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Uber Freight’s Q4 revenue, EBITDA headed wrong way from prior quarter

Uber Freight’s EBITDA in the fourth quarter improved from a year ago, but sequentially it took a significant downturn from the third quarter.

Uber Freight’s (NYSE: UBER) earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were barely positive in the third quarter, coming in at $1 million. But it reversed itself in Q4 when the digital brokerage and shipper transportation management system (through its acquisition of Transplace) posted negative EBITDA of $8 million.

That was still a significant improvement over Q4 2021, when EBITDA came in at negative-$25 million.

The decline in EBITDA came as revenue fell 43% from a year ago to $1.08 billion, down from $1.54 billion in Q4 2021. It was also significantly down from Q3 2022, which came in at $1.751 billion for a sequential drop of more than 38%.

Uber Freight rarely receives mention on the company’s earnings call with analysts. But that wasn’t the case Wednesday when several questions about its performance came up.

Nelson Chai, CFO of the Uber parent, said “yes, we wish the freight numbers were better in the fourth quarter,” according to a transcript. Chai’s statement came in response to a question from an analyst who said that bookings “were a bit behind our expectations.”

Chai’s remarks though were more on the structure of Uber Freight, rather than just a weak quarter. 

“Historically, (the) Uber Freight business has done a very good job using the brand and our tech, our shared tech to really drive out and build out its presence, particularly with what I’d call national brands,” Chai said. “Where we need to spend some more time is really focused on some of the small and midsized shippers. And so we’re doing that right now.”

Chai made reference to the recent layoffs at Uber Freight, saying the company had made “some organizational tweaks.” But his comments were mostly forward-looking and acknowledged Uber Freight was hit by the freight cycle just as other companies. 

“The overwhelming cycle that’s going on right now more broadly in the freight industry is going to continue to impact our business,” Chai said. “And so that business will continue to lag likely versus where we would have hoped, and certainly versus a year ago where [there] was a much different dynamic more broadly in freight business in this country.”

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