Lyft (Lyft Stock Quote, Chart NASDAQ:LYFT) began trading on Friday as the ride-hailing company becomes the first major tech IPO in the United States in 2019 and the first-ever ride-hailing business to do so.
But don’t expect Warren Buffett to be lining up for shares. The “Oracle of Omaha” says IPOs are too big of a gamble to take your hard-earned dollars.
On Thursday, Lyft raised more than $2 billion after upping its share price to $72, giving the company a market value of $24 billion. (All figures in US dollars.) Before the increase, the original range was to be between $62 and $68, with the company selling almost 31 million shares.
Reportedly, Lyft took in $2.2 billion in revenues in 2018 but posted a loss of $911 million. Competitor Uber is expected to file for its initial public offering next month. Number one in the business, Uber is also dealing with troubles in converting its top line into profits, reporting $3 billion in revenue for its fourth quarter 2018 while racking up a net loss of $865 million.
Buffett says that betting on a company’s future success is a tough one, which is why he stays away from IPOs.
“I always think in terms of buying a whole business — if we’re buying 100 shares of General Motors, we think we’re buying the whole business — and I think what I’m getting as a part owner of a business, with all the things you could buy with $25 billion in this world you would pick a business that really has to be earning $2.5 billion pre-tax in five years to even be on the same radar screen as things you can buy right now,” Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, told CNBC Thursday.
“So, I’ve never been a big buyer [of IPOs]. We haven’t bought a initial public offering since 1955 when I bought 100 shares of Ford when it came out. I think buying new offerings during hot periods in the market, it’s not anything that the average person should think about at all,” he says.
“You can go around making dumb bets and win but it’s not something you’d want to take as a lifetime policy,” he says.
Asked about whether he regrets not getting in on companies like Amazon and Google when they first came out, Buffett says it doesn’t bother him.
“I worry much more about the things I do than the things I don’t do. I’ve missed all kinds of opportunities but you just want to make sure that you’re on the side of the house when you bet rather than betting against the house,” he says.