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Tesla (TSLA) drops in the aftermath of Q1 earnings: Here’s Wall St’s take

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) experienced a 3% drop on Thursday’s intraday as the electric car maker felt the aftermath of its Q1 2019 earnings. The company posted a loss of $702 million or $4.10 a share in the first quarter, which is almost comparable to Q1 2018’s loss of $4.19 per share.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and the company’s executives explained during the Q1 2019 earnings call that the company’s lower-than-expected performance was due to one-time items and circumstances such as delivery delays for the Model 3 in Europe and China. With Tesla back in the red, here is what Wall Street analysts are now saying.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, a longtime TSLA bull, downgraded Tesla from “Outperform” to “Neutral” while adjusting his price target for the company from $365 per share to a far more conservative $275 per share. Ives also penned a scathing note on Thursday, calling Tesla’s Q1 results as one of the “top debacles” Wedbush has ever seen, and criticizing the company’s executives for their belief that demand and profitability will “magically” return in the coming quarters.

“In our 20 years of covering tech stocks on the Street, we view this quarter as one of the top debacles we have ever seen while Musk & Co. in an episode out of the Twilight Zone act as if demand and profitability will magically return to the Tesla story. Ultimately we believe the company’s guidance is aggressive and management/board is not taking aggressive enough cost-cutting actions and shutting down future endeavors to preserve capital and give a sustained path to profitability for the Street. We no longer can look investors in the eye and recommend buying this stock at current levels until Tesla starts to take its medicine and focus on the reality around demand issues which is the core focus of investors,” Ives wrote.

Ryan Brinkman of JP Morgan noted that a negative reaction was already expected considering Elon Musk’s previous comments about Tesla’s inability to turn a profit in Q1. Brinkman, who has an “Underweight” rating and a $200 price target on TSLA stock, also pointed out Tesla’s willingness to do a capital raise this year. “Management also seemed less opposed to an equity capital raise, acknowledging “some merit” to the idea, which in our view serves to highlight dilution risk that likely rises after 1Q cash flow and cash balance tracked weaker than JPM and consensus expectations. While 2Q deliveries guidance appears potentially aggressive, the full year outlook for 360-400K implies a further roughly +35% to +45% sequential increase from 1H19 to 2H19, further highlighting the execution risk entailed in meeting the figures that are implied needed to generate positive earnings and cash flow,” he wrote.

Joseph Spak from RBC noted that Tesla’s Q1 numbers were “uglier than expected,” while stating that a capital raise will likely be held this year. Similar to Brinkman, Spak reiterated his “Underweight” rating and $200 price target for Tesla stock. “Elon talked about putting Tesla on a ‘Spartan diet’ and while we don’t doubt the company spent inefficiently in the past, the low capex+R&D and of course the lower sales, are not hallmarks of a hyper-growth company, yet TSLA continues to be valued as one,” he wrote.

Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst also proved bearish on the company, expressing his reservations about Tesla in a segment of CNBC‘s Street Signs. The analyst was skeptical of the demand for Tesla’s vehicles, even noting that the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV are already starting to look “quite old.” “If you claim that demand is huge and unlimited then the key question is, why do you lower your mix? Why do you lower your pricing? I mean the S and the X are quite advanced in any normal life cycle of a product so they would really need a significant refresh in order to restore the pricing. The brand will be less exclusive than it has been in the past,” the Evercore ISI analyst said.

Not all analysts covering the company were bearish after Tesla’s release of its first-quarter results. In a note, Piper Jaffray analyst Alexander Potter opted to look into the coming quarters for a potential recovery, while pointing out that Tesla’s shortcomings in Q1 were the result of several factors. “Although logistical challenges—long with lower transaction prices—had an obvious impact on Q1 profitability, we think this was temporary,” analyst Alexander Potter wrote in a note. “Guidance implies a second-half recovery for both deliveries and margins, and this seems reasonable to us. The first quarter suffered from a particularly nasty combination of headwinds, including seasonality, a big buildup of non-US deliveries (negative for logistics costs and working capital), as well as the expiration of tax incentives in the United States,” Potter wrote.

As of writing, Tesla is trading down -3.35% at $250.00 per share.

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

Tesla (TSLA) drops in the aftermath of Q1 earnings: Here’s Wall St’s take
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