Lyft files for IPO, to kick off roadshow later this month

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Lyft, the second-largest ride-hailing operator, took the opportunity to remind the public of its longtime marketing angle: It's a kinder and more empathetic company.

But the company has been operating with heavy losses.

Lyft now has almost 40 percent of the USA ride-sharing market, but warned further growth could come at the expense of yet more losses for a company already deep in the red, according to the filing.

Issuing stock also generally doesn't cost companies money like cash bonuses do. So what did we learn about Lyft with today's filing? In 2017, it was losses of $688 million on $1.1 billion, and past year, the company lost $911 million on $2.2 billion in revenue.

Lyft, known for the pink moustaches that used to adorn vehicle grilles, was valued at just over $15 billion a year ago.

Losses could mount, Lyft cautioned, as it continues to invest and eye a broader global expansion.

Lyft has been in a race with competitor Uber to be first to offer its stock to the public. Lyft is now working with JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, and Jefferies as the leading investment banks for the IPO.

Potential investors in Lyft Inc.'s initial public offering got their first look at the company's financials Friday, revealing a startup that's hustling to outrun its growing losses. Its IPO could come as soon as early April. At a US$25-billion valuation, Lyft would be trading at almost 12 times its annual revenue.

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Lyft has been eager to emphasise its growth to investors over its total revenue, which is dwarfed by Uber. The IPO prospectus shows Lyft had 18.6 million active riders in the fourth quarter, up 47 percent from a year ago.

Lyft warned that it may have trouble achieving and maintaining profitability as it is now investing in shared bikes, scooters and financial support for drivers.

Both programs will work on a sliding scale based on a driver's length of service or number of rides.

Early reports suggest Lyft is expected to secure over $100 million from the IPO and is forecasting a valuation of around $20 to $25 billion. It has matched Uber's efforts to develop self-driving cars and has also expanded into short-term bike and scooter rentals.

The company's IPO includes a dual-class stock structure, with one class of shareholders getting 20 votes per share and another getting just one vote per share.

Uber, a larger company with a more diverse set of businesses, needs several more weeks for its IPO preparations. Industry giant Uber is in control of the other 66 percent of the ride-hailing market in the US. Picture taken September 21, 2017. In its filing, Lyft said it will pay cash bonuses of $1,000 and $10,000 to drivers who meet certain criteria, and that drivers may use those bonuses to buy the company's shares. Reuters reported the plan on Thursday.

The average Lyft driver earns about $30 an hour before expenses, while co-founder and CEO Logan Green made over $41 million in 2017 including stock options.

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