Tesla margins will tighten as price cuts wage EV war: Morgan Stanley

Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) investors should prepare for tightening margins as price cuts wage a war between electric vehicle makers, Morgan Stanley said in a note.

After reiterating an ‘Overweight’ rating and a $220 price target on the automaker’s stock, Morgan Stanley analysts said that the recent moves by EV makers across the industry to reduce prices are indicative of a trend and not a fad.

“We believe EV price cuts are not a fad, but a trend,” analysts wrote in a note. “While subject to volatility, investors should anticipate further cuts in EVs with cost-leader Tesla setting the tone.”

Price cuts are occurring across the industry and making competition more fierce within the EV sector. While Tesla has managed to set the tone with price cuts early in 2023, it has continued to refine prices in both directions. Many companies have directly responded to Tesla’s cuts with discounts of their own, some bigger than others. Others have avoided the strategy altogether.

The price cuts have been used to stimulate demand, and it has worked because who doesn’t love a lower price tag? While companies that haven’t been in the EV sector long enough to have a stable system of operation, evident through struggles with software, price cuts are basically the only thing they may have control over currently.

While Tesla may lead the sector in terms of overall EV performance, including range, reliability, and charging infrastructure, prices are being undercut by competitors. Additionally, companies are gaining more experience in the EV manufacturing front, and this is helping them become well-versed in a tough industry. However, they are still many years behind the leader.

We talked this weekend about how competitors will need more than a cheap car to dethrone the EV king, and Tesla will only go so far down in terms of pricing with its current models.

Although a more affordable option is on the way, Tesla will work with what it has for now, and in order to make its already industry-leading vehicles reach even higher sales figures, it can just cut prices.

But this comes with a consequence for investors, Adam Jonas, the Morgan Stanley analyst responsible for covering Tesla, said in the note:

“As the supply/demand environment continues to change, we would prepare for potentially lower margins (at gross and OP) than consensus currently forecasts for Tesla. This could potentially drive more opportunistic entry points into the stock. At the same time, we believe Tesla’s EV competition (startup and legacy players) will continue to struggle to catch up, driving restructuring and consolidation across the EV landscape.”

Disclosure: Joey Klender is a TSLA Shareholder.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, please email me at joey@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @KlenderJoey, or if you have news tips, you can email us at tips@teslarati.com.

Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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