What happened

While electric vehicle start-up companies seemingly have a lot of potential, until there is progress with the products themselves, many trade on analyst opinions and speculation. Today, three such companies are experiencing a mix of news and downgrades. Nikola (NKLA -1.65%) reported a new business collaboration Thursday, and shares were trading up 19% as of 12:35 p.m. EDT.

Fisker (FSR -33.74%) and Lordstown Motors (RIDE -4.37%), however, were hit with an analyst downgrade today, and traded as much as 13% and 6% lower, respectively. Those declines eased throughout the day, and Fisker was down about 7% while Lordstown was back to even as of 12:35 p.m. EDT.

So what

Nikola announced today it has begun a partnership with TravelCenters of America (TA) as a first step in developing a nationwide network of hydrogen fueling stations. 

Meanwhile, Fisker and Lordstown were both downgraded by Goldman Sachs today. Though the firm remains "very constructive" on the electric vehicle (EV) sector, it moved Fisker down to a sell recommendation, and Lordstown to neutral, according to CNBC. Goldman also dropped its price targets on both to $10. That represents 34% downside from Wednesday's closing price for Fisker; Lordstown is already trading around that level.

Nikola Tre and Two semi trucks

Image source: Nikola.

Now what

After much investor exuberance with the EV sector last year, many of the stocks of companies that have yet to sell a product have come down hard. The legitimacy of both Nikola and Lordstown has been questioned by the same short-seller, Hindenburg Research. Lordstown's prototype Endurance truck just bailed out of a highly hyped off-road race, which contributed to why Goldman has turned more cautious. Goldman also reiterated one of Hindenburg's concerns that Lordstown's production timeline might be too aggressive. 

All of these names are now in "show-me" mode for investors. Until their products are commercialized, or at least progress is documented, investors are seemingly going to remain cautious. Fisker doesn't plan to have production of its all-electric Ocean SUV begin until late 2022. Nikola's news regarding hydrogen fueling infrastructure is positive, but the stock's big move today is likely partially a result of how far it has fallen already. 

Investors will need to give these start-ups time, and it will be difficult to predict which will see success until they are closer to actual sales. Until then, they remain speculative investments.