Nikola Responds to Criticisms of Fraud

Following a scathing report from Hindenburg Research that called Nikola a fraudulent company largely dependent upon the blind excitement surrounding electric vehicles, the accused has finally issued a response. On Monday, Nikola released a bulleted letter suggesting the report was the act of an opportunistic short seller that was attempting to take advantage of the period immediately proceeding the announced partnership with General Motors. While Hindenburg didn’t exactly hide that aspect of itself in its own report, it frames the business as only profiting off companies that weren’t above board to begin with. It also received support from Citron Research, which said it likewise thought Nikola needed to be scoped out by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and promised to help pay for half of any legal fees incurred as a result of Hindenburg’s reporting.

Meanwhile, Nikola was crafting its rebuttal after founder Trevor Milton explained he had to wait on a comprehensive response because he was already in contact with the SEC. As his constant Twitter updates started to become counterproductive, this was likely a wise decision. The response dropped on Monday, clearing a handful of items up while making a bunch of other aspects seem even more suspect.

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Scathing Report Accuses Nikola of Fraud

While we’ve suspected that electric vehicle startups and green tech, in general, is probably a little overvalued, we’ve never accused anyone of outright fraud. Burgeoning automakers have a tendency to over promise and under deliver. Throughout history, this has occasionally gotten them into serious trouble. But it’s also how the game is played, especially when you’re new to the scene and need to distinguish yourself from giant entities who would just as soon crush you in lieu of risking the eventual competition. Nikola is a perfect example of this and built a hype train so swift that legacy brands could only hope to buy it out or invest and share in the fruits of its labor before it sped away.

But what if it wasn’t ever growing any industrial fruit?

That’s the claim being made by Hindenburg Research — which specializes in short selling, pointing to firms on the cusp of financial disaster (hence the name), and attempting to bust businesses the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) might be interested in. The financial research firm has suggested that Nikola founder Trevor Milton had misrepresented what the company was actually capable of in terms of product, with the intent to mislead investors into thinking the company should be incredibly valuable. It reads like a hit piece and was accused by Milton of being just that. However, there are issues brought up in the report that are still worth examining.

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Market Magic: Fisker Considers Going Public While the Getting Is Good

Fisker Inc. is reportedly in talks to go public after seeing how well other electric vehicle manufacturers (prospective or otherwise) have performed on Wall Street this year. In case you missed it, Tesla became the most valuable automaker on the planet this summer, while startup Nikola saw its shares explode through the ceiling ⁠— despite having never manufactured a single product for purchase.

It seems like complete madness, so it aligns perfectly with just about everything else that’s happened in 2020.

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Tesla Now the Earth's Most Valuable Automaker

With the automotive industry seeing losses across the board, most investors could do nothing but watch in horror as sales reports showed the post-lockdown recovery had not yet begun. But there was a faction that ignored the carnage taking place around them and continued to pump money into their preferred auto brand until it became the most valuable automaker in the world.

While it’s a sin for you not to know, we are obviously discussing Tesla Motors — the infallible, gleaming beacon of modern-day motoring.

The firm officially surpassed mega-giant Toyota on Wednesday, with shares trading as high as $1,228 before tapering off in the evening with a market cap of around $220 billion.

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JPMorgan Slams Brakes on Nikola's Stock

Nikola, the electric vehicle startup with no functional or sellable product to back up its insane valuation, just got a reality check from JPMorgan. The Wall Street firm has warned investors of a pullback of the company’s sky-high share price — an action that pretty much guarantees that exact outcome.

After catapulting into the stratosphere two weeks ago, Nikola’s stock stands to sink by nearly a third, the bank warns. That result would no doubt be gratifying for those annoyed by overvalued companies who promise investors the sun, moon, and stars.

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Volkswagen Group to Drop $267 Million for Audi Stock Buyout

On Tuesday, Audi announced Volkswagen Group is prepared to buy out minority shareholders. VW announced the plan earlier in the year, setting aside funds to procure the 0.36 percent of Audi it didn’t already own.

“Volkswagen AG announced and specified that it has set the cash settlement to be paid to the minority shareholders in return for the transfer of their shares at 1,551.53 euros per Audi AG share,” the Ingolstadt-based manufacture said in a statement.

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Nikola's Valuation Seems Crazy

Nikola, the Phoenix-based EV startup that hopped on the Nasdaq last week, finds itself awash in capital despite not having much to show for itself it terms of sellable product.

No matter, as it doesn’t take a sound business model or originality to thrive on Wall Street. Nikola hasn’t even seen fit to come up with a unique moniker for itself and instead uses the scraps left by Tesla Motors’ not using the full name of the inventor that serves as its inspiration. However, Nikola is designing battery/hydrogen-driven semi trailers and pickup trucks — which are the freshest fad in the industry at present. Investors took notice and pushed Nikola’s market cap past $26 billion on Monday. It just kept climbing, too, with only the eventual promise of product and profitability to spur them on.

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Tesla's Stock Remains Insane

Despite it only being a little over a month into 2020, Tesla’s stock has already doubled since New Year’s. Share prices surged to over $900 before Tuesday’s trading, leaving many scratching their heads as to how one of the smallest global manufacturers manages to clean up so well on Wall Street.

Seeking answers, Bloomberg looked to industry analysts and executives from rival car manufacturers to better understand Tesla’s mojo — and determine whether all the stock heat is warranted. The gist appears to be that Elon Musk and company are simply running away with battery technology, something that’s difficult to refute. However, some claims that Tesla has surpassed what constitutes an automaker feel overblown and not entirely consistent with reality.

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GM's Strike Tab Now at $1 Billion, J.P. Morgan Claims

The strike by UAW-affiliated General Motors workers, now in its third week, is piling up costs for the automaker. It’s also hiking financial pressure on the UAW, which just started paying out $250 a week to roughly 48,000 picketing workers in the United States.

As bargaining teams negotiate behind closed doors to reach a tentative contract agreement, the growing financial consequences of the labor action is hitting GM in another way: it’s now impacting GM’s stock price.

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Uber Lowballs IPO, Eager to Avoid Lyft's Fate

Ride-hailing company Uber approached its Thursday initial public offering with an abundance of caution, setting a lower-than-expected share price in a bid to avoid rival Lyft’s stock plunge.

When markets open Friday, Uber’s stock will be priced at $45, near the bottom of a previously stated range that topped out at $50. That puts Uber’s initial valuation at just over $82 billion. Amid controversy surrounding its business practices and growing uncertainty about the viability of huge ride-hailing firms, Uber hopes to raise $8.1 billion from its IPO.

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Ford's Earnings Show That Saving Money Can Be Expensive

Automakers find themselves a bit of a pickle right now. The shift towards “mobility” has resulted in high development costs for electric and autonomous vehicles in the midst of stagnating sales growth. There’s also a trade war hurting global demand and impacting supply chains. Ultimately, this resulted in a lackluster Q1 for many manufacturers.

Ford’s situation was symbolic of the industry’s general plight, per its 34-percent decline in net revenue for the first quarter of 2019, but it wasn’t without a warm ray of hope. The company posted a 12-percent increase in earnings (before before interest and taxes) over the same period due to North America’s consistent desire to own SUVs, crossovers, and pickups. Ford’s share price also improved, hitting the $10 mark for the first time since August of 2018 on Friday.

With all that good news, many probably wonder what caused net revenue to climb into the toilet like an overly curious ferret. As it turns out, saving money can be pretty expensive.

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Lyft IPO Makes a Splash, Followed By a Flop

Despite playing host to what everyone presumed would be a very hot property, Lyft’s IPO hasn’t panned out as expected. While the company’s Friday stock debut was strong, April 1st was less promising, with Lyft’s share price slipping by nearly 12 percent in a single day. It’s now well beneath the target price, casting doubts about the financial sustainability of mobility firms.

It’s a complicated issue. Lyft was valued at more than $22 billion when it went public last week, but investors are concerned with the company’s inability to turn a profit. Last year, the ride-hailing giant posted a net loss of nearly $1 billion. With Uber likely to announce its own IPO soon (and likely face similar headwinds), many are concerned.

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Ford CEO Issues No-nonsense Letter to Employees, Seeks Doubling of Profits

Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, told employees Thursday evening that 2019 cannot be a repeat of last year.

“2018 was mediocre by any standard,” Hackett said in an email to employees. “Yes, we made $7 billion last year. But think of it this way: this represents a 4.4 percent operating margin, about half what we believe is an appropriate margin. So we are aiming for much closer to $14 billion.”

Despite being at the helm of The Blue Oval for nearly two years. Hackett’s Ford continues to endure a slipping share price and a market cap of 34.5 billion — substantially less than General Motors’.

“I become mad for a short time. Likely mad at myself, but also because I know we are better than that,” the CEO said of Ford’s current situation. “I know that our competition hasn’t been better than us by magic.”

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Wall Street Concerned Over Ford CEO's Cautious Strategy

Remember Mark Fields, the former Ford CEO who was forced to retire due to an inability to manifest his vision of the company’s future in a timely manner? Well, it’s starting to look like Wall Street needs another sacrificial lamb. Ford’s current chief executive, Jim Hackett, appears rather appetizing.

Despite promises from company chairman Bill Ford that the automaker would see swifter decision making under Hackett, it hasn’t felt all that differing from the company’s Fieldsian days. There’s still a strong emphasis placed on transforming Ford into a mobility company with no obvious path on how to get there. While it might be a little unfair of us to slam Fields or Hackett for their inability to accurately map out the future like some mythical sage, investors expect exactly that. As a result, Ford’s stock price has continued to tumble.

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Trade War Watch: China to Temporarily Suspend U.S. Auto Tariffs

China announced Friday its intent to reduce tariffs on imports of American-made cars as it tries to negotiate a trade deal with the United States. As you’ll recall, the People’s Republic imposed additional punitive tariffs on U.S. cars and auto parts earlier this year after promising it would lower the trade barriers on a global scale.

Things look to be different this time around. China has already taken steps to scale back the trade war and appears ready to continue down that path. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in the trade war at their meeting in Argentina. This was followed by an announcement, via Trump’s Twitter account, claiming China had agreed to scale back auto tariffs against the United States.

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  • Luke42 I see a lot of EVs on the road in my small city in Central Illinois.What most observers who don't live here don't realize is that "blue states" and "red states" still have a highly polarized urban/rural divide. I live in a small city, and we have a globally connected tech economy here.If I drive ten miles out of town, though, the necks are just as red as they are in Texas. Those folks do things the country way.American-city-culture loves EVs. The cars are an improvement in every way over, say, a Honda Civic used for commuting.Many American-country-culture icons assert that EVs must be the worst thing ever because city-people like them. It's self defeating for the country-people to think that way, of course, because the cars are good and electricity is cheaper (and, therefore, more plentiful) than gasoline. But there is a kernel of truth to their skepticism in that some use-cases aren't easily filled by EVs just yet -- but they would rather complain about the fact that EVs exist than to objectively pick the right tool for the right job.Long distance commuters (usually rural people who work in the city) have the most to gain from commuting via EV.EVs are pretty popular in small cities in flyover country, assuming the city is prosperous enough for its residents to afford new cars at all.
  • FreedMike The FJ Kult is even cultier than the Tacoma Kult…and that’s saying something.
  • FreedMike I want the RS6 BAD but I’m a touch short on dough. Anyone know what a kidney goes for on the black market these days?
  • Bullnuke Another item on the list of "benefits" for privately owned vehicles being wirelessly connected to the motherships...
  • SCE to AUX "I spent a good chunk of my 20s wanting one"I spent a good chunk of my 40s wanting one, especially in the blue color they used at launch. But the interior is too butch for me, and boy do they drink gas.