Uber second-quarter bookings increase, loss narrows

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] on Wednesday reported a 16 percent increase in quarterly bookings and a smaller loss than the previous period as the ride-services company showed signs of inching toward profitability.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Uber is seen on an iPad, during a news conference to announce Uber resumes ride-hailing service, in Taipei, Taiwan April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The shrinking losses reflect Uber’s efforts to rein in massive spending on subsidies for both drivers and customers even as it battles rivals in tough markets like South Asia.

The San Francisco-based company said it lost $645 million in the second quarter, 9 percent less than the $708 million loss in the first quarter and 35 percent less than the $991 million loss in the fourth quarter of last year. For all of 2016, Uber lost about $3 billion.

As a private company, Uber is not required to publicly report its financial results, but earlier this year it began offering a glimpse of its performance by disclosing certain numbers.

The continued growth in ridership suggests Uber’s core business has so far weathered a string of scandals. But the scale of its losses are unprecedented in Silicon Valley and executives have declined to offer a timetable for profitability.

Uber is facing allegations of sexual harassment, a lawsuit alleging trade-secrets theft and a federal criminal probe over its use of software to evade city regulators, among other alleged misconduct.

Some investors have eyed Uber’s $68 billion valuation with skepticism, and four mutual fund investors disclosed this week that they had marked down the value of their Uber shares by as much as 15 percent.

Uber said its gross ride bookings for the second quarter reached $8.7 billion, up from $7.5 billion in the first quarter. The number of global trips on its service increased 150 percent over the previous year, with growth strongest in developing markets.

Those numbers include trips in Russia, where Uber last month merged its operations with local rival Yandex.

Adjusted net revenue, which reflects Uber’s cut of ride fares, rose to $1.75 billion from $1.5 billion in the first quarter, Uber said.

Since 2010, Uber has raised more than $15 billion from investors, allowing it to operate at a significant loss. The company said it has $6.6 billion in the bank, down from around $7.2 billion in the first quarter.

Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, cautioned that Uber’s reporting is selective and excludes parts of the business’s financial model that may show the company in a less favorable light.

“There’s clearly growth in the numbers reported by Uber here,” Dawson said, but they should be taken “with a big pinch of salt.”

The company is searching for a new chief executive and also lacks a chief financial officer, highly unusual for a company of its size. The former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick was ousted in June, and it is unclear how the absence of a CEO will affect the current quarter’s financial results.

News website Axios first reported Uber’s second-quarter results on Wednesday.

Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Rigby