Stocks to sell

Why Investors Shouldn’t Rush to Buy Lidar Leader LAZR Stock

Changing market conditions over the past year have had a severe impact on the performance of Luminar Technologies (NASDAQ:LAZR) stock.

In 2020 and 2021, when investors were in “growth at any price” mode, shares in this provider of self-driving technology to the automotive industry were flying high.

But with the shift in market sentiment about speculative growth stocks, this stock has reversed course in a big way. Since 2021, the bubble that emerged in both electric vehicle (or EV) stocks as well as autonomous driving (self-driving) stocks has deflated considerably.

The market has realized mass adoption of both technologies remains many years away. More recently, external and industry-specific factors have hurt the stock’s performance as well.

This could continue to be the case in the immediate future. However, you may still want to keep Luminar on your radar (pun intended). Why? Let’s dive in, and find out.

LAZR Luminar Technologies $7.70

LAZR Stock Slump Will Continue

If you expect sentiment for Luminar Technologies to do a 180 anytime soon, don’t hold your breath. For starters, the rise in interest rates will likely continue to affect its performance in the months ahead.

So far in 2022, growth stocks in particular, have been knocked lower by the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes.

With the exit from a near-zero interest rate environment, investors have become much more mindful about valuation. This has pushed LAZR stock lower, as the market applies a greater discount to its future potential growth. As rates keep rising, this will likely continue.

Not only that, but uncertainty about the self-driving trend also stands to continue negatively affecting the stock in the short term.

As analysts from Northland Securities pointed out in their recent downgrade of Luminar, the adoption of Luminar’s lidar, or laser radar, self-driving technology is taking longer than expected.

Now does not appear to be the right time to buy this stock. It may re-test its 52-week low of $5.61 per share or hit a new low before it even starts to make a comeback.

That said, if the issues holding it back start to clear up, Luminar could become a worthwhile opportunity.

The Long-Term May be a Different Story

While bearish on LAZR stock in the short term, I’ll admit my view could change down the road. It all depends on two things.

First, the macro issues knocking it lower right now need to clear up. This may take some time, but it’s inevitable this will eventually happen, as it’s happened following past cycles of economic uncertainty.

Second, and more importantly, it needs to become clear that lidar technology is on track to become widely used. This, in turn, hinges on partial or full autonomous driving technology becoming commonplace.

The jury’s still out whether this will be a niche premium feature or something that becomes mandatory on all vehicles.

Yet if its eventual usage falls somewhere in between, it could mean tremendous growth for Luminar. As J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee has recently argued, Luminar is positioned to be the lidar industry leader.

If the auto industry makes lidar-powered self-driving technology standard on vehicles, per Chatterjee’s numbers, the company could generate $6 billion in annual revenue by 2030.

Chatterjee also forecasts earnings per share (or EPS) to hit $7.25 that year. That’s just a little bit under LAZR’s current stock price.

Bottom Line on LAZR Stock

If Chatterjee’s forecast proves accurate, Luminar Technologies shares would undoubtedly make a big comeback, and then some.

Forget about it simply re-hitting its all-time high of $41.80 per share. Generating $7.25 per share in EPS would send it to prices well above this past high-water mark, perhaps even to prices well above $100 per share.

However, keep in mind more needs to come out that signals lidar technology will become a common automotive feature. Between now and when this happens, Luminar stock could continue to struggle as market conditions continue to work against it.

With this, there’s no need to rush into LAZR stock right away. Even if you’re already bullish that self-driving technology (and in particular lidar technology) is going to become widely used, the opportunity to buy it at an even more favorable price could emerge.

LAZR stock earns a C rating in my Portfolio Grader.

On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.