Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Heavily Dependent On China

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) estimates to deliver 7,800 Model S units during the current quarter. Third-quarter deliveries would be lower than most analysts expected, primarily because of the retooling and reconfiguration at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Fremont factory, which led to capacity constraints. For the fourth quarter, the company expected deliveries to spike to 13,000.

Has Tesla’s North America growth really plateaued?

However, Barclays analyst Brian A. Johnson believes the company’s North America growth rate has plateaued. Johnson said in a research note Wednesday that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s second-quarter deliveries included 3,500-3,750 units in North America, 2,500-2,600 units in Europe and 1,250-1,500 units in China. Deliveries to China were much higher than the research firm’s estimate of 9,00-1,100 Model S units.

During June quarter, 1,545 Model S units were imported to China. Johnson said better than expected deliveries in China indicate a much smaller lag period between import and deliveries. Barclays expects Tesla’s North America deliveries to improve in the current and next quarter to meet the orders placed during Q2. But North America deliveries will be lower than 4,500-5,000 units that Tesla realized in most of 2013.

It clearly indicates that the EV maker’s North America growth has plateaued. Now the company needs a “hockey stick ramp” in China deliveries to meet its fourth quarter guidance of 13,000 units. Even after assuming decent growth in North America and Europe, Asia deliveries have to be in the range of 5,700-6,300 to meet the guidance. For the current quarter, the research firm expects China deliveries to come in at 2,000-2,200 units.

Tesla momentum out of favor

The required jump in China is in line with Barclays’ view that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will rely heavily on China for growth this year and early next year, until Model X hits the road. The company has received well over 20,000 pre-orders for Model X, and the number is likely to increase further in coming months. Johnson said Tesla’s momentum is now “out of favor.” So, the risk of “hockey stick growth” may hurt the stock in Q4.

Barclays has an Equal weight rating on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock with $220 price objective.

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