Lidar Stocks Jump On Report Apple Could Make A Self-Driving Car

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Lidar stocks like Velodyne (VLDR) and Luminar Technologies (LAZR) jumped Tuesday on a report that Apple (AAPL) could make a self-driving car by 2024, while Ouster said it would go public via a blank-check company.




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Reuters reported on Monday that Apple wants to build a self-driving personal passenger vehicle, and use outside partners for so-called lidar sensors. Those sensors gauge distance and movement of objects around them by reflecting laser light off of them.

The report did not say which lidar suppliers Apple might use. But it said the vehicle “might feature multiple lidar sensors for scanning different distances.” The car would also use a new “monocell” battery design that could radically cut battery costs while extending the vehicle’s driving range, Reuters said.

Among lidar stocks, Velodyne jumped 20% in the stock market today. Luminar gained 10%. On Monday, Velodyne stock surged 23%. Luminar stock leapt 27%.

Apple Stock Rises, Tesla Falls

Apple stock rose 2.8% to 131.79. The stock is in a cup base with a 138.08 buy point. Shares rose 1.2% on Monday, rebounding from intraday lows in part on the Apple Car news.

Lidar stocks have gained more attention as self-driving car technology becomes more sophisticated. But Apple’s plans to build a car have had their stops and starts. And the iPhone maker could face production challenges and a long road to profitability, the Reuters story noted.

However, Morgan Stanley analysts on Tuesday said they believed that Apple had the “key ingredients” to make it in the auto industry. It had access to capital, an ability to draw talent, hardware design capabilities and “a rich ecosystem to leverage recurring subscription/service revenue.”

They said bigger tech companies were interested in the auto industry because of its size and the billions of hours people spend per year in their cars. And they added they felt big tech names like Apple represented more competition to the likes of Tesla (TSLA) than established equipment makers.

“Such firms may also be better positioned to bring forward new innovation in autonomy and renewable tech (ie. storage) than most of today’s auto companies,” they said.

Tesla does not use Lidar in its driver-assist systems, but that’s a rare exception. Tesla stock fell 4.1% Tuesday. Shares skidded 6.5% on Monday as TSLA stock made its S&P 500 debut, selling into the close on the Apple Car report.

Ouster Joins Other Lidar Stocks

Meanwhile, lidar maker Ouster on Tuesday said it agreed to merge with Colonnade Acquisition (CLA), a special-purpose acquisition company — or SPAC — in a deal that values Ouster at around $1.6 billion. When the deal closes, the new company will operate as Ouster.

Ouster makes lidar sensors for industrial automation, robotics and the automotive business. The new company is expected to stay on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker OUST.

Other lidar stocks, like Velodyne and Luminar, also went public via mergers with SPACs.

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