Investor's Corner

Tesla gets lower price targets from Jefferies, Morgan Stanley despite 110% YoY growth

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) is facing new reservations from Wall Street, with analysts from Jefferies and Morgan Stanley lowering their price targets for the company. This was despite Tesla’s strong year-on-year growth, which saw Q1 2019’s electric car deliveries represent a 110% increase compared to Q1 2018.

In a note on Monday, Philippe Houchois from Jefferies lowered his price target for Tesla stock from $450 to $400. Houchois’ more conservative estimates followed the company’s release of its first-quarter vehicle delivery and production report, which revealed that Tesla delivered ~30% fewer vehicles in Q1 2019 compared to Q4 2018.

“While Q1 disappointed, the critical tests in our view remain demand elasticity in Q2 as lower-priced M3 versions become available and sorting out logistics,” Houchois said.

The Jefferies analyst also noted that Tesla’s recent deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which will require the legacy automaker to pay Tesla hundreds of millions of euros to allow the electric car maker’s vehicles to be counted as part of its fleet in the region. By doing this, FCA will avoid fines for violating new European Union emission rules. In his note, Houchois stated that the deal could help Tesla generate more income.

“The announcement of an ‘Open Pool’ with FCA (Fiat Chrysler) to reduce calculated CO2 emissions in Europe could generate several $ million of cash income, possibly starting this year. The Tesla equity story remains stressful but we continue to see value in Tesla leading the charge towards attractive and more affordable battery EVs when most competitors continue to enter at the high end where the EV/ICE trade-off is assumed to be highest,” he wrote.

Apart from Houchois, longtime Tesla analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley also expressed his increasing concerns about Tesla’s funding this year. Similar to his stance in 2018, Jonas estimated that Tesla will likely raise equity in Q3 2019. “The fundamental narrative around Tesla appears more clouded than we have seen in several years. Signs of weakening demand have raised long-standing questions about the company’s ability to fund itself as an independent company,” he said.

Jonas also lowered his price target for Tesla stock from $260 to $240 per share.

While Tesla’s Q1 2019 vehicle delivery and production reports show a steep decline from the company’s figures in Q4 2018, portfolio manager Ken Kam noted that the electric car maker’s year-on-year growth actually paints a far less grim picture. Kam notes that Tesla’s annual growth between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019 is actually 110%, an impressive figure considering that Tesla was dealing with production issues during the first two quarters of the previous year.

Kam also argues that Tesla’s 110% year-over-year increase is a far better result than its peers in the auto industry, with GM announcing a 7% drop from Q1 2018, Ford announcing a decline of 1.6% in the same period, and Fiat Chrysler decreasing by 3% year over year. From this one year perspective, Tesla appears to be one of very few automakers that is actually growing.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading -0.95% at $272.34 per share.

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

Tesla gets lower price targets from Jefferies, Morgan Stanley despite 110% YoY growth
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