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Why Lordstown Motors Stock Has Surged This Week

What happened

Shares of Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ: RIDE) surged 24.1% this week through Thursday, following news that the embattled electric truck start-up has hired a new CEO with deep auto industry experience.

That's encouraging news for investors who have watched the stock decline sharply in recent months. But while the new CEO has a solid resume, the company faces a daunting road to delivering on investors' expectations.

So what

Lordstown said on Thursday that it has a new CEO: Daniel Ninivaggi is the former CEO of investor Carl Icahn's automotive holdings, and earlier held executive roles at Tier 1 auto suppliers Lear and Federal Mogul (now part of Tenneco).

Ninivaggi will need all his experience to get Lordstown on track. The company has been reeling since the abrupt departure of its founder and its chief financial officer in June, following an investigation into allegations that they greatly exaggerated customer interest in Lordstown's upcoming electric Endurance pickup.

Now, Lordstown is short on cash and short on potential sources of new cash, just as it appears to have lost its first-mover advantage to commercial-vehicle market leader Ford Motor Company. (Investors hoping that Ninivaggi might bring a big investment from Icahn should note Ninivaggi parted ways with Icahn's organization in 2019.)

Lordstown's truck is behind schedule and buyers don't appear to be lining up. Can new CEO Ninivaggi turn things around? Image source: Lordstown Motors.

But that said, the arrival of Ninivaggi is good news, and I think investors were right to be cheered this week.

Now what

Ninivaggi can almost certainly help address Lordstown's urgent needs right away, at least to some extent. His resume brings the kind of credibility that can open doors with potential investors and other automotive heavyweights.

But investors shouldn't underestimate the difficulties here, even with Ninivaggi steering the shop. Simply put, Lordstown needs to be able to establish a beachhead in the super competitive commercial vehicle market to survive -- and now that giant Ford has thrown down a gauntlet with its impressive F-150 Lightning, that will be a big, big challenge.

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John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends Tenneco. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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