China’s Tesla Rival NIO Plunges 26% on Escalating Losses
China’s Tesla Rival Will Cut Global Staff by 20%
(Bloomberg) -- Shares of Chinese electric-vehicle makers and suppliers fell after a worse-than-expected quarterly loss for NIO Inc., the country’s answer to Tesla Inc., exacerbated concerns that a bubble in the world’s largest EV market may be bursting.
BAIC Motor Corp., which BloombergNEF says brought in more than $4 billion in EV revenue last year, dropped 1% in Hong Kong, while BYD Co. closed down 4.1%, its biggest loss in over a month. Wuxi Lead Intelligent Equipment Co. retreated 4.5% in Shenzhen. NIO plunged 20% to a record low of $2.17 in New York on Tuesday after announcing its results and thousands of job cuts.
The dire situation has prompted NIO, which is backed by technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., to raise $200 million from founder William Li and a Tencent affiliate, and to plan the spin off some businesses. The company’s U.S.-listed shares are down more than 80% from their peak following last year’s IPO.
“People are wondering whether the company can continue to survive,” said Jason Chen, an analyst from Blue Lotus Capital Advisors. Bernstein analyst Robin Zhu struck a similar tone with a report titled “Tick Tock, Tick Tock,” estimating that NIO has only a few weeks of liquidity left.
The issues specific to Shanghai-based NIO include cost overruns and major recalls.The company said Wednesday it has rescheduled its earnings conference call to 8 a.m. New York time after canceling the original one planned for Tuesday.
More broadly, the automaker’s struggles lend credence to mounting concerns that China’s state-sponsored support of the industry inflated a bubble that’s poised to pop. The nation’s sales of EVs and “new-energy” vehicles fell for a second straight month in August as the government scaled back subsidies. China accounts for half of the world’s EV sales.
“The latest industry sales and pricing data have not shown improvement, prompting us to fear the anticipated recovery in industry demand in September and 4Q may prove more modest than expected,” JPMorgan analysts Ryan Brinkman and Rebecca Wen wrote in a note, where they also withdrew their price target on NIO.
NIO’s second-quarter net losses increased 83% from a year earlier to 3.29 billion yuan ($462 million), according to a statement. The deficit was worse than the 2.6 billion yuan average estimate of two analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and it was the company’s second-largest based on available data dating back to 2017.
NIO has accumulated about $6 billion in losses since it was founded by Li, who is also the chief executive officer, in 2014. Fire risks led to a mass callback of nearly 5,000 vehicles in June, a significant portion of the 17,550 units NIO had sold as of the end of May.
Li said in the statement that a target has been set to reduce global headcount to 7,800 by the end of the third quarter, from more than 9,900 in January. There will be additional restructuring and some non-core businesses will be spun off by the end of the year, he said, without elaborating.
A Tencent affiliate and Li agreed to buy $200 million of convertible notes through a private placement that’s expected to close before the end of the month, NIO has said. The company canceled its earnings conference call without explanation, a move Chen called “very strange.”
Though revenue surged more than 3,000% from a year earlier, that was a time when the company was just getting started to sell cars. It fell 7.5% from the first quarter.
NIO delivered 11% fewer vehicles compared with the first quarter, but it forecast the number will rebound to between 4,200 and 4,400 units in the third quarter. Third-quarter revenue will rise as much as 10% from the previous three months, the company said.
NIO previously scrapped plans for a manufacturing plant in Shanghai after the government decided to provide support to Tesla, which aims to start production in China this year -- another challenge for Li’s company. Annual capacity at the Tesla facility could eventually top 1 million vehicles, chief executive Elon Musk has said.
--With assistance from Courtney Dentch.
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