February 27

Chinese Luxury EV Maker Gives Bullish Delivery, Revenue Guidance

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Li Auto (LI) gave an upbeat delivery and revenue outlook for the current quarter after posting mostly in-line earnings for the fourth quarter of 2022. Li stock jumped at Monday’s open but slashed gains.

Li and its startup peers Nio (NIO) and XPeng (XPEV) are looking to recover after a long period of supply disruptions and production volatility. Both Li Auto and Nio target the Chinese market for premium electric cars.

Li Auto Earnings

Estimates: Analysts polled by FactSet expected Li Auto to post a 48% EPS jump to 7 cents per ADR share, following two straight quarters of losses. The startup, which makes premium hybrid-electric EVs, has an inconsistent record of quarterly profits. Revenue was seen growing more than 50% to $2.566 billion.

This would mark Li’s first $2 billion revenue quarter, after it first topped $1 billion in Q3 2021.

Results: Li Auto earnings jumped 41% to six cents per ADR share. Revenue surged nearly 53% to $2.566 billion. The startup previously reported Q4 deliveries of 46,319 electric vehicles, a 31.5% year-over-year increase.

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On Monday, Li reported Q4 free cash flow of RMB 3.26 billion ($472.3 million). That was up 101.6% vs. Q4 2021, and compared with a cash burn of RMB 1.96 billion in the prior third quarter.

Outlook: Li Auto guided Q1 deliveries of 52,000-55,000 electric vehicles, up 64%-73% vs. the year-ago quarter. It would also be up from 46,319 deliveries in Q4 2022.

It expects Q1 revenue of RMB 17.45 billion-RMB18.45 billion ($2.53 billion-$2.68 billion), up 82.5%-93% from a year ago. The midpoint of $2.61 billion is above FactSet consensus of $2.53 billion.

LI Stock, China EV Stocks

Shares of Li Auto leapt to 24.44 soon after the open, then quickly pulled, up just 0.6% to 23.37 on the stock market today.

Nio stock rose 0.1% Monday and Xpeng stock advanced 1.9%, both off early session highs as well. Shares of Nio and Xpeng remain near year-plus lows.

Li Auto and Nio, which reports Q4 results on Wednesday, have been rolling out new models, moving down the price scale somewhat.

But Tesla (TSLA), the premium EV leader in China, has slashed prices of its locally made electric vehicles. At the same time, China’s BYD (BYDDF), which dominates the mass market for electric cars, is moving into the premium segment. Over the weekend, BYD also cut EV prices.

Nio reports earnings on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Li Auto, Nio and Xpeng will release February delivery figures, with BYD likely due by the end of the week.

New Li EV Models

In Q4, Li Auto sold 46,319 vehicles, up 31.5% vs. a year earlier. Analysts praised Li’s execution despite Covid-related headwinds in the China market.

Li outsold Nio and Xpeng last quarter. It won Wall Street’s praise for execution despite Covid-related headwinds in the China market.

In a seasonally soft January, all three Chinese EV makers, recorded year-on-year sales declines.

Looking ahead, analysts are looking for improvement in Q2 as new models and EV production ramp up.

Li stock has tumbled in the past year but has jumped nearly 14% year to date.

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