Back on Feb. 23, Workhorse (NASDAQ:WKHS) lost the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) contract to its competitor, Oshkosh (NYSE:OSK). So, now what? That’s the question investors have been trying to answer these past few weeks with WKHS stock. Surprisingly, though, this electric vehicle (EV) maker’s shares haven’t cratered as dramatically as you might think.
Given investors were buying this as a binary bet on its winning the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar deal with the USPS, one would assume WKHS would fall back to low-single digits. After all, that’s where shares traded before Wall Street convinced itself that this long-shot had the deal in the bag. Instead, though, the stock has only fallen about 56% since the bad news.
But now many are still holding the bag and investors are grasping at straws. With the company trying to overturn the decision, it admittedly has another long-shot chance of grabbing a piece of the contract. However, if it doesn’t — and it probably won’t — there’s not much else on Workhorse’s plate to justify the price
That’s not to say that Workhorse is doomed. It may not be able to win big-ticket deals, but it could figure out a way to become profitable after the dust settles. However, the problem is — as with many EV “story stocks” — its valuation. WKHS is not worth buying at today’s prices, with the USPS catalyst all but off the table.
What Lies Ahead for WKHS Stock
Given the fact that shares haven’t let go of all their past-year gains, investors are holding onto some hope that there’s a way Workhorse can still win. However, while it’s not giving up on USPS without a fight, buying on the chances it overturns those results doesn’t look like a good wager.
Sure, WKHS could use politics to its advantage. As you may know, former President Donald Trump appointee, Louis DeJoy, is still Postmaster General. Yet, just like how EV-stock investors have overestimated how quick the new administration will fast-track EVs, investors may be overestimating the chances that Democrats will help reverse the decision.
So, assuming USPS is no longer in play, are there other factors that could bolster WKHS stock? Or at least soften the blow? CEO Duane Hughes says the company has some “good prospects” beyond this contract. However, as InvestorPlace contributor Vince Martin notes, Workhorse still needed the postal deal to establish itself in the commercial-truck space.
Without that, WKHS becomes little more than an “also-ran” name in a space where the competition is fierce. Just like they’re making big moves in passenger-vehicle EVs, incumbent automakers are also moving into electric trucks in a big way.
Why Workhorse Could Wind Up Left in the Dust
So, after losing the postal deal, Workhorse needs to find success in winning fleet contracts in the private sector. But, just like how it lost out to an established name for USPS, it could lose out in this market to incumbents as well.
As Colliers analyst Michael Shlisky discusses in a recent research note, both Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) have electric trucks that could compete with Workhorse’s offerings. On top of that, there are also a few EV-truck startups that are getting ready to go public via special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
Bolstered with SPAC cash, Xos Trucks and Ree Auto could both give Workhorse a run for its money. Shlisky gives shares the equivalent of a “hold” rating, but does not provide a price target. All in all, the analyst doesn’t see now as the time to enter into WKHS stock.
A Possible Long-Shot Play at Lower Prices, But Avoid for Now
With the market not yet pricing in its defeat, investors buying Workhorse at today’s prices aren’t getting much value. And that’s even when you factor in its 10% stake in Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ:RIDE), which is currently worth around $300 million.
Outside of that, you are buying a company with fading potential and little else. But if the stock craters further — like back to single-digits — it may be worth it as a long-shot play.
I could even see a situation where, at a low-enough price, Workhorse gets absorbed by its spinoff, Lordstown. That would be an interesting twist of fate. However, until it falls further, there’s little reason to buy WKHS stock. Just keep an eye out for when it’s back in the low-single digits. Then this early-stage company could be worth the risk.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not (either directly or indirectly) hold any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.