In a filing Thursday night with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nikola acknowledged seven “Inaccurate” statements that Milton, who left the company in September, allegedly made between July 2016 and July 2020 about the company’s progress in developing hydrogen and electric trucks. He also listed two other statements attributed to the company during that time when Milton was CEO.
All of the statements listed in the filing were mentioned among the allegations made in a short September vendor report by Hindenburg Research. Nikola acknowledged, in the filing, that the statements listed “were inaccurate in whole or in part when made.”
Nikola and Milton had in the past denied Hindenburg’s allegations. And in Thursday’s filing, the company said that some of the allegations made by Hindbenburg had turned out to be inaccurate by an independent investigation commissioned by the company.
Milton remains the largest shareholder in the company, with more than 20% of his shares, despite his departure and the federal investigation into his alleged false statements.
Attorneys representing Milton in some of the legal actions surrounding the company did not respond to a request for comment on the filing.
The statements listed as inaccurate include a 2016 claim that Nikola had already designed a zero-emission truck and a 2020 statement that he had five trucks ready to roll off the assembly line. Milton also said in late 2019 and again in mid-2020 that Nikola “can produce” more than 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen at the company’s demonstration stations and that he had brought the cost of hydrogen “down” to $ 3 a kilogram. .
Nikola’s filing also revealed that his costs associated with regulatory and legal matters soared to $ 24.7 million in 2020, with $ 19.5 million of that in the fourth quarter. The company also set aside $ 8.1 million for Milton’s legal fees under its contract with him, even though he left the company on September 20, the day after he received the federal subpoena. He has paid $ 1.5 million of that so far.
On Thursday night, the company reported a loss of $ 147.1 million in the fourth quarter, compared to a loss of $ 26.3 million in the same period a year earlier. During the year, Nikola lost $ 384.3 million, four times the loss he posted in 2019.
The company said it is still on track to deliver its first semi, the Nikola Tre, to customers before the end of this year. But during a conference call Thursday, he revised the number of vehicles he expects to deliver in 2021 to just about 100. At a price of about $ 300,000 per truck, that would give Nikola about $ 30 million in revenue. It has collected virtually no sales revenue to date.
Nikola went public in June 2020 and its shares soared quickly, doubling in value in a day shortly after they went public. In August, the company announced a deal with a major garbage company for up to 5,000 electric garbage trucks that it had not yet designed. In September, just days before the short seller made the allegations about the company’s claims, Nikola announced a deal. General motors (GM) an 11% stake in Nikola and the two automakers to cooperate on an electric van.
But stocks collapsed in the wake of the allegations and have never recovered. It was trading at less than half its value on Friday before the allegations were made public. The garbage truck deal was dropped and GM pulled out as well.
The company said it will now focus on heavy trucks and hydrogen filling stations.
“In the fourth quarter of 2020, Nikola made the necessary changes to reorient and realign the company,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell said in announcing the company’s results Thursday.