Nikola Stock Surges as Retail Investors Pile In

J.B. Hunt Order Helps Reinvigorate Interest
Steering wheel of a Nikola truck
A test driver at the wheel of a Nikola Tre. (Andreas Gebert/Bloomberg News)

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A gravity-defying rally in electric vehicle startup Nikola Corp. is showing no signs of stopping, as the company’s latest efforts to conserve cash and secure funds reignites a fervor for the stock.

Shares of the EV maker — that was once seen as a potential contender to industry behemoth Tesla Inc. — have gained nearly 50% in just three sessions amid a string of positive news.

A big part of the stock’s 476% rally over the past two months has been fueled by a resurgence in mom-and-pop investors, data from Vanda Research shows. Nikola was heavily cited on social media platforms such as Twitter and during that period.

“Nikola has been an active name for meme speculation,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading, noting that the company has a high short interest that attracts meme speculators.

The latest rally began in June, right after the stock’s plunge below the $1 level, prompting a notice of rising delisting risk from Nasdaq Inc. Shares had been on a near-vertical run since then, up 44% this year, even though it is still more than 96% below the record highs touched in mid-2020.

Nikola stock chart

“Over the past two months each big move coincided with a spike in net retail purchases,” said Vanda’s Marco Iachini.

In recent days, news about J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. placing an order for 13 of Nikola’s zero-emission Class 8 trucks “has helped to fuel the frenzy,” said O’Rourke.

In early July, the company secured a $41.9 million grant to build six heavy-duty hydrogen refueling stations across Southern California. And on Aug. 1, the company announced an additional $16.3 million grant.


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“Anything Nikola can do to reduce the cash burn is helpful,” said Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne. Back in June, Nikola said it will cut about 270 jobs in an effort to reduce spending.

The developments come at an opportune time, as Nikola is gearing up for its annual shareholder meeting on Aug. 3, when investors are expected to vote on a plan to increase the number of shares of the company, a proposal that has attracted criticism from Nikola’s ousted founder Trevor Milton.

“Nikola likely wants to keep this momentum with news going into results and the vote,” Osborne added. The company is expected to report second-quarter results a day after the shareholder meeting.

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