Goldman Sachs Sets Huge Range for Tesla

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Goldman Sachs analyst Patrick Archambault takes a look at Tesla Motors Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) potential as a truly disruptive force over the long run and concludes the shares could — and we emphasize could — rise a lot, perhaps to as much as $478.

All this comes as Goldman and Archambault boosted their six-month price target on the shares to $200, which implies a 15% drop from current levels. That may explain why Tesla shares reached as high as $239 on Tuesday before dropping back a bit. The consensus analyst price target is $229.

What Archambault wondered in a report released Tuesday was where the shares could head if Tesla basically blows up the auto industry into something very different than what we know now. He used three scenarios, labeled for convenience: CEO Elon Musk as Steve Jobs, Henry Ford or the Maytag repairman.

Archambault used the early sales growth rates for Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) Model T and a basket of appliances like washing machines to map the possible Tesla results.

His baseline projection, however, sees Tesla production rising to around 500,000 units in 2022, rather than Tesla’s expectation that the threshold will be reached in 2020. Tesla produced about 22,000 vehicles in 2013 and is expected to produce 35,000 in 2014.

The Musk-as-Jobs scenario: Tesla vehicle production reaches 3.06 million units by 2025 and grabs a 2.7% share of the global market of nearly 112 million units. Revenue in 2025: $155.9 billion. Growth slows as new competition emerges. Present value of the shares implied by the growth: $336.

The Musk-as-Ford scenario: Tesla comes up with a relatively inexpensive vehicle like Ford’s Model T to go with its existing and projected lineup. The electric car market would hit 6 million units a year by 2025 with Tesla enjoying a 55% market share.

“As this is the highest of the volume forecasts,” the report says, “it is not surprisingly the scenario with the highest PV for Tesla shares of $478.” Revenue in 2025: $172.5 billion.

The Musk-as-Maytag-Repairman scenario: Tesla still has a 55% share of the electric vehicle market, but the production would be about 1.8 million units. Bringing the present value down would be new competition and probably some revenue declines in the later years. Revenue in 2025: $99.9 billion. Present value of the shares implied by the growth: $223, after peaking at $504 in 2017.

Archambault’s baseline projection sees Tesla production rising to nearly 764,000 units, with year-over-year growth ranging from as much as 75% and as low as 18% in the latter years. Revenue in 2025: $50.5 billion.

Here is why: Part of this is to capture the unforeseen delays that are likely to happen in launching such a large capital project (“unknown unknowns” as former defense secretary Rumsfeld once quipped, like delays in capacity installation, supplier qualifications and raw material procurement).

In addition, Archambault assumes a price of $50,000 for the Gen III vehicle now in development. That price is higher than Tesla’s stated target price in the high $30,000s to low $40,000s.

The downside scenario assumes a slower growth rate, with production reaching just under 500,000 units by 2025 and revenue hitting $33.1 billion.

Those are impressive results nonetheless, Archambault wrote. But delays in reaching 500,000 units-a-year could hurt the stock. But here’s the kicker: They imply a present value of $66 on the stock. Tesla shares, in other words, are significantly overvalued.

Tesla was at $236.89 at mid-morning Tuesday, up $1.2%. Over the past 52 weeks, shares have traded in a range of $34.94 to $265.00.

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