Luminar Technologies shares rise 30% in public market debut


By Stephen Nellis

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Luminar Technologies Inc LAZR.O shares rose more than 30% after it began trading as a public company on Thursday, making it the second Silicon Valley company to go public while working to deliver a key sensor for self-driving cars.

Luminar makes a lidar sensor, which helps give vehicles a three-dimensional view of the road. It became public through a merger with Gores Metropoulos Inc GMHIU.O, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, a shell company that uses proceeds from an initial public offering to acquire a private company, typically within two years.

For companies such as Luminar, which raised $590 million from the merger, SPACs have become an alternative path to public markets instead of a traditional IPO. By 10 a.m. Eastern Time (1500 GMT) Luminar shares had pared some of their early gains but remained up 26% at $22.69.

Lumiar is one of three lidar makers to choose the SPAC route to public markets. Velodyne Lidar Inc VLDR.O became public in September after such a merger, and Aeva Inc said last month it plans to become public via a merger with InterPrivate Acquisition Corp IPV.N.

All three are vying to supply carmakers with a sensor that could help them add autonomous driving features. Luminar has a deal with Volvo, owned by Chinese carmaker Geely 0175.HK, to supply lidar units for consumer vehicles, with production starting in 2022. The company also has partnerships with Daimler Truck AG DAIGn.DE and Intel Corp's INTC.O Mobileye.

Luminar Chief Executive Austin Russell said in an interview that the company has nine advanced development deals with automakers, meaning the automakers have begun customizing their software to work with Luminar's sensors.

“Now it’s all about scale, execution and seeing it though," Russell said. "We've got the business lined up."

Luminar has given long-term revenue projections of billions of dollars per year, but those depend on it turning its research relationships into production deals. For 2019, Luminar had revenue of $12.6 million and a net loss of $94.7 million. The company estimated it will end 2020 with $15 million in revenue and an operating loss of $72 million.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Stephen Coates and Jonathan Oatis)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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