Typo in Lyft earnings sends shares aloft nearly 70%

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What a difference a zero can make. 

Lyft shares went on a short-lived ride after Tuesday’s closing bell, surging as much as 67% after the company issued an outlook mistakenly projecting that its margins would expand an astounding 500 basis points.

Less than an hour later, the ride-sharing provider offered that the estimate had missed the mark — by a lot, with the real estimate at 50 basis points, or a half of a percentage point. 

“This is actually a correction from the press release,” Erin Brewer, Lyft’s CFO, told an earnings call, less than an hour after the company issued its initial-and-quickly-corrected forecast in its fourth-quarter earnings report.

In an amended regulatory filing, Lyft called the misstated margin “a clerical error.” 

“For Lyft this, was a Ted Striker Airplane Moment and a debacle mistake that will be spoken about in Street circles for years to come,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said. “In decades on the Street, never seen anything like it, a black eye moment for Lyft.” 

After Tuesday’s brief after-hours surge, Lyft shares reversed course as Brewer’s correction was digested. 

On Wednesday, Lyft shares recovered and were lately trading at $16.40, up four bucks, or 35%, as even the corrected earnings report was a good one, as the company reported bookings that surpassed expectations.

Kate Gibson

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York.

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