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Better Electric Vehicle Stock: Lucid vs. Ford

2021 was a banner year for electric vehicle (EV) stocks, with the industry witnessing some of the most hyped initial public offerings (IPOs) in recent memory. Lucid Group (NASDAQ: LCID) was one such EV stock that went public last year after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Wall Street went wild after Lucid's Air Dream Edition sedan -- also its first electric car -- beat Tesla's (NASDAQ: TSLA) battery range, and the stock shot up almost 50% just in October.

Lucid stock has since lost half its value as the EV rally cooled off. In between, legacy automaker Ford (NYSE: F) emerged as a red-hot, promising EV stock in the making as it earmarked billions of dollars to up its EV ante. Between Lucid and Ford, investors in EVs now have two high-potential stocks to pick from. Which of the two is a better EV stock to own, though? Here's the bull case for each to help you decide.

Watch for profitability

Howard Smith (Lucid): Ford is a well-known entity as an automotive investment. But it's effectively no less of a start-up than Lucid as an EV investment. It may have experience that Lucid doesn't have in mass production, but a recent misstep has already shown that it will also need a learning curve when it comes to EV production. Ford just recalled nearly half of the 100,000 Mach-E electric SUVs it has produced over the past two years.

Image source: Lucid.

Having established production facilities and personnel also doesn't guarantee the company will produce EVs profitably. Even after the company increased prices to combat rising raw material costs, CNBC reported that Ford CFO John Lawler told analysts at a conference that the company was not making money on its first mass-produced EV.

None of that is to disparage Ford's plans and efforts to transition to electric vehicles. But the reality is that it is on a similar plane to Lucid as it also works to grow as an EV company. Lucid is certainly a more risky investment right now on several levels. Ultimately, the better stock will likely be the one that is able to be more profitable. EV leader Tesla has realized a level of gross profit margin that is about twice what traditional automakers, including Ford, have historically achieved.

TSLA Gross Profit Margin data by YCharts

Lucid had only delivered 360 vehicles as of the end of the first quarter. So it's still too early to know whether it can match Tesla's profitability. Lucid expects to produce between 12,000 and 14,000 vehicles this year, so investors will get a first meaningful look at its margins by the end of 2022.

Choosing between Ford and Lucid really depends on what the investor wants in a portfolio. An investment in Lucid is much higher-risk, since its level of operational success is still unknown. But with that risk comes potential reward should it be able to achieve higher profitability than Ford and other legacy automakers. Investors just need to decide which fits better in their portfolio.

Ford's EV goals are bigger than you think

Neha Chamaria (Ford): First things first, Lucid is a pure-EV play, while Ford is still -- and will pretty much remain -- a hybrid traditional-and-EV company for several years. So if you're looking to buy a pure EV stock, the choice between Lucid and Ford is a no-brainer. But if you really want to play the EV boom, Ford is an even better bet than Lucid in many ways.

Here's the thing: Lucid had 30,000 reservations across all its electric car trims as last reported in May. Ford sold that many EVs in just the months of March and April combined. And, over and above that, Ford already has 200,000 reservations for its all-electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, which it only started selling in May.

In short, Ford is already a way bigger EV company than Lucid in terms of capacity, production, and sales. And, Ford's plans absolutely crush Lucid's. So by "just after mid-decade," Lucid expects to be able to produce 500,000 EVs. Ford, on the other hand, is targeting 2 million EV sales by 2026. By 2030, Ford expects EVs to make up half its total global sales. Ford's brand loyalty is indisputable too, as shown by the unprecedented demand for the F-150 Lightning that even Ford didn't anticipate.

Of course, it may not be a smooth ride. Ford is already feeling the pinch of surging raw material and production costs on EV profitability, and then there are the massive recalls. Yet, none of this is new to Ford, and it has navigated more storms than most publicly traded companies over its 100-plus years of existence.

The F-150 Lightning could give Ford an unbeatable edge in the lucrative electric pickup-truck market, and that alone makes Ford stock an attractive bet.

The better EV stock to buy

Investors are often willing to pay premium prices for young companies like Lucid, as the upside potential in such early growth stocks is virtually unlimited if the company can grow rapidly and establish itself as an important player in the industry in some years. The Lucid Air's impressive range-rating is testimony to the company's technological innovation, and its 30,000 reservations alone could bring in almost $2.9 billion in sales if all convert into confirmed orders.

Yet, given that Lucid is only just getting started and has yet to generate meaningful revenue, the stock can be volatile and is suitable only for risk-takers.

Ford, comparatively, is a much "safer" EV stock based on the F-150 Lightning alone -- it is, after all, an all-electric version of what has already been America's best-selling pickup truck for more than four decades. With Ford's EV sales also booming in recent months, it is, in fact, one of the best growth stocks you could buy at its current price.

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Howard Smith has positions in Lucid Group, Inc. Neha Chamaria has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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