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BlackBerry CEO John Chen's cautionary reminder to bullish Lyft investors

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has been around long enough in the tech space to offer up words of wisdom to those looking to make a quick buck from Lyft’s IPO.

“Profits are important. Investors will eventually come back and want to know about the return. As long as they are growing at a rapid rate and expanding the market, it’s understandable people are excited,” Chen told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview.

“But one of these days the tide will turn,” Chen added.

For now, the tide is on the side of Lyft’s early investors and those it bagged during the roadshow. Lyft priced its stock at $72 per share, valuing it at more than $20 billion. The stock opened at $87.22 on the Nasdaq, but fell back to $80 or so by early afternoon trading.

Lyft’s market cap currently stands at $27.3 billion. Indeed the aforementioned investors are ignoring Lyft’s financial struggles in the hopes of it gaining more market share from Uber in a hot ride-sharing industry.

While Lyft saw sales more than double to $2.2 billion in 2018, it lost about $911 million. That’s despite Lyft’s bookings surging 76% year-over-year to $8 billion.

In fact, Lyft’s losses have worsened in recent years. Lyft’s operating losses tallied $977.8 million in 2018, up from $708.3 million in 2017 as it picked up the pace of incentives to drivers and riders.

Blackberry pivot

Hat tip to BlackBerry’s Chen though: on a day in which money-losing Lyft comes to market, BlackBerry blew away fourth quarter profit forecasts. Blackberry reported adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share, beating Wall Street forecasts for 6 cents a share. Software and services revenue rose an impressive 14% from the prior year.

Credit that to Chen’s pivot years ago to make BlackBerry a key player in the cybersecurity and auto tech markets.

Bye-bye handsets, hello recurring revenue.

BlackBerry shares surged 15% today, a more impressive gain than Lyft.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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