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Don't play the Uber IPO — the price is too high, says tech investor Gene Munster

Key Points
  • Noted tech investor Gene Munster isn't buying into Uber's initial public offering.
  • When shares open on the public market on Friday, he expects them to trade down throughout the day.
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Gene Munster on Uber pricing, IPO

Noted tech investor Gene Munster isn't buying into Uber's initial public offering.

In fact, when shares open on the public market on Friday, he expects them to trade down throughout the day.

Uber priced its IPO at $45 per share Thursday, which values the company at about $75.46 billion. The company is offering 180 million shares of its common stock, with an option for underwriters to buy an additional 27 million. If all options and restricted stock units are exercised, Uber's fully diluted valuation would jump to $82.35 billion.

"I was surprised at the pricing," Munster said Thursday on CNBC's "Fast Money."

Namely, he's looking out to 2020 and comparing Uber with its competitor Lyft, which went public in March.

"The pricing at this $83 billion is going to be about 40% higher on a revenue multiple versus where Lyft is trading on their 2020 numbers."

The Uber application on a smartphone during an Uber ride in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

And for Munster, founder of the venture capital firm Loup Ventures, that's too far apart for two companies that are similar. He pointed out that 85% of their revenue is overlapping, although he conceded there are some differences in their longer-term business models.

"I understand that there is some optionality value that might account for some of that 40% difference, but this seems to me just simply too wide of a gap," he said. "I would recommend investors not play the IPO."

Instead, he would wait for the valuation to "settle down" to about $60 billion. And even then, tread carefully, said Munster.

"Think about: Do you have the appetite to weather what is going to be a difficult 2019, for both Lyft and Uber, as they invest in the future?" he said.

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Uber's ride-hailing service is its core business, reaching into 63 countries and more than 700 cities. However, the company has also diversified into bike and scooter rentals, food delivery and freight. Uber is also developing air taxis and driverless car technology, among other things.

It's autonomous technology that Munster is interested in, and it's why he likes the business fundamentals for both Lyft and Uber longer-term. In three to five years, both companies will still be around, he predicted.

"I'm a believer in the undeniable truth around autonomy," Munster said. "I understand there is a huge investment phase between now and then. But … I am able to see through in how autonomy, longer term, can have a positive impact."

He believes the "best path" forward for Lyft and Uber is to partner with hardware players and use their brand around transportation, then take a profitable cut. This way they don't have to invest heavily in assets.

If that is the future, Munster said, he'd go with Lyft over Uber, since the former has already taken a partnership approach when it comes to autonomy.

— CNBC's Leslie Picker contributed to this report.