New York (CNN Business)It looks like Warren Buffett has given up on BYD, China’s biggest home-grown electric vehicle maker.
Shares of BYD in the United States tumbled 11% Tuesday after Hong Kong’s Central Clearing and Settlement System recorded a massive 225-million-share increase in Citibank’s BYD stock holdings, Reuters reported. That’s the exact number of BYD shares that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway had owned.
Berkshire did not respond to a request for comment, and it may not be known whether Buffett sold the stake until the company’s next quarterly regulatory disclosure, set for mid-August. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) rose less than 1% Tuesday.
But investors weren’t waiting to sell what they believed was bad news for BYD. Berkshire’s enormous holding in the company represented 20.5% of the company’s outstanding shares.
BYD is in a close second place in Chinese EV sales and is nipping at Tesla’s heels. BYD sold 69,544 electric vehicles in China last month, compared to 78,000 from Tesla.
China’s overall car market slowed in the spring and the country’s sweeping lockdowns kept factory workers at home and potential buyers at bay. Still, BYD continued to dominate. The company sold a record 106,000 new energy vehicles in April, more than half of which were fully electric. The company’s sales rose 300% between April 2021 and April 2022.
Analysts have attributed BYD’s resilience in sales to its “vertical integrated supply chain.” The business model has made BYD less vulnerable to supply chain disruptions during the lockdowns, while rivals had to cut back production because of chip and battery shortages.
China’s market has begun to ramp up again in recent months. Even if its competitors gain momentum, BYD stands to benefit: The company reportedly has a deal in place to supply Tesla with battery technology soon. BYD has been making its lithium iron phosphate “Blade Batteries” since 2020, for use in its own cars and for sale to other auto makers.
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