Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) stock edged higher on Thursday after a huge upgrade from one of the automaker’s biggest bulls and the news that the company has managed to dodge a recall in connection with the deadly Autopilot-related crash that happened in Florida last year. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas upgraded Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) stock from Equal-weight to Overweight and boosted his price target from $242 to $305 per share, citing four main catalysts for his call.
Also JPMorgan analysts raised their price target for Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) stock, although they remain highly bearish on the automaker.
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A more bullish call for Tesla stock
Jonas has become less cautious on the Model 3 launch and ramp, as he’s now expecting a “soft” launch in the fourth quarter and a much higher volume in fiscal 2018. He’s now looking for 183,000 units, up from his previous estimate of 114,000 units for fiscal 2018, although his estimate remains 64% lower than the automaker’s target of 500,000 units. His new view comes on the heels of discussions with management and suppliers after his visit to Tesla’s Gigafactory, which interestingly wasn’t enough to convince most others.
The analyst feels that this year is all about execution on the Model 3, with the two main drivers being pre-launch and launch milestones and the way the automaker accesses capital to fund the launch and ramp. He sees no “substantive proof” from Tesla’s supplier community that the Model 3 can’t be launched this year, although he is looking for a slower ramp than what consensus suggests.
EVs becoming core strategy rather than fringe trend
Jonas also feels that legacy automakers’ views on electric vehicles are starting to swing in Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)’s direction, as they no longer see EVs as a trend but rather as a core strategy for addressing regulatory targets for zero-emission vehicles. He’s now looking for 23% global EV penetration by 2030, compared to his previous estimate of 16%. His volume forecast for Tesla implies a decline in share of the EV market, however, from more than 10% now to 5.5% by 2025 and then 4.5% by 2030.
The analyst also feels that tech companies’ pullback in efforts to make their own EVs is great news for Tesla because it means a reduction in competitive pressure. For example, he feels that Alphabet’s Waymo is cutting the competition for human capital, as it aims to make “better drivers” instead of “better cars.”
And finally, Jonas noted that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has the ear of President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated tomorrow. Musk has been named as a strategic advisor for Trump, which he feels ias a key development for the automaker.
JPMorgan also raises price target for Tesla (TSLA) stock
Interestingly, JPMorgan analysts also raised their price target for Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) stock, moving it from $180 to $188 per share, although they remain one of the automaker’s biggest bears and maintain their Underweight rating. Their price target is still one of the lowest targets for Tesla on the Street.
JPMorgan analysts trimmed their estimates for the company as they expect a disappointment in vehicle deliveries this year. Their new sales estimate is $2 billion, down from $2.3 billion.
Tesla (TSLA) said to dodge Autopilot-related recall
Investors may also be happy to hear that regulators may be close to closing their probe into an Autopilot-related crash that killed a man in Florida in May 2016. Joshua Brown was using Tesla’s Autopilot in his Model S when it collided with a truck. Citing an unnamed source, Reuters reports that U.S. regulators will not force a recall due to the crash. However. They did reportedly find evidence of some kind of detect that would have required a safety recall.
Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) did unveil improvements to Autopilot in September, adding more limits to force drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel while the car is in motion. The automaker also added more features it claims would have prevented a fatality in Brown’s case. Since the Florida crash, others have alleged that Autopilot was to blame in other accidents, although Tesla has denied the accusations in most, if not all the cases.
Shares of Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) stock edged upward by more than 2% to as high as $242.13 in early trading on Thursday.