Stock in online car retailer Carvana has been plummeting in recent days, iPhone maker Foxconn plows $175 million into the struggling Lordstown Motors, and another space billionaire is heading to court. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, November 8, 2022.
1st Gear: Carvana is in Trouble After Stock Fell 50 Percent in Two Days
After announcing it had lost more than half a billion dollars just last week, online car dealer Carvana went on to have an awful couple of days of trading with its share prices plummeting by more than 50 percent. Bloomberg says, meanwhile, that its stock is down 98 percent from its peak, in early 2021.
According to CNN, the downward trend came hot on the heels of the company’s third-quarter results, which were published last Thursday. CNN reports:
Shares dropped 15% Monday to close the day at $7.39 a share, continuing a downward trajectory that began on Friday, when the company posted its worst-ever one-day performance, dropping 39%. The plunge began following disappointing earnings due to lower-than-expected sales.
The rapid drop in share prices warranted a brief halt in sales on Monday “due to market volatility.”
According to CNN, Carvana’s fall from grace is indicative of the wider used car market. As car prices have been sky-high for months due to rising interest rates and the threat of recession, the cars Carvana purchased in recent weeks to add to its inventory might soon be worth less than expected.
And it isn’t just Carvana that’s having issues, CNN adds that shares in CarMax are down 50% since the start of the year.
2nd Gear: iPhone maker Foxconn Backs Lordstown
From one struggling upstart to another, let’s talk about Lordstown Motors. The loss-making EV maker has been promising an electric pickup to rival the F-150 Lightning, Hummer EV and even Tesla’s Cybertruck for years now. But spiraling costs and countless setbacks have delayed the launch of the Endurance truck.
Now, in an attempt to turn the company around, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has upped its investment in the struggling automaker. The BBC reports that the “technology giant is spending up to $170m (£147.8m) on shares” in Lordstown Motors. According to the site:
The major cash injection comes as the company aims to ramp up production of its debut model, the Endurance.
Lordstown recently began building the vehicle at a former General Motors plant in the US state of Ohio.
Under the deal, the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of electronics bought a more than 18% stake in Lordstown, making it the biggest investor in the company.
As well as finally getting the Endurance pickup truck into production, the tie-up between the two companies will also see them jointly develop a new electric car. Foxconn already has a hand in building electric farming equipment, and recently said that it hopes to one day build EVs for the likes of Apple.
But this tie-up with Lordstown will see it shift away from its contract manufacturing past into co-development of new products. Exciting.
3rd Gear: Another Space Billionaire Heads to Court
Yesterday, we shared news that Space X boss Elon Musk was heading to trial over his pay at Tesla and now we’ve got news of another space race billionaire who’s heading to court. This time, it’s the turn of Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson, who is facing fraud charges leveled by the company’s shareholders.
Forbes reports that Virgin Galactic shareholders have alleged that, “Branson hid issues with the space program and sold nine figures worth of stock at inflated prices.” Host claims against Branson were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Allyne Ross in Brooklyn, but she said shareholders could bring Branson and Virgin to court to try and “prove he defrauded them into paying an overinflated price for Virgin Galactic’s shares.” Forbes reports:
Shareholders can sue over Virgin’s statements in July 2019 that the company had made “great progress” in pursuing commercial spaceflight, even though just five months earlier its rocket plane, Unity, was critically damaged during a test flight.
The class can also sue over Branson’s July 2021 statement that his flight on Unity was ‘flawless’ even though the Federal Aviation Administration said the rocket deviated from its intended flight path.
Virgin Galactic and Branson’s lawyers tried to have the case dismissed by arguing that there was “no proof that there was any intention to defraud shareholders.” Despite their claims that space travel is “unquestionably a high-risk proposition,” their arguments fell on deaf ears.
The lawsuit applies to shareholders who had stock from July 10, 2019, to October 14, 2021.
4th Gear: Nikola and ChargePoint to Boost EV Infrastructure
While electric truck maker Nikola continues to miss production and delivery targets, it’s decided it needs a new area to focus on for a while: charging infrastructure. The company, which is hoping to roll out a range of EV delivery trucks, has partnered with Chargepoint to try and improve EV infrastructure in the U.S. Reuters reports:
Many fleet operators are inclined to use more electric vehicles as they aim to reduce carbon emissions and meet sustainability targets, however, the lack of proper infrastructure has been a deterrent.
Nikola said with access to ChargePoint’s products it will be able to reduce the time required to build infrastructure projects that will help its customers manage charging of their vehicles, plan schedules and streamline delivery routes.
No financial terms of the partnership have been shared, but Nikola warned that infrastructure challenges will continue to hit sales of its EV trucks unless the problems are faced head-on.
The first step in the project to improve charging infrastructure in the U.S. will see Nikola purchase ChargePoint’s fast charging solution, called E-Skids. Deliveries are expected to be in as early as this month, but there is no word on where the apparatus will be installed.
5th Gear: Lucid Revenue is Rising
If Nikola is struggling to sell trucks, fellow EV startup Lucid isn’t having quite the same problem, as it is poised to break $200 million in revenue for its third quarter. Lucid, which markets the $100,000 electric Air sedan, is expected to post a rise in revenue due to increased production and deliveries in the third quarter.
Automotive News reports that revenue for the firm is expected to be around 10 times greater than the same period last year. According to the site:
Analysts forecasted Lucid’s third-quarter revenue at $209 million compared with just $232,000 a year earlier, according to the mean estimate from four analysts, based on Refinitiv data, Reuters said. The company is also expected to post a net loss of around $500 million.
In Q3, Lucid is reported to have delivered 1,398 vehicles, compared with just 679 vehicles in the second quarter. Automotive News adds that “third-quarter production reached 2,282, compared with 1,405 in the second quarter.”
The company is also due to unveil a more “budget-friendly” version of its Air sedan in the coming weeks. The cheaper versions of the Air are expected to start at $87,400 and will premiere on November 14th.
Reverse: Fire at Ford
Neutral: Car Prices
The big issues facing Carvana are being chalked up to falling prices in the wholesale used car world. But if prices are falling so much there, how long does it take for those savings to be passed on to consumers? And, does this mean we’re nearing the end of the sky-high second-hand market?