Day traders pile into EV stocks — especially Rivian

A Rivian R1T pickup truck.
Rivian’s stock has doubled its $78 IPO price and the company now sports a market value of around $150 billion, which is more than Volkswagen.
(Associated Press)

The little guy loves EV stocks — but not Tesla.

Retail investors bought $378 million in shares of electric-vehicle makers over the last week, including highflying Rivian Automotive Inc. and Lucid Group Inc., and also Ford Motor Co., according to data compiled by Vanda Research. Demand for those three blew past share purchases of Tesla Inc., whose stock has plunged about 15% since hitting an all-time high less than two weeks ago.

Rivian in particular has been a focus since its initial public offering, as the stock has doubled its IPO price of $78 and the company now sports a market value of about $150 billion, which is more than Volkswagen’s.

With shares trading way above their offering price, Rivian Automotive’s listing is the biggest globally this year.

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Demand for EV manufacturers and companies that make charging stations, such as EVgo Inc., was clear on Fidelity’s platform, where many of the top buys in recent sessions have involved the industry. The four most-bought stocks on Monday were Rivian, Tesla, Gores Guggenheim Inc. — the special purpose acquisition company that is set to merge with EV maker Polestar — and Lucid.

Some on Wall Street expect companies such as EVgo, Blink Charging Co. and QuantumScape Corp. to see increased interest as green-energy stocks broadly benefit from Tesla’s slowdown ahead of the expected passage of the so-called reconciliation bill in Congress. Tesla’s prominent role in retail portfolios means the stock’s latest moves have “created a need to rebalance and EV/green names are very well positioned to capture the demand,” said Vanda’s Ben Onatibia and Giacomo Pierantoni.

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To be clear, it’s not as if Tesla’s struggling. Its stock has surged nearly 50% this year and closed 4% higher Tuesday. The difference is Lucid has quadrupled and Ford has doubled. The recent 15% drop in Tesla shares, spurred in part by Chief Executive Elon Musk’s stock sales, has come amid Ford’s surge to a two-decade high and as Rivian’s stellar debut made it one of the auto industry’s top five companies by value.

In the day-trading community, EV-tied companies have replaced meme stocks such as AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. as the go-to buys. Indeed, retail investors were net sellers of AMC on Monday, one of the few times this year, dumping roughly $2.2 million worth of stock.

A basket of 37 meme stocks tracked by Bloomberg has gained 15% in the last three months, more than triple the gains of the S&P 500 index. The group’s top performances over that stretch include Lucid’s surge, SoFi Technologies Inc.’s rally, with its stock rising 55%, and GameStop Corp.’s nearly 30% climb.