Uber’s losses top $1 billion, trumping better than expected revenues

Better than expected revenues couldn’t divert investor attention from the fact that Uber still managed to lose more than $1 billion in the most recent quarter as the company’s stock fell in after-hours trading.

There are bright spots in the latest earnings report, not least that the company managed to stanch the bleeding that had cost the company over $5 billion in the previous quarter.

Revenue grew to $3.8 billion, up from $2.9 billion in the year-ago period, representing a 30% boost. But even as Uber’s core business shows signs of stabilizing and its core markets continue to show growth, its other business units appear to be hemorrhaging cash at increasingly high rates.

“Our results this quarter decisively demonstrate the growing profitability of our Rides segment,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, the company’s chief executive, in a statement. “Rides Adjusted EBITDA is up 52% year-over-year and now more than covers our corporate overhead. Revenue growth and take rates in our Eats business also accelerated nicely. We’re pleased to see the impact that continued category leadership, greater financial discipline, and an industry-wide shift towards healthier growth are already having on our financial performance.”

Losses in earnings at the company’s Uber Eats business grew 67% to $316 million from $189 million in the year-ago period. And performance in the company’s freight division looks even worse. Losses in freight ballooned by 161%, growing to $81 million from $31 million in the same quarter of 2018.

Also contributing to the company’s losses for the quarter were stock-based compensation expenses, which added another $401 million to the tallies against the company.

Given that the lock-up period is about to end for institutional investors, that could spell even more trouble for the company — as institutional investors who bought into the company before its public offering may look to sell.

That said, Uber has taken a number of steps to correct its course and put the company on a path to profitability, which Khosrowshahi says should happen in the next two years.

In October, the company announced the last of three rounds of sweeping layoffs at the company that saw 1,185 staffers lose their jobs. Khosrowshahi called the layoffs a chance to ensure that the company was “structured for success for the next few years.” In an email to staff, he wrote, “This has resulted in difficult but necessary changes to ensure we have the right people in the right roles in the right locations, and that we’re always holding ourselves accountable to top performance.”

With the layoffs behind it, Uber can now focus on some of the big operational challenges it had set for itself through the reorganization that the company has announced. That includes adding new features and technologies to its Uber Eats delivery program (despite what recent losses at GrubHub may imply about the food delivery business) and pressing forward with another darling of the tech set these days — the company’s financial services platform.

The launch of this new platform, coupled with a slew of announcements from the company in September, show that Uber may have dialed back on its ambitions, but not by much. As Khosrowshahi said at the event, “We want to be the operating system for your everyday life…. A one-click gateway to everything that Uber can offer you.”

Apple beats on Q4 earnings after strong quarter for wearables, services

Apple’s iPhone sales still make up over half of its quarterly revenues, but they are slowly shrinking in importance as other divisions in the company pick up speed.

Apple’s stock remained largely unchanged after-hours following the release of its Q4 earnings. The company delivered earnings per share of $3.03 versus the street’s estimate of $2.84 on revenue of $64 billion compared with expectation at $62.99 billion.

The big story continues to be major growth in Services, iPad and Wearables while iPhone and Mac sales continue to shrink year-over-year.

As you’ll remember, Apple no longer reports unit sales of its iPhone, Mac and iPad lines, something that is largely the result of declining unit sales and higher average selling prices. Services, Wearables and Other, and iPad saw year-over-year gains, while the iPhone and Mac lines are still seeing revenue slumps.

  • iPhone sales were down 9% year-over-year, to $33.36 billion
  • Services were up 18% YoY, to $12.5 billion
  • Mac sales were down 5% YoY, to $6.99 billion
  • “Wearables, Home, and Accessories” were up 54% YoY, to $6.52 billion
  • iPad sales were up 17% YoY, to $4.66 billion

The company is continuing to add to some of its highest-growth businesses. The company announced the release of a new high-end set of AirPods yesterday, which will likely increase average selling prices among its wearables division. The company also has a number of paid services, including Apple TV+, that will be launching soon.

Facebook shares rise on strong Q3, users up 2% to 2.45B

Despite ongoing public relations crises, Facebook kept growing in Q3 2019, demonstrating that media backlash does not necessarily equate to poor business performance.

Facebook reached 2.45 billion monthly users, up 1.65%, from 2.41 billion in Q2 2019 when it grew 1.6%, and it now has 1.62 billion daily active users, up 2% from 1.587 billion last quarter when it grew 1.6%. Facebook scored $17.652 billion of revenue, up 29% year-over-year, with $2.12 in earnings per share.

Facebook Q3 2019 DAU

Facebook’s earnings beat expectations compared to Refinitiv’s consensus estimates of $17.37 billion in revenue and $1.91 earnings per share. Facebook’s quarter was mixed compared to Bloomberg’s consensus estimate of $2.28 EPS. Facebook earned $6 billion in profit after only racking up $2.6 billion last quarter due to its SEC settlement.

Facebook shares rose 5.18% in after-hours trading, to $198.01 after earnings were announced, following a day where it closed down 0.56% at $188.25.

Notably, Facebook gained 2 million users in each of its core U.S. & Canada and Europe markets that drive its business, after quarters of shrinkage, no growth or weak growth there in the past two years. Average revenue per user grew healthily across all markets, boding well for Facebook’s ability to monetize the developing world where the bulk of user growth currently comes from.

Facebook says 2.2 billion users access Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger every day, and 2.8 billion use one of this family of apps each month. That’s up from 2.1 billion and 2.7 billion last quarter. Facebook has managed to stay sticky even as it faces increased competition from a revived Snapchat, and more recently TikTok. However, those rivals might more heavily weigh on Instagram, for which Facebook doesn’t routinely disclose user stats.

Facebook ARPU Q3 2019

Zuckerberg defends political ads policy

Facebook’s earnings announcement was somewhat overshadowed by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announcing it would ban all political ads — something TechCrunch previously recommended social networks do. That move flies in the face of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s staunch support for allowing politicians to spread misinformation without fact-checks via Facebook ads. This should put additional pressure on Facebook to rethink its policy.

Zuckerberg doubled-down on the policy, saying “I believe that the better approach is to work to increase transparency. Ads on Facebook are already more transparent than anywhere else,” he said. Attempting to dispel that the policy is driven by greed, he noted Facebook expects political ads to make up “less than 0.5% of our revenue next year.” Because people will disagree and the issue will keep coming up, Zuckerberg admitted it’s going to be “a very tough year.”

Facebook also announced that lead independent board member Susan D. Desmond-Hellmann has resigned to focus on health issues.

Earnings call highlights

Facebook expects revenue deceleration to be pronounced in Q4. But CFO David Wehner provided some hope, saying “we would expect our revenue growth deceleration in 2020 versus the Q4 rate to be much less pronounced.” That led Facebook’s share price to spike from around $191 to around $198.

However, Facebook will maintain its aggressive hiring to moderate content. While the company has touted how artificial intelligence would increasingly help, Zuckerberg said that hiring would continue because “There’s just so much content. We do need a lot of people.”

Zuckerberg Libra 1

Regarding Libra’s regulatory pushback, Zuckerberg explained that Facebook was already diversified in commerce if that doesn’t work out, citing WhatsApp Payments, Facebook Marketplace and Instagram shopping.

On anti-trust concerns, Zuckerberg reminded analysts that Instagram’s success wasn’t assured when Facebook acquired it, and it has survived a lot of competition thanks to Facebook’s contributions. In a new talking point we’re likely to hear more of, Zuckerberg noted that other competitors had used their success in one vertical to push others, saying “Apple and Google built cameras and private photo sharing and photo management directly into their operating systems.”

Scandals continue, but so does growth

Overall, it was another rough quarter for Facebook’s public perception as it dealt with outages and struggled to get buy-in from regulators for its Libra cryptocurrency project. Former co-founder Chris Hughes (who I’ll be leading a talk with at SXSW) campaigned for the social network to be broken up — a position echoed by Elizabeth Warren and other presidential candidates.

The company did spin up some new revenue sources, including taking a 30% cut of fan patronage subscriptions to content creators. It’s also trying to sell video subscriptions for publishers, and it upped the price of its Workplace collaboration suite. But gains were likely offset as the company continued to rapidly hire to address abusive content on its platform, which saw headcount grow 28% year-over-year, to 43,000. There are still problems with how it treats content moderators, and Facebook has had to repeatedly remove coordinated misinformation campaigns from abroad. Appearing concerned about its waning brand, Facebook moved to add “from Facebook” to the names of Instagram and WhatsApp.

It escaped with just a $5 billion fine as part of its FTC settlement that some consider a slap on the wrist, especially since it won’t have to significantly alter its business model. But the company will have to continue to invest and divert product resources to meet its new privacy, security and transparency requirements. These could slow its response to a growing threat: Chinese tech giant ByteDance’s TikTok.

After its first earnings miss in two years, Amazon shares get walloped in after-hours trading

Amazon shares fell by nearly 7%, or $118.38, in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company reported its first earnings miss in two years.

Financial analysts had predicted that the launch of one-day shipping would eat into Amazon’s earnings, but even with the forewarning investors pummeled the stock after the market closed. It didn’t help that the company predicted revenues for the fourth quarter — including the all-important holiday season — also look soft.

The good news for Amazon amidst all the bad news was that revenue was actually up at the company. For the quarter Amazon raked in $70 billion, beating analysts’ expectations of $68.8 billion.

However, the company reported a profit of $2.1 billion, or $4.23 a share versus the $4.62 that analysts had projected. And even though sales were up this year, earnings per share were down from $5.75 in the year-ago period. As MarketWatch noted, it’s the first time earnings at the company have shrunk since 2017.

Screen Shot 2019 10 24 at 2.24.19 PM

Another potential warning sign for investors was the revenue from the company’s web services business, which came in at $9 billion. Analysts had predicted roughly $9.2 billion from the business line. If competition starts eating into the services business (which still grew at a healthy 35% over the year-ago period), that could spell problems for the company’s stock — which has used AWS revenues to buoy spending elsewhere.

The company has been spending heavily all year to offer new services. The expansion of its free one-day delivery program has cost Amazon more than $800 million in the second quarter.

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos defended the move to one-day shipping in a statement.

“Customers love the transition of Prime from two days to one day — they’ve already ordered billions of items with free one-day delivery this year. It’s a big investment, and it’s the right long-term decision for customers,” Bezos said. “And although it’s counterintuitive, the fastest delivery speeds generate the least carbon emissions because these products ship from fulfillment centers very close to the customer — it simply becomes impractical to use air or long ground routes.”

Looking ahead to the holiday season Amazon predicted net sales of between $80 billion and $86.5 billion, with operating income between $1.2 billion and $2.9 billion, versus $3.8 billion from a year-ago period. Analysts were expecting to see revenue numbers more in the $87 billion range.

Daily Crunch: Twitter revenue disappoints

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Twitter Q3 misses big on revenues of $824M and EPS of $0.05 on the back of adtech glitches

Twitter said the huge drop in performance “was impacted by revenue product issues, which we believe reduced year-over-year growth by approximately 3 or more percentage points, and greater-than-expected seasonality.”

The company has made a significant shift in the last year to tracking a new user metric of its own making — monetizable daily active users, which is the number of users who are being served ads. More established metrics like daily and monthly active users have stagnated and even declined in recent years.

2. Lowlights from Zuckerberg’s Libra testimony in Congress

“I don’t control Libra” was the central theme of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony yesterday, while the House of Representatives unleashed critiques of his approach to cryptocurrency, privacy, encryption and running a giant corporation.

3. Announcing the Disrupt Berlin 2019 agenda

Disrupt Berlin will run on December 11 and December 12, when we’ll sit down with CEOs from big-name companies such as Away, UIPath and Naspers, as well as leading investors from Atomico, SoftBank and GV. (Tickets are available here.)

4. By tweeting from a SCIF, House lawmakers put national security at risk

If you thought storming into a highly secured government facility with your electronics but without permission was a smart idea, you’d be wrong. But that didn’t stop Rep. Matt Gaetz and close to three-dozen of his Republican colleagues from doing exactly that.

5. Virgin Galactic becomes the first public space tourism company on Monday

The company’s shareholders have approved a merger with Chamath Palihapitiya’s special Social Capital Hedosophia holding company, with a debut on the NYSE for the newly merged public entity scheduled for Monday.

6. Cybersecurity automation startup Tines scores $4.1M Series A led by Blossom Capital

Tines automates many of the repetitive manual tasks faced by security analysts so they can focus on other high-priority work. The founders have bootstrapped the company until now.

7. Bill McDermott aims to grow ServiceNow like he did SAP

During the company’s earnings call, outgoing CEO John Donahoe said that McDermott met all of the board’s criteria for its next leader — all in the service of building toward a $10 billion revenue goal. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

Microsoft reports a strong fiscal first quarter, but Azure’s growth rate continues to decline

Microsoft posted quarterly results today that were well ahead of analysts’ expectations, but Azure’s growth rate continues to decline as it competes with AWS.

The company’s revenue for the first quarter of the fiscal year rose 14% year-over-year to $33.1 billion. Net income increased 21% to $10.7 billion, or $1.38 per share.

Revenue from Microsoft’s Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes its Office products and LinkedIn, grew 13% to $11.1 billion. LinkedIn’s revenue increased by 25%.

Meanwhile, its Intelligent Cloud segment’s revenue increased 27% to $10.8 billion, with revenue from server products and cloud services growing 30%. The company said Azure’s revenue grew by 59%, but that represents a decline in growth rate that began a year ago, when Azure clocked quarterly growth of 76%. The rate has fallen more since then, with today’s report representing a drop from the 64% growth reported in the previous quarter.

Revenue from Microsoft’s personal computing segment grew 4% to $11.1 billion.

The company said it expects second-quarter revenue to be in the range of $35.15 billion to $35.95 billion.

PayPal reports solid third-quarter results, with total payment volume growing 25%

PayPal reported third-quarter results today that were slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations, driven by an increase in total payment volume.

The company’s quarterly revenue grew 19% year-over-year to $4.38 billion. Its GAAP net income was 39 cents per share, or $462 million, a 7% year-over-year increase. On a non-GAAP basis, net income was 61 cents a share, a 5% increase.

These figures included a negative impact from strategic investments in MercadoLibre and Uber; without that, GAAP net income would have increased 48% to 54 cents per share, and non-GAAP net income would have rose 31% to 76 cents per share.

During the third quarter, PayPal added 9.8 million active accounts, increasing the total number by 16% to 295 million. Total payment volume (TPV) increased 25% to $179 billion. Venmo processed more than $27 billion in TPV during the quarter, an increase of 64%.

For its full-year results, PayPal said it expects earnings per share ranging from $3.06 to $3.08 per share, on revenue of $17.7 billion to $17.76 billion.

In September, PayPal announced it will acquire a 70% equity interest in GoPay (Guofubao). The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter and will make PayPal the first foreign payments company licensed to provide online payment services in China, an important potential driver of future growth.

Elon Musk predicts Tesla energy could be ‘bigger’ than its EV business

Tesla CEO Elon Musk forecast that the company’s energy business will eventually be the same size as— or even bigger than — its automotive sector, the latest sign that the company plans to put more time and resources to scaling up its solar and storage products.

It could be bigger, but it will certainly be of a similar magnitude,” Musk said during an earnings call Wednesday. The company surprised Wall Street by reporting a return to profitability in the third quarter.

The bulk of Tesla’s revenue is generated from sales of its Model S, Model X and Model 3 electric vehicles. In the third quarter, automotive revenues were $5.35 billion. The company doesn’t break out revenue generated from solar, energy storage or other products and services. However, the total revenue in the third quarter was $6.3 billion, which gives some indication of the size of automotive compared to its other businesses.

Tesla’s energy and solar businesses languished for nearly two years as attention and resources were directed to the Model 3. That diversion of resources included redirecting battery cell production lines meant for its home Powerwall and commercial Powerpack energy storage products to the car because the company didn’t have enough cells.

“We had to do it because if we didn’t solve the Model 3, Tesla wouldn’t survived,” he said.So, unfortunately that shorted other parts of the company.”

Now, the company is committed scaling up energy storage and solar. Kunal Girotra, who initially joined Tesla in 2015 as a senior product manager for Powerwall, was promoted to senior director of the company’s energy operations.

In the third quarter, Tesla installed 43 megawatts of solar, a 48% increase from the previous quarter. Solar installations are still 54% lower than the same period last year.

Energy storage deployments have continued to grow, reaching an all-time high of 477 MWh in the third quarter, according to earnings posted Wednesday.

Part of this new effort includes its solar roof tile product, which was originally unveiled in 2016. Musk said that a new, third iteration of its solar roof tile will debut Thursday afternoon.

Netflix Q3 earnings exceed estimates, despite disappointing US subscriber growth

Netflix’s Q3 financial report has given the company’s stock a boost in after-hours trading, with profits significantly exceeding analyst expectations.

The streaming giant reported revenue of $5.24 billion revenue, up 31% year-over-year and more-or-less in line with predictions of $5.25 billion. More impressively, it reported GAAP earnings of $1.47 per share, compared to analyst estimates of $1.05 per share.

Subscriber growth, meanwhile, was a mixed bag. Netflix reported 500,000 paid net additions of in the United States, falling far short of its forecast of 800,000. Conversely, international growth exceeded expectations, with 6.3 million net adds compared to a forecast of 6.2 million.

U.S. subscriber growth looks particularly weak when you compare it to 2018 — Netflix has only seen 2.1 million net additions domestically in the first nine months of 2019, compared to 4.1 million in the same period of 2018. Netflix’s investor letter seems to blame this on price hikes earlier this year.

“Since our US price increase earlier this year, retention has not yet fully returned on a sustained basis to pre-price-change levels, which has led to slower US membership growth,” the company says. “On a member base of more than 60m, very small movements in churn can have a meaningful impact on paid net adds.”

The company also noted that its average revenue per user is up 16.5% year-over-year in the US. (I assume it can thank to those same price hikes.)

Overall, Netflix said it now has more than 158 million members. It’s projecting 26.7 million net adds for the entirety of 2019, down from 28.6 million net adds last year.

“While we had previously expected 2019 paid net adds to be up year over year, our current forecast reflects several factors including less precision in our ability to forecast the impact of our Q4 content slate, which consists of several new big IP launches (as opposed to returning seasons), the minor elevated churn in response to some price changes, and new forthcoming competition,” Netflix says.

Netflix’s stock is up 7.6% in after-hours trading (as of 4:39pm Eastern).

However, those subscriber numbers are certainly going to provide more fuel to skeptics. For example, eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said in a statement that “the fact that Netflix has shown disappointing growth without the new competition present, is a negative omen for Netflix in 2020 and beyond.”

The investor letter also includes an extended discussion of that competition, acknowledging the upcoming launch of Disney+ and Apple+ next month, and HBO Max and Peacock next year.

“Many are focused on the ‘streaming wars,’ but we’ve been competing with streamers (Amazon, YouTube, Hulu) as well as linear TV for over a decade,” the letter says. It goes on to acknowledge that these upcoming launches will be “noisy” and could create “some modest headwind in our near-term growth,” but it adds, “In the long-term, though, we expect we’ll continue to grow nicely given the strength of our service and the large market opportunity.”

Updating

Baidu beats estimates on strong video streaming growth

Chinese search giant Baidu on Monday posted a revenue of 26.33 billion yuan ($3.73 billion) for the quarter that ended in June, beating analysts’ estimates of 25.77 billion yuan ($3.65 billion) as its video streaming service iQiyi style="font-weight: 400;"> continues to see strong growth. The 19-year-old firm’s shares were up over 8% in extended trading.

The company, which is often called Google of China, said revenue of its core businesses grew 12% since the same period last year “despite the weak macro environment, our self-directed healthcare initiative, industry-specific policy changes and large influx of ad inventory.”

Net income for the second quarter dropped to 2.41 billion yuan ($344 million).

“With Baidu traffic growing robustly and our mobile ecosystem continuing to expand, we are in a good position to focus on capitalizing monetization and ROI improvement opportunities to deliver shareholder value,” Herman Yu, CFO of Baidu, said in a statement.

Today’s results for Baidu, which has been struggling of late, should help calm investors’ worries. In recent years, as users move from desktop to mobile and rivals such as ByteDance win hundreds of millions of users through their mobile apps, many have cast serious doubts on Baidu’s ability to maintain its growth and hold onto its grip on advertising business. (On desktop, Baidu continues to command over three quarters of the Chinese market share.)

In the quarter that ended in March this year, Baidu posted its first quarterly loss since 2015, the year it went public.

Baidu’s shares were trading at about $114 in extended hours, pushing its market cap to about $40 billion — still less than half of about $100 billion in mid-May last year.

Robin Li, Baidu co-founder and CEO, said Baidu app was being used by 188 million users everyday, up 27% from the same period last year. “In-app search queries grew over 20% year over year and smart mini program MAUs reached 270 million, up 49% sequentially,” he added.

Baidu’s video streaming service iQiyi style="font-weight: 400;"> has now amassed over 100.5 million subscribers, up from about 87 million late last year, the company said. Revenue from iQiyi stood at 7.11 billion yuan ($1.01 billion), up 15% since last year.

iQiyi inked a deal with Netflix in 2017, which does not operate in China, to cross-license portion of one another’s content. But the partnership has since ended because the “results weren’t as good as iQiyi had expected,” a company top executive said earlier this year. iQiyi continues to maintain its relationship with all six of the major local movie studios.

“On Baidu’s AI businesses, DuerOS voice assistant continues to experience strong momentum with installed base surpassing 400 million devices, up 4.5 fold year over year, and monthly voice queries surpassing 3.6 billion, up 7.5 fold year over year, in June. As mobile internet penetration in China slows, we are excited about the huge opportunity to provide content and service providers a cross-platform distribution channel beyond mobile, into smart homes and automobiles,” he added.

Revenue from online marketing services, which makes a significant contribution to overall sales, fell about 9% to 19.2 billion yuan ($2.72 billion).

More to follow…