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Tesla (TSLA) starts recovering amid Outperform rating, $430 price target from Wall St firm

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While Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) ended Monday’s trading at a nearly 18-month low, the electric car maker has nonetheless received an optimistic outlook from Macquarie Capital Inc. In a recently published note, the Wall Street firm gave the company an Outperform rating and a $430 price target, citing the electric car maker’s unique position to “lead in ecosystem platforms.”  

Macquarie analyst Maynard Um wrote in a recent note that in the long term, Tesla would likely enjoy an edge against competitors due to the strength and integration of its vehicle hardware and software systems. The analyst pointed out that the auto industry is currently “on the precipice of a multi-decade transformation driven by disruptive innovation and technology.” Thus, companies focused on highly disruptive ecosystem platforms such as Tesla would likely be successful. Um also took a particular focus on Tesla’s real-world Autopilot data as pivotal in establishing the company’s place in the emerging autonomous driving industry.

The Macquarie analyst noted that in the short-term, he sees enough levers to fund Tesla’s debt maturity events, particularly if the company’s stock reaches $360 per share by 3/1/2019. Um did note, though, that it would be beneficial for Tesla to raise equity, as it would further strengthen the company’s longer-term outlook and provide a cushion for any unexpected events or periods of “economic softening.” The analyst also stated that there are two key demand drivers which provide comfort around Tesla’s sales.

“Our thesis is also predicated on TSLA having enough levels to get over the debt maturity hump including cash flow from ZEV credit (estimate potential for $500-$600 million in 2H 18) & Model 3 sales, access to $1.2 billion unused debt commitment, potential for credit amendments, et al. We see two demand drivers into year-end (key to achieving profits) that provide comfort around sales: 1) pent-up demand before the end of lifetime Supercharging on 9/18, and 2) pent-up demand before year-end when US subsidies diminish. TSLA appears on track for production targets & should be able to achieve profitability in 2H.”

The analyst concluded that ultimately, Macquarie’s Outperform rating and $430 price target for Tesla is driven by five primary factors – the electric car maker’s accelerating vehicle growth, the company’s “unique” potential among OEMs, its technology integration and differentiation, the expansion of its energy storage business, and its opportunity to lead in the autonomous driving field.  

Amidst the release of the Macquarie analyst’s recent note, TSLA stock started showing some recovery, trading up 3.36% at $258.98 per share when markets opened on Tuesday.

The steep plunge of Tesla stock over the past week comes amidst the company’s improving fundamentals and even more accolades for its latest vehicle, the Model 3. Apart from showing impressive Q3 vehicle delivery and production results, Tesla has also been exhibiting signs that its ramp for the Model 3 ramp is getting even better. Since October began, for example, Tesla has registered more than 17,000 new Model 3 VINs, with the majority of the filings corresponding to Dual Motor vehicles. This Sunday, Tesla also shared an update stating that the NHTSA has found the Model 3 to be the car with the “lowest probability of injury” among the vehicles the agency has tested so far. Immediately following the Model 3 was Tesla’s two other cars – the Model S and the Model X.

Tesla’s vehicle assembly line in Fremont, CA.

Admittedly, some of the stock’s volatility could be attributed to Elon Musk’s behavior on Twitter last Thursday. Less than a week after agreeing to a settlement with the SEC regarding the commission’s lawsuit over his “funding secured” tweet last August, Musk opted to troll the SEC on Twitter. Tesla was down 4.4% on Thursday, but after Musk’s tweets, TSLA fell by 2% more. Friday and this past Monday were equally unkind to Tesla stock.

Fellow billionaire and iconic philanthropist Richard Branson recently expressed his thoughts on what Elon Musk could do to reduce his stress in Tesla. While speaking to CNBC, Branson noted that it would be best if Musk, a hands-on leader who has a tendency to overdo his work, learns the art of delegation.

“I think he maybe needs to learn the art of delegation. It’s important that he’s got to find time for himself, he’s got to find time for his health, and for his family. He’s a wonderfully creative person, but he shouldn’t be getting very little sleep. He should find a fantastic team of people around him and still jump in on all the major issues. And I think the reason that I have such an enjoyable life – a long life – has been finding wonderful people to run our companies on the key issues I can then get involved. So if I was to sit down with him – I have talked to him about it – but I think learning the art of delegation better would be his one flaw,” Branson said.

As of writing, Tesla shares are trading up 5.24% at $263.69 per share.

Disclosure: I have no ownership in shares of TSLA and have no plans to initiate any positions within 72 hours.

Tesla (TSLA) starts recovering amid Outperform rating, $430 price target from Wall St firm
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