Legendary investor Ron Baron is one of the most ardent supporters of Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA). During a recent segment on CNBC, the CEO, CIO and portfolio manager for Baron Capital declared that the opportunities for Tesla as a company in the auto segment are as strong as ever, despite all the volatility it has been facing over the past few months.
The present year has not been kind to Tesla stock. Since hitting $379 per share last year, the electric car maker’s stock has reached as low as $176 per share. Despite ending the second quarter with record deliveries, Tesla also reported a net loss of $408 million, translating to a loss of $2.31 per share. This was below Wall Street’s estimates, which pointed to an adjusted loss of $0.25 per share.
Yet, despite these results, Tesla also ended the second quarter with $5 billion in cash, the highest in the company’s history to date. The Model 3 remains competitive in international markets as well, and the impending operations of Gigafactory 3 in China are poised to bring the affordable versions of the electric sedan to the rapidly-growing, lucrative mainstream Chinese market.
While addressing the CNBC hosts, Baron stated that he has not sold any TSLA stock despite the turbulent nature of the company’s stock. Explaining his stance, Baron noted that Tesla is actually in a unique position in the auto industry because it is showing growth at a time when veteran carmakers are not growing. This, according to the billionaire, shows a notable opportunity for Tesla.
“The opportunity here is 90 million cars a year that are sold, and our guy is now going to sell 350-400,000 cars. Right now, they’re able to expand in a time when no one else is expanding in the automobile industry. So they’re able to build now in China with all the learnings that they’ve had in the United States. They’re building for 70% less than it would cost for the same cars to build in the United States and 30% less than it would have cost to build a year ago,” Baron said.
Baron also emphasized that Tesla is not a static target, even when veteran automakers seem to be putting serious efforts into producing and releasing premium electric cars. For Baron, part of this is due to the fact that experienced carmakers such as BMW are entrenched in the internal combustion engine. At a time when the internal combustion engine is being pushed aside by batteries and electric motors, some of these carmakers are dragging their feet in the adoption of compelling EVs, translating to an even bigger opportunity for Tesla.
“The quality of (Tesla’s) cars improve. The distances improve. The opportunity has not shrunk. In fact, the reason they have this opportunity is all these car companies have hundreds of billions of dollars invested in plants that make motors. So their business is making motors. That’s what they do. They make motors. So if your competitive advantage is you make motors better than anyone else in the world, and some guy comes along and says, ‘hey, you know what, all that stuff, all those motors you make, we don’t need them anymore,’ are you gonna drop all the motors that you’re making and go make a battery, (even though) you’re five or ten years behind? Tesla has an opportunity because other people are sort of slow walking,” Baron explained.
Wall Street has a generally skeptical stance on Tesla as of writing. Based on 27 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last three months, seven had a “Buy” rating, 6 had a “Hold” rating, and 14 maintained a “Sell” rating. The average price target for Tesla shares currently stands at $245.62, marking an 8% upside from the current levels of TSLA stock.
Watch Ron Baron’s discussion on Tesla in the video below.
Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.