Nikola cuts production guidance, sending stock down despite strong earnings report

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Nikola Motor Company
Source: Nikola Motor Company

Electric heavy truck maker Nikola said that it produced 75 trucks in the third quarter, and delivered 63 to dealers before quarter-end, generating enough revenue to beat Wall Street’s expectations.

But the company trimmed its production guidance for the full year and declined to provide guidance for 2023. Nikola’s shares closed down nearly 11% following the news.

The news was included in Nikola’s third-quarter earnings report, released on Thursday morning. Here are fthe key numbers, compared with Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Adjusted loss per share: 28 cents vs. 39 cents expected
  • Revenue: $24.2 million vs. $22.1 million expected

The 75 trucks built during the third quarter is an improvement over the 50 it built during the second quarter and brings the company’s year-to-date production to 125. But Nikola won’t build as many trucks this year as it had originally planned: It previously told investors that it planned to build between 300 and 500 trucks by the end of 2022, but on Thursday it said that it now expects to build between 255 and 305 trucks by year-end.

Nikola declined to give production guidance for 2023, citing uncertainties around the timing and costs of its planned factory expansions.

Michael Lohscheller, who officially became Nikola’s CEO on Thursday following Mark Russell’s retirement, said that Nikola made “significant advancements” in building out a hydrogen refueling network ahead of the planned launch of its fuel-cell-powered trucks next year. The company said last month that it’s working to have access to up to 300 metric tons of hydrogen gas per day, as it aims to have 60 refueling stations up and running by 2026.

Nikola said it’s on track to complete 17 “beta”, or pre-production, fuel cell trucks by the end of 2022. The company built 6 in the third quarter; those trucks will be used for pilot tests with Walmart and other truck-fleet operators.

Nikola said Thursday that it had about $404 million in cash on hand as of the end of the quarter, down from about $587 million as of June 30. The company said that total included $100.5 million raised via an “at-the-market” stock offering.

Nikola filed a registration statement in August that allows it to raise a total of $400 million via sales of new stock from time to time.

Nikola completed the acquisition of one of its battery-pack suppliers, Romeo Power, in October. Nikola said that bringing Romeo’s operations in-house could save it up to $350 million over the next four years. The truck maker paid $144 million in stock – no cash – for Romeo.

Sophie Tremblay

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