What happened

Shares of electric-semi start-up Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) were trading sharply lower on Wednesday morning following the company's first quarterly earnings report since it went public in June.

While Nikola's financial results were in line with Wall Street expectations, the company didn't make any big announcements during its earnings call, disappointing auto investors who had hoped for news that could drive the stock higher.

As of 10:00 a.m. EDT, Nikola's shares were down about 8.4% from Monday's closing price.

So what

Nikola is a prerevenue start-up; analysts were expecting the company to report a loss, and their expectations were met. Nikola's net loss in the second quarter was about $86.6 million, or $0.16 per share on an adjusted basis (excluding stock-based employee compensation.

That was slightly worse than Wall Street's consensus expectation, which called for an adjusted loss of $0.13 per share, but it wasn't much of a miss -- and it's not why the stock is down today.

A silver Nikola Badger, an electric pickup truck.

Investors would have been delighted to hear that Nikola has a manufacturing partner for its electric Badger pickup -- but no news was forthcoming on Tuesday. Image source: Nikola Corporation.

Nikola's stock is down because the company missed a different set of expectations. As Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said in a note on Monday, before Nikola reported, investors were expecting news on any of several fronts.

News of (for instance) new fleet customers for Nikola's upcoming battery-electric semi, an announcement of a commercial partner for its hydrogen refueling network, or a manufacturing partner for its Badger pickup truck could have pushed the stock significantly higher.

I think the expectation that Nikola would announce something along those lines was baked into its stock price before it reported on Tuesday afternoon -- and the stock was declining on Wednesday morning because the company didn't have any big news to share.

Now what

In a new note on Wednesday, JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster said that while the company didn't announce anything big on Tuesday, big announcements -- including a partner to manufacture the Badger -- are likely not too far away. Coster reiterated his previous buy rating and $45 price target on Nikola's stock.

My take is that Coster is probably right: Nikola did confirm that it has deals in the works, and those deals will probably move the stock when they're announced -- but the company just didn't have anything ready to announce on Tuesday.

The upshot for auto investors: Take today's dip in stride.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.