Aeva announces customer deal; shares soar even after results disappoint


FILE PHOTO: Sensor is seen on a vehicle at Aeva Inc, a Mountain View, California-based startup that makes lidar sensors to help self-driving vehicles see the road in an undated handout photo provided September 4, 2020. Courtesy of Aeva Inc/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Aeva Technologies Inc said on Thursday it signed a deal to develop a sensor for a self-driving car to be made by an "undisclosed large company," and its shares rose 13% even as it reported that its loss ballooned and sales came in far below forecasts.

Aeva reported first-quarter revenue of $300,000, down from $500,000 a year earlier and far below analysts' estimate of $1.38 million, according to Refinitiv estimates. Its adjusted operating loss more than doubled to $15.6 million from $6.1 million a year ago.

Founded by two ex-Apple Inc engineers, Aeva makes a sensor that helps self-driving cars navigate through the use lidar technology that uses lasers, much like radar uses radio waves. The company became publicly traded through a reverse merger earlier this year and was one of several lidar firms to do so.

Aeva said on Thursday it had signed a "foundational agreement with an undisclosed large company to develop best-in-class lidar" for the customer's autonomous driving program.

Aeva's shares were up 13% at $8 in after-hours trading after the results and customer announcement.

In an interview, Aeva Chief Executive Soroush Salehian said the company could not disclose when it would go into mass production with the undisclosed customer but that "there's going to be increased activity as we work toward production.

"This has a huge potential," he said, "and based on what we know, it could be one of the largest programs in the industry."

Aeva has deals with automotive suppliers Denso Corp and ZF Friedrichshafen AG to mass-manufacture its sensors.

Earlier this week, the company said it added to its advisory board Apple senior executive Steve Zadesky and Volkswagen AG Senior Vice President Alex Hitzinger, who was also once part of Apple's self-driving car Project Titan. Porsche Automobil Holding SE, Volkswagen's majority voting shareholder, is also an investor in Aeva.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio and Richard Chang)

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