Tesla (TSLA) shakes off latest skepticism from Wall St as end-of-Q2 approaches

A snapshot from a drone flyover of the Tesla Fremont factory on June 29, 2018. [Credit: DarkSoldier 360/YouTube]

Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLA) are proving quite resilient amidst a new round of skepticism from Wall Street. Just recently, Credit Suisse initiated coverage of Tesla, giving the electric car maker an “underperform” rating over what the firm believed would be the company’s difficulties when veteran automakers like Volkswagen enter the electric vehicle market.

Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy started his TSLA coverage with a $189 price target for the company, which is about 15% lower than the stock’s closing price on Wednesday. Levy noted that his “underperform” rating is based on the argument that TSLA stock does not reflect key profit risks at its current levels. The analyst added that while Tesla is indeed leading in areas like electrification and software that will “define the future of carmaking,” it is likely to “settle as niche carmaker” amidst the arrival of more experienced competitors.

The Credit Suisse analyst noted that Volkswagen is the very definition of an industry incumbent, being around in the market for a very long time. The company also sold over 40 times Tesla’s volume in 2018, showing the vast gap between the two companies. With these in mind, Levy stated that Tesla is a “small newcomer to an industry which has historically had extremely high barriers to entry.”

“To best understand Tesla’s prospects in its push for electric vehicles (EV) proliferation, we believe it’s worthwhile to compare it to an auto industry incumbent – most appropriately Volkswagen (VW)… With both Tesla and VW committed to EV proliferation, the Tesla vs. VW debate could be relevant for the next decade or more. Both automakers are treating the long-term industry shift to vehicle electrification as an existential matter. Yet they are coming from vastly different positions… Tesla currently leads in areas that will likely define the future of carmaking. Yet it faces risks ahead – reflected in our below-consensus estimates. And despite growth ahead, we believe Tesla is likely to settle as a niche automaker,” Levy wrote.

Quite interestingly, Credit Suisse also initiated coverage on two American automakers: Ford and GM. Both veteran companies received an “outperform” rating from the analyst, describing Ford as a company showing “early signs of improvement with more to come” and GM as “one of the best players in our coverage.” For his part, Levy noted that despite his “underperform” rating on TSLA and the myriad challenges facing the company, Tesla “deserves due credit.”

Tesla is currently conducting its end-of-quarter push, delivering as many vehicles to customers before the end of June. A recently-leaked email from Elon Musk has also indicated that the company is “on track” to set records this quarter, but the company needs to “go all out” in order to complete vehicle deliveries.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading +0.11% at $219.51 per share.

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

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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