Headwinds fail to deter Fisker executive hiring spree

Company shuffles leadership even as it topples into delisting risk territory

Headwinds fail to deter Fisker executive hiring spree
Fisker has been struggling to deliver its Ocean SUV

California EV start-up Fisker has made another two new appointments to its executive suite, even as the firm's shares fall into penny stock territory and it faces a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into potential issues with the brakes on its sole Fisker Ocean product.

Eric Goldstein has been named head of investor relations and Beverly Lively has joined as vice-president, internal audit & controls. Goldstein will report to CFO Geeta Gupta-Fisker and Lively will report to chief accounting officer Angel Salinas, who himself was only appointed last week.

Goldstein takes charge of an investor relations division that has flagged it will be giving more frequent updates on delivery progress, as the company faces tough questions from analysts about its path to scale.

Fisker's hiring spree seems to suggest it is relatively undaunted by the risks posed either by its share price drop or the NHTSA probe.

"I am thrilled that Eric and Beverly have come to Fisker at this important time for the company,” eponymous CEO Henrik Fisker says. “Their experience will be a great addition to the Fisker team as we accelerate our growth in 2024."

Shares dipped by 6pc following the announcement, not unheard of after (likely expensive) executive appointments. But from $1.03 at the start of Tuesday trading, the drop is enough to puts Fisker shares in precarious territory at less than $1. If a firm's stock closes at less than $1/share for 30 consecutive trading days, according to Nasdaq rules it faces delisting.

Fisker shares are down by 40pc in the last thirty days and by 87pc in the last twelve months.

The NHTSA investigation is unlikely to help. It is looking into alleged partial loss of braking without warning symptoms in the Ocean SUV on low traction surfaces, resulting in a sudden increase in stopping distance.

It has received 9 complaints, with one recorded crash resulting in a single non-fatal injury.

Getting deliveries right

But not everyone is too concerned in the longer term. The firm "is investing in more robust vehicle delivery capabilities to drive increased units to customers", says Chris Pierce, research analyst at investment bank Needham — admittedly prior to Fisker's most recent share price and NHTSA travails.

"Elevated inventories [are] increasing uncertainty around the timing of a re-ramp in production," Pierce cautions. The automaker has experienced trouble with its delivery infrastructure, resulting in sluggish sales numbers despite insistence from management that demand is healthy.

But Fisker has launched what it calls an "innovative dealer partnership" — which will supplement its existing direct sales models — in an effort to counter its well-documented delivery struggles.

And Pierce expects to see "the eventual onset of a smoother production and delivery cadence increasing investor confidence in the longer-term model".

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