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Tesla (TSLA) gets more bullish outlook from Wall St. amid go-private initiative

Wall Street analysts covering Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) are starting to show a more bullish outlook towards the electric car maker. Since Tesla posted its Q2 financial results on August 1, analysts have upped their earnings estimates for the company, taking forecasts for 2019 up by more than 68%.

Mott Capital Management founder Michael Kramer notes that the improving outlook among Wall St. analysts comes as Tesla continues the production ramp of the Model 3. In the company’s Q2 earnings call, Elon Musk noted that Tesla was able to sustain the Model 3’s 5,000/week production rate during “multiple weeks” in July. Encouraging signs about the Model 3 ramp continued to emerge this week as well, after Tesla registered more than 16,000 new VINs for the electric car in a seven-day period. Bloomberg‘s Model 3 tracker, which has gotten more accurate over the past few months, also estimates the production of the vehicle to be at over 5,800 per week.

After August 1, analysts have narrowed their losses for the company in 2018 from $6.79 to $5.85. Revenue estimates for the full year were also revised higher by 4%, and are now seen rising by almost 74% versus the past year to $20.5 billion. Revenue estimates before August 1 among Wall St. analysts were at $19.5 billion. Apart from this, earnings estimates from Wall St. became more bullish since August started, with analysts now forecasting earnings to rise by more than 68% to $2.83 from $1.73. This signified the first time that analysts upped their forecast for next year.

While Wall St. analysts still believe that Tesla stock may be currently overvalued, the average price target for the company has been raised to $321.40, which is roughly 10% below the current price of the stock. This represents a nearly 13% average price increase since the end of July. Kramer noted that among 28 analysts covering Tesla, 32% currently have a Buy or Outperform rating on the company, while 36% have a Sell or Underperform rating. Among these is Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch, who upgraded Tesla from Perform to Outperform and set a price target of $385 after the company’s Q2 earnings call.

“While we have been cautious on Model 3 ramp, we believe gross-margin performance on Model 3 will carry the stock over the next 12 months,. With higher volumes and slower spending, we believe Tesla has reached a critical inflection point in its development,” Rusch wrote in a report to clients.

Tesla stock continues to be a battleground between the company’s supporters and critics. Since Elon Musk dropped a bombshell announcement last week about the possibility of Tesla going private, the company’s stock has proven to be volatile. After Musk’s announcement last Tuesday, TSLA ended the day at $379.58 per share. Tesla stock has since dropped back to the $350 range, ending Monday at $356.41 per share, despite Elon Musk releasing a follow-up blog post explaining why he announced that funding for Tesla’s privatization had been “secured.”

Amidst the controversy surrounding Musk’s announcement, fellow billionaire Mark Cuban, who owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, expressed his support for Musk. In an interview with CNBC, Cuban noted that Musk’s unorthodox business decisions, as well as his eccentric behavior, are things that contribute to Tesla’s potential.

“When you invest in an entrepreneur, you get the personality. This is a guy who is sleeping in the factory. This is a guy who is pushing, pushing, pushing. I would tell shareholders ‘be grateful that you have somebody that committed to the company,’ and recognize that being unique is what has helped make Tesla so successful,” Cuban said.  

Tesla has formed a special committee to evaluate proposals for the company’s privatization. The committee, comprised of Brad Buss, Robyn Denholm and Linda Johnson Rice, who are independent directors, has noted that it is waiting to receive a formal proposal from Elon Musk as of Tuesday morning.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading at -1.06% at $352.90 per share.

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

Tesla (TSLA) gets more bullish outlook from Wall St. amid go-private initiative
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