NIO: A Value Trap

NIO logo and the Nio

Andy Feng/iStock Editorial via Getty Photos

NIO’s (NIO) shares are down 40% over the final one 365 days alone and merchants are now questioning if here’s an even time to seize. Bulls think its shares are somewhat undervalued, the firm is poised to develop by surprise in the impending quarters and the dangers of investing in Chinese language shares are in the good thing about us. That will perchance perchance presumably also simply sound admire a no brainer seize nonetheless scratch the skin quite, and a relating to portray emerges. On this text, I’m going to duvet both the bullish and bearish narratives relating to NIO and are attempting to worth why possibility averse merchants can also simply must steer constructive of the stock for now. Let’s take a more in-depth search the least bit of it.

The Bull Thesis

Let me initiate by announcing that NIO operates in the by surprise growing electrical automobile manufacturing industry and inner that, it predominantly caters to the sumptuous segment. The firm delivered a story 25,034 electrical autos one day of Q4 2021, which is a indispensable 44% boost on a 365 days over 365 days basis. But this wasn’t a fluke. The firm has came across industrial success with all three of its automobile objects on a constant basis. These elevated ranges of boost across a pair of products, are a rarity in other industries. So, for my fragment, NIO’s success so some distance is a commendable feat and in actual fact worthy of reward.

NIO granular KPI data

(Source:, firm filings)

Some other narrate hang in tips here is that NIO’s shares are seemingly undervalued in its industry community. The Y-axis in the chart under highlights the earnings boost rates for quite so a lot of US-listed automakers. Demonstrate how NIO ranks a lot greater than most of its chums via earnings boost. Unquestionably, there are exact two other names that hang earnings boost rates greater than NIO. Now, let’s shift attention to the X-axis which plots the Imprint-to-Gross sales a pair of. Demonstrate how NIO is positioned correct in the center. This suggests that NIO, despite having above-moderate earnings boost price, in all fairness priced as in contrast with its chums which makes it an fine Investment alternative in the industry.

NIO revenue growth and price to sales ratio


Lastly, NIO’s management is expanding its product portfolio and likewise entering new markets in 2022. If its management executes flawlessly on their boost initiatives, then it can perchance perchance very well location up the electrical automobile manufacturer for long-term mercurial boost. So, NIO seems to hang the general makings of a cheap boost stock. Yet, I’m going to advocate that readers exercise indecent warning when it comes to investing in the automaker. What supplies?

Threat #1: Regulatory Uncertainty

There are for certain three serious possibility components surrounding NIO’s shares. For starters, Chinese language legislation prohibits international Investment in certain industries. NIO circumvented this drawback by making a shell firm in Cayman Islands, gave it the contractual correct to its earnings and listed shares of this new entity on US exchanges. Right here is is named the Variable Hobby Entity structure which is no longer exactly correct in China.

Even supposing China’s securities regulator acknowledged final month that it’s miles going to also simply no longer ban or companies the employ of the VIE structure, it also reserved the supreme to ban and/or penalize such listings under certain circumstances. From

Home enterprises are clearly prohibited from itemizing in a single other nation under any of the 5 circumstances: (1) it violates national legal guidelines and regulations; (2) it’s miles going to also simply constitute a possibility or endanger national security; (3) there are major possession disputes over fairness, resources, and core technology; (4) in the final three years, the home firm or its major shareholders were investigated or convicted for corruption, bribery, embezzlement, and misappropriation of property; and (5) in the final three years, the home firm’s senior management has been self-discipline to administrative punishments or are under judicial investigation for major violations.

This implies that there’s no telling if the regulator will protect its relaxed stance for NIO’s US-itemizing. Furthermore, if the regulator is indeed turning into liberal with world listings, then it’s difficult to attain why it’s reportedly pressuring Didi World to delist from US bourses.

Besides, one other delisting possibility comes from US regulators. The SEC has finalized a framework under which international companies are mandated to starting up up to audit inspections, or be delisted from US exchanges. We make no longer know if NIO will comply, or if its non-compliance will outcome in regulatory overhang. But general, this two-fold regulatory possibility exists for NIO along with the general other Chinese language companies which would be listed on US bourses.

Threat #2: Margin Erosion

Next, NIO’s management is endeavor a slew of boost initiatives to continue growing by surprise. This contains launching three new automobile objects and likewise expanding into 5 new European markets one day of 2022. These can also simply sound admire long-term boost catalysts, nonetheless there’s no certain wager that they’re going to raise along industrial success. Moderately, what seems likely for the foreseeable future is that NIO’s costs will inflate and its strained margin profile will deteriorate additional as a consequence of these initiatives.

NIO gross margin % and net profit margin


Gaze, NIO plans to design its autos in China and ship them to those European markets. That is ok other than shipping charges on China-Rotterdam routes are up 110% 365 days over 365 days. Some other info point with us is Shanghai Containerized Freight Index which has extra than tripled over the final 18 months. The automaker will must possess these inflated shipping charges on China-Europe routes which is prepared to add to its costs and weigh on its profitability.

Furthermore, NIO’s decision to invent bigger its product portfolio can also simply outcome in diseconomies of scale in the near term if the utilization rates for assorted production lines don’t appear to be in sync or don’t appear to be properly optimized. It will also amplify the chance of pointless inventory buildup in the tournament of NIO overestimating the save a matter to for certain objects. This, too, may perchance well perchance weigh on the firm’s margin profile and extend its breakeven point additional into the future.

Threat #3: Bid Slowdown

Besides, NIO’s shipping boost price can also simply seem stellar in isolation nonetheless it has in actual fact underperformed chums over the final one 365 days. Its management beforehand blamed semiconductor shortages for their lackluster shipping boost and they later shifted blame to manufacturing facility downtimes as they retooled their production lines to accommodate new objects.

Electric Vehicles: monthly sales data

(Source:, firm filings)

There’s no telling if, and when exactly, NIO’s shipping boost will amplify and change into at par with its chums. Maybe its chums hang came across a extra solid footing in the electrical automobile apartment and NIO is but to search out its market traction. Or presumably, the lower-priced offerings from its opponents are drinking into NIO’s market share. Most efficient time will uncover what the bottom actuality in actual fact is nonetheless in the interim, the consistently lackluster shipping boost hints in direction of operational struggles and presumably even a capacity sales slowdown.

Investors Takeaway

There’s no denying that NIO is a technology chief in its apartment and it seems attractively priced in its industry community. On the other hand, there’ll no longer be no longer up to three major possibility components surrounding the name — margin erosion, regulatory dangers and a capacity boost slowdown. So, attributable to this heightened uncertainty, possibility averse merchants without the bustle for food of indispensable portfolio drawdowns, can also simply must steer constructive of investing in the name in the interim no longer no longer up to. There’s no telling if NIO’s shares will hit $20-stage first or $50. Upright Success!

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Disclosure: I/we have not got any stock, choice or identical spinoff location in any of the companies talked about, and no plans to provoke one of these positions in the route of the next 72 hours. I wrote this text myself, and it expresses my luxuriate in opinions. I’m no longer receiving compensation for it (rather than from Searching out for Alpha). I don’t hang any industry relationship with any firm whose stock is talked about listed here.

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