Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) is a firm focused on urban air mobility. Bulls liken it to a combination of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Uber (NYSE:UBER) with the added bonus of using the atmosphere to avoid ground-based traffic congestion and terrain-induced obstacles. On paper, JOBY stock should be soaring given this appealing concept.
However, the stock has not taken flight as of yet. Part of that is due to how Joby Aviation completed its transformation to a public company. It merged with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Reinvent Technology Partners. At the time, that seemed like a logical way to go public. Now, however, investors are avoiding most SPACs, given the dreadful performance out of that sector recently.
This is a particularly difficult time to be a small unproven firm such as Joby. So many SPACs overstated their technological capabilities and gave investors an overly rosy view of the future. As SPACs slash guidance and rein in their expectations, investors have shied away from any novel business plan coming out of SPAC land. However, traders shouldn’t dismiss JOBY stock out of hand.
The first thing that makes Joby stand apart is that it didn’t come public via any old SPAC. Rather its private placement associated with the SPAC deal included top-class investors. Uber, Baupost, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, and Blackrock were among the investors that funded the deal.
That’s not even all. Prior to 2021, Joby also raised money from the likes of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ:JBLU), and Toyota (NYSE:TM). This is about as an elite a group of financial sponsors as you could hope for with a new company such as Joby Aviation.
Now, skeptics will point out that other companies with high-profile backers have failed. Theranos, for example, infamously roped in several high-profile health care firms into that scheme. So, just having Uber, Toyota and Intel among its backers doesn’t mean that Joby’s technology is guaranteed to work. It’s always smart to do your own due diligence.
That said, this investor roster is a huge validation of the firm. Anyone dismissing Joby just because it’s a SPAC is really missing the point. Joby would have attracted further capital regardless of the route it chose to go public.
A Fascinating Business Plan
Joby aims to offer ride-sharing services by the year 2024. The unique proposition is that this will be provided via electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.
Joby anticipates its vehicles being able to fly at up to 200 miles an hour, holding a charge for several hours, and carrying up to four passengers. This combination of features could allow it to offer a much faster experience than automobiles in many major metro areas. The possibilities in cities with numerous water barriers to ground transit, such as New York or San Francisco, seem particularly compelling.
Meanwhile, with the vehicle being electric and smaller than traditional helicopters, it should have much more approachable unit economics than private helicopter services. Investors may think of private helicopters now and assume the market demand is limited. However, what Joby is offering would seem to cater to significantly wider client base and potentially even reach a mass market audience in certain settings.
JOBY Stock Verdict
Joby Aviation is way too new and unproven of a concept to bet big on. However, the first company that successfully manages to generate significant traction in this business should be worth a small fortune. If Joby can be that firm, its early investors will be rewarded.
The company’s strong investor roster further suggests that something good is happening with Joby. That said, it’s a highly speculative operation, and it’s not hard to imagine a downside scenario where the company goes bust. Furthermore, the company isn’t planning to generate significant revenue in the near-term. So this will be a “concept” stock rather than a sales or earnings-based trade for awhile.
As such, this isn’t a sleep well at night sort of stock to have a large position in. If you like the concept, however, this seems like a decent place to take a toehold position.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek held a long position in INTC stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.