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Tesla shares breach $200 as analyst says Musk faces a 'Code Red'

May 20 2019 16:31
Dana Hull, Bloomberg

Tesla shares plunged below $200 for the first time in more than two years on concerns the carmaker faces a “Kilimanjaro-like uphill climb” to hit profitability goals in the second half of the year.

In a note Sunday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives described the electric-car maker’s predicament as a “code-red situation” and cut his price target on the stock to $230 from $275. Ives slashed his target from $365 just last month.

Ives, who was once among the most bullish analysts covering Tesla, said in his note he has “major concerns around the trajectory of Tesla’s growth prospects and underlying demand on Model 3 in the US over the coming quarters”.

Tesla shares fell as much as 7.5% to $195.25 and were trading at $200.18 as of 09:55. Monday in New York. The stock closed at the lowest level in almost 2 1/2 years on Friday after Musk called for a “ hardcore” review of all the company’s expenses and an analyst warned of potentially severe fallout from a fatal crash involving Autopilot.

Tesla delivered just 63 000 cars in the first quarter but expects to deliver 90 000 to 100 000 cars in the second quarter, and 360 000 to 400 000 for the year. Ives said hitting the full-year target is going to be a “Herculean task” and sees 340 000 to 355 000 as a more likely scenario.

Representatives for Tesla didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk recently told employees in an email that he and Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn will personally scrutinise expenditures following a worse-than-expected first-quarter loss. 

When drumming up interest for a stock and debt offering earlier this month, Musk pitched investors on a future of autonomous robotaxis as the key to Tesla becoming a $500 billion company. Its market capitalisation is now less than $36 billion.

If Tesla is unable to earn profit in the second half of the year, the company may need to raise another $1 billion to $2 billion of capital, Ives said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

“With a code red situation at Tesla, Musk & Co. are expanding into insurance, robotaxis, and other sci-fi projects/endeavors when the company instead should be laser-focused on shoring up core demand for Model 3 and simplifying its business model and expense structure,” Ives wrote in his report.

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