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Tesla’s (TSLA) fundamentals ‘underappreciated,’ says analyst amid canceled privatization drama

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) is showing its trademark volatility on Monday’s early morning trading, as the company deals with the aftermath of Elon Musk’s decision to walk back on his efforts to take the company private. While the electric car maker’s shares dropped as low as 6% during Monday’s premarket, Tesla nonetheless opened at $318 per share, not too far from Friday’s $322.82 close.

Tesla’s stock has been characteristically volatile, but after Musk’s fateful tweet earlier this month when he suggested that funding was “secured” for the company going private at $420 per share, TSLA has experienced even wilder swings than usual. The company’s privatization efforts eventually came to a head on Friday night, when Elon Musk published a blog post on Tesla’s official website stating that the privatization efforts would no longer be pursued. Musk’s decision was met with strong reactions, with many Tesla supporters lauding the CEO’s decision and critics voicing out their frustrations.

Tesla’s abandonment of its go-private initiative has resulted in a wave of criticism from the company’s naysayers. Prominent short-seller Jim Chanos, who believes that TSLA is worth $0, described the company as a “corporate-governance disaster.” Jeffrey Osborne of Cowen Group noted that he sees “mounting obstacles for the company” in the near future such such shareholder lawsuits and SEC investigations over Elon Musk’s behavior.

That said, some of Tesla’s supporters on Wall Street believe that there is a silver lining to the entire go-private drama. Baird analyst Ben Kallo, for one, stated in note on Monday that Baird remains optimistic about Tesla, especially since the company’s fundamentals, which have been steadily improving, might be “underappreciated.” Kallo did admit that a potential SEC penalty would likely weigh against Tesla, though if this does happen, Elon Musk himself would probably be the one who would bear the consequences.

“We expect shares to appreciate over the intermediate term as the focus shifts back to fundamentals, which we believe may be underappreciated. We are buyers on weakness as we expect shares to move higher ahead of third-quarter deliveries and results. A potential SEC penalty will remain an overhang; while it is extremely difficult to predict the outcome of an investigation, historical settlements may demonstrate perceived risks could be overblown. Additionally, we think any penalties will likely be borne by Musk.”

Kallo still maintained his Outperform rating for Tesla, setting a price target of $411 for the electric car maker.

Oppenheimer’s Colin Rusch also maintained his Outperform rating for the company. According to the analyst, stepping away from the go-private initiative “removes a large distraction that had significant chance of failure and the potential to severely limit Tesla’s access to capital while attempting to execute on its ambitious product strategy.” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak also noted that while Tesla and Elon Musk’s credibility have taken a hit due to the CEO’s behavior on Twitter, the firm believes that “the story will come back to the Model 3 ramp — not just the units but the profitability.”

The Model 3 ramp has been showing encouraging signs this August. Apart from Elon Musk confirming during the Q2 2018 earnings call that Tesla was able to hit a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 per week during “multiple weeks” in July, the company also passed the 100,000-mark in its VIN registrations for the electric sedan. Analysts from Evercore ISI who toured the Fremont factory also released a favorable report, stating that Tesla has the potential to ramp production to 7,000-8,000 Model 3 per week with “very little incremental capital expenditure.” 

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading -3.15% at $312.73 per share.

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

Tesla’s (TSLA) fundamentals ‘underappreciated,’ says analyst amid canceled privatization drama
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