Tesla (TSLA) falls below $200 amid ‘major concerns’ about company growth

Tesla exhibits its electric cars and energy products at the 2018 LA Auto Show. [Credit: Christian Prenzler/Teslarati]

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) fell below $200 after the opening bell on Monday amidst “major concerns” about Model 3 demand and Elon Musk’s growth plan for the company. In a recent note, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives expressed his reservations about Tesla, describing the electric car maker’s current predicament as a “code-red” situation.

Ives noted that it would require the company to undertake a “Herculean” task to meet its end-of-year production forecast. Compared to Tesla’s production forecast of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, Ives stated that a “best case scenario” for the company would be a total production of 360,000 to 370,000. The Wedbush analyst added that “given the current tea leaves in the field around demand,” a total production of 340,000 to 355,000 for 2019 would be more likely.

The Wedbush analyst also criticized the company for pursuing “sci-fi projects” instead of focusing on simplifying its business model. “With a code red situation at Tesla, Musk & Co. are expanding into insurance, robotaxis, and other sci-fi projects/endeavors when the company instead should be laser-focused on shoring up core demand for Model 3 and simplifying its business model and expense structure in our opinion with headwinds abound.”

“Tesla is facing a quagmire as the company is in the midst of building out its next flagship factory in Shanghai with Giga 3, in the early stages of tooling/blueprinting its next Model Y for production slated for 2020, and ramping production of its mid-range and base Model 3 in the US, all while facing a growing cash crunch and high expense structure issue,” Ives added.

Considering Tesla’s current circumstances, Ives opted to drop his price target for TSLA stock from $275 to $230.

Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill also expressed reservations regarding Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assist feature, which was found to have been engaged during a fatal Model 3 accident earlier this year. According to Gill, the report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) “could cast doubt on Tesla’s self-driving capabilities, which have been highly touted by Mr. Musk,” especially considering that “the Autopilot feature has been an integral component of the company’s perceived competitive differentiation and hence its high valuation.”

Tesla shares have had a rough year so far. Since approaching all-time highs last December, TSLA stock has fallen over 40%, augmented in part by the company’s lower-than-expected delivery and production numbers for the first quarter. Current headwinds, particularly the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, have weighed down on TSLA stock as well.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading -4.36% at $201.82 per share.

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

"Simon Alvarez : @https://twitter.com/ResidentSponge Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.."
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