Nikola stock soars after confused investors think GM deal has closed

Patrick
Enlarge / GM CEO Mary Barra.

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Nikola stock rose 15 percent on Wednesday after confused investors apparently mistook a month-old GM website for a brand-new announcement about the companies’ pending agreement. The stock is up another 7 percent as I write this on Thursday morning.

Shortly before 10am ET on Wednesday, people began sharing links to this GM page on social media.

“We signed an agreement with Nikola to engineer and manufacture the Nikola Badger,” the GM page said. Nikola’s stock price soared from $22.23 at 9:30am to $24.94 at 10am—a 12-percent jump in 30 minutes.

On Reddit, commenters pointed out that the page said “the transaction has not yet closed.” But people shrugged that off, arguing that GM wouldn’t have posted about the deal if closing wasn’t imminent. One commenter took the stock price jump as further confirmation of the news.

But they were mistaken. It wasn’t a new GM announcement. The page has been on GM’s website since at least October 5. An archive of the page from that date includes exactly the same language about Nikola—albeit without the disclaimer about the deal not being closed yet.

GM has confirmed to Barrons and other news outlets that talks with Nikola are ongoing.

GM CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to participate in a Barclays automotive conference this afternoon. Nikola fans and investors are hoping the event will feature an announcement about Nikola. But there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think it will.

It’s also not clear that Nikola would benefit from closing the deal with GM. That deal requires Nikola to pay GM hundreds of millions of dollars to design and build the Badger—money Nikola may not be able to spare. Trucking is a capital-intensive business, and Nikola may need every dollar it has to get its flagship heavy trucks to market. Last month, Nikola CEO Mark Russell said that the Badger was an “interesting and exciting project” but that Nikola was “focused on heavy trucks and hydrogen infrastructure.”



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