Tesla Inc. shares rose 3% in early trade Monday, after Canaccord upgraded the stock to buy from hold and said the electric-vehicle story is underappreciated on Wall Street.
“We believe the last two quarters and recent guidance for [the first quarter] have removed significant concerns for both production capability and profitability of the critical Model 3,” analyst Jed Dorsheimer wrote in a note. “As such, we see a more stable 2019 with far fewer concerns for investors in the company.”
Recent price cuts are further evidence that discounting is having the desired effect, he said. With shipments to the EU and China looking strong, the “tiny profit” the company TSLA, +2.65% predicted for the first quarter will prove to be the low point in EPS for the year and may put the arguments of short sellers to rest, he said.
“Our prior concerns around corporate governance were allayed with the addition of Larry Ellison and Ms. Wilson-Thompson as independent directors, and we believe Elon Musk is demonstrating a calmer demeanor characteristic of strong leaders,” said the analyst.
In early January, Tesla announced that the Oracle Corp. ORCL, +0.44% co-founder would join its board, along with a Walgreens Boots AllianceWBA, +0.38% human-resources executive, Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, as it moved to comply with one of the conditions of the settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission struck by Musk in the wake of what became known as his going-private tweet earlier this year.
Musk irked the regulator with a tweet that implied he had secured funding for a deal to take Tesla private when in reality he had not. The executive agreed that he and his company would each pay a $20 million fine, that he would resign as chairman of the board, and that the company would add two new independent directors to beef up corporate governance.
Tesla’s autopilot technology has an almost insurmountable lead in self-driving and will be key to future transportation, Dorsheimer wrote Monday. And liquidity concerns and worry about a pending convertible-note repayment should have been allayed by the company’s cash-flow generation of $1.23 billion and cash on the balance sheet of $3.7 billion, he wrote.
Canaccord is raising its price target for Tesla’s stock to $450 from $330, based on 30 times the fiscal 2020 earnings-per-share estimate of $15.02, which Dorsheimer said may be conservative given the strong earnings growth expected in the next few years. The new target is about 44% above the current stock price of $313.
Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, a longtime Tesla bull, said in a note Monday that Tesla is shifting from a production story to a demand story now that the first Model 3 cars have arrived in Europe. Ives said he would be in Europe this week to gauge demand and delivery logistics on the ground, especially in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, which he expects will be “epicenter of demand for Model 3 with overall EV sales growing in the country by 40% [or more] and a strong ramp expected this year with Tesla leading the charge.”
With the U.S. electric-vehicle tax credit being cut by 50% to $3,750 and then again to $1,875 on July 1, “the Tesla demand story in [the first half of 2019] has clearly shifted from the U.S. to Europe as pent-up Model 3 demand in the region will be the major swing factor for the stock in the near term,” Ives wrote.
Wedbush rates the stock at the equivalent of a buy with a 12-month price target of $390.
Tesla Inc. shares were trading at $314.36 per share on Monday afternoon, up $8.56 (+2.80%). Year-to-date, TSLA has declined -5.54%, versus a 8.23% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
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