By Tina Bellon and Nivedita Balu

(Reuters) -Uber Technologies Inc laid out a $5 billion operating profit for 2024 that fell short of analyst estimates, sending its shares down 4% on Thursday, even as the ride-hailing company revealed several strategies to boost ridership and bring down costs.

The forecast is below the $5.7 billion analysts expect for 2024, according to Refinitiv data. The stock reversed course after being up as much as 5% earlier in the day.

Speaking at the company’s first investor day, Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said Uber will report around $5 billion in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a measure that excludes one-time costs, primarily stock-based compensation.

“We think it’s a worthwhile target, could there be upside, absolutely, but let’s work on that target for now,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said.

The company expects to also report gross bookings of between $165 billion and $175 billion in 2024, Chai said.

Analysts had forecast gross bookings of $169.73 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Speaking during an in-person event in New York that was live-streamed, company executives said they planned to better fuse its two platforms – ride-hail and food delivery – into one cost-saving marketplace.

Khosrowshahi said a better combination of its rides and delivery business would reduce customer acquisition costs – a metric investors closely follow in a market where companies have long competed by outbidding each other with costly customer discounts and incentives.

The company is also tweaking its algorithms to ensure more workers signed up for both ride-hail and delivery services, Khosrowshahi said, adding that it would improve driver dispatching and allow for higher utilization of each worker.

Since Uber went public in May 2019, its shares have been on a roller-coaster ride, nearly halving at the start of the pandemic in early 2020, when the company’s ride-hail business came to a screeching halt.

The company is trying to turn a corner and is hoping to capitalize as pandemic restrictions subside in many of its core markets.

The company said it is also planning to have at least five long-term autonomous vehicle partnerships in the U.S. in 2022.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Writing by BernardBernard Orr; Editing Tomasz Janowski and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)