Here’s What Wall Street Says About Tesla’s Impressive Production Numbers

October 3, 2016, 3:30 PM UTC

Shares of Tesla Motors popped as much as 4.5% Monday after the carmaker revealed it had gotten better at producing and delivering its electric vehicles, though some analysts say the company has other issues that make it a questionable investment.

Over the weekend, Tesla reported a 70% increase in deliveries in the third quarter to a record 24,500 vehicles. The automaker has missed its targets in the last two quarters yet it still set an ambitious goal to make half a million cars by 2018—two years earlier than expected.

The news could also help Tesla, which has yet to turn a profit, raise much needed funds in debt and equity markets later this year to cover several projects, including building out its Model 3 factory, and its controversial acquisition of sister company SolarCity.

But the company still has yet to entirely shake off fears that it has been discounting cars in an aggressive push to impress investors—a move that would inflate sales numbers but press on profit margins.


After a Reddit thread last week claiming that former customers had been offered discounted prices on Tesla, CEO Elon Musk wrote an email to employees, saying “there can never—and I mean never—be a discount on a new car coming out of the factory in pristine condition, where there is no underlying rationale.”

But according to a Cowen and Company note from Jeffrey Osborne and his team, Tesla did not address the issue of discounting during its preliminary third-quarter report.

“While the headline figures for [the third quarter] are impressive, the production and delivery announcement that was released yesterday does not clarify margins and cash burn/generation during the quarter, which is key for investors,” the team wrote. “We see the potential for delays in the introduction of the Model 3, ramp of the Gigafactory, and integration of SolarCity leading to increased cash burn levels.

Cowen has the equivalent of a “Sell” rating on the stock.

Meanwhile, a team of Baird analysts led by Ben Kallo, who have given the stock the equivalent of a “Buy,” say Tesla’s report suggests the stock is in good shape.

“Bears will focus on the upcoming capital raise, but we continue to recommend shares ahead of the potential deal due to several upcoming catalysts,” Kallo wrote. “Catalysts include the ramp of the gigafactory, additional news around the Model 3, and potentially the Paris Motor Show.”

The company could also continue ramping up production to 2,400 vehicles per week in the fourth quarter—the company’s goal, Kallo wrote. That’s up from an average of 2,000 through the first three quarters of the year.

S&P 500 Global’s Efraim Levy and Tuna Amobi maintained their sell rating on the stock, and cast doubt about Tesla’s ability to roll out its highly anticipated mass-market car.

“Still, we think Model 3 could miss its target debut date. Also, a 500,000 annual volume target will likely be reached later than planned, if at all, we think,” the team wrote.

Roughly 38% of analysts have placed a “Buy” rating on the stock, 29% have given it a “Sell” rating, while 33% have set Tesla as a “Hold.”

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