Lyft gives up debut gains in second day of trading

(Reuters) - Shares of ride-hailing company Lyft Inc crashed below their initial public offering price in just their second day of trading on Monday, matching the speed at which Facebook Inc gave up its IPO price after a rocky debut nearly seven years ago.

Analysts blamed the 12 percent slump on lingering questions about how loss-making Lyft will become profitable and the big pop in its highly anticipated first day of trading.

Lyft has been closely watched as a bellwether for larger rival Uber Technologies Inc, which sources say is planning to kick off its IPO in April.

Lyft touched a session low of $67.78 on Monday before closing down 11.8 percent at $69.01, well below the company’s IPO price of $72.

The shares had opened at $87.24 in their Nasdaq debut on Friday, up 21 percent from their IPO price, then pared gains to close up nearly 9 percent, valuing Lyft at $22.2 billion. The offering was 20 times oversubscribed, similar to other high-profile IPOs.

The swoon was reminiscent of Facebook’s debut in May 2012. After pricing at $38 a share, Facebook shares rose as much as 18 percent before fading and leaving underwriters to frantically defend the IPO price into the close of that first day, which like Lyft’s was a Friday.

Come Monday, that support was no where to be found and Facebook opened at $36.53. The social media company would not regain its IPO price for 14 months.

“I think the initial strength was exacerbated by not losing out of getting a piece of Lyft and the herd mentality of IPOs,” said Catherine McCarthy, an Allianz Global Investors research analyst.

“It traded really aggressively out of the gate,” McCarthy said, noting that Allianz had traded out of Lyft because its shares were valued at above $72.

Whether Lyft can deliver the turnaround Facebook managed is a top question for investors. After hitting a lifetime low about three months after its IPO, Facebook shares have gained more than 800 percent to become the “F” in the vaunted FANG group of tech high flyers.

Lyft reported a loss of $911 million in 2018, up from $688 million in 2017, despite revenue doubling in 2018 to $2.16 billion. The company has not laid out a timeline for when it will turn a profit.

Brokerage Guggenheim Securities started coverage on Lyft with a ‘neutral’ rating, saying there was a lack of visibility on the path to profitability.

Lyft, the first ride-hailing company to go public, had a market share of 39 percent in the United States as of 2018.

Reporting By Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru and Jennifer Ablan in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shailesh Kuber