Uber Technologies, Inc. (UBER) stock has broken out above a trendline in place since 2019 and could post superior returns in coming months. Better yet, this price action may signal the second leg of an uptrend that eventually reaches and mounts the all-time high in the upper $40s. Shares of rival Lyft, Inc. (LYFT) have barely budged at the same time, indicating that Uber's uptick is company specific rather than a macro play on the struggling ride-share sector.

Key Takeaways

  • Uber stock has just broken out above a 15-month trendline.
  • Uber is outperforming rival Lyft by a wide margin due to the popular UberEats division.
  • Both companies face headwinds from the pandemic and a California law that mandates drivers as employees.

Both companies have come under pressure in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reluctance of consumers to ride in the enclosed space of strange automobiles. However, Uber is better positioned to survive this headwind due to its wildly successful UberEats division and recent acquisition of PostMates. Even so, it could be years before the nascent ride-share industry gets back on the growth track and posts quarterly profits.

In addition, the November election marks a date with destiny for both money-losing operations, with a California ballot initiative seeking to overturn recent legislation and a court order that designates drivers as employees and not independent contractors, forcing the companies to provide benefits. A bad outcome could potentially hasten the demise of Lyft, reducing competition for its rival, and pre-election speculation could be one reason for Uber's recent strength.

Wall Street consensus is highly bullish on Uber stock, with 23 "Buy," 4 "Hold," and no "Sell" recommendations. Price targets currently range from a low of $34 to a Street-high $50, while the stock opened Tuesday's session about $4 below the median $42 target. There's plenty of upside potential in this configuration, but many possible investors are keeping their powder dry for now, awaiting the fate of the California mandate. 

An independent contractor is a person or entity contracted to perform work for – or provide services to – another entity as a non-employee. As a result, independent contractors must pay their own Social Security and Medicare taxes. In addition, the entity is not required to provide the contractor with employment benefits.

Uber Daily Chart (2019 – 2020)

Chart showing the share price performance of Uber Technologies, Inc. (UBER)
TradingView.com

Uber came public at $42 in May 2019 and posted an all-time high at $47.08 at the end of June. The subsequent downturn sliced through the IPO opening print in August, establishing a downtrend that found support in the mid-$20s in November. Bulls carved a lower high into February, ahead of a pandemic plunge that broke 2019 support before posting an all-time low at $13.71 in mid-March.

A strong recovery wave into June reversed at the trendline of highs going back to 2019's all-time high, yielding a pullback that found support in the upper $20s a few weeks later. A successful test at that level last month brought committed buyers off the sidelines, returning the stock to trendline resistance last week. It broke out immediately, raising the odds that the uptick will reach the IPO opening print, which also marks resistance.

The on-balance volume (OBV) accumulation-distribution indicator is telling a bullish tale as well, testing November 2019's all-time low in March and entering an accumulation phase that stalled at the February peak in July. OBV spent about six weeks carving the handle of a cup and handle pattern that has just broken out with price and hit an all-time high. This bodes well for price action in coming months, suggesting that Uber will eventually mount 2019 resistance and join other tech stocks at new highs.

An initial public offering (IPO) refers to the process of offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance. Public share issuance allows a company to raise capital from public investors. 

The Bottom Line

Uber stock has broken out above a 15-month trendline and could test last year's all-time high in coming months.

Disclosure: The author held Uber shares in a family account at the time of publication.