3 Red Flags for Rivian Automotive’s Future

Rivian Automotive (RIVN -1.68%) has been a polarizing inventory. The bulls praised the maker of electrical pickups, SUVs, and shipping and delivery vans for creating more motor vehicles than several other fledgling electric auto (EV) makers, and pointed out that its preorders ongoing to rise. The bears will issue out that Rivian currently halved its generation target for 2022 from 50,000 to 25,000 automobiles again in March, it can be continue to having difficulties with provide chain constraints, and its web losses are widening.

Judging by the inventory rate, the bears have evidently been winning that argument: Rivian’s stock is down about 85% from its all-time superior final November, and it remains virtually 70% down below its IPO share price of $78. It could possibly be tempting to purchase Rivian stock at these frustrated levels, but 3 recent red flags show it may well nonetheless be too early to wager on its long-time period recovery.

Graphic supply: Rivian.

Purple flag 1: A substantial recall

In early Oct, Rivian issued a voluntary remember of 13,000 cars — which accounted for most of the 14,317 autos it experienced generated in the first 9 months of 2022 — to examine likely loose fasteners that could lead to a loss of steering manage under “uncommon situation.” Rivian managed the remember quickly with cost-free support appointments and loaner vehicles, but it solid doubts on its ability to safely obtain its comprehensive-12 months manufacturing goal of 25,000 cars.

During Rivian’s latest meeting phone on Nov. 9, CEO RJ Scaringe stated it experienced now checked “above 83%” of its cars for the defect, and that its buyers mostly appreciated the company’s “transparency” in handling the circumstance.

Purple flag 2: Allegations of basic safety violations

In late November, a dozen of Rivian’s staff members filed basic safety grievances with the U.S. Occupational Protection and Overall health Administration in regard to the do the job problems at its primary manufacturing plant in Ordinary, Illinois. Those allegations contain a deficiency of essential security machines like respirators, the intentional salvage and use of destroyed electrical parts, and different office injuries. The plant also not long ago suffered a bedbug infestation.

Together with the aforementioned recollects, these allegations advise that Rivian’s creation abilities are being stretched to unsafe and unsustainable amounts. In a assertion, Rivian pointed out that the 12 workers only represented a small proportion of the plant’s workforce of 6,700, and it was focused on “developing a risk-free and inspiring” atmosphere for all its staff.

Purple flag 3: Pausing its joint enterprise with Mercedes-Benz

Again in September, Rivian introduced a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz to create electrical vans in Europe. Several investors possible noticed that partnership as a further vote of self esteem for Rivian’s EV systems. But on Dec. 12, Rivian introduced it would pause that joint enterprise to concentration on strengthening its main enterprises and dollars flows in the U.S.

That strategic shift will make sense, since Rivian still requires to produce 100,000 electric powered delivery vans to Amazon, its greatest trader, and satisfy its preorders for additional than 114,000 R1 motor vehicles. It can be sensible to prioritize individuals orders over an enlargement into Europe, but Rivian’s stock however stumbled in response to that unanticipated announcement.

Will these purple flags travel away the bulls?

Rivian is nonetheless keeping up a good deal improved than other younger EV makers like Lucid, which only expects to produce 6,000-7,000 vehicles this 12 months, and Canoo, which has not delivered a one car or truck but. But it is really definitely not in the exact same league as Tesla, which shipped 936,172 automobiles past 12 months.

Rivian is however a speculative inventory that trades at 13 moments this year’s income (assuming it can in fact deliver those people 25,000 motor vehicles), and it will remain unprofitable for the foreseeable long term. In shorter, it will likely continue to be out of favor as long as climbing desire charges carry on to generate investors toward more conservative investments. Even Tesla, which trades at 6 times this year’s income, seems to be like a a great deal safer wager on the EV market than Rivian right now.

John Mackey, CEO of Total Foodstuff Industry, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of administrators. Leo Sun has positions in Amazon.com. The Motley Fool has positions in and suggests Amazon.com and Tesla. The Motley Idiot has a disclosure coverage.