4 Factors That Are Popping the EV Stock Bubble
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4 Factors That Are Popping the EV Stock Bubble

Electric-vehicle investors are going through a brutal stretch after an epic year.

By Al Root
Thu, May 13, 2021 11:55amGrey Clock 2 min

Shares fell hard across the sector on Wednesday as concern about inflation joined the list of worries dragging on the shares. Stock in Tesla (ticker: TSLA), the leader of the EV pack, dropped 4.4% Wednesday, closing below $600 a share for the first time since early March. Shares closed near the low of the day.

The average drop among the EV stocks Barron’s tracks was about 3%. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.1%, 2% and 2.7%, respectively.

Behind all those declines was news early in the day that consumer prices increased 4.2% year over year in April, far higher than the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. In April 2020, of course, things were falling apart, sending prices lower, amid Covid-19 lockdowns, so the gain was relative to a low base. But the March to April pickup in prices, excluding food and energy, was 0.9%. That rate equals full-year inflation of more than 11%.

Inflation that high is like a parasite, eating into savings and sucking energy out of the economy. It also tends to hurt stock valuations, especially those of expensive growth companies that are expected to generate most of their cash flows far in the future. Higher inflation means higher bond yields, which reduce the current value of future cash flows, partly because higher rates give investors options to earn more interest on their money right now.

Wednesday’s inflation-fueled declines are just the tip of the iceberg, though, for EV companies. Tesla stock is down about 34% from its January 52-week high of more than $900 a share. The average drop from 52-week highs for the rest of the EV names is about 70%. Investors just don’t have the appetite for more speculative, higher-growth stocks in the current environment.

Stock in Churchill Capital Acquisition Corp. IV (CCIV), the SPAC merging with Lucid Motors, is down about 73% from its 52-week high. Hyliion (HYLN) shares are down about 86%. And the Chinese EV makers NIO (NIO), XPeng (XPEV) and Li Auto (LI) have fallen an average of about 45% from their 52-week highs.

Inflation is just the latest problem for the stocks. More competition in the EV business, with traditional auto makers pouring billions into developing vehicles, is one problem. At the same time, the global shortage of semiconductors is constraining automotive production around the globe, making it hard for EV makers to benefit from red-hot demand for cars and rising gasoline price.

What is more, many of the new EV companies became public by merging with special-purpose acquisition companies. Many SPAC stocks, not just the EV-related ones, are struggling. The Defiance Next Gen SPAC Derived ETF (SPAK) is down 34% from its February 52-week high.

A dozen EV-SPAC companies Barron’s tracks are now down 15% over the past year on average. Only five remain above their SPAC merger price of $10 a share: Lucid, Fisker (FSR), Arrival (ARVL), QuantumScape (QS), and Nikola (NKLA).

Investors might believe that means those are the long-term winners among the EV SPAC stocks. But it is also possible their higher prices mean there is still further to fall.

Reprinted by permission of Barron’s. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 12, 2021.



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Savvy travellers who plan their trips around dining at their destination’s most in-demand restaurants know that securing a reservation at a top Paris eatery isn’t an easy proposition on any given day.

Come the Olympics in July, when the city is flooded with tourists, one would expect the jockey sport to snag a table to be that much more intense. But that’s not necessarily shaping up to be the case. As of mid-May, Parisian insiders such as hotel managers, restaurant owners, and local luxury concierges reported that inquiries at sought-after spots were no higher than usual, foretelling a potential opportunity for visitors looking for a fine-dining experience during the games.

The time to book falls over the next few weeks given that many top spots don’t take reservations until one month before the dining date.

The Michelin-starred Jean Imbert Au Plaza Athenee and Le Relais Plaza, both at Hotel Plaza Athenee and helmed by the renowned French chef Jean Imbert, are two examples.

Francois Delahaye, the COO of the Dorchester Collection, a hospitality company that includes the Plaza Athenee and a second Paris property, Le Meurice, says that his regular guests who are visiting for the games and Parisians who frequent the restaurants know not to call too far in advance of when they want to dine.

Further, he doesn’t foresee reservations being a challenge at either venue or at Le Meurice’s two-Michelin-starred Restaurant Le Meurice Alain Ducasse.

“Booking for the restaurants won’t be an issue because people are planning meals at the last minute,” Delahaye says. “Also, the people who are in Paris specifically for the Olympics are here for the games, not to eat at restaurants. They’re not the big-spending clientele that we usually get.”

Delahaye doesn’t expect the kinds of peak crowds that descend on fine dining during Fashion Week each spring and autumn, for example, when trying to land a seat at the three eateries is nearly impossible. “People are fighting to get in,” he says. “You need to book through your hotel’s concierge, have an inside source, or be a hotel or restaurant regular.”

Several Paris luxury concierge companies echoed Delahaye’s perspective

Manuel de Croutte, the founder of Exclusive & Private, says that Paris regulars probably aren’t planning a trip when the Olympics transpire—from July 26 to Aug. 11—because they want to avoid the tourist rush. “We’ve gotten some reservation requests from people who’ve heard about us but not nearly as many as we usually get when the very wealthy travellers are here,” he says.

During peak periods like the French Open or Fashion Week, de Croutte says that his job entails making bookings for travellers who don’t have any other way to get into buzzy or Michelin-starred establishments.

“You’re unlikely to get a table at a see-and-be-seen place without knowing someone,” de Croutte says. “No one picks up the phone or answers email.” He says his team has established relationships with managers and owners of many of the hot spots in Paris and often visits them in person to land tables.

Exclusive & Private’s Black Book of Paris restaurant recommendations for Olympic visitors span a broad range, from casual bistros to fine-dining.

Michelin eateries include the three-star Le Gabriel at La Reserve, the two-star Le Clarence near the Champs-Elysee, and the two-star Le Taillevent.

Spots without a Michelin star but equally notable are also on de Croutte’s list: L’ Ami Jean offers traditional and flavourful southwestern French cuisine, Allard is a brasserie from Alain Ducasse, and Laurent serves French food to a fashionable set.

“My favourite neighbourhood for restaurants is Saint Germain de Pres,” de Croutte says. “You’ll find unassuming but chic names with excellent food and a great vibe. You can book with these places directly if you’re here for the Olympics, but don’t wait until the last minute because they will get filled.”

He also cautions that some Paris eateries are asking for nonrefundable prepayments for reservations during the Olympics.

“Be sure you want to go before committing and ask about the refund policy if you are charged,” he says.

Stephanie Boutet-Fajol, the founder of Sacrebleu Paris, says her bespoke travel company charges a lump sum of about US$750 to make all the restaurant bookings for the Olympic period, though the price varies depending on the dates and the number of restaurants that a client requests. “Reservations around the closing ceremony are harder to come by because that’s when more elite travelers are coming to Paris and want the chic restaurants that are always difficult to get a table at,” she says.

Meanwhile, chefs at some Michelin-starred restaurants share that they have tables available during the Olympics and welcome travellers to their establishments.

Thibaut Spiwack, for one, behind the Michelin-starred Anona, serving modern French cuisine, and the culinary consultant for the popular Netflix series Emily in Paris , says that he is open for reservations.

“My team and I look forward to sharing a culinary experience with new clientele that I hope will remain in their memory,” he says.

Spiwack suggests that travellers check out other worthwhile restaurants where he himself dines. For terrific wine, there’s Lava, and for Italian, he likes Epoca where the pastas are “divine.” Janine is the best bistro in town, and Prima wins for a pizza fix, he says.

“You have a lot of restaurants in Paris to pick from,” Spiwack says. “You just need to determine where you want to go, and book as soon as you can.”