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Technology Uber shares continue to fall after Friday’s poorly received IPO

Uber Technologies Inc.’s shares fell 12 per cent on Monday, more than doubling their losses since the ride-hailing giant’s poorly received market debut, and its chief executive officer said he expected the stock to remain under pressure in the coming months.

The fall in shares comes against the backdrop of a global stock market sell-off sparked by renewed trade tensions between the United States and China.

The stock hit a low of US$36.58, valuing the company at about US$14-billion less than the IPO price of US$45. Shares of smaller rival Lyft Inc., which went public at US$72 a share on March 29, were down 7.3 per cent at US$47.38.

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Uber’s stock “did not trade as well as we had hoped post-IPO,” chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a memo to employees that was seen by Reuters.

“Sentiment does not change overnight, and I expect some tough public market times over the coming months. But we have all the capital we need to demonstrate a path to improved margins and profits,” Mr. Khosrowshahi added.

Bloomberg first reported the news based on the memo.

Uber lowered its valuation expectations twice in the past two months to address investor concerns over its mounting losses, and finally priced its IPO at the low end of the targeted range in a bid to avoid Lyft’s stock-market struggles.

Uber’s market capitalization has fallen to about US$61-billion since its IPO on Thursday, still larger than Wall Street heavyweights including General Motors Co. and FedEx Corp.

“In the last couple of weeks we have noticed investors questioning more about how good of a business model is ride sharing really,” said D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Tom White.

While both Uber and Lyft are trying to find ways to lower driver costs to become profitable, drivers went on a protest in several U.S. cities earlier this month demanding job security, livable incomes and a cap on the amount ride-hailing companies can collect from fares.

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Many investors are concerned about rising costs associated with booking fees shared with drivers, said Daniel Morgan, a senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust.

Mr. Morgan said this expense will only rise as the company increases sales and demand for drivers grow.

Investors have struggled to figure out how much Uber and Lyft are worth, given both companies have not estimated a timeline for turning a profit.

Lyft posted a US$1.1-billion quarterly loss last week and forecast losses would peak this year as it controlled expenses and got more revenue from each customer.

Uber has warned in a regulatory filing that it may never be profitable.

Investors are questioning whether achieving profitability will require these businesses to either raise prices for consumers or reduce service levels, Mr. White said.

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Wedbush analyst Ygal Arounian said investors need to be patient as Uber reaches full monetization potential with its ride-sharing platform and a broader growth engine with Uber Eats, Uber Freight and autonomous driving initiatives.

“While it will take time for the stock to settle and Uber must execute flawlessly over the coming 12 to 18 months, we believe a $100 billion+ market cap is warranted,” said Mr. Arounian, who has an “outperform” rating on the stock.

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