What happened

Shares of Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) climbed 8% higher on Monday morning following some positive commentary on the company from analysts at J.P. Morgan. The year is ending on a sour note for Nikola, but some on Wall Street expect a more positive news flow surrounding the company in 2021.

So what

Nikola packed a lot into 2020. The electric truck start-up made a well-received public debut early in the year, but the stock has collapsed in recent months on accusations it overhyped its products and following the resignation of founder and former executive chairman Trevor Milton.

A prototype Nikola truck.

Image source: Nikola.

An important partnership with General Motors was downsized, and last week a deal with Republic Services to develop green trash trucks was terminated.

In a note Monday, J.P. Morgan's Paul Coster lowered his price target on Nikola to $35 from $40 on execution risk related to what he calls a "tarnished brand." But he kept his overweight rating on the stock, saying he's optimistic the company can turn a corner in 2021.

The news flow out of Nikola should be "less drama-filled" and should generally be more positive in the months to come, according to Coster. He believes Nikola is set up well to continue development on its heavy truck.

Now what

Coster's year-end 2021 price target of $35 is 143% higher than where the stock trades as of this writing, which is likely attracting a lot of investor attention on Monday.

The analyst is right in arguing that if you are able to strip away the drama and setbacks there is real potential in the underlying business. There's also a lot of execution risk, and plenty that could go wrong as Nikola tries to compete with existing truck makers and other green technologies.

The shine is off Nikola, and it might never be the growth story some investors had hoped it would be when it went public. But the note if nothing else is a reminder it is too early to give up on the company completely.

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