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Tesla’s unfair advantage: Batteries, talent, and more, says Morgan Stanley

Credit: CNBC

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock hiked 11.20% in trading on Monday, and Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas explained why the company’s future advantage lies within batteries and talented people wanting to work for Elon Musk.

Jonas appeared on an episode of CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Monday to discuss his price target for the electric car company, which he increased to $1,360 from $1,050 last week.

According to Jonas, Tesla has the potential to be “a large, if not dominant” third-party battery supplier for other car companies in the future. Morgan Stanley, with the help of technology colleagues in Asia, determined that the company’s potential battery supply business is worth around $310 a share, which contributed to a majority of the $350 price target increase that occurred last week.

But what lies past the development of battery cells is who will develop them, and that is where Jonas says Musk has the most significant advantage in the race to become a large-scale battery supplier.

“The battery is not mature. This is an arms race. It is an arms race for talent,” Jonas said. “And, amongst all of Elon’s benefits that he has right now, the one that is probably the most valuable and the one that is on display here folks, is that the best people in the world want to work for Elon.”

The best people in the world want to work for Musk, but it isn’t just in the race to become a battery supplier. The world’s most advanced minds are looking for employment in any of Elon’s ventures, Jonas added.

“The best people in batteries, chemistries, software, rockets, you name it, they don’t want to work for some conglomerate in a traditional 1970’s oriented, little bit by bit evolutionary. They want to put their skills to work to just go completely and take it up a notch,” Jonas added. He then indicated that there was value in that, and Morgan Stanley said the additional worth in the price target to coincide with this fact.

However, Jonas’ and Morgan Stanley’s price target for the company is still more than 20% below where TSLA stock was trading at during the Monday session.

“I didn’t have a chance to ask the question in the last [Earnings] Call, but even Elon, back in May, said he thought his stock was overvalued in his opinion,” Jonas said.

“I can only boil it down for my clients and my colleagues to fundamentals and assumptions. Here’s how I think about it: Each one million units of third-party battery supply is worth maybe $120 a share to Tesla. We gave them about two and a half million units by 2030, so that was about $310. If you wanted to get to $2,000, let’s say, just solving for batteries alone, we think you’d have to get closer to ten million units of batteries in addition to the three or four or five or ten million that people were giving them credit for in their own business,” he added.

Jonas believes that if an analyst were to do that, Tesla would be getting 100% or at least a large portion of the battery market share for EVs by 2030, which to him, does not seem realistic. Instead, the price that the company is trading at currently has to do with another unaccounted factor. He believes that it could be autonomy, or something unorthodox, like a relationship with SpaceX, but he sticks with his current $1,360 price target with an “Equal-Weight” rating.

TSLA stock closed at $1,835.64 on Monday. It gained only $.36 during aftermarket trading.

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

H/t: @TeslaNY on Twitter

Tesla’s unfair advantage: Batteries, talent, and more, says Morgan Stanley
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