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In race to IPO, Uber is bigger but Lyft is friendlier, survey finds

Key Points
  • Uber and Lyft are racing to go public next year.
  • A new survey from investment firm Raymond James found Uber has 60 percent of market share among U.S. respondents.
  • Lyft rated higher than Uber for driver friendliness and brand image.
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Uber’s value could hit $120 billion after it goes public

As they race to become public companies, Uber is bigger but Lyft is friendlier.

That's according to a new survey of 1,062 U.S. consumers conducted by investment firm Raymond James.

The report, published Monday, found Uber is the most popular ride-hailing app with 60 percent of market share, compared to Lyft's 23 percent. But one-third of respondents picked Lyft for its driver friendliness and brand image, compared to one-fourth who picked Uber for those parameters.

Lyft customers were also more loyal; it was the top choice among users who take at least two trips with ride-hailing apps per month.

"While Lyft trails Uber in share, it does have a highly engaged user base - we found that Lyft users actually use the service more frequently than Uber users," the report said.

The research comes as both companies are racing to list as public companies next year. Uber reportedly filed confidential paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week for an initial public offering (IPO) that could put the ride-hailing giant's valuation at $120 billion. Lyft also filed a confidential paperwork for an IPO last week. The offering is expected to exceed the $15.1 billion valuation Lyft posted in June.

Uber declined to comment on its potential IPO when contacted by CNBC. Lyft issued a press release that confirmed the confidential filing but did not specify the number of shares to be offered or the price range.

Uber and Lyft have hinted for months that they will go public next year and last week's filings indicate the offerings could come sooner than expected. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi previously said the company was looking at the second half of 2019 for its IPO.

The ride-hailing firms' filings set the stage for a number of possible big tech IPOs next year. Airbnb, messaging app Slack and data-mining company Palantir have all signaled they could go public in 2019.

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have struggled to turn a profit, but Raymond James said both companies could grow significantly bigger. Only 58 percent of the survey's respondents have used a ride-hailing app, suggesting there is a large segment of the consumer market that has not been tapped by either company.

"Ride-hailing companies should be capable of sustaining teens to 20 percent growth rates for long periods of time (similar to Google and Amazon)," the report said.

—Reuters and CNBC's Sara Salinas contributed to this report