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.
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.)
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.
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.
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