Tesla Stock Back Over $250; Now What? A Rocket Ride To Mars, Anyone?

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Tesla stock has enjoyed a healthy rise since the beginning of the year and is rising again today as analysts say it doesn’t matter that the automaker probably can’t meet its goal of moving 500,000 vehicles a year by next year. One analyst surprised Wall Street by upgrading Tesla stock last week and now is defending his view in another report in which he set forth feedback he has received from investors on that upgrade.

Meanwhile, another analyst believes that there’s no stopping Tesla stock in the near term, as it has now passed the $250 per share mark again.

Little disagreement with upgrade of Tesla stock

In a research note dated Jan. 23, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas reported finding little to no disagreement with his reasoning. He moved to Overweight on Tesla stock and boosted his price target to $305 a share because he expects the delay on the Model 3 to be shorter than he had previously expected.

Upon speaking with investors about his upgrade, he said it appears as if investors have “materially lower” volume expectations for the Model 3 than what he had thought. He reported that no one opposed his estimate of 2,000 Model 3 shipments this year. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t find anyone who actually thinks the automaker can achieve its goal of 500,000 vehicles annually next year.

Jonas added that the investors he spoke with are also expecting Tesla to require more capital to offset all the cash it burns in operations. Their only concerns appear to be when the EV maker will look for it and how much it will need.

Implications for Musk and Trump

Another part of his upgrade thesis for Tesla stock was CEO Elon Musk’s connection to President Donald Trump. He had expected investors to resist this part of his argument, but he was surprised that no one really did. Musk is now a strategic advisor for Trump, and he said that those who knew this hadn’t really thought about the implications of it before. The biggest point of this is jobs in the U.S., which of course Tesla already offers plenty of.

“We imagine Tesla negotiating with state and local governments for the roll-out of a regional automated transport system using their machines,” the analyst wrote in his note this week. “Coordinating such efforts may be aided by the company’s more direct contact the administration.”

One area of potential difference is competing EV offerings from legacy automakers, which he said most see as negative for Tesla. However, he expects this to change gradually, with this year being an important one of milestones for the automaker’s long-term “mission.” He describes the company as “a transport network in the making” rather than just a car company and feels that Tesla must continually release safety data from its fleet to support “legislative/regulatory consideration in a way that is valued by the stock market.”

Despite all the agreement Jonas reported among the investors he spoke with, there seemed to be quite a lot of disagreement as short interest in Tesla stock surged to a new high last week, according to data from financial analytics firm S3 Partners. While some of that surge came before Jonas’ upgrade, some of it came after, following the typical pattern of bears: when a stock goes higher, they short even more shares.

The sky’s the limit for Tesla stock?

But there could be more pain in store for those who are short Tesla stock, if another analyst is correct. In a post on The Street on Monday, ShortIdeas.com Founder and President Chris Laudani argued that Tesla stock would have more room to run if bulls were able to push it over $250, which they have now. He noted that it still is essentially a momentum play, particularly as the automaker prepares to launch the Model 3.

He doesn’t like the SolarCity acquisition, however, terming it “a near-term distraction and a giant cash flow drain.” He also expects Tesla to need more funds. However, he said on Monday that it might be “a bumpy road to get the shares over $250. He thought when he wrote the post that Tesla stock would just trade sideways until the release of the Model 3 and skeptics watch as the mass market EV is being shipped to customers. He predicted that the stock would shift into gear if Tesla can start shipping the Model 3 on time.

If only he could have known that the shares would surpass $250 the very next day, although the question now is whether they can hold this key support level. It probably will be a bumpy road between $250 and whenever the Model 3 starts shipping.

Shares of Tesla stock rose by as much as 1.98% to $253.84 during regular trading hours on Tuesday.

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