XPeng Is a Winner, But How Much Higher Can It Go?

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New Chinese electric vehicle IPO XPeng (XPEV) reported its first earnings as a publicly traded company in the wee hours of early Thursday morning.Electric vehicle deliveries increased 266% year over year (8,578 delivered) in Q3 2020, revenues increased 342% to $293 million, and gross profit margins turned positive — 4.6%. Granted, XPeng lost money on the bottom line — $169 million, or $0.75 per American Depositary Share. But even so, J.P. Morgan analyst Nick Lai declared the quarter a success.According to Lai, XPeng “beat” earnings all the way from the top line (revenues) to the bottom line (net loss) with numbers anywhere from 22% to 26% better than most analysts had predicted. It both sold more cars and made more revenue than expected, and lost less money doing so. And in Lai’s opinion, “the beat [Thursday] serves as a strong catalyst for XPeng’s near-term stock performance.”Accordingly, Lai doubled down on his Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating on XPeng stock, and on his $43 price target as well. (To watch Lai’s track record, click here)As Lai explained, J.P. Morgan is projecting that the Chinese “New Energy Vehicle” market, which includes not only fully electric cars but also plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, will grow 43% annually over the next five years. XPeng currently controls only a small sliver of even this sub-segment of the automotive market — just 1% as of the end of 2019 — but Lai believes that by 2025, its market share in electric vehicles will grow seven-fold to 7%.The analyst also notes that the “the global auto industry” as a whole is “trending structurally towards greener (NEV) and smarter (autonomous/connectivity) vehicles,” and part of his buy thesis seems to be that XPeng might supplement its growing market share in China with sales outside the country.Still, the Chinese market is key, and the prospect of seeing XPeng grab larger and larger shares of a rapidly growing domestic market has J.P. Morgan excited. In Q4, Lai notes that XPeng is looking for XPeng to grow its sales 17% sequentially, to 10,000 units. Lai’s own estimate, prior to the earnings report, had been for 13% growth — so XPeng is already growing faster than expected. Also noteworthy, Lai says he was only expecting XPeng to report a 3% gross profit margin in Q3, so the company’s actual gross margin of 4.6% was better than 50% more than Lai had counted on.Valuation-wise, Lai says XPeng stock should be worth about 3.5 times its estimated sales in 2025. For comparison, General Motors stock trades for an enterprise value-to-sales ratio of just 1.2x. At a recent enterprise value of $30.4 billion, it seems the analyst is looking for XPeng to grow from just over half of $1 billion in sales over the past 12 months, to perhaps $8.7 billion in sales five years from now — a compound annual sales growth rate of nearly 75%! Suffice it to say that this is an aggressive target — even assuming the Chinese market as a whole does grow at 43% annually, as Lai projects. So, that’s J.P. Morgan’s view, what does the Street of the Street have in mind? The current outlook offers a conundrum. On the one hand, based on 7 Buys and no Holds or Sells, the stock has a Strong Buy consensus rating. However, after soaring so high since August, the analysts expect shares to cool down and anticipate downside of ~19% over the coming months. (See XPEV stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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