2021.07.27

Dying Light news epidemic under control hnews

Breakthrough cases? Pshhh, this is fine. Right?
The homefront

Patio canvas dropdown enclosure vinyl windows

The canvas patio enclosure came in. The front porch is no longer a wind tunnel, nor covered in tree detritus.

Redwood pergola veranda roof

Slow progress on the backyard structure. Weekdays have been pretty busy and weekends have been hot. The 2x2s on the roof numbered something like 40 to span the width. This was the first of three sections. Yeah, it's a big project.

Zero electric motorcycles sport classic blue

And it looks like Zero came out with a (good looking) sport classic model. Not sure if the carbon fiber is factory or aftermarket, but that bike is a huge visual step up from my S.

Disputes

LinkedIn Microsoft grammar setup set up pet peeves verb noun

I logged in to LinkedIn for the first time in awhile. It asked me to 'setup' my account. Huge grammar pet peeve that you wouldn't expect from a two trillion dollar company.

Amazon email end of binding arbitration

On the flip side, I've never seen a company eliminate binding arbitration from its terms of service. Good for you, Amazon.
Dilution, another chapter in the Lordstown saga

Lordstown Motors Endurance assembly stylized

This week LMC announced it had come to an agreement with a hedge fund to raise "up to" $400 million. The LMC subreddit quickly announced, "Funding secured! ATVM loan next!" and tried to get traction in WSB.


/u/UtahSurf
This is a real truck that has passed safety tests and a real factory that is tooled up. Previous management sucked and sunk the stock price into the dirt. There are some lawsuits over some phony preorders that they’ll have to pay fines for... which every EV SPAC is subject to in one way or another.

Short interest is high and it’s primed for a decent squeeze.

Production will be in September. Made in America. A true underdog story happening in a rural Ohio town that needs the jobs badly... and they’ve been on a hiring spree.

CNBC+Cramer hate this stock. Media hates this stock. Ford hates this company. Shitty+crooked previous management+media hate has created tremendous value and a prime candidate for a nice squeeze.

New name, all the normal talking points: Burns bad, short interest, America, squeeze. Nothing substantive like, say, a video of the truck driving up and down a mountain at freeway speeds. It's going into production in just over a month (right?), why is the bull case still flag waving and a non-existent squeeze?

The WSB commentary went along the lines of, "this agreement is share dilution through a financial pawn shop, the hedgie just turns around and sells the stock on the open market". Kind of like what AMC did. It was also noted that the $400 million figure was calculated based on a share price substantially higher than $RIDE's current value.

The copium valves were turned wide open as $RIDE dropped into the mid $6 range.


/u/wsbgodly123
Great picture to go with the article. Looks like a truck shell sitting on an empty factory floor. Which is what Lordstown is. An empty shell.

Anyway, my puts are up 70.73%, 84.59%, and 10.49% so I'd say the sub has done a good job convincing me that this is the next Nikola.

Meme stonk/cult stonk

There was a pretty on-point meta post yesterday, probably directed at $CLOV and $WISH apes:


/u/cbass37
And I've prepared this friendly checklist for you to confirm, once and for all, that you are not in a cult and they are. With points, for fun score keeping!

- Do they have their own sub reddit? (1 point)
- Have they forbidden criticism of the ticker? (1)
- Is all criticism immediately called FUD and the OP accused of being a 'hedgie'? (1)
- Have they begun forming lists of suspected 'hedgies'? (2)
- Are there continued, open calls for brigading despite a No Brigading policy? (1)
- Are a significant portion of the members banned from WSB? (1)
- Is being banned from WSB a 'badge of honor'? (2)
- When the stock goes up the HFs lose, but when it goes down are they losing harder? (1)
- Is there no possible way short sellers could make a profit despite the stock continually going down? (1)
- With each breakdown to a lower price, does confidence increase? (1)
- When it put in a new all-time low, did the sub erupt in celebration? (7)

These all seemed very familiar. Or, to quote an LMC bagholder/astroturfer:


/u/dbrgolord
Anyone that speaks negative about Lordstown Motors, and is on here writing, must shit their own bed! Stop shitting in your own bed, or get off this message board!!!!!

I figuratively can't even.
$YANG

Finviz treemap yang China ETF

Having recently read some Hindenburg RTO scam publications and watched The China Hustle, the Chinese regulatory crackdowns have been another interesting financial saga. Didi was the first big name (unless you count Jack Ma's trip to summer camp), then came the online education industry that is already mired by fake user data. The WSB sentiment seems to be twofold:
  1. This is why you avoid Chinese ADRs/VIEs; the CCP can make $765 billion in investor money disappear whenever it likes.
  2. This is simply profit-taking, the sanctions will lift and the share prices will return to their previous values. I.e. this is a buying opportunity.
It seems insane that Beijing would close out billions in western investment simply to protect user data. Is it too optimistic to think that regaining investor confidence after this will be a challenge?

Reddit WallStreetBets commentary Alibaba t33po
Co-op

Dying Light new game+

Dying Light Old Town view fires

We made it to old town Tehr- er, Harran. It's such a cool map.


I hope the forthcoming sequel lives up to the first game, but I'm happy to give this a second run through while looking forward to buggy action in the DLC. Not buggy like "full of bugs", but buggy like "offroader with bottle and a zombie cattle guard and a shock coil". Also probably covered in dead bugs on account of the speed. What were we talking about? Ah yes, zombies.

Dying Light frown sad face burning building help
Risk of Rain 2


We ran through the Acrid unlock - drop down the salamander vendor's pit and find the null portal, then charge a few bubbles while enemies with items try to ruin your day.

Mass Effect 1 (Legendary) fin

Mass Effect Legendary Tali shotgun purple stylized artistic

I finished my ME1:LE playthrough.

Mass Effect legendary artistic filter geth lift fly
The photo mode filters aren't anything to write home about, but using them for layering/blending in post can be fun.

Side quest mop up

Mass Effect Legendary lore text box
I forgot how many side quests were resolved with text boxes. The environment and action were fairly generic, with voice/text lore to make them seem unique.


Mass Effect Legendary outpost planet Mako sunset
Getting through all of the side quests was a bit of a slog. The large, empty planets simply beg for community content.

Virmire

Mass Effect Legendary Mako wave spray

In contrast to the exploration side quests, the main quests in ME are all pretty strong. Virmire may be the best of the bunch.


Mass Effect Legendary Virmire Kirrahe Normandy beach
Kirrahe held the line long before Hodor held the door. But way after Easy Company trained on Currahee.


Mass Effect legendary Garrus Virmire bomb running
It wasn't easy, but I finally decided to let annoying Ashley do the Major Kong thing rather than really-annoying Kaiden. They say Kaiden gets less bothersome in the sequels.

Ilos

Mass Effect Legendary Mako Ilos aqueduct

Even knowing the story, letting Vigil explain the fragmented Prothean/Reaper mystery is still one of my favorite moments in gaming.

Citadel finale

Mass Effect Legendary Sovereign Geth Reaper Citadel invasion

The not-short-but-not-long ending sequence is great, incorporating all of the gameplay aspects of ME (including dialogue!). While other games (including 2 and 3) basically spend the entire game beating you over the head with how the protagonist is the only one who can save the galaxy, here it's Vigil saying, "Yadda yadda *substantial exposition* OBTW you had better get back to the Citadel, stat!"

Mass Effect Legendary council Asari ship exploding
I also (for the first time) let the annoying council get turned into space dust. I had a lot easier time getting renegade points in this playthrough. Maybe because I'm older and crustier, maybe because I know it ultimately won't affect what Space Kid thinks of me (ME3 saltiness).


Mass Effect Legendary Saren suicide falling glass
The renegade points (I think) meant I could convince Saren to off himself, before coming back as mecha-spider-Saren. I meme, but the entire end sequence is pretty excellent.

ME2:Legendary Edition awaits.
Moment of zen

US Wu Tang album Martin Shkreli Once Upon a Time in Shaolin



2021.07.17

Trading Places film exchange

Not really. Well, do what you want, this just a journal of investment adventures not a source of investment advice. The title is just a catchy way to talk about my mid-year report card and another fun chapter in the LMC saga.
The Lordstown sub has good DD

Reddit LMC Lordstown motors tesla Endurance
Reddit post claiming an LMC Endurance visited Tesla. Larger photo below.

I mean, it kind of has good DD. Let me explain. The most recent buzz propagated by the LMC sub was that John Vo (VP of Propulsion) updated his LinkedIn with a picture "at Tesla".

The bottom-rated commentary noted the "drainage canal and barbed wire-topped fence", but it was largely ignored. The rest of the commentary was either facetious "it's shopped" or building hype that Elon wants hub motors. Indeed, another thread later dropped this nugget:


/u/ibrakeforsquirrels58
Some people are saying that Musk is looking to acquire LMC.

Ah. The old standby, "some people are saying". Bigly DD right here.

LinkedIn Lordstown motors Endurance Tesla factory Thermo Fisher
LMC Endurance "at Tesla" vs Google Maps street view of what is almost certainly the actual photo location.

Anyway, it took entire minutes to find that the photo in question was taken from an ungated parking lot at Thermo Fisher Scientific, next to the Tesla factory.

So I guess this LinkedIn update isn't a prelude to a Tesla buyout. Why did I label this "good DD"?

Well, why on Earth would you drive/tow a prototype electric vehicle to a parking lot near Tesla? Why would you include a Tesla in the photo?

More disclosures

Onto more mundane matters, LMC IR added a new document (proxy statement update?) to their site. It was pretty ho-hum, but it included the following passage:

We also intend to build company-owned service centers where we offer maintenance, repair, parts, and other services related to our products.

This is their apparent solution to Camping World pulling out of an agreement(?) to provide service centers. The copium immediately kicked in...


/u/ewisher
No one was happy with camping world anyways.

No one was happy with Steve Burns. No one was happy with being at war with Eurasia. But there were some measured takes:


/u/Friendly-Internet-54
I don't like this. It's going to take too much time and money to build a significant number of these

Indeed, kind of feels like Nikola's solar powered hydrogen refuelling station or whatever it was. I mean, an auto shop is considerably simpler than Nikola's vapor stations, but creating such a network still requires planning, investment, and time. Luckily the hub motors are "validated for 100,000 miles" so these service stations don't need to be complete for several years.

Unless this 'validation' is not accurate. Unless the vehicles have manufacturing defects. Unless the trucks get into a collision.

Anyway, I wish the stock was at like $80 instead of $8, there'd be a lot more room to run. On the other hand, it's alarming to see that there are Redditors on the LMC sub that don't appear to be astroturfers. I thought I was just reading Fyre influencer tweets, not the actual attendees.

And some bonus material

Reddit LMC astroturf
"Why we need to invest in USA... here in the USA by American Workforce" definitely sounds like the words of someone from Brooklyn.

Ben Foldy Reddit Lordstown motors email
They're so mad at the "media fud" that they've taken up pen and paper. Remember that it's unpatriotic to report unpleasant facts about an American business.
Six months of wheel trading

Investing trading options tickers proceeds wheel
Net returns by stock ticker from six months of wheel trading - with some YOLOs/hedges.

How has it been wheel trading weeklies? Not too bad. I have some numbers from six months of selling options while the market repeatedly hit ATHs. So nothing here's going to be all that impressive, but it's been risk-limited in a volatile period. Volatility??? If you'll recall, retail tried to overthrow institutionals, red hats tried to overthrow democracy, and the money printer could have run out of ink at any time.

In addition to not being impressive, the numbers are sort of unhelpful. Return is normally expressed in a percentage, but I can't easily tease percent return from etrade's downloadables. So it'll have to suffice to say that this came from an options trading budget that was briefly exhuasted by NVDA CSPs, so say like 55-75k.

We can still do some informative things with the data, e.g. normalize by the number of transactions to see which tickers were IV leaders:

Investing trading options tickers proceeds wheel
Net returns by stock ticker as above, but normalized by number of moves.

Okay, so how much of the trading was selling options (CSPs/CCs/theta gang/wheel) and how much was buying Kraft Heinz YOLOs or - more reasonably - buying calls on inverses in case the rug pull occured?

Options trading buying options vs selling theta gang wheel
Options purchased compared to options sold.

Is the wheel perfectly round? It is not.

Options trading theta gang wheel calls puts ratio
Comparison of covered calls to cash-secured puts during this time. Stonks don't go down.

And finally, how often were the options long-expiration and how often were they FDs?

Options trading expiration weekly fd
Weekly options trades vs longer expiration.

Notably omitted are other investment types such as shares purchased normally and bonds. As this time window is 01 January to 30 June, it doesn't include the SPCE share dilution debacle.



2021.07.12

Virgin Galactic July 11 launch Unity boost in flight

Well, we still don't have flying cars, but it looks like space tourism has finally arrived.

Pre-flight checks

Virgin Galactic launch Colbert Khalid announcement

Virgin tried to turn the launch into an event. But, well, Colbert didn't do much more than read a few prepared lines and the "Khalid world premiere" didn't have much going for it. The tone of the entire broadcast felt like a sales pitch with product placement. I'm not sure why, space tourism very much sells itself.


/u/watchshoe
What a historical infomercial

Blue Origin tweet Virgin Galactic petty comparison
Click through for the full thing.

Bezos's Blue Origin might understandably be a bit salty that Virgin undercut their launch date, but they decided to sound as bent and petty as possible. While the environmental impact might be an interesting point to make at a more graceful moment, they chose the Karman (pretend I used the fancy 'a') Line as their hill to die on.

Space Blue Origin Virgin Galactic dispute
This isn't a homerun record, Jeff.

Launch(?)

Virgin Galactic July 11 launch Unity boost rocket engine

Is it a launch if the rocket fires 45,000 feet in the air rather than on a launchpad? I put in the question with my local SpaceX rocket scientist's husband and he has not yet forwarded an answer.

Anyway, the mothership plane went up, the Unity craft rocketed into suborbital probably-space-but-depends-on-who-you-ask, and three minutes later it descended back to New Mexico. Incident-free. Six sigma blackbelt stuff right there.

Virgin Galactic July 11 launch Unity climb

We got a double dose of underwhelming celebrity guests and unrelenting branding since the Unity cabin/exterior feed was more or less completely unavailable. Branson's speech had to be played back later, which is kind of funny considering it was being compared to Neil Armstrong's moon landing speech. So much for a giant leap for mankind, Neil, you idiot, we can't even get video from a suborbital craft fifty years later.

I'd do it though. Especially if my Virgin America miles transfer.

Virgin Galactic July 11 launch Unity landing rear view

Hot takes

Virgin Galactic launch karman line Reddit WallStreetBets Bezos

People are polarized these days. They rally around politicians and companies and now their favorite billionaire, willing to bend reality into a grandstand cheer. Some took up the Karman Line mantle.

Reddit WallStreetBets DJBarber89 space bears SPCE Virgin Galactic

WSB was split down the middle between the "to the moon" crowd and teams Bezos and Musk. Now, word is Elon was at the launch and has put in a rezzie for a Virgin flight, but that wouldn't stop his fanboy legion. Branson said that space tourism has room for twenty companies, or something like that. So why was Blue Origin so salty?

Reddit WallStreetBets Virgin Galactic Bezos Branson memeing

It kind of makes sense, Branson (reportedly) will offer three minutes in space-ish for 300k. Bezos will (reportedly) offer four minutes a few miles higher for twice that. That's pretty close competition, should you have more capacity than customers.

Elon is probably offering something very different and more expensive. I'm picturing a Tesla Roadster floating in space and a smoke-filled helmet. Or something like that.

Reddit WallStreetBets commentary astronauts Virgin Galactic Blue Origin

I'm going to have to agree with... ugh... /u/eyerollingsex, clients of these companies aren't astronauts. They're getting "the astronaut experience", and I say that with pretty big airquotes. Riding in a rocket or spaceplane with very little personal commitment makes you a space tourist and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Likewise I'm not sure what anyone is on about with the space/not space thing. Do people with 500k to spend on a two-hour flight really care if they've been to Karman space or sub-Karman space? Is this a Facebook thing? I want to believe the asterisk controversy is nothing more than really desperate marketing.

Virgin Galactic July 11 launch Unity tail space horizon
This right here is the space tourism value proposition. Not adding 'astronaut' to your LinkedIn. Jeff, your invisible line means nothing.

Reddit Virgin Galactic launch Prometheus diamond hands

Share dilution

Richard Branson Virgin Galactic deal with it sunglasses share price dilution

Something seemed amiss when pre-market opened Sunday afternoon; SPCE stayed pretty flat.

SPCE Virgin Galactic share price launch dilution
1. Very little price movement in pre-market. Surely institutionals were aware of the impending dilution. 2. Market opens, retail buys. 3. The new stock offering becomes public, share price plummets.

WSB SPCEbears were pretty smug about the dilution, claiming they had called it. In reality, there was only talk of a "pump and dump" (it wasn't a pump and dump) and "priced in" (it wasn't priced in, my put premiums can verify). The dilution could have been anticipated, having watched GME and AMC mint new shares with their meme value. While SPCE isn't a meme stock (though it has similar fundamentals), it makes sense that they'd want more capital to progress to the next stage, whatever that happens to be.

I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed.
Euro final

Bar sportsbar Euro 2020 soccer final watching

The Euro 2020 final was pretty fun, particularly since Italy had to chase the entire match. We even got a great meme template:

Chiellini meme soccer Euro 2020 final beer
FUDtruckers

Reddit LMC Lordstown media conspiracy fud

Not a ton of developments on the LMC front. Then again, every day that they aren't announcing funding, a CEO, or that their only product is - say - leading a parade lap at a NASCAR race is another step closer to bankruptcy.

Spiderman_pointing.meme

Somebody (not me) lit up their subreddit in hilarious fashion:


/u/Fire_Boogaloo
This sub is the biggest circle-jerk so don't expect anyone to actually listen. You'll just get accused of FUD by a bunch of morons. I've started seeing a few more people realising this company is a scam which is good though.

I bought around $12-$16 and have been slowly reducing my position since. I really really wanted to believe in this company but the continual onslaught of bad press (justified bad press, its not FUD) has proven to me this company isn't trustworthy any more and I cannot believe they are actually going to meet production in september.

Anything that is even remotely bad this sub will spin into a good.

Baja - Hub motors worked!! Good job RIDE!!!
SEC - Buy the dip!! They have no evidence!!!
CEO/CFO leaving 2-3 months before production - This is really good!!! Burns was a moron!!!
DOJ - We already knew this anyway LMAO buy the dip!!!!
Going concern - This was expected they'll get the loan!!
Lower preorders confirmed - They have guaranteed preorders lets go boys!!!
Camping world leaving - LOL they were useless and dont know what they're missing

Like can we just be real here? How can you seriously attempt to spin this many bad shit into something good? Wake up! Every time more bad press comes out I just laugh at this point and come here for a bigger laugh to see how the deluded will try to spin it. Its honestly astounding how people can still justify their position in this company.

Only reason I'm still holding some shares is to try and get some money back. When this POS hits $10, I'm out. This company is not worth the stress.

Sorry for the rant, could have summed this entire thing down to "yeah, this company is a liability" lol, just wanted to point out not all of us are delusional idiots. This'll probably be my last comment on this sub anyway - either from a ban or because I've sold out and don't care anymore. I look forward to leaving this garbage ass company in the past.

Layoffs? Don't talk about layoffs!

Another commenter quoted a local newspaper that had previously reported layoffs at the LMC plant. LMC responded, here are some excerpts:

Lordstown Motors spokesperson Ryan Hallet said that while there were several positions terminated after the resignations of Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns and Chief Financial Officer Julio Rodriguez June 13, there have been no additional layoffs at the plant.

Maybe need a direct quote here, this seems contradictory. You termed people after June and haven't had additional layoffs?

'We are actually continuing to bring jobs to the Mahoning Valley rather than eliminate,' Hallet said in an email to The Business Journal.

Ah yes, jingoism based on a nothing-phrase like "continuing to bring jobs".

'We are hiring on an ongoing basis,' he said. 'It makes no sense that we would be laying people off.'

"It makes no sense that I would have run that red light. I mean, I did, but it makes no sense!"

The Business Journal did contact spokesman Hallet on Friday, who at the time could not confirm whether there were additional layoffs at the plant.

Sus. I don't see a smoking gun here, but if this is how you do PR when you're telling the truth maybe it's not vaporware after all.


/u/tonitoni919
Hopium turning into copium turning into ropium.
Etc.

WSB dating advice, for a giggle.


CattleDecapitation
Kshot you may have hit rock bottom.
Is there a pack of Marlboro reds in the background?
Listen, I work in a fucked up place.
kshot




2021.07.06

SPCE Virgin Galactic Chad LFG moon mission stonks Unity LFG Richard Branson



2021.07.04

Mass Effect Legendary Edition Mako jump

Big moves this week for the two tickers I've been following most closely. First, some (dark) giggles about a company I don't go near in any sense:

Reddit TimeRemove ankermouse11 baby thunderdome Peloton humor
Peloton: the fitness choice for the 'childfree' crowd.

And a PSA on crypto:

/u/doodoofart69420urmom: How does bitcoin mining work exactly?

/u/RockleyBob: "Imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved sudokus you could trade for heroin."

/u/Script_: Not idling, more like at full gas
SPCE

CNBC SPCE Virgin Galactic launch announcement after hours

Fresh off the upward movement for SPCE following their FAA approval, Virgin Galactic announced that Richard Branson would fly on July 11.

This seems like a fun event to invest in, like if I could have bought puts on Apollo 11 and calls on Apollo 13. I'm optimistic about the company, in general, and the next week should at least offer considerable volatility for stonks I already want to own. Barring a delay, there are two possible outcomes:

Success

SPCE Virgin Galactic hypothetical success scenario spacewalk kind of
Unartistic depiction of the hypothetical success scenario wherein Richard Branson plants a US/UK flag in space.

Since the market didn't seem to price in the flight when Virgin obtained FAA approval, I'm guessing a success isn't priced in either. For this I have shares and covered calls that expire Friday (before the launch).

Pleas fly again

SPCE Virgin Galactic hypothetical failure crash Richard Branson Planet of the Apes
Unartistic depiction of the hypothetical failure scenario wherein Richard Branson tastefully lands in the water.

If the flight doesn't go so well, I have cheap $26 puts that are already up 200%, brought to you by the letters I and V. Theta will bring them back to Earth, and I should probably hold them until the 12th.

Looking past the 11th

Charles Schwab SPCE Virgin Galactic poor rating
Via Kevin, I guess Chuck isn't so hot on SPCE.

The flight announcement took some of the news cycle away from Surfside. Recalling my previous statement, "it seems like SpaceX offers an astronaut experience and Virgin offers a guided tour of space. Different experiences, different capacity, different price points." NPR analysts predicted a $300k-ish price tag for Virgin Galactic compared to a $600k-ish sticker price for Blue Origin, naturally neither of these numbers is official.
RIDE

LMC Lordstown Motors WSJ article DOJ probe

Apparently the Lordstown preorder debacle "that is something everyone does" was picked up by the DOJ, graduating from "short seller FUD" to an actual legal liability.

CNBC LMC RIDE Lordstown Motors investigation trading halt ticker circuit breaker

The LMC share price quickly hit a circuit breaker and I happily cashed in my $10 puts that had doubled in value. I still have $7.50s expiring in September that I expect will print when and if LMC announces a production delay.

Being smug about small investments is one thing, but the real payoff has been observing the - what's the opposite of fear/uncertainty/doubt? Let's go with assuredness/security/self-delusion. Yes, the most entertaining developments have been the ASS from the LMC marketers and bagholders.

The Lordstown sub responds

There was the usual repetition of the ASS playbook:

Reddit Lordstown Motors SEC investigation astroturfing fanboyism

... and some very curious legal opinions:

Lordstown Motors SEC investigation resignation

... and some borderline clown world nonsense (or just failure to understand that the news isn't instantaneous):


/u/PuzzleheadedList6307
How the hell do they HALT buyign and selling before any news is out? Must be how the free market works

Lordstown Motors LMC RIDE meme Reddit King of the Hill

For some, it seems like they're just focused on the promise of a September (some say 1st, some say 30th) production start. Indeed, there isn't much propaganda left to push now that Lordstown Week came and went, "demonstrating that they truck is legit while shockingly not getting much praise from the biased media". For others, this was the last straw.


/u/SamSeg_3
FYI y'all. There's a difference between FUD and being out of money, having your executives quit, and having the DOJ sending you subpoenas.

I'm out. Sucking up my losses and moving quite literally anywhere else.

"Funding secured" has been a mantra around the LMC community, based ostensibly on claims that the company is "close to a deal". While I'd reiterate that a qualified comment like that means about as much as "we want our brake performance to be among the leaders", having pending litigation isn't a great look. Then again, any investor that believes in the technology might just see the inquiry as a negotiation chip.

More DD

Lordstown Motors week Elaphe hub motors assembly line

Lawsuits, management, and factory status notwithstanding, my primary concern for the fate of the Endurance has been the viability of the hub motors. I like to believe that technology can win out over any business obstacle.

I guess Elaphe built a few thousand hub motors for LMC and then shipped the manufacturing equipment to Ohio for future production. From what I've read, LMC is the sole US licensee of the Elaphe L1500 hub motor that has been apparently fitted to a commercial SUV and an Audi R8 for very limited demo purposes.

So the question of viability perhaps falls less on LMC's shoulders and more on the 75-employee Slovenian company.

I found an article that appeared to provide regurgitated marketing information:

Approving a bearing for the L1500 requires a measure of special attention. Loads coming from the road apply significant forces – particularly bending moments – on the bearing, which lead to minor elastic deformations while the motor is operating.

For broader and closer accuracy of how the bearing will behave over its lifetime, Elaphe then conducts experiments using the Wheel Accelerated Life Test machine (WALT) at the Fraunhofer LBF Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability in Darmstadt, Germany, with additional similar tests locally on dedicated deflection measurement benches.

So apparently curbs and potholes made it on Elaphe's radar. That seems wise considering the unsprung weight of their hub motor combined with the constraints placed on tire sidewalls by all the in-wheel stuff.

"A key challenge with in-wheel motors is how to deal with temperature gradients," Gotovac explains. "Our multiphase wave winding helps increase the packing density of copper, which reduces current density across the length of the conductor.

The liquid-cooling circuit constitutes the active cooling of the L1500. The cooling medium is typically a waterglycol 50:50 mix, as commonly used in other traction motors.

So I guess heat dissipation was a consideration as well. Unfortunately, the article provided no specification information that I could find.

Theta gang weighs in

While the LMC discussion has mostly been confined to the LMC sub and the occasional WSB post that is immediately taken down, /r/thetagang provided a substantive discussion on the state of the company on a post that predated this week's news.

(Theta gang is the Reddit term for people who focus on selling options).

OP kicked it off with an effortpost that I have condensed (emphases mine)...


/u/sharknado523
I sell power tools & lifting equipment. I am in and out of different factories in Texas and Louisiana every single week. Trust me when I tell you that having an old factory is not an asset.

I understand that there are pictures of the factory showing lots of shiny new equipment, but the history of the company makes me wonder whether this is a Potemkin Village of sorts. More on this in a bit.

I mentioned before, I'm not a stock analyst. But it's sort of a meme on FinTwit that if the CEO is doing interviews in a sparkly-clean safety vest and hard hat, it's probably a cover for fraud. That's half-joke, half-serious. The reality is that they have been caught misrepresenting that they have orders when in fact they have cancellable pre-orders, which are very different. This isn't just because of the technicality of a prefix. Orders are "accounts receivable" and they are something the company can invoice against in the future. Pre-orders are basically just a fun statistic in a spreadsheet that don't mean much, since they ultimately discount the pre-order amount from your purchase price if they are able to deliver a production vehicle to you.

We all forget how many automotive companies there were 100 years ago. You ever hear of companies like Studebaker? Packard? Tucker? Kaiser-Frazer? Apperson? Auburn? Chalmers? Elcar? Franklin? Midget Motors? I mean the list goes on of companies that tried to be successful making cars but failed because of the barriers to entry.

So, u/sharknado523, if you have so much to say on the topic, you must be balls to the wall short this name, right?

Hell to the naw to the naw naw naw
I really don't like to short things, especially in 2020/2021.

The theta gang sub is better than its peers for discussion, here was part of a response:


/u/SmackEh
So while I agree that an old factory is not ideal for mass producing modern vehicle, I'd counter that the simplicity of the truck (VERY few moving parts) allows the old technology to be leveraged in a clever way (paint, metal stamping, etc.) hasn't changed. They are building a hub motor production line in new over the next few months (building these by hand for now). It's important to note that GM actually invested $300 million in the plant since 2009

I mostly agree with all of your other points, the only other thing I'd like to talk about is how much the media has been relentlessly attacking LMC. Most of this is due to the Hindenburg report, which is proven false. So I'd like to take this opportunity to reiterate that most of that report was complete BS yet NOBODY, not a single media outlet is talking about this... why..

I'm not sure about the "Hindenburg report, which is proven false" bit. Perhaps he is referring to the special committee investigation initiated by the LMC board? Biases aside, the report uses meaningless phrases like, "the projected September 2021 start of production remains achievable" and, "while hub motors have not previously been used at scale in commercially-produced passenger vehicles, the hub motor technology licensed from Elaphe is viable". These statements sound validating but can easily describe a truck that goes into production three years from now and has a top speed of 35 miles per hour. They're just pointing out what they consider possible without even providing as much as what is probable, nor their rationale.

Opacity. Wordplay. Forward-looking statements.

They report does address the truck that caught fire:

The Hindenburg Report described a January 13, 2021 incident in which a prototype of the Endurance caught fire during a test drive. The Special Committee concluded that the incident was an isolated event rather than one reflecting a systemic problem. Lordstown Motors conducted a technical investigation of the incident that identified the root cause of the fire to be non-conforming parts on a battery pack that had been manually reworked for assembly on the prototype.

It'd be neat to connect the dots to the driver's claim that the truck was "driving weird", but that could describe a power connector issue (as well as almost anything else). What's alarming about the above statement is that the conclusion references an LMC report rather than an independent verification.

Returning to the theta gang discussion, there were interesting comments on C-suite wordplay, the new LMC CFO, and the lack of agility of union labor:


/u/rupert1920
> the argument that Ford will beat them to market is false,
> LMC announced yesterday that they have funding and
> (limited) ability to produce at least 20,000 vehicles per
> year and binding orders for at least two years.
> Production remains on track for end of September (2021).

I feel like if the orders are "binding", the president wouldn't have said it this way:

> I don't know the exact facts of the legal aspect of that,
> but they are basically binding orders that are committed
> here in the last two weeks, reconfirmed orders. They're
> pretty solid, and I think that's on the light side or
> conservative side.

If the orders are actually legally binding, he would not have said he's unsure about the legal aspect, nor would anyone say they're "pretty solid". Those sound like someone trying to overstate non-binding orders.

That, alongside the sudden reversal in their financial situation - they were saying they didn't have cash for production before the CEO CFO exodus - really doesn't sound like the truth to me.


/u/bombduck
That entire novel and you didn't even mention the newly promoted CFO is a specialist in big company bankruptcy navigation. Get back in your room and DD more!


/u/FlatBrokeEconomist
I was flabbergasted when I saw people talking about Lordstown freaking Motors like it was anything but a joke. I grew up near Lordstown, my mom worked there in IT in the late 90's early 00's, the place is a freaking joke. It's a union shop, meaning my mom couldn't even get her own printer paper or move her own machines around, she had to put in a request and wait a few hours for someone else to do it.
Fyre and friends

Trump tweet China

It goes on. Perhaps I'm a scamwhore. I did like reading 419 eater way back in the day. But let's move from the midwest to the far east, where from some reading and watching I'm a bit more knowledgeable of the Muddy Waters scandal from a decade ago.

Hindenburg


Fanboys of LMC, NKLA, CLOV and other Hindenburg targets always kneejerk to short seller bias and claim that it somehow invalidates everything they say. This assertion isn't worth a second thought, but it seemed worth checking on older Hindenburg investigations to see how frequently they are on- or off-target. You know, it's something to read when you have a kid on one arm and you want her to learn smart investing.

Since vaporware companies aren't personally all that interesting (too close to home?), I ended up looking at a couple of reports on Chinese companies listed on US exchanges. There seemed to be a recurring theme: transfer investor funds to company leadership. This isn't supposed to be easy. First, you need to attract investors while being enough of a failure that you couldn't have succeeded on your own merit. Then you need to extract that capital in a more savvy way than writing yourself a huge bonus check.

Obtaining investment capital seemed to be simply a matter of cooking the books and making huge promises to US investors who are largely unable to get DD on China-based companies. Hindenburg tracked bogus earnings statements, geographically-impossible campus sizes, and cooked sales numbers accomplished by moving product to a subsidiary and back.

While company leaders may have enriched themselves by selling shares at an inflated price (pump and dump), the more subtle approach involved using investment capital to purchase businesses owned by family members. E.g. I have a US-listed mining company with tons of investor cash because I claim to have revolutionized the pickaxe. I use that money to purchase my brother's pickaxe handle company that he just started last week, since it's good to in-house the manufacturing of handles and their substantial IP. The US investors have no idea and they've probably been told to buy-and-hold, average down, and dollar-cost-average because Charles Schwab said that's the best strategy.

The China Hustle (film)

The China Hustle film poster

Having read the above and enjoyed Enron documentary, I decided to check out another Alex Gibney doc - The China Hustle.

The film follows a few investment bankers who, upon learning of fraud similar to the one described above, turned into conscientious short sellers. Or so they say.

Muddy waters make it easy to catch fish.

This Chinese proverb is the recurring theme for the film wherein the opacity of US-China business relations makes it possible to pull a Theranos with considerably less effort. Per the film, the anatomy of the hustle is this:
  1. A Chinese business owner is approached by *someone* who claims they can provide significant capital to grow their company. Who would say no to this?
  2. The company gets listed on US exchanges through a reverse merger; a US shell company (registered entity with no business) merges with the Chinese company. This step is used to bypass the hurdles required to get listed on US exchanges via IPO. (Ed: It's a yet another chapter in the saga of people exploiting regulatory loopholes, one that's extremely similar to the current SPAC hype.)
  3. US investment banks hype the on-paper growth of the Chinese company. Ratings organizations treat financial disclosures as they would US companies and give the stock high marks. People invest.
  4. If anyone asks questions, the company calls in one of the "Big Four" audit companies (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC) who are basically brand names sold to local franchise offices. They call in lawyers who aren't paid to check the validity of the claims, but give interviews that attempt to redirect the discussion to how short sellers are biased. (Ed: feels very similar to LMC's independent investigation and a common refrain from 2016-2020, "Oh is that not true? Not my fault, someone gave me that.")
  5. The institutionals pull out when they (their algos) think the share price has peaked. Retail investors, mutual funds, ETFs, and pensions are left holding the bag.
One point that isn't explored too deeply was that short sellers obtained (Chinese regulatory) "SAIC filings" and found that the numbers reported domestically were often a tenth of what was claimed in US disclosures. So it leaves me to wonder why short sellers even need to send DD teams to the company facilities if the fraud is in print that - I imagine - isn't too hard to obtain.

Interestingly, the documentary claims that it's illegal to film private companies in China. Setting up cameras to track foot and truck traffic is one of the main due diligence methods employed by the short seller. This feels painfully similar to our own ag-gag laws.

I'm optimistic that the market has largely wised up to this scam and that it peaked in the early twenty-teens. That said, Hindenburg looked at YRIV in 2018 when the share price was in the $4 range (down from and ATH of $16). Reality seems to have confirmed their findings as the ticker now trades for $0.06. The film exits with an (O_o) at Alibaba, pardon my emoticon. Indeed, while The China Hustle's antihero Dan David was able to send DD teams to illegally track trucks and employees, the new names in overseas investments measure their trade in users, something that's harder to track than actual revenue. So maybe we're seeing a new hustle with Alibaba, rideshare companies, and online education companies.

Do I trade off this? To quote /u/sharknado523, "Hell to the naw to the naw naw naw". Not only can any ticker "stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent", these ones might even have the backing of an extremely large planned economy.

Well, there is one particularity. The film mentions that retail traders took the biggest hit in the initial round of RTO (reverse takeover) fraud and that estimates for pension fund losses were $14B. I'm inclined to believe my 401k has exposure to this kind of thing. QQQ certainly does. And so I feel a renewed emphasis to DIY my portfolio diversity rather than let institutions wash away these losses behind a wall of opacity and "Well Moody's rated these mortgage-backed securities as investment-grade so it's not on us if they go tits up".

Dollar-cost averaging and buy-and-hold investors are perfect targets for these scams. ETFs and mutual funds. Basically all the things that financial advisors steer retail investors toward. Yeah, the real hustle is making money off of financial illiteracy.

Anyway, The China Hustle is a great watch and goes in my scam/crash movie marathon list with The Big Short, Margin Call, and a few others (none of which are Scorcese films).
RoR2 update/bandit

Risk of Rain 2 ROR2 Bandit salamander vendor blue portal Huntress

Risk of Rain got a free update that included the Bandit. He has crazy-strong attacks and minmaxable critical and bleed abilites but needs leeching seeds and medkits as early as possible.
Intruder

Steam game Intruder guards roof

The Lolbaters squad tried out Intruder, a gameplay-over-graphics original-Counterstrike-like experience. Intruders attempt to steal stuff or hack stuff, guards camp. There are some neat items that emphasize stealth over team wipes.

We may not get a ton of time into this game since it's probably only fun with six or more people.


Steam games Annual Intruders review b8 and switch
I almost accidentally downloaded Annual Intruders.
Dying Light NG+

Dying Light Rais guards arena

The Dying Light new game+ playthrough is pretty fun. The campaign started off pretty rocky, like in the menus. Our games were both set to the DLC playthrough where we last ended it. Starting NG+ isn't possible from this save state. The menu allows you to return to the main campaign, but it's remarkably difficult to trigger an autosave - we'd read that sleeping would do it but this appears to have been patched out (confirmed by the lack of a save icon that appears on the bottom right). Anyway, to start NG+ your save state needs to be on the main game (confirmed by exiting, hitting "Continue" and verifying you're in the slums) and, obviously, you need to have finished the main story.

Dying Light freeway dark sickle bus

Having my hard-earned weps from the last runthrough is nice. It's been awhile since our last playthrough, but if we had rolled directly into another playthrough it might have been tedious to start without the grappling hook.

Dying Light outfit Bill Left 4 Dead
There's a free DLC cosmetic - Bill from Left 4 Dead! It should be said that I would have paid for an Ellis outfit wherein he provides commentary throughout the game, "Did I ever tell you about the time me and my buddy Keith parkoured into a volatile nest with gnome chompsky? ..."
Play gyms, bottles, and Station Tavern

Love every play gym mirror

We met Zac and Erin for some tots and brews. There's been play gym time (Cheryl = GOAT) and this girl has developed quite an appetite.

ME:LE slideshow

Mass Effect Legendary Edition Garrus Liara assault rifles corrosive

So on Feros the ExoGeni corporation does bioweapon research and experiments on colonists. Noveria is an ancap dystopia full of lies and backstabbing. But, like, the game is published by Electronic Arts. Lol.