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Investors Should Not Expect Nio Stock to Keep Cruising Higher

Will Healy

Nio (NYSE:NIO) is on fire. Since late June, Nio stock has risen by close to 65%. This offers welcome relief to NIO shareholders who have seen little else but decline since the stock launched its IPO in 2018.

Investors Should Not Expect Nio Stock to Keep Cruising Higher

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Still, despite the improved sentiment, production remains low, and losses continue to mount. The better-than-expected sales numbers may stoke optimism. However, the conditions that turned NIO into a penny stock remain in place.

NIO Benefits From a Dramatic Turnaround

Nio stock saw nothing but pain from March to June. A spike in the stock price took NIO briefly past the $10 per share mark in early March. However, a “greater than anticipated” slowdown cited in their earnings report took the Nio stock price down by more than 20% in a single day and more than 11.5% in the following trading session. From there, NIO saw a steady slide, falling to below $2.50 per share by last June.

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Over the last two weeks, sentiment has shifted dramatically. The latest surge in the stock came when the company reported a “greater than anticipated” number of deliveries. As a result, the stock has risen substantially from the $2.50 per share range where it traded in late June. Now, with the Nio stock price hovering close to $4 per share, many wonder if now is the time to buy NIO.

In fairness, some optimism has returned to the market. Its much larger American counterpart Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has risen by more than 30% since early June. The China Passenger Car Association also reported a 4.9% increase in sales. This is the first such increase in about one year.

The Rally in Nio Stock Is Unlikely to Hold

However, none of this changes the fact that analysts project nothing but losses for the foreseeable future. Yes, I did not see the surge in Nio stock coming recently. However, I predicted NIO would tread water, but little else. I stand by that sentiment.

For one, it remains a small player. Our own Tezcan Gecgil points out that Chinese companies produced 254,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in the first quarter of 2019. Nio produced just under 4,000 of those cars.

Gecgil makes good points that may ensure its survival. The company has backing from the likes of Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tencent (OTCMKTS:TCEHY). It also remains true that pollution guidelines in places such as Beijing and Shanghai make it challenging to obtain licensing for non-electric vehicles.

However, judging by the company’s financial statements, that survival could come at a high cost to holders of Nio stock. Nio lost just over ¥2.65 billion renminbi ($390 million) in the previous quarter alone. Its ¥7.45 billion renminbi ($1.08 billion) in cash will not last long at that rate. Moreover, with ¥9.25 billion renminbi ($1.35 billion) in short and long-term debt, they have little room left to borrow.

Hence, its backers will probably want more stock in return for funding. While the increased stock price helps with fundraising, the stock dilution will hurt current shareholders.

The Bottom Line on Nio Stock

Despite the optimism surrounding Nio stock, Nio remains a troubled company struggling to survive. Indeed, improved sales bode well for the company. The suffocating pollution in China’s large cities also helps drive sales in the EV industry.

However, despite a slight uptick in sales, Nio stock will likely post losses for years to come. Moreover, with cash levels likely to fall, and debt burdens becoming increasingly heavy, the company will probably have to issue more stock to stay in business.

Given the push for cleaner energy, EVs are likely here to stay. However, to earn investment returns in this industry, established car companies and even Tesla stock offer safer options. With better choices out there, and the risk that the latest move amounts to a dead cat bounce, I see no reason to buy Nio stock.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.

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