Electric-Car Stocks Fall As China Signals Crackdown; Nikola-GM Doubts Grow

(Investor’s Business Daily)

Electric-car stocks BYD (BYDFF), Nio (Nio), Xpeng (XPEV) and Li Auto (LI) sold off on news of a probe in China, while Nikola (NKLA) failed to assuage investors on a proposed General Motors (GM) partnership.

According to Nikkei Asia, China’s top economic planning body has launched a nationwide review of EV projects. Specifically, the National Development and Reform Commission has asked local branches of Evergrande Auto to submit investment and production data for the past five years.

Industry watchers took that as a signal that Beijing wants to rein in China’s booming but problematic market as electric-car stocks proliferate rapidly.

With help from government subsidies, municipalities rushed to promote EV projects, resulting in some questionable practices, Nikkei said. For example, some companies rely solely on subsidies or are able to buy land at low prices, it said.

Evergrande alone has spent tens of billions of dollars in just the last two years, with the goal of becoming a powerhouse among China’s electric-car stocks, Nikkei added.

Nikola Adds To Electric-Car Stocks Sell-Off
Shares of Nikola sank 10.6% to 30.83 in Wednesday’s stock market trading. Nikola stock is testing the 200-day line Wednesday after the 50-day fell below the 200-day support level early in November, according to MarketSmith chart analysis.

Among other electric-car stocks, Nio stock fell 1% BYD 4%, Li Auto 7.5%, and Xpeng Motors 8.8%.

On Wednesday, JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster expressed doubts that Nikola and GM would reach a partnership deal.

“NKLA’s CEO has been consistently non-committal regarding the Badger initiative, in our view, and we are skeptical that it will proceed given that it is not a strategic initiative for Nikola and it could drain the company of cash needed for the Class 8 truck initiatives,”

During an interview Tuesday evening on CNBC’s “Mad Money with Jim Cramer,” Nikola CEO Mark Russell said talks with GM about supplying fuel cell and battery technologies, as well as an all-electric pickup, continue. But he didn’t say much more.

If the GM-Nikola deal isn’t finalized by Dec. 3, either side can walk away.

Russell also wouldn’t discuss Nikola founder and ex-chairman Trevor Milton potentially selling off his 91.6 million shares after a lockup period ends Dec. 1. With roughly 360.9 million shares of Nikola stock outstanding, Milton ranks as the embattled EV startup’s largest single shareholder.

“Can’t comment for Trevor, of course,” Russell said. “But we believe that as we execute on our milestones and on our business plan, we’re going to reward our long-term focus shareholders.”

Milton did not return a CNBC request for comment. He exited Nikola after the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission started investigating allegations of fraud raised by short-seller Hindenburg in September.