Electric Truck Startup Nikola Is Hanging Around

Illustration for article titled Nikola Is Hanging Around

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Nikola is an electric truck startup that has virtually no revenue and a highly questionable former founder, and one that seems to be collapsing in slow-motion. Nonetheless, it is still here and announced its first-quarter results Friday. Analysts were impressed that it was nothing earth-shattering.

Nikola is also currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, the former of which issued subpoenas after Hindenburg Research published a damaging article about Nikola in September.

But that is all just old bad news. The good news, today, is that Nikola only lost 14-cents-per-share in the first quarter of this year, or half of what analysts had been expecting, according to Bloomberg. It counts as praise that today’s release was somewhat boring.

The stock rose 12% to $11.37 as of 11:06 a.m. in New York. It had fallen about 33% this year as of the close on Thursday.

“It’s a relief rally after no major negative news, although the chip shortage remains a headwind for Nikola and others,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said in an email. He has a neutral rating on the stock. “The Street was fearing some elephant in the room to come out on the call.”

And maybe only about a company like Nikola could the following two paragraphs appear back-to-back:

The company also disclosed that it paid $3 million in legal fees in the first quarter for Trevor Milton, its founder and former executive chairman, who resigned in September. The payments were made under the terms of an indemnification agreement.

“We believe the details given were relatively positive,” said Evercore ISI analyst Chris McNally, who has a hold equivalent rating on the stock, in a note to clients. “SEC and DOJ investigations also remain with unclear timeline resolution.”

Nikola isn’t making the Badger anymore, now that it’s partnership with GM has also been walked back. It would appear now that it is almost all in on the Tre, a hydrogen fuel cell electric semi truck that the company said Friday it was close to having built a second batch of nine betas. The company also said it was making progress on its manufacturing facilities in Germany and Arizona.

The company also hopes to begin deliveries of battery-electric trucks next year and hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks in 2023. You know, we’ll see.

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