Nikola Rises on Wedbush Upgrade to Neutral

Nikola could 'significantly benefit' from the Biden administration's environmental policies, Wedbush says.
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While Nikola  (NKLA) - Get Report still has "some clear hurdles," a Wedbush analyst upgraded shares of the electric truck maker to neutral from underperform and raised his price target to $25 from $15.

Shares of the Phoenix company were climbing 3.46% to $23.89 Monday at last check.

"While some clear hurdles remain for Nikola to achieve its hydrogen and semi-truck vision over the next year," analyst Dan Ives said in a note to investors, "we believe most of the negative catalysts we were fearing have now played out in the market with a more balanced risk/reward on the name looking ahead."

Ives said that his main concerns about the company included its shifting arrangement with General Motors  (GM) - Get Report, where the automaking giant scrapped a deal to take an equity stake in Nikola. 

GM had said in November that it would supply its hydrotec fuel cell system for Nikola's series 7 and 8 semi-trucks.

Ives said he was also concerned about the departure of founder and executive chairman Trevor Milton, who stepped down in September following allegations of fraud levied by noted short-seller Hindenburg Research.

Despite the noise and controversy surrounding Milton's departure, Ives said that Milton "was the visionary, architect and internal/external force driving Nikola for the coming years and he left a void (for now)."

Ives added that CEO Mark Russell and Chief Financial Officer Kim Brady "have done an impressive job in our opinion getting the Nikola story back on track after a tumultuous few months."

"Overall we still believe the company's EV and hydrogen fuel cell ambitions are attainable in the semi-truck market," Ives said. 

Importantly, the analyst added, "we also believe in a Biden Administration and Blue Senate the green initiatives domestically will be massive around EV/hydrogen endeavors over the coming years and could significantly benefit and accelerate Nikola and its Arizona factory footprint build out ambitions."

President Joe Biden recently signed a series of executive orders designed to address climate change.

"Overall we still believe the company's EV and hydrogen fuel cell ambitions are hittable in the semi-truck market," Ives said, "although we still have lingering concerns that the execution and timing of these ambitious goals stay on track over the coming years."

In the last five months, Wedbush has rated Nikola underperform once and neutral once, according to Bloomberg. The stock fell an average 46% in the periods rated neutral and rose 9.2% in the periods rated underperform.

Shares of Nikola and other electric carmakers, including Nio  (NIO) - Get Report, Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report and XPeng XPEV rose Monday as a combination of strong delivery numbers and analyst accolades about the future of the EV market helped lift the broader sector.