True to Elon Musk’s words last month about the challenges Tesla faced during the Model 3 ramp, the company appears to be well on its way to leaving its self-imposed “production hell.” As Tesla’s Model 3 production shows more encouraging signs, Wall Street appears to be adopting an increasingly optimistic outlook on the electric car and energy company.
Amidst the noise surrounding Elon Musk’s tweets about the funding for Tesla’s possible privatization being secured, the company is steadily making progress in an area that matters a lot this Q3 — the Model 3 production ramp. Tesla is currently attempting to hit profitability this Q3, and being the vehicle expected to comprise most of Tesla’s electric car sales for the quarter, the Model 3 is key to this goal.
Tesla was finally able to hit its self-imposed target of producing 5,000 Model 3 per week during the final week of June. When the company released its Q2 production and deliveries report, some Wall St. analysts promptly expressed their doubts about the company’s capability to sustain the car’s optimum production rate. In the weeks that followed the release of the Q2 production and deliveries report, Tesla showed signs that it is capable of sustaining the optimum production pace of the Model 3. Hiring was ramped, more than 19,000 new Model 3 VINs were filed in a 2-week period, test drives for the Model 3 were started, and programs such as the 5-minute Sign & Drive delivery system were adopted. The Model 3’s sustained production was ultimately confirmed in the Q2 earnings call when Musk noted that Tesla was able to manufacture 5,000 Model 3 per week during “multiple weeks” in July.
Tesla has exhibited the same encouraging signs this August. Just recently, the company registered a record 16,000 new Model 3 VINs in a seven-day period — a feat that took the company roughly eight months to accomplish when it first started producing the electric car. Tesla appears to have begun initiatives to bring the Model 3 overseas as well, with viewings being scheduled for Australia and New Zealand. Even more recently, George Galliers of Evercore ISI, after a tour of the Fremont factory, released a note stating that Tesla is likely well on its way to achieving a steady weekly production rate of 5,000-6,000 Model 3 per week. The analyst even noted that despite the controversy over the company’s possible privatization, the fundamentals of Tesla’s operations are encouraging.
“Tesla seems well on the way to achieving a steady weekly production rate of 5,000 to 6,000 units per week. We are incrementally positive on Tesla following our visit. We have confidence in their production. We did not see anything to suggest that Model 3 cannot reach 6k units per week and 7k to 8k with very little incremental capital expenditure. Focusing on the fundamentals and setting aside talk of privatization, we are incrementally positive on Tesla following our visit.”
The Evercore ISI analyst is not alone in his optimistic outlook on Tesla, either. Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, who previously had a $265 price target for Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA), recently raised his price target for the company to $325 per share. Sacconaghi is not even an avid supporter of Elon Musk, being one of the analysts who attracted the CEO’s ire during the now-infamous Q1 earnings call, where he asked what Musk described as “boneheaded” questions.
Jefferies Financial Group also lifted their price objective for Tesla from a conservative $250 to an optimistic $360 in a report issued last week. The firm also gave Tesla stock a “Neutral” rating. Berenberg Bank reissued a “Buy” rating for Tesla stock, placing a price objective of $500 for the company’s shares. JPMorgan Chase & Co., which still has a “Sell” rating on TSLA, raised its price target to $308, a significant increase from its previous price target of $195.
While Tesla stock remains a battleground between the company’s supporters and critics, Wall Street seems to be showing signs that it is starting to adopt a more optimistic stance on the electric car maker. If the company’s new price targets from Wall Street are any indication, it appears that even firms that have been critical of Tesla are starting to recognize and acknowledge the progress the electric car maker is making. If Tesla nails its Model 3 targets this Q3 by sustaining the vehicle’s production at a rate of 5,000 units per week or more, Elon Musk’s vision of a profitable Tesla might actually come true.
As of writing, Tesla stock is trading up 0.51% at $340.43 per share.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.