Now that we’re a few days into May and many electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers have released their April delivery numbers, investors have a better idea of the best EV stocks to buy.
While Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is still considered by most to be the king of EVs, there are plenty of companies gunning for its throne. Of course, with global demand for EVs set to grow significantly in the coming years, including an expected 35% jump in 2023, there’s room for multiple winners.
To make things interesting, today’s EV picks are diversified geographically, with one from the United States, one from China and one from Europe.
BYD Company (BYDDY)
Representing China, we’ve got BYD Company (OTCMKTS:BYDDY). It’s far and away the best EV stock in China. In the past, I’ve recommended investors buy Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-B) to ride the BYD wave, as Warren Buffett’s holding company owns a 10.9% stake in the automotive giant. While Buffett has been reducing his position in BYDDY recently, the company is doing so well I’m going straight to the source.
BYD’s first advantage is that it operates in the world’s largest auto market, which accounted for nearly 60% of EV sales in 2022. In the first quarter, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids in China were up 22%, according to the China Passenger Car Association.
BYD delivered 104,364 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in April, up nearly 84% year over year and 1.6% from the previous month. Production also rose sharply from a year ago, with BEV production up 87.3% and plug-in hybrid EV production up 106%. Moreover, the number of vehicles the company sold outside of China rose 11.4% from March to 14,827.
BYD is working hard to grab market share by lowering prices, which has affected profits. Q1 profit of $597 million was up 400% on a year-over-year basis, but it was 43% lower than the fourth quarter of 2022. While its operating margin in the first quarter was less than half of Tesla’s — 4% versus 11% — it remains in growth mode.
Last month, BYD unveiled two new EVs at the Shanghai auto show — a value-priced hatchback EV and a more expensive electric SUV. Of all the Chinese EV makers, this is one of the best EV stocks for your portfolio.
German automaker Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) is focused on finding a balance between producing lots of EVs and producing lots of EVs profitably. The company’s goal is to generate the same margin from each car, whether an EV or an internal combustion-powered vehicle.
“Our focus is on quality of the business, rather than on volume,” said Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Arno Antlit. “This is specifically true for EVs… we don’t want to lose our margin parity target out of sight.”
For the first quarter, Volkswagen generated $84.2 billion in revenue. While its operating profit fell 29% from a year ago, it came in above expectations.
The company sold 141,000 EVs in the first quarter, 42% higher than a year ago. EVs represented approximately 6.9% of Q1 volume. That figure is up 170 basis points from Q1 2022.
As a Canadian and former Ontarian, I was happy to see Volkswagen choose the province for its first electric battery plant in North America. It will act as a catalyst for future automotive investment in Canada. Plus, the unorthodox choice shows it’s not afraid to think outside the box.
For my U.S. pick, the choice between Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) was a tough one. GM CEO Mary Barra has done an excellent job guiding the company through some challenging times. And while not everyone thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips, you can’t deny how profitable GMs become. In 2022, it made $14.5 billion in pre-tax profits. But I digress.
I ultimately chose Ford because its EV program is more focused than GM’s. Between the Ford Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning, the automaker has come out of the gate with two very popular EVs. Even Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes what it’s done.
“Always tough with margins for new vehicle lines, especially when there are major technology shifts. I think Ford’s overall strategy with EVs is smart. The electric F-150 (Lightning) has high demand,” Musk recently tweeted.
Ford released its first-quarter results on May 2. For the first time in its history, it broke out its EV business from the rest of the company. The unit lost $722 million, and management expects it will lose $3 billion for the entire year. However, when your quarterly net income for the entire business is $1.8 billion, taking on losses of this size isn’t a problem. Yet.
The company believes it can get annual EV production to 600,000 by the end of 2023. If it does that, you can be sure the unit’s losses will shrink dramatically.
On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.