Nio and other EV players outpace Tesla in past month, but market strategist says industry leader still holds advantage

The electric vehicle space is getting crowded and Tesla has recently been left behind.

Nio, Xpeng and Lordstown Motors have risen in the past month, just as Tesla has fallen 15%. Shanghai-based EV maker Nio got a boost to begin the week after an upgrade to buy from Citi. Analysts contended strong sales growth could lift the stock by more than 50%.

But, while Tesla has lagged the group, one market strategist said it still stands out from the pack in the long term.

"Tesla's a clear leader in revolutionizing the auto industry. … They're a global innovation leader. With a CEO like Elon Musk, you're going to see them continue to develop products, to bring out new products, and while competition is heating up because we are going to move into that electric car space more than ever, I still believe they're the clear-cut leaders," Michael Bapis, managing director at Vios Advisors at Rockefeller Capital, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Tuesday.

Tesla has been beaten down in recent months, victim of a broader sell-off in high-growth stocks and supply chain threats including a semis shortage and higher raw material costs. The shares are down more than 30% from a January high.

"People are trying to figure out where this shakes out with some of the supply chain issues they're having, but those are short-term issues. I would always buy this company on dips. Unless something rapidly changes with their competition over the next 12 to 18 months, I don't see them coming down from their perch anytime soon," said Bapis.

Todd Gordon, founder of TradingAnalysis.com, is also a long-term bull on Tesla. However, he said Nio has the advantage in the short term.

"They've all as a group retraced after the initial move higher post-Biden victory November 2020. … Most of them have pulled back," Gordon said during the same interview. "Nio saw its second significant drop of 54% after a 62% drop in early 2020. Nio actually saw a deeper pullback as we made a new low for 2020 whereas Tesla double bottomed."

Zoom In IconArrows pointing outwards

Zoom In IconArrows pointing outwards

That steep drop for Nio could signal a snapback move for the stock, Gordon suggested.

"While we're above $40 in Nio I'm interested for a trade. We could revisit the highs. I think Nio has the near-term advantage," said Gordon.

Nio last hit a record high of nearly $67 in January. A move back to that level implies 62% upside.

Disclosure: Vios, Bapis and Gordon hold TSLA. Vios holds Nio.

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