QuantumScape and the EV Battery Race: Does the Bull Case Hold Up?

Stock Market

In my past coverage of QuantumScape (NYSE:QS), I have cited many factors that help to build a convincing bear case for QS stock.

However, with the release of a new sell-side rating on QS this week, there’s now a new convincing bull case out there for the EV battery company’s shares.

This latest thesis focuses primarily on the technological aspects of the overall QuantumScape story.

Admittedly, that’s an aspect to the overall story I have discussed far less often in my past write-ups. So, with these new arguments out there, has my view on this stock made a sharp shift?

Not quite. Although the analyst team behind this rating makes quite a few strong points, there may still be a few counterarguments to be made regarding this new bull case. These call into question whether now’s the time to put in that buy order.

QS Stock and Evercore ISI’s ‘Outperform’ Rating

On Sep. 18, the analyst team at Evercore ISI issued an “Outperform” rating on QuantumScape, with a $10 per share price target (it’s trading around $7 today).

In their bullish write-up on QS stock, the analysts cited possible technological advantages the company may have over competing electric vehicle battery companies.

It’s well-known that the batteries that QuantumScape is developing (anodeless and solid-state) have significant energy density advantages over the lithium ion batteries primarily used today to power EVs.

But alongside performance advantages, according to Evercore ISI, these batteries could cost materially less to produce.

This could enable the company to either have higher margins (if it chooses to build the batteries in-house), or lock down a lucrative licensing deal with one of the established battery makers.

Yet while all of this sounds promising, you may not want to run out and enter a position in QuantumScape, just based on this research note alone.

As mentioned above, there are some flaws to this bull case. As I’ll explain in greater detail below, these flaws suggest continued caution is the best move.

Two Big Flaws With the Bull Case

There are two big flaws with Evercore ISI’s bull case for QS stock. First, it’s not like this company is just around the corner from reaching the commercialization stage. As I argued previously it may be the mid-2020s when this happens.

At worst, it may take a decade, or never even happen at all. What does that mean for shares in the near-term? Rather than climbing toward $10 per share, the stock could keep sliding to account for this uncertainty.

That’s not all. The perceived cost advantages may not be as strong of a differentiator as one would think.

As I’ve also discussed in prior QS articles, many competitors, including several other publicly traded startups, are active in the solid state EV battery space.

One of the more formidable rivals, Solid Power (NASDAQ:SLDP), is already pursuing the licensing strategy the analyst believes QuantumScape could also adopt.

Solid Power’s batteries contain anodes, but this competitor also touts that its batteries are significantly cheaper (15%-35%) than lithium-ion EV batteries. Both these factors call into question Evercore ISI’s confidence that QS will seamlessly gain a large share of this market.

‘Watch and Wait’ Remains the Move to Make

Alongside the bearish counters to Evercore ISI’s arguments, other negatives also continue to dampen QS’s appeal. Only time will tell whether this EV battery contender will have the technological edge, but the clock is ticking.

If rival battery makers, whether startups like Solid Power, or established firms like Samsung SDI, get to market far sooner, QuantumScape’s commercialization potential could be hindered.

Keep in mind too that there’s a good chance QuantumScape continues to conduct dilutive capital raises (i.e. the issuance/sale of new stock) to fund further development. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I reiterate that this dilution threatens to limit the potential upside for shares.

Even after incorporating some points made by the new bull case into my view of QS stock, I’ll view it best to “watch and wait” for a better entry point to emerge.

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (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.

Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.

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