The dust seems to be settling when it comes to Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN). Thus far in 2023, RIVN stock has moved down just 2%.
In the eyes of investors, the worst may appear to be priced in. As you may recall, RIVN collapsed in price during 2022, as investors responded to high inflation, rising interest rates and slowing economic growth.
So, with these issues potentially easing, and the fact that the EV megatrend could start to reaccelerate, does this mean a big recovery is in the cards for Rivian? Not so fast.
Even as this early stage EV maker is likely to continue ramping up production, it may not be enough to spark a partial rebound over the next two years. Much less, a full return to its past highs.
The Current Situation With RIVN Stock
Over the past few months, most headlines related to Rivian have been negative in nature. For instance, earlier this month, the company reported full-year delivery numbers for 2022 that fell short of its target, albeit slightly (24,337 versus 25,000).
That said, the market is well aware of Rivian’s myriad of headwinds, and has repriced it accordingly. At $18 per share, RIVN stock today trades for nearly 90% below its all-time high closing price of $172.01. Chances are, shares are not at risk of experiencing another similarly-sized decline.
Despite missing its already-walked back 2022 production target, with the company now producing around 10,000 of its vehicles quarterly, full-year production numbers for this year are likely to come in ahead of last year’s figures. With around $13.2 billion in cash on hand, this early stage EV company has sufficient cash to cover short-term losses.
These factors could keep the stock steady this year. Or, perhaps help it move slightly higher, as investors warm back up to risk-on plays. Yet while RIVN could perform much better in 2023 than it did in 2022, that doesn’t mean what’s transpiring is the start of an epic comeback.
Rising Competition Clouds Future Prospects
Rivian may be moving ahead with increased production. Given the automaker’s reservation backlog totaling 114,000 (as of Nov. 7), it likely has sufficient demand to turn this year’s expected increased production into sales.
Then again, maybe not. EV adoption is expected to take a breather over the next 12 months, in large part due to the current economic challenges. Many reservation holders could cancel. Even when looking beyond the near term, to 2024 and 2025, the company’s prospects are cloudy.
Besides the boost provided by the EV bubble, the reason why RIVN stock commanded such a high valuation right after its 2021 debt was due to the presumption that it would ultimately produce hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of vehicles per year.
However, even as this market is expanding, competition could limit future growth, and I’m not just talking about Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). The yet-to-be released Cybertruck could theoretically leave Rivian’s flagship R1T electric pickup in the dust, but a larger competitive threat may be the electric truck offerings from incumbent automakers such as Ford (NYSE:F). Ford reportedly sold more electric trucks than Rivian during December.
My Rivian Stock Price Target for 2025
Although the company is slated to continue growing at a rapid clip, long-term forecasts still call for negative earnings in 2023, 2024, and 2025. Given rising competition, beating current sales growth expectations may prove difficult over the next two years.
Even if the company merely meets expectations between now and 2025, RIVN may stay stuck at prices at or around current levels. If sales growth stalls, results could fall short of expectations. Rivian’s losses could narrow much more slowly than currently anticipated.
If this occurs, and cash burn remains high, this EV maker may have to raise more capital on dilutive terms. In turn, pushing the stock lower between now and 2025.
With more out there suggesting middling or negative performance in the coming years, RIVN stock is not an appealing comeback play at current prices.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (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.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.
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