The Struggles Continue at Nikola: CEO Departure, Disappointing Earnings, and Shareholder Approval to Issue New Stock

The Struggles Continue at Nikola: CEO Departure, Disappointing Earnings, and Shareholder Approval to Issue New Stock

Shares of electric truck maker Nikola took a nosedive, dropping over 10% on Friday, following a series of unfavorable events. The company’s CEO, Michael Lohscheller, announced his immediate departure due to a “family health matter,” adding to the company’s growing list of setbacks. In his place, the former General Motors vice chairman, Steve Girsky, will step in as the new CEO. While Lohscheller will remain in an advisory role until the end of September, the sudden leadership change raises concerns about stability and future direction for Nikola.

Disappointing Second Quarter Results

Adding to the company’s woes is its unimpressive second-quarter earnings report. Nikola reported a net loss of $217.8 million, or 31 cents per share, missing the Refinitiv consensus estimate. This figure includes $77.8 million, or 11 cents per share, tied to discontinued operations, such as the closure of the former Romeo Power battery-pack factory in California. Comparatively, in the same period the previous year, the loss was $173 million, or 41 cents per share.

Moreover, revenue dipped to $15.4 million from $18.1 million in the second quarter of 2022. These disappointing results indicate the challenges Nikola continues to face in transforming its vision of sustainable transportation into a profitable reality.

To compound Nikola’s troubles, shareholders gave their approval for the issuance of new stock, potentially doubling the company’s existing shares. This move seeks to procure additional funds later in the year. While the exact implications of this decision remain uncertain, it is evident that Nikola is in dire need of additional capital to fuel its operations and support its ambitious growth plans.

Positive Signs Amid Turmoil

Despite the hurdles, Nikola did make some notable progress during the second quarter. The company delivered 45 battery-electric semitrucks to dealers and achieved its best quarterly retail performance to date, with dealers selling 66 of the trucks to end customers. This positive sales achievement demonstrates some traction in the market for Nikola’s products, suggesting that there is demand for their electric trucks.

Nikola’s latest model, a long-range fuel-cell powered version of its Tre semitruck, began production on July 31, with deliveries slated to commence in September. Additionally, the company has secured orders for a total of 202 fuel-cell trucks from 18 fleet customers, indicating a level of confidence from industry players in Nikola’s technology and value proposition.

The Road Ahead

Looking ahead, Nikola faces a myriad of challenges. The sudden CEO departure adds uncertainty to the company’s leadership and strategic direction, as Girsky steps into a position that has experienced its fair share of turmoil. Moreover, the disappointing second-quarter results highlight the need for a clearer path to profitability, as Nikola continues to grapple with significant losses and decreasing revenues.

While the approval for new stock issuance provides a lifeline for additional capital, Nikola must scrutinize its financial management and spending practices to ensure the proper allocation of resources and investor confidence. The company will need to navigate a highly competitive and rapidly evolving market, as other electric truck manufacturers continue to make strides and exert pressure on Nikola’s market share.

Nikola’s recent struggles reflect the challenges faced by up-and-coming companies in the electric vehicle industry. The CEO departure, underwhelming earnings, and shareholder approval for stock issuance highlight the urgent need for Nikola to regroup, refocus its efforts, and regain investor trust. To find sustained success, Nikola must demonstrate effective leadership, financial discipline, and a clear path to profitability in an increasingly crowded market.


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