Tesla Motors Inc: “Hockey Stick Ramp” Needed In China

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) appears to have lost its momentum, but Barclays analysts say investors should watch for possible catalysts that may bring the momentum back. They say an uptick in deliveries should be expected but that the pace of deliveries has probably plateaued.

Update on Tesla Motors’ delivery data

In a report dated Sept. 17, 2014, analyst Brian Johnson and his team said the latest delivery data from North America for the second quarter suggest that Tesla should see an uptick in the second half of the year. They provided new breakdown estimates for the EV manufacturer’s regional deliveries.

They estimate that Tesla delivered between 3,500 and 3,750 units in North America, which is lower than their previous estimate of between 4,000 and 4,200. They estimate that the automaker delivered between 2,500 and 2,600 Model S sedans in Europe and between 1,250 and 1,500 units in Asia. That Asian number is higher than their previous estimate of between 900 and 1,100. (Chart is courtesy Barclays)

Tesla model S deliveries by region

Delivery upside in Asia no surprise

The Barclays team noted that 1,545 Model S sedans were imported into China in the second quarter, so it’s no surprise that there’s upside to Tesla’s deliveries in the second quarter. They also said that the upside to their estimates suggests that the lag period between import and delivery is shorter than previously thought.

The analysts believe the pace of deliveries in North America to edge upward sequentially in the third and fourth quarter to keep up with the second quarter’s order influx. However, they say the delivery pace in the region should be lower than what Tesla saw most of last year, which was between 4,500 and 5,000 units. They say this supports their belief that the pace of deliveries in North America has plateaued.

Tesla Motors challenged to meet delivery guidance

In addition, they say Tesla Motors is going to need a “hockey stick ramp” in deliveries in China in order to meet its previously provided guidance. Johnson and his team thinks this will be a challenge because the implied guidance for the fourth quarter is about 13,000 units.

They say even if deliveries in North America ramp up and there’s “some growth” in Europe, deliveries in Asia will probably have to hit between 5,700 and 6,300 units in order to make that guidance. That’s compared to the estimated third quarter delivery estimate of between 2,000 and 2,200.

The Barclays team added that it’s possible Tesla shares could regain their momentum at some point but that concerns about the growth needed to meet fourth quarter guidance could offer a challenge. They maintained their Equal Weight rating and $220 per share price target on Tesla Motors.

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