Shares of Chinese electric-vehicle maker NIO (NYSE: NIO) opened lower on Friday, after a Goldman Sachs analyst urged caution and downgraded the stock in a new note.
As of 10 a.m. EDT, NIO's American depositary shares were down about 9.5% from Thursday's closing price.
In a new note released early on Friday, Goldman Sachs analyst Fei Fang cut his rating on NIO's shares to sell, from neutral, while maintaining his previous price target of $7.
Fang's reasoning for recommending that auto investors sell NIO's shares is simple: After an 89% rally in the past month, with no significant changes to the company's story, he thinks that NIO's current share price reflects "over-optimism." (My take: He's probably right.)
Notwithstanding his sell recommendation, Fang isn't exactly bearish on NIO's long-term prospects. The analyst, who had a buy rating on NIO's stock just six weeks ago, wrote that the long-term investment case rests on structural forces in China's vast auto market that point to the growth of premium brands and electric-vehicle sales generally, as well as NIO's specific appeal as "China's first home-grown high-end passenger-vehicle brand."
Simply put, in Fang's view, the company has the potential for a bright future, but the stock price has risen beyond levels that are justified by the near-term fundamentals.
It will be interesting to see how NIO's senior executives respond to the rapid run-up in the company's stock price over the last several weeks. While the run-up was probably triggered by NIO's very strong second-quarter sales report, it might be time for the company to temper investors' expectations.
We'll see what happens when the company reports its second-quarter earnings results, likely sometime next month.
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