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Don’t Give Up on Rivian Automotive Just Yet

Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) may go down as the last big initial public offering (IPO) of the 2020-2021 market rally. RIVN stock opened trading in November around $100 per share, making it one of the largest IPOs of all time. And the compan…

Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) may go down as the last big initial public offering (IPO) of the 2020-2021 market rally. RIVN stock opened trading in November around $100 per share, making it one of the largest IPOs of all time. And the company hadn’t even started generating meaningful revenue yet.

Source: Michael Vi / Shutterstock

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Rivian’s shares initially traded sharply higher, but the party ended quickly. Already Rivian stock is down more than 60% from its November highs. At this point, everyone is rushing to distance themselves from the electric-vehicle (EV) company. With the shares down so far, however, it’s worth taking a look at the company and asking if Rivian’s stock might have a second act ahead of it.

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To do that, it’s worth revisiting what made RIVN stock so appealing in the first place. After all, the shares hit $179 after Rivian’s IPO. What drove investors to bid up the stock so aggressively right out of the gate, and are those reasons still valid today?

The Case for Rivian

The argument in favor of Rivian’s shares starts with its powerful backers. Rivian has attracted high-quality investors, including Ford Motor (NYSE:F) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

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Amazon has ordered a head-turning 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian. The automaker can build its whole business around that order.

Meanwhile, thanks to Rivian’s massively successful IPO, the company now has nearly $20 billion of cash on hand.  For one, the cash gives Rivian the opportunity to ramp up its production and take on the entrenched automakers. Moreover, Rivian’s market capitalization is now down to around $58 billion after the recent selloff of its shares. So Rivian’s cash is equal to a substantial portion of the value of its stock.

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A Compelling Opportunity

Rivian is looking to gain market share in the pickup truck category that hasn’t really been penetrated by EVs much yet.

Rivian wants to take share from Ford’s F-150 and Ford Explorer, the Toyota (NYSE:TM) Tacoma and numerous other trucks.

Tesla, by contrast, is primarily competing with more upscale brands that have a far smaller addressable market. Tesla, however, has done a fantastic job taking market share and grabbing a massive first-mover advantage in the upper-level EV space.

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But Rivian’s EV pickup truck can obtain a major part of that market segment.  Rivian has another potential big advantage over Tesla. Specifically, Rivian can realistically sell a high number of EVs to businesses.

Rivian’s pickup truck should be bought by many firms, such as natural resource, utility, and logistics companies that buy those vehicles in bulk. Such deals will provide the automaker with a reliable, recurring source of revenue.

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Tesla has had a surprising level of success with its direct-to-consumer sales model. However, that distribution method can be limiting in some ways. Rivian, by contrast, appears to be building a business that can be grown more easily and effectively compete with the world’s largest automakers.

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The Verdict on RIVN Stock

The talking points of those who are bearish on Rivian have some merit. The automaker’s valuation was excessive in November, and it’s still fairly high even now. Rivian has hardly sold any vehicles yet, and the company could have all sorts of issues as it expands. And, in the longer term, Rivian will face a ton of competition from both the veteran automakers and other, newer, pureplay EV companies such as Tesla.

So Rivian’s stock does pose some risk. But the bearish thesis on the company has arguably already played out, at least for now. Many short sellers have played RIVN stock correctly up until now, but it’s dangerous to keep shorting the shares after their huge decline.

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And with its huge cash position and quality partners like Amazon, Rivian isn’t simply going to disappear, even if its share price continues to slump.

Meanwhile, after Rivian’s shares dropped so hard and fast, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if RIVN stock rallies a great deal. Rivian’s fundamentals haven’t really changed over the past few months, even as the market’s sentiment towards it dramatically deteriorated. However, Rivian’s positive features that caught investors’ attention still remain intact.

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On the date of publication, Ian Bezek did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a sizable New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.

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