Tesla Motors Inc Slides Further On Another Downgrade

Tesla Motors Inc Slides Further On Another Downgrade
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Since Tesla Motors delivered the first handful of Model X SUVs, sentiment has started to shift toward the negative as Wall Street worries about delivery numbers, whether the company can meet its delivery guidance, and the high price of the Model X. The automaker delayed the first deliveries of the vehicle multiple times and still is less than transparent on a lot of details, like pricing for the less expensive models and when production on it can be ramped up.

As a result, Baird analysts have become the latest to issue a bearish report on Tesla, and unlike Morgan Stanley, Baird has actually downgraded the EV manufacturer and moved to the sidelines on its stock.

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When will Tesla start delivering Model X’s in earnest?

Ben Kallo and Tyler Frank said in a report dated today that they downgraded Tesla shares to Neutral and slashed their price target from $335 to $282 per share. They remain confident that the automaker will be able to ramp production on the Model X, but the timing of the ramp and the first “real” batch of deliveries is uncertain. The first six SUVs went to Tesla insiders, including CEO Elon Musk, so in reality, it’s hard (in my opinion anyway) to see their deliveries as true deliveries, particularly when they have not made clear when they intend to start delivering to outside customers.

The Baird team now thinks the ramp in production of the Model X will go more slowly than they previously expected because of how complex the vehicle is. They expect this to impact delivery estimates for this year and next. They’re estimating that 1,500 Model X’s will be delivered this year and 23,400 will be delivered next.

They don’t think that the number of Model X deliveries that happen right now is important but note that building the more complex SUV on the same assembly line as the Model S will likely impact overall vehicle production if more problems are encountered with the Model X production.

Is the Model X too expensive?

The Baird team also questioned the high price of the vehicle, echoing comments made earlier this week by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. Previously, Musk said that a Model X with the same options as a Model S would be priced at about $5,000 higher than that comparable Model S, but now it appears that this isn’t the case.

The most expensive Model X is priced at $132,000, and the Baird team is estimating that the base price for the Model X will be at least $93,000. Because of this higher price point, they expect some of the preorders to be canceled, and they said they’ve confirmed this with some of those who have reserved a Model X. Also they think the higher price will reduce Tesla’s market size in this category.

Looking toward Model 3

The analysts don’t see many near term catalysts for Tesla right now and add that this could pressure the automaker’s stock. Even though soon we will start seeing some reviews about the Model X, like from the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) and Consumer reports, they see the next big event as being the introduction of the Model 3, which isn’t expected until at least March.

Shares of Tesla Motors slumped by as much as 3.47% today, falling to $233.09 per share in afternoon trading.

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