What happened

Shares of electric-truck start-up Nikola (NKLA -0.10%) are trading lower on Tuesday morning since a key Wall Street analyst gave the stock a mixed review in a new note.

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, Nikola's shares are down about 10.8% from Monday's closing price.

So what

In a note on Tuesday morning, RBC auto analyst Joseph Spak initiated coverage on Nikola with the equivalent of a hold rating and a price target of $46. 

Spak's take on Nikola is a mixed one. On the one hand, its plan to offer hydrogen fuel-cell trucks in a lease package that includes refueling at Nikola-owned stations is a promising one that could spur wider adoption, Spak wrote, helping Nikola capture more of the trucking value chain. 

A red Nikola semi is shown pulling a trailer with Anheuser-Busch logos.

Nikola hopes to begin producing its electric big rigs by the end of 2021. Image source: Nikola.

But on the other hand, right now, Nikola is more like a business plan than like a business. The company has no revenue and won't until late next year at the earliest, and its technology -- lower-cost fuel cells and breakthrough battery chemistry -- has yet to be tested in the real world. 

Spak's price target is based on his estimates of Nikola's sales and earnings in 2028, discounted at a rate of 15%. 

Now what

I think Spak's take is a fair one. Nikola has genuinely promising technology, real partners, and an intriguing business plan -- but it also has yet to show auto investors that it can execute that plan.

Nikola has promised to reveal more details on its products, including its much-talked-about Badger pickup, at an event in Phoenix in early December. But investors won't have to wait that long for an update on the company's progress: It'll make its first quarterly earnings report as a public company sometime in the next few weeks.