Stop buying XPeng stock, J.P. Morgan says

Shares of XPeng Inc. fell Wednesday, after J.P. Morgan backed away from its bullish call on the China-based electric vehicle maker, saying the COVID-related reopening trade has been overdone.

Analyst Nick Lai said with China’s recent rest of COVID-related restrictions, the reopening trade in auto stocks has been playing out rapidly. And as earnings expectations have yet to catch up, he fears the reopening rally could “run out of steam” within the near term.

“[W]e note the recent rally has priced in a rosy scenario while corporate earnings and underlying industry data are still lagging,” Lai wrote in a note to clients.

XPeng’s stock

shed 0.4% in premarket trading Wednesday. Through Tuesday, the stock had rocketed 57.4% since closing at a record low of $6.41 on Nov. 1.

Lai said he believes the stock’s rally has largely priced in a recovery outlook from the second quarter of 2023, while he’s concerned about possible cuts to consensus estimates.

He downgraded XPeng to neutral from chubby, and cut his stock price goal to $9 from $11.

Lai also cut his 2023 delivery estimate to 155,000 vehicles from 210,000, and said margins may very well be hit hard, especially in the primary quarter because of this of latest energy vehicle (NEV) subsidy shortfalls.

Overall, Lai said he stays “constructive” on the NEV market in 2023, although he expects the expansion rate will decelerate to twenty% from 80% in 2022. While he believes XPeng will profit from the rising trend, he’s concerned about fierce pricing competition within the mass market in China, as evidenced by recent further price cuts by Tesla Inc.
which he expects will weigh on XPeng’s profitability.

For rival Nio Inc.
Lai cut his 2023 delivery estimate to 200,000 vehicles from 240,000 vehicles, but kept his rating at chubby and his stock price goal at $14.

Nio’s stock rose 1.2% in premarket trading. Through Tuesday, the stock has hiked up 21.5% since closing at a two-year low of $9.25 on Nov. 9.

Over the past 12 months, XPeng shares have plunged 78.0%, Nio’s stock has tumbled 62.6% and Tesla’s stock has dropped 66.5%, while the S&P 500 index

has lost 16.8%.

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