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Before NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) reported its Q2 earnings, we expected the EV maker to miss revenue estimates while posting an EPS in line with estimates. As the company missed both estimates, it is not surprising that its stock is down more than 45% since then. That being said, Nio is expected to post its Q3 earnings later this month where analysts expect it to report an EPS of -$0.43. Although the company reported impressive delivery numbers in Q3, our model forecasts it to report a wider loss than analysts’ estimate. It is for this reason that investors may find it lucrative to go short on Nio stock.
NIO Stock News
In Q3, Nio delivered 55,432 vehicles, a record quarterly figure. While this could mean that the company may report record earnings, that may not be the case in its upcoming Q3 earnings report. Nio has been suffering from declining vehicle revenue per delivery since Q4 2022 as it dropped significantly from $53,426.94 in Q4 2022 to $43,271.45 and it further declined in Q2 to $42,129.51.
There are 2 reasons behind the drop in the company’s vehicle revenue per delivery. The first is that many of its deliveries are of the ET5 model and 75-kilowatt standard-range battery pack models, as stated by management in the Q2 earnings report. The second reason is the company cutting the prices of its EVs in the wake of the price war Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) started. All of these factors have major implications for Nio’s revenues and gross margins.
In terms of revenues, the lower average selling price means that Nio generates less revenue than it could from its deliveries. By using the average vehicle revenue of the last 2 quarters, the projected vehicle revenue for Q3 is $42,700.48. This means that Nio’s projected vehicle revenue in Q3 is more than $2.3 billion by multiplying the projected vehicle revenue per delivery by its Q3 deliveries.
As such, Nio’s gross margins would be impacted. In the Q2 earnings call, management reiterated its target of double-digit vehicle gross margin in Q3 and 15% in Q4. These targets seem unrealistic since the company is still in the same position in Q1 and Q2 as the majority of its deliveries are from the cheaper ET5 and 75-kilowatt standard-range battery pack models. In fact, its margins should deteriorate further since all of the Q3 deliveries were after the $4,200 price cut on all of its vehicles.
Based on this, using the average gross margin of the last 3 quarters to forecast its Q3 vehicle margin makes sense since the margins of these 3 quarters are all within the same level Nio is expected to have in Q3 due to the aforementioned reasons. This means that the EV maker’s gross margin would be 6.04% or a gross profit of $142.9 million. In this way, we can forecast Nio’s Q3 cost of vehicle revenue to be around $2.2 billion.
|Quarter||Vehicle Cost of Sales||Vehicle Gross Profit||Vehicle Gross Margin|
As for other revenues, they are projected to be $215.1 million which is the average of the first 2 quarters of the year since there were no material changes that would affect that item. In addition, other revenues had an average gross margin of -21.84% over Q1 and Q2 which can help us project its other revenues cost of sales to come in the region of $262 million.
|Quarter||Other Cost of Sales||Other Gross Profit||Other Gross Margin|
By adding all of these projections, we can reach a total revenue estimate of $2.5 billion and a total cost of revenue estimate of $2.4 billion. This would represent a sequential improvement in gross margin to 3.72% compared to almost 1%.
With the topline covered, it’s time to forecast Nio’s expenses and EPS. In terms of R&D expenses, management expects it to be at the same levels as Q1 and Q2 until the end of 2024. Therefore, we can project Q3 R&D expenses to be $454.5 million based on the average of Q1 and Q2. This would represent 17.6% of its projected revenues which would be a sequential improvement from 38.13%.
|Quarter||R&D||R&D as % of Revenue|
In terms of SG&A expenses, management expects it to increase due to more marketing activities in tandem with the launch of the new NT2 models, while representing a smaller percentage of revenue compared to the first half of the year. With that in mind, SGA expenses average around 23.47% of revenue since Q1 2022. Therefore, using this figure leads us to project Q3’s SG&A expenses to be around $605.9 million.
|Quarter||SG&A||SG&A as % of Revenue|
Another part of Nio’s operating expenses is other operating income. This expense has averaged around 0.96% since Q1 2022 which is why it can be used to project the company’s Q3 other operating income. This means that this expense would amount to $24.8 million.
|Quarter||Other Operating Income/Loss||Other Income as % of Revenue|
Based on these projections, Nio is forecasted to report an operating loss of $939.6 million in Q3.
|Cost of Sales||$2,486,063,790|
For the rest of Nio’s income statement, we can use the average of the last 2 quarters as follows to forecast them since no material changes impacting these items occurred in Q3.
|Quarter||Interest Income||Interest Expense||Shares of Equity Investees||Other Income/Loss||Loss Before Tax||Income Tax|
Adding all of these projections together we reach a net loss projection of $911.2 million or an EPS of -$0.6 at its last reported outstanding shares count of 1.5 billion. This would be a wider loss than analysts’ estimate of -$0.43 which could see the stock sink to new lows.
|Cost of Sales||$2,486,063,790|
|Shares of Equity Investees||$1,723,500|
|Loss Before Tax||-$909,412,034|
Even after its 45% drop since our last article covering it, NIO stock may still be overvalued at its current valuation. As is, the EV maker has a book value of $2.5 billion which means that its book value per share is $1.67. Taking this into consideration, Nio is trading at a 4.55 P/B ratio which could indicate that the stock is still overvalued given that a suitable P/B ratio is usually less than 3. Based on this, we can reach a $5 price target on NIO stock which means that there’s around 31% downside from the current share price.
Despite this, there is a risk to the bearish thesis on NIO stock that investors should consider. Battery costs have been declining with the global weighted average price for lithium-ion cell prices dropping below $100 per kilowatt-hour for the first time in 2 years last August due to raw material prices declining, according to energy analytics firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. This could lead EV makers including Nio to witness better margins since batteries represent 30% of an EV’s manufacturing cost, according to a Goldman Sachs report.
Despite being a long-term bull on NIO stock, @TheLongInvest is disappointed with management’s constant under delivery.
@NIONenad is bullish on Nio’s battery swapping technology.
On the hourly chart, NIO stock is in a neutral trend as it is trading in a sideways channel between $7.2 and $8.08. Looking at the indicators, the stock is below the 200, 50, and 21 MAs which is a bearish signal. However, the RSI is approaching oversold at 32 and the MACD recently turned bullish.
As for the fundamentals, Nio’s upcoming Q3 earnings have the potential to be make or break for the stock. If the company fails to reach the double-digit gross margin target as the model above expects, there might be substantial downside pressure on the stock price. With the stock trading near support, investors could wait for a break of the $7.2 to enter a short position in the stock. With that in mind, a break of this support could signal a drop near $5.84, which would be a multi-year low.
NIO Stock Forecast
To conclude, NIO stock’s forecast could be bearish. While the EV maker’s deliveries increased substantially in Q3, it remains to be seen whether this increase was fueled by its price cuts. Since the company is already operating at poor margins, the price cuts may further compress margins, which makes management’s target of reaching double-digit margins in Q3 potentially unrealistic. Meanwhile, our model forecasts the company to post a wider loss than analysts’ estimates. Considering Nio’s history of overpromising and underdelivering, its stock could continue its free fall if it fails to meet expectations once again in Q3 which could see it reach the $5 price target.
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