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Stock Market News: Uber Hits the Brakes; PG&E Posts Big Losses

Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

Wall Street didn't have a good open on Friday morning, as investors started to become nervous again about all the uncertainties facing the financial markets right now. Between trade worries, economic challenges worldwide, and high-profile earnings releases, market participants didn't see anything urging them to push major benchmarks still higher after a strong session on Thursday. As of 11:15 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was down 227 points to 26,151. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) dropped 28 points to 2,910, while the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) gave up 94 points to 7,945.

One key report that many growth investors focused on came from ride-hailing service Uber Technologies (NYSE: UBER), which wasn't able to live up to its full potential. Meanwhile, PG&E (NYSE: PCG) suffered continued losses that show just how much pressure the California utility is under right now.

A bump in the road for Uber

Shares of Uber Technologies were down 6% after the company reported its second-quarter financial results. Investors were looking for a solid mix of rising revenue and movement toward profitability, but the ridesharing specialist wasn't able to deliver.

Coaster with Uber logo next to glass with Uber logo.

Uber's revenue growth was solid but slower than in past periods. Sales climbed just 14% compared to the previous year's second quarter, even though most of the company's other metrics -- including trips, gross bookings, and monthly active platform consumer counts -- were up 30% or more.

Where Uber's underperformance stood out was on the bottom line. Per-share losses more than doubled from year-ago levels, and the news was the same even on an adjusted pre-tax operating basis. Much of that came from IPO-related accounting impacts on stock-based compensation, but even so, it didn't indicate a big move toward profitability.

CFO Nelson Chai had key insight into the results. "While we will continue to invest aggressively in growth," Chai said, "we also want it to be healthy growth." That signals a more selective approach toward building up traffic, and while that could be more profitable in the long run, it did suggest that Uber might not make the same effort to keep revenue rising at maximum speed in the near term.

With the stock now down more than 10% from its IPO levels, Uber is causing some investors to lose patience. Ideally, the ride-hailing service will succeed in turning its huge opportunities into profit before too long.

PG&E loses power

Shares of PG&E dropped 2% following the California utility's release of second-quarter financial results. The numbers were weak, with revenue falling 7% from year-ago levels and net losses more than doubling over the same period.

PG&E has had to take massive charges due to its exposure to wildfire events in its market region. In particular, the utility took a $3.9 billion pre-tax charge on third-party claims related to the Camp fire in 2018 and numerous wildfires the previous year. Bankruptcy-related costs are also weighing on results.

CEO Bill Johnson tried to keep a positive view of PG&E's situation, pointing to progress on improving its operations, setting up compensation systems for wildfire victims, and working through the bankruptcy process. Yet the utility is still working up its plan of reorganization for the bankruptcy court, and some market watchers fear that if creditors end up making an alternative proposal, they might carry the day.

PG&E looks a lot better than it did recently, but there's still plenty of work to do. Investors will have to watch closely not only as the utility works its way through bankruptcy, but also after it emerges.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Uber Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article was originally published on Fool.com