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Try Luminar for a Still-Early Stake in Self-Driving Auto Tech

It’s fascinating to consider that a 25-year-old’s unique vision for autonomous-vehicle technology could rake in billions of dollars. Yet, that’s precisely what happened as Luminar (NASDAQ:LAZR) founder Austin Russell’s company became a niche market darling and the LAZR stock price shot to the moon.

A finger hovering over an "autonomous drive" button.
Source: Olivier Le Moal /

Value-focused investors might worry that LAZR went too high, too fast. And they might actually be right about that. However, the retracement in this stock now offers a more favorable entry point.

That’s great news for folks who have been sitting on the sidelines. And for anyone who’s not yet familiar with the story of Luminar and its young founder, you’re in for a treat.

Perhaps you’ll even consider joining Russell’s quest for better self-driving tech. A long position in LAZR stock won’t necessarily make you billions, but at least you’ll have an early stake in what might turn out to be a multi-year runner.

LAZR Stock at a Glance

Before we get into the driver’s seat and analyze this company, though, let’s take a few steps back. Luminar first went public on Dec. 3 via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

It didn’t really take long for LAZR stock to pop after the deal went through. In the first few days of trading on the Nasdaq Exchange, Luminar literally doubled in price.

Now, it’s difficult to determine a price range for this name since the SPAC deal was finalized very recently. Prospective investors should understand that shares might bounce around for a while.

That’s what we’re seeing right now. Recently, LAZR has retraced a bit after shooting up to $47.80 on Dec. 8. As of Dec. 11, the stock price was down to the $30 area. But this means that it may be possible to jump in on shares at a cheaper price point.

The Quick Road to Billions

Outside of the company’s initial public offering (IPO), though, it’s important to understand Luminar’s story and the person behind it: Austin Russell. When he was a teenager, Russell left Stanford University to focus on California-based Luminar in 2012

“I’m still relatively young, but … a lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into it. And I was fortunate enough to be able to retain a good enough stake,” commented the 25-year-old. Reportedly, Russell owns 104.7 million shares of LAZR stock, making him a billionaire.

So, Russell is the captain steering the ship here. But let’s not be completely dazzled by his ambitious story. Instead, we need to understand the company before considering an investment. So, what does Luminar do? It specializes in what’s known as automotive lidar.

That’s short for light detection and ranging. This involves hardware and software technology that helps self-driving vehicles assess their surroundings.

A Potential Lidar Leader

I’ll admit, that’s a very simplistic summary of what lidar technology can do. In reality, this tech can actually move beyond basic vehicle detection and classification and even leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to “learn” from experience.

If Russell has his way, the mainstreaming of lidar tech is imminent and Luminar will be its primary purveyor. On the company’s website, Russell notes:

“We look forward to accelerating widespread commercial adoption of autonomy and proactive safety solutions and embarking on the next phase of our journey as a public company, which will solidify our leadership position well into the future and enable autonomy at an unprecedented scale.”

What’s more, Northland analyst Gus Richard seems to concur — at least to a certain extent — with Russell’s outlook on the emerging lidar tech market. Richard asserts that this market is “still in its infancy” while also expressing that Luminar will eventually become “‘the automotive lidar’ leader.” That means big things are ahead for LAZR stock, regardless of post-IPO bounciness.

The Takeaway

And so, a bet on LAZR stock is really a wager on the expansion of the lidar tech market. This type of technology could gain major traction as self-driving vehicles become more commonplace.

Yet, a stake in Luminar is also a bet on the vision of an ambitious, young entrepreneur. Of course, his story is inspiring. But soon enough, his company could be a real game-changer.

On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

Louis Navellier had an unconventional start, as a grad student who accidentally built a market-beating stock system —with returns rivaling even Warren Buffett. In his latest feat, Louis discovered the “Master Key” to profiting from the biggest tech revolution of this (or any) generation.

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