BYD’s $18 Billion Rout Shows Fallout of Tesla Price War in China

(Bloomberg) -- A price war among electric vehicle makers in China is taking a toll on even the most resilient players, as evidenced by BYD Co.’s $18 billion drop in the past month.

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The US-listed shares of the manufacturer that’s backed by Warren Buffett have declined 14% since Feb. 1, underperforming rival Tesla Inc. which advanced 9% during the period. In comparison, a gauge of global EV makers fell 9%.

Traders are growing wary about BYD’s prospects after the electric vehicle maker’s dealers slashed prices of some models to boost sales. The change in sentiment underscores the wave of caution that’s sweeping the industry following moves by Nio Inc. and XPeng Inc. to follow Tesla’s lead in lowering prices as demand slows.

“A gradual industry shift is underway as excessive price cuts can lead to buyers holding back, awaiting even lower prices, while also having an excessively negative impact on margin for all players,” said Robert Mumford, an investment manager at GAM Hong Kong Ltd. “Lower input prices to date are not likely to offset a negative hit to margins.”

Investors are now sifting through the pile of stocks to determine the likely winners and losers from the price war, Mumford added.

In this respect, some say Shenzhen-based BYD may hold up relatively well as it has better pricing power and controls most of its supply chain by producing its own chips and batteries.

“Some players may have to undergo cash burn for market share gains and improved scale effect, which will lead to intensified competition and market consolidation,” Citigroup Inc. analysts Jeff Chung and Beatrice Lam wrote in a note. “Over the long term, we believe market consolidation will further strengthen BYD’s market share.”

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