Nikola stock jumps as EV truck maker reports start to production and surprise Q1 revenue

Jessica Thompson

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Nikola Motor Company
Source: Nikola Motor Company

Electric heavy-truck maker Nikola said Thursday it shipped its first semitrucks to customers in April, and that it now has purchase orders and letters of intent for over 500 of its battery-electric Tre trucks.

The company is also working with clients including Anheuser-Busch Inbev to complete a longer-range hydrogen fuel cell-powered version due next year.

Production of Nikola’s battery-electric Tre semitruck began in late March, and its first 11 trucks were shipped to dealers in April. While Nikola didn’t recognize any revenue from truck deliveries in the first quarter, it did collect about $1.9 million in services-related revenue, helping it to beat Wall Street’s expectations for the period.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Adjusted loss per share: 21 cents, narrower than the loss of 27 cents per share expected by Wall Street, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates.
  • Revenue: $1.9 million, beating Wall Street’s expectation of about $100,000, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates.

The analyst coverage on Nikola, which went public via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company in June 2020, is still thin. None of the seven analysts surveyed in Refinitiv’s revenue consensus estimate expected Nikola to crack $1 million.

Nikola said that it’s still on track to deliver between 300 and 500 of its battery-electric Tres in 2022, in line with its guidance issued in February. The battery electric version of the Tre is designed as a short-range truck for local use.

The state of California made the model eligible for a buyer incentive program late last year. Nikola said as of the end of April it had purchase orders for 134 of the trucks through the California program.

The company said the fuel cell version of the Tre, which will have range sufficient for long-haul duty, completed an initial series of tests with Anheuser-Busch in California in late April and is on track to go into production in the second half of 2023.

Nikola was one of the first EV startups to go public. Like other post-SPAC EV makers, its shares soared in the weeks after the merger was completed – only to fall back to earth after a scandal surfaced.

Nikola’s outspoken founder, Trevor Milton, abruptly resigned in September 2020 after short-seller Hindenburg Research alleged that he had misled investors about the state of Nikola’s technology. Milton has since been indicted by a federal grand jury for making false statements. Nikola paid the Securities and Exchange Commission $125 million in December to settle related charges.

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