China’s Nio may be facing the same issues as Tesla, according to analysts


Shares of Nio Inc., dubbed “the Chinese Tesla,” rallied on Thursday despite one of the first Wall Street analyst takes, which listed plenty of concerns about the Shanghai-based electric-car maker.

Analysts at Bernstein rated Nio

NIO, +75.76%

 stock their equivalent of sell, saying that while many things “intrigue” them about the car maker, they are “unconvinced Nio’s shares represent a sound investment.”

They set a price target of $4.20 on Nio’s American depositary receipts, which would represent a 56% downside to Thursday prices.

Nio’s ADRs jumped 45% on Thursday to trade as high as $9.80, a day after their debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

Related: China’s Tesla IPO: 5 things to know about Nio

Nio priced its initial public offering late Tuesday at $6.25, the low end of its expected range, to raise about $1 billion, and traded as low as $5.35 Wednesday before recouping losses to end at $6.60. The ADRs traded as high as $9.77 on Thursday.

A few of Bernstein’s arguments would be familiar to those investors following Tesla Inc.

TSLA, -0.37%

which Nio is seen as potential rival in China: Nio’s cash burn, potential inability to reach “ambitious” volume targets, said the Bernstein analysts, led by Robin Zhu.

Moreover, there’s some evidence pointing to falling reservations numbers for Nio’s electric vehicles, they said.

Read more: Shares of Chinese electric-car startup Nio rally in Wall Street debut

“Longer term, we question whether the premium EV segment will be big enough to support Nio’s volume ambitions,” the analysts said. They projected the company to sell 50,000 vehicles by 2020 and 160,000 vehicles by 2025.

Nio eventually will get over its manufacturing challenges, only to face a distribution challenge, the Bernstein analysts said.

See also: Tesla stock gets downgrade from former ‘most bullish’ analyst

Nio “will only be selling to a small part of the Chinese market” due to the concentration of EV demand in top cities with license-plate restrictions, plus the company’s lack of distribution scale, they said.

Nio plans to have 12 store locations by year-end, but that’s a third of Tesla’s, which sold 17,800 cars last year in China.

Related: Opinion: Sell Tesla and buy GM — seriously

The Bernstein analysts also said they expect Nio to tap capital markets in the next 12 to 18 months as its costs are “too high and its price points too low,” they said. Nio’s expenses are rising rapidly, and the company likely will remain a loss-making one through 2025, they said.

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