Is NIO Stock a Buy or Sell in This Uncertain EV Market?


  • Nio (NIO) remains among the top Chinese EV stocks long-term investors remain interested in due to its potential upside.
  • The company has plenty of potential, but still seeks profitability, a key factor for certain value-conscious investors. 
  • Despite access to the world’s largest EV market, NIO stock could be overvalued at current levels. 
NIO stock analysis - Is NIO Stock a Buy or Sell in This Uncertain EV Market?

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The EV sector is full of excellent and innovative companies, but Nio (NYSE:NIO) is one of the only large-cap players that’s provided investors with the jitters. Indeed, Nio was recently put into the S&P 500’s list of underperforming stocks, given the stock’s steep decline in January. This is the start of this NIO stock analysis.

Now, much of this decline can be tied to geopolitical concerns, as well as a shift in investor sentiment toward companies with profitable operations. Nio certainly is among the early-stage companies that require a great deal of patience to hold for years, something many investors don’t seem to have these days.

Now, Nio is a company I’ve been bullish on in the past, but my view has shifted rather dramatically. Here’s what’s driving my increasingly negative outlook for the Chinese EV maker.

Unending Challenges for NIO

Despite achieving over 30% year-over-year sales growth in 2023, Nio’s market share is just 2.1% in the expanding Chinese EV market. Refusing to lower prices like competitors, Nio missed Q3 revenue targets by $50 million and fell short of its 2023 vehicle sales goal by 36%. 

Operating in China’s premium segment amid an economic slowdown poses risks, particularly as housing prices decline. Indeed, most investors know that the Chinese EV market is competitive, but it’s certainly among the most competitive in terms of price globally. With a Chinese consumer that’s increasingly tapped out, and many conservative consumers looking to avoid debt on higher-priced vehicles, Nio may be forced to give up margins to achieve market share growth. That’s not great for current or future investors, and dynamic value-conscious investors shouldn’t like it.

Nio’s European operations also face challenges with unsatisfactory sales, which have been attributed to consumer preferences for local brands like Renault and Stellantis. Concerns arise over potential EU tariffs and a slowdown in EV demand post-early adoption from current buyers remains a key focal point of bears. This is a central part of my NIO stock analysis.

Little Room to Run

In 2024, the EV market saw many of its core challenges persist. Higher interest rates (globally) have led car buyers to reduce their budgets and their loan amounts, forcing EV makers to slash prices. While generally positive for existing consumers, this sort of trend provides a backdrop of unprofitable growth, something I don’t like with any company.

Nio’s ongoing losses and slowing EV demand in China suggest an uncertain path forward. Investors may seek better opportunities elsewhere.

Analysts foresee a bleak long-term future for NIO stock due to declining EV sales and intense competition. Weak market conditions may persist, impacting deliveries and margins in FY24. Given uncertainties, investors may want to consider selling NIO stock here. Despite initial optimism and institutional backing, profitability remains elusive amid substantial operating losses are likely to continue for some time.

NIO is Overvalued

At a price-sales ratio of 1.45-times compared to BYD’s (OTCMKTS:BYDDF) 0.87-times sales multiple signals NIO stock could be significantly overvalued here. The company’s relatively lower revenue numbers and higher losses per EV sold suggest that the company’s path to profitability may be much longer than expected. Personally, that’s something I don’t like to see.

The days of high-margin EV sales in China appear to be over, and we’re entering a new tough grind in this sector. My pick in this space remains BYD, given its size, scale and relatively cheaper valuation. There’s simply not enough to like about Nio’s current offering to justify buying this stock at current levels, in my view. This concludes my NIO stock analysis.

On the date of publication, Chris MacDonald 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 Publishing Guidelines.

Chris MacDonald’s love for investing led him to pursue an MBA in Finance and take on a number of management roles in corporate finance and venture capital over the past 15 years. His experience as a financial analyst in the past, coupled with his fervor for finding undervalued growth opportunities, contribute to his conservative, long-term investing perspective.

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