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Lyft soars as company charts a path out of the pandemic

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Lyft Inc shares soared more than 13% in extended trading on Tuesday after the company reported an adjusted profit for the third quarter and outlined a path to sustained profitability on the back of drastic cost cuts and a return of riders and drivers.

Lyft’s leaner cost structure allowed it to increase ridership without incurring rising expenses and executives said they targeted even higher adjusted profit in the fourth quarter, outlining their conviction for a continued recovery from a bruising pandemic.

Rides to airports, which are among the most profitable routes, nearly tripled from a year ago, executives said on an earnings call with analysts, in a sign of a broader U.S. economic recovery.

Shares of larger rival Uber Technologies Inc, which will report results on Thursday after the bell, rose 7% in after-market trading following Lyft’s release. Uber has said it expects to break even on an adjusted EBITDA basis for the first time.

Overall, Lyft’s active riders increased 11% to 18.9 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. But ridership remains 35% below peak levels before the pandemic, with Lyft executives saying many consumers were waiting for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots or were hesitant to travel with unvaccinated children.

The company also said business travel to offices had not yet resumed, with workers particularly on the U.S. West Coast continuing to work from home. But executives said they were hopeful office workers would return in the first half of 2022.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Roberts said.

According to the California-based company’s own measure, Lyft was profitable for the second consecutive time in its nine-year history.

Lyft reported adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure that excludes one-time costs, primarily stock-based compensation, of $67.3 million. The metric came in significantly ahead of a Wall Street estimate for $30.7 million, according to Refinitiv data.

Lyft said it expected adjusted EBITDA of between $70 million and $75 million in the fourth quarter.

Overall, Lyft’s third-quarter revenue rose about 73% on a yearly basis to $864.4 million, beating the Wall Street estimate of $862.68 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Revenue increased around 13% from last quarter, while total costs and expenses grew only 4% from the second quarter in a sign that Lyft is making do on its promise to cut both fixed and variable costs. Lyft’s contribution margin, indicating the company’s profitability excluding variable costs, rose to a record 59.4%.

Lyft’s net loss narrowed to $71.5 million, or 21 cents per share, from $459.5 million, or $1.46 per share last year, but President John Zimmer declined to say whether or when the company would target net profit.

The company posted surprise adjusted earnings per share of 5 cents in the quarter compared with a loss of 3 cents expected by Wall Street.

Lyft said driver supply was up 45% compared with last year, but did not share how far off driver numbers remained from pre-pandemic levels.

Zimmer said in an interview with Reuters that drivers were feeling safer thanks to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and were returning to the road in greater numbers after enhanced federal unemployment payments ended in September.

“We’re seeing the right things happening in the market and will begin to taper incentives in the quarter ahead,” he said.

Lyft and Uber have been spending heavily to lure drivers with big incentives as the pandemic opened up new jobs at Amazon.com Inc’s warehouses, Instacart’s grocery services and restaurant deliveries.

But Zimmer said most ride-hail drivers worked on the platform part-time as a way to supplement income from other jobs, enjoying the flexibility provided by gig work.

“I feel very good about the supply conditions, and our ability to compete in the marketplace for talent, given the type of work and earnings that we offer,” he said.

 

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas, and Nivedita Balu in Bangaluru; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Google real estate executive says 5% more workers coming in to office each week

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Alphabet Inc’s Google has seen an increasing number of employees coming in to its offices each week, particularly younger workers, the company’s real estate chief said during an interview at the Reuters Next conference on Friday.

On Thursday, Google indefinitely pushed back the mandated return date for employees due to concerns about the Omicron variant. The company had previously said its 150,000 global employees could be required to come in to the office as soon as Jan. 10.

Nevertheless, David Radcliffe, Google’s vice president for real estate and workplace services, said many Googlers are returning of their own volition. About 40% of its U.S. employees on average came in to the office daily in recent weeks, up from 20-25% three months ago, he said. Globally, 5% more employees are returning to offices week after week, he added.

“People are actually showing voluntarily that they want to be back in the office,” Radcliffe said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

Younger employees and those who joined Google more recently have been coming in at higher rates, seeking opportunities to learn from colleagues, Radcliffe added.

Google expects workers in the office at least three days a week once it mandates a new return date.

Based on feedback from those already back, it is redesigning floor plans to increase private, quiet spaces for distraction-free individual work and adding conferencing and other collaboration areas in open spaces both indoors and outdoors.

Real estate and human resources experts have considered Google a trailblazer for the past 20 years in sustainable office design and variety of workplace perks, including free meals, massages and gyms.

To extend those sustainability and wellness benefits to remote work, Google has encouraged employees to buy carbon offsets and non-toxic furniture for their home offices. It also has provided free cooking classes and discounts to fitness studios near workers’ homes.

“It was amazing how many employees had really never cooked themselves,” Radcliffe said.

 

(Reporting by Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif., and Julia Love in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Matthew Lewis)

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S&P/TSX composite down nearly 200 points, U.S. stock markets also lower – Business News – Castanet.net

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Canada’s main stock index was down nearly 200 points in late-morning trading, led lower by losses in the technology, base metal and industrial sectors, while U.S. stock markets also fell.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 176.86 points at 20,585.17.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 160.83 points at 34,478.96. The S&P 500 index was down 48.14 points at 4,528.96, while the Nasdaq composite was down 341.27 points at 15,040.05.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.05 cents US compared with 78.03 cents US on Thursday.

The January crude oil contract was up US$1.54 at US$68.04 per barrel and the January natural gas contract was up eight cents at US$4.14 per mmBTU.

The February gold contract was up US$14.90 at US$1,777.60 an ounce and the March copper contract was down two cents at US$4.28 a pound.

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Canada secures orders of Merck, Pfizer COVID-19 antiviral pills – Globalnews.ca

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The federal government has signed purchase agreements with two pharmaceutical companies for their oral COVID-19 treatments.

Filomena Tassi, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, told reporters on Friday the government has signed agreements with Pfizer and Merck to buy up to 1.5 million courses of their antiviral treatment, PF-07321332 and Molnupiravir.

Both treatments are under Health Canada review, Tassi added.

“We also know that access to effective, easy-to-use treatments is critical to reducing the severity of COVID infections and will help save lives,” she said.

“As soon as these drugs are authorized for use, the government will work on getting them to provinces and territories as quickly as possible so that health-care providers can help Canadians who need them most.”

Read more:

Canadians 18+ should be offered COVID-19 booster 6 months after 2nd shot, NACI says

As part of its initial order, the government has reached an agreement with Pfizer for one million courses of its treatment, pending Health Canada approval.

The government’s deal with Merck is for up to 500,000 courses of its treatment, with an option to add 500,000 more pending approval, Tassi added.


Click to play video: 'Pfizer, Merck press ahead with pills to treat COVID-19'



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Pfizer, Merck press ahead with pills to treat COVID-19


Pfizer, Merck press ahead with pills to treat COVID-19 – Nov 5, 2021

On Wednesday, Pfizer started a rolling submission with Health Canada for its pill, which it said is designed to block a key enzyme needed for the COVID-19 virus to multiply.

Pfizer also said its treatment can cut the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease by 89 per cent.

Read more:

COVID-19 antiviral pill approved in U.K. still being reviewed by Health Canada

Meanwhile, Merck’s pill is still under review by Health Canada as the company continues its rolling submission.

Last week, Merck shared data suggesting its drug was significantly less effective than previously thought, reducing hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk individuals by around 30 per cent.

The treatment has received approval in the United Kingdom.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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