Power your portfolio with the profits of China’s electric-vehicle makers
A professional investor tells us where he’d put his money. This week: Ewan Markson-Brown of the CRUX Asia ex-Japan Fund highlights three favourites.
The CRUX Asia ex-Japan Fund aims to find the highest-growth companies in the region by identifying opportunities in the market before the mainstream becomes alert to their potential, and holding them for three to five years through their early and mid-growth phases.
We look for companies on course to generate revenue growth of 15% per annum, irrespective of size. This often means we are positioning the fund to benefit from technological disruption. We do not buy blindly into an idea. Our strategy is to marry conviction in a theme with a thorough bottom-up approach: is management top-quality? Does the company have an edge via intellectual property or a process that is hard to replicate? And, critically, does it have adequate capital to deliver? One area where we have high conviction for growth potential is the electric-vehicle (EV) industry in China. These are the three Chinese EV carmakers we think are best positioned and can grow market share.
Drawing comparison with Tesla
Firstly, the dragon in the room: BYD (Hong Kong: 1211). Weighing in at $95bn market cap and selling for 12.5 times forecast 2025 earnings, BYD is notable for being early to EVs, and for gaining early support from Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett.
With 1.87 million EV vehicles delivered last year, BYD has sparked furious debate as to how comparable it is to Tesla, which produced 1.31 million pure electric-battery vehicles. Besides scale, BYD’s biggest advantage is being highly integrated – it also makes the batteries and many of the electronic parts that go into their cars.
Then there is the worldly old-hand, Geely Automobile Holdings (Hong Kong: 175). Geely Auto, its parent Zhejiang Geely, or its owner/operator Li Shufu either owns or holds long-time stakes in British, European and Asian carmakers.
The most recognisable is the London Electric Vehicle Company, which makes the iconic London black cabs. Geely also owns Volvo Car, Polestar and Lynk & Co, and has stakes in Aston Martin, Proton and Lotus. Though well- established abroad, Geely sells many more cars at home.
This $13bn market cap firm’s domestic EV offerings are thoughtful and well targeted; we expect Geely to re-rate eventually as an EV carmaker, from the legacy carmaker valuation it has now. Geely is on a 2025 price/earnings (p/e) ratio of 9.1.
Young upstart will roar ahead
Finally, the young upstart – Li Auto (Hong Kong: 2015). We think this $25bn market cap company, established in 2015, has the highest risk/reward profile of the new Chinese EV carmakers and is the most comparable to an early Tesla.
Li Auto’s focus should allow it to dominate its niche in family sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), which are bigger cars that borrow design elements from heavier duty off-road vehicles. It is concentrating its manpower, engineering and manufacturing into a simple product offering with a lower price point and a higher-value proposition than competitors, which we believe will enable it to gain market share from established (and perhaps more complacent) brands. Li Auto is trading at 21 times forecast 2025 profits.