Lyft pops 20% in trading debut

Business

Lyft stock started trading on the public market Friday at $87.24 per share, more than 20 percent above the stock’s IPO price.

The offering marks the first debut from a heavyweight class of tech companies going public in 2019.

The company said Thursday it sold 32.5 million shares — more than previously expected — at $72 a piece. That’s at the high end of the stated range, which was already boosted from an initial range of $62 to $68. That amounts to a fund raise of $2.3 billion.

The stock held at around $87 in its first few minutes of trading — something of a modest IPO for such a giant tech company. Appetite for the stock was strong though, with more than 6 million shares traded at the open.

The initial pop nudges Lyft’s valuation to $25 billion.

“This is a lightning start for Lyft’s stock as investors are salivating [over] owning a piece of the $1 trillion ride sharing market,” Wedbush managing director Dan Ives said in a statement to CNBC. “Lyft is popping the Dom Perignon today but how the stock trades over the coming months and especially once Uber comes out and goes public will be the real test in our opinion.”

The No. 2 ride-hailing company revealed skyrocketing revenues in its IPO prospectus, but posted 2018 losses north of $900 million. The stock’s early performance will serve as something of a litmus test for public investors and their tolerance for mature, not-yet-profitable tech giants.

“We’re ready to be held accountable. We’re excited,” co-founder and president John Zimmer told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin in an interview on “Squawk Box” Friday morning. “In our case, I think what we’ve seen in talking to investors [is] that more people are maybe surprised to see the numbers that we’re putting out and I think this is a great part of the process. For us this wasn’t the goal — this is a milestone along the way — but we feel like it helps us with additional access to capital.”

Lyft rival Uber is expected to go public later this spring, having confidentially filed for its public offering on the same day as Lyft back in December. Pinterest, Slack and Postmates have also filed for IPOs. Uber is expected to release its S-1 filing and go public in April.

“The robust start to trading is also a clear positive for other tech names that are watching Lyft to gauge investor demand and Street reaction on this transformational consumer tech name,” Ives said.

Lyft trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LYFT. J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Jefferies are the lead underwriters of the offering.

Lyft has been named to the CNBC Disruptor 50 List three times, ranking fifth on the 2018 list.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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Lyft goes public but has no clear path to make a profit

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