On the company's first-ever earnings call, Uber executives faced a battery of questions about where the business goes from here.
Shares of Uber (UBER) were up 3% in after-hours trading on Thursday, after it posted a smaller loss than Wall Street had expected, at $2.26 per share versus the $2.37 per share forecast by analysts. It posted a loss of $1 billion for the quarter, which was in line with expectations and earlier guidance by Uber.
Since going public on May 10, Uber's stock hasn't yet cracked its IPO price of $45 per share and is down about 4% since its debut. Since its IPO, its stock has faced skepticism over its uncertain profitability timeline, significant customer acquisition costs and other issues.
On a call with investors, Uber executives addressed some of the question marks surrounding Uber shares going forward, one of them being how much it must spend to maintain its dominant position and to continue growing.
"The competition is going to be more healthy, based on brand and product and technology, which is the right way to compete versus throwing money at the problem," said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in response to an analyst question.
Both Uber and its U.S. rival, Lyft (LYFT) , are believed to have raised spending on discounts and other incentives in order to sweeten their numbers prior to going public. For the quarter, Uber posted more than $3 billion in revenue, but also recorded higher "costs of revenue," a category that includes driver incentives, as well as higher marketing expenses versus the year ago quarter.
Executives made the case that eventually, Uber's global presence and footprint across multiple product categories — its rideshare business, bikes and scooters, and Uber Eats — will mean a structural advantage in the race for market share. They also talked up a forthcoming loyalty program that, if successful, will make it easier to retain customers across their various products.
"We think we have an advantage because we're acquiring customers across multiple channels," Khosowshahi said. "Over the long term, being the bigger player, a global player, and a multi-product player will work to our advantage."
Lyft is also down 28% since its stock market debut in March, though its shares rose 2.5% after-hours following Uber's earnings report.
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