Uber shares could rise as much as 65% with profitability 'around the corner,' Jefferies says

Uber shares could rise as much as 65% with profitability 'around the corner,'  Jefferies says
Uber has posted strong growth in its delivery service.halbergman/Getty Images
  • Uber landed a buy rating and an upside-scenario price target of $90 at Jefferies on Thursday.
  • Uber could reach EBITDA profitability in the fourth quarter from its "much leaner structure."
  • The ride-sharing company is among the "top reopening plays" at Jefferies.

Uber shares could rise by another 65%, with the upside scenario offered by Jefferies on Thursday as it initiated a buy rating on the ride-hailing platform and said the company looks set to soon turn a profit.

"Uber is among our top reopening plays. As vaccines roll out, Uber looks ideally positioned to accelerate growth and reach profitability on the back of two core engines," said Jefferies equity analysts Brett Thill and John Byun, adding that "profitability is around the corner."

The firm issued a $90 upside-scenario price target, which would mark a 65% rise from Wednesday's closing price of $54.51. The base-case price target of $75 implies a 38% increase from Wednesday's session. Shares of Uber during Thursday trade rose by as much as 4.6% to $57.

Jefferies foresees a 24% rise in bookings for the mobility portion of its business in fiscal 2021. Bookings slid by 46% in fiscal 2020, hurt by lockdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Bookings should hit $57 billion in fiscal year 2023 and exceed the pre-pandemic level of $50 billion that was logged in fiscal 2019.

"The pace of recovery should follow that of reopenings, with leisure leading business rides, and pent-up demand for travel adding an eventual boost. Overall, increasing comfort around vaccines should open up use cases and ride frequency," said Jefferies as it referenced its own survey.


Meanwhile, the delivery side of Uber's business "acted as a great hedge to plummeting rides during the pandemic," with Jefferies noting growth in delivery bookings of 109% in fiscal year 2020. Delivery bookings rose by 83% in fiscal 2019.

"While growth should decelerate in FY21, it should remain high," the firm said. "Ordering habits from COVID days should persist, even if some cohorts reduce average order size or frequency," the analysts said, adding that they are modeling the delivery business to turn profitable in the fourth quarter of 2021.

A "much leaner structure" at Uber sets up the company to reach EBITDA profitability in the fourth quarter, the firm added. Among its actions, Uber has exited several ride-hailing and delivery markets while Lime last year acquired assets from Uber's scooter and electric bicycle business named Jump.

Jefferies said downside risks to its scenarios include slower-than-expected penetration of ride-sharing and meal deliveries. Its price target in a downside scenario is $23, which would imply a 58% drop from Wednesday's close.