Uber raises first-quarter profit forecast on strong ridership, delivery growth

FILE PHOTO: The Uber Hub is seen in Redondo Beach, California, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc raised its outlook for first-quarter core profit on Monday, as its ridehailing business was recovering faster than expected on the back of a surge in airport rides and an increase in the number of offices being reopened.

The company also said customers continued to order food at a high rate in February.

Shares of the ride hailing company rose about 5% in premarket trading, with its smaller peer Lyft Inc also seeing a gain.

Uber said in a filing https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/1543151/000155278122000238/e22128_uber-8k.htm it now expected adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $130 million to $150 million in the first three months of the year, up from $100 million to $130 million it previously projected.

"Our mobility business is bouncing back from Omicron much faster than we expected," Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said. He said consumers were eager to book rides for travel, commuting or nightlife.

Khosrowshahi said gross bookings for airports, which are among the most profitable routes for Uber, were up over 50% month-on-month in February and headed to be one of the strongest ever in the upcoming travel season.

Several companies are also bringing staff back to offices over two years after the pandemic forced many to shift to working from home.

During the peak of the pandemic, Uber's delivery business thrived as consumers became more dependent on ordering food and groceries online.

Ride-hail trips in February remain only 10% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels in the same month, Uber said. February mobility gross bookings had recovered to 95% compared with February 2019.

On the delivery side, gross bookings reached an all-time high in February, the company said.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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