Tesla stock continued to slide on Friday as another analyst decided to slash his price target after working in the full effects of the SolarCity acquisition. Unsurprisingly, analysts are generally taking a cautious tone on the merger of the two firms, both of which are bleeding cash.
Tesla stock target to $155
In a report dated Dec. 1, Cowen and Company analyst Jeffrey Osborne said he trimmed his price target for Tesla stock from $160 to $155 and reiterated his Underperform rating on it. Interestingly, only one of his four reservations about the Tesla story next year has to do with SolarCity, and it’s simply a matter of the acquisition complicating things.
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He noted that Tesla has been emphasizing the shift from third-party ownership of solar panel systems through leases and power purchase agreements toward loans, which of course should ease the cash flow problems SolarCity has been having since the very beginning. He’s projecting deployments of between 800 and 1,000 megawatts of solar panels through 2020 and said that his model implies that Tesla runs SolarCity with a focus on cash management rather than the solar firm’s previous “land grab” model. In 2017, he’s assuming 27% loan use, but then the loan share jumps to 50% in 2018, in his estimations. By 2020, he expects 80% of solar panel purchases to be bought using loans.
He does think the two companies will be able to achieve the $150 million in cost synergies that they promised but adds that it will be difficult to quantify these synergies. He added that if customer acquisitions are lowered by 10 cents, he sees between $80 million and $100 million in synergies. He added that Tesla could also assist SolarCity in other areas such as automation at the Buffalo factory and streamlining the production process.
More concerns about Tesla than SolarCity?
It rather sounds like Osborne’s biggest concern is actually with Tesla itself rather than SolarCity, although he hasn’t made any changes to the Tesla side of the equation. He’s still modeling for a ramp of early Model 3 sales in the first half of 2018, but he’s starting to be concerned that this is too ambitious because of the lack of announcements regarding prototypes, suppliers ramping, or other details. Also he notes that the previous ramps and production delays on the Model S and Model X could mean that delivering the Model 3 by 2018 is just too ambitious of a target
The Cowen analyst added that the Gigafactory is a key piece of the puzzle and for Tesla to become cash flow positive, so he will be monitoring the factory’s ramp. So far, the automaker has spent $504.3 million in capital expenditures on the Gigafactory, which is only 25% of the expected total, so Osborne would like to see signs that the company’s partners are indeed ramping on the other $2 billion to $3 billion. He also warns that if battery costs remain at around $200 per kilowatt-hour when the company is targeting $100 per kilowatt-hour, he doesn’t see how it’s possible to reach a 20% gross margin for the Model 3.
Further, he’s concerned about the many EVs from competitors that will be landing on the market within the next one to three years.
Even Tesla bulls starting to worry
Even Tesla bull Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley cut his price target for Tesla stock in a report last week. His new target is $242, only a small decrease from his previous target of $245 per share. He continues to rate the automaker at Equal-weight, which of course doesn’t make him a bull in terms of rating, but he has been one of the most positive analysts when it comes to Tesla for quite some time. He sees Tesla stock as being Equal-weight because he believes the risk – reward is mostly balanced due to the “high degree of cash consumption and dependency on external market funding” after the SolarCity acquisition.
One of the main factors in his decision to cut his price target for Tesla stock is the addition of 13.1 million new shares, which are being issued as part of the SolarCity deal. The automaker is issuing 11.1 million shares to buy SolarCity stock and another 2 million shares for holders of SolarCity’s convertible bonds and options.
Wide range of potential valuations for Tesla stock
Because of SolarCity’s financial condition and its recent reduction in guidance, Jonas assumes no value for Tesla shareholders from SolarCity stock.
“This dilution to equity with zero value compensation removed $20 from our price target, resulting in a net negative adjustment to our Tesla price target of $3, or a 1% cut from our prior target,” the analyst explained in his Nov. 23 report.
Interestingly, his bull cash for Tesla stock is $408 per share, but that adds in value from Tesla Mobility (the upcoming on-demand shared mobility service), Tesla Energy (the energy storage business) and SolarCity, among other things. On the flip side, his bear case for Tesla stock is $50 per share, which assumes no value from Tesla Mobility, Tesla Energy, or SolarCity, and “a core automotive business at 1x 2017 revenues.”
Shares of Tesla stock slid by as much as 0.93% to $180.18 during regular trading hours on Friday.