Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Expectations Return To Earth, Is It A Buy Now?

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares have fallen about 25% since their high of nearly $200, so does this make the automaker’s stock a buy now? Seeking Alpha contributor Bill Maurer considers the numbers.

Tesla’s results were good, but not good enough

Most analysts agree that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) did well during the third quarter, outperforming consensus estimates. However, it wasn’t good enough to meet the outrageously bullish sentiment surrounding the automaker. Undoubtedly this is what CEO Elon Musk was worried about when he said their share price was more than they deserve.

It was because Tesla’s results weren’t high enough that the stock has fallen. As a result, investors and analysts are readjusting their expectations for the automaker. By all appearances, they may finally be coming back down to earth. But are expectations in line with the automaker’s stock price? As with any other stock, it depends on how you look at it.

Analysts revise their expectations for Tesla

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) guided to deliver a little less than 6,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, which would mean a total of 21,500 vehicles for this year. The company didn’t provide a specific expected number for global deliveries next year, but it did say that it expects to keep producing 20,000 vehicles a year in North America. The automaker is looking into opening other facilities in other countries, although we may not see them open until Tesla prepares to launch the Generation III vehicle.


Analysts have been revising their estimates since Tesla released its latest earnings report. Full-year 2013 revenue estimates rose from $2.19 billion to $2.31 billion, while next year’s revenue estimates increased from $3.07 billion to $3.14 billion. In earnings per share, however, analysts are revising their estimates lower, pushing this year’s expectations from 61 cents to 58 cents per share and next year’s expectations from $1.71 to $1.51 per share.

In general, analysts remain positive on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and say expectations were just too high. However, many are holding on their price targets of around $200 a share, except for Goldman Sachs, which still increased its price target to $104 a share.

Tesla deals with production constraints

Maurer notes that during the investor call, the major theme Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) focused on was production constraints. This is an important thing to take note of because it means that there is plenty of demand for the automaker’s Model S sedan. The key is going to be increasing production to keep up with demand. If Tesla can make progress in this area, perhaps by opening the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory, it will be good for its stock.

Another area of interest is the fact that other momentum stocks like Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) are falling as well, so Tesla is in good company. So what does Maurer really think after looking at all the evidence? He admits that Tesla is a risky investment but for investors who think the automaker’s current share price is in line with expectations, the automaker could make a “good long-term bet.”


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