Lucid forecasts higher 2024 capital spend, maintains production forecast; shares fall

Lucid Motors electric car company in California

By Akash Sriram and Abhirup Roy

(Reuters) -Lucid Group forecast higher capital expenditure this year and reiterated an annual production forecast below Wall Street targets on Monday amid slower-than-expected EV demand, sending its shares down nearly 9% in extended trading.

The luxury EV maker's forecast and late-day stock drop underscore potential risks for investors as once-surging EV demand cools and global competition heats up.

"From a capex perspective, we are making enhancements first in our Arizona factory because we are going from 30,000 installed capacity to 90,000," Gagan Dhingra, Lucid's interim finance chief, told Reuters. He said capital was also being spent on building a factory in Saudi Arabia.

The company said it expects capital expenditure of $1.5 billion in 2024 as it prepares to start manufacturing its Gravity SUV later this year, up from $910.6 million last year.

Lucid said it was on track to produce 9,000 cars this year, compared to the 8,428 vehicles it made last year. Seven analysts polled by Visible Alpha expected the company to make 12,677 units on average in 2024.

Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson told Reuters the firm would make just enough cars to match demand. "Otherwise, if we just turn on the faucets and produce, then we're left with a big inventory, which would be imprudent."

He added in a conference call with analysts that the company expects a seasonal sales slowdown globally in the third quarter as consumers take vacation breaks.

Backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the firm is also set to start production of a more affordable mid-size car in late 2026 and its Gravity SUV this year, to attract a larger customer base.

"Lucid's results were more of the same. Unsustainable margins, a high cash rate and no change to full-year production guidance. Not a lot of reason for optimism," said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research.

The sovereign wealth fund, which has invested billions in Lucid, added another $1 billion to the EV maker's balance sheet.

The company ended the first quarter with cash and cash-equivalents of $2.17 billion, compared with $1.37 billion in the fourth quarter of last year.

Lucid had cut prices of its flagship Air sedans in February by as much as 10% to spur sales.

Revenue for the first quarter was $172.7 million, topping analysts' estimate of $156.99 million, according to LSEG data, while it reported a net loss of $684.76 million, narrower than a $779.5 million loss a year earlier.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru and Abhirup Roy in San Francisco; Editing by Pooja Desai)