Over the last few months, I’ve generally been bullish on the upside potential of Churchill Capital Corp IV (NYSE:CCIV), the special purpose acquisition company that’s about to merge — barring unusual circumstances — with Lucid Motors, an electric vehicle manufacturer that could potentially challenge competitor in the space Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). Admittedly, though, it’s difficult not to feel some concern regarding recent market events if you’re holding CCIV stock.
As you probably know, the major indices did not produce an encouraging performance to start the week of July 19. Instead, they slipped noticeably, with the Dow Jones index dropping to its 50-day moving average, a common technical indicator used to gauge near-term strength. Suddenly, the bullish narrative that was in play just a few sessions ago seems to have derailed.
While the volatility doesn’t directly have anything to do with CCIV stock or the underlying business, it can eventually stymie the EV sector. As CNN reported, Covid-19 cases are surging due to the Delta variant. As a result, Covid-19-related hospitalizations and deaths are increasing, with the vast majority of cases stemming from those who were not vaccinated.
If the implications of this rise in Covid-19 infections culminates in a redo of mitigation protocols and restrictions on non-essential activities, it may send a ripple effect that could devastate CCIV stock and automotive-related investments. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of trips taken in 2020 cratered when compared to 2019.
Should government agencies call for more restrictions — a not unthinkable proposition considering what’s happening in other parts of the world — that would hit the broader personal mobility market especially hard. That’s not something that Lucid Motors needs right now when it’s trying to convince prospective investors of its ultimate goal: knocking Tesla off its perch.
Still, stakeholders might not want to hit the panic button just yet.
How CCIV Stock Could Be Insulated From the Pandemic
Ordinarily, a surge in Covid-19 cases would have me seriously rethink an automotive investment, particularly an EV-focused organization. After all, one of the biggest reasons people consider transitioning to electric from combustion is the long-term cost savings. Not only is recharging cheaper than gasoline, EVs have fewer moving parts, resulting in less maintenance work.
But if coronavirus cases send everyone back to quarantine, then an EV driver cannot actualize the cost savings inherent in the platform. In other words, both the EV and the combustion car will spend most of their time in the garage, resulting in similar operational costs.
And if that’s the case, it’s better to buy a combustion car — all other things being equal — due to its lower upfront cost than an equivalently-featured EV. Though this logic applies to most consumer-level EV manufacturers, it doesn’t quite ring true for CCIV stock.
You see, Lucid Motors isn’t targeting the guy working a dead-end nine-to-five job. Instead, the upstart enterprise is targeting the suits who are putting guys into dead-end nine-to-fivers. From its website, a base model Lucid — called the Air Pure, a euphemism if I’ve ever heard one — costs just under $70,000. That’s luxury car money.
Or from another perspective, just on the principle, you’re talking a monthly payment of $1,165 over a five-year period. Lucid is not an EV for the everyman, which is a positive in this case. Those who are even realistically considering such a vehicle are not going to be affected by rising Covid-19 cases.
If they were to be affected, we’d likely have much bigger problems on our hands.
A Worthwhile Speculative Discount
To be sure, you shouldn’t jump into CCIV stock without considering the risks. As others have stated, the glaring problem with Lucid Motors is that it’s an aspirational play. By focusing on high-end EVs, they’re approaching the most viable consumer base without any pretense of reaching out to lower-income thresholds until the technology makes this route economically feasible.
Obviously, Lucid has Tesla in its crosshairs. But the difference is that Tesla is a proven entity. In sharp contrast, Lucid has everything to prove.
But on the flipside, this dynamic does give CCIV stock a better reward potentiality. And ultimately, I liken Lucid to blue-chip art investments. Folks who invest in fine art are doing so primarily with a collector’s mentality. They’re not banking on their fine art pieces to rise in value, because they’ve already secured their wealth through other investment classes.
It’s the same principle with CCIV stock. Lucid isn’t catering to consumers who desperately need a car. Instead, it’s catering to those who simply want a luxury EV and are fully capable of forking over cash to get one. During a time of questionable economic stability, this is the place you want to be.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto 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.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.