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What's Ailing Nio? Chinese EV Stock Underperforms Domestic Peers In August

U.S.-listed Chinese EV startups NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO), XPeng Inc. (NYSE: XPEV) and Li Auto, Inc.

Benzinga · 09/01/2021 11:59

U.S.-listed Chinese EV startups NIO Inc. (NYSE:NIO), XPeng Inc. (NYSE:XPEV) and Li Auto, Inc. (NASDAQ:LI) announced August delivery numbers Wednesday.

Nio, often considered to be the leader of the pack, grossly underperformed the remaining two, raising serious concerns regarding its near-term trajectory amid geopolitical risks.

Nio's Hard Numbers Point To Underperformance: Nio reported August deliveries of 5,880 vehicles, comprising 1,738 ES8s, 2,342 ES6s and 1,800 EC6s.

In comparison, XPeng's deliveries came in at 7,214 units and Li Auto delivered 9,433 vehicles.

Nio's year-over-year growth, at 48.3%, pales before the stellar growth rates of 172% and 250%, respectively, reported by XPeng and Li Auto.

On a month-over-month basis, Nio's deliveries fell 25.9%, while XPeng fared better with a 10.3% drop and Li Auto outperformed with a 9.8% increase.

Year-to-date deliveries totaled 55,767 for Nio, 45,992 for XPeng and 48,176 for Li Auto.

Related Link: How Nio's Norway Market Entry Is Unfolding

Nio Blames Supply Chain Issues: Nio said the weakness was due to material disruption in supply chain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in certain areas in China and Malaysia.

"Supply chain disruptions in Malaysia and Nanjing, China caused by local pandemic outbreaks significantly hampered production," the company said in an emailed statement.

A supplier of the A/B pillar interior trims in Nanjing, China was affected in August, the company said. Since then, the supplier has resumed production, the automaker said. 

The Context For XPeng's Numbers: XPeng also raised supply chain issues, and it had another reason for its soft performance: as the EV maker gears up to deliver its G3i SUV in September, production preparation and switching has impacted production of its G3 SUV. 

The company expects to increase delivery scale of the G3i in the fourth quarter. On an upbeat note, the company is aiming at monthly delivery volume of 15,000 in the fourth quarter, a XPeng spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Li Auto Posts Record Delivery Number: As opposed to supply chain travails at its two peers, Li Auto had no reasons to complain. The company, which sells a lone EV SUV model, the Li One, achieved record deliveries for August, marking its third consecutive month of record performance.

It is also rumored that Tesla, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:TSLA) standard range Model Y is snatching share from the rest of the players. The vehicle model was announced in early July and deliveries began in late August.

The Model Y SR is an entry level car armed with the cheaper lithium iron phosphate battery and is priced at an affordable 276,000 yuan ($42,725) after subsidies.

Nio's Woes To Continue: Citing chip shortages, Nio trimmed its third-quarter deliveries guidance issued in mid-May in its second-quarter earnings release. The EV maker now expects third-quarter deliveries of 22,500-23,500 units, down from its previous guidance of 23,000 to 25,000.

This compares to XPeng's guidance for deliveries of 21,000 and 22,500 units. Li Auto, meanwhile, has the most robust guidance of 25,000 and 26,000 vehicles.

Record Order Nio's Saving Grace: Nio said new orders hit an all-time high in August thanks to increasing demand.

The previous record, according to BofA Securities analyst Ming Hsun Lee, was 9,000 orders recorded in October 2020.

Yet record orders may not mean much unless the company sorts out its supply chain issues. The need is all the more acute as Nio looks to expand beyond China and also begin deliveries of ET7, its first EV sedan model.

EV Ratings: BofA has Buy ratings on the shares of Nio, XPeng and Li Auto. The firm has a $62 price target for Nio, $61 price target for XPeng and $42 price target for Li Auto.

EV Stock Price Action:

At last check:

Nio shares were trading up by 0.99% at $39.70. 

XPeng was slipping 1.98% to $41.66. 

Li Auto was up 1.05% at $31.18.

Photo: the Nio ES6.