Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) posted year-over-year declines in Q1 2021 revenues and riders, but an improving trend that started in the second half of last year is continuing.

The company reported revenues grew 7% quarter-over-quarter to $609 million versus $955.7 million in Q1 2020. Net loss was $427.3 million versus a $398.1 million loss in the same period of 2020. Q1 2021’s loss included $180.7 million in stock-based compensation and related payroll tax expenses and $128 million related to changes to the liabilities insurance. Adjusted net loss for Q1 was $114.1 million versus a $97.4 million net loss in Q1 2020.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) loss for Q1 2021 before earnings was $73 million, down from $85.2 million in Q1 2020 and a $77 million improvement over Q4 2020. The adjusted EBITDA loss margin for Q1 2021 was 12% versus 8.9% in the first quarter of 2020 and versus 26.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Lyft has seen an uptick in riders as more of the nation opens up after nearly a year of COVID-19-related restrictions. In early March, Lyft lifted its guidance for Q1 following a strong February, with the week of Feb. 28 representing its best week for daily rides since March 2020.

In its Q1 results, Lyft said active riders fell 36.4% year-over-year to 13.4 million, but that beat the previous two quarters when active riders totaled 12.5 million in both Q3 and Q4. Active riders increased in each month, the company said. Revenue per active rider increased 0.2% year-over-year to $45.13. That is down slightly from Q4, when it was $45.40.


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Lyft reported contribution (defined by revenue less cost of revenue minus several metrics) for Q1 2021 of $337.3 million versus $547.4 million in the first quarter of 2020, down 38% year-over-year but up 7% from $316 million in Q4 2020. Contribution margin for Q1 2021 was 55.4%, which was down by 1.9 percentage points year-over-year but down just 10 basis points quarter-over-quarter. Contribution margin for Q1 2021 exceeded the company’s outlook of 51 to 51.5%, it said.

Lyft reported $2.2 billion of unrestricted cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments at the end of the first quarter of 2021.

“We had an exceptionally strong Q1 as more people started moving again. Our results meaningfully exceeded our outlook driven by elevated demand across our network,” said CFO Brian Roberts.

Lyft Q1 2021 consolidated balance sheet

Lyft’s stock is down more than 10% in the last five days, since U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh suggested in a Reuters interview that more gig economy workers should be classified as employees. Walsh’s comments sent the stocks of Lyft, DoorDash and Uber, which releases its Q1 earnings Wednesday, all lower.

“While he tried to strike a balanced tone – noting that in ‘some cases’ gig workers are treated respectfully and indicating that he didn’t ‘begrudge’ any companies for raising revenue and making profits – his pointed comments send a direct signal to gig economy businesses that the Biden Department of Labor will soon ramp up efforts to force gig workers to be considered employees,” wrote Richard Meneghello, senior director of content for law firm Fisher Phillips, in a blog posting.

Last week, Lyft announced it was selling its self-driving vehicle division, Level 5, to Woven Planet Holdings, a division of Toyota Motor Corp. Woven is paying $550 million in total cash for the division, founded in 2016 as Open Platform. The sale price includes $200 million in upfront cash and $350 million in additional cash payments over five years.

Level 5 is part of Lyft’s efforts to bring autonomous vehicles to the marketplace. It is a sister business to Lyft Autonomous, which will remain part of Lyft. Level 5 includes over 300 engineers and data scientists and is led by Executive Vice President Luc Vincent.

The sale includes a multiyear nonexclusive commercial agreement between Lyft and Woven Planet, allowing for the sharing of Lyft system and fleet data, the companies said.

“With the pending sale of our Level 5 self-driving division, Lyft is set up to win the transition to autonomous through our hybrid network of human drivers and AVs, advanced marketplace tech and leading fleet management capabilities,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Brian Straight.

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