Buffett-backed Chinese EV maker BYD profit up 162% in 2020

BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD Co Ltd,, which is backed by billionaire Warren Buffett, on Monday reported a 162% growth in 2020 net profit as it became a major mask maker amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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BYD reported 4.23 billion yuan ($643.75 million) net profit in 2020, up from 1.61 billion yuan in 2019. That compared with a 4.6 billion yuan net profit estimated by 22 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.

BYD, which started making masks early last year, shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak began, did not give details about its current manufacturing capacity of masks. In May it said it could make 50 million masks a day.

The Shenzhen-based car company, which has partnerships with Japan’s top automaker Toyota and German Daimler in China, sold 426,972 vehicles in 2020, 7.5% lower from a year earlier.

Overall auto sales in China fell 1.9% to 25.3 million vehicles in 2020, according to industry data.

BYD, which rolled out a customised EV model for ride-hailing services with China’s Didi Chuxing last year, said 2020 revenue dropped 22.6% to 156.6 billion yuan.

Analysts expected revenue of 148.76 billion yuan.

BYD also said it expects net profit in the first three months this year to grow 77.6% to 166.3% compared to same period last year, citing positive auto sales.

It also plans to issue debt financing instruments worth up to 50 billion yuan.

($1 = 6.5709 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe; editing by David Evans