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Luminar CFO defends lidar maker’s pricing and income

A Mercedes-Benz van retrofitted with several types of lidar methods, together with Luminar’s Iris, to showcase the variations within the applied sciences.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Lidar maker Luminar Technologies, stung by a latest Wall Road downgrade, is responding in an uncommon manner: taking its case on to the shareholders.

In a letter seen by CNBC on Friday morning, Luminar CFO Tom Fennimore – himself a former Goldman Sachs managing director – takes challenge with arguments made in a bearish be aware by Goldman analyst Mark Delaney earlier this week.

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Delaney on Tuesday afternoon cut Goldman’s rating on Luminar to promote, from maintain, arguing that its shares are overpriced relative to key opponents and that Luminar’s personal pricing assumptions are unrealistically excessive.

Luminar’s shares have fallen about 16% since Delaney’s be aware was printed.

“We proceed to see Luminar as considered one of a handful of leaders within the very aggressive lidar business,” Delaney wrote. “Nonetheless, we see draw back to the corporate’s margin outlook with the corporate concentrating on income per automobile of ~$1k which we consider implies ASPs [average selling prices] roughly 50-100% increased than key opponents.”

Merely put, whereas Delaney acknowledges that Luminar is considered one of only some lidar makers successful offers with main automakers, he thinks that Luminar will not be capable to get the costs it is hoping to get from these automakers. And primarily based on 2025 income assumptions, he sees Luminar buying and selling at 4 instances the valuation of opponents Innoviz and Hesai, each of which have additionally gained enterprise from automakers.   

Fennimore argues that Delaney missed two key factors.

“One, our tech is healthier, and other people sometimes pay a premium for tech, however to us this is not a theoretical train: That is pricing that we even have in place,” Fennimore advised CNBC in an interview on Friday morning.

Fennimore’s letter factors out that Luminar has already signed contracts to supply {hardware} and software program for over 20 upcoming new vehicles from major automakers together with Volvo, Polestar, Mercedes-Benz and Chinese language auto big SAIC Motor. These contracts lock in pricing by way of the lifetime of these upcoming fashions, he mentioned.

“‘Premium pricing’ is not a theoretical idea we’re forecasting, however an achievement we now have already made in our main buyer contracts,” Fennimore wrote within the shareholder letter.

And the second level Fennimore says Goldman missed: The timeframe Delaney selected to match Luminar’s valuation in opposition to these of its rivals.

“We consider utilizing 2025 income as a valuation benchmark versus friends dramatically undervalues Luminar, as lots of the 20+ automobile strains we now have been awarded should not anticipated to succeed in manufacturing till past 2025,” he wrote.

Put one other manner, a few of the huge contracts that Luminar has already signed will not generate important income till these automobiles launch within the second half of the last decade, Fennimore mentioned.

The choice to take the rebuttal on to Luminar’s shareholders is uncommon, however Fennimore believes it is warranted – and he hinted that Luminar would possibly select to ship extra letters like this sooner or later.

“Every time anyone raises legitimate and considerate issues about us, we wish to reply with legitimate and considerate information,” Fennimore advised CNBC. “As a result of I feel the capital markets depend on having an excellent and factual debate.”

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