When billionaire George Soros bought a stake in Rivian (NASDAQ:RIVN), it may have marked an end to the downtrend. RIVN stock peaked at nearly $180 within days after its initial public offering. The stock poetically took a 180-degree turn to the downside next. Markets corrected for the electric vehicle bubble quickly amid stock market volatility.
RIVN Stock Is a Distinct EV Play
Rivian is a unique EV firm that counts on Amazon as one of its major customers. With Amazon set on reducing its carbon footprint, it will need 100,000 Rivian EV delivery vans through 2024. RIVN stock is discounting the deal because Rivian will only deliver a negligible handful of units.
To boost its addressable market, Rivian is selling fleet versions of its R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV to the public. Ramping up production will take time. Although it has a healthy pre-order backlog of 71,000 units, it will not start sales until 2023.
Last month, Amazon’s deal with Stellantis (NYSE:STLA) spooked Rivian investors. Amazon will provide Stellantis with its in-car dashboard software and services. The e-commerce giant will start using the Stellantis Ram ProMaster battery-electric vehicle starting next year. Rivian shareholders should welcome Amazon’s decoupling from Rivian. Amazon likely needs more than 100,000 commercial EVs. This would reduce Amazon’s risk of relying on a single supplier.
Rivian will need to meet production goals to earn Amazon’s confidence. When that happens, it will lead to bigger orders.
Investors should look ahead in March for Rivian’s Q4 earnings report. Its Q3 report is hardly inspiring. The company buried its negligible $1 million in revenue in the last four pages of its shareholder letter. Net loss for nine months ended Sept. 30, 2021, topped $2.23 billion, up from a $665 million loss in the prior year.
The company used cash for investments related to capital expenditures. Net loss topped $1.23 billion for Q3 2021, up from a loss of $288 million in the previous year.
Rivian modeled its production to support the launch of more than one vehicle at a time. CEO RJ Scaringe said that the company learned a lot from its R1 platform and launch. It has a fast feedback loop between its different programs. This will result in efficient unit production. The company has a second facility in Georgia. By next year, this facility will support the launch of its vehicles.
RIVN Stock Compared to Other EV Stocks
EV investors may consider Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID), which started trading on the public markets last year through a de-SPAC. The luxury EV maker is counting on its high-end Lucid Air, which costs up to $169,000, for building its brand. As awareness grows, Lucid may phase in sales of a $77,400 version of that model.
EV investors willing to overlook the risks of investing in China may consider Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI), XPeng (NYSE:XPEV), and Nio (NYSE:NIO). XPeng and Nio recently announced new models. Both firms continue to report strong monthly delivery figures.
For example, Nio posted deliveries of 9,652 vehicles in January. This is up by 33.6% year-over-year. Nio posted even more growth, with a 115% YoY increase to 12,922 vehicles. Li Auto reported deliveries growing by 128% YoY to 12,268 units.
The above-mentioned EV firms have an established sales trend. They all trade at a market capitalization that is a fraction of that of Rivian. Speculators are taking a bigger risk by paying a premium in RIVN stock before it starts mass-market deliveries.
Fair Value of RIVN Stock
Investors also risk an investor revolt if the technology index continues to trend lower. Speculators might stop buying unproven companies that show no signs of profitability. Nio has a solid track record for product delivery, ignoring its recent supply chain constraint warnings. Yet Nio is not yet profitable.
NIO stock is in a year-long downtrend, pricing the risks of investing in companies operating at a loss. By comparison, Rivian has operational risks ahead. It needs to scale up production, meet Amazon’s demand levels in the next few years, and assure investors it will be cash-flow positive.
EV firms, like traditional automotive firms, are dealing with a supply chain disruption. Rivian needs to model its launch schedule while accounting for the supply shortage.
Markets may punish Rivian stock in the coming weeks, widening the stock’s price discount. Fortunately, the company has plenty of news coverage. Its truck is a refreshing product the automotive industry needs. This could set the stock up for a v-shaped rally next.
On the date of publication, Chris Lau did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Chris Lau is a contributing author for InvestorPlace.com and numerous other financial sites. Chris has over 20 years of investing experience in the stock market and runs the Do-It-Yourself Value Investing Marketplace on Seeking Alpha. He shares his stock picks so readers get original insight that helps improve investment returns.