Uber profits ride high on back of increased travel and food deliveries

Car service and food delivery giant Uber has reported surprise profits as people took more taxi journeys and takeaway revenue increased following the pandemic.

It was a record three months for the driving service arm of the corporation: nearly a million trips were taken every hour worldwide and the number of active drivers on the platform reached an all-time high.

Active drivers and delivery couriers on the platform topped 5.4 million a month.

At the same time roughly 23 million trips were taken a day on average, with a total of 2.1 billion journeys from October to the end of December - a 19% increase on the same time last year - Uber Technologies Inc said in its fourth quarter results.

Driver numbers on the platform continued to grow in January too, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said. The figures should put to bed fears of driver shortages that had driven the company to up its spend on incentives as it emerged from the pandemic in the second quarter of 2021.

Revenue from Uber's core rideshare, taxis, scooters and train bookings business rose 82% on the same period in the previous year, topping $4.136bn (£3.42bn).The increase was buoyed by $1.2bn (£994m) from business model changes in the UK.

Food delivery revenue also grew from $2.42bn (£2bn) in the three months in 2021 to $2.93bn (£2.43bn) over the same period in 2022.

Profits pre-tax reached $665m (£551.2m), far exceeding expectations and an increase of $579m (£480m) on 2021. Analysts had estimated Uber would report $593m (£491.6) of profit.

Overall revenue rose 49% to $8.61bn (£7.13bn), again beating estimates of $8.49bn (£7.03bn).

"We ended 2022 with our strongest quarter ever, with robust demand and record margins," Mr Khosrowshahi said.

Despite restaurants reopening for in-person dining, the delivery business also performed strongly.

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"Our delivery business continued to show resilience, growing at a healthy rate while meaningfully expanding profitability and improving our category position in a majority of our large markets," he said.

The outlook for the beginning of 2023 was positive as Uber forecast that bookings will grow by between 20 and 24% in the first three months of the year from the same months in 2022.

Pre-tax profits are expected to be between $660m (£547m) to $700m (£580m), the company reported.

"Despite any macroeconomic uncertainty, I'm more confident than ever in our prospects," Mr Khosrowshahi added.