Charged: Analyst Sees Apple Announcing EV Partnership In 2021

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Welcome to The Fly's latest edition of "Charged," where we look at some analysts' notes, news and activity in the electric vehicle and clean energy space.


Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives views reports that EV talks with Nissan (NSANY) were dissolved as part of a detailed process while Apple (AAPL) picks its electric vehicle and autonomous partner. The analyst believes at this point it's a matter of "when not if" Apple will enter the EV race over the next few years. While the timing of an EV partnership remains a key focus of the Street and EV industry over the coming months, Ives assigns a 85%-plus chance that Apple will announce an EV partnership/collaboration over the next 3 to 6 months. With U.S. auto stalwarts GM (GM) and Ford (F) announcing very aggressive EV endeavors over the past few weeks along with Jaguar and a Biden-driven green tidal wave on the horizon, the analyst believes now is the time for Apple to dive into the deep end of the pool on the EV front. He has an Outperform rating and a price target of $175 on Apple's shares.

On Friday, Bloomberg's Edward Ludlow, Gabrielle Coppola, and Mark Gurman reported that Apple has held discussions with multiple suppliers of self-driving car sensors known as LiDAR as it continues working on a driverless vehicle project. Apple, which has "several years of work ahead" on an autonomous car, is looking to outside vendors and the ongoing discussions are a sign that "Apple has yet to settle on a preferred supplier for lidar and that it's likely mulling a range of options, including a heavily customized version of the sensors," according to the report. Publicly traded makers of automotive LiDAR systems include Velodyne Lidar (VLDR) and Luminar (LAZR).


 Tesla (TSLA) is closing in on an agreement to make electric vehicles in India for the first time, opening up a new growth opportunity after setting up production in China, Bloomberg's Saritha Rai reported. Tesla has picked Karnataka, a southern state whose capital is Bangalore, for its first plant, the state's chief minister said.

Commenting on the news, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives noted that with the Berlin build out set to be completed this year and Tesla in the midst of building out its "gargantuan Austin Cybertruck factory," he has long believed that India was next on the docket for the company in 2021/2022. The analyst thinks India represents another key strategic market for Tesla and could represent 5%-plus of global sales by 2026 for Tesla. He has a Neutral rating and a price target of $950 on the shares.


Electric vehicle maker Lucid Motors is nearing a deal to go public at a roughly $12B valuation via Michael Klein's Churchill Capital Corp IV (CCIV), Joshua Franklin and Anirban Sen of Reuters reported earlier this week, citing people familiar with the matter. The merger between Lucid and Churchill Capital would be bigger than the electric vehicle deals that brought Nikola (NKLA) and Fisker (FSR) public through special purpose acquisition companies, Franklin and Sen pointed out. Churchill has initiated talks with investors to raise more than $1B by selling shares in a private investment in public equity transaction for the deal with Lucid, sources told Reuters. These funds would be in addition to the $2B Churchill Capital raised in an initial public offering in July, and Franklin and Sen added. Lucid and Klein have agreed on the key terms of the deal, according to Reuters' sources.


Shares of QuantumScape (QSwere in the spotlight earlier this week after the electric vehicle-battery startup said in a letter to investors that it was able to produce multilayer battery cells, a crucial hurdle in the development of its technology. Soros Fund Management also disclosed on Tuesday a $4.6B stake in QuantumScape.


R.F. Lafferty analyst Jaime Perez initiated coverage of Fisker with a Buy rating and $23 price target. The market for electric vehicles has increased "dramatically" over the past several years, noted Perez, who pointed out that Fisker plans to introduce a prototype of its Ocean all-electric SUV in mid-2021, launch production of the Ocean in late 2022, and has a stated goal to become a "premium automaker producing more than 100,000 units."


Credit Suisse analyst Andrew Kuske reinstated coverage of Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP) with a Neutral rating and $47 price target following a brief period of restriction. Kuske regards Brookfield as a best in class developer of long-dated renewable power and a savvy purchaser of distressed assets, but feels several areas to watch include a renewed focus on TransAlta Corporation (TAC), a potential acceleration of Brookfield's capital program delivering projects in the pipeline along with expanding into accelerated re-power efforts like Shepherds Flat as per the fourth quarter results, and an array of capital deployment potential.


Northland analyst Gus Richard raised the firm's price target on SolarEdge (SEDG) to $210 from $195 as he rolled forward his estimates to 2022. However, the analyst kept an Underperform rating on the shares after the company missed his non-GAAP gross margin and operating margin estimates. SolarEdge's solar business continues to underperform Enphase Energy's (ENPH), contended Richard, who also thinks SolarEdge's battery and e-mobility acquisitions have been met with investor enthusiasm but will create margin and operating profit headwinds.

Roth Capital analyst Philip Shen raised the firm's price target on SunPower (SPWR) to $40 from $16, while keeping a Neutral rating on the shares. The analyst noted that while SunPower provided mixed results/guidance, management is improving gross margins, and there seems to be more ahead. Shen estimates 2021 adjusted EBITDA of about $130M, a 9% margin on $1.5B of revenue, and believes the stock might "take a breather."

Keeping an Outperform rating on SunPower's shares, Baird analyst Ben Kallo raised his price target on the stock to $49 from $20. The analyst noted revenues were better-than-expected and said he anticipates strong tailwinds and continued fundamental momentum.

JPMorgan analyst Mark Strouse also increased the firm's price target on SunPower to $28 from $25, while maintaining a Neutral rating on the shares following quarterly results.

Disclaimer: TheFly's news is intended for informational purposes only and does not claim to be actionable for investment decisions. Read more at  more

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