What happened

American depositary shares of Chinese electric-vehicle maker NIO (NYSE:NIO) are rising today, up about 8.6% as of 10:30 a.m. EDT, after a once-bearish analyst upgraded the stock.

So what

In a new note released before the market opened on Tuesday, UBS analyst Paul Gong upgraded NIO to neutral from sell and raised his price target to $16.30 from just $1.00. (For reference, NIO's shares were trading at $16.25 as of 10:30 a.m. EDT.) 

A blue NIO EC6, a midsize crossover SUV with a sporty coupe-like roofline.

NIO expects to begin deliveries of its latest model, the sporty EC6 crossover, next month. Image source: NIO.

Gong was bearish on NIO not long ago. While he didn't go as far as rating it a buy, his upgrade represents a significant change of heart, and the reasons for the change seem sound: The company's fundamentals have improved.

Gong noted that NIO's sales volumes recovered nicely in the second quarter, and that the company guided to continued sales strength in Q3. NIO also delivered on its promise to improve gross margin, he wrote, and that, plus the company's successful capital raise in June, have "assuaged" his prior concerns about its balance sheet. 

Now what

With all that said, Gong still thinks that auto investors should be cautious here. While he concedes that there's strong global interest in NIO's electric-vehicle "story," he thinks the company will need additional cash to fund its growth and may need to do another capital raise at some point. 

I agree with Gong that NIO might need to raise more capital eventually. But if CEO William Bin Li and his team continue to execute as they have over the last several months, I don't think that NIO will have much trouble raising additional cash if and when it's needed.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.