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Is Nio Stock A Buy As Electric Vehicle Sales Surge In New Year?

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Nio (NIO) is growing its lineup of luxury electric vehicles as sales boom for the emerging Tesla (TSLA) of China, and it might be coming to America. But is Nio stock a buy right now?

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Nio went on a tear in 2020 as it doubled electric vehicle (EV) sales and came back from the brink of bankruptcy. The EV startup kicked off this new year strong, unveiling its first electric sedan and posting a huge January sales gain.

Nio Stock Technical Analysis

Shares triggered a sell signal in intraday trading Feb. 18, falling more than 8% from a 57.30 cup-shaped buy point first cleared on Jan. 8, according to MarketSmith chart analysis. On the back of a six-day slide, Nio stock is now testing the 50-day/10-week lines, and a potential buy area could emerge at that level if shares rebound. Investors might want to wait for Nio to at least retake its 21-day moving average, which is currently close to the old 57.30 buy point.

If Nio stock does rebound, it will soon have a new base with a 67.09 buy point.

The relative strength line for Nio stock rose sharply for most of 2020. The RS line has pulled back from January 2021 highs. A rising RS line means a stock is outperforming the S&P 500 index. It is the blue line in the chart shown.

Nio stock went public at 6 in September 2018. It hit a low of 1.19 in late 2019 on sales and cash woes. The company staged a strong rebound in 2020 along with China EV sales.

Shares earn a superior IBD Composite Rating of 94 out of 99. The rating combines key fundamental and technical metrics in a single score. An unbeatable 99 RS Rating well exceeds the 80 or higher that investors in top growth stocks would want to see.

Nio’s Accumulation/Distribution Rating of A+ reflects heavy buying by institutional investors over the past 13 weeks. Nio is well traded, with decent institutional backing: 673 funds owned shares as of December, up 24% from September. In fact, Nio shows eight quarters of rising fund ownership, according to the IBD Stock Checkup tool.


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Nio Earnings And Fundamental Analysis

On key earnings and other fundamental metrics, Nio lags. It’s a young and fast-growing company, still looking to turn a profit.

Nio stock earns an EPS Rating of 52 out of 99, and an SMR Rating of D, on a scale of A+ to a worst E. The EPS rating compares a company’s earnings growth vs. other companies. The SMR Rating measures sales growth, profit margins and return on equity.

On Nov. 17, Nio beat estimates for the third quarter. Nio lost 12 cents a share as revenue more than doubled. Quarter over quarter, Nio saw vehicle margin expand and cash more than double. While earnings remain elusive, losses are narrowing.

Nio reports for Q4 and full-year 2020 March 1. Analysts expect it to pare losses to 41 cents per share in all of 2021 from 62 cents in 2020, as revenue swells 97% to $4.89 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research.

One thing to watch: the impact of the global chip shortage, which has hit already Volkswagen (VWAGY) production in China as well as General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) here in the U.S.

Four analysts on Wall Street rate Nio stock a buy, five have a hold and none has a sell, per Zacks.


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China EV Sales, Competition Grow

In the first quarter of 2020, Nio’s sales slumped as the coronavirus outbreak in China kept buyers away. But sales quickly rebounded, more than doubling for the full year to 43,728 vehicles.

The momentum continues early in 2021. In January, Nio’s sales quadrupled year over year while overall China EV sales more than tripled. Fellow China EV startups Li Auto (LI) and Xpeng (XPEV) are also seeing huge sales gains in the local market.

(NIO)

While EV sales remained strong for Nio and its peers at the start of 2021, competition is intensifying. As a result, Nio stock and China EV stocks have come under pressure, according to Deutsche Bank analysts.

In January, Tesla cut the price of its made-in-China Model Y, a rival to Nio’s new EC6 electric crossover. Also, Ford (F) said it will make the Mustang Mach-E electric crossover in China for consumers there. Plus, Chinese auto giant Geely and tech giant Baidu agreed to jointly build EVs.

Meanwhile, China’s BYD (BYDFF) has made a big luxury push with the Han electric sedan. BYD, backed by Berkshire Hathaway (BKRB) chief Warren Buffett, is one of the world’s biggest EV and battery makers.

Despite rising competition, “in the endgame, we continue to believe NIO and XPEV will emerge as winners,”  Deutsche Bank’s Edison Yu and Emmanuel Rosner said Feb. 2.

On Feb. 9, the analysts shared that a recent LinkedIn job posting indicates Nio’s is looking for a path to enter the U.S. market, though that could be several years away.

Nio’s in the midst of a big manufacturing expansion in China, and looking to launch in Europe later this year. Tesla’s also looking to expand in the European market, which overtook China in EV sales last year.

Globally, Tesla continues to hold a formidable lead in EV sales, but Chinese EV startups are narrowing the gap. In January, Nio and Xpeng combined sold 13,240 EVs in China vs. 15,484 for Tesla.

Investing in Chinese companies brings on considerable risk of regulatory uncertainty. China slashed EV subsidies by 20% at the start of 2021, a move that could affect Nio. While the government is trying to wean consumers off subsidies that juice sales, earlier cuts slowed EV purchases.

Backers of Nio include Chinese tech giants Tencent (TCEHY) and Baidu (BIDU). And Alibaba (BABA) invested in Xpeng.


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Outlook For Nio, EV Stocks

As the EV battle heats up, China’s Nio, Li Auto and Xpeng are expanding operations to fend off Tesla on home turf.

Nio CEO William Li aims to increase EV production capacity to 150,000 units in 2021. He’s looking to double that in the long term, or nearly three times current capacity, according to Deutsche Bank.

Nio earnings for the fourth quarter are due on March 1, when the EV maker will likely also release February sales figures. Look for updated Nio delivery target.

Nio currently sells the ES8 and ES6 electric SUVs, and a new EC6 electric crossover. (Johnnie Rik/shutterstock.com)

Analysts are bullish about both China EV sales and global EV sales, adding further lift to Nio stock.

In 2021, EV sales are expected to rise more than 30% to 1.8 million units in China, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Globally, EV sales are expected to rise 70% in 2021, according to IHS Markit.

Growth drivers for Nio include the new EC6 electric crossover and the ET7, a highly autonomous electric sedan set to arrive in early 2022. The ET7 could be the first EV to offer a solid-state battery — and 600 miles of range — while Nio puts battery-swapping technology at the heart of its business model.

In 2020, Nio launched a subscription plan for batteries. Basically, the car and the battery are sold separately. Users can buy Nio EVs without batteries for a lower price and “rent” batteries for a monthly fee. They also have option to swap car batteries depending on their needs.

Those moves reflect a remarkable journey. Founded in 2014, Nio had little experience in vehicle manufacturing when it came on the scene. But it promised a bright future. Its Chinese name, Weilai, means “blue sky coming.”

Unlike Tesla, Nio does not manufacture itself. It partners with Jianghuai Automobile Group to build its luxury electric SUVs.


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Rival Electric Car Stocks

Nio stock belongs to the auto manufacturers industry group. Surging Tesla shares fueled the group’s rise. Auto manufacturing ranks No. 16 out of 197 industry groups tracked by IBD, as investors warm up to electric-car stocks.

Several new EV stocks emerged in 2020, in Tesla’s wake. Those stocks include Nikola (NKLA), Workhorse Group (WKHS) and Hyliion (HYLN), as well as China’s Xpeng Motors and Li Auto.

In addition, several legacy automakers plan a transition to electric vehicles. GM, Ford and Volkswagen have big plans for EV production and sales in China. Even Italian supercar maker Ferrari (RACE) eyes a transition to hybrid-electric mobility.

At some point, soaring output of electric cars could outpace overall demand, squeezing sales and prices. For EV stocks such as Nio, supplies of batteries and battery metals are another issue.

Is Nio Stock A Buy Now?

From a fundamental perspective, Nio’s financial condition is improving after debt and liquidity fears slammed shares. Nio is paring losses while delivering huge top-line growth.

The outlook for Nio’s sales and overall EV sales seems robust. After robust sales in China, Nio’s planned expansion in Europe promises more runway for growth.

Major Wall Street firms also view its battery innovations positively. Similar to Tesla and China’s BYD, Nio may become a battery play as much as an EV stock. But the EV wars are heating up, as legacy auto and tech giants ramp up or get into the game.

From a technical perspective, the white-hot China EV stock staged a strong breakout in early January, but made choppy progress thereafter. Nio stock has again undercut a 57.30 buy point, and is now flashing a sell signal.

Bottom line: Nio stock is not a buy right now. Investors could look for a potential entry from a rebound off the 10-week line or wait for a new base to form.

To find the best stocks to buy or watch, check out IBD Stock Lists and other IBD research.

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