Tesla stock keeps chugging along, rising higher and higher and pushing the company closer and closer to Ford’s market capitalization. Of course that’s not really a fair comparison any more, as Tesla is now more than just automobiles following the SolarCity acquisition.
The company is set to release its next earnings report tomorrow after closing bell, but analysts are becoming more pessimistic, not because they don’t like the company, but rather, because they feel the recent tear isn’t warranted. Of course you wouldn’t necessarily know this from their commentary, but rather, from their price targets.
Tesla earnings preview
Tomorrow’s earnings report will be the first to include results from SolarCity, and as such, it will likely be much more complicated than previous reports. We already know Tesla missed guidance for shipments in the fourth quarter, as it shipped 22,200 cars, and Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache said the transition to Autopilot 2.0 was to blame for that miss. He expects net losses of $264.5 million and losses of $1.71 per share, on a “simple consolidated” basis for the merged company, excluding impacts from purchase price accounting or direct merger costs.
He’s projecting $1.93 billion in total automotive revenue with an automotive gross margin of 25.1%, excluding zero emission vehicle credit sales. He estimates that on its own, SolarCity would have had a gross margin of 33.4% and a net loss of $204.1 million. He warned in his preview report that there is some risk to the deployment expectation of 255 megawatts due to the recent softness in the California solar market.
For SolarCity, Lache expects the focus to be on the transition to cash sales, which is integral to achieving cash breakeven. He’s modeling a 20% cash/ 80% lease split for the solar segment. He feels that if this transition to cash is on track, investors will again focus on Tesla’s automotive segment, which is the main driver of valuation.
The Deutsche Bank analyst has a price target of $215 on Tesla stock, which values the automotive segment at $200 and the SolarCity segment at $15. Lache maintains his Hold rating on Tesla stock going into tomorrow’s earnings report.
Analysts turning bearish on Tesla stock?
Tesla stock has been skyrocketing so fast without any fundamental basis for the rise that analysts are becoming more bearish than ever. Investors are so focused on the upcoming Model 3 that they’re forgetting that this is a company that is still a niche player that sold fewer than 80,000 cars last year. Nonetheless, its market cap of $45.4 billion is approaching that of Ford at $50.5 billion. Tesla is worth more than Japanese auto giant Nissan and twice as much as Fiat Chrysler. Short interest is high, and so are the stakes—for both the longs and the shorts.
Analysts are starting to get a little acrophobic with the extreme height Tesla stock has reached, as Bloomberg reports that the gap between the price and 12-month analyst price targets is bigger than ever before.