Investor's Corner

Tesla remains under pressure as Bernstein questions TSLA assets

Tesla stock (NASDAQ:TSLA) neared the $180 per share support level on Monday, amidst the release of a bearish note from Bernstein analyst Max Warburton, who questioned the value of Tesla’s “assets.” In his note, the analyst claimed that the value (or lack thereof) of the electric car maker’s tech, factories, charging network, and brand would likely make the company unattractive to potential buyers, such as Volkswagen AG.

“What assets are attractive? Tesla no longer has genuinely differentiated tech. The production plant is sub-par. The Gigafactory is probably not essential (and may be claimed by Panasonic). The brand still has value, albeit one that is declining fast. The Supercharger Network also has some value. Perhaps these get picked up. But at what price? We struggle to see it being sold as a going concern,” Warburton stated.

It should be noted that Warburton is not Bernstein’s leading TSLA analyst. Instead, he covers several European automakers for the financial firm, some of whom would likely take a look at the electric car maker if it hits a point where an acquisition becomes a plausible scenario. Despite his reservations on the Silicon Valley-based company, the analyst did credit Tesla for its technology, which have put German automakers in a defensive position.

“Its technology seemed ahead of all other OEMs – damaging the Germans’ relative brand position. Tesla took market share from the German OEMs in the US, UK, and some other regions. But (the) financial failure of Tesla would force a change in investors’ views of traditional OEMs. It would show how difficult it is for a new entrant to succeed. Most important: it would change views on the size and growth rates of the EV market,” the Bernstein analyst noted.

Warburton’s observations and reservations about Tesla’s assets seem premature at best and ill-conceived at worst. If Tesla’s tech really does not hold an edge against veteran automakers anymore, for example, then vehicles such as the Audi e-tron have no excuse for their subpar efficiency and range compared to the older, larger Model X. Over-the-air firmware updates should also be the norm across experienced automakers if the analyst’s statements about Tesla’s non-differentiated tech are accurate. It should also be noted that Warburton seems to be grossly undervaluing the Fremont factory, Gigafactory, and the Supercharger Network, all of which are pretty much unmatched in the EV market today.

Besides, considering leaked emails from Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the company’s potential numbers for the second quarter, it is likely far too early to start speculating about why the electric car maker cannot be sold. After all, Tesla is not for sale, at least at this point.

Interestingly, these sweeping doubts about Tesla’s value were mentioned by New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu, who currently holds an optimistic $530 price target on TSLA stock. Ferragu recently stated that Tesla’s current rough phases would likely come to pass, especially since the company captured about 15% of the premium car market in the US in March and April. The New Street Research analyst also noted that there is a “disconnect” when it comes to TSLA shares today. “The disconnect between sentiment and reality on Tesla is at its all-time high,” Ferragu said.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading -1.73% at $181.95 per share.

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

Tesla remains under pressure as Bernstein questions TSLA assets
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