Nikola Crashes To Session Lows After Citron Joins Hindenburg In Calling It A "Total Fraud"

Update 1015AM EST: And the hits just keep on coming. Just two hours after Nikola issued a brief press release dismissing the fraud allegations from Hindenburg Research, another notable short seller, Citron Research, joined the crusade against Nikola, when Andrew Leff tweeted "Congrats to Hindenburg for exposing what appears to be a total fraud with $NKLA.  Citron will cover half of all legal expenses. You can’t SLAPP the truth away.  Explains why Milton sold at $10 this June  $NKLA response warrants an SEC investigation to maintain integrity of EV mkt."

The news sent NKLA stock to fresh session lows, crashing as much as 13% to $32, as investors start asking if GM's latest $2 billion "investment" wasn't the biggest corporate dupe of the decade.

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Update 0846AM EST: Nikola has published a brief response to yesterday's almost 100 page report by Hindenburg Research on Friday morning. A press release, which does not debunk individual points of the report, simply says the company will refute allegations, then mentions that Nikola hired a law firm and will bring the actions of the short seller to the SEC:

“Yesterday, an activist short-seller whose motivation is to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in our stock price published a so-called “report” replete with misleading information and salacious accusations directed at our founder and executive chairman. To be clear, this was not a research report and it is not accurate. This was a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed.

We have nothing to hide and we will refute these allegations. They have already taken up more time and attention than they deserve. We have retained leading law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to evaluate potential legal recourse, including with respect to the activist short seller and any others acting in concert.

Nikola also intends to bring the actions of the activist short-seller, together with evidence and documentation, to the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

We respect the rights of investors and the integrity of the market and will be back to you after we have advanced the process with the SEC.

Most importantly, Nikola remains focused on delivering on the promises we’ve made to our stakeholders.”

Headlines started hitting the wire on Friday morning: 

  • NIKOLA SAYS SHORT SELLER REPORT IS NOT ACCURATE
  • NIKOLA SAYS MAY TAKE LEGAL ACTION, WILL BRING TO SEC ATTENTION
  • NIKOLA RESPONDS TO SHORT SELLER REPORT BY HINDENBURG
  • NIKOLA: 'NOTHING TO HIDE', REFUTES ALLEGATIONS

Nikola did not appear to answer any of the 53 questions that Hindenburg Research posed at the bottom of its report that was issued on Thursday morning. Some in the industry did not seem to be won over by the company's response:

One short seller even had it pinned yesterday...

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Update 9/10/2020 0939AM EST: Nikola's CEO has responded on Twitter, saying he "needs a few hours" to respond to the report. 

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Nikola shares are selling off pre-market in response to a new report from Hindenburg Research, which calls it an "intricate fraud" based on conversations with former employees.

"Today, we reveal why we believe Nikola is an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies over the course of its Founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton’s career," the report claims.

"We have gathered extensive evidence—including recorded phone calls, text messages, private emails and behind-the-scenes photographs—detailing dozens of false statements by Nikola Founder Trevor Milton. We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size."

The report was followed by Tweets that appear to show various types of deception from the company. For example, one Tweet claims that Nikola's "One" semi truck was just rolling down a hill in a video where the company claimed it was "in motion.

Similar claims seem to show that the Nikola One was not powered on its own during its 2016 reveal, previously called into question by Bloomberg several months. Rather, the report notes there was 

The report calls the reveal a "total farce".

Additionally, the report points out that inverters claimed to be made in-house from Nikola appear to have been bought from another company, with pieces of masking tape covering up their logo.

The report also questions some key hires at Nikola.

And calls into question the company's supposed battery technology. 

The report comes just days after Nikola inked a partnership with General Motors, wherein GM would be supplying Nikola with fuel cells and production capacity - leaving many to wonder what, if anything Nikola was bringing to the deal. We imagine those skeptics will want to dig through this morning's report.

You can read the entire report here.