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Lyft's IPO could reportedly come as soon as March

The ride-hailing company appears to be gunning to beat Uber in going public first.

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Lyft

Both Uber and Lyft filed paperwork for their initial public offerings on the same day in December. But now it appears Lyft is trying to pull ahead of its rival and hit the stock exchange first.

The ride-hailing company is reportedly planning its IPO for the end of March, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the matter. Lyft is said to be listing its shares on Nasdaq.

Lyft is the smaller of the two ride-hailing companies, and analysts say it would do well to go public first, so as not to be eclipsed by Uber. 

"Lyft isn't nearly the size of Uber, so listing their shares earlier could grab the spotlight in a way that would have been difficult afterwards," said Elliot Lutzker, a partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron who works with companies preparing to go public. "In addition, Lyft might have concerns that instability and controversy at Uber could impact that company's IPO and affect the price of Lyft shares. Listing their shares first avoids both potential problems."

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While the two companies offer the same service, hailing a ride with a smartphone app, it's expected each one will point potential investors to different aspects of their businesses. Uber will reportedly showcase itself as a global company with diverse features such as food delivery and flying cars. Lyft, with services only in the US and Canada, is said to be focusing on being a stable transportation company.

"Unlike Uber, Lyft is focused primarily on the US ride-sharing market, and presents a much cleaner growth story to investors wary of Uber's forays into lower-margin international markets and other untested markets such as food delivery," said Asad Hussain, emerging tech analyst at investment research firm PitchBook. "Although we recognize the growth potential for Uber's business, we remain more confident in Lyft given its more focused business model."

Lyft is reportedly expecting to be valued somewhere between $20 billion and $25 billion when it goes public, according to Reuters. When Uber has its IPO, its valuation is estimated to be as high as $120 billion, but the company still needs several more weeks to prepare to go public, Reuters said.

Both Lyft and Uber declined to comment.

First published Feb. 20 at 3:08 p.m. PT. 
Update Feb. 21 at 10:00 a.m. PT: Adds comments from attorney Elliot Lutzker and market analyst Asad Hussain.