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Why Tesla stock could be worth $1,300, according to one analyst

April 5, 2021, 4:36 PM UTC

Could Tesla stock soar 97% from here?

One bull seems to think so. Wedbush’s Dan Ives just upgraded Tesla’s stock to “outperform” with a $1,000 price target in the next 12 months, with a “long term bull case” of $1,300. That would represent an over 50% rise in the next 12 months, and long-term, a jump of nearly 97% if the Elon Musk-led car maker hit $1,300, based on Thursday’s pre-holiday close of $661 a share.

The source of Ives’s optimism? A massive Q1 for the electric vehicle maker, and further stateside support for the climate-friendly EV space.

“What we saw this quarter, despite chip shortages [and] factory issues, [was] that demand skyrocketed not just in China, but in Europe as well for Tesla,” Ives tells Fortune. “The U.S. has lagged, but with the change in the EV tax credits on the horizon as part of the Biden infrastructure plan, in our opinion, this is really a perfect storm of demand that’s forming not just for the EV sector, but for Tesla in particular,” he says.

Indeed, for the first quarter of 2021 reported Friday, Tesla delivered 184,800 vehicles, far surpassing Street estimates (Wedbush, meanwhile, now expects the company could top 850,000 deliveries for 2021, with a 900,000 “stretch goal,” Ives wrote Sunday). Meanwhile, the prospect of more climate-friendly spending and policies with President Joe Biden’s wide-ranging infrastructure deal expected later this year could juice the stock even more, argues Ives.

Others on the Street, however, aren’t quite as impressed. In a note Monday, Bank of America analysts noted that while the EV maker’s deliveries in Q1 were “commendable,” the “growth rate appears much less pronounced when looking on a [quarter over quarter] basis, up just about 2% from [Q4 in 2020].” The “burden of proof,” wrote the analysts, remains on Tesla “to continue to drive accelerated growth.”

What’s more, Tesla recently found itself in hot water with China, a crucial customer base for the company, over concerns its cars could record and send data and images back to the U.S. Musk has pushed back on the concerns in recent comments, but the threat of losing favor with China is enough to make even the more bullish voices on Wall Street like Ives bristle.

Wedbush’s Ives maintains Musk will have to continue to “play nice” in order to placate concerns out of China. But “in a quarter where there was a lot of noise and a lot of worries, you saw skyrocketing demand in China in the months of February and March,” he points out.

Apart from the continued chip shortage, another possible speed bump for Tesla? Lots of competition gaining ground (Ives points to heavyweights like General Motors in particular). The BofA analysts argue that there’s a “competitive environment that is increasingly fierce, which is a risk for [Tesla] that has operated in more or less a vacuum for the past decade.”

Yet for bulls like Ives, “it’s a bit of a misnomer that it’s a zero sum game, because we’re only at 2% of vehicles being EV today in the U.S.” He expects the market to go to 10% by 2025. “It’s a big enough ocean for more than one boat,” he argues.

And though Tesla’s stock has taken a beating alongside other tech names so far this year, down almost 10% in the past three months, Ives argues that, “From an investor perspective, with risk appetite, it’s not just owning Tesla, it’s owning the EV ecosystem.”

Adds Ives: “Even though it’s been a painful selloff in the EV sector and Tesla, I believe we’re now starting to hit an inflection point of demand.”