Stock Market

The robotaxi industry looks like it has more legs than the electric vehicle (EV) market at this point. Where EV sales are falling and the companies producing them are in decline or failing, the electric vertical take and landing (eVTOL) industry is ramping up. Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) looks every bit the industry leader it is. This will have big implications for JOBY stock holders.

After a solid fourth-quarter earnings report, JOBY stock makes for an intriguing buy for investors. The eVTOL aircraft manufacturer looks ready to run.

Preparing for liftoff

Joby Aviation posted $1 million in revenue for the quarter, well ahead of estimates of $755,000. Losses of $0.17 per share also beat Wall Street predictions by a penny. While net losses were wider than a year ago, that reflects Joby’s growth and advancement toward commercialization. Expenses are rising as it completes more of the hoops it has to jump through to launch its airborne e-taxi service.

There were several notable achievements for the period. Joby announced it became the first eVTOL company to complete the third phase of the Federal Aviation Administration’s five-stage process to gain service approval. It also signed a six-year exclusivity agreement with the Dubai government. As soon as the FAA grants launch approval, Joby can take flight right away in Dubai.

The eVTOL leader also conducted its first piloted air taxi flight in New York City. Joby’s plans to work with Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) to operate a robotaxi service out of Delta’s hubs at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. 

Expect turbulence

Joby is looking for its commercial launch to begin in 2025. That is a relatively short time into the future and things are quickly heating up. Yet as exciting as this opportunity is and the advances Joby is making are impressive, investors should still contain their enthusiasm.

The company doesn’t have any revenue to speak of. That $1 million it reported was payment of the first installment on a $131 million Defense Dept. contract. Joby delivered the first eVTOL aircraft to the U.S. Air Force for testing. It expects to deliver two more craft this year. Joby also worked with NASA on air traffic simulations out of the Dulles-Fort Worth area. So although there will be more payments coming, this is not how Joby will be making its money as a business.

That will occur when it is operating a regular robotaxi service. And while there will likely be demand for the service, a lot will depend on pricing. Joby has backing from Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) and says it wants to become the Uber of robotaxis. Still, there won’t be regular income coming in for some time yet. In the meantime, Joby’s expenses will be rising significantly from here. That’s not unusual for a development stage company but investors need to go in with eyes wide open.

A risk worth taking?

This is where things really get exciting. You are literally watching the creation of a whole new industry developing from the ground up. The pieces are all falling into place. New York City will be electrifying its existing helipads to accommodate Joby’s flights. The FAA has been accommodating in helping Joby and other eVTOL aircraft manufacturers navigate the regulatory labyrinth. And Joby is now performing manned flight testing that will help it pass the threshold for commercialization.

Joby Aviation has plenty of liquidity available to it to make it over the finish line. It ended 2023 with over $1 billion in cash, equivalents and short-term investments. It will be using that money to perform the next stages of its growth, supplemented by Defense Dept. payments. JOBY stock has largely trade sideways since late-October as the market awaits tangible developments.

For risk-tolerant investors who understand the turbulence a development-stage company experiences moving through to commercialization, JOBY stock could be a pick for the future.

On the date of publication, Rich Duprey did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Rich Duprey has written about stocks and investing for the past 20 years. His articles have appeared on Nasdaq.com, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance, and he has been referenced by U.S. and international publications, including MarketWatch, Financial Times, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cheddar News, The Boston Globe, L’Express, and numerous other news outlets.

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