Investor's Corner

Tesla gets ‘Outperform’ rating amid improving ‘fundamentals’ and Model 3 ramp

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) received a vote of confidence from Wall Street on Thursday, as Oppenheimer reiterated its “Outperform” rating on the company and Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster noted that the electric car maker’s fundamentals could outweigh the controversy currently surrounding CEO Elon Musk.

Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch wrote in a note to clients on Thursday that Tesla seems poised to meet its targets for Model 3 production and profitability in Q3. Rusch’s note comes amidst Musk seemingly expressing his support of a report recently published by electric car-themed website InsideEVs, which listed the Model 3, Model S, and Model X, as the Top 3 best-selling electric cars in the United States for August.

“While InsideEVs‘ estimates are just that, estimates, we believe the service has been effective in identifying directional and order of magnitude trends on monthly shipments for Model 3 in lieu of verified data from the company. We believe TSLA is tracking toward achieving its 3Q:18 guidance. We believe TSLA has the potential to be a transformational technology company and deliver outsized returns,” Rusch noted.

Rusch reiterated Oppenheimer’s “Outperform” rating on TSLA stock, while also reaffirming his 12-18 month price target of $385 — a 37% upside to Wednesday’s close.

Loup Ventures managing partner Gene Munster also expressed his optimism about Tesla’s Q3 performance in a recent interview with FOX Business. When asked about his views on the controversies currently surrounding Elon Musk and the stock’s recovery this Thursday, Munster noted that behind the CEO’s questionable online behavior is a company whose fundamentals are improving.

“There’s two sides of the ledger. The side of Elon Musk as a leader — and as someone who has been an investor, an adviser, and an analyst for many years — that has been, to say, concerning is an understatement, his behavior over the last six months, and the last few weeks in particular. The other side of the ledger is how the business is doing, and I suspect that the reason why the stock is up is that he’s out today saying that their sales are going well. He made some tweets related to that. They (also) had an order of 30 other Semis from Walmart.

“If, in fact, they do exit the September quarter profitable, which is what they’ve predicted, I think that that will basically trump any of the negativity we’ve seen around him. So our bet is that the fundamentals are gonna outweigh this concerning and inexcusable behavior,” he said. 

Robots assemble electric cars in Tesla’s Fremont factory.

Tesla stock has seen a wild August, particularly after Elon Musk posted a tweet stating that he is thinking of taking the company private at $420 per share, and that he had “funding secured.” The days and weeks following the announcement were tumultuous in the least, with lawsuits, reports of SEC investigations, and Elon Musk’s capability to lead Tesla being questioned by the company’s critics. Tesla’s stock mostly dropped in August after Musk’s tweet, culminating in Wednesday’s close when the stock ended the day at $280.74 per share.

Based on strategies that Tesla adopted over the past two quarters, there is a good chance that the company will push the Model 3 even more this September, which is the final month of Q3 2018. Tesla, after all, has a tendency to adopt radical strategies during the last month of a quarter, as seen in its production blitz during the final week of March when it built more than 2,000 Model 3 in seven days, as well as its initiatives in June when it built GA4 and air-freighted robots from Europe in an attempt to hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 in one week. 

Tesla is attempting to produce 50,000-55,000 Model 3 this quarter while hitting profitability at the same time. While these are ambitious goals, the company has been showing signs that it is capable of actually meeting its Q3 targets. The company, for one, has shown that it can sustain its pace of manufacturing 5,000 units of the electric car in a week, which was confirmed by Elon Musk during the Q2 2018 earnings call. Tesla might also be within reach of its goal in terms of profitability, especially considering that Detroit veteran Sandy Munro concluded that the Long Range RWD Model 3, which would likely comprise a significant number of the company’s deliveries this Q3, exceeds 30% profit after a thorough teardown and analysis of the vehicle.

Tesla gets ‘Outperform’ rating amid improving ‘fundamentals’ and Model 3 ramp
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