Fisker Is Careening Toward a Cliff. These EV Stocks Could Follow It Off.

Stocks to sell

How much stress can one company put its investors through?

For months, investors have been considering that question as they watch the rollercoaster ride that is Fisker (OTCMKTS:FSRN) stock. Over just the past few months, the electric vehicle (EV) producer has lost its spot on the New York Stock Exchange… and that’s the least of its problems.

Back in March, Fisker slashed EV prices by as much as 39%. Then reports broke that the company had lost track of many consumer payments. Now, production of the Ocean SUV has been halted and the company is closing its California headquarters, all while Fisker’s Austrian unit starts its own insolvency proceedings. Things are complicated for many EV stocks right now, but for Fisker, the strikes against it have been piling up in alarming fashion.

Fisker didn’t start out with the deck stacked against it. In 2020, the firm came public through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Spartan Energy Acquisition. Fisker was one company among a new wave of SPACs as the EV market surged in 2021 and 2022. 

Only a few years later, though, several firms that came public by the same means aren’t performing much better than Fisker. In fact, according to some experts, several similar EV stocks could be quick to follow Fisker’s lead — potentially directly into bankruptcy and, ultimately, irrelevance. 

EV Stocks Are Struggling. Some Are Struggling More Than Others. 

Some might argue that Fisker’s problems are a symptom of the broader EV market in which it operates. It’s true that rising competition has made things difficult for smaller companies, particularly as price cuts have plagued the sector. Competing with an industry leader like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is hard enough. But as legacy automakers such as General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) have doubled down on electric and hybrid vehicle production, trendy status hasn’t been enough. Even larger startups like Rivian (NASDAQ:RIVN) and Lucid Motors (NASDAQ:LCID) are still fighting an uphill battle. Adding to these problems is the fact that EV demand has shifted toward lower-cost hybrid vehicles

But it isn’t hard to see that Fisker stock has been pushed down by company-specific factors. As Fortune reports, “Fisker’s strategic decisions—including pivoting to a dealership network from a direct-to-consumer model—have only made matters more complicated to fix given the current EV climate.”

The company’s decision to switch to a business model that prioritizes dealer partnerships comes at a time when Fisker’s future is already highly complicated. It means less money for Fisker — as the company is required to give a portion to the dealer — and ultimately gives the automaker less control over the customer buying experience

Additionally, Fisker’s cars continue to garner significant criticism. Consumers have reported significant problems with its EVs, citing difficulties with the Advanced Driver-Assistant System (ADAS). The company has also announced extended production pauses, casting further doubt over its future prospects. Sometimes timing is everything, and in the case of Fisker, it has truly worked against it.

It seems arguments against the SPAC trend continue to hold up. Companies like Fisker appear to have come public too soon, doing more harm than good to eager investors. 

This is exemplified by similar struggles at ex-SPAC EV startups like electric truck producer Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA), which began trading in June 2020. Faraday Future (NASDAQ:FFIE) and VinFast (NASDAQ:VFS), the latter of which started trading publicly in August 2023, are other examples. Vietnamese EV maker VinFast has earned particular criticism for choosing the SPAC route, given the market environment — defined by higher interest rates and less liquidity — in 2023. 

Which EV Stocks Are Headed to the Graveyard Next? 

One financial firm has coined a term for EV stocks that it believes are on their way out. In an interview with InvestorPlace, Running Point Capital Chief Investment Officer Michael Ashley Schulman explained the concept of Next Ex-EVs (NEEVs), electric vehicle producers that are likely to face bankruptcy due to their dire circumstances. These predictions are based on learnings from companies that have already taken the Chapter 11 route such as Proterra (NASDAQ:PTRA) and Lordstown Motors. 

Schulman’s top NEEV picks are Mullen Automotive (NASDAQ:MULN), Faraday Future and Nikola: 

“Faraday and Nikola are both down tremendously from their highs of a few years ago […] Faraday recently lost its auditor, Mazars USA, which decided to resign the account, and the NEEV is now appealing its Nasdaq delisting […] Nikola also has serious issues and lost nearly $1 billion last year, but at least has a market cap greater than $800 million, was able to raise more capital by issuing shares in December, and is trying to gain traction with its hydrogen-electric and battery-electric trucks.”

Schulman highlights Faraday’s balance sheet and lack of revenue prospects as potential areas of concern. He also notes Mullen’s troubling history of stock splits, including three over the past year. He sees the company as having spread itself too thin, venturing into too many areas of the EV space while failing to demonstrate successful innovation. “Cost-cutting measures may not be enough to save this company,” he said.

These NEEVs have all given investors little, if any, cause for optimism when it comes to their long-term growth prospects. And they aren’t the only EV stocks investors should approach with caution. Hooman Shahidi, co-founder and CEO of EVPassport, adds VinFast to the list of companies on their way out. 

“While the Vietnamese automaker has shown a lot of promise, it lacks the market penetration, operational stamina, and consumer excitement that some of the other EV automakers have […] Similar to Fisker, they continue to push back deadlines, and compromise their go-to-market strategy. In a world where the Detroit and German automakers are delivering great electric cars, at great value, and earning the trust of consumers, it is going to be challenging for VinFast to compete not just in the United States but globally.”

According to Shahidi, the most critical red flag an electric vehicle company could raise is its operational capacity. In other words, it’s all about who can deliver the best vehicles at the best value in the least amount of time. Mullen, Faraday and Nikola especially exemplify this, still struggling to get their vehicles on U.S. roads. 

The Road Ahead

It’s not hard to see why Fisker is on the fast track to oblivion. The company isn’t likely to be delivering any more cars in a favorable timeframe, as production has stalled. And as bankruptcy is looking increasingly likely, investors shouldn’t expect production to resume unless a true miracle takes place and Fisker can find a buyer. Even in the best-case scenario, its future looks questionable. 

Things don’t look much better for the other EV stocks on this list of potential NEEVs. 

In March 2023, Mullen — no stranger to operational problems — pushed back production of its FIVE RS to 2025. Meanwhile, Nikola’s attempts to venture into hydrogen truck production are encountering supply-chain shortages, casting doubt over its ability to get these vehicles to market before competitors. Faraday Future has also been plagued by both cash and supply-chain shortages, prompting problematic production delays. VinFast appears more stable than its peers, with a market capitalization of $12 billion. But the company still needs to show investors that it can compete with larger automakers in a market that is growing increasingly competitive. 

Like Fisker, all of these companies have demonstrated a clear inability to get EVs on the road and into the market while their larger rivals are making progress and widening market shares. If things don’t change, these troubled EV stocks will continue on their path toward becoming the next ex-EVs. 

On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient did not hold (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.

Samuel O’Brient is a Reporter for InvestorPlace, where his work focuses primarily on financial markets, global economic trends, and public policy. O’Brient writes a weekly column on recent political news that investors should be following.

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