Among early stage electric vehicle (EV) stocks, Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) is one that’s been placed in the winner’s circle even though it has yet to cross the finish line. And while RIVN stock may be down big from its all-time high, hit right after its IPO, shares sport a “priced for perfection” valuation.
With RIVN stock trading just below $80 per share, and with a $70.6 billion market capitalization, the market has already priced in its potential sales growth as a near certainty. Yet, I wouldn’t dismiss the EV maker’s projections as being pure “pie in the sky” numbers.
Sure, Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) massive delivery van order may be the first of many big-ticket deals from commercial end users. And high preorder numbers signal strong demand from the car-buying public. So, Rivian may just well hit its target of 40,000 deliveries this year and 100,000 deliveries in 2023. After that? It may have the ability to catch up to market leaders like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) in terms of annual vehicle sales.
Then again, it’s far from set in stone the company will reach these goals. With this, the risk/return proposition for RIVN stock at current prices may be less favorable than some other EV plays.
A Rebound May Prove Elusive for RIVN Stock
As you likely recall, the market got carried away with Rivian in the days following its debut as a public company in early November. Shares zoomed from their IPO price of $78 to as much as $179.47. Much of this was due to the fact that, at the time, all major EV plays were running hot.
Since then, RIVN stock has reversed and given back the bulk of those gains. Chalk its big declines up to the cycling out of growth stocks due to upcoming interest rate hikes. Production issues have weighed on shares as well.
To some, buying now around $80 per share may look appealing. The company is ramping up production and delivering vehicles such as the R1T pickup and the EDV 700 delivery van to buyers.
Then again, a rebound in RIVN stock may prove elusive. First off, as is the case for any EV plays, there’s still much uncertainty over whether high enthusiasm will return to this space. Like I discussed when writing about Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID) on Dec. 30, the cycling out of growth stocks could continue. It’s too early to know to what extent the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in order to fight inflation. If it has to take measures more drastic than expected, the “risk-off” mindset investors have adopted could persist throughout 2022.
I’ll concede that my concern about rising rates continuing to affect growth stocks could prove to be overblown. Yet, even if the Fed’s actions have little impact on the market going forward, that does not automatically mean Rivian is your best choice to ride a rebound in the sector.
Rivian vs. Other Early Stage EV Stocks
Market-related issues may or may not impact RIVN stock and its peers going forward. After going into reverse a bit late last year and into this year, “EV mania” could make a return sometime in 2022. If this happens, Rivian’s shares will likely bounce back.
Still, RIVN stock may have less room to run than it seems on the surface. Based on its current price, the expectation it becomes a formidable competitor to Tesla and incumbent automakers alike appears baked in. However, there are several ways growth could fall short of expectations.
For example, Amazon’s deal to purchase electric delivery vans from an incumbent automaker, Stellantis N.V. (NYSE:STLA), may imply that Amazon (despite owning 20% of Rivian) won’t lean on it completely for its EV needs. This may limit Rivian’s eventual commercial sales. Along with this, the legacy automakers are aggressively moving into the electric pickup space. This could hinder Rivian’s chances of disrupting the truck market like Tesla did with the luxury sedan market.
In contrast, there are scores of other EV plays out there where the current underappreciation of their respective prospects could mean big price appreciation if/when sentiment in the sector reverses course.
The Bottom Line on RIVN Stock
I’ll admit that under-the-radar EV plays may have a lot more risk to go along with their greater upside potential than Rivian. Yet, it’s not just speculative startups that may make for better vehicle electrification plays.
In fact, you may be better off buying Ford (NYSE:F), which owns a large piece of Rivian. As InvestorPlace’s Louis Navellier has argued, F stock could continue to perform well as the Detroit automaker ramps up its own move into electric vehicles.
RIVN stock is one of the pricier propositions among EV names. Therefore, I’d take a pass on it and pursue more promising plays.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel 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.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.