Uber Technologies Inc. shares have been on a tear this year, but Barclays analyst Ross Sandler sees ample room for the dominant ride-hailing name to continue cruising.
In the face of the 76% move higher in Uber shares
so far in 2023, he lifted his price target on Uber’s stock to $57 from $45 Friday, while also writing that a path to $70 is “becoming clearer.”
Shares of Uber “trade slightly below their $45 IPO price today and have yet to ‘break out’ of the range, even during the peak froth/[zero-interest-rate-phenomenon] environment,” Sandler wrote. “But with a number of catalysts on the horizon (widely anticipated [S&P 500] inclusion, potential buybacks, etc.), we wouldn’t be surprised if shares finally drifted north of the historical ranges.”
Some fairly simple catalysts could drive a further rally in Uber shares, according to Sandler. He expects that the company can lean on growth in its base UberX business, newer product initiatives like reserved rides and expansion into untapped international markets to spur at least 15% growth in gross bookings over the years to come.
But there are also some more exciting potential drivers of stock appreciation, according to Sandler, who is perhaps more bullish than most on the company’s potential in grocery delivery.
“Most investors think online grocery is a path to nowhere for shareholder value, after seeing fits and starts from Amazon for years, and after the 2021 bubble burst for many of the quick-commerce players,” he wrote.
But if Uber nails the execution of its own efforts, “whereby consumers gain convenience, drivers pick up more off peak shifts and, most importantly, the fee structure and value-added software work for the grocery retailers, we think this might be an area that could surprise to the upside over the next several years,” Sandler continued.
Additionally, the company’s Uber One membership program strikes him as compelling. The membership helps lower Uber’s customer-acquisition costs because it can better incentivize users of one part of its ecosystem, like rides, to try services like food delivery.
“[E]ngagement with some of these new verticals is gaining traction and Uber One can be a good tailwind to improve that adoption at very little cost,” he wrote.
But the Uber of the future could look a lot different than the Uber of today, in his view. Many companies have tried and failed to achieve U.S. success with the concept of a “super app” that combines disparate services all in one place. Will Uber be the one to break through with that?
“The company has been quietly adding more layers of the travel stack to its app in various regions, in an effort to test consumer engagement with these services,” Sandler wrote. “A lot of this is still in test-mode and it’s unclear how things will evolve from here, but given Uber’s position in the industry, the CEO’s background, new AI technologies in the market, and some of these new travel supplier trials, we think there is a big opportunity ahead.”
He sees a “reasonable possibility” that Uber evolves into a “travel concierge,” leveraging artificial intelligence.
“One could envision additional perks like no-wait, premium upgrades to Black or Green (from X) or discounted trips to/from the airport for booking other travel (hotel) through the app,” Sandler wrote. “Given the restaurant data, one could envision recommendations while traveling being a nice differentiator.”
In this futuristic scenario, Uber’s stock carries even more potential, in his view. He titled his section on these prospects: “The Path To $100.”
“This strategy is just getting off the ground, so it’s too early to assign a lot of enterprise value to it,” he wrote. “But we believe UBER shares are in a position to nearly double just from growth and margin expansion in the base ride-hail and food delivery business, and this next stage would be incremental to value.”