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Lyft pops in trading debut, settles to modest gains

Key Points
  • The stock ended trading 8.7 percent up at $78.29 — something of a modest IPO for such a giant tech company.
  • More than 70 million shares exchanged hands by market close. 
  • Lyft ended its first day with a market valuation to $22.2 billion.
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Lyft's stock popped as much as 23 percent in its debut on the public market Friday. Shares opened at $87.24 a piece and ultimately settled to modest gains. 

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

Lyft said Thursday that it sold 32.5 million shares — more than expected — at $72 apiece. That's at the high end of the stated range, which was already boosted from an initial range of $62 to $68. That means the company raised about $2.3 billion from the listing.

The stock ended trading 8.7 percent up at $78.29 — 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. More than 70 million shares exchanged hands by market close. 

Lyft ended its first day with a market valuation to $22.2 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. "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."

The No. 2 ride-hailing company revealed skyrocketing revenue in its IPO prospectus, but posted a 2018 loss 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" on 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."

VIDEO2:2002:20
Watch the moment Lyft begins trading on the Nasdaq at $87.24 a share

Lyft rival Uber is expected to go public later this spring, having confidentially filed for its public offering on the same day as Lyft 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.

"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," Ives said.

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

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

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

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Lyft goes public but has no clear path to make a profit
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Key Points
  • Lyft claimed 39 percent of the U.S. ride-hailing market at the end of 2018.
  • The dueling ride-hailing companies have drawn increasing comparison in recent months, as each company has raced toward a public offering practically in tandem.
  • Historically Lyft has benefited from Uber's stumbles.