Shares of NIO (NYSE:NIO) soared more than 10% higher out of the gate this morning after peers Xpeng and Li Auto reported better-than-expected earnings. That sent NIO stock over $50 per share as the group of "new energy" vehicle makers holds promise for delivering higher long-term sales.
Yet as NIO prepares for its own third-quarter earnings report later this month, noted short-seller Andrew Left at Citron Research says he's "pulling the plug" on the electric vehicle (EV) maker and sees shares cratering to $25. NIO's stock is up 1,100% year to date.
Citron had been an early booster of the EV maker, recommending it to investors two years ago when shares were $7. But the analyst issued an update today that says NIO's position "can never be justified by its current standing in the China EV market or its near-term prospects."
Left argues NIO is vulnerable to Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model Y pricing in China. Where analysts thought a price tag of $56,000 to $73,000 for the Model Y would be problematic for NIO's ES6 hatchback, analysts now believe Tesla could price it as low as $41,000, which hammers even harder at NIO's valuation relative to its rival.
A new round of EV price cuts could also seriously undermine NIO's chance for profitability, dramatically altering the trajectory of its stock price.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk raved about his Shanghai factory's capacity build-out that will help it achieve 500,000 units this year, noting the progress his China team has made was "beyond all reasonable expectations."
Whether NIO craters as low as Citron expects is a matter of conjecture, but Left's call to "rotate out of NIO" may be a smart one to make as Tesla revs up production and puts more pressure on the Chinese EV maker.