Has Li Auto Stock Weathered the Storm as EV Stocks Decline?

LI Auto Stock Has Li Auto Stock Weathered the Storm as EV Stocks Decline?

The allure of electric vehicle (EV) stocks, once a high-growth story, has waned, resembling more of a “sunset industry” today. Chinese EV firms, in particular, face challenges due to China’s economic slowdown and the devaluation of Chinese shares.

NIO stock has plummeted to its lowest level since 2020, failing to meet market expectations despite being hailed as the “Tesla of China.” Xpeng also stumbled after a strong 2023, marked by partnerships with Volkswagen and China’s Didi.

In contrast, Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI) has outperformed its peers due to its strong operational and financial performance.

Li Auto Leads Among Emerging Chinese EV Companies

Li Auto has achieved significant milestones, becoming the first emerging Chinese EV firm to surpass 600,000 cumulative deliveries and 50,000 monthly deliveries last year. Unlike its peers, Li Auto has been a cash flow powerhouse, generating $6.22 billion in free cash flows in 2023 and holding $14.6 billion in cash and equivalents.

While not directly comparable, industry giant Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) generated $4.4 billion in free cash flows and held $29.1 billion in cash and equivalents at the end of 2023.

Li Auto Stock Declines After Lowering Delivery Guidance

Despite impressive delivery figures in recent quarters, Li Auto reduced its Q1 2024 delivery guidance from 100,000-103,000 vehicles to 76,000-78,000 vehicles. The company cited a misstep in the operating strategy of its new MPV Li MEGA and plans to focus on core user groups in cities with stronger purchasing power.

Li Auto’s CEO, Xiang Li, admitted to being overly focused on sales volume and competition, leading to a loss of focus on enhancing user value. The company aims to restore sustainable growth by refocusing its efforts.

China’s EV Market Challenges

China, which once had around 500 EV companies, has seen consolidation amid slowing growth and industry losses. Despite this, over one-third of cars sold in China last year were electric or hybrid vehicles. BYD emerged as the largest seller of “new energy vehicles” in China, surpassing Tesla as the world’s leading seller of battery electric cars in Q4.

Li Auto Stock’s Outlook

While some analysts revised their target prices downward after Li Auto’s guidance cut, the overall sentiment remains bullish, with a consensus “Strong Buy” rating and a mean target price of $52.73, almost 73% higher than the recent closing price.

Despite ongoing challenges in the EV industry, Li Auto’s strong financial position and valuation make it an attractive investment option. The company’s ability to generate free cash flow and its solid balance sheet position it well to withstand industry challenges, making it a compelling choice for investors looking for long-term growth opportunities.

Featured Image: Megapixl @ RobertWei

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About the author: Stephanie Bedard-Chateauneuf has over six years of experience writing financial content for various websites. Over the years, Stephanie has covered various industries, with a primary focus on tech stocks, consumer stocks, health stocks, and personal finance. This stock lover likes to invest for the long-term. Stephanie has an MBA in finance.