I don’t think I’ve ever come across a negative opinion about Fisker (NYSE:FSR) founder Henrik Fisker. A legendary automotive designer – one that’s responsible for my personal favorite, the BMW (OTCMKTS:BMWYY) Z8 – Fisker’s design language is found in several iconic cars. Fortunately, it’s also emblematic in the upcoming Ocean SUV. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d own FSR stock.
Sure, it sounds trivial and petty. But I don’t think I would have bothered with FSR stock if the underlying company decided to come out with something that looked like the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Cybertruck. Genuinely, I appreciate the ingenuity that buttresses the platform. But I just can’t see myself driving something that looks like something out of Robocop – and I’m referring to the 1987 version.
Scoff all you want, but design is a crucial element of the automotive business, perhaps the most important element. Ultimately, the justification process of your purchase rests heavily on the features: performance stats, cargo capacity, safety mechanism, fuel efficiency or range and of course price. But the mistake is thinking that these attributes got the discussion started.
No. Instead, you found a vehicle that captured your attention. From there, you initiated the affordability discussion. But that discussion would most likely never have happened if you weren’t attracted to the car in the first place.
That’s how I ended up with an American car recently. Well, sort of. Following the ridiculousness of the used car market, I took advantage and sold my clunkers (for an unfathomable post-pandemic premium). My idea was to buy a Japanese SUV. But everybody wanted them and I couldn’t justify the surcharge.
Instead, I bought a BMW X3 – an American-built German car. Normally, it’s not a decision I would make but man, is this a sexy beast!
FSR Stock Leads While the Competition Follows
Is the above an anecdotal narrative? Sure. But let’s be real – FSR stock is a narrative-based investment. A quick look at its income statement reveals that Fisker is what the kids call a pre-revenue company. It does have net income though only of the negative variety.
Therefore, we arrive at what critics say is the most difficult component of the thesis behind FSR stock. People can gawk all they want at the pictures of the Fisker Ocean SUV. Until the company starts rolling out these electric vehicles off the assembly line, these folks are observers, not consumers.
Still, my counterargument is that there’s nothing really special per say about production. What matters, especially in the case of Fisker’s alliance with Magna International (NYSE:MGA), is not the ability to produce but rather the catalyst to do so.
Again, if Magna saw that Fisker was designing an avantgarde platform that may gain respect 50 years down the line, I don’t think its management team would bother. I’ve got to believe it saw Fisker’s vision and said, let’s do this thing.
Don’t make the mistake that the emphasis on design is some fanciful opinion that few care about. In fact, Toyota (NYSE:TM) president and CEO Akio Toyoda made a deliberate effort to shed his company’s image of producing safe, reliable but otherwise uninspiring vehicles. Instead, Toyota has done something it would rather have its customers not do: take risks and big ones at that.
From facelifting the always reliable, always boring Camry to a joint venture with BMW to produce the long-awaited next-generation Supra, Toyota has gradually shifted the needle.
Are the features and performance stats improved from prior-gen models? I’m sure. But what’s getting people through those dealership doors is the redesign.
So, what better for FSR stock than to be interwoven with possibly the world’s greatest automotive designer?
Risks Abound, But So Does the Opportunity
Granted, you don’t want to dive into FSR stock without considering the risks. Please, don’t let my words – or anyone else’s – be the sole guiding light for this investment decision.
Among the headwinds that might keep you up at night is the competition. Frankly, similar outfits haven’t performed very well. Although they’re not direct rivals, companies such as Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ:RIDE) and Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS) have not lived up to the early hype, disappointing many shareholders. The same could happen to FSR stock.
Still, I look at it this way. In a highly competitive automotive market, the one factor that will distinguish a certain company from the rest is design. With Fisker, the hard part is done and over with. Now come the business components, which are challenging but in my view, easier to overcome.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto held a LONG position in FSR. 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.