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The Market Is Reckoning With Who Lyft Is Versus Who It Wants Lyft To Be

Lyft is the latest victim of a market that's afraid to be alone but even more afraid of an intimate long-term connection.

Here is a quick little MarketWatch recap of Lyft's first quarterly earnings report as a public company:

Lyft reported first-quarter losses of $1.14 billion, or a whopping $48.53 a share, on revenue of $776 million, up from $397.2 million in the comparable quarter a year ago, according to Lyft’s IPO filing. Much of that loss was due to stock-based compensation — typically an especially large expense in the quarter after an IPO — totalling $894 million. After adjusting for stock payouts and other factors, Lyft claimed adjusted losses of $211.5 million, or $9.02 a share. Analysts on average expected losses of $3.77 a share on sales of $739.9 million, according to FactSet.

Now, what if we told you that - with those numbers - Lyft beat top-line estimates for the quarter? 

What? No! You're stoned.

Like its cousins Snap and Etsy, Lyft is dealing with the double-edged sword of tremendously low expectations. This is a stock that has created such a batshit narrative around itself that it discloses a quarterly loss of more than 1 billion actual dollars and some people see it as a screaming buy. But when you disclose losses that huge on the same week that your bigger competitor is about to join you on the ticker tape, this can also happen:

Lyft 11am 5:8:19

As we write this, Lyft's quarter is being digested by the same people who have digested all the other recent IPOs of big tech companies that hemorrhage money with unprecedented gore. And once again, these same people are seeing that Lyft might not be the stunning, mysterious stranger that it went to bed with after an evening filled with the idea of promises yet-to-come. Instead, markets are waking up to find a reasonably attractive but immature Millennial with troublingly obvious money problems...and the way that it's kind of just lingering after the awkward coffee chat is increasing the likelihood that Lyft might be "between apartments at the moment."

The markets are once again looking at a revenue machine that it wants to fall in love with,...and then skimming down to the bottom line to see the kind of spending that only the current leader of the free world would ever be bold to justify as reasonable.

Lyft is going to get creamed today even while everything else bounces as the White House continues to gaslight the markets on a China deal, and it will likely continue to drop off tomorrow as well. But what will make that slump fun and ironic will be the moment Uber IPOs tomorrow and soars immediately despite being a bigger Lyft with worse spending problems and slower growth possibilities.

Modern love is strange and modern money is dumb.


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