Nikola (NKLA) earnings Q1 2022

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.

Shares initially jumped roughly 9% Thursday before paring some gains. The stock was last up about 2% as the overall market slid.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Adjusted loss per share: 21 cents, narrower than the loss of 27 cents 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 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.

CFO Kim Brady said during the company’s earnings call it had about $385 million in cash at the end of the first quarter, as well as about $409 million remaining on its two existing equity lines with Tumim Stone Capital.

The company also said Monday it has raised an additional $200 million via a private sale of convertible notes. It expects to have that $200 million in hand by early June. With that, Nikola’s cash should be sufficient to fund operations for at least another year without additional raises, the company said.

Nikola was one of the first EV start-ups 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. Milton denies the charges.

Nikola paid the Securities and Exchange Commission $125 million in December to settle related charges.

Few investors expected Nikola to recover from the scandals. Through Wednesday’s close the stock was down about 27% year to date and off 91% from its high of $79.73, set in June 2020.

But the company’s recent success completing and delivering its first battery-electric trucks, and its progress in developing the longer-range trucks for launch next year appear to be key proof points and could breathe new life into the shares.