The first crack in Rivian’s (NASDAQ:RIVN) armor has started to appear. The electric vehicle startup’s stock has faced two consecutive days of double-digit losses. RIVN stock seems to be coming back to earth.
It might be tempting to get in on the EV action and buy some of Rivian’s discounted shares. However, veteran investor and TV personality Jim Cramer suggests there’s no shame in taking profits.
“If you own Lucid or Rivian and you’ve made a ton of money, you have my blessing — right here, right now, tomorrow morning — to literally take half off the table … and you can let the rest ride,” Cramer advised CNBC viewers on Nov. 17. “Remember, you’re playing momentum, not car companies and not technology, and in that case it’s better to ring the register early and often.”
As they also say, “It never hurts to take profits.”
- RIVN Stock Not Worth $100
- No Revenue
- It’s Not the Next Tesla
- It Has a Bro Culture
- There Are Better EV Buys
- Buy Ford and Amazon
- Pickup Trucks are on the Way Out
- You Can Buy These 4 Stocks Instead
- Big Losses
- Disruption Is Overused
For those who didn’t buy IPO shares — they’re still up 87.3% as I write this — I have 10 reasons why you should think twice before buying.
Why Not Buy RIVN Stock Post IPO: No Revenue
I don’t know if it’s a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) thing or what, but the investor fascination in 2021 with companies that don’t have any revenues is genuinely puzzling. It’s as if the pandemic made every stay-at-home Robinhood investor an honorary member of the Sand Hill Road crowd.
Jalopnik recently ran the headline Rivian Is The Biggest Company With No Revenue In The U.S.
“(It’s) seriously mind boggling when it hasn’t even earned any discernible revenue yet,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, discussing Rivian’s valuation.
According to pg. 9 of its IPO prospectus, Rivian estimates that its quarterly revenue for the three months ended Sep. 30 will be between $0 and $1 million. At $70,000 a pop, that’s about 14 vehicles.
If 1,000 is accurate for the October-December quarter, that’s approximately $69 million in sales or $70 million for fiscal 2021. A whopping 1,771x sales [$124 billion divided by $70 million].
RIVN Stock Not Worth $100
I recently argued that if you’re a speculative investor, I didn’t see a problem buying some shares under $100. But, given two consecutive days of 15% declines, a few more and we’ll be well below triple digits in a hurry.
Incredibly, Rivian’s current market capitalization makes it the third most valuable carmaker on the planet. CNN Business contributor Allison Morrow put it best when she suggested that investors who missed out on Tesla a decade ago don’t want to make the same mistake twice.
FOMO is a big deal these days. Just ask the Reddit crowd.
The investment firm New Constructs, which I quoted in my Nov. 17 article, highlighted that Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) was worth $1.7 billion when it went public in 2010. It delivered 1,500 vehicles that year. That’s a valuation of $1.13 million per delivery. Rivian expects to deliver approximately 1,000 by the end of 2021. That’s $124.6 million per delivery, or 110x more than Tesla.
There are two ways you can look at this.
First, Tesla was on an island, the only EV maker to speak of, which likely prevented investors from getting too excited. Today, it’s a lot clearer where the automotive market is headed, so the valuations reflect this confidence.
Why Not Buy RIVN Stock Post IPO: It’s Not the Next Tesla
One of my favorite articles I’ve written for InvestorPlace over the years is the October 2012 piece Why America Needs More Teslas. I can number crunch with the best of them, but this had none of that.
It was pure unadulterated admiration for a brilliant person who had a relentless drive to reinvent the automotive industry. Elon Musk is a lot of quirky things–but the one thing he’s not is lazy. He’s worked hard to get from Tesla 2012 to Tesla 2021. He’s the world’s wealthiest person for a reason.
“Tesla is a risky investment. I wouldn’t make it more than 3% to 5% of your portfolio,” I wrote on Oct. 4, 2012.
“However, how many times can you say you’ve owned the stock of a business that’s truly making a difference in the world? Vision is something that very few companies have. America’s future is stronger with a viable, profitable Tesla in the mix.”
A $1,000 investment in Tesla in October 2012 as part of a $25,000 portfolio — a 4% weight or the midpoint of my suggestion above — would be worth $189,685 today. So even if the other $24,000 flamed out, your total portfolio would have grown 25.3% annually over the last nine years.
Rivian is not the next Tesla.
It Has a Bro Culture
This particular reason is a personal one. When I was a young kid, my sister’s girlfriends all thought I was a misogynist. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I married a strong woman and cheer anytime good things happen to women in business.
I despise the bro culture.
So, when the news dropped in early November that Laura Schwab, Rivian’s former vice president of sales and marketing, was suing the company, I was very interested in the blowback.
After being left out of meetings related to her job at the company, Schwab went to human resources to file a complaint. Two days later, she was let go in a reorganization that involved only one person–Laura Schwab.
I encourage you to read Fortune’s article about the situation.
“With apologies to Tolstoy, it seems as if all unhappy, gender-discriminatory company cultures are alike—or at least share some powerful similarities. So, if you spot even one or two of these behaviors at your company, the takeaway is clear: you have a problem,” Kristen Bellstrom wrote on Nov. 5.
I remember reading articles about Schwab when she was promoted to Head of the Americas for Aston Martin in 2015. It was a big deal to put a woman in charge of a car business at the time. Then came Mary Barra.
I would watch this one very closely. It could bring down the whole house of cards.
Why Not Buy RIVN Stock Post IPO: There Are Better EV Buys
Assuming you must own an EV stock, why not go with one that has actual revenues?
According to Car and Driver, of the 12 best-selling EVs of 2021, four are Teslas (its entire lineup), three are Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY), two for Hyundai (OTCMKTS:HYMTF), and one each for Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), and Renault (OTCMKTS:RNLSY).
Right there, you’ve got six stocks you can buy that are in the EV game and making sales and profits. However, the Car and Driver article was U.S. sales. Over in China, you’ve got several companies to choose from — Nio (NYSE:NIO), Xpeng (NYSE:XPEV), and BYD Company (OTCMKTS:BYDDY) — all of whom are growing like weeds.
At least wait until 2-4 quarters are in the books and a trend develops. If Rivian is all that and a bag of chips, buying six months to a year from now won’t be a losing proposition over the long haul.
Buy Ford and Amazon
Ford invested $820 million in Rivian for its post-IPO stake of 10.9%. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) invested $1.3 billion for its 16.9% stake.
As I type this, Ford’s 101.95 million shares are worth $12.6 billion while Amazon’s 159.52 million shares are worth $19.7 billion. So even with the two-day slide, the companies are looking at a 1,400% return over three years.
Ford’s Rivian stake accounts for 16% of its $78 billion market cap. Back out the $12.6-billion stake from its market cap and investors are paying 3.5x its 2020 free cash flow of $18.5 billion.
As for Amazon, Goldman Sachs just named it its top internet pick for 2022.
“We see Amazon as a top pick on a 12-month view with an increasingly positive skew in its risk/reward after a pronounced period (16+ months) of share underperformance,” Bloomberg reported on Goldman’s note to clients.
Of the 50 analysts who cover AMZN stock, 41 rate it a Buy. No analysts rate it a sell. So these are two much safer solutions to the EV game.
Why Not Buy RIVN Stock Post IPO: Pickup Trucks are on the Way Out
I say this one facetiously because, through the end of September, the top three vehicles in terms of sales were Chevrolet Silverado (407,266 sold), Ram Pickup (434,772), and Ford F-Series (534,831).
Ford CEO Jim Farley recently told Automotive News that its F-150 Lightning (EV version) reservations are approaching 200,000. Of those, he expects more than 80% will turn into sales.
So, right there, you’ve 1.5 million in vehicle sales that Rivian’s got to compete with while struggling to make money and pay its bills.
And then there’s the argument made by Passage managing editor Davide Mastracci, who argued in July that pickup trucks should be banned. His climate argument is entirely understandable.
However, it is this quote that ought to make you think:
“As Angie Schmitt writes in Bloomberg City Lab, ‘Since 1990, [United States] pickup trucks have added almost 1,300 pounds on average. Some of the biggest vehicles on the market now weigh almost 7,000 pounds — or about three Honda Civics,’” Mastracci wrote.
A ban seems far-fetched, but you can never say never.
You Can Buy These 4 Stocks Instead
Rivian has a market cap of $124 billion. Divided by four, that’s $31 billion. So here are four stocks with a market cap of around $31 billion that make money and are growing. To make things interesting, I’ll include stocks from four different sectors.
Hershey (NYSE:HSY): Representing consumer defensive stocks, the Pennsylvania company has a market cap of $37 billion. It just bought Dot’s Pretzels, a major player in the U.S. pretzel market. This acquisition pushes the company further into the snack market, complimenting its candy/confections and pet care segments. A brilliant move by CEO Michelle Buck. This leaves me with $87 million over three stocks.
Tractor Supply (NASDAQ:TSCO): The consumer cyclical stock has a market cap of $26 billion. It makes money by selling lots of stuff needed by weekend farmers living in the exurbs. In January, I included TSCO in a collection of the 10 best Nasdaq stocks to buy right now. It’s up 64% year-to-date.
Sun Life Financial (NYSE:SLF): Representing Canada and the financial services industry is one of the finest wealth and insurance solutions companies anywhere in the world. It has a market cap of $33 billion. It does a whopping amount of business in Asia. On Oct. 3, it acquired DentaQuest, a leader in dental benefits, for $2.48 billion. It continues to make inroads into the U.S.
United Rentals (NYSE:UNI): The last of four companies, it just comes under the wire with a market cap of a little over $27 billion, bringing us in at almost $124 billion. United Rentals represents the industrials sector. It is the market leader in the North American equipment rental industry with a 19% market share and generating 2020 revenue of $8.53 billion. It’s got an annualized total return of 31% over the past decade.
Why Not Buy RIVN Stock Post IPO: Big Losses
In the past two fiscal years combined, Rivian’s had operating losses of more than $1.4 billion. In the first six months ended June 30, its operating losses were $990 million, 2.6x those a year earlier. Annualized, that’s an operating loss of $20 million shy of $2 billion.
Don’t expect profits for at least 3-4 years or more. It won’t even get to 100% capacity at its Illinois plant — 150,000 vehicles annually — until late 2023. That means it probably won’t be until 2024. All the while, expenses and losses are rising exponentially.
In the third quarter ended Sep. 30, the first where it delivered actual vehicles, it expects its operating loss to be $750 million at the midpoint of its guidance. That brings its 2021 operating loss to $1.74 billion with one quarter left in the year.
“As we just started to ramp vehicle production at the site, the facility produced limited quantities of vehicles in the period,” Automotive News reported the company said.
Disruption Is an Overused Word
Luminar Technologies (NASDAQ:LAZR) CEO Austin Russell recently discussed Rivian and its IPO on Yahoo Finance.
Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi asked Russell about Rivian’s IPO. Here’s what he said:
“I mean the Rivian IPOs definitely interesting,” Russell said on Nov. 12.
“It’s awesome to see the success there too, and I think it just goes to show the level of disruption that’s happening in this industry and the opportunity that– that everyone has ahead. So you know, I think obviously, when it comes down to it, there’s a lot left to be able to deliver in those cases.”
While Russell was happy for the Rivian team, it’s clear he feels there’s a lot left for the EV startup to prove. But, more importantly, I’m sure the CEO’s more than a little annoyed that his company is valued at $7 billion compared to $124 billion for Rivian.
On the date of publication, Will Ashworth 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.
Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.