Tesla’s Furious Rally May Have 55% Upside, Analyst Says

Tesla Inc. shares rose again on Tuesday, rebounding from Monday’s rare decline, after at least one analyst said the stock’s dizzying rally isn’t over yet.

“Is it time to redeploy capital after an amazing run? Resoundingly, we think the answer is NO,” Piper Sandler analyst Alexander Potter wrote in a note. “In our view, Tesla is the most consequential company in the mobility ecosystem, and this is unlikely to change in the next decade.”

Potter lifted his price target to $2,322, the highest among the 30 analyst targets tracked by Bloomberg, from $939, a target he’s held since April. The new price target implies another 55% of upside over the next 12 months.

That steep valuation reflects Potter’s expectation that the company will deliver nearly 4 million vehicles in 2025, implying an overall market share of about 7% in China and 9.5% in the United States. Before the pandemic hit, Tesla had said it expected 2020 deliveries to exceed 500,000 units.

However, a more significant driver of the new price target is the company’s full-self-driving software, the analyst said. Tesla said earlier it may earn gross margins of over 30%, if more customers opt to buy that software. Piper Sandler’s analysis showed the company could be earning mid-20s operating margin by the end of a 20-year forecast period, even with less than half of the users opting for full self driving.

“We assume that the lump-sum price of the full-self-driving software package will eventually rise to nearly $40,000, up from $9,000 at present, with a 6-year subscription plan costing about 125% more (in aggregate) than an up-front purchase,” Potter wrote. Due to the high margins associated with the software package, Tesla could “conceivably” be selling vehicles at cost, or even below cost, while still achieving higher operating margins by the 2030s, the analyst added.

Tesla gained as much as 6.2% to $1,569 in New York, before paring those gains. The stock fell 3.1% Monday. No stranger to volatility, the stock has been on a relentless rally, more than tripling since the start of the year and advancing 60% in the past month alone. That compares to a 21% gain in the high-flying Nasdaq 100 for the year, or 9.7% in the past month.

Tesla’s Furious Rally May Have 55% Upside, Analyst Says

The reasons behind the gains aren’t always clear. Improving operations and profitability, a potential for “game-changing” battery technology at an upcoming event, short covering and a potential inclusion in the S&P 500 Index have all helped push the price higher.

The surge has added $202.3 billion to its market value -- or more than Exxon Mobil’s entire market cap these days -- and propelled it to displace Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s biggest carmaker by stock value. An average of 17.7 million shares have traded hands daily since the beginning of the year, more than double the activity in the same period last year.

Much of the trading has come from retail investors clamoring to get into the growing electric vehicle space. On the Robinhood trading app, more than 40,000 accounts took positions in Tesla in a single four-hour span on Monday. It was the 10th most popular stock on the platform.

Still, not everyone is cheering the run. The stock last week was poised to cross $20 billion in short interest bets, the first to do so, according to data from S3 Partners. Amid the rally, the skeptics have suffered more than $18 billion in mark-to-market losses, including $4.1 billion in losses in July alone.

“If Tesla’s stock price continues to trend upward, we expect even more short covering as mark-to-market losses accumulate,” S3 said in its July 9 report.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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