Friday, February 26, 2021

Airbnb Posts Huge Loss, Yet Exceeds Expectations In First Earnings

Airbnb, the short-term property rental platform, showed an eye-popping loss of US$3.89 billion (~RM15.75 billion) in its first earnings report since its IPO (Initial public offering) last December, CNBC reported. But the company also performed ahead of market expectations and its competitors.

Aside from its recent IPO, Airbnb is also closely watched as a potential barometer for a travel industry badly ravaged by COVID-19. During the last quarter (Q4 2020), the company took in revenue totalling US$859 million (~RM3.48 billion) – notably more than the US$747.4 million (~RM3.03 billion) that were expected by analysts, Reuters reported.

More importantly, Airbnb didn’t do as badly as its competitors, seeing a year-on-year revenue drop of just 22%. In contrast, rival Expedia saw a whopping drop of 67% while Booking Holdings similarly posted a 63% fall.

Indeed, Airbnb’s letter to shareholders emphasised the company’s “resilience” despite the pandemic and lockdowns across the globe. The firm also attributed a large chunk (US$2.8 billion / ~11.34 billion) of its reported loss to stock-based compensation costs.

But despite all its (relatively) rosy talk, the company is still tightening its belt and won’t be spending as much on marketing. “What the pandemic showed is that we can take marketing down to zero and still have 95% of the same traffic as the year before,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

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