Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Photo: Reuters/Aly Song
Li Shufu, founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Photo: Reuters/Aly Song

After missing its sales forecasts for 2018, shares in Geely Automobile Holdings, China’s most high-profile carmaker, fell as much as 11% in early trading to HK$10.18 (US$1.30). This took its share price to a 20-month low after brokerages lowered their estimates for it sales performance in 2019.

Last week Morgan Stanley downgraded Geely’s rating to neutral and lowered its target price to HK$8 from HK$15.

In a stock exchange announcement, Geely said it was setting a preliminary sales target for this year at the conservative level of 1.51 million units. This reflects the prevailing uncertainties in China’s passenger vehicle market.

The gloomy forecast resonates with rivals such as General Motors and Great Wall Motors, who have already predicted that this year will be tough for all carmakers, according to Reuters.

The Chinese car market contracted last year for the first time since 1990, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, which predicts sales for 2019 will reach 28 million vehicles, the same as 2018.

Geely, the main listed arm of Geely Group that owns Volvo and Proton, was a star stock market performer in 2017 when its shares more than tripled. However, in 2018, its stock price halved because of falling sales.

Geely said its sales volume in 2018 was 1.5 million, up 20% from the year before. However, this represented only 95% of predicted sales for the year.

Car sales were sharply down in December, when it sold 93,333 units, down 39% over the same period last year and 34% less than November 2018.

In a social media post, Geely’s chairman Li Shufu said in a new year’s address that the year ahead was pivotal.

“We must lay the foundation for our survival, otherwise we may soon face a period of demise.”

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