(Adds background on BYD’s mask making, paragraph 3)
BEIJING, March 29 (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.
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