For those that follow Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), it’s easy to become convinced that the share price of the automaker is overvalued. That said, it may or may not be the time to begin shorting the stock. Those who have tried have lost a lot of money, as the stock refuses to return to where most believe it should trade.
Tesla’s market capitalization
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s market capitalization continues to rise with each new high for the stock. Last week, Tesla reached a new high of $183 per share, bringing its capitalization to $22 billion. Given that Tesla is presently making 20,000 cars per year, that means each car is essentially valued at $1.1 million with a sale price of $70,000 – $100,000.
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To compare that with BMW is to see this craziness in perspective. BMW has a market cap of $52.79 billion on global sales of 1.85 million cars, or $28.53 thousand per car.
In the mind of Richard Finger, a contributor to Forbes, this valuation is nothing shy of absurd, and he provides numerous reasons why he believes Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is wholly overvalued.
Tesla competing with General Motors
Firstly, the Model S is a fantastic car, and the 3rd generation technology that Tesla has planned has the company excited. Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) believes that it will be able to market a car at $35,000 in a year or so without skimping on the luxury of the Model S. However, that model will meet competition from General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s 200 mile range Cadillac, or the already successful Nissan Leaf. BMW also promises a new fully electric car in 2014 called the i-3 with a $42,000 price tag and up to a 100 mile range.
Every buyer of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Model S sedan receives a $7,500 zero emission vehicle tax credit from the federal government, and some California buyers will see a whopping credit of $12,500. While ZEVs may be driving sales, it’s The California Air Resources Board (CARB) that requires all car-makers to sell a certain number of electric vehicles in the state that really benefits Tesla. Those who don’t meet their schedule are forced to purchase these credits from another company like, well, Tesla. Through the first two quarters of 2013, Tesla has sold the credits it receives each time it makes a Model S. These sales have amounted to $119 in the first two quarters and should reach $250 million by the end of the year. If these credits were to dry up, Tesla’s revenue would wither as well.
Tesla’s lease options
As Fingers points out in his piece—one you should really read—Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is playing around with its accounting regarding lease options. This accounting shows sales that could be considered debt.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) also has 25 million stock options that have yet to be exercised. They will be, it’s only a matter of time. These options, when exercised, will dilute Tesla’s stock by nearly 20 percent.
All in all, Tesla is considerably overvalued in Finger’s estimations.