Yes, even before the short-seller's report.
Lordstown Motors continues to face tough questions following allegations made earlier this month regarding overstated pre-order figures and the capabilities of its all-electric truck, the Tesla Cybertruck-rivaling Endurance. Hindenburg Research, the short-seller who previously released a well-researched investigative report into Nikola that ultimately led to the resignation of its CEO and co-founder, the dissolution of a major deal inked with General Motors, and a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation, issued a new report targeting Lordstown.
Alleging the Ohio-based company misled investors, specifically by exaggerating the supposed 100,000 pre-order, the SEC immediately announced an investigation. Lordstown CEO Steve Burns pledged full cooperation. However, a company filing indicates the agency was already suspicious of Lordstown weeks before the short-seller report was issued on March 12.
The filing states the following: "On February 17, 2021, the Company received a request from the SEC for the voluntary production of documents and information, including relating to the merger between DiamondPeak and Legacy Lordstown and pre-orders of vehicles. The Company is responding to the SEC's requests and intends to cooperate with its inquiry."
The merger it's referring to is the SPAC agreement made last fall that enabled Lordstown to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Hindenburg's report only added fuel to the fire and Lordstown's stock has since dropped from a high of just below $31 a share to $12.27 a share. As per the SEC's investigation, the electric truck company's leadership is fully aware of a long list of risks it currently faces.
"If we fail to scale our business operations or otherwise manage future growth effectively as we attempt to rapidly grow our company, we may not be able to produce, market, service and sell or lease our vehicles successfully," the report reads. It also points out "uncertainties related to litigation, regulatory actions and government investigations and inquiries."
Another area of concern is possible exposure to liability for infringing upon other companies' intellectual property rights, though the report states the company is "not aware of any patents and trademarks which would cause our products or their use to infringe on any third parties… we cannot be certain that infringement has not or will not occur."
Production of the Lordstown Endurance is slated to begin this September and there's been no indication so far that'll change. But a lot can happen between now and then.