in gross bookings compared with the previous quarter — and an all-time high — carried the company.
Nope. It was the $1.6 billion gain it received from the sale of its autonomous vehicle technology unit to autonomous vehicle tech company Aurora. Not only did the sale generate some cash, it also meant Uber wasn’t throwing cash at the business, which wasn’t making much headway in.
By the numbers
Its adjusted EBITDA loss was $359 million, which improved by $95 million from the prior quarter. Another bright spot was the company’s food delivery service, which performed better than its “core” ride-hailing division.
Delivery revenue was $1.7 billion, compared with $853 million. This part of the company carried the ride-hailing portion of Uber during the pandemic. Uber said the Eats segment revenue was up 28% quarter over quarter.
“We’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on a call with investors. “Uber is starting to fire on all cylinders, as more consumers are riding with us again while continuing to use our expanding delivery offerings.”
Uber officials confirmed again the company expects to be profitable by the end of 2021.
Still needs drivers
Officials confirmed once again it was struggling to find drivers in the wake of the pandemic.
Uber’s spending $250 million to increase drivers’ pay, including offering payment guarantees and other incentives to lure new drivers to the service and entice the existing ones to work more often.The effort comes as Uber and rival Lyft report their drivers are enjoying higher than average earnings due to a sharp jump in demand as states begin rolling back COVID-mandated restrictions. People are getting more and more freedom to return to “normal” and drivers are seeing a significant spike in rates due to the demand.