Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Nio (NYSE:NIO) is doing all the right things, and its stock is responding positively. In June, the price of NIO stock rose 25% to $53.20 as the company reported one positive development after another.
This was a welcome turnaround for the Shanghai-based company’s stock after months of decline. Year-to-date, NIO stock is still down 16%. But the share price is trending in the right direction, giving hope to the company’s shareholders.
Analysts tracked by The Wall Street Journal maintain a median price target for NIO stock around $59. This suggests a further 18% gain might be possible for shares in the coming months.
NIO Stock: Better Than Expected Sales
Recently, NIO stock got a big lift when the company reached a major milestone. Nio managed to deliver 8,083 vehicles in June and reached a second-quarter total of 21,896 cars.
This occurred despite the ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips that has hobbled other automakers and forced them to scale back production. That quarterly figure was on the high end of NIO’s forecast of 21,000 to 22,000 vehicles delivered.
According to CNBC, Nio’s June sales “also brought deliveries for the first half of the year to more than 41,900, close to surpassing the total for all of last year of 43,728 cars.”
While the company’s sales are showing continued strength, they are still dwarfed by those of industry leader Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). The U.S.-based EV-maker delivered more than 200,000 vehicles in its second quarter this year. Nevertheless, Nio’s June deliveries impressed Wall Street and sparked a rise in NIO stock.
Immediately after the company’s Q2 sales were reported, Citibank (NYSE:C) raised its NIO stock price target from $58.30 to $72 and reiterated its “buy” rating. Citibank forecasts that Nio will deliver a total of 93,000 electric vehicles this year.
Nio is also taking steps to boost its production capabilities. The company is now building a second factory near the Chinese industrial city of Hefei. When finished, the facility will increase Nio’s production capability to 20,000 vehicles per month.
At the same time, Nio is increasing its EV fleet and its production of recharging and power accessories. In January of this year, Nio released its ET7 sedan, which is the company’s first vehicle to include an autonomous self-driving mode.
Nio is continuing to capitalize on a huge market opportunity. China remains the world’s largest EV market, with sales forecast to grow 51% to 1.9 million vehicles this year. And unlike many other companies, Nio has so far managed to stay on the good side of China’s government and industry regulators.
In May of this year, Nio renewed its agreement with Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC), a major state-owned automobile manufacturer in China. Meanwhile, its rival Tesla has run afoul of Chinese authorities, hurting its business in the country of 1.4 billion people.
Pushing Into Europe
While it has cemented its place as the leading domestic EV maker in China, Nio is not content to be exclusive to its home market. Later this year, the company is expanding into Europe with a new dealership in Oslo, Norway.
Norway was chosen because it is the first country in the world where EVs have outsold gasoline-powered vehicles. In 2020, 55% of all cars sold in the country were electric. Nio plans to expand into five more European countries in 2022, but has not specified which ones.
Nio will open its Oslo showroom and an 18,000 square meter service center in September. The company also plans to build battery swapping and charging stations throughout Norway.
Right now, Nio has 15 employees in Oslo but plans to raise that number to 50 by the year’s end. The company will likely have to aggressively market its vehicles to build brand awareness and drive sales in Norway. Rival Chinese automaker Xpeng Motors (NYSE:XPEV) has already moved into Europe, but its sales numbers have been weak.
Ride The Upswing In NIO Stock
Now is a good time to buy NIO stock. The company and its share price are on the upswing, and there appears to be plenty of open highway ahead of the EV manufacturer.
As the established EV leader in China, Nio could do well even if it simply concentrates on its domestic market. The company’s expansion to other regions is just one more reason to be bullish on the stock. Investors seeking exposure to the EV space should buy NIO stock now before it gets more expensive.
Disclosure: On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.