Tesla Motors might be one of the most polarizing stocks on Wall Street, but its first profitable quarter since 2013 has certainly convinced at least one one Tesla bear to upgrade the stock.
Analyst Efraim Levy of CFRA (which bought S&P Global Market Intelligence back in September) upgraded the stock to "Hold" Thursday, writing:
We raise our 12-month target by $15 to $205, or about 45X our '18 EPS estimate of $4.60, reflecting rapid expected growth. Q3 profit was helped by operating efficiencies that drove notable gross margin improvement, as well as by $139 million (we estimate about $0.60 EPS contribution) in high margin revenues from the sale of zero-emission vehicle credits. We think Q3 execution and a positive Q4 outlook from CEO Elon Musk should provide some additional support for TSLA. Still, we see the need for capital raising in '17 and execution risk (though reduced) for the Tesla Model 3.
Levy first downgraded shares of Tesla in March to "Sell," and maintained that rating even when Tesla announced a stellar preliminary figure for third quarter deliveries in early October. At the time, Levy raised concerns about Tesla's ability to produce its mass market Model 3 car on schedule. The proposed SolarCity acquisition also worried Levy, who said it could hamper Tesla's ability to reach profitability.
But Tesla's third quarter beat of $2.3 billion in revenue on 71 cents earnings per share against the analyst consensus of $1.9 billion in revenue of a loss of 54 cents per shares changed Levy's mind.
Levy has never placed a "Buy" rating on Tesla, which is helmed by Elon Musk.
Shares of Tesla closed at $204.01 on Thursday, up nearly 1%.