(Reuters) – Shares of electric vehicle maker Nio Inc reversed course to trade lower on Friday after short-seller Citron Research recommended investors to sell the stock, citing pricing pressure posed by bigger rival Tesla Inc in the Chinese market.
Nio’s ES6 hatchback model faces imminent threat from likely price cuts for Tesla’s Model Y in China, Andrew Left-owned Citron said in an investor note.
Left has long targeted companies that he thinks are over-valued. Friday’s take is a reversal to the firm’s original recommendation two years ago, when it urged investors to buy the stock.
“Anyone buying NIO stock now is not buying a company or its prospects, rather you are buying 3 letters that move on a screen,” Citron said in the note.
Nio did not respond to a request for comment.
Tesla has cut prices in China on several occasions, aiming to gain more market share in the world’s biggest car market.
Currently, China-made Model Y has an estimated price of 488,000 yuan ($73,895) in the country, according to Tesla’s website.
Citron assigned a $25 price target on the Nio stock on Friday, implying a 48% downside to its last closing price.
The stock rose as much as 12.2% earlier in the session after upbeat quarterly results from peer Li Auto. Nio, which has risen more than 12-fold this year, was down nearly 1% at $47.79 in late morning trade.
“It is long buying and not short covering which is driving NIO’s price move,” Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at New York-based S3 Partners, told Reuters.
Short sellers, who have bet that Nio’s stock price will fall, have logged $3.5 billion in mark-to-market losses this year, according to S3 Partners.
(Reporting by Ayanti Bera and Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Maju Samuel)