The Ratings Game: Tesla stock tops $500 for the first time

The Ratings Game: Tesla stock tops $500 for the first time

13 Jan    Finance News

Tesla Inc. stock surged past $500 on Monday, the latest in a string of high-water marks that have led the shares to outperform the S&P 500 index more than tenfold over the past three months.

Monday’s rally was fueled by Oppenheimer analysts, led by Colin Rusch, raising his price target on Tesla TSLA, +8.04%  by nearly 60%, to $612 from $385 on the company’s “disrupter” characteristics.

Tesla shares have gained 103% in the past three months, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.51%  has rallied 10%.

The stock traded as high as $505.37 on Monday, poised to surpass its record close of $492.14 hit on Wednesday, before the rally took a two-day pause following a couple of downgrades.

“We believe (Tesla) has key advantages in powertrain design, battery technology, (advanced driver-assistance systems) fleet size, road map to energy independence offerings, and consumer enthusiasm that can translate into material operating leverage, share gains, and market disruption as renewables and autonomy trends accelerate,” the Oppenheimer analysts said in a note.

“We expect continued share volatility while raising our earnings multiple to reflect higher levels of AI/disrupter characteristics,” yielding the 612 price target, they said.

Oppenheimer’s new price target is the second highest of the 32 analysts surveyed by FactSet, behind just Elazar Advisors analyst Chaim Seigel’s $734 target.

Last week, analyst Bill Selesky of Argus Research raised his price target on Tesla shares to $556, saying better-than-expected fourth-quarter deliveries, Tesla proxy for sales, highlight the popularity of the Model 3 and ongoing revenue growth from Model S and Model X sales. Selesky kept a buy rating on the stock.

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Credit Suisse analysts also raised their price target on the stock in a note last week, to $340 from $200. Despite being well under the current share price, the new price target “gives Tesla credit in multiple ways,” the Credit Suisse analysts said. “Even with all that Tesla stock appears rich,” they said. The analysts, led by Dan Levy, kept the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock.

Tesla’s outperformance over the S&P 500 holds in a 12-month snapshot, with the Silicon Valley car maker’s shares up 45% in the period, compared with gains of 26% for the S&P and 20% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. DJIA, +0.25%  

Tesla stock’s surge has pushed the company’s market valuation past $90 billion, towering above General Motors Co.’s GM, +0.78%  valuation of about $50 billion and Ford Motor Co.’s F, -0.54%  36 billion. Tesla’s market cap has also surpassed Ford’s at its valuation peak in 1999 — $80.8 billion, the equivalent of about $124 billion in today’s dollars.

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