Where Nio Is Outpacing Tesla

When investors think of electric vehicles and massive stock gains seen in 2020, they probably think of Elon Musk and Tesla Inc. (NYSE: TSLA). After all, a gain of more than 400% year to date to a $400 billion market cap is impressive enough for any investor. It turns out that the electric vehicle (EV) stock that investors should have been even more focused on was Nio Ltd. (NYSE: NIO).

With shares of Nio now the most active on the New York Stock Exchange, this stock is up about 600% year to date, and it is up 1,800% from a year ago. Nio is considered to be the “Tesla of China” by some of the more aggressive investors, and its market cap has now approached the $35 billion mark.

It is easy to be skeptical. Every journalist and just about every analyst out there has been skeptical of Tesla’s rising valuations over the past decade. All the comparisons to being worth more than Ford and General Motors combined, and myriad other reasons. The reality is that Musk, even with all the antics he has pulled over the past decade, is the one who has been able to laugh all the way to the bank.

Two key analyst calls have brought much more light to Nio in recent days. The company recently raised $1.5 billion in a stock offering, and the shares just kept running higher.

Citigroup upgraded Nio to Buy from Neutral, citing strong orders in the backlog. The firm’s price target rose to $33.20 from $18.10. The analyst report also cited that Nio is increasing its market share and is seeing lower battery costs. Nio also appears to the winner of policy tailwinds acting to boost its exports.

Earlier in the week, JPMorgan raised its rating on Nio to Overweight from Neutral. The firm also hiked its $14 price target to a street-high $40. The call was based on much higher EV penetration rates in China in the coming years, and it also touted lower battery costs reaching parity with internal combustion engines. The firm expects that Nio can command a 7% market share in EVs by 2025, and that will be closer to a 30% share in the premium EV space.

Back in September, when Nio traded handily under $10, Deutsche Bank issued a Buy rating and a $24 price target. The stock has now surpassed that, and then some, and then some more.

Goldman Sachs issued a Sell rating on Nio over the summer that hurt the shares.

Again, it would be easy to be skeptical here and point out valuations and being priced for perfection and various other issues. That just hasn’t mattered so far, and Nio has been on the winning end compared with rising short interest by those who have bet against the company.

It is also extremely difficult now to legitimately compare Nio and Tesla in direct matchups. Musk and Tesla delivered 139,000 vehicles in the third quarter of 2020. Nio announced at the beginning of October that its delivery of 4,708 vehicles in September was up 133.2% year over year. For the entire third quarter of 2020, Nio’s 12,206 vehicles delivered was up by 154.3% year over year.

Nio stock traded at $28.26 late Friday morning, and its 52-week range is $1.36 to $29.40. The trading volume is now nearing 100 million shares.