Uber, Lyft stocks boosted as Wall Street continues to like gig companies’ recession chances

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. shares jumped in Monday trading as Wall Street analysts continued to suggest that gig companies — largely founded during and after the last large U.S. recession — could flourish in any coming economic pullback.

Piper Sandler analysts wrote in a note Monday that vehicles are getting too expensive, with higher interest rates and limited availability as key factors, which could cause some consumers to turn to on-demand rides from Uber

and rival ride-hailing company Lyft

“Vehicle prices are near all-time highs, and a quick reversion to historical pricing seems unlikely,” the analysts wrote. “As a result, we think cash-strapped consumers will increasingly opt to hail rides instead of trying to replace old cars.”

The analysts upgraded Uber on their belief that out of the biggest gig companies, it may be in the best position to withstand a possible recession. They said Lyft and Getaround Inc.
a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform, are also likely to benefit. But because of its scale, Uber is “our #1 way to invest in this theme,” they added.

Shares of Uber and Lyft are building on their upward momentum so far this year after an ugly 2022, with Uber shares trading about 6% higher Monday after rising four of the past five days. The stock is up 12.4% year to date. Lyft’s stock is trading nearly 9% higher Monday, has been up seven of the past eight days and has risen almost 18% so far this year.

The analysts’ notes Monday are in line with other recently published sentiment, as well as commentary from executives, that sees an upside for the gig economy during a possible recession. Last week, Bank of America analysts wrote that the souring economy could boost gig companies’ labor supply.

See: Uber, DoorDash and Lyft could see hundreds of thousands of new gig workers because of recession, analysts say

Jefferies Equity Research analyst John Colantuoni, who took over lead coverage of the sector, on Monday retained Uber stock at buy and Lyft at hold. He also initiated DoorDash Inc.

at underperform.

“We believe Uber’s dominant scale and network effect support greater reinvestment into customer experience/adoption, which should spur frequency/stickiness and grow market share over time,” the Jefferies analysts wrote.

Piper Sandler also downgraded DoorDash’s stock, with analysts saying they preferred Uber’s chances owing to slowing demand for delivery.

DoorDash shares are holding up, though, and were up about 2% in trading Monday. They are up three of the past four days and have increased 0.6% year to date.

Uber’s and Lyft’s stocks could also be benefiting from a judge’s decision late last week to block rate increases for ride-hailing drivers in New York City. Last month, Uber sued the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, claiming its mandated hike that would have raised ride-hailing rates by 7% a minute and 24% a mile was miscalculated.

Justice Arthur Engoron of the state court in Manhattan reportedly agreed with Uber that the commission did not offer sufficient reason for the rate increases. He is set to issue a written decision this week.