Tesla Appoints Chief Accounting Officer With Solar Experience

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It looks like Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is getting some help in the accounting department. That is, on Friday the electric car maker announced that as of October 24, 2016, Eric Branderiz will join the company as vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer. Branderiz will bring his six years of experience at SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), where he was also corporate controller and chief accounting officer.

Tesla shares are still well off of their highs, and many investors feel this stock would not be valued anywhere close to this price if there weren’t an Elon Musk premium. Tesla’s market value is near $30 billion, versus around $50 billion for Ford and General Motors. Tesla is valued at more than 100 times forward earnings expectations.

Tesla’s efforts in acquiring SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) bring up two risks: one is that it could act carelessly, and another is that it might not care about the earnings story for investors. Tesla also has all of its marbles riding on major growth targets that it hopes to hit in 2018 and 2020.

The flip side here is that the market keeps touting Musk’s visionary status. They love the electric cars, and the move into the Power Wall and into SolarCity did not crush shares as much as many skeptics may have assumed.

But it is not as if this odd merger is the only headwind Tesla faces. There was the fatality of a driver using Tesla’s auto-driving mode, though the company has since upgraded that feature. And many experts believe that by the time the Model 3 is launched, the market will be full of competitors. The new Chevy Bolt EV is one of those, and it will be in showrooms this fall. Also, BMW’s i3 and i8 have been called Tesla killers. There are questions about whether the Gigafactory will get online on schedule. If not, the entire delivery plan for Tesla collapses. And does Tesla have enough service centers to meet rising demand?

It seems Tesla may be able to use all the help it can get.

Shares closed on Thursday at $206.43, in a 52-week range of $141.05 to $269.34. Its consensus analyst price target is $228.33.