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Lordstown Plan Sparks Cautious Response From Analysts

Lordstown Motors' plan for limited production of its electric pickup fails to move analysts.

Lordstown Motors  (RIDE) - Get Lordstown Motors Corp. Class A Report drew cautious commentary from analysts Thursday after the company said it was ready to start "limited production" of its electric pickup truck in September.

Shares of Lordstown were rising 2.6% to $5.74.

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Lordstown, which also announced a second-quarter loss, said it will begin limited production of its Endurance pickup truck in late September.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, who does not rate the company's stock, said that "while management reaffirmed their commitment to in-hub EV architecture and the Endurance on the call, we believe it is increasingly likely that the product may never actually achieve commercial production at scale."

Lordstown is the subject of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department.

In June, the company's CEO and chief financial officer stepped down after an independent investigation into allegations made by short-seller Hindenburg Research that called the company a "mirage."

"We remind investors that RIDE currently does not have a CEO and has an interim CFO," Jonas said. "Our team is not aware of any example in contemporary automotive history where a product was successfully validated, launched and commercialized without a CEO."

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Jonas added that it goes without saying that "securing highly experienced, if not world-class, leadership is critical to building support with the various stakeholders ... required to run an auto company at such an important time."

BC Capital analyst Joseph Spak cut his price target to $1 from $5 while keeping an underperform rating on the shares after the company said that Endurance commercial deliveries are not expected until the second quarter of 2022.

Spak said in a research note that the company will need "significant capital, at least some likely to be dilutive."

"RIDE did lay out some pivot options, but we can't recommend investors get involved until a clearer strategic and financial picture emerge," the analyst said.

Spak said that Lordstown "first mover advantage is all but dissipated" with the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s  (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report electric pickup, starting production in spring 2022 and General Motors' GM Silverado EV later that year.

Deustche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner, who has a hold rating on the stock, said Lordstown's second-quarter cash burn was larger than expected. 

Rosen said he was encouraged by the imminent start of production in September, according to Bloomberg, and what appears to be a defined path toward ramping volumes afterwards.

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