Shares of technology outfit MicroVision (MVIS -1.12%) rallied 211.3% during the first half of this year, according to numbers provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Nearly all of that upward move unfurled in February, during a period of widespread bullishness about the electric vehicle industry. But perhaps more important, the stock's gains came despite a warning about MicroVision from short-selling research firm Hindenburg.
Don't look for a specific reason why MicroVision soared like it did. You won't find one. The company -- which makes automotive safety and autonomous vehicle technologies -- was mostly caught up in a rally that lifted many related names including Blink Charging (BLNK -1.27%), Fisker (FSR 6.99%), and even Ford (F 1.67%). The Biden administration is supportive of efforts to transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric automobiles, and the market responded to the prospect of that support helping to accelerate EV adoption.
That said, MicroVision did give prospective buyers something to latch onto. In mid-February, it announced that samples of its first-generation long-range LiDAR sensor were nearing completion. That sensor is expected to offer an effective range of at least 250 meters.
The news largely defied the view from Hindenburg Research, which said in a December tweet: "In a market gone mad, this $1.2 billion market cap corporate husk with almost no revenue or intellectual property value is a standout. It has risen 5,000% from lows this year on misguided retail euphoria over its LiDAR IP portfolio amid a broad EV bubble."
As it turns out, MicroVision's LiDAR technology may have been closer to market-ready than it seemed at the time.
Hindenburg's not wrong about market valuations having gone mad, nor is it wrong about this particular stock's outrageous run-up. But it's not as if plenty of equities haven't continued to perform well for shareholders in spite of such challenges. The EV and autonomous vehicle arena has been particularly supportive of rich valuations; investors understand it can take years for a company with the right tech to realize its full potential.
It's telling, however, how the bullishness that drove MicroVision shares sharply higher several months back has dissipated. Indeed, the stock price has been stagnant (if volatile) since February's peak, and has trended steadily lower since early June. Conspicuously missing from the picture is a meaningful update to the public regarding the company's first-generation LiDAR development efforts. The only news since then has been April's report that a prototype of the technological assembly that was started in February has been completed.
Take the bigger hint: This company's LiDAR tech may well have a future, but that future remains well down the road. That's apt to limit the stock's upside potential in the meantime.