Wall Street just can’t seem to keep the lid on Tesla Motors Inc NASDAQ:TSLA stock, which climbs higher and higher with every shred of news. Shares of Tesla have almost doubled in value this year and have skyrocketed by more than 700% in the last 20 months.
This time around, it looks like an upgrade from Stifel Nicolaus analysts may be to thank for the automaker’s share price increase. Analyst James Albertine upgraded the automaker’s stock to Buy and increased his price target to a whopping $400 per share.
Tesla’s profitability doesn’t matter
Albertine actually said in his report that Tesla Motors Inc NASDAQ:TSLA’s profitability doesn’t even matter. He also said that investors are so enthusiastic about the automaker that its shares are pushing onward like a “freight train.” The analyst called Tesla’s growth story “well manicured” and said that compared to most automaker stocks, Tesla has managed to attract interest from a broader swath of investors.
He estimates Tesla Motors’ 2017 earnings per share at $8.28 per share, in spite of plans for massive capital investments as the automaker builds its gigafactory. Even though the company’s sales have been rising, its losses have been increasing over the last few quarters because of those continuing capital investments.
The analyst adds that even luxury automakers are struggling to compete with Tesla in electric vehicles. He also said that Tesla appears to be the leading choice among the “14 million high-net-worth individuals around the world with $1 million or more of investable wealth.” As a result of Tesla’s popularity, he thinks Tesla will keep ramping up production and global deliveries to “well north” of 100,000 units a year, excluding output from the gigafactory and the introduction of the Model III.
A visit to Tesla’s factory
The analyst’s upgrade comes on the heels of his recent visit to Tesla Motors Inc NASDAQ:TSLA’s factory in Fremont, Calif. Albertine said there doesn’t seem to be anything that will stop the momentum Tesla has right now and that he likes how far ahead the automaker is in the electric vehicle industry.
He said that when he visited Tesla Motors Inc NASDAQ:TSLA’s production facility, he was particularly impressed with how much the company is now able to do on its own without outsourcing. He noted that there are more than 100 robots building Model S sedans on a ground conveyer system that’s been repurposed. The same line once produced the Toyota Tacoma. Because of how much Tesla is able to do in-house, the analyst estimates that it can hit 1,000 units per week in production by the end of this year. Currently, the automaker is at approximately 800 units per week.
Cautions about Tesla
The analyst does say that he still has some reservations about Tesla, however. Albertine said he sees about six other top concerns with Tesla, although he doesn’t think they matter in relation to Tesla Motors’ stock.
For example, he said that just trying to make projections for demand for Tesla’s Model S in the U.S. each quarter has been tying him up in “various mathematical gymnastics.” He had a Hold rating on Tesla for the last year based on his concerns, although he thinks they won’t come about until later in this decade because of the automaker’s strong brand and the fact that its competitors seem unwilling to invest fully in electric vehicles.
He also said there are still questions about the durability of Tesla Motors Inc NASDAQ:TSLA’s battery packs and notes that Tesla “has never generated even one-sixth of the profitability per share” that analysts are expecting for 2016. Also it’s unclear just how low the automaker can cut its battery costs by mass producing the cells in its gigafactory.