Chinese premium electric vehicle maker NIO (NYSE:NIO) has taken off like a rocket ship in 2020, with NIO stock surging nearly 600% from a low of ~$2.40 in March, to a high of ~$16.40 in July. Because I was bullish on NIO stock down at the lows, many investors have asked me: what’s the next electric vehicle stock ready to fly higher? The answer may be AYRO (NASDAQ:AYRO) stock.
Texas-based AYRO is a nascent, freshly public, $90 million specialized EV maker with not much to show from a financial perspective. But the company finds itself at the epicenter of one of the EV market’s most explosive verticals, with a compelling product portfolio, a unique and expansive distribution network and a clear opportunity to turn into a multi-billion-dollar EV giant within the next few years.
Of course, this micro-cap stock is risky. But I think AYRO stock is worth the risk. Because, if things go right, AYRO stock could supercharge your portfolio over the next few years, in the same way NIO stock has over the past few months. Here’s a deeper look.
The Coming LSEV Revolution
The electrification of transpiration promises to be one of the defining megatrends of the 2020s. In short, by the end of the decade, upwards of 20% of all vehicles globally will likely be zero-emission vehicles. That number will trend towards 100% over time.
One burgeoning yet often overlooked hyper-growth vertical of the EV market is what insiders call purpose-built, low-speed electric vehicles, or LSEVs. I’m talking three-wheel electric cars, electric golf carts, e-scooters, campus security EVs, so on and so forth.
You might be thinking “OK, those are cool and all, but this is a niche market, isn’t it?”
Not really. Globally, there are about 40,000 golf courses, over 25,000 universities, over 200,000 hotels, nearly 18,000 airports, and countless more corporate campuses, fire stations, event stadiums, etc.
Pretty much all of those properties use at least one and often several small, purpose-built vehicles — like golf carts or food trucks — meaning there are, at least, hundreds of thousands and likely millions of these small vehicles in the world. Most of those vehicles are gas-powered today.
Almost all of them will be electrified over the next decade, as institutions strive to cut down carbon emissions and eliminate fuel costs.
Thus, over the next several years, EV companies will sell hundreds of thousands of LSEVs to golf courses, universities, hotels, airports, corporations, stadiums, so on and so forth.
To that end, the LSEV revolution will be huge. Like almost $25 billion huge. And companies exposed to this LSEV megatrend will see their revenues, profits and stock prices soar higher.
Readers of mine are familiar with three-wheel EV pioneer Arcimoto (NASDAQ:FUV). It’s a company which I’ve pounded the table on before as a great way to play the LSEV megatrend.
FUV stock — like NIO stock — has been a big winner in 2020. Year-to-date, FUV stock is up about 300%.
But, one freshly-public, under-the-radar, micro-cap LSEV company which the market is sleeping on is AYRO.
Founded in 2017 (and only public since May 2020, following a merger with DropCar), Texas-based AYRO is a young, $90 million company that’s in the top of the first inning of a huge, multi-year growth narrative.
Here’s the story.
On the Cusp of Breakthrough Growth
AYRO has two LSEVs.
First, there’s the Club Car 411, a compact, four-wheel EV that looks like an electric golf cart and is built for cross-purpose use across a variety of end-markets, such as a security EV on college campuses or a transportation EV for resorts. Then there’s the AYRO 311, a three-wheel EV designed specifically for last-mile delivery.
AYRO hasn’t done much of anything yet. Revenues in 2019 were under $1 million.
But the company has scored a hugely valuable, strategic partnership with Club Car — a subsidiary of the $12 billion conglomerate Ingersoll Rand (NYSE:IR) and one of the world’s leading suppliers of golf carts and small utility vehicles to golf courses, universities, and the like.
Thanks to this partnership, AYRO’s Club Car 411 is now being pushed through Club Car’s extensive and established global dealer distribution network.
The implication is that, over the next few years, AYRO’s Club Car 411 could start to land some pretty big contracts with universities, golf courses, and hotel properties as those organizations join the small vehicle electrification wave.
Winning those contracts will help AYRO grow its brand and reputation as a top-tier LSEV provider early on in the LSEV revolution. Such branding power will enable AYRO to develop first-mover’s advantage in the space. The company can then turn that first-mover’s advantage into sustained leadership through word-of-mouth recommendations (universities talk) and more contract wins.
Management can subsequently lean into the company’s branding power to more efficiently drum up interest for and sell its AYRO 311 vehicles to restaurants looking to build out their own delivery networks, at a time when delivery is of increasing importance (thanks, Covid-19) yet food delivery platforms like GrubHub (NYSE:GRUB) are eating into restaurant profits (in many case, they cut into restaurants’ profits by 30%).
Big picture: AYRO is on the cusp of going from selling a handful of LSEVs in 2019, to potentially selling tens of thousands of these vehicles per year over the next few years.
The Next NIO?
To be clear, NIO sells premium passenger EVs. AYRO sells affordable, purpose-built, utility EVs. The two markets don’t really overlap.
But in terms of percent returns, AYRO stock could end up looking a lot like NIO stock.
AYRO just expanded its Austin factory from 10,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet. The company did so because demand trends had outpaced AYRO’s production capacity, which was sitting at 200 vehicles per month. The new factory can churn out 600 vehicles per month.
Relative to the addressable market — which I see as potentially millions of LSEVs — that’s still a tiny number.
Given the company’s strong product line-up and expansive distribution network, as well as strengthening demand tailwinds for zero-emission transportation, I can easily see AYRO outgrowing this new factory rather quickly, and scaling to several thousand LSEV deliveries per month.
Realistically, I think AYRO could grow to 30,000+ LSEV deliveries per year. At $20,000 per vehicle, that equates to $600 million in revenue. Gross margins on the vehicles should round out to ~25%. The opex rate will likely wind up at 15%. Operating margins should clock in at 10%. On $600 million in revenues, that implies $60 million in profits.
A market-average 17-times multiple on that equates to a potential future valuation for AYRO of $1+ billion.
That implies huge, 1,000%+ long-term upside potential in AYRO stock.
Beware of the Risks
AYRO stock is not without risks.
This is a tiny company. With a minimal track record. In a highly competitive space. With no guarantee that things will plan as I expect them to.
Concurrently, AYRO stock is a micro-cap. That’s less liquid than something like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock. Less liquidity implies bigger downside risks in the event that things don’t go as planned, or if underlying fundamentals start to meaningfully deteriorate.
In other words, this is a speculative stock. It’s not for your lunch money.
Bottom Line on AYRO Stock
NIO stock has been a huge success in 2020. But the valuation on the stock now implies that the best of that mega-rally is over.
So if you’re looking for the next NIO stock, AYRO stock could be your answer.
This micro-cap company appears to be on the verge of breakthrough growth in the explosive LSEV market over the next few years. If management successfully executes against the company’s compelling market opportunity, then AYRO stock could turn into a ten-bagger.
Luke Lango is a Markets Analyst for InvestorPlace. He has been professionally analyzing stocks for several years, previously working at various hedge funds and currently running his own investment fund in San Diego. A Caltech graduate, Luke has consistently been rated one of the world’s top stock pickers by various other analysts and platforms, and has developed a reputation for leveraging his technology background to identify growth stocks that deliver outstanding returns. Luke is also the founder of Fantastic, a social discovery company backed by an LA-based internet venture firm. As of this writing, he was long NIO.