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Tesla is disrupting the auto industry just like Salesforce disrupted software: Nomura

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) are seeing some recovery on Wednesday amidst a cautious yet optimistic outlook from Nomura Instinet, which recently initiated its coverage of the electric car maker. In a note on Tuesday, the financial firm’s analysts dubbed Tesla as a “true disruptor” of the auto industry, being a company that is forcing legacy carmakers to develop competitive electric vehicles.

Nomura Instinet analyst Christopher Eberle gave Tesla a “Neutral” rating, which is the equivalent of a “Hold.” A price target of $300 per share was also listed for the company. Eberle explained his rationale behind his stance on Tesla, stating that the electric car maker will likely see another volatile year this 2019. “We are cautious near term, as we navigate the breakneck pace of Tesla’s global expansion,” he said.

Despite his Neutral rating on the company, Eberle nevertheless highlighted Tesla’s massive potential. The analyst likened Tesla to some of the tech industry’s biggest players, noting that the Silicon Valley-based company is pioneering electric cars the same way that Inc. pioneered the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model.

“Similar to some of the software greats’ disruption of enterprise hardware, Tesla is a true disruptor of the automotive industry, in our view. It forces legacy combustion engine behemoths to scramble to develop competing products without cannibalizing their cash flow machines—keeping them comfortably at a distinct disadvantage, similar to what Salesforce did when it pioneered the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model,” the Nomura analyst said.

Eberle also likened Tesla to Apple Inc., since the electric car maker’s vehicles are a product of vertical integration. “We see similarities to Apple’s disruption of the handset market (iPhone) and liken the Supercharger network and over-the-air (OTA) software updates to the iOS and iTunes ecosystem. The SaaS model will flip Tesla from customer service laggard to a leader, in our view. Tesla is fundamentally changing not only the way cars are built but also how they are bought and sold. To us, this is similar to what Apple did with the advent of the iPhone, Amazon did with books (and eventually everything), Netflix did with video, and Salesforce did with software,” the analyst wrote.

The Nomura analyst’s points highlight a notable and unique advantage that is practically exclusive to Tesla owners today. With the company’s expansive Supercharger Network, long, comfortable road trips are possible, and with free over-the-air software updates, vehicles literally get better the older they get. These are advantages that non-Tesla owners do not get to experience today, at least not to the same degree. Eberle’s comments about Tesla ushering a change among traditional auto also ring true, as shown in the release of premium electric vehicles such as the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron.

Tesla stock remains divisive in Wall Street. Among the 30 analysts covering the company, 12 currently consider TSLA shares a “Buy,” 7 rate the stock a “Hold,” and 11 consider Tesla a “Sell,” according to FactSet. The average price target for the electric car maker is currently at $322.29, which is 18.4% higher than Tuesday’s closing price of $272.31.

As of writing, Tesla shares are trading 0.86% at $274.66 per share.

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

Tesla is disrupting the auto industry just like Salesforce disrupted software: Nomura
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