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Tesla (TSLA) receives “Buy” rating, $450 price target from Jefferies Financial Group

Just days after receiving a higher price target from CFRA and a vote of approval from New Street Research, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) has received yet another round of support from Wall Street. In a recent note to its clients, Jefferies upgraded Tesla from “Hold” to “Buy,” while raising the company’s price target from $360 to $450, representing a 24% gain from the stock’s $363.06 closing price on Thursday. 

In a note to clients on Friday, Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois stated that Tesla’s strengthening balance sheet, its resilient growth relative to the rest of the auto industry, as well as the company’s improving productivity, bodes well for the electric car maker as a whole. Houchois noted that among the carmakers in the industry today, Tesla might be the only one that would avoid a “volume zero-sum game” or “negative margin trade-off in EVs.”

“Tesla should continue to stand out with broader price points, battery security of supply, product edge and a brand that transcends the volume/premium divide. In short, in the year ahead we think only Tesla will avoid a volume zero-sum-game or negative margin trade-off in EVs,” Houchois said.

While Houchois remains optimistic about Tesla’s chances as a self-sustaining business, the Wall Street analyst nevertheless stated that it might be better for Elon Musk to reduce his direct involvement with the company’s day-to-day operations. Instead, the Jefferies analyst noted that Musk should consider focusing on projects such as  “product/vision/other ventures.”

“Elon Musk’s erratic behavior makes us wonder if he might be considering reducing his direct involvement in Tesla to focus on product/vision/other ventures. We think such a move might be better suited to Mr. Musk’s talents than driving manufacturing efficiency and would benefit Tesla,” Houchois wrote.

Apart from Jefferies’ upgrade to a “Buy” rating, Tesla also received a higher price target from another Wall Street firm, Wolfe Research. In a recent note, Wolfe analyst Rod Lache gave TSLA an “Outperform” rating while raising the company’s price target from $410 to $430 per share, on account of the electric car maker’s capability to sustain the impressive performance it displayed in the third quarter. 

As Wall Street adopts a friendlier stance on Tesla, the company’s shares have proven resilient on the stock market. On Thursday alone, TSLA shares ended at $363.06, even trading as high as $371.25 on Friday’s pre-market. The stock’s price as of Friday’s pre-market places it above a critical milestone, higher than the $359.88 conversion price on $920 million in convertible bonds that are due this coming March. The recent levels of Tesla stock also places it close to levels that were last seen back in August, during the first phases of Elon Musk’s “funding secured” fiasco.

Tesla seems to be preparing itself for yet another delivery and production blitz this December, as the company attempts to deliver as many vehicles as it can to customers in the United States, whose $7,500 federal tax credit is set to expire by the end of the month. Amidst the company’s plans to bring the Model 3 to international markets, as well as its aim of producing the $35,000 base variant of the electric sedan, Tesla’s coming quarters would likely be even more historic. 

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

Tesla (TSLA) receives “Buy” rating, $450 price target from Jefferies Financial Group
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